Named after Saint Joseph whose statue was found in a nearby forest, San Jose del Monte is a vibrant city north-east of Manila. It was settled in the 18th century by families from Meycauayan and is now frequented by Catholics wanting to pay their respects at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Shrine.
Things to do
Gaze up at the soaring tower of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Shrine, which is a replica of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. It was built by Anita Guidote-Guanzon, who was miraculously cured of cancer after visiting the French church. Coincide your visit with the Holy Week celebrations when devotees pay their respects at the 14 Stations of the Cross, then witness the 155 huge concrete “beads” atop Rosary Hill.
To the east of San Jose del Monte rises Mount Balagbag, a grassy peak that forms part of the Sierra Madre. It offers sweeping views across Ortigas and parts of Manila from its summit, which can be reached along an easy trail that’s best seen during early morning hikes before the heat of the day sets in.
En route to the trailhead is Kaytitinga Falls, a three-tiered cascade surrounded by lush forest that can be accessed along a one-hour hiking trail. The area is home to the indigenous Dumagat people, who have managed to maintain their traditional lifestyle and culture while preserving this natural habitat.
San Jose del Monte is just over an hour’s drive from the centre of Manila and around 1.5 hours from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Buses and jeepneys are the main means of getting around the city or you can find plenty of tricycle “taxis” for short journeys.