The Hulugan Falls #Road7rip to Discover and Re-discover (The Instaviaje 7 Mud Experience / The 10th of my 15 on 2015)
I have never seen so much mud in my life until we ventured to discover Laguna’s latest natural attraction – Hulugan Falls. We heard about Hulugan Falls a week after we came back from our Instaviaje 6 and its beauty just captivated us that we started planning the trip. What started out as a personal road trip evolved into a full-blown instaviaje for our Instagram travel group, @viajerongpinoy.
In no time, we were already setting the date, coordinating the transportation, and inviting viajeros to join us.
The Road to Discovery
It was already 30 minutes past 6am as we started the downhill drive from Antipolo City towards Tanay. The scenic view of Rizal was enough to get me excited with our group’s #Road7rip. Our road trip would bring us along the scenic route of Rizal and Laguna. It was a welcome breather for me from work seeing all the greens along the way.
This was one trip that I was looking forward to after weeks of planning. It was my break from work and it was good that I was sharing the experience with my fellow viajeros.
Pililia Windmills: Directing the Wind
As you drive along the diversion road along Tanay, one would notice large fans along the hillside of Rizal. These are the famed windmills of Pililia. The windmill farm, totaling to 27 windmills, is under the renewable energy program handled by the Alternergy Wind One Corporation. The wind that crosses along the hills of Pililia is good enough to generate a total of 54 megawatts of energy.
We made a brief stopover to the wind farm to admire the windmills up close.
I was amazed at the sight of these large machines as its turbines turned with the wind. It was a good material for photography as the turbines stood out amidst the greens of Pililia Hills. A viewing station was created where one can find out more about the wind farm. The station also has a good view of Laguna de Bay and the Rizal area. It took us about an hour to enjoy the view and the cool breeze before deciding to proceed to our next stop.
I have not been to Bangui Windmills so I am in no position to compare. Hopefully next year, I will be able to make a comparison. Nevertheless, a quick escape to Pililia can definitely give you that thrill of seeing windmills in action.
Luisiana: A Trek to Remember
After a brief breakfast stopover at Milagrosa Restaurant in Famy, known for their Lomi, our group decided to head directly to Luisiana. Our group was up early in the morning so we decided to conserve our energy for our main goal for the trip – discover Hulugan Falls. It was going to be another hour on the road so a lot of them decided to go for a quick snooze.
Luisiana in the province of Laguna was recently brought into the limelight because of the “discovery” of its natural attraction – the majestic Hulugan Falls. The unassuming town of Luisiana boasts of a lot of natural attractions like falls and caves. It is often referred to as “Little Baguio” because of the zigzag road that leads to the town from the nearby Pagsanjan.
The Muddy Trek to Hulugan Falls
Hulugan Falls is the main attraction that placed Luisiana in the tourism map of the Philippines. The waterfalls attraction first hugged the limelight when a visitor posted a picture of Hulugan on social media. The post went viral and soon after the natural attraction has caught the interest of travellers who continuously flock to the area. As per our guide, Hulugan Falls was given the name because the falls was discovered because a carabao fell from the ridge of the waterfalls. Whether the story is true or not, Hulugan Falls continues to take traction as a weekend escape for those looking a quick adventure.
The first step to start the trek is getting a guide. Locals have already seen the potential of the falls that most of them would be willing guides. The ratio of guide to visitors is 1:6 to ensure safety. Every visitor would have to register at the house of the Barangay Hall and pay a fee. At this time, the local government unit has not established an effective system to manage the influx of tourists. My suggestion is just be generous in giving tips to your guides.
The trek to Hulugan Falls is challenging. One needs to traverse a steep descent to the base of the falls. What made our experience memorable was the muddy trail because of the rains from the previous day. The trail was harder to traverse because it was muddy and slippery so we had to be extra cautious going down. Good thing that our guides knew how to lead us through the trail. Yes, we had some minor slips but that did help in giving us the smiles and giggles along the way.
