Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nagcarlan, Laguna Philippines - It's Freaking Awesome

I grew up in a back water town not knowing the riches it hides and I've only learned recently how freaking awesome that place was. Let me "review" my hometown for you, so grab a snack or two because this will be quite long, more after the break.

Livestock are slaughtered fresh daily in Nagcarlan's Wet and Dry Market

When you visit Nagcarlan the first place to go to would be a place called Underground Cemetery, it's the only known underground cemetery in the Philippines and a sight which is hard to miss. You will be greeted by this national landmark with it's copious grass fields and arching Spanish colonial walls.

"No Gandalf, the shire is farther west"

"In a scale of old and green, I give this a 10"

Inside is a small chapel where you can leave a donation for the maintenance of the landmark and you are required to sign in a log book to index the number of tourist who visits, below the chapel is the literal underground cemetery which is now only for display since it's been long discontinued for that purpose.

Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan

     This unique cemetery is the only one of it's kind in the Philippines, it was constructed by Franciscan missionaries led by Father Vicente Velloc back in 1845, alongside this  was the construction and expansion of the Church of Saint Bartholomew and convent. 
     This place was once used by the leaders of the revolutionary army as a secret base back in 1896.
       By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260, dated August 1, 1973, as amended by Administrative Order 1505, dated June 11, 1978, this cemetery was declared a national historical landmark, and henceforth was closed for further burials.

Note: I had to Google the last part because it' really difficult even for me to translate those law-ish terms.

That's enough history for now, moving on. Nagcarlan celebrates a festival called Ana Kalang which is held every third Wednesday of April. It's a festivity filled with colors and laughter and I would definitely recommend for anyone to go there during the street dance competition, the effort in the costume and hours of practice to perfectly synchronize the children's moves is enough reason to drop what you are doing and watch it.

I mean just look at the costumes of these dancers, if I'm more susceptive to changing pattern and colors I'd be having seizures right now.

The first half of the review is pretty generic, something you would read in a magazine or see an infomercial but this part right here, this is where you need to move your butt and work it to enjoy these hidden wonders.

We'll begin with something that is reachable by hiking or commute, this place is called Tipakan. Pack your lunch and your swim wear when you visit because you'll have to get wet to enjoy these palces.

This one on the right is the Tipakan falls, and to get here you have to go through a small path and mind where you step because it's slippery but muster your balance and when you get there, it's all worth it.

This place, I believe was called Tipakan because it means to get a chunk, chunks of naturally forming stones were carved here and was used as the base material of Spanish colonial structure in the town.

Now a days this place caters to people who want to take a dip in the river, while the locals use the running water to wash their laundry.

As you can see, me and my friend got here on our bikes and lugging them in the slippery slopes down to the river banks.

From here just a few minutes of travel, and you'll reach our next destination. It is a few minutes using a bike where you need to pedal through rough trails and walking down a steep makeshift stairs that's why be cautious of your actions.

 Bunga is one of the more known tourist destinations in Nagcarlan but no matter how much beauty it has, it still lacks the promotion and development it badly needs to make it known nationwide. And though I maybe far away from my hometown, I still would like to help somehow. So here we are, Bunga Falls.

The twin falls caters to a lot of visitors but not as much it should be and a storm blew in a few weeks ago that destroyed the rental huts which would affect potential visitors. This falls like many others is covered in mystery and stories, a lot are afraid to swim because the depth of the waterfall bed has not been measured since and many still thinks a creature or some sort of spirit takes unsuspecting victims and "sacrifice" them, for that I'll leave this quote:
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” 

― Benjamin Franklin

Yes, that's me testing the waters to see if I get "sacrificed".

Traveling from one place to another with nothing but your muscles to move you can be taxing and a bite or two would be good, so we ate at the nearby noodle shack we call "Mamihan" it's a Filipino take on a Chinese noodle soup, more on this on one of my food reviews later, I just wanted to point out that you'll never go hungry in Nagcarlan even if you only have a $1 in your pocket. After Bunga Falls the next place we went to for a change of pace is a lake nearby.

 Yambo lake is the largest body of water I know of that can be found in Nagcarlan. It houses fish farms and the water is clean enough you can swim on it. Some drive here to wash their vehicles but mostly people from the neighborhood only. 

Huts for rent are available and you can even pay to go around the lake on one of those bamboo boats to get a better view of things or just to experience it.

