Category Archives: LAGUNA

SNAPSHOT: Buntot Palos Falls

Hidden inside the Sierra Madre Range, Buntot Palos Falls is also called, you guessed it right, the Hidden Falls. This 80 meter waterfall located in Pangil, Laguna is named as such because of the Palos (Eels) that are caught in its river complex, some says that the cascade is shaped like the tail of an eel. One can reach the falls after an hour from Brgy. Balian, Pangil, Laguna or a two hour trek passing through Mt. Bikay in Siniloan, Laguna.
How To Get There:

● 1st Option

  • Ride a Raymond Bus (Located at Legarda St., Sampaloc, Manila) bound for Infanta, Quezon and alight at the Famy, Laguna junction. (Travel time 2-3hrs depending on traffic conditions)
  • From Famy, hire a tricycle that will take you to the Brgy. Hall of Balian to register before you start the trek. 

● 2nd Option

  • From Edsa Crossing, there are Jeepneys and UV Express Vans bound for Tanay, Rizal. (Travel time 1.5hrs)
  • From Tanay Public Market, take the Jeepneys en route to Siniloan, upon arrival at Siniloan, hire a tricycle to rake you to Brgy. Balian.

Full Article Here:

In Silent Grandeur – Hulugan Falls and Aliw Falls

While browsing through my facebook newsfeed, I came across a status post from a friend about their hometown of Luisiana,Laguna and it includes pictures of pristine waterfalls that I am not familiar with. The province known for Pagsanjan, Buruwisan, and other named falls, has another set of hidden gems awaiting to be discovered. I also found out that for quite some time now, the said attractions named Hulugan and Aliw Falls, is still not in the must visit places in Laguna, which, apparently, is a good thing to start with.


The Little Baguio of Laguna
Without any further hesitation, I immediately messaged my friend and asked how to visit Luisiana since blog posts/entries involving the falls, is little to none. After a week, we decided to give it a visit. At 6:30am we rode a Greenstar Bus in Buendia going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna, the trip took 2hrs before we reached Brgy. Pagsawitan, where we alighted and rode another jeepney that goes to Lucban, Quezon.

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This monster jeepneys passes through Pagsanjan and Cavinti before reaching Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana, in 45mins.

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Luisiana, Laguna, is oftentimes regarded as the “Little Baguio of Laguna” owing to the cold climate of the municipality almost all year round, most especially in the morning.

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Upon reaching their barangay, we were asked by the locals to register at the Barangay Captain’s house which is another 10min walk from the main road. All of the people at the registration outpost that day is at the falls, cleaning and preparing the area due to a television network that will be visiting the following day to feature it on their show. Registration fee is 10php and guide fee depends on how much you can pay since there is still no fixed rates.

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Hulugan Falls
After some final preparations, we started the hike. The once grassy trails leading to the falls is now being converted to a concrete road so that it will be accessible to vehicles in the near future. The trek at the road took 15mins under the scorching heat of the sun and ends at the forest area, there were two trails, and we took the easier way down since the other one can be a little hard when descending.

Initial part of the forest trail involves river crossing which happens to be the upper part of the falls and is the downstream part of the Dapi River that directly feeds Hulugan Falls.

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After passing the river, a gradual and easy hike down to the falls will take you 15mins. The sound of water gushing down into the catchbasin is really imminent, and after 45mins of relaxed pacing (30mins at moderate pacing), we are at the Hulugan Falls.

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Words are not enough to describe how beautiful this pristine waterfall is, it is surrounded by verdant plants and mossy rocks, and as the water hits a large rock almost a third of its height down, it causes it to break and cascade down into a curtain of white water that gravitates down into a deep catch basin, while causing misty gusts of wind around the place, that results into little rainbows.

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The falls, according to the Luisiana Ecotourism Facebook page, is the highest falls in the jurisdiction of Luisiana and is approximately 25meters wide and 70meters tall, and pours down to the Balanac River that goes to Magdalena, Laguna.

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Time flew so fast while we enjoyed ourselves inside this grand environment, that we didn’t realized that 2hrs has already passed. We decided to go back at Kapitan’s house and visit another waterfall which is only a heartbeat away from the latter. After 40mins we were back at the registration place, and had our bellies refilled.

