Saturday, December 31, 2011

southern comfort: the viaje del sol experience

this post kicks off the series of the awesome road trip down south. 

whenever i think of laguna, the hot springs (los baños and pansol), jose rizal's house (calamba), uplb and mount makiling immediately come to mind. i've been to these places many times before, so i felt like there's nowhere else to visit in laguna that's exciting. i mean, yes, there's also paete, the lakes of san pablo, and liliw which i haven't visited yet, but aside from those... um, laguna? honestly i hardly consider going there an "official" out-of-town trip due to its very close proximity to metro manila, and the only thing there that gets me excited is a visit to the dairy at uplb where they sell carabao's milk (i LOVE the chocolate flavor) and kesong puti (fresh white cheese). hoh-kay, before throwing me in the boiling mud pits of mount makiling, please do read on. :)

that kind of ho-hum thinking changed drastically when some friends and i recently went on a road trip to san pablo city with side trips to liliw and tiaong, quezon. little did i know that it was going to be one big culture and food tour which i would be very proud to recommend to everyone. it is just the beginning of this series, but i'll say this right away: near, far, wherever you are... visit laguna!!! 


we arrived at san pablo city 4 1/2 hours earlier than the designated check-in time at our hotel (2pm) and hotel policy being hotel policy, we opted to visit liliw first, a 40-minute drive from san pablo. on the way to liliw though we passed by the underground cemetery in nagcarlan so a short visit there is in order.

the nagcarlan underground cemetery was built by franciscan missionaries in 1845, and in 1896 the rebels of the revolution against the spaniards used this for their meetings. in 1973 the underground cemetery was declared a historical landmark. burials in this cemetery continued up until 1981. 

the gate to the underground cemetery. at the dead smack center of this photo is a small chapel where visitors sign their names on the logbook. the visitors are also given a short, interesting history lesson of the place.  

down once more to the dungeon... err, i mean to the underground cemetery.

just some of the niches above ground. they're very similar to that of paco park in manila.

the underground cemetery is really quite a small place, so the visit was a short one. based on photos i've seen of friends who have been there before, i thought it was big. it turns out that thirty minutes is a long enough visit unless you decide to have lots of photo ops. by the way, this last photo shows just a very tiny sliver of the grounds, but i can assure you with conviction that the whole place is very well-kept. :D


everyone knows that marikina equals good quality footwear. but in laguna there is a town that is also synonymous to shoes, and that is liliw. liliw is a quaint town that is a shoe maven's haven; it has a whole street dedicated to all kinds of footwear, and one will go gaga over the different designs and colors. yours truly didn't buy a pair though. too lazy. heheh. 

just some of the numerous shoe stores. 

shoes, sandals, espadrilles, etc, etc.

bags!!! and of course slippers and sandals. 

it was a nice surprise to see that old houses still abound in liliw, which reminded me of taal town in batangas where a lot of the bahay-na-bato still stands proud and graceful. while some houses are solely for family use, a lot of the businesses in others are conducted on the ground floor of the house; the proprietors live on the second floor.

i call this the sans rival house. this is in front of arabela, the cafe where we had lunch. 

a beautifully maintained house. 

if only we had more time i would make all of us walk around town checking out more of the beautiful old houses. bwahahaha~!


oh. here's a very useful tip when going on a road trip: if you are riding a car and you and your companions are not sure how to get to your destination, it is always best to ask the locals. don't be too proud to ask for directions shy. compared to most city folks, people in the provinces are generally friendlier and more helpful especially when giving directions to hapless travelers. amazingly, even if majority of the directions went like "derecho lang kayo" (just go straight) and "tapos kanan sa x na kanto" (then turn right at the x corner), we got to all our destinations with very little problem.


thanks L for letting me use your photos (paco park-like niches, shoes and bags photos)

next up: our lodging, and a gastronomic tour of the south. what are they? stay tuned. ;)