That was how I will describe Hulugan Falls. The sight of the falls from its base was just magnificent and it had me staring at it in awe. I think that the rains from the previous day added to the water cascading down and it gave us a full view of Hulugan Falls in all its grandeur and beauty. The water falls from a height similar to a 20-story building and, with water falling from that height, you should expect to get wet. The basin at the foot of Hulugan is deep and is good for a quick swim. The view of the Hulugan Falls and a quick dip into its cold waters is enough to convince you that the muddy trek is definitely worth it.
Notably, Hulugan Falls had a lot of visitors on that day and it was hard to find a spot to capture the beauty of the falls without people joining in the photo. Our guide said that, after its “discovery”, there place have to deal with the large crowd that flock to their place to see the falls. I must say that Hulugan Falls is an internet sensation and the crowd that was there on our visit was enough proof that it has gained popularity among travelers.
But one thing is for sure, coming face to face with Hulugan Falls was an awesome experience and no words or picture can capture its true beauty. You just got to see it.
Talay Falls: #PushPaMore
After spending an hour admiring the magnificent view of Hulugan Falls, our group decided that it was time to move on. The great thing about trekking at Hulugan Falls is that you can take a trail that will lead you, not only to Hulugan Falls, but to a smaller falls upstream – Talay Falls. Interestingly, Luisiana is actually the home of a number of waterfalls that is also worth visiting.
The challenge for this one though was the ascent from the basin of Hulugan Falls. We had to traverse the steep trails that would lead us to the top of the ridge. The ascent can be pretty exhausting especially for those who are not prepared for it physically. It is manageable but is physically a challenge. In our case, the muddy trails and the people descending made our trek more challenging.
After walking through mud and through lush greeneries, we finally made it to Talay Falls.
Talay Falls is a multi-level falls located upstream of Hulugan Falls. Water gushes onto three levels of rock faces with the second wall as its main attraction. I was only able to get through the easier trails to the second level and I was already exhausted to check out further upstream. It was not as grand as that of Hulugan Falls but Talay has its own unique view to be proud of.
Unlike Hulugan Falls that had throngs of people milling around and admiring its beauty, Talay Falls is a more quiet and serene. I noticed that locals have already installed small benches and tables for guest use and bamboo railiongs for easier access upstream. We managed to catch our breath and just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Talay Falls before doing the usual photo ops.
Talay Falls has its own charm. The few people who manage to make a quick stop in Talay Falls would agree that although it hides under the shadow of Hulugan Falls, Talay Falls is a better place to commune and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Brief Stop: Pagsanjan Church
We did not expect that the trek to Hulugan Falls and Talay Falls would take us about four hours to complete that we had to forego part of our itinerary as we had to head back to Manila as it was getting dark. But before we headed to the final stretch of our trip, we made a quick stop at the Pagsanjan Church.
Pagsanjan Church was founded in 1687. The original church structure was built using nipa and bamboo to be replaced three years later with a stone church made from adobe. The church honors the “Our Lady of Guadalupe” as its patron saint where two images of their patroness can be found inside the church. The church was heavily damaged by the American bombings during World War 2 and it was only in 1965 when the church was reconstructed.
The white-washed Renaissance façade stands out at the center of town. The simple design of the church matches the interiors of the church and reflects the simple and noble life in Pagsanjan. The church is highlighted by a gold-colored retablo with the Marian image as its centrepiece.
Pagsanjan is a small and old town and the atmosphere that it exudes really got me interested to visit and exploring the town. I am looking forward to spending a night in Pagsanjan and get to feel and enjoy its old-town vibe.
Looking back at the experience, discovering a “new” tourism find is exciting and it is the road less travelled by many. Nothing really beats the thrill to being one of the first to get to see and explore an upcoming tourism destination.
The #Road7trip to Hulugan Falls is no different. The buzz that it created after its “discovery” was enough to create that interest among travellers and enthusiasts. It has created a new opportunity for the local community in terms of income generation. Now, it is really a matter of how fast the local government, together with the community, can draft and implement a sustainable tourism development plan for Luisiana. It is very important that they are able to streamline the activities so as not to endanger the future of Hulugan Falls as a tourism spot and they really need to act fast.
Organize it: Our group can help bring your group or barkada to explore Hulugan Falls. If you are interested, you can email us at email@example.com or you can leave a comment below and I will get in touch with you.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.