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Aliw Falls
At around 2pm, we started the trek to Aliw Falls, which is at Brgy. San Jose, which is adjacent to Brgy. San Salvador. Before reaching the Mountain Homes Subdivision, you will be passing by some Bibingka (Rice Cakes) stands along the highway and make sure to give it a try!.

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Upon reaching the subdivision, which is an unfinished one due to some issues with the contractor, we turned left at the end of the road and passed by some coconut plantations, that is used to produce Lambanog (fermented coconut juice that is processed to become wine).

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The trail is really easy, but still requires a guide since getting lost is still a factor, and also due to forks made by locals who plants and harvests crops around. After 45mins, at relaxed pacing again, we were welcomed by the sight of the Aliw Falls. Aliw is a filipino term for entertaining, which really makes you smile as you appreciate the several tierred waterfalls, with the river water gushing down into cascading dark rocks as it feeds down into a wide basin.

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A waterfalls with an approximate height of 25 meters and a width of 30 meters. Upstream/headwater of Dapi River going to Balanac River of Magdalena, Laguna. (Luisiana Ecotourism)

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We spent only a small amount of time in the area for us to catch the last trip of the jeepneys going back to Sta. Cruz by 5:30pm. By 3:30pm we were back at the highway and took a quick rest and took a shower at our guide’s house, and by 4:30pm we were already back at the highway.

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Travel Beyond Tourism
One thing that really caught my attention is that these natural attractions is relatively new and the influx of people visiting the place has only increased this year. And given its accessibility from Manila, this will be a sure hit. And with it is the development of the place; it breeds into numerous detrimental factors to the once quiet municipality of Luisiana.

Number of trees had been cut down to give way to the concrete road, that will shorten trek time from 45mins down to 15mins. Hoping the seedlings at the barangay will soon be planted to provide the once existing tree covering in the place.

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The scheme of guide fees and environmental fees will eventually evolve into fixed rates, but hoping that this won’t be another story of extortionist locals and skyrocketing fees, but of reasonable fees that aims to earn by promoting the place and keeping its sanctity into its natural balance.

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Some of those who come to visit this kinds of attractions doesn’t even respect the place and leaves their litter around. Reduce impact and travel beyond tourism, have “malasakit” (compassion and care) and treat the outdoors as a temple.

Hulugan Falls and Aliw Falls Daytrip
Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana, Laguna

0630  –  ETD Buendia, take Greenstar Bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna
0830  –  ETA Brgy. Pagsawitan, Sta. Cruz, Laguna
0845  –  ETD take jeep bound to Lucban
0930  –  ETA Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana, Laguna, register, prepare.
0945  –  Start Trek
1030  –  ETA Hulugan Falls, eat, swim,take pictures
1230  –  Descend back to Brgy. Hall
1315  –  Arrival at Brgy. Hall, rest
1400  –  Start trek to Aliw Falls
1440  –  ETA Aliw Falls
1530  –  Back at Luisiana highway, rest, bathe
1630  –  Take jeep back to Brgy. Pagsawitan
1715  –  ETA Sta. Cruz, take bus bound to Manila
2000  –  Manila

Expenses
Transportation:
Bus – 280php (Manila-Laguna-Manila)
Jeep – 60php (Sta. Cruz-Luisiana-Sta.Cruz)
Registration: 10php
Guide Fee: 100php/pax
Hulugan Falls: 400php/7pax
Aliw Falls: 300php/7pax
Food: 150php

Total Damage: 600php/pax

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Hiking should be accompanied with an appreciation that is the first step towards advocacy.” – Gideon Lasco

Go, Carve That Niche,

Rex

Not About Instant Gratification – Mt. Romelo (250+)

MT. ROMELO
Siniloan, Laguna
Major Jump-off: Brgy. Macatad, Upland Siniloan
Elevation: 300 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 1 day, 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail Class 1
Features: Waterfalls, Rain forest
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

And to cap off our celebration month for passing the board exams, my college friends invited me for a quick hike somewhere near Manila, and we decided to visit Mt. Romelo which is situated in Siniloan, Laguna.

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Where to next?.

The Travel
We took the Raymund Bus Lines going to Infanta, Quezon at Legarda, Sampaloc, Manila near Arellano University and Nagtahan Bridge (one can opt to take the LRT line 2 and alight at Legarda station, or take the jeepneys passing through Nagtahan). It was around 6:30am when we were en route to Infanta, and we asked to be dropped off at Buruwisan jumpoff (This is the only bus company that passes through the Siniloan jumpoff).

