Hulugan Falls: Chasing and letting go

Hulugan Falls

Hulugan, my second shot at chasing waterfalls after Daranak and Batlag in Tanay, Rizal. What started as one-time shot in re-exploring the adjacent province of Rizal has become a journey to what seems to be an infinite search for falling waterways…

Team Chasing Waterfalls

Team #chasingwaterfalls at Brgy. Kapitan’s house

Team #ChasingWaterfalls 

Daranak + Batlag Falls gave birth to Team #ChasingWaterfalls – a trio of independent souls seeking adventure in nature. After the fun-filled wanderlusting we had last January, Team #ChasingWaterfalls has grown from a trio to a team of five chasing Hulugan Falls in Luisiana, Laguna.

The Epic Trek and it’s Reward

Before we even embarked on this chase, we were aware that we have an easy trek to cover. It wasn’t a secret but having to go through steep descent myself proved to be a whole lot challenging than what was expected. As a disclaimer, while I am a runner, I am most certainly not a seasoned hiker.

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Matet engaging our guide, Kuya Leonardo

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The rest of #teamChasingWaterfalls while Matet was out on an engaging discussion with Kuya

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L-R: Yangsi, Backpacking Geek, Mick, l_unleashed

The first leg of of the trek was a brief introduction to the Brgy. San Salvador neighborhood.  Hulugan Falls has just gotten in the tides of social media hype and local government was quick to respond with the construction and development of the road leading to the falls. After the short hike along the road construction came the descent on the dirt trail and rockies.

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Quick rest stop before the very steep rockies and vines

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The goofie shot

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Are we there yet? 

A few more steps on the dirt and unstable pile of rocks and we can hear the sound of water rolling.

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Our first view

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A few more rockies and we were there! One good thing about chasing waterfalls on a weekday was, we get to have a minimal number of competitors for the majestic wonder of mother earth.

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Testing the water downstream

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Her Majesty – Hulugan Falls

We were early to avoid any potential crowd.  It was a caution we took in spite of the day being a Friday. We don’t want to risk being surprised by a crowded waterfall basin (paano na lang ang photoshoot ng traveling pink gown).  We were greeted by the majestic view of Hulugan and its enchanting melody.

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the mandatory selfie

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“Hold my hand. Let’s write this world’s fairytale ending together.” – Anita Krizzan

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Me and my so-called “vanity”

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“Love is always open arms. If you close your arms about love you will find that you are left holding only yourself.” -Leo Buscaglia

buddhaMy signature Buddha pose

Because we almost have the falls to ourselves, we had the opportunity to indulge and play with the cool and refreshing mountain water.

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There are holes and small gorges that create some sort of natural jacuzzi. We had a good time lounging under the strong yet relaxing waters from the falls. I bet this was something pretty hard to achieve on a weekend with the influx of tourists both foreign and locals alike.

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Team #ChasingWaterfalls

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Meteor Garden or the Look-up Shot?

When all you wanted was to experience the beauty of this new found falling waterways, you get to be served with additional surprises!

“Sweets for my Sweet, Sugar for my Honey”

After getting the “Hulugan high” (ang taas ng hinulugan), we started trekking up on the other side of the mountain.  This time, we’re chasing Talay Falls. The trail wasn’t as difficult.  When I say “wasn’t difficult“, I meant there were less unstable rocks and loose soil.  It was another kind of challenge – we were moving against gravity (not to mention the ever perky Mr. Sun)!

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Rest stop! err..selfie stop, Matet?

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Lakad pa more!

I couldn’t complain much about Mr. Sun’s unwavering perkiness because a mudslide was the least of the things I want to endure.  I was pretty comfortable sweating like a mountain hog as I stride along the “easy” trail. The “Are we there yet?” has become a mantra until we reach a stream. We did a couple of stream crossings. Given the intensity of the mid-day sunshine, the occasional splash of water was extremely appreciated (sorry, we didn’t have any shots crossing streams).

