Exploring LAGUNA (Part 1 of 2)
Next town to Calamba is LOS BAÑOS. When we hear about Los Baños, perhaps the best thing that comes to our mind is BUKO PIE! But of course, it boasts of two of the country's best Buko Pie - Lety's and The Original. Apparently, the third popular brand, Collettes originated from San Pablo City. Personally, when it comes to texture I'll give my vote to The Original. Perhaps they use truly young coconut meat in their recipe. I also find that the sweetness is just right. However, Lety's overall taste cannot be discounted on. In fact, I heart it so much in my college years that it's become a favorite family pasalubong on weekends. But there's more to just plain buko pie in Los Baños. Other must try here are products from UPLB's DTRI (Dairy Training and Research Institute). They have rich, creamy Choco-Milk, Fresh Cow's Milk, Kesong Puti and Pastillas among others. Hmmm... real yummy! I also heard about the recent buzz on Mernel's Chocolate Cake. It has already gained popularity and slowly building its name in the south. You can check their bakeshop at Grove, College, Laguna (near UPLB Main Gate).
Other than food, it is in Los Baños where the infamous Mount Makiling is situated. If you're in the mood for a hike, you'll certainly pass by my beloved alma mater, UPLB (University of the Philippines in Los Baños). It's another good place to commune with nature! Botanical Garden, Museum of Natural History, Jamboree, Natural Arts Center (NAC) etc. await all adventurers. Our big freedom park also expects sports enthusiasts. It's such a nice ground for that morning jog or family picnic! If you want some adrenalin rush, why not challenge your feet and legs with the climb of the Carilion Tower? I haven't tried it yet. But I'm sure it will be a good exercise to burn some calories.
The next town after Los Baños is BAY. This small town is known for its sweet, creamy and filling bread locally named as "Monay". It's an oval shaped bread with a "slit" at the center. It can be consumed as is or with other spreads. Make sure you drop by at Tenorio's Bakery for a sample of this delicious bread.
Off to the next municipal, CALAUAN, home for the sweetest pineapple in the south! If you want to buy some you need to go to the town proper as you can rarely find people selling pineapple along Barangay Dayap (i.e. if you'll use this route to the other towns of Laguna). Along the road, you will see a lot of flowers and potted plants for sale. There are also ceramic pots and clays that will surely enhance the beauty of any landscape at home. Sometimes, there are fish and crabs being sold down the highway. If you started your Laguna trek too early or too late, you may have your breakfast or lunch respectively at Kamayan sa Palaisdaan. It's a nice Filipino restaurant. The resto is actually located between Calauan and Bay.
Then, off we continued our drive to VICTORIA. The town that is a wealthy pot of ducks and of course eggs! This town was featured in one of the amazing race series (if my memory serves me right, it's Season 3). The contestants were tasked to plough the rice fields with our National Animal - Carabao to find their next clue. It was such an exciting task to see.
After Victoria, you'll pass by PILA. There's really not much to say in this place except that its popular for some ancestral houses and historical landmarks. Check Wikipedia if you want to know more. What I really enjoy whenever I pass by this place is the sight of huge trees lining the road that somehow gives a relaxing ambiance. There are also few fruit stands down the road.
The next stop will be the capital of Laguna, STA. CRUZ. This is where you will find the governor's office. This place is known for its Kesong Puti. It's a white cheese, tofu like in appearance, soft in texture and salty in taste. It's normally sold in banana leaves. It's the best partner you can have for a hot pandesal. Real different and yummy in its own way. Your pandesal stuffed with kesong puti will go well with congee or sweet and sour tofu and pork (tokwa't baboy). Can you see them complementing each other? Try it!
Then off we went to the tourist capital of Laguna, PAGSANJAN. Visit this place and you'll be taken to an exciting adventure. There's no, more thrilling and more daring activity in the province than shooting the rapids of the Pagsanjan Falls. When trying it, just take note of the local government's advisory as there are some alleged bad businesses happening around here. Still, have a great ride!
The next town is the "embroidery capital of the Philippines", LUMBAN. Most households here depend on the Piña and Jusi Cloth Business for a living. My husband and I had our wedding gown and barong cloths woven and embroidered here. If you have a big event to attend to or host and you'll be needing such type of clothing, there's no better place than here. The price is definetely cheaper than in any store you will find in Manila. Likewise, the designs are very intricate and exquisite. Lumban is also a favorite location for filming or shooting. It owns the infamous river connected to the Pagsanjan Falls. Do you recognize the river on the picture below? You might have seen this in a number of TV shows or movies.
**Read also Part 2 of this post