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The 48MW Pililia Wind Farm, which you will be passing by the Manila East Road and one can have the chance to see the Wind Turbines upclose.

The bus takes the Manila East Road that passes through several municipalities and cities of Rizal from Ortigas, then at Laguna which is on the other side of the Laguna de Bay and took us 4hrs before we reached the jumpoff point. At 10:30am we were at the jumpoff, Kia-3 Restaurant at the left side and the Buruwisan Multifalls signage at the right.

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The signage on the right.

We were welcomed by Kuya Rey who said he was a guide of Mt. Romelo and lead us at the small registration hall, you will be passing by a mini dam then into a concrete walkway. (I recommend to contact guides prior to your climb since the registration hall is 5mins from the highway).

Then There’s Mud
Mt. Romelo is a good training climb near Manila for newbie hikers out there since the trail is mostly straightforward . We reached the registration hall and paid the fee and logged our names in. After preparing our stuff, we started the hike by 11:00am. The weather was quite unforgiving on our case, rain started pouring hard as we alighted at the jumpoff until we started, and man, the trail was all muddy all throughout.

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After passing by the hanging bridge, the trail is a bit slippery.
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As good as it gets to as muddy as it gets.
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Wide trails caused by horses passing through and also by some large volumes of visitors every weekend.

My friends had no choice but to have their shoes submerged in deep mud puddles than to slide down into it. It was not what we expected but the difficulty made the climb more exciting.

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As chaotic as the seperation of church and state, so is the mud trail and the flora.
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Selfeet!.

A Breath of Fresh Air
You will be passing by two small resting areas before the so called summit, and after an hour of trekking into the notoriously muddy trail, we reached the top of Mt. Romelo by 12:00nn.

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The view from the summit.
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The summit is more like of a hill with grasses all over.
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So when we accept the outdoors as our temple, let's respect it and treat it as a temple by leaving no trace.

And as soon as we descended down to reach the multifalls of Siniloan, we were again battered by the rain.

Into The Falls
And as we ascended down Mt. Romelo’s summit, the trail got more notoriously muddy than before, but we have no choice but to pass through it to get to the waterfalls. And after an hour of sliding and slipping into the puddles, we reached the campsite. Surprising It was like a small village, with several erected cottages, houses, and even sari-sari stores. locals said that during weekends, hundreds of visitors camp in the place, no wonder the commercialization here is beyond what an impact can become.

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Sure the falls is really near.

We can even have a kilo of rice cooked for a fee as soon as we finished exploring the falls. From the campsite you can see the river that feeds the Buruwisan falls as the water gravitates downward into a freefall in its catch basin.

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You jump, I jump. Kidding!, it would be fatal to jump at 180ft down, but rappeling for experienced mountaineers is really a must.

From the campsite we trekked down to witness the grandeur of the new Buruwisan Falls by taking its steep trail downward, really exciting.

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Injury is prevalent all throughout when it's wet so be careful all the time.

New Buruwisan Falls

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The outdoors is healing, it's rejuvenating, it's spiritual.
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Isn't it amazing?.

And after a brief climb down to reach the falls, she unravelled her self and she is really a sight to behold. A stream of water is flowing from its mouth that passes through enclaves of moss and ferns and some vines that goes down into a wide catch basin. Not far from the left is a small cave with curtains of roots. The word Buruwisan came from a specie of tree that once thrived into its riverbanks back in the days, but as of today there is little to none.

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No doubt, she's a beauty.
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The New Buruwisan Falls.

There are several waterfalls around the area, the Old Buruwisan Falls which is only accessible by rappeling, Twin Falls, Batya-Batya, Lanzones, Sapang Labo, and Sampaloc Falls. The water was cold, and one must swim with precaution since the catch basin can suddenly get deep.

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Love Mother Nature unconditionally.

Lanzones Falls

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Another waterfall!.

Not far from the Buruwisan Falls is Lanzones Falls to the right, while Old Buruwisan to the left. The falls is accessible in 5mins from the first waterfall and has her own unique characteristic. And she was named after the fruit that grows abundantly from September to December, Lanzones which was peddled by some people boarding the bus before we alighted.

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Walk walk walk.

Upon reaching the Lanzones Falls, instead of moss and ferns, this one is flowing through dark and sharp rocks as the water goes down into a 70ft drop before the shallow catch basin that is ideal for swimming.