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AHA! moment

“It was not as grand as Hulugan” was my first thought. But it was most definitely worth trekking. Talay Falls sits unassuming under the greenery. A perfect spot to have lunch if you packed one because there are bamboo tables and benches by the riverbank. Access to the falls however was a bit tricky. You have to watch your step. The trail, while it was short entails boulder climbing. One thing to note, Kuya Leonardo (our guide) warned us that the basin has a considerable depth. And I, being a self-confessed non-swimmer took the caution pretty seriously…I’m pretty much used to loving appreciating from a distance.

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Talay Falls, from a distance

Before I start climbing down the boulders, Kuya offered a surprise… He led me to the side of Talay Falls along more boulders and vines. Boulders and more boulders of huge proportion and a blue rope hanging from somewhere above a huge rock. I was not exactly prepared to climb some rocks as huge as these and I was definitely ill-prepared to climb rockies with just a rope…a blue rope. And I told myself, ‘What the heck! I’m already here and there’s no stopping me now…not my insecurities…and most definitely NOT my fear of the uncertain…’

When I reached the top of the rock, I thought that was it…that I’d be seeing milks and chocolates! Well…this was what’s at the  top.

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More boulders…more challenges

Reaching the top of the rocks, I was greeted with more boulders. This time, instead of going over them I was supposed to squeeze my huge self between towering rocks. So what exactly was all these brutally physical challenges for? These were all for the view at the top.  Whatever is feeding Talay Falls…

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Finally found this hidden gem!

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Hidden Falls

As the name implies, this falling waterways is well hidden, well kept… Only the worthy shall get a glimpse of this gem. In my mind, I wanted to trek a bit more to get closer…to feel the cold liquid springing from above…but with all the hurdles I had to endure, I was good sitting by a rock marveling  at this natural wonder…

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When it was time to head back to the group, I said hello to the same challenges, only in reverse! I managed to get some light dermal abrasions to remind me that the Hidden Falls ought to be hidden…to be revealed only to those who are worthy (and I have the audacity to call myself worthy…LOL).

Scratch if Off

As soon as we reached Brgy. Captain’s house, we ordered a binalot meal.  We were famished! We ate adobo rice with hard boiled egg prepared by Kap’s wife. After devouring our meal, we took turns in the shower and prepped to go home.

Everything was an adventure the moment we stepped out of the office that Friday morning. We did not let the day be over with just sitting in a jeep. We had to scratch off “Top Loading” in our bucket-list! Although it wasn’t really my first time, it was a thrill to top load on a jeep from San Salvador to Sta. Cruz.

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Luv-leh view at the top!

Here’s a brief overview of our adventure chasing Hulugan Falls.

 

How to get there!

Super short instructions on how to get to Hulugan Falls!

  1. Take a bus from Gil Puyat/Taft Ave. going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Pagsawitan
  2. When in Pagsawitan in Sta. Cruz, look for the jeep terminal going to Lucban in Quezon
  3. Take the jeep to Lucban and get off at Barangay San Salvador in Luisiana, Laguna (do not miss the marker! the San Salvador arch is on the right side of the highway)
  4. Register your name and/or group. This is where you get assigned a guide. Please note that a guide is mandatory
  5. Once registered, you will need to go on a trike ride to Village Chief’s house to pay the fee.  You can leave your extra stuff/bags if you want to. They also have shower rooms to freshen up after!
  6. Start trekking!

Damage Description

Chasing Hulugan will definitely not cost you an arm and a leg…except maybe it you fall and no one’s there to catch you…#hugoat!

