Wandering Laguna

​DIY Travel Philippines is a Facebook group where people share photos, expenses, itineraries and hacks about their travel experiences. Lots of information are posted here which other travelers alike could be interested with. Like the one I was tagged by my friend Hazel: a trip in Laguna entitled “5 destinations in 1 day”. At first I was skeptical about it. Could we really go to five different places in one day? Well, others have done it so I think it’s feasible and I want us to give it a try. Few days later, I created an FB event to invite my friends and colleagues from SM Retail ITS. I was glad they showed their willingness to join.

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It was a cold 3AM morning when we all gathered at McDo Buendia except Mark. I was astonished by the punctuality of everyone. We were off to a great start. What was more was that RJ began the day with an epic fail. His bottled water accidentally spilled on his bag and most of his stuffs got wet. One by one he put out his things to check them. From that we learned that he brought a hotel-room sized towel. Going in a beach my friend?

Few moments later, we rode in a bus bound to Lucena, Laguna. We asked the driver to alight us from our destination as we were not familiar with it. Learning it as we go. Where we should go off was in the itinerary but of course it’s better to be safe and double check. Then, most of us grabbed the opportunity to catch sleep. Later on, we thought we should already alight. RJ on his thuggish manners, awakened his seatmates and asked them to make way for him. Jayven woken up Tats, who in turn walked automatically like a robot. Then we found out that we weren’t there yet. Candid laughs can be heard around and I was still trying to process what was happening. Did this really happened or I was just dreaming? What else did I missed?

It was more than hour more when we reached San Pablo. The darkness and mild rain showers kept us cold. We stayed in Jollibee to wait for Mark. He came after almost an hour. We went off and then asked the locals to point us where to ride a jeepney to Sto. Angel. They kindly helped us. Lost and found.

Sto. Angel South Trail was our chosen path as it could lead us closer to the twin lakes. We reached the barangay in no time. A kid guided us to Pandin Lake. After a few minutes of walking, we witnessed the tranquility it offers and got mesmerized by it. We reserved a floating cottage and ordered meals so that it will be immediately prepared when we get back later.

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We started our hike after all of our tour guides came. The path was relatively easy but muddy. So easy that we walked like we were just having a window shopping in a shopping center. I wonder why we moved so fast. If I wasn’t mistaken, two veteran mountain climbers were first on the trail – Gerald and his childhood friend Leonard. These twins hurrying for something sale?

I couldn’t get much video because we were walking fast. And it was raining intermittently. I opened my Bluetooth speaker — blasting upbeat songs mostly sang by black people. They were lively that even Tats danced at the tune of Juju on that Beat and sang the chorus of Black and Yellow while his girlfriend Quency got slightly amused.

We fetched banana leaves to prevent ourselves from getting wet from the drizzle. I thought this could only happen in my grandma’s stories. She told me that when she was still a child, they do this as an alternative to umbrella. It wasn’t that effective but it will be a treasured experience.

When you bring your special someone with your group of friends, expect some grilling from them for fun. That was what happened with the three love birds in our group, especially to Sir Brian. They were trying to catch and trap him by interrogating him while his wife was near. But still, their love prevailed. Both of them were a good sport for riding the jokes. I’m still wondering though who is sir Bryan’s cousin they were talking about?

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We reached the peak after a few hours. There was no clearing — clouds hid the view. We went into a hut as it was still raining lightly. There we ate, talked, relaxed and laughed.

There was a wooden made bed where RJ comfortably laid until a disastrous event made it broken — Ram sat on it and it suddenly collapsed. Obviously it can’t support their weight plus the other people sitting there. It happened so fast and we were a bit shocked. But then, we saw the humor on this and just moved past by it.

From there I started to witness an act done so naturally by Ram and RJ. It was as if I was watching a play in a comedy bar. They started to jokingly blame each other for the mishap. RJ sometimes tried to use rhyming words he learned from watching flip-top battles to beat Ram. But Ram doesn’t want to lose so he used his wit to fight back. Punch lines from each corner that made us all have a real good hard laugh.

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There could never be a dull day whenever Ram and RJ are together. These two always tease each other for fun. Criticizing one another with the way they look and calling names like they were still a child have already become their habit. Pork Chop duo gave memorable turn of events to this adventure.

Jayven shared a bit about his unrequited love with a girl he likes. He said he has already moved on but his sadness was still visible on his face. Anyways, he seem to be dating somebody else already and that’s a good sign. Moving on.

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Sir Eric was was enjoying and appreciating the beauty of the nature around him while he was in his usual calm demeanor and executive aura.

We had three GoPros that day. We were not so prepared were we? I wonder who is going to buy a drone and bring it next time? But for now, to mimic a drone shot, Ram timed his cam and then threw it in midair. He wasn’t able to catch it when it fell to the ground. Its casing broke. Needed to practice and break more. We just took a normal shot then.

