Monday, December 26, 2016


Laguna has been a good destination due to its hot springs, cold springs, lakes, rich culture, varied delicacies and historical landmarks. This post specifically summarizes a 2-day trip to the City of San Pablo and its neighboring towns, Nagcarlan and Liliw. In my early posts, I have chronicled individual posts for these destinations. There are twelve things you can do in these destinations, maximizing your time in a well-planned and highly organized trip.

1. Take a leisurely walk and capture the scenic spots of Sampaloc Lake

Sampaloc Lake in the heart of San Pablo City (photo credit: John Madrigal blog)

Your tour starts when you lift the bus at SM San Pablo. Take a public utility motorcab and ask him to bring you there at Sampaloc Lake which is situated in the very heart of San Pablo City. You can even hire the motorcab to have a circumferential drive around to have a complete glimpse of the lake. Sampaloc is the biggest of the seven lakes of San Pablo City.

2. Climb Mount Mabilog to capture the overlooking scenery of the seven lakes of San Pablo City

The majestic scenery overlooking the lakes from Mount Mabilog (photo credit: Francis Balgos' Blog site Pala-Lagaw)

While it is too early for a swim in the twin lakes of Pandin and Yambu, take it an alternative to climb Mount Mabilog instead. It will take 2 to 3 hours to ascend and an hour to descend the mountain. Its jump off point is also the point where parking space for the Lake Pandin is located. You need a guide? Contact Kuya Nick Catapang for a dayhike guide fee of P700. Ring or text him in his mobile numbers at 09772818967 or 09108557305.

Mount Mabilog has an elevation of 441 Meters Above Sea Level (MASL) with specs of a minor climb with Difficulty of 2/9 and has trail of class 1-3. It has a major jump point in Purok 3 (Sandig), Brgy. Sta. Catalina, San Pablo and two alternative jump off points, namely: Brgy. Sulsuguin, Nagcarlan and Lake Pandin, Brgy. Sto. Angel, San Pablo. (Source: Pinoy Mountaineer Website)

3. Cruise, swim, had a playful swing and opportunity for self-love photography at Lake Pandin

Capturing other groups in lake cruise rafting

Lake Pandin unexpectedly came up to be one of the best in this trip as I chronicled it in a separate post at AFFORDABLE TOUR PACKAGE OF PANDIN LAKE (SAN PABLO) FOR AS LOW AS P674. It is a two-hour cruise package of fun-filled activity.

A cruise date for lovers (Models: Terence Lagman and Shiela Belen)

A less than narcissistic opportunity for photography . . . just kidding (Model: Jessie Gines)

An endless swim at the fresh-water lake

A leisurely swing while the raft is docked

Tarzanification on the vines of the trees

4. Dine for a sumptuous lunch while on board in a lake cruise

A seafood lunch while on a lake cruise

Just after scaling Mount Mabilog, it would be at 11:00 A.M. already. By this time, the lake water is warmer and the best time to have a swim. Remember to book your tour package earlier as there are only 12 rafts operating. Those who had reservations are the the priority to be accommodated by the rafts. The community operator is not after the money they earned from this sustainable income generating community tourism project. How to book, contact Ms. Cristina "Tina" Abrego at +639079952983. If you opt to stay overnight, just coordinate with Tina and she will book for you an accommodation. Part of the 2-hour Pandin Lake package tour of P360 is this palatable meal which is more than enough for one person serving. Though, if the guests opt not to have this kind of meal, they can request upon reservation of what cuisine they want to be served but with an additional charge depending upon the cost of the meal.

Siesta time after lunch while still on cruise

The bamboo raft while on cruise is safely hooked to a stable rope which is connected to the other end of the lake where the raft will be docked for a swim or other water-fun activities. Life vests are provided as part of the tour package so that guests can safely swim in this lake with an average depth of 63 meters or 206.69 feet. Read more about its details on the separate blog post at AFFORDABLE TOUR PACKAGE OF PANDIN LAKE (SAN PABLO) FOR AS LOW AS P674.

