The Philippines has many natural attractions that draw local and foreign tourists alike. Some are more famous than others, but all are equally wonderful. With 7,107 islands, it is not surprising to discover yet another hidden attraction in some far-flung area with very few inhabitants. However, to find one in the Luisiana, a municipality in Laguna with a population of more than 20,000 and just a couple of hours away from Manila is a little bit unusual.
That is precisely what happened, though. Someone stumbled on what is now known as Hulugan Falls about an hour’s worth of trekking from Barangay San Salvador in Luisiana and posted it online a mere six months ago (September 2015). The posted images were breathtaking, and predictably triggered a sensation. Since then, the online community has been busy posting evidence of their own ephemeral experience with the cool cascades of Hulugan Falls.
Catching a glimpse of the new natural sensation is certainly trending. However, Hulugan Falls is not easy to get to despite being a destination which is very close to Metro Manila. The area is still under development so expect trekking (not for fainthearted).
The fun starts after travelling a harrowing 67 miles through terrific traffic to Barangay San Salvador, which is the jump off point for Hulugan Falls. Well, perhaps “trudge” is a better term than “jump.” This is when you have to put on your best outdoor slash safari gear and get into a tricycle with your designated guide to where you register and pay to use the road to Hulugan. It is about a 45 minute walk on a rough road, and 15 minutes on a muddy track before you have to struggle up the steep and slippery stair-cased main trail to Hulugan Falls itself. For non-hikers, getting there is like forever “trekking”; however, experienced backpackers call it an “easy” trail. Sheesh!
After such a struggle, you would expect to be amply rewarded, and you would be right. Hulugan Falls is definitely a worthwhile place to visit. There is a steep climb down from the top of the falls to the basin, at the end of which you can choose to swim in a natural swimming pool that formed at the base of the falls. Wild and unspoiled, the whole place from top to bottom is a lush, mossy green, and the softly falling water from 70 meters shrouds everything in a soft mist.
It is not ideal for picnics with the family, perhaps, but with the mist and the rainbows, it is perhaps the best spot for marriage proposals? It is certainly romantic enough, provided you are both enthusiastic nature lovers and you can get rid of the throngs of people that visit the place!
We’ve seen different species of orchids and ferns along the way! According to our guide, bayawak, sawa, and several species of local birds can be seen/encountered during trekking- yep, a sign of good wildlife condition of the area.
|Orchids in their natural habitat|
|Nature at its finest!|
Hulugan Falls is a great place to visit for backpackers and hardy tourists, but you need to set off very early, because it takes a while to get there. If you time it right, you might also be able to detour to the equally beautiful two-tiered Talay