70 Things to Rediscover in Laguna
Care for a weekend escape? We give you 70 things to rediscover in this road trip-worthy province in the south of the metro.
By John Ray Lomugdang
May 26, 2016
Whether it’s for a weekend road trip or a just a convenient excuse to escape the numerous stresses of Metro Manila, heading to Laguna is always a great idea because of the abundance of things you can do while there. This province in the south of Metro Manila is at the forefront of development but at the same time remains deeply rooted to its past. Laguna is a province where modern factories stand with old churches, food choices vary from one place to the other, and the options for nature tripping are seemingly endless.
So it’s not surprising to know that we all have that one friend or officemate who commutes all the way from this province every day or would prefer to spend weekends there. For a place that has so much to offer, visiting Laguna is actually cheaper than going around the city. And since we are tired of the stereotype that Laguna is just for teambuilding sessions and Buko Pie, we came up with this long list of 70 things that you can do when you visit (or go back) to this province.
We must warn you: one day will not be enough to check off everything. But you can always try.
1. Take home some kesong puti from Sta. Cruz.
2. Try the chocolate milk fresh from the farm in DTRI inside the UP Los Baños campus.
3. Sip some iced Vietnamese coffee and try the homemade baked macaroni after viewing the various artworks in Kape Kesada Art Gallery in Paete. Have a chat as well with the friendly owners, Drs. Nilo and Mac Valdecantos.
4. Taste some highly affordable Italian fare at Arabela Restaurant in Liliw. Note for tall people: This restaurant has low ceilings that add to its charm. It also closes relatively early at 7PM.
5. If you prefer home cooked meals minus the crowd in Arabela, try the White House Bistro also in Liliw. You can’t miss it as the restaurant is an old house owned by the Sarabia Family.
6. Take a break from your diet and indulge in crispy pata with peanut sauce (yes, peanut sauce) at Laong Laan Restaurant in Calamba City near the City Hall.
7. In the afternoon, buy some freshly baked monay de bay (sweet bread stuffed with cheese bits) at the Poblacion in Bay.
8. Savor the smoky texture of kinulob na itik or buy some fresh-off-the-farm balut and itlog na maalat (Salted Duck Eggs) in Victoria where most of the duck eggs you buy possibly come from aside from Pateros.
9. Try the fermented quail egg dish from Liliw—we don’t know what they call it, but there is a hawker vendor selling it along Gat Tayaw Street usually outside Badong’s Shoes especially on weekends.
10. Feeling adventurous? Try the local delicacy called Proven along Raymundo Gate of UP Los Baños. Make sure to put lots of vinegar.
11. Buy some fresh pineapples and lanzones (based on the season) at the roadside in Calauan.
12. Speaking of pineapples, try the tropical pie (a mixture of pineapple and coconut meat) of Original’s Buko Pie in Los Baños.
13. Craving for breakfast food? Try the branches of Tuding’s Porkchop for some porksilog in Biñan and San Pedro.
14. Relive the old days by dining in a Spanish Era setting at Balai Ilocos Restaurant along the main road of Pagsanjan.
15. Have a stopover at Ted’s Breakfast Restaurant in Sta. Cruz on your road trip.
16. Buy some cassava chips, merengue, and other snacks in the Public Market of Nagcarlan.
17. Craving for something sweet? Head on to Mer-Nel’s Cake Shop along Grove or their restaurant along the National Highway. Their heart-shaped chocolate cake is a staple pasalubong of UPLB students whenever they go home.
18. Try the unusual spicy halo-halo of Ben’s Halo-Halo Ice Cream in San Pablo City.
19. Care for some dairy? Head on to Alaminos and buy fresh goat’s milk at Alaminos Goat Farm.
20. If you prefer the conventional milk (from cows), go visit the factory of Hacienda Macalauan Farm in Calauan.
21. If you are stressed and want to break things (like plates) after dinner, try Laguna’s version of taksyapo at Isdaan Restaurant in Bay. They are of the same owners with the Tarlac original taksyapo wall.
22. Have a stopover at RSM Restaurant in Calamba, which is good for families and big groups.
23. Try the putopao, the smaller version of a siopao with cheese on top at Nila’s Puto Biñan;
24. Or better yet, buy the colorful and tasty Puto Biñan from the same shop.
25. Try IC’s sizzling tokwa at IC’s Bar which is a perfect beer match while you’re in Los Baños.
26. Try a different kind of pansit called pansit maciang at Aling Maciang’s Pancitan in San Pedro City. What makes it different? It’s topped with sunny-side up egg with banana ketchup.
27. If you need a drink, buy lambanog (coconut wine) with prunes in Pagsanjan or Alaminos—forget the flavored ones.
28. Try the pako salad (fern salad) of Chef Mau’s Restaurant in Nagcarlan.
29. Buy local berries called lipute and the lipute wine in Liliw.
30. While in San Pablo City, try the cakes and pastries of Si Christina Gateau along Rizal St.
31. The usual gathering place for families for every occasion in Bay, try Palaisdaan Floating Restaurant, which serves tilapia fresh from the palaisdaan around the restaurant.
32. If you’re in Calamba and trying to pass time, try the local rooftop coffee shop Beanstalk Café found on top of Calamba Executive Center (near SM Calamba).
