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