  • Bus ride to Sta. Cruz, Laguna from DLTB Station in Gil Puyat – P 140 (P280 round trip)
  • Jeepney ride to San Salvador – P 30 (P 60 round trip)
  • Trike to Cap’s House – P 30 (P60 round trip)
  • Entrance fee – P 10 per person
  • Guide Fee – P 100 per person (no standard guide fee. give what you feel is right. We decided to chip in P 100 each for Kuya Leonardo)
  • Food – P 75 (per person) – we ordered for a binalot meal of chicken-pork adobo with egg. Super sulit meal!
  • Shower Room use – P 15 per use

Optional Damages –  some things you can forgo depending on your preference

  • Bibingka – 3 pieces for P 100 (comes with a native, handmade bag); one of the most flavorful bibingka I’ve tasted
  • Pancit Hab-hab –  P 10 per serving
  • Soft drinks (Soda) – P 75 (1.5 Liters)

 

Some of us take it to the inviting bubbles, foams and the soothing caress of gold to amber liquors to relieve ourselves from whatever pain we harbor in our hearts. On the other hand, there are some, like me who drowns in adrenaline and adventure that mother nature has to offer. Chasing waterfalls gave me that brief moment to fall into my tiny bubble (err maybe not that tiny for my size) and forget the bitterness inside.

In Hulugan, I embraced the idea that falling in love is beautiful like a waterfalls. Regardless of the the depth of its basin, you always find it catching you when you fall…maybe not to hold you for eternity, but simply at that moment when everything felt right…

I chased Hulugan…I fell for it… I stayed a bit and moved on to discover that some love are easy to be had while there are some that you have to cross streams and boulders only to realize that loving from a distance is best…

 

Ohhh enough! hahaha Until the next chase! #TeamChasingWaterfalls

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**Photo credits: Unmarked photos taken from the lenses of Yangsi and Mick

Batlag + Daranak Falls: When I go chasing waterfalls

Batlag Falls – sitting at the upstream of the more popular Daranak Falls, unassuming yet charming. How we ended up there was a bit of a novelty. 

 

The song goes… “Don’t go chasing waterfalls…please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to…”

 

But the heart yearns for adrenaline pumping adventure…always.

[Back to reality] I couldn’t recall how the convo ended up with taking a plunge in a waterfalls. One thing after the other led me and two fairies from work to cook up a plan to chase the waterfalls of Tanay, Rizal last Friday (01/22/2016).

The Eerie Ride

Lay and I went out of our Makati office a little after five (5) in the morning to catch an early trip to Tanay, Rizal. We had a quick snack stop at Pan de Manila before jumping on a jeepney along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong.

Now I am not familiar with the roads going east of the metro but somewhere along Ortigas Extension, a group of kids wearing PE uniforms came to load the nearly filled jeepney. As opposed to the usual practice, Tanay-bound jeeps have fare collectors situated at the rear of the vehicle. One of the kids handed some paper bills and coins while stating their destination – Tanay. I took their fare and handed it to the nearby collector. I told Lay, “ang layo naman nila mag-school” (their school is too far!) and she agreed. Not too long after, the jeepney ride became cramped as it has gotten full with passengers. It’s when we noticed that the kids were gone! Not a trace! It was fairly impossible for us not to notice them alighting the vehicle because they’d have to pass by us…creepy!

Arriving in Tanay and the unspoken ‘are we there, yet?’

Other than the early morning eerie ride, we arrived in Tanay, Rizal passed eight (8) in the morning after over two hours of butt-numbing jeepney ride. Apparently, the town is prepping for the grandest “fiesta”  in the province of Rizal [yun ang sabi ni kuya] making the navigation to the town center a bit tasking. Lay and I met Matet in front of 7-11 where we bought some essentials before flagging a tricycle to Daranak Falls which was still a bit far and deep into winding and hilly roads of both concrete and dirt.

The Epic Fail

We dragged ourselves out to Tanay on a Friday morning because we wanted to evade the typical weekend crowd. And there we were staring at about 4 jeepneys parked in front of the Government managed park. We paid the fees and started to trek the concrete path towards the grand waterfalls. With 4 jeepneys parked outside, we were not completely surprised to see a whole lot of…well, kids! It’s some sort of extra-curriculars for the Pasay students. We settled in a table in a little nook overlooking the huge falls, ate the home cooked menudo from Matet’s kitchen and mull over how we were to enjoy this trip. Lay’s plan on shooting with her gown/dress with the waterfalls was slipping away pretty fast.

