Antipolo in a Day: Pinto Art Museum and Luljetta’s Hanging Garden Spa

After our trip to Baguio, my cousin, Azenith, and I stayed a little longer in Manila. My cousin has been working hard for two years straight and never had a decent vacation. I think she deserved a break and I had a free rein on where to go.  Manila is not really a perfect place to relax.  I never really adjusted to the traffic, pollution and the crowd of this megalopolis so I looked for places where we can conveniently spend a day to relax. I thought of Antipolo.

As a traveler, I always try to go to museums, visit art shows or watch theatre so Antipolo was the perfect place for me.  I have always wanted to see the Pinto Art Museum.  Azenith was game with whatever destination I choose. 

We stayed at an Airbnb in the Newport Area just across NAIA terminal 3. I think it is the most convenient place for non-Manila residents like me. There is a walkway towards NAIA 3 and there are many P2P buses at the terminal. For Antipolo, we had two options: take the NAIA 3 P2P bus to Ortigas and from Ortigas, take another P2P bus to Antipolo or take NAIA 3 P2P bus to Cubao and from Cubao, take the UV Express to Antipolo.  We missed the P2P bus for Ortigas  so we took the Cubao route. There was ample walking involved from the Araneta bus terminal (where the P2P bus driver dropped us) to the UV express terminal in Cubao. We were dropped at a side street near the Antipolo Church; we hailed a tricycle to bring us to Pinto Art Museum.

The museum grounds looked like I am in a hacienda in Mexico.  Notice the hand sculpture. Did you play that game as a kid, too?

And, sometimes, because of the white structures, the place looked Santorini-esque to me. But what do I know about architecture? All I can say is that the place was heaven for an art lover like me. 

The first painting that welcomed me to the museum was this massive piece entitled, Karnabal, from the Salingpusa Group. Salingpusa Group is a group of then amateur artists in the likes of Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay,  to name a few, who used to hang out at this Dr. Joven Cuanang’s property in Antipolo.  The good doctor would hold exhibits for these emerging artists then. Look at where they are now! These artists have now earned a place in Philippine contemporary art history. Thanks to Dr, Cuanang’s appreciation and support for Philippine art.

Shout out to this graffiti art because we were not those kids really. We come and go without warning.  Hahaha!

The museum housed a massive collection of art that I gave up taking photos or else it would take me the whole day to complete the tour.

Here are a few pieces that caught my camera.

This is Aiya Balingit’s “Bright, Cheerful and Pleasant Acts”.

This is Keiye Miranda’s “Intro the Realm of Consciousness”.  I love how we, as a viewer, would look up at the painting with a subject that is looking up.

This looks so familiar to me and when I looked at the label, I knew why.  It is because Arnica Acantilado’s work was part of the ManilArt2019 last October.  This is her “Dolls on the Landscape”.

I remember my favorite piece of art during ManilArt2019.  It was a painting by Efren Carpio depicting a child hold a santol with leaves growing in on ear. It spoke to me because I knew that old wive’s tale. These pieces from Demetrio de la Cruz had the same effect.  The box of shoes below is entitled, “Lolong and Loleng”. By the title, one immediately gets what it is all about. Lolong was the world’s largest crocodile in captivity that also died in captivity and these shoes are made of … take a guess. Yes, crocodile skin. On top of the “Lolong and Loleng” is a painting entitled “Holy Cow” by the same artist. If one looks closely at the painting, the frail cow has a monogram of a popular luxury brand on its skin with a handbag placed on a designer chair. Notice the skull of an animal.  These paintings made one think about the human acts that affect nature.

Pinto Art Museum has 7 galleries! Seven!  I only dream of putting up one small gallery for myself in my own house but a museum with seven galleries with massive collection of art owned by a private individual is incredible. 

This is the seventh gallery and construction is still on-going.

So huge.   Look how small I am! (This is a sentence I wanted to write for so long. Hahaha) 

There are installation pieces like this tens of thousands toy cars in one room.

More paintings are displayed at the mezzanine.

Thank you, Dr. Cuanang for supporting Philippine Art and building Pinto Art Museum!

I hope visit again soon and just spend a leisurely tour to view each art piece.

We only spent an hour or two in the museum because, in the afternoon, we went to Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens Spa. This resort has been on my radar for some time now. Facebook algorithm knows I am always on the lookout for nice places to visit.

From Pinto Art museum, we asked the tricycle driver to drop us near the Antipolo Church. We ate lunch at a local eatery.  After lunch, we hailed another tricycle for Luljetta’s Hanging Garden and Spa.

We availed of their day tour where we can access the different pools and jacuzzi.

We were given a robe to wear over our swimwear and a basket to hold our things. I did not bring slippers so I was given a pair to wear.

Our first stop was this area which was commonly photographed in many of the feeds that appear on my Facebook timeline.

It was the first week of February when we went. It was cold. And there were frog statues so I did not linger.  Ha!

I tried the fish spa. I lasted a few seconds before feeling ticklish.

Azenith was ticklish.

So we went to the infinity pool.

Look at those majestic views.

I hope the view remains green in the future. I can see some subdivision development. It is sad. It might not take long before this view will be replaced with concrete jungle. So we linger a little to store the moment in our memories.

Truth be told, it was still cold.

We need to look for some heated pools.  There were photo opportunities along the way.

We finally found a heated jacuzzi.  But there were couples in it so we waited for our turn.   There was a lounge area near the jacuzzi.   One couple left.  Then, I guess the couple who were left behind they felt awkward staying longer with two Titas as spectators. Ha! They left.  We had this jacuzzi just for the Titas. We stayed as long as we can here.

We left before we turned into stew.

I guess looking for another water feature/activity exposed us to the cold breeze because we tried the sauna next.

Then we took a last dip in the smaller infinity pool.

We called it a day by taking the free merienda that came with the day tour.

We waited for the shuttle that would take us to the reception area.

Off to the reception area!

Luljetta’s has a garden covered with umbrellas.

Outside the compound, we hired a tricycle to bring us to Robinsons Mall.  There was a P2P bus in that mall that will take us to Ortigas.

So here’s our P2P bus story.  We arrived at Ortigas a little past 6 PM.  The P2P bus for NAIA 3 already left so we decided to eat dinner in Galleria.  We read the sign in the bus stop that the bus arrives every 2.5 hours. Since the previous bus left at around 6pm, we expected the bus to arrive at 8:30 pm. To be sure, we started to wait for the bus at 8 pm.  Then 8:30 pm came, no bus.  It might be caught in traffic. Then, 9 pm came. We started to think if we should have booked a Grab earlier. We waited for an hour already. We should have thought this through. All my brain cells were left in Antipolo swimming into the cold and hot pools.  By 9:15 pm. the bus arrived. At last! As soon as we entered the bus, we were told that it would leave at 10 pm.  Oh, well. Lesson learned: Check the schedule. I remember also that the bus passes through all the airports with NAIA 3 as the last stop.  We anticipated the long commute. Because we chatted with the driver while waiting for the bus, he learned that we were staying at the Newport city area. When we passed by the area, he told us he would make a stop for us instead of us alighting at NAIA 3. It takes a little to be kind. Thank you, Mister driver.

We were dead tired when we arrived in our Airbnb.  Talk about forced relaxation the next day!

I love Antipolo. I should try to explore more of the Rizal area next time.

The Blessing That is Blessy

“Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us, and make our lives a little brighter, and they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.” – Dan Gemeinhart

It was late April 2012 when my cousin, Arvin, brought these two mini-pinschers into our lives.

They were named Boknoy and Blessy.  But if you ask my cousin’s wife, Tweetty, the names are Lucky and Blessy. Lucky is male and Blessy is female.

Look at how tiny they were!

When Arvin learned that sibling dogs of different sexes who grow up together in the same house run the risk of inbreeding, he left Blessy in our care.  She lived in a spacious cage in the garage.

We felt that the cage was a lonely place for Blessy so we take her out of the cage on special occasions.

We blew my birthday cake.

She was with me one Valentine’s day.

She comforted Joaqui from the New Year’s Day revelry.

My cousin and I were the crazy dog people who think the siblings can communicate through Skype.

When Blessy was pregnant, she moved from the cage to the house.

Like a pro, she single-handedly gave birth to these puppies on her own.  I was out that day and when I came back she already had puppies.

Arvin had to help her nurse her puppies, though.

She permanently stayed inside the house after giving birth. One of her favorite places in the house was my couch. We had to cover it with blanket to prevent her fur from sticking to the slipcover. 

She loves sleeping on pillows and…

… on any surface with foam.

And if there weren’t any soft surfaces, she would scrunch up a fabric to serve as her mat.

I would like to believe that her most favorite place to hang out was on my lap.

She liked to be with me while I worked.

Even if I was too busy to be bothered, she just wanted to be with me.

She sometimes fell asleep while waiting for me to finish what I was doing on my laptop.

When I had chikungunya, I was in bed for days.  Having Blessy beside me gave me comfort that all is well in the world.

She was one prayerful dog. She had a special seat in front of the altar. Whenever it was time to pray the rosary, she would go to her seat and pray with us.  And when she sensed that it took too long for me to go and sit beside her to pray, she would go to my room and bark as if telling me it was time to pray. Every Sunday, the minister goes to the house so that my uncle who is unable to go to church can receive communion. Blessy would insist to be brought to her seat at the altar so that she, too, can hear God’s words.

She was a sweet, sweet dog.  She was always happy to see me whenever I arrive home after being away for work or vacation.  She always showered me with kisses.

She had a quiet side…

… but not for long! She was very hyperactive especially when she sensed that Arvin was just around the corner. She was our Arvin alarm. Ha!

Her loyalty remained with Arvin. She knew he loved her first.

But I know in my heart, she loved me, too. She knew I love her, too.

It broke my heart to see her nose bled two weeks ago. 

She was not her usual bubbly self a week before that.  We thought she just liked to stay in because the weather was cold.

We sent her to the vet and we found out she had Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis. These are diseases caused by ticks. We did not notice the ticks because they were small and she had jet black fur.  The bacteria caused her platelets to drop and inflamed her pancreas. She stayed with the vet for five days. Arvin and Tweetty brought her to their house to look after her.

Last night, Tweetty messaged to tell me they sent Blessy to the vet. Blessy had difficulty standing and had low oxygen in her blood. I told Tweetty I will visit Blessy today.  When I woke up early this morning, I got a message from Tweetty that Blessy did not make it.

My heart broke and is still breaking.  I miss her. Terribly.

I take comfort in knowing that heaven is smiling to welcome such an angel.

Hug Papa, Mama and Peachy for me, Bless!



“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

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