Rediscovering Laguna: A D-I-Y weekend nature tour for families
By Imelda Aznar
THE province of Laguna is the perfect destination if you want to get out of the city, but don’t have enough time to go very far. It’s just an hour-and-a-half away from Ortigas Center, and is easy to reach both by car and public transport. Laguna will give you that fresh, countryside breeze, and an innocent, provincial charm that weary travelers look for in the places they visit. If you’re looking for a travel destination for the whole family, consider Laguna. Because Laguna is one place that doesn’t run out of surprises and mysteries for every visitor.
Places to see in Los Baños
Los Baños is a lakeshore town famous for Mt. Makiling, the University of the Philippines, the famous hotsprings, the National Arts Center, and of course, buko pie! Los Baños is home to the nearest rainforest and National Park south of Metro Manila, making it an ideal destination for a weekend nature adventure.
• Laguna Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. La Vista Pansol is home to the Laguna Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Along the National Highway in Pansol, watch out for the large La Vista Pansol sign to your left after Max’s Restaurant, then turn left and follow the other directional signs. The rescue center is privately run by the Feathered Friends Foundation, Wilma Ridler, and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Nielsen Donato. The Feathered Friends Foundation used to be based on Corregidor Island, and holds the distinction of being one of only two organizations in the Philippines to successfully breed the Philippine Eagle in captivity. At the center, you will find endemic species of birds, small mammals and reptiles, including raptors, wild boars, bear cats, civet cats, and macaques. The rescue center, in cooperation with the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is committed to rehabilitate these confiscated or surrendered wildlife, rehabilitate them, then release them back into the Makiling National Park. The center also has a collection of exotic birds from South America, like parrots and cockatoos, that are well adapted to humans and are visitor-friendly. Entrance fee of P25 will be used to support the activities of the center.
• Magnetic Hill. This fabled spot is located along the PCARD/DOST access road (to your right along the National Highway just as you enter Los Baños). Make a full stop at the designated point, put your vehicle in neutral, release the brakes, and observe how you are “pulled up” an incline of about 100 meters. Bring an empty tin can to try on the road, as well. Optical illusion or magnet? Find out for yourself!
• Museum of Natural History. Located within the UPLB campus, the museum houses a diverse collection of more than 300,000 Philippine animals, plants, microorganisms and other specimens that showcase the rich biodiversity of our country. Living plants can be found in the museum’s Hortorium. Open from Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Makiling Botanical Gardens. Marvel at centuries-old trees that tower from 30 to 40 meters high. Guests can also take their lunch or snacks in the picnic area inside the park. Afterwards, you can proceed to the Philippine Center for Raptors—a facility of the DENR and the PAWB. It is, essentially, a rescue center for Philippine birds of prey such as Serpent Eagles, Sea Hawks, Brahminy Kites, Grass Owls, Eagle Owls, and the majestic Philippine Eagle. Getting to the center is approximately a kilometer-and-a-half of hiking on a well-paved but steep trail. Kids will find the trail challenging, and the forest environment can get very humid, so bring plenty of drinking water and extra shirts for the kids. Entrance: P10.
• Makiling High School for the Arts. The PCARD/DOST road will lead you inside the UPLB campus. Just as you reach the Jamboree Site of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, turn right to go up to the Makiling Arts Center. The center continues to play host to the Makiling High School for the Arts, where national scholars from all over the Philippines are schooled. Halfway up the mountain, you will find what may be the most beautiful garden chapel in the country. The hanging roof, the giant crucifix, the fern covered pews, the panoramic view, and the surrounding forest trees create such a romantic ambience and picture perfect wedding setting. Throw a coin into the wishing well in front of the altar before you leave. Then drive further up until you reach the multipurpose hall at the top of the mountain. This is where you’ll get the best panoramic view of Laguna Lake. From this vantage point directly overlooking the hotspring resorts of Pansol, you can see how large and expansive the lake is. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Alabang. The parks and museums of UPLB close early, so schedule your visit before 3 p.m. Entrance: P20.
• Mt. Makiling. From the UPLB College of Forestry, you may choose to go on a light roadside trek up to the Flat Rocks, or further up to the volcanic mudsprings. The mudsprings is located after a 30-minute 4×4 ride up Mt. Makiling, starting from the UP College of Forestry, and a short hike from the roadside to the boiling springs. For the more adventurous, you may climb all the way up to the peaks (there are three!) of Mt. Makiling (1,090 meters elevation) where a beautiful mossy forest beckons. Just bring enough food and water, and proper gear for the day long climb.
• Los Baños Square. It is a large garden plaza surrounded by food stalls
Resource : ManilaStandard Today