5. Trek to the other side and feast on the majestic view of Yambu Lake with Mount Mabilog on the backdrop

While the raft is docked, there is another exciting activity that awaits the curious guests. This is just less than 5-minute trek to the other side to see the totality of Yambu Lake.

Our group still docked at Lake Pandin ready for a 5-minute assault to Yambu Lake

The uphill trek is manageable. What matters is that something that will unfold to your eyes as you reached the top. You will be bewildered with another majestic lake of Yambu. Other guests do try for another cruise in this lake but with different tour operators. At this point, Mount Mabilog is at a closer range.

Just a teaser view of Yambu Lake

The rewarding view of Yambu Lake is just another treat to your feasting eyes. You can do as much as swimming, fishing, rafting and cruise and any other water fun activities available as per the tour operator package.

I can't resist of giving you some of the pictures I took while I was at Yambu Lake. Remember, that this is still a part of the 2-hour Lake Pandin tour package of P360 which you should maximize. Time extension is not allowed as some other booked groups are in queue for their turn.

A docked raft at Yambu Lake

Boarding shortly at the raft

Having a short chat with the guides

Last glimpse of the Yambu Lake

You can read more about Yambu Lake here in a separate post at AFFORDABLE TOUR PACKAGE OF PANDIN LAKE (SAN PABLO) FOR AS LOW AS P674

6. Shop in Liliw town center like there is no tomorrow

The twin Lake tour package of Pandin and Yambu can be done before 3:00 P.M. and there is still ample time to have an hour travel to Liliw for shopping of affordable and cheaper footwears with high quality.

Inside Entrada shoe store

Entrada Shoe Store and Badong Footwear Factory are among the famous stores in Liliw. In my first visit here, I happened to buy leather sandals and shoes in these outlets and true enough, they are durable.

Pure leather sandals at Badong Footwear Factory

Of course, there are a number of footwear stores in Liliw and almost the long stretch of Gat Tayaw Street is dotted with these footwear stores giving attractive and affordable prices especially if you buy by the dozen for slippers as pasalubong or Christmas gifts.

Souvenir items are also available in selected outlets

Souvenir items also abound in some store outlets like t-shirts, mugs, handy fans, kid's apparels, women's accessories, kitchen wares and the like. And the best thing is some food vendors are selling delicacies like pancit hab-hab and cassava special cakes. Fruits are cheaper and the ferns vegetable or the commonly called "pako", they are all available. Read more about this in a separate post DINE AND SHOP TILL YOU DROP IN LILIW (LAGUNA)

7. Attend a late afternoon mass at Liliw Church

Be a pilgrim to this 396-year old Baroque red-brick Church --- a structural design introduced by the Spanish conquerors and be succumbed to its basilica-like ambiance.

Liliw Church or Saint John the Baptist Parish Church

For the Catholic believers, it won't be bad if you started your shopping at 3:00 P.M. and temporarily stop it to attend the holy mass at Liliw Church which is at 5:15 P.M. during weekdays and 5:00 P.M. during weekends. This is the only mass in the afternoon. You may want to know more about the history of the church, visit its separate post at SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH CHURCH OF LILIW

8. Dine at the White House Pavilion

As you go out from the church, it is too early for dinner. You can checked in at Liliw Resort which is accessible through a public utility motorcab to unload yourselves with your bags and the countless purchases of footwears, souvenir items, vegetables, fruits and other stuff. It is just timely to refresh yourself with a shower.

The White House Pavilion

Coming from an exhausting day of endless physical activities from trekking, lake cruise, shopping,land transfers and attending mass, it is now high time to treat yourself with a grand dinner at the White House Pavilion. See a related and more detailed post at DINE AND SHOP TILL YOU DROP IN LILIW (LAGUNA)

Just one of the set meals at White House

With us were the couple owner with the husband as the chef

9. Alternatively, dine in at Arabela for their special cakes, pastries and uniquely aromatic coffee

Arabela Cake and Coffee Shop is just at the back of White House Bistro. Since this closes at 7:00 P.M. there might be no time anymore if you have your dinner at the White House Bistro. If you want to try it, catch it as it opens at 11:15 A.M. the following day.