We're almost done, if you read it all the way here then a few more lines wouldn't hurt and if you're still not itching to go on an adventure in Nagcarlan, then clearly you need more convincing which wouldn't be too difficult when you see the last two destination that I covered.

There is this place deep in the woods where farmers used to brew their coconut wine, they have carved the natural forming stones there and made it into stoves which made it into a brewery, hence the name of the next falls we went to, Talon ng Alakan which literally means Brewery Falls

.No, it's not a Creeper's face. Yes, that used to be a stove.

You've been to private parties, resorts, pools, Jacuzzis or what not but this is the closest thing you can get to a private water falls and it would cost you a total amount of nothing but a hike.

 "No Homo"

You have seen what some of Nagcarlan's waters had to offer and you decided to try something on a different perspective, somewhere a little more elevated, some place where you could oversee everything Nagcarlan has to offer. Well, you're in luck since I know a place where that's possible. Which brings us to the last part of our journey, we are headed to the mountains

Before heading out in this last journey you need to make sure you have packed something to drink, a snack or two and your will to climb. This last destination will require you to hike a steep mountain with muddy trails, corroding soil and slippery rocks to reach the peak. Also, don't forget to seek assistance from our friendly local guide as he would lead the way.

We rode in those motorcycle to reach the base of the mountain but you could also hike to get here and it wouldn't be too difficult since the roads are paved.

In Nagcarlan there is a group called AHON which stands for Anakalang's Hikers Of Nature and they are the ones responsible for promoting hiking or mountaineering trips in the many hills and mountains nearby the town of Navcarlan. They usually do these events during the weekends which conflicts with my schedule but luckily I got the chance to come along in one of their site visit and the destination of choice is called a hill which feels like a mountain called  Sumandal.

 Had some slip ups here and there but everything is well. Thank you AHON! (for making me feel slim when I'm besides you guys)

"Go ahead, click it"

After almost 2 hours of a normal pace hike, we reached the peak, the top, the apex and we get to see what others could only see in movies or the internet, a view that is breathtaking and rewarding at the same time. The effort to get here is no easy feat but the reward outweighs the hardship.

Nagcarlan is underrated and shadowed by it's neighboring towns, with proper promotion and advertisement we could place our town in the map, our small town who has so much more to offer than any town nearby (yes, I'm looking at you Liliw). We have clean flowing rivers, gushing water falls, calm lakes and lush hills and mountains. Historic Spanish colonial sites, restaurants with competitive dishes, resorts and vacation house and a plethora of welcoming people left and right. So believe me when I say this, you don't need a dartboard to shoot at random to have an adventure all you need is to visit Nagcarlan, Laguna, Philippines and you'll get all the rush you are looking for or a quiet and peaceful place to retreat. It took me 25 years before discovering these places and realizing how awesome Nagcarlan is, I suggest you visit them while these places are still there.

And that's it! I know this post is quite long but you can't compress awesome, you got to show it off. Thank you for reading and have a great day!

For more information about Nagcarlan you can visit my friend's blog site:


  1. nice one brad. sayang hindi niyo pinuntahan ung pinamun-an hahhaha.

    1. thanks brad! yaan mo puntahan ko yun next time pag uwi!

  2. nice yung panorama ng Sumandal Peak mo Renz.. :D

  3. Replies
    1. ang hirap ng punny na captions. get it? pun-ny? no? ok. sorry. hehehe

  4. Very nice... Thumbs up... More from the writer please

    1. hehehe ok alden-sempai pag may magandang source material

  5. woaaaaaaaaaw,,ganda proud to be NAgcarlaneños,,,sa amin lugar po ung alakan Falls..hahha

  6. wooooooaw ganda proud to Salamat po at napasma ung Alakan Fall, ng aming Barangay Alumbrado.

  7. Thanks bro for promoting nagcarlan napakaganda ng nagcarlan napaka daming pweding gawin para mai develop im proud to be anak ng nagcarlan

  8. Sayang lang mga tourist spot ng nagcarlan kasi hindi dinedevelop , mga kurakot kasi ang mga nakaupo.. walng ibang alam na proyekto kung hindi ang mag papintura lang ng kalsada at poste.. tulungan nyo mga may maliit na negosyo para makapagbigay kayo ng trabaho sa mamamayan.