Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Seven Lakes in San Pablo City, Laguna

Ever since I was a child I knew that Laguna is famous for Mt. Makiling, Los Banos hotsprings, and the world-famous, Pagsanjan Falls. It was only when I was in highschool that I learned that San Pablo City has 7 Lakes. Yes, 7 Lakes!

And it took me 40 years to see all these lakes in one day and for only 3.5 hours of motorcycle ride. I am from Batangas and usually I do not use public transport whenever I travel in the nearby provinces of Batangas such as Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite. Instead, I simply use my motorcycle and go to the tourist spot. But this trip took me months to accomplish. Why? I wanted to photograph the lakes in a clear blue sky. And my patience paid off. Last January 2014, my dream came into a reality. And there I was in San Pablo City, marveling at the 7 lakes!

Sampalok Lake

From Tanauan City, Batangas, it took me almost 40 minutes to reach the first lake. I was very careful driving that day. After experiencing 2 minor accidents, I know how it feels like having a motorcycle accident. The first one happened in Nuvali and the second was in Tanauan City. And the second one lingered in my memory. The chest pains for 2 weeks was something you do not want to remember.

Anyway, going back to my trip. It was 6 am in the morning and I was cruising Sto. Tomas, Batangas en route to San Pablo City.

And the first stop was the biggest and most famous among the seven lakes in San Pablo City, Sampalok Lake.

I immediately took pictures of the lake and looked for a guide. Good thing I met Aries (Cell No. 0928-877-5839), a local tricycle driver, who agreed to be my guide for that day for only P300.00.

I told him about my mission that day and we agreed on the route that we are going to do that day.

While you are in the park, you can rent a bicycle for P20.00, sidecar for P50.00 or hire a driver for your sidecar for P80.00 (plus the sidecar).

How to get there

Ride a Lucena bound bus in Buendia-Taft, PAsay or Cubao bus terminal. Ask to be dropped off at 7/11 San Pablo, Laguna, near San Pablo Medical Center. Take a tricycle ride to your destination.

Bunot Lake 
It took us only 15 minutes using my motorcycle to reach the second destination. Bunot Lake is the second biggest lake among the seven. According to the locals, the reason why it is called "Bunot" is due to the fact that coconut husk abound in the vicinity.

Pandin Lake
Third stop for the day was my favorite lake, Pandin Lake. I highly recommend this lake among the seven lakes. It is the only lake which offers the following amenities.

Operating Hours
7:00 am – 5:00 pm
3:00 pm (last ride)

2-3 hours tour of Pandin Lake, Yambo Lake and Grotto visit

P180.00/pax - without lunch
P360.00/pax -  with lunch

Standard lunch
Steamed rice
Inihaw na tilapia
Ginataang hipon
Ensaladang paco, and fresh buco juice

Swimming is allowed in the lake but shower rooms are not provided.

Other services
Paluto – request your desired meal upon reservation e.g. adobo, menudo, sinigang, kid’s meal

Dessert and Merienda
Halo-halo – P25.00
Ube Halaya – P100
Leche flan – P100
Espasol – P100

Request any number of songs with guitar accompaniment P500.00

Contact persons
Ate Sion 0929-978-95-65
Ate Cristina 0907-995-29-83

San Pablo Tourism Office – Ms. Donna Eseo – (049) 562- 1429

Yambo Lake

Yambo Lake is different. There are two ways of going to the lake. You can either hire a boat ride for P200.00 or go to Nagcarlan, Laguna to see the lake. Of course, I chose the boat ride. The boat ride was good for less than 30 minutes and a hike of 2 minutes and there I was looking at the lake.

Afterwards, I went back to Pandin Lake and boarded my motorcycle en route to the last 3 spots.

Calibato Lake

My second favorite is the Calibato Lake. From Pandin Lake, the motorcycle ride was good only for less than 10 minutes and I was able to reach the jump-off point. From the jump-off point, we hiked for 15 minutes and passed through a river before reaching the lake. The hike to the river is the reason why I love this lake. For a nature lover, this spot would surely be close to your hearts.

Palakpakin Lake

My least favorite is the Palakpakin Lake because it contains a lot of fish pens. But it is part of my mission that day and I had to enjoy it nonetheless. From Calibato, the ride was good for 20 minutes.

Mohikap Lake

Last stop for the day was the Mohikap Lake. It took me 15 minutes before I reached the spot. You have to descend and take a 5 minute trek before reaching the spot. Levity aside, I think I took the best picture here. After taking some pictures and video, I hurriedly went back yo my starting point, Sampalok Lake.

The trip would not be complete without knowing and endorsing an accommodation facility and my choice is Ang Tahanan ni Aling Meding Hotel.