White to eat and buy at Arabela (Photo Credit: Half White Boy Blog)

Arabela from all the blogs I've read and knew offers an array of delicious cakes and pastries where you can even buy as pasalubong when you go back to Manila. Unfortunately, due to our hectic schedule, our group was not even able to taste any of its luscious and appetizing cakes and pastries. When I go back again to Liliw, this will be my first destination.

Arabela's dining interior design (Photo credit: Half White Boy Blog)

10. Have a soundly overnight sleep at the Liliw Resort

Liliw is also evolving to have its own share of night life activities but not too much since there are only few bars there that one can visit and enjoy for a night life. Generally speaking, the town sleeps early. So, going to Liliw Resort for your accommodation at 9:00 P.M. boarding a public utility motor cab might be late already. Remember, heading to this place leads you to a rough gradually descending dark road. Dogs which felt that you are a stranger will bark you in wreckless abandon.

The rich verdant Liliw Resort

The resort gives a cool temperature as it rests in a cascading cold spring coming from Banahaw. It would be good to have a swim in later time of the morning. I for one, woke up as early as 6:00 A.M. and had a refreshing walk falling in love with this seemingly rich forest paradise.

The ice-cold cascading spring

Staying for another two hours in the resort is just practical to regain the energy you've spent the other day where you've got yourself in a multi-physical activities. It is now time to rest and take a dip in the cold spring. Then, group bonding may also be good and communing with nature as well. See its detailed post at LILIW RESORT: A COMPLETELY LUSH FOREST PARADISE

11. Find time to visit the 333-year old Nagcarlan Church

Nagcarlan Church or known as Saint Bartholomew the Apostle Parish Church is just along the way heading back to San Pablo City and just a 5-minute drive from its neighboring town of Liliw. Read its detailed post at SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE CHURCH OF NAGCARLAN

The interior of Nagcarlan Church

12. Finally, have a taste of the colonial past by visiting the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

Don't ever miss it!!! Another important museum is just along the highway heading for San Pablo City. Just another 5 minutes drive from Nagcarlan Church. Read its detailed post at NAGCARLAN UNDERGROUND CEMETERY

After this Underground Cemetery, you can now take a public utility jeepney for an hour drive to San Pablo City and from San Pablo City, you can take a bus going to Manila.


Location: Barangay Bambang, Nagcarlan, Laguna, Philippines

Note: This is a part of my 2-day Pandin-Yambu twin-lake tour, Liliw shopping spree and food trip, attending holy mass at Liliw Church, overnight at Liliw Resort, religious visit to Nagcarlan Church and historic tour to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.

The 171-year old Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

This landmark is truly a gem of Nagcarlan as it has its own charm and mysticism. While Camiguin de Mindanao has its Sunken Cemetery as one of its historical and cultural tourist destinations, this one is another kind of its own. Truly this one has a significant historical value to the people of Laguna or even to the Philippines as a whole as it has been encrypted as one of the national historical landmarks and museums by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

The Nagcarlan Residencia or Municipal Hall

Boarding a jeepney from Nagcarlan Church for 5 minutes bound for San Pablo City, we passed by first the Nagcarlan Municipal Hall and finally after almost a minute, we were infront of the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. By the way, the cemetery is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Pablo.

The imposing facade of the cemetery

I was in complete awe as I approached the grandiose gate of the cemetery. It was obviously reminiscent of an Spanish influence by just looking at its architectural design. I was like entering the interior gate of Fort Santiago, but this one is so evergreen and spacious. The skies was so clear and very welcoming of my arrival. Everything just seemed to be perfect. The blending of colors of the skies, the clouds, the grass and architectural design just perfectly blend to the delight of my camera and my senses as well.

The long passage red brick ramp

And yes, getting inside the cemetery is a long walk through a red brick aisles to finally enter into a small chapel where it houses the underground cemetery. I can't resist then to stop and capture some picturesque angles. I really did not regret that I dropped by here. It was completely an astonishing experience to be here.

