Science tells us there are a ton of benefits in being outdoors: it’s a natural energy booster; the scents of nature make us calmer and relaxed (‘Stop and smell the roses’ isn’t just an empty saying, after all); and seeing the outside world has the power to restore our focus.
While being outdoors these days is a tricky proposition, many of us have been craving views outside of our homes, indoor gardens and immediate neighborhoods. So we put together a list of places you can visit in and around Metro Manila, with a little help from our friends who go out more often than usual and explore the city—among them biker and artist Erwin Mallari, and biker, writer and admin of Facebook’s First Bike Ride, Lester Babiera.
It’s a pretty good list, if we may say so ourselves. These are spots where just driving leisurely by is a respite in itself—no need to even get off your bike or car. But if you do get to stop, park and hang out for a while, make sure you’re wearing a mask.
1 Timberland Heights
If you’re from Quezon City and nearby areas, and you feel the need to reset and have your peace, consider a quick trip to this oasis. A mere 15-minute drive from Batasang Pambansa, you can enjoy the cool climate here, the lovely mountainscape, as well as a picturesque view of the city. The 677-hectare property is also a great spot to practice your cycling skills.
Location: San Mateo, Rizal
2 Ayala Avenue
Still not feeling the Christmas vibe? Have a quick drive around Ayala Avenue, and treat yourself and the fam to the Filipino-themed ornaments and installations lighting up the city’s business district. Consider this the one time you get to enjoy the traffic.
Location: Makati City
3 UP Diliman
Still one of the most beautiful places in Metro Manila, hands down. Architecture and important sculptures amidst a canvas of magnificent greenery. It’s also one of the more accessible spots you can go to to chill out and de-stress in QC. Certain fitness activities are allowed such as walking, jogging, running, yoga, stretching, and tai-chi. Biking is not allowed in the Academic Oval, but there are a lot of other roads to explore within the campus. The oval is open only from 5am to 9am and 4pm to 8pm. Also, parking around the campus oval is still not allowed, but there are parking spaces on Lakandula Street, T.M. Kalaw Street, Quirino Street, E. Delos Santos Street, and Magsaysay Avenue.
Location: Diliman, Quezon City
4 Arcovia City
If the order of the day is to do the groceries, dine, and then chill out afterwards, there’s one spot in Pasig City where you can do all that. This 12.3 hectare Megaworld property has Landers Superstore, a strip of restaurants and cafes with air-conditioned and al fresco dining, plus parks and pockets of greenery. At night, they say if you blink a certain way, the 19-meter tall ‘Arco de Emperador’, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe, gives off Parisian vibes. Try it. Let us know.
Location: C-5 in Pasig City
5 Rizal Park
With the bay on one side and the Rizal monument on the other, this area is really one of the essential Manila spots. Those who are old enough will get all the nostalgic feels of making ligo by the bay in the '70s, the flavored crushed ice treats, and visiting the Chinese Garden. If you want more than a drive-by pasyal, however, walking, jogging, and running are now allowed on its open spaces from 5am to 9am daily. Take note of the safety protocols such as wearing a face mask and observing physical distancing. Guests are also required to secure a Safe Pass check-in with a QR Code through SafePass Facebook Page or SafePass Portal FB Messenger. Visitors are encouraged to apply for a QR Code and Entry Request ahead of time to facilitate a smooth check-in process. Entry requests are valid for 1 day, multiple entry/exit during park hours.
Location: Ermita, Manila
6 Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex
Drive around two of the most iconic edifices in the country—National Artist Leandro Locsin’s CCP building and the even more impressive Philippine International Convention Center, two fantastic examples of Brutalist architecture. You can also park somewhere and use the outdoor spaces for a variety of fitness activities—like jogging and cycling. Visitors are requested to practice social distancing, wear face masks and face shields for their own protection as well as everyone's. If you’re there in the afternoon, you can also catch the sunset by the Harbor Plaza where there are fast foods and restaurants.
Location: Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City
7 Bonifacio Global City
Who knew looking at modern buildings would be a thing in Manila? But driving around BGC’s concrete and glass landscape is a surprisingly pleasurable activity, it turns out. Amuse yourself with the statement shapes of the structures and the way the city’s neons and natural light play with the glass facades. The Grand Hyatt Manila is a stunner, and so are the Clip Building, the W City Center, and the Net Lima and Net Park Buildings. There are plenty of parking spaces. There’s a great selection of restaurants you can dine in or buy takeout meals from. It also has PMD lanes that will allow you to move around the city safely in your bikes, e-scooters, hoverboards, unicycles.
Location: Taguig City
8 Circulo Verde
Your dog sure misses the outdoors, too. How about you bring him for a walk at Hachi Park? And then you might want to pamper him at the dog spa afterwards. The family can have a quick brunch, if the place is not too busy—or simply buy food you can eat along the way.
Location: Calle Industria, Bagumbayan, Quezon City
9 Roxas Boulevard
You won’t be in such a bad mood in case you get stuck in traffic along Roxas Boulevard (we hope!), because that stretch—from Bangko Sentral to Manila City Hall—now looks dazzling with all the solar studs and the lighted trees. And since you’re already in the area, you may also want to make a detour towards Liwasang Bonifacio, which has a nightly water and lights show. Traffic from 8pm onwards is good, and better every Sunday night, says our source.
Location: City of Manila
10 Christmas Street Musical Light Tunnel
Ortigas East’s vibrant light display will also make a nice, even meaningful Christmas pasyal spot. The stars in the display are dedicated to our hardworking medical frontliners, whose courage and dedication continue to shine through. The tunnel is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day until Jan. 3, 2021.
Location: Central Avenue near Tiendesitas at Ortigas East
11 “Paskuhan sa Maynila” at the Mehan Garden
Get the Christmas feels at the “Village of lights and Sounds,” which is open from 4pm to 11pm. The spectacle is actually a come-on for the bazaar, participated in by 60 exhibitors so you might want to check out the goods as well. Just don’t forget to bring your face mask, face shield, and disinfect your hands with rubbing alcohol. The city government assures they provide serology testing for all the exhibitors participating at the bazaar which runs until January 2.
Location: Malate, Taft Ave., Manila
12 Tagalag Boardwalk
“Kabilaan ang palaisdaan doon at masarap tumambay sa umaga, at sa hapon bago lumubog ang araw,” says watercolor artist and biker Erwin Mallari. ”Maraming bench and every bench may puno.” There are two-pay parking spaces nearby, and there are friendly marshalls and sweepers around if you want to know where the eateries and biker cafes are.
Location: Valenzuela City
Every Sunday morning, the strip comes alive as vintage cars and bikes gather in the street. Meanwhile, at the First United Building’s The Hub, cool and funky merchandise are sold, there’s a barber shop called Folk Barbers, and The Den Manila, a coffee shop, is open to serve.
Location: Escolta, Manila
14 Marilaque Highway
This is a scenic 110-km stretch that starts from Marikina to the Sierra Madre Ranges of Rizal, to Laguna and Infanta, Quezon—hence the term Marilaque. You can buy fruits or seafoods (don’t forget to bring a cooler) from the roadside stalls, or stop by the restos and coffee shops along the way—which also provide a good view of the mountains. Driving a 4WD is advised if the road is wet.