Hello Batlag!

In our effort to enjoy the trip, I offered the more private “Batlag Falls“. It’s some 10-minute hike on a concrete pathway up the hill and a bit of downhill trek to reach Batlag Falls.

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Batlag Falls sits in a dense forest fitted with some tables and bamboo benches. As of this writing, camping is allowed it Batlag falls. We saw a tent in the not so distant clearing.

The water falls in an unconventional rock formation. This gives this falls a unique look and undeniable charm. With a rustic charm and cool, refreshing water, one cannot  help himself but to indulge and embrace nature’s pure love flowing [kahit hindi ako marunong lumangoy].

buddhame1My praying Buddha pose feigning  serenity

The boulders and the waterfalls inspired me to take that [Buddha] shot! It was refreshing while the sound of flowing water and the strength of the rocks assured me of peace and unwavering determination to achieve what I believe is rightfully mine.

under the falls

We are not afraid of what lies beneath nor what is ahead of us in the dark.

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Ang Diwata ng Talon (The nymph)

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Enjoying the water!

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With the waterfalls all to ourselves, we enjoyed doing all the stuff we wanted.  Nobody seemed to want to leave. Well, who would?!

On the left side of the grand yet unassuming falls is a solitary drop with a more silky water cascade and a bluish pool that is so inviting. Later we learned…it’s 15 feet deep. Being that I am not born a swimmer, let alone a diver (at 15 feet), I settled for the view and left the swimming to the seasoned. 🙂

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 Just when everything seemed to settle, time has it’s own way of reminding us that there is work when the sun sets. We headed down where the overfill of the enchanting Batlag flows – Daranak Falls.

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Coming from the very private Batlag Falls, Daranak is crowded.  Lay did not have that opportunity to wear that pink dress like how we did in Batlag. Surprisingly, the water was refreshingly cold! In addition, because the falls itself is big, its catch basin is bigger and deeper…something suitable for cliff diving (oh don’t even think about diving from the top of the waterfalls because that’s not allowed!)

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Oh! It was fun sharing the waterfalls din naman pala! LOL…We even forgot that manong trike  will come back and pick us up at 2PM and it was already passed 3 in the afternoon![we even saw kuya driver watching us from the cliff]. So we headed to the shower room to clean and get dressed. Yes, they have clean shower rooms for a minimal fee of P5.00. We asked to be dropped off at the palenke to ride a UVExpress  back to EDSA Crossing.

Total Damage for this waterfalls chase P 683.00

  • EDSA Crossing to Tanay – P 58
  • Tanay Trike to Daranak Falls – P 200 (3 of us get to split the cost)
  • Entrance Fee (Daranak) – P 50 (per person)
  • Entrance  Fee (Batlag Falls) – P 100 (per person)
    • if you prefer to rent a table/cottage – P200
  • Shower Room use – P 5.00 (per person)
  • Trike back to Tanay Public Market – P 200 (3 of us get to split the cost)
  • UV Express to EDSA Crossing – P 70 (individual fare)

**Food courtesy of Matet’s kitchen

Getting There

  • From EDSA Shaw, you can take a jeepney plying the Crossing Ilalim – Tanay – Crossing Ilalim route
  • Alight at Tanay town proper and flag a trike to Daranak Falls
    • you may want to get kuya trike’s number if you want to secure your ride back to the town center or take the ~3Km trek to the highway where you can find public transportation available
    • Bringing your own ride is an advantage. Daranak Falls has an available space for vehicle parking

Daranak Falls is a State-managed property.  More details on their facebook page –  Daranak Falls and Resort

This little adventure wasn’t too bad after all! There was no big drama on planning. Everything we needed was our nagging drive to get away from the hustles and stress of the city life and some guts to venture into a new sport we now call #chasingwaterfalls

Until the next big chase! #Laguna #waterfalls

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