The chapel's facade of the underground cemetery

Inside the chapel, I learned from the assisting staff that this landmark opens at 8:00 A.M. and closes at 5:00 P.M. from Tuesdays to Sunday. As far as I can remember, I did not pay for any entrance fee. However, guests are encouraged to give donation for the maintenance of the museum.

The Image of Santo Intierro (Jesus dead body)

Inside the chapel is the holy image of Santo Intierro, the holy dead body of Jesus Christ as commemorated every Good Friday of the Holy Week celebrations.

Part of the underground cemetery

It was surprising that I got good photos while at the underground. The walls seemed to be luminous and it gave a good effect as the camera captures every single photo.

Staying longer at the underground

Our company of four was not complete when we went underground. Only Jessie Gines accompanied me down there. The rest just did not want to go down as they felt scared to go down while I was not. I was left alone by Jessie after we both took shots alternatively.

The last 8 concrete stairs leading down to the underground cemetery

Not many like to go down to the underground. To those visitors I had a chat, they said, the place is entwined with so much mystery and it gave them an eerie feeling being down there. But for me, it was an opportunity to experience the place as if I am travelling back in time.

While I was leaving the place

I still wanted to stay longer but I need to be back in Manila just timely for a professional appointment. But really, I have fallen for the place. It was just like a nostalgic journey and I really got hooked into a deep connection of the Spanish colonial past.


Brgy. Taytay, Nagcarlan, Laguna, Philippines

Note: This is a part of my 2-day Pandin-Yambu twin-lake tour, Liliw shopping spree and food trip, attending holy mass at Liliw Church, overnight at Liliw Resort, religious visit to Nagcarlan Church and historic tour to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.

Another centuries-old Baroque Catholic church in Laguna

Saint Bartholomew the Aposle Parish Church of Nagcarlan has its feast day celebrated every August 2. It is just five minutes drive away from the Liliw town. They are adjacent towns. From San Pablo City, we have to pass by first Nagcarlan town before Liliw. But this time, as we are travelling back to San Pablo City, we have to drop by in Nagcarlan to visit the church.

The long elevated approach of the church as viewed from its main door

Wikipedia provides a historical account of the church as follows: Nagcarlan was first colonized in 1571 by Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel López de Legazpi.It was founded by Franciscan priest Father Juan de Plasencia and Diego Oropesa in 1578. The church of Nagcarlan was first built from light materials such as nipa and wood in 1583 under the chaplaincy of its first priest, Father Tomas de Miranda who also pioneered the cultivation of wheat in the country and was dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. During Father Cristobal Torres's term, a second church made of stone and bricks was built in 1752.The multicolored stones and bricks of the church are offered by people during its construction. The church was partially destroyed by fire in 1781. Immediate repair and reconstruction was done under the term of Father Anatacio de Argobejo and later by Father Fernando de la Puebla, who built the four storey brick bell tower. Further reconstruction using adobe and restoration (including elaborately designed tiles) in 1845 and addition of the choir loft on three strong arches was done under the supervision of Father Vicente Velloc. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was built also in 1845 and the church rectory in 1850 under Father Velloc. In the 1990s, Monsignor Jose Barrion led a huge restoration project for the church.

The church belltower

Looking at the church's bell tower, its placement and structure is almost the same with the Liliw Church. The only difference is the latter has both red bricks and adobe for its materials and higher in structure.

The image of Our Lady of Lourdes

Facing the church, the image of Our Lady of Lourdes is erected outside its right wing. While in Liliw Church, the image of Our Lady of Fatima is located at the front right corner of the church.

The church's main door

It was around 10:00 A.M. when we arrived in the church and it was dark inside. Baptism was officiated by the Reverend Father Modelo N. Del Valle, the parish priest inside Sacristy Room on the left wing of the church. We waited for about 35 minutes. I can not just take pictures with a dim altar and interior.

The lighted church altar

I humbly requested from the parish priest that the altar and the whole of the church be lighted because I am taking pictures for my blog which he enthusiastically granted. He instructed a knights of the altar to do it. Unfortunately, those who just attended the baptism rights positioned themselves for the picture taking on the altar. I humbly told them that I was the one who requested the lights and that they should allow me to take pictures without them on the background. Fortunately, they allowed me with a smile.

The partially lighted church interior

For some information, I gathered some from the parish office. However, the staff there told me that they do not have an available copy of brochure. They handed me a copy of novena for Saint Bartholomew the Apostle.

While I was inside the church

Before leaving, I approached again the parish priest to thank him for the opportunity he has given me and the assisting knights of the altar. It was too hot outside then and we have to walk two blocks away to catch the jeepney to our next destination.

The corner where we catched the jeepney to our next destination

Carrying our travelling bags with some pasalubongs, vegetables and fruits, we headed to the point where we had to get a public utility jeepney bound for San Pablo City but we have to drop by again in the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery where I suppose was another 5-minute drive away from this church.


Location: Gate 2, Barangay Kanlurang Bukal, Liliw, Laguna, Philippines

Note: This is a part of my 2-day Pandin-Yambu twin-lake tour, Liliw shopping spree and food trip, attending holy mass at Liliw Church, overnight at Liliw Resort, religious visit to Nagcarlan Church and historic tour to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.

The luxuriant Liliw Resort

Liliw Resort is just more than a kilometer from Poblacion through public utility motorcab. After a tiring and endless shopping in the town center of Liliw; dining from White House Pavilion and attending mass at Saint John the Baptist Parish Church, the best option is to stay overnight in this resort.

A little green paradise

As this resort rests along a running spring, it gives a soothing cold water. It has affordable nipa/wood hut cottages with small dining area, grilling/cooking area, sink, toilet and bath, and beds. Beware though, the water in the spring is ice cold! There are no TV sets but there is electricity where you can charge your gadgets. In addition,there is no network signal either Globe or Smart.

While at the cold spring in the morning

The cottages vary in sizes where the pricing follows. They are identified with the name of the flowers like: Sampaguita, Waling-Waling and a few others. But the biggest cottage that I have seen was the Maranao. It has like a function hall. We stayed in Sampaguita where there were three rooms with each room has one bed equipped with only a fan. The comfort/bathroom is common and there is like a common living room with kitchen and dining table. Not bad at all.

Viewing the cascading spring adjacent to the cottages

Facilities of the resort are so basic. The caretakers are difficult to locate most particularly at night though they sleep inside the resort. Not a world-class but with backpackers, groups and family bonding activities, this resort is the ideal one with its affordable rental rate. I had the chance to roam around in the morning and met some backpackers who just did their shopping spree and food trip in Liliw town. Like us, a few of them just came from Pandin Lake of San Pablo City.

Defying the ice cold water of the spring

Mind you, I had a good and soundly sleep at our resort. It was so cold that I did not even need an electric fan. The beddings and blanket were so ordinary and so I had to use my own where I took it intended for a soundly and warm sleep.

Pretending to be comfortably seated in an ice-cold water

It is advisable that guests should bring their own food as there is no assurance that they can order food from the Kamayan Restaurant situated at the main entrance which I saw was already closed at 10 P.M. when we arrived to check-in and was still even closed when I roamed around in the morning at 8:30 A.M.till we checked out at 9:30 A.M. Maybe, bigger groups can arrange their food ahead of time by the time they reserve for accommodation.

The kiddie pool

The swimming pools are outside the cottages area where one has to go out first from the main gate of the resort. The entrance fee irregardless of age, day trip or overnight is P50. It was not clear if it only covers the kids but not the infants. Common sense, he he he . . .

The adult pool

Parking fees are charged to vary as to: overnight is P100 for the bus and P50 for jeepney while the day tour charges P50 for the buses and P25 for the jeepney. Jeepney and cars have the same rates, I suppose.

My companion friends (from left to right): Hara Yukiko (Japanese), Jessie Gines and Judy Aguinaldo

Join me to see more of the resort through the following pictures:

As resorts vary in size, it would be practical to contact the administration office with the following contact details:

Ms. Maye
Liliw Resort
Gate 2, Kanlurang Bakal, Liliw, Laguna