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Thick layers of white cloud still hid the view. We just started to descend after accepting to ourselves that they won’t go away now as we would like them to be. Well, let’s just say we experienced a sea of clouds.
RJ already felt the stinging pain on his legs. One of the guides, on his native dialect whatever it was, said that he’s quite scared to be pinned by the weight of RJ. He didn’t talk in Tagalog but all of us understood what he meant! We all laughed as he looked serious.

Meanwhile, Tats has been tirelessly assisting Quency. But most of the time it was the other way around. Just kidding. Seriously though, they’re perfect fit for each other.

In almost two hours we reached our start off point. The foods we ordered were slowly being served on the floating cottage while we clean our shoes, legs and pants from mud. I quite feared for Hazel’s fragile arms it might break anytime while she was pumping water for Luigi to clean their shoes.

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A few minutes later, we rode in the floating cottage. Pandin Lake was beautiful and serene. Our guides slowly pushed our cottage to the other side through a rope. We ingested our lunch — Tilapia, mixed vegetables, small shrimps, pork liempo and rice while we drift away.

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We had two hours to stay, relax and swim. Life vest is required to be worn at all times during swimming to prevent us from drowning in this deep lake.

Jayson was really afraid. He must have tried all of the life vest and never really trusted their capabilities to support him. He was still cautious even if we assured him that it was really safe. Eventually, he did swam after several hundred years of fighting his fear.

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A few minutes walk was all it took for us to reach Yambo Lake. Just a glimpse on it was enough to make me relax and forget about something. Anyways, we captured group shots which were a bit shocking for me. Jayven did something silly behind Sir Eric’s back. Haha. But on the bright side, those pictures were funny. Some frozen moments that could show that we really had a great time.

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Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was our next stop after our twin lakes excursion. I’ve really wanted to go here because it was featured in Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho before. It got me curious ever since and I have taken a note that one day I’ll visit this place. So I really pushed our team to go here.

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The vicinity has a wide open space yard with a well maintained lawn. A small old church stood steadily at the far center end. Both on its sides are walls stack up with tombs. If you could imagine, kids could be running around here, playing and laughing. They don’t seem to care whether the living see them or not.

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We went ahead inside the church. Its interior was under construction. There was no caretaker so we went right away downstairs to see its mausoleum. It was just a small underground layer of tombs, a burial site for the wealthy people hundred of years ago. I thought it was really a big tunnel of catacombs like in Paris. But it wasn’t. We just took photos afterwards. Not really spooky at all.

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Our last stop was at Bunga Falls. We rode in another jeepney, tired but still excited. Hoping that the falls was good enough to recuperate our weariness. As we walked, we could already hear the rage of the free falling water. A few minutes later we were able to catch a glimpse of it. Honestly I was a bit dissatisfied as it wasn’t majestic as I’m expecting it to be. Others were not enlightened to swim. Nevertheless, we still rented a cottage where we could stay, waiting for each other who would swim or not.

Later on, we saw an adrenaline filled show from the cliff drivers. I was quite nervous even by just watching them at the edge. To jump or not to jump? Actually, waiting for them to do it was more tense than the act itself. Other people scream as if they were the one jumping.

Moments later, Mark, Ram and Sir Brian felt the rush in their blood to try cliff diving. How did they feel? Did their knees shake too? Did their heart beat faster than it should? One thing is for sure though: I will never, even once in my life, dare to try this kind of activity. I’ll just let these courageous and brave young souls to do what they wanted to do.

I was tasked to capture videos for them. Sir Brian was the first one. The look on his wife’s eyes say how much she also felt nervous. Moments later, after he has mustered his courage, he jumped right away. Within a split second he was already swimming vigorously. His face and body was red. His wife on the other hand was proud of him though. It was like she was shouting inside of her “that’s my husband”.

Next was Mark, and then Ram. I’ve already witnessed these two cliff dive before. I know this one was just easy peasy for them. They will jump wherever and whenever it’s possible. They enjoy the thrill it gives them. I bet they wanted to try it again.

Later on, we started taking a bath. An hour or more was consumed for us all to finish. We were supposed to go to Laguna Lake and try biking but we run out of time. It was getting dark already. Everybody just agreed to go back to the city, eat and then go home.

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I was really happy that day because we once again made this trip come a reality, not another drawing. Even though I was already not working with them, somehow I still had a way to get along with them, bond with them. They still trust me to organize our activities and I really appreciate them for that.

Unraveling about something I’ve been wondering about for a long time has also been my side mission and it was a success. Disappointment and change of mood weren’t how I reacted as someone expected it to be. Rather, I was just be cool with what I’ve learned.

I’m with amazing people and I really had so much fun.

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