Pakil Church or the Pedro de Alcantara Parish Church in Pakil, Laguna (Luzon island, northern Philippines), was built in 1767 after 35 years of construction. In 1788, the Virgin of Turumba was enshrined in this church. The church’s architectural design has Corinthian and Ionic styles or elements.
Despite calamities such as earthquakes and World War II, Pakil Chuch has survived with most of its architectural features still intact. Along with the rectory, a fire damaged the church in 1851. Repairs were done in the same year. The church survived two earthquakes in 1881 and 1937. Fourteen icons grace its main altar with the Archangel Michael towering above the others. Each icon is housed in an elaborately carved niche in Spanish colonial style.
Although the interior of the church has been renovated recently, the design of the church remains basically the same. The church belfry has four small bells and one huge bell. Today, Pakil Church is now a major tourist destination in Laguna province.
Mabuhay ang Pakil Church!
Picnic tables at Villa Escudero's brook and waterfall
Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, located in Tiaong, Laguna province, is a self-contained working coconut plantation. Founded in the 1880s by Don Placido Escudero and his wife Dona Claudia Marasigan, the plantation was originally planted to sugarcane.
According to the resort’s website, the crop was converted to coconut by their son Don Arsenio Escudero in the early 1900s. A pioneering agro-industrialist, Don Arsenio built the country’s first working hydroelectric plant to supply his dessicated coconut factory and Villa Escudero, which he and his wife Dona Rosario Adap built in 1929.
Their children opened the estate to the public in 1981 and since then the resort has become a prime tourist destination for locals, overseas Filipinos and foreign visitors. It is known as a showcase for the Philippines’ cultural heritage, particularly life in a coconut plantation estate, offering a beguiling glimpse of its history, cuisine, dress, customs and natural beauty.
Visitors enjoy a relaxed hacienda living in the vast estate. The resort offers a carabao ride while being serenaded by singers and guitarists. It also has a two-tiered church-looking museum exhibiting memorabilia collected by the Escudero family. There is a swimming pool and a romantic raft ride for two around the river.
One of the main highlights in the resort is the buffet lunch where the tables are located right on the waters of a light waterfall, with diners literally soaking their feet in the flowing brook.
Mabuhay ang Villa Escudero!
Hidden Valley Springs is a picturesque, private resort naturally landscaped at the crater of an extinct forested volcano located in the municipality of Alaminos, Laguna province, southern Luzon island, Philippines. A natural botanical garden, it has a complex of natural thermal pools, centuries-old hardwood tropical trees, exquisite plants and a canopy of giant ferns, storey-high bamboo and other rainforest vegetation.
At one end of the valley is a rock wall framing a secluded waterfall which forms into a shallow, small lagoon. A perfect day-trip or excursion destination from Manila, the resort is popular among foreign visitors who go for the resort’s thermal, naturally heated pools. Picnic baskets are not allowed since buffet lunch and snacks are served at the resort. The resort is located around 72 kilometres from Manila and has cluster cottages for those who wish to stay overnight.
Mabuhay ang Hidden Valley Springs!
The Mt. Makiling in Los Banos, Laguna province is a well-known national park that often figures in Philippine myths and legends.
Maria Makiling, for example, is the symbol or reincarnation of Mother Earth or an earth goddess that withholds her favours to those who defile the environment. For many animists worshippers or practitioners in the Philippines, Mt. Makiling is also one of the sacred places of worship and annually attracts disciples of animist religions.
The mountain itself is a treasure trove of rich flora and fauna, rare Philippine hardwood and has geothermal properties. The premier agricultural university in the Philippine, the UP at Los Banos, is also located in the foothills of Mt. Makiling, as well as a high school for gifted art students.
With warm-water bath resorts dotting its foothills, Mt. Makiling is a favorite destination for Manila residents and visitors on a day-long trip. It is easily accessible from Manila and other southern Luzon provinces.
Mabuhay ang Mt. Makiling!
Pagsanjan Falls in Pagsanjan, Laguna province, Northern Luzon, is one of the favorite tourist attractions south of Manila. Easily reached and enjoyed on a day-trip from Manila, travelling to the falls through the Pagasanjan rapids is actually half of the fun itself.
The Pagsanjan rapids is plied by a flotilla of hand-paddled boats with two boatmen for every boat that navigate the treacherous, at times rough-flowing river. The skill and physical prowess of these boatman as they paddled upstream is a sight and priceless adventure on its own, eliciting gasps of admiration and surprise from almost all visitors.
Visitors are also treated to nature’s beauty as the boat glides past dramatic cliff walls, jungles, serene lagoons, the boatmen zig-zagging through the enormous rocks. Small waterfalls also trickle on the Jurassic-like environment, transporting the visitor to a different time and place.
The movie ‘Apocalpse Now’ starring Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen was shot on Pagsanjan, along the river and the nearby jungles. Fans of the film will intsantly recognise the eerie stillness of the jungle and the feeling of isolation that pervades in the movie.
For first-time Philippine visitors (and even to locals), Pagsanjan is a not-to-miss journey.
Mabuhay ang Pagsanjan!