The past 14 months of quarantine has been a challenge for everyone. Most of us try to find a semblance to the lifestyle that we were used to. For those who love to travel just like me, we were suddenly confined in our small spaces with very little travel options to consider. We miss riding planes, buses, or boats, getting lost somewhere in the Philippines, trying out local delicacies, and going local in unfamiliar places. It does not come as a surprise then that we grab on every opportunity to get lost and that was my case when I went on to slide it out to chase the falls of Mount Romelo in Siniloan, Laguna.
Siniloan is a humble town that was established in 1583 by two Spanish friars. There are three narratives on how the place got its name but the story that caught my attention was the story of three brothers who equally divided the land that they acquired. Impressed by the move, locals referred to it as “Siniloang”, a local word that meant justice, fair, and equality. The name later evolved to Siniloan as the town’s official name.
The town’s strategic location, along the Sierra Madre mountains, gave Siniloan a playground with nature. It has a handful of natural attractions that it got the nickname of “A Waterfall Sanctuary”. I guess, with our adventure of chasing its 3 of its 4 waterfalls, I could say that it has a unique way of keeping its waterfalls safe and sound.
Chasing the falls of Siniloan starts with an early morning trek up Mount Romelo. Standing at 300 MASL, the trek would take around 45 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness level and the how muddy the trail going up. You will be treated with amazing views of Laguna de Bay and the surrounding areas along the way which is a great way to relieve your mind and body from the hustling and puffing through muddy trails.
Relatively defined as an easy hike, the trek starts off with a steep ascent. It did not help that it rained the night before so the trail was pretty muddy. We jostled through the initial muddy ascent stopping briefly just to admire the view. Then, there was more mud. This time it was more slippery so keeping our balance was getting to be a challenge. We reached the first view deck where we caught the sun’s early morning rays. We were also treated with an amazing view of the town of Siniloan and Laguna de Bay.
We got back to the muddy trails to get further up Mount Romelo. These trails are on point when it comes to challenging your balance and your ability to holding off a slip, going for a well-calculated slide, or simply rolling up on the mud with a splat. We came up on a steel clearing where we enjoyed the sun and the fresh air before heading down to its chain of waterfalls.
Sampaloc Falls is the first of the four waterfalls of Siniloan. Located upstream, water cascades down a 40-foot rock surfaces into a round catch basin where you can enjoy a quick dip in its cold waters. The cold dip is a soothing relief after hiking up and then down Mount Romelo.
Find your spot to cool down and enjoy the scenery. The sound of the cascade and the view of the falls and its surrounding greens will re-charge you for the trek to the other falls. It was nice to see the falls in its full glory with its strong cascade.
Trekking down Sampaloc Falls was relatively easy from the “peak”. It was a bit slippery but, once you reach the riverbed, it will be easy heading up to the falls. The sound of the cascade got me really excited and its beauty energized me after a tiring hour of trekking.
Among the three waterfalls that we explored, Batya-Batya Falls was probably the most exciting because it involved crossing on chest-deep waters. The traverse from Sampaloc to Batya-Batya was relatively easy that involved trekking and clambering through rocks and tree roots alongside the river. The trail leads you from above the walls down to it entrance. The challenge is getting across the deep waters at the entrance of the falls.
A few meters of walking, from it entrance, one will be treated to the majestic view of Batya-Batya Falls. The two-tierred waterfall has a smaller cascade compared to Sampaloc Falls but the view of the two cascades will amaze you. The waters drop into a round catch basin that is said to be 18 feet deep before running downstream.
The place was like a scene from my fave movie “Jurassic Park” with its rock surfaces and the greens surrounding me. It was surreal walking the trail up to the falls because it seemed like I was in different place. It may not be as majestic as the other falls visited but Batya-Batya Falls has a unique and charming character of its own.
Buruwisan Falls is the most popular waterfall in the area. Towering at 180 feet, water cascades into a wide catch basin surrounded by lush greens where you can enjoy a quick dip in its cool waters. The falls got its name from the hardwood that once grew abundantly in the area.
Buruwisan sits on a ravine and can be accessed via a steep trail from the campsite located at the top of the waterfall. One would need to clamber down the rocks carefully to get to the base of the falls where you can get a full view of Buruwisan. She is a natural beauty to admire with her single cascade flowing down it enormous rock wall. After getting the initial rush of awe and taking pictures, I recommend that you find your spot where you can simply admire the majestic beauty of Buruwisan Falls.
The falls is the central area if you plan to stay overnight because the campsite is located at the top of the falls. Its rock walls are said to be ideal for rappelling although there are articles that it has caused injuries and even death. I guess some of these stories were true because locals have installed safety barriers at the campsite as a preventive measure.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Time constraint did not permit us to check out Lanzones Falls, which was another 15-minute trek from Buruwisan. I guess the physical requirement of chasing a peak and 3 waterfalls got the best out of our group that we were already good. We got our high of exploring and getting lost in nature. It was tiring and yet it was fulfilling. It was challenging but, in the end, we came out with a big smile amidst the mud and dirt of getting to the peak and chasing the falls of Siniloan. It was a great day of escape from the city!
One good thing that came out of the pandemic is that it opened an opportunity for local travelers to look around for destinations that is close to home. Exploring became a “backyard” activity where we get lost in destinations that we admittedly take for granted pre-pandemic. Since we have limitations with movement, these spots start getting the attention which is good at jumpstarting local economies where tourism is a main driver of revenue.
In the end, traveling is not about the destination. It is what you make of the destination.
Checkout my Mount Romelo Youtube Video on my #ByahengOffTheGrid YT Channel - #ByahengOffTheGrid Siniloan.
Getting there: Our Mount Romelo daytrip was organized by FB travel organizer, Trabesh. Check out their FB page here. Huge shoutout to Hull and Stern for my backpack that kept my stuff safe and dry.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.