A Road Trip Guide On The Laguna Lake Loop For Father’s Day And Beyond
Ask any seasoned road tripper, and chances are he’ll tell you that the Laguna Lake Loop is the most scenic and exciting destination easily within reach from Metro Manila. This road, which goes around the country’s biggest lake, cuts through the provinces of Laguna and Rizal and offers diverse attractions (or distractions) which every member of the family will love.
As it is a loop road, you don’t pass the same way on your way back home. Below is a suggested itinerary and interesting things to do for a consummate road tour on Father’s Day, or any special family day for that matter.
1. Calamba. Visit Rizal Shrine, the birthplace of our national hero Jose Rizal, and wander around the población or town proper which includes the St. John Church where he was baptized and the giant “banga” or jar after which the town was named after.
2. Los Baños. Literally meaning “the baths," it is popular for its hot spring resorts where you can dip, and the signature delicacies buko pie, espasol and uraro. Towering over the town is the legendary Mt. Makiling, the nearest tropical rainforest to the city which has nurtured the legend of the Spanish-era fairy Maria Makiling. Easy reachable by car, the mountain offers a commanding view of the Laguna de Bay.
3. Pila. Regarded as the “heritage town” of Laguna because of its numerous century-old ancestral homes which have survived the ravages of time. Many of these houses done in the typical bahay na bato architecture have become museums or converted into coffee shops and restaurants to provide an old-world charm while sipping coffee or shake.
St. Anthony of Padua Church in Pila
4. Pagsanjan. Known for Pagsanjan Falls, one of the country’s first tourist poster images, you can experience the thrill of shooting the rapids in a two-hour boat ride. You can also ascend the San Isidro Hill Religious Eco-Tourism Park, a 292-step landscaped government recreational facility for a view of the lake. The town is also beginning to be known as a food crawl destination with its noteworthy homegrown restaurants such as Calle Arco, Balai Ilocos, Titadel’s Fiesta Cuisine, Terima Kasih, Emin and Mila’s Canteen, Aling Taleng’s Halo-Halo, and El Panchito’s Fil Mexicano Resto.
El Panchito's Filipino Mexicano bestsellers in Pagsanjan
5. Lumban. It is dubbed as the country’s “Embroidery Capital” because of the fine jusi and piña cloth embroidered by hand, where you can buy quality and reasonably-priced Barong Tagalog. The town is also home to Caliraya Lake, a hydro power dam, which has become a hilltop campsite, retreat center, and a haven for windsurfing, kayaking and jetskiing.
Lumban's hand-embroidered barong and gown
6. Paete. Acknowledged as the “Woodcarving Capital” due to the countless sculptors and artisans who have created wooden masterpieces across generations. Pull up at the roadside of Museo Ac-Ac for a close encounter with artworks and artist Luis Ac-Ac who gamely welcomes visitors for a tête-à-tête. The local artisans also produce the taka papier mache which you can easily take home for souvenir.
Sculptured artworks at Museo Ac-Ac in Paete
7. Pililla. Marvel at the 54-megawatt Rizal Wind Farm as the 27 giant turbines spin in the wind-swept mountains. It is an Instagrammable spot with a sweeping view of the lake and southern metropolis in the horizon. Continue your journey by feasting on the mouthwatering dishes of Bulawan Floating Restaurant or Kawayan Farm Restaurant along the Manila East Road.
Pililla Wind Farm
8. Tanay. Swing by and cool off at Daranak Falls, an all-time favorite excursion place, or say a family prayer at Regina Rica, a 14-hectare landscaped mountain retreat with the 71-foot statue of the Queen of the Holy Rosary. There are a host of special interest resorts along the scenic ridge, most notably Sierra Madre Resort, Tanay Adventure Camp, and Ten Cents to Heaven, which have ziplines.
Daranak Falls in Tanay
9. Baras. Take family bonding to the extreme at Masungi Georeserve which boasts of a unique limestone landscape and a discovery trail composed of a hanging bridge, a hammock, a cave, and the web-like viewing platform. For a more laid-back feel, go fishing or grilling at the Fish-Yalan BFAR Center or bask at the infinity pool overlooking the lake at Punta de Fabian. Its Wawa Eco-Park takes you to the shores of lake which has been the source of inspiration for generations of artists—painters, sculptors, musicians, landscape architects, and craftsmen.
Masungi Georeserve in Baras
10. Antipolo. With an altitude of 152 meters, it has a relatively cooler climate and scenic zigzag roads. It was known in the olden days for the kasuy and suman, the picture-pretty Hinulugang Taktak, and the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine. The city takes pride in its numerous cozy spas, art galleries, specialty restaurants, boutique hotels, farm tourism sites, and nature-themed hideaways. A must-try is Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens Spa, a tropical resort which has a new Greek-themed section called Mykonos. It is a worthy pit stop for a massage, spa treatment, family recreation, and perhaps sunset dinner. On the way home, pass through the Sumulong Highway which has a mesmerizing view of Manila’s nightlights which can lure you for another stopover for coffee or a nightcap.