A casual conversation about “pako” salad and Lucban longganisa led to my first gala after 6-months of community quarantine. A friend of mine reacted to an FB post where I shared a picture of my fave salad. Both of us have been jeering on heading off to Tagaytay that we both saw the cravings as an opportunity to explore a town that was familiar to both of us - Liliw, Laguna.
Located along the foot of Mount Banahaw, the municipal town of Liliw was founded in 1571 by Gat Tayaw. It is an old Spanish town that has become popular for its cold streams and its “tsinelas”. It is a mute witness to the country’s colorful history to become a charming destination that will give you that unique old provincial town feel.
Simbahan ng Liliw
Founded in 1605, the St. John the Baptist Parish Church stands at the heart of the town of Liliw. The first stone church was completed in 1646 and majestically stood for centuries until it was damaged during the 1880 Luzon Earthquake. The church was re-constructed in 1885 and was partially burned in 1898.
The “Simbahan ng Liliw” beauty stands out for its baroque-style adorned by its brick and adobe facade. Its red bricks and the image of its patron saint are the prominent features of its facade. Its belfry stands adjacent to the church dominating the town’s skyline.
Unfortunately, I was not able to check out the interior of the church as it was closed to the public because of the health crisis. But we were able to check out the adjacent chapel, the Capilla de San Buenaventura. The chapel houses the revered image of San Buenaventura and his relic.
The church exudes calmness as soon as you step in its courtyard. It is recognized as a national treasure having been a mute witness to the country’s colorful past. Its serene atmosphere gives you a taste of Liliw’s rustic feel.
Liliw Municipal Hall and Town Plaza
The Municipal Hall of Liliw stands along the Gat Tayaw Street. The two-story government center follows the Spanish-period architectural style of a Presidencia, similar to a “bahay-na-bato”. On its facade, one will find the year 1571 that indicates the founding year of Liliw. Once inside, its main hallway showcases art works and old photographs that relive the town’s rich history and culture.
The Town Plaza sits adjacent to the municipal hall. Its centerpiece is a monument honoring Gat Tayaw, the man who established the town in 1571. Local stories claim that the town got its name when Gat Tayaw erected a bamboo pole where a bird alighted and sang “liw, liw, liw”. That was how the town got its name.
The main road was named after Gat Tayaw to honor his contributions. The street is a mute witness to the development of the town since it was founded and its grand and colorful past.
Liliw’s Footwear Industry
Liliw’s claim to tourism fame is its “tsinelas” industry. Most of these footwear shops are also lined along Gat Tayaw street. These shops offer different designs and colors of footwear that are reasonably priced and fits your budget. As most of these slippers are handmade, it is more durable.
The industry was pioneered by Casiano Pisuena in 1931. His first slippers were made from coconut and rubber interiors. His interest in the industry was caught on by other entrepreneurs that Liliw’s footwear industry rivaled that of Marikina’s before World War 2 broke out.
The industry has grown from its humble beginnings and Gat Tayaw Street has been the center of its commerce. This is where you will also find Badong’s footwear - the oldest surviving shoe store in Liliw.
The architecture of the houses are similar to that of “bahay-na-bato” but with a Liliw touch. Experts say that its has its own style and design that the local government is working on preserving its own signature architecture. The LGU is also working on being accredited as a heritage town in Laguna.
Kilangin Falls / Bukal Falls
Kilangin Falls, more popularly known as Bukal Falls, is a waterfall attraction located along the foot hills of Mount Banahaw that is within the territorial jurisdiction of Liliw. There are two trails to the falls - the trail via Liliw is more difficult to traverse compared to that of Majayjay’s.
The waterfall is popular for its cool and clear blue waters that is often compared to Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. The foliage surrounding it complete the enchanting atmosphere of the place. My fitness team had the chance to enjoy its beauty but we were not spared with the physical challenge that goes with the opportunity to experience its beauty. But it was all worth it.
Kilangin Falls or Bukal Falls is a great daytrip destination for a quick break. If you intend to include this in your itinerary, I recommend that you start of with a visit at this natural attraction before wandering around the town of Liliw.
You can read about our Bukal Falls Adventure here: A Travel #Fitspiration: Challenging Bukal Falls
Food is always part of all my travels and I didn’t miss out on this part in Liliw. Arabela’s is is one foodstop worth checking out in town. Located at the town’s business district, it is a restaurant that offers a good ambiance and great food.
Arabela’s menu includes pasta, pizza, salad, and steak. They also have a selection of cheesecakes and pastries for your sweet tooth. It is a great way to end a day of exploring Liliw. You will leave town with a full heart and tummy.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Liliw was a perfect way to break the monotony of my urban quarantine. Its serene and laidback atmosphere was a welcome breather after months of being stuck in the city. However, the town was not as vibrant as my previous trips as most of the businesses were closed and there was a significant drop of tourists visiting the place. You could really feel the impact of the health crisis to Liliw’s cottage industry.
As our tourism industry slowly opens, I strongly encourage you to explore local destinations. #PinasMuna tayo! The business generated from efforts to visit local destinations cascade to the revival of the town’s cottage industries. The renewed interest will help locals recover from the economic effects of the COVID19 health crisis. Let’s start locally and help our dear Philippines recover.
Getting there: One can take a bus to Lucena from Metro Manila and then go down at San Pablo City. You can then take a tricycle from the bus station to the San Pablo Church where you can take a jeep to Liliw.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.