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Instead of visiting the place for picture's sake. Why not try to live in the now, and enjoy what's in front of you for as long as you like. So take that camera down and live.

By 2:30pm we decided to go back to the campsite and have our lunch, it is ideal to stay overnight if you want to explore the several remaining falls in the area, but in our case we are doing a dayhike, so we must be at the jumpoff before dark. After having our lunch, we trekked back into the jumpoff point and by 4:30pm we were back. Rains were prevalent again that the mud covered trail was unforgiving. By 5:30pm we were at the highway and waited again for the bus that goes back to Legarda. The travel time took 4hrs.

The Cons
The locals welcome almost everybody at anytime and any day of the week, that several huts are open during the weekend along the trail. And the campsite was like a small village full of stores and and cottages. It helps the locals to get through their everyday life, but imagine the impact of hundreds of visitors during weekends. It is once said that fireflies swarm the trees at night and animals roam free, but none can be seen today aside from snakes.
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“Thousands of nerve-shaken, over civilized people is beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a neccessity..” – John Muir
(But what if that neccessity is also slowly being killed by these kind of people?)

Visiting the basins of the falls can be quite dissapointing since garbages are tucked over there, right here, and under here. Is it really hard for people to keep their litter for a while?. Even vandalism is prevalent, like they can write on it ’cause visiting the place is their bragging right. Come on, let’s be responsible enough.

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We live a blessed life, and spending it on the outdoors is very rewarding. But be responsible enough to respect it.

Budget and Itinerary
Mt. Romelo Dayhike + Buruwisan Falls + Lansones Falls

0530  –   Meet up at Legarda
0630  –  Take bus at Raymund Bus Lines,   Legarda to Brgy. Macatad, Siniloan, Laguna (117php)
1030  –  ETA jump-off point. Register (P50/person) – guide at 600php
1100  –  Start trek
1200  –  ETA Mt. Romelo Summit
1230  –  ETA Campsite. Visit Buruwisan. Lunch.
1330  –  Explore Lansones Falls
1430  –  Start descent
1630  –  Back at jumpoff. Clean up
1730  –  Head back to Manila
2130  –  ETA Manila

*Kuya Rey (Guide) – 09213160113
Expenses per Pax
Bus – 234php
Tricycle – 26php (80php one way/3pax)
Guide – 200php per pax(group of 3pax)
Fee – 50php
Food – 200php

Total damage – 690php (800php safe budget)
 

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

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In Her Sybilline Embrace – Mt. Makiling / UPLB Trail (1090+)

Los Baños, Laguna
Major Jump-off: Station 1, UP College of Forestry
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to summit / days required: 1-2 days / 4-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
Features: Tropical forests, variety of flora and fauna
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

Three successive typhoons have brought intense rains all over the country, and such rains is really not ideal for a hike. The supposedly major climb into the devil’s mountain of Mt. Cristobal were cancelled due to several reasons, first, monsoon rains for a week, second, military operations against the NPA’s taking refuge in it. We were sporting our backpacks that friday night when the second unfortunate event struck, dashing hopes. Then we decided to hike Mt. Makiling as an alternative.

The Lambana Of The Mountain
Maria Makiling, a central figure in the Philippine mythology, is most widely known as the Nymph or “Diwata” that lives and protects the mountain. She is believed to be as old as the mountain itself, and for ages, Mt. Makiling has been a haven of flora and fauna amid detrimental changes of her surroundings, and has been as mystical as the name.
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We took a bus bound to Los Baños, Laguna at Buendia around 5am, upon arrival we then catched a jeepney that plies the route of UPLB Forestry. We passed by the largest UP campus in the country at 14, 669.23 hectares (uplb.edu.ph) comparing it with University of Santo Tomas at 21.5 hectares. By 7:00am we were already at the ranger station and logged our names and paid some fees.

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The most commonly used route is at UPLB College of Forestry.
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The map that leads to Peak 2 and can be traversed to Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

After some final preparations, we started the trek at 8:00am.

The Road To Agila Base
Reaching peak 2, you have to pass 30 camps, first part of which is the camps 1 to 11 leading to the Agila Base. The road is very ideal for bikers and wide enough for vehicles to pass. After 45 minutes of walking we reached the nursery and where the Makiling Rainforest Park is also situated. 

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Halfway to Agila Base.