33. Laguna is where you can find the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), situated in Los Baños. Their cafeteria is open to the public where you can sample various (mostly Asian) cuisines at affordable prices. And yes, perhaps the cheapest cup of extra rice is also available here.
34. Try the brewed coffee and healthy spaghetti of Karlosi’s Café in Pulo, Cabuyao.
35. Try the local batchoy (rice noodle stew with chopped liver) sold at the Public Market of Bay during mornings.
II. NATURE AND RECREATION
36. Have lunch on bamboo rafts in the middle of a lake at Lake Pandin and visit its twin, Lake Yambo, in San Pablo City
37. Discover the hidden waterfall in Los Baños called Dampalit Falls.
38. Campout on the private island in the middle of the man-made Caliraya Lake.
39. If you’re a mountain junkie, climb Mt. Makiling’s Peak 2 via the jumping-off point at UP Los Baños’ Upper Campus. Along the way, you may also visit Flatrocks or try boiling eggs at Mud Spring for your stopovers.
40. Stay at the Nagcarlan Forest Resort to relax and feel the rural vibe for the weekend. We recommend trying their Boodle Fight Breakfast.
41. Go trekking at Mt. Pingas in Pakil
42. For beginners, go hiking at Mt. Romelo in Famy/Siniloan where you’ll pass by some privately owned farms and chat with the friendly locals.
43. Bike around San Pablo City’s Sampaloc Lake.
44. Apart from Sampaloc, Yambo, and Pandin, visit the other four lakes of San Pablo City: Calibato, Palakpakin, Muhikap, and Calibato.
45. Feed the koi fishes or paddle around the man-made lake of Nuvali in Sta. Rosa.
46. Visit the National Arts Center in Los Baños which is also the home of the Philippine High School for the Arts to enjoy a view of Metro Manila and Laguna de Bay.
47. Laguna is blessed with several waterfalls: Aliw and Hulugan Falls (Lusiana), Twin Falls (Kalayaan), Matabungka Falls (Paete), Buruwisan Falls (Siniloan), Taytay Falls (Majayjay), Batya-Batya Falls (Siniloan), Sampaloc Falls (Siniloan), Bunga Falls (Nagcarlan), Buntot Palos (Pangil), and the famous and touristy Magdapio Falls (Cavinti), also known as Pagsanjan Falls. Though these waterfalls are becoming crowded, thanks (or no thanks) to social media, we suggest visiting on weekdays and we heavily advise everyone to be responsible tourists.
48. Climb Mt. Humarap in Paete and see the Three Crosses with an overlooking view of Laguna de Bay.
49. An alternative viewpoint can be found at the roadside of the Kalayaan and Lumban road boundary: on one side you can see the East Bay of Laguna de Bay, and on the other are parts of the Kalayaan Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Plant where some “tubes” connect Laguna de Bay and Lake Caliraya.
50. Test your wakeboarding skills at Republic Wake Park inside Nuvali in Sta. Rosa City.
51. Conquer your fear of heights with the activities offered by Laresio Lakeside Resort and Spa in Tadlac, Los Baños. Offerings include a slide into Alligator Lake (Tadlac Lake), a small lake right beside Laguna de Bay.
52. Explore Cavinti’s Caves which houses a small and mystical underground river.
III. HERITAGE AND CRAFTS
53. Visit ancestral houses including that of the Ejercito’s along the road in Pagsanjan, Laguna
54. Find your way in Biñan City’s rows of stone houses and find the one where Jose Rizal spent his childhood days as a student.
55. Go on a road trip to Nagcarlan’s Underground Cemetery.
56. Discover more about history and the Second World War by visiting the 14-hectare Japanese Garden in Cavinti near Lake Caliraya where Japanese expats visit every year to offer prayers.
57. Relive the art of handwoven Jusi and Pina embroidery in Lumban where you can buy some barongs at a low price.
58. Visit the Rizal Family’s ancestral house in Calamba City and discover more about our national hero.
59. Visit the old pier and the adjacent house of Protacio Rizal (our national hero’s brother) at Poblacion in Los Baños.
60. Drive around the Spanish-era town plaza of Pila with rows of ancestral houses where a local soap was filmed.
61. While you’re in Pila, visit the Pila Church (San Antonio de Padua Parish Church) which is also the first Antonine Church in the Philippines and established in 1578.
62. Visit the shop/studio of Luis Ac-Ac, a local wood artisan in Paete.
63. Buy handwoven bags and houseware at more than half off the price in Lusiana, Laguna.
64. Take a photo in front of the red brick façade of Liliw Church (St. John the Baptist Parish Church), first built in 1605 and one of the fine examples of Baroque architecture in the country.
65. Take a stroll at the plaza in front of Magdalena Church in Magdalena, completed in 1855 and one of the churches dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene.
66. Score some bargains on several branded items at Paseo de Sta. Rosa.
67. Find locally made slippers, shoes, and espadrilles in Liliw.
68. See the wooden retablo, the Spanish-era paintings depicting San Cristobal, and other wooden religious pieces at Paete Church, built in 1580.
69. Marvel at the works of local artisans inside Majayjay Church, established in 1571.
70. Pay homage to Lolo Uweng, the local name for the Holy Sepulcher at the Lolo Uweng Shrine in San Pedro City.
■Go to list of Laguna resorts and hotels
San Pablo City