Then off we proceeded to PAETE, the homeland of finest wood carvings and papier mache. Most wood products and other interesting handicrafts can be found within the Poblacion area. Almost all of them are sold in the local's own houses. We bought our kids a horse papier mache for only P60 (see photo below). We also noticed that they have started selling Christmas decors and other novelties. A small hanging Santa Claus costs around P170. Indeed, Christmas is just around the corner!
But aside from the predominance of religious artifacts and symbols, Paete is also home to sweet Lanzones (Lansium domesticum). The start of the ber months is the season for juicy, sweet fruits such as Lanzones and Rambutan. Apparently, the cost per kg of Lanzones is still quite high at P60 since the harvest season has just started. The best time to buy is around end September or early October. Not only the price will become lower but also the maturity of the fuit is just right and the sweetness is at its best.
Other equally fascinating towns close to Paete are PAKIL, PANGIL, SINILOAN and FAMY. However, we did not go to these places anymore. Instead, we decided to take the route back to Pagsanjan and head straight to MAGDALENA. This another countryside boasts of a magnificent church. There are very few things known about this town. In fact, I sensed a very simple life here. True enough, according to Wikipedia it was named as one of the cleanest, most beautiful and peaceful in the province.
From Magdalena, the road will lead you to either MAJAYJAY or LILIW. If you opted for the former, the natural wonder of Taytay Falls and the breathtaking sceneries from the bell tower of the town's church await you. But if you preferred Liliw, you're on your way to the shoe capital of the province. Lots and lots of shoes, sandals and bags are sold here at very affordable prices. You can get a good pair of shoes for less than 500 bucks (Php) and 3 for P100 slippers. Real good buy huh?! Good deals of Lanzones and Rambutan are likewise traded here in bulk (kaings). The same thing is being offered in the subsequent town, NAGCARLAN. This locality is also famed by its low prices of meats (pork, beef and carabeef). Residents of other towns normally flock to the Nagcarlan Market even at the crack of dawn for a great buy. It's also well noted for its growing candy industry. Oh, and another not to be missed spot here is the Underground Cemetery. Try to discover its own mystery. A small town of RIZAL comes next after Nagcarlan. However, there's not much to buzz about the town except that it was named after the Philippines National hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. So, off we went directly to my birthplace, SAN PABLO CITY, known to many as the City of 7 Lakes (Sampalok, Palakpakin, Yambo, Bunot, Pandin, Muhikap, and Calibato). I truly missed the heritage trail of these lakes. How I wish I could visit them all with my own family soon. I am proud of how San Pablo has become an attractive tourist destination nowadays. It’s no longer just home to coconut products and innovative jeepneys. There are new things to experience and savor such as CASA SAN PABLO, a country inn set amidst sprawling lawns with a very relaxing atmosphere. It's a nice place for a weekend getaway. What's more there's an increasingly popular eating place, KUSINA SALUD owned by world renowned fashion designer Patis Tesoro. The exquisite modern Filipino cuisine it offers rightly match the resto's enchanting ambiance. The sunday lunch buffet is becoming a best out-of-town dining experience. On the way back to South Expressway, the must stop overs are the fruit stands selling Lanzones, Rambutan, Coconut, Corn, Atis, Avocado, Papaya and many others (depending on what's in for the season) and of course Collette's and El Mare Buko Pie. The last stop to our trek is the town holding the boundary between Laguna and Batangas, ALAMINOS. This town is prominent for its wonderful tourist destination, Hidden Valley Springs. A private resort that's synonymous to paradise. To know how to get there and the facilities it can offer, check here.
We traveled a total of 182 km, spent almost a day to commune with this amazing province. With its many product offerings and majestic beauty, I'm simply lost for words. What more with the experience and the bonding that our family had? Priceless!
(View map of Laguna here from globalpinoy.com)