And several more camps and an hour of walking alongside the tall trees, the bike trail ends at camp 11. And the real hike into Makiling’s embrace starts.

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Where the bike trail ends and the hiking trail starts.

Into The Wilderness
The foliage of plants and tall trees became more dense and the breeze was cooler from camp 12 and up. We passed by the Malaboo campsite at camp 14 and were greeted by fellow hikers who spent the night in there.

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Trees, trees and more trees.
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The established trail getting narrower from the Malaboo campsite up to camp 30.

Around 10:30am we were finally at Camp 20 or so called the Wilderness Zone, where thick overgrowth of plants and Limatiks/Leech are now present.

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The mossy trail at the wilderness zone.
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Must be Kaong.
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Leaves that are way larger.

The Long and Winding Road
So far, this has been the longest trail that we had experienced. We were very excited for a Limatik attack on our way to the summit and finally, they showed up. They were really “attached” to you if not for the alcohol.

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The infamous limatik.

The ascent gets more steeper as it nears the second peak, but the sight was really scenic upon reaching camps 26-29.

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Laguna De Bay from a view point to peak 2.
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One can see Talim Island and Jala-Jala, Rizal on a good day.
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Almost there!.

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And by 12noon, we are finally at the peak 2 of Mt. Makiling, it was just bare ground with no view point. Only by attempting a traverse to Sto. Tomas, Batangas will one be able to get a good photo of the mountain from the summit.

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Almost the 30th.

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Going up is optional, getting down is mandatory.

And after spending an hour of rest, we descended back the UPLB Trail since we do not have someone to guide us to the Sipit Trail.

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Selfies are way better when you are on top of a tree that is on top of a mountain.
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The other peaks, only accesible by doing a traverse.

Hot Spring, Anyone?
The descent is now getting tiring and by 3:00pm we were already back at the Agila Base. At camp 10, taking a Habal-Habal at a cost down to the ranger station is optional, but we are still about to do two more sidetrips before heading back that we refused to take one. Along the first half of the trail, two possible sidetrips are present. At Camp 8 was the Mudsprings, at 682 meters from the trail head, is one of the few mud pots left of the dormant volcano which is Mt. Makiling.

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Boiling, Sulfurous and Acidic.

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This spring is characterized by a distinct sulfuric smell and you will see steam billowing from its hot and acidic water. Some say that before the fence was erected, they used to make hard boiled eggs in its murky waters.

Then There’s Water
After paying a visit into its Mudspring we then got back at the trail and continued walking down until we reached camp 2. And again from the trailhead, another 948 meters is the Flat Rocks.

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Most of the time, that is all we'll ever get, the now.

This is a small river characterized by flat slabs of rock on top of each other, hence, Flat Rocks. Some incidents tell of a flashflood that washed away some students having a picnic, bodies were not immediately found, until the following day, were seen floating along the creeks inside the campus.

It was already 5:30pm when we are at the ranger station, tidied up and reached the town proper come 6:00pm. It was a good (and tiring) day indeed.

Sample Itinerary & Budget
Via UPLB Trail
4:45 – Assembly at Buendia, take bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (100php/pax)
5:15 – ETD to Los Baños, Laguna
6:30 – ETA Los Baños Crossing, take jeep near Robinson’s Place with signboard “UPLB Forestry” (7.50php/pax)
7:00 – ETA UPLB College of Forestry, log in, leave 1 ID for your group. (10php/pax)
7:30 – Start hike
8:45 – Makiling Rainforest Park, refreshments are available
9:30 – Agila Base
10:00 – Malaboo Campsite
10:30 – Camp 20, Wilderness Zone
12:00 – Peak 2, take pictures, eat lunch, rest.
13:00 – Proceed with descent
15:00 – ETA Agila Base
15:30 – Camp 8, proceed to Mudspring
15:45 – ETA Mudspring, take pictures
17:00 – ETA Flatrocks, take pictures
17:30 – ETA Ranger Station, tidy up
18:00 – Take a jeep going back to Los Baños, Crossing (7.50php/pax)
18:30 – Dinner
19:15 – Take Bus going back to Buendia (100php/pax)
20:00 – ETA Buendia

Itinerary & Expenses
Transportation: 215php/pax
Guide and Fees: 10php/pax (Registration Fee)
Food: 250php

Total Damage: 475php – 600php safe budget

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex