NOBODY forgets their first time, especially when it is the Marilaque.
The Marilaque (Manila-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon) Highway, also known as the Marcos Highway, is one of the most popular route for Manila-based riders because of the scenic views, its close proximity to the metropolis and its “twisties.”
It is a 44-kilometer long mountain stretch highway that begins in the Marikina end of the Sierra Madre mountain range then going up to Antipolo City then passing through the towns of Tanay in Rizal, Santa Maria in Laguna up to Infanta, Quezon.
Two years ago, I have decided to test its twisties together with several rider friends. It was my second out-of-town ride. The first was in Mount Sungay in Tagaytay.
We arrived at Shell Pugon around 6:45 a.m. to meet several riders who were to join the trip.
I was surprised by the number of motorcycles parked there. Lots of riders, lots of motorcycles… Doon pala talaga ang take off site so sea of bikes was quite overwhelming.
We took off at 7:45 a.m. and stopped momentarily at Petron Cogeo to meet a fellow rider… from there we motored our way up to the scenic slopes of Sierra Madre. The path was somewhat straight at first, just perfect for a beginner. The road began winding as we go deeper into our journey.
As the fog got a little thicker and the breeze started to chill, we were already gliding through the curves, leaning our bikes with the turns… it was gratifying and exhilarating, I caught myself smiling while twisting the throttle. The road and the scenic backdrop were pure pleasure to the senses, you really can’t help but enjoy.
We took a short breather just in front of the Sierra Madre Hotel. There, we waited for my compadre, Ser Brian, who slowed down after having trouble with his front wheel.
A quick fix at a nearby vulcanizing shop allowed us to throttle some more until we reached the Gathering Place cafe in Sampaloc. It was 10 a.m. and the light rains even made the temperature colder.
There we parked our bikes and ordered merienda… I wandered around to snap some photos and saw a row of Vespas parked near a couple of mini huts. As it turned out, the scooters were owned by Ebong Joson and his friends who were busy chatting while waiting for the drizzle to stop.
I had a cup of kapeng barako and feasted on longganisa, fried and and rice (i ordered tocilog, but the hungry stomach had to settle for longsilog).
I decided to cut my trip short and join my compadre and his brother in-law to ride our way back to Manila. Ser Brian had a flat tire, but could still ride slow on mag wheels. As much as I wanted to join the rest of the gang in Famy, the lack of sleep was beginning to take toll on my eyes.
I didn’t make it to Infanta, but I promised myself that I’ll go there next time.
That was my first taste of Marilaque… I returned to ride up to Real, Quezon a year later. But we’ll save it for another story.