Perspective drawing of St. John Paul II Shrine, scheduled to be commissioned by 2017. It will house a first class blood relic of Saint Pope John Paul II when it is finally built.

Every now and then it’s nice to leave Manila for some well deserved R&R. If you want to relax, smell some fresh air, you’d think Tagaytay. If you want a little peace and quiet but still overlooking the city, you’d think Antipolo. If you want a fun safari adventure, you’d think Subic. But then again, you’d say to yourself, “na naman?”

But then there is San Mateo. I woke up to lush greens and a view of Manila from a higher altitude, after a short 40 minute ride from Quezon City to a breezy place called Timberland Heights. One of 13 municipalities in the Province of Rizal, San Mateo is a first class urban municipality. Though it’s just 35 minutes from neighboring Antipolo, it is not a common “go to” in mind when you think of a quick road trip getaway from the city, unless you are a biking enthusiast.

Walk-ins can rest and hang out by the Rain Gardens

The place is popular for off-road mountain bikers because of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) certified Timberland Heights’ eco-trail. The ‘membership only’ estate is not open to the public but recently it has started to open up some of the realty’s amenities to bikers and some walk-in adventurers. “Whether you’re here for the day, you’re here for the weekend, or you’re here for life, we’d like to be able to widen that experience for everyone, “shares Francis V. Ceballos, senior vice president and North East Cluster head of Filinvest Land Inc.

With a minimal fee, get to pick vegetables and bring them back home to the city; Terrain biking trail

Timberland Heights is an expansive 677- hectare development in San Mateo that offers a 360 degree scenic view overlooking the Sierra Madre, Mt. Arayat, Tagaytay and Manila. The estate houses exclusive villages and upscale residential spaces surrounded by trees and mountains – Mandalas 1 and 2, the 6.3-hectare Banyan Ridge, the 15-hectare Banyan Crest, the 5.7-hectare The Ranch, The Leaf mountain resort condotel, and The Glades which is still lined up for development.

A view of Manila from Timberland Heights

Though you still can’t just walk-in and ask to dine at the country club (which is available only to shareholders, homeowners, and club members), the public can enjoy leisurely walks amidst the beautiful surroundings or go off-road biking on the terrain’s trail. All you have to do is register before you enter the gate. During weekends, the country club opens a breakfast setup by the gate where bikers can partake of breakfast congee or suman and other treats from the club’s menu. Currently, the adventure farm is open to people who want to enjoy the butterfly sanctuary, tour the peaceful rain gardens, or pick some vegetables by the veggie valley. You may also enjoy a day by the hilltop haven for picnic or ‘glamping’ (camping in style), or have the kids play by the mini lagoon and feed the kois and tilapias.

If you want to partake of the exclusive amenities like the pool (overlooking Manila), the restaurants, the condotels, the spa, the sports club, or rent them out for weddings and big events, a requirement is the purchase of the time sharing option on the condotel properties or get some shares of the country clubs.

A view of Manila from Timberland Heights

During Holy Week, Timberland Heights is also becoming popular among pilgrims. Starting on Ash Wednesday, pilgrims put up stations of the cross for people to complete. According to Noel Advincula, senior project development officer of Timberland Heights, last year they recorded a collective number of 3000 pilgrims, but the number most have likely doubled this year. By 2017, a new church is expected to rise at the estate. The St. John Paul II Shrine (image on top), inspired by the Nebraska Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas of the same name, will house a first class blood relic of Saint Pope John Paul II. The design of the holy place is set to inspire a whole new set of devotees to join the regular pilgrims.

Twin room in The Leaf

“We envisioned Timberland Heights as a recreational township destination, not just a place to live in but a destination that allows you to discover and experience life the extraordinary way while being cradled by nature’s own perfection,” shares Ceballos.
So where are you off to for the weekend? Get your off road gear and head for San Mateo and find the sanctuary called Timberland Heights.

For more information, call (02) 850 0888 or (0917) 877 0888. Follow Filinvest Group on Facebook, @Filinvest on Twitter, and @filinvestgroup on Instagram.

Source: Manila Standard Today