Dagatan Blvd. Sampaloc Lake, San Pablo City, Laguna
Tel. No. (049) 562-5851; (049) 562-5855
Telefax – (02) 520-6089
Manila line (02) 520-6089; Cell No. 0917-592-2830
Magic Jack (925) 478-6038

1 Family Room – P7,000 (minimum for 6 pax)
1 Presidential suite – P5,500   (minimum for 2 pax)
1 suite room – P5,000 (minimum for 4 pax)
1 Honeymoon room – P3,500
2 superior rooms – P3,500
2 Executive Rooms – P3,000
2 De Luxe Rooms -  P2,500

Wifi zone, aircon, cable tv, hot and cold shower, refrigerator
telephone, swimming pool (8 am – 11 pm only)

Pandin Lake never left my mind while I was traveling back to Tanauan City. I was smiling while I was driving and reminiscing the experience while I was onboard the boat catching fish using a fish net.

The experience of seeing the seven lakes in one day is indeed a rare opportunity and a feat in itself. Go see and visit the seven lakes of San Pablo City, Laguna! 

Youtube links:
Mohikap Lake -
Palakpakin Lake -
Yambo Lake -
Calibato Lake -
Pandin Lake -
Bunot Lake -
Sampaloc Lake -

Balete Eco Park

Yes, I am a traveler! I have traveled around the Philippines. I have been traveling for the last 9 years or more. And I have been very meticulous in knowing the different tourist spots in the Philippines. But it took me 40 years to discover that there was an eco-park in our vicinity.

It was a Saturday. My friends invited me to go to a nearby river in Tanauan City. I was glad to accommodate them in this hiking. It is located within our vicinity. I thought all along that we were going to the the Viva Mineral Water or the so-called La Tondena path towards the falls in Banjo West. And I was wrong.

And so we hiked back to our real destination. The Balete Eco-Park.

How to get there

From Manila or Cubao, take a bus ride to Batangas (specifically, Tanauan-Lipa route, never ride the Calabarzon or Star Tollway). The fare is only P99.00. Travel time from Manila is only 1.5 hours. Alight at the road leading to Banjo East or Banjo West (known as 216 or Ramonita).  And then, board a tricycle to Banjo West, the fare is only P13.00, unless you want to charter the tricycle for P80.00. The ride is good only for 10-15 minutes. Then, alight at the Balete Eco-Park. From the starting point, the trek is less than 15 minutes.

Good thing the trail leading to the eco-park is cemented. But nearing the park, the road is no longer cemented but it is still a good trail.

After 10 minutes, we reached the century-old Balete tree beside the river. I marveled at its height and size. I did not know that we have this kind of tree in our vicinity.

And from the Balete tree, we continued our uphill trek for 5 minutes until we reached the Balete Eco-Park falls. And what a sight it was!

We stayed at the site for half an hour and took our souvenir pictures. Afterwards, we went back to the Balete tree and took our merienda. 

It was really a surprise on my part to see the Balete Eco-Park. Good thing I did not hesitate joining the trip.

Youtube link:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Walled City of Intramuros - "A city within a city"

There is one place in Manila that is very close to my heart and that place is the 
Walled City of Intramuros...

I spent my nine years of study inside this walled city. When I was a teenager, during my free time when I had no classes, I used to walk around the walled city and occasionally, watch the sunset while I was lying on my back on the top of its historical walls (I think the place was called "Parian"). Back then, I already knew the historical and cultural significance of this walled city. And never did I get tired of walking in its cobbled stone roads or looking at its enormous and historical structures. Intramuros was my second home away from Batangas. 

But after finishing college and law school, it took me years before I went back to this place. Sad to say, I was very much preoccupied with so many things that If I recall it right that from 1999 up to 2014 , I have visited the place for only 4 or 5 times(just to get documents from my alma mater). Imagine, being away for so long in what I consider my second home.

Last January 14, 2014, amidst my busy schedule, finally I was able to go back and reminisce my glorious and wonderful years in Intramuros. I started from Rizal Park and traveled by foot and after 15 minutes, I was able to reach my destination.

There were so many local and foreign tourists that day. My first stop was the Manila Cathedral. I was not able to enter the church since it was under renovation and they say it will be open to the public on the Holy Week of 2014. Anyway, I have seen its interior a couple of times already and after taking some pictures, I decided to go to my next destination which was just a stone's throw the church.

 My second stop that day was visiting Fort Santiago. It is a national shrine and historical landmark. A priceless heritage of the Filipino people dating from the 16th century. A must-see place!

Entrance Fee
Adult - P75.00
Students/Children - P50.00

By sheer accident, after years of idolizing this guy, finally I was given the chance of seeing, hearing and experiencing  his tour entitled "Walk This Way" in Intramuros. And the tour guide is no other than the famous Mr. Carlos Celdran!

I love this guy! He is the best tour guide in the Philippines! It happened by accident. I was taking pictures of Fort Santiago and luckily for me, he was just starting his tour inside Fort Santiago and I joined the tour and watched the entire tour! It was one experience I would never forget.

This tour will not be complete without seeing in action Mr. Carlos Celdran. Its a must see tour! You should not dare miss this one.

And while you are inside Fort Santiago, never miss the opportunity of going to the upper deck of Fort Santiago and see Pasig River

After spending almost least 2 hours inside Fort Santiago, I decided to go to my last stop for the day. 

    San Agustin Church

Interior of San Agustin Church

From, Fort Santiago, it took me less than 10 minutes before I reached the spot. One of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is a world heritage site and one of the four Baroque churches of the Philippines inscribed in 1993 on the World Heritage List pursuant to the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural Natural Heritage. 

After praying, I decided to go to my alma mater and rekindle my college days in Intramuros. 

The majestic and glorious past of the Walled City of Intramuros, revisited.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Malolos, Bulacan

I have seen and visited the place so many times but this is my first time to take pictures of it and blog it.. 

The first time I went here was when my uncle got married in Malolos, Bulacan in the late 90s. Then way back year 2007, almost twice a month, I would be going here to visit someone. 

Recently, last January 12, 2014, after paying a visit to someone, I roamed around the city and took pictures of the various tourist spots in Malolos.

First spot to visit - the historical Barasoain Church.

The church played a significant role of Philippine history.

It is the place where the Revolutionary Congress convened in 1898 and where the Malolos Constitution was passed. 

The Interior of the church

The altar

The Confession Box

The Pulpit

Second stop - Casa Real Shrine

A five minute walk from the Barasoain Church, Casa Real Shrine is part of one's tour of Malolos. 

It also played a significant role in Philippine history as declared by the National Historical Institute.

Open - Tuesday to Sunday
8:00 am to 4:00 pm 

Third stop is the biggest church - Malolos Cathedral

The facade

The interior of the church

The convent was the place where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo held office as President of the the First Philippine Republic from 1898-1899.

Last Stop -   Sta. Isabel Church

While I was hearing mass inside the Cathedral, I asked someone if there was another old church within the vicinity of Malolos and luckily, there was this church. I paid P40.00 for a tricycle ride from the Cathedral to this church and it was 10 minute ride .

The interior of the church

After seeing the church and praying for the third time, I went back home in Batangas.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rizal Park

Formerly, it was called Bagumbayan during the time of Jose Rizal. Then, it became known as Luneta. Presently, it is called Rizal Park.

It became famous because it was the place where our national hero, Jose P. Rizal was executed by firing squad during the Spanish regime (1898).

Nowadays, it is the place of respite and leisure of Filipinos and one of the places included for foreigners in their Manila tour. 

I visited the place last January 11, 2013 and here are the places of interest worth visiting at the park.

Relief Map of the Philippines
Built during the reign of President Ferdinand Marcos under the auspices of the National Parks Development Committee, it showcases the map of the Philippines.  Jose M. Mendoza was the sculptor.

The Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom
Built on February 5, 2004 under the leadership of then Secretary of Tourism Richard Gordon.

The statue was a gift form the Korea Freedom League as a token of appreciation for helping Korea during the Korean War to preserve democracy.

It is the statue of Lapu-Lapu, the first Asian to withstand colonial forces.

The Orchidarium
The Nayong Filipino Orchidarium is a place where photo and video shoots are made. It is open for reservation. It is also open for venue rentals.

Contact Nos. - 0926-424-4263/ 0906-298-7232.

Children's Playground
Admission: P10.00

Rizal Park's Open Auditorium

Calesa Ride in Rizal Park

The Fountain and the Pond

Chinese Garden
     Entrance Fee: P10.00

Place of Execution of Rizal
It showcases the light and sound presentation of the martyrdom of Rizal.

Day Tour Presentation
     Student - P10.00
     Adult - P20.00

Evening Presentation
     Fee - P50.00
    Tagalog - 7:00 pm
    English - 8:00 pm

Zero Kilometer Marker
Formerly, the marker was the Manila Cathedral. Now it marks the place where the distance is measured in the Philippines.

The actual remains of Dr. Jose P. Rizal was buried in Paco. But during the American regime, it was transferred to the park and underneath the statue lies the remains of Rizal.

A place worth visiting, a place where history and heritage convene - Rizal Park.