7 Places in Laguna for a Stopover

Looking for the Chosen Juan? He’s most likely in a stopover in Laguna now.

By Dave Agbayani
May 04, 2016


Taking a road trip is one of the best ways to reach Laguna, especially of you live in Metro Manila. The place itself is also an ideal place for a vacation—whether you’re an art enthusiast, a self-proclaimed foodie, a history geek, or just someone who needs that “me time,” I’d say a dose of Laguna is just what you need. While touring this province, here are seven places for a stopover that you may want to check out.

1. Windmills of Pililla (via Mabitac, Laguna)
You don’t have to travel more than 10 hours to Bangui in Ilocos Norte to see some windmills. While heading to Laguna from Metro Manila, the white and gigantic windmills of the Pililla Wind Farm can be spotted from afar via the less-frequented trail from the town of Mabitac in Laguna. The farm is located in the town of Pililla in Rizal but a part of it already lies on Mabitac. Try to go near these 27 structures, each producing 2 megawatts of power, and be impressed with their height and massiveness.

2. Kape Kesada Art Gallery and Cafe
Another interesting place for a stopover is this small coffee shop along Quesada Street in the municipality of Paete. Kape Kesada is a café that doubles as an art gallery, which was opened in 2004 by Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, a dentist and art aficionado. He and his wife manage the café and provide an avenue for emerging artists to showcase their paintings and sculptures. The couple is also considering turning this café and art gallery into a bed and breakfast. Waking up to great coffee and mesmerizing art? Now that’s something I’d totally go for.

3. Paete, The Carving Capital
The residents of Paete have the ability to carve almost anything—from the conventional wood to ice, bars of soap, and even fruits and vegetables. No wonder why Paete has been declared as the country’s carving capital. Every third week of September, the town holds the Paet-Taka Festival which features carving competitions and a culinary festival—a unique and colorful celebration I would love to see for myself someday.

4. The Church of Paete
The Church of Paete has been a popular destination for Catholics every Holy Week. Upon entering the church, you will notice two paintings: one painted on the wall and the other on wood. There is an interesting story behind these artworks. The one painted on the concrete wall depicts a native Filipino holding on to a coconut tree, with nipa huts in the background. It is said that the Spanish priests disliked how it represented civilization so they asked to have it replaced. The artist, Josef P. Dans, painted a mestizo in place of the native and concrete buildings instead of nipa huts. You might want to check these paintings out yourself!

5. Underground Cemetery
It was only when I entered the underground cemetery in Nagcarlan, Laguna, that I realized that I’ve been there before. I was on a field trip with my philosophy classmates back then, but it was only on this visit that I learned about its significance, particularly with the history of the Philippines. Aside from the legend about an underground tunnel in the cemetery that leads straight to the church, it is also believed that this was where the Pact of Biak na Bato, the agreement that brought about the end of the Philippine Revolution, was drafted.

6. Pandin Lake
If you want to relax, feel the breeze—and best of all—have lunch in the middle of a lake, then plan a stopover at Pandin Lake in the city of San Pablo. While our cottage-on-a-raft was being dragged to the middle of the lake, our guide told us the legend behind it. Once there was a couple who couldn’t have children. They prayed to Bathala (the ancient Filipino supreme being) who blessed them with a beautiful daughter but with certain conditions. To make the long story short, the daughter had a suitor and the conditions were not met, and as a consequence, they became the twin lakes Pandin and Yambu respectively. It’s a strange story but aside from listening to legends along with the relaxing view, you can also look for the intriguing kind of bird here called sulyasid, a portmanteau of the words “sulyap” (to peek) and “sisid” (to dive), which describes the bird’s behavior.

7. Laong Laan Restaurant
Laong Laan is a restaurant that started in Calamba, Laguna, and known to serve only the best. With crispy pata and kare-kare as their specialties alongside other dishes such as bulalo, sinigang, and kilawin available at affordable prices, eating in a kubo in this restaurant will reintroduce your taste buds to authentic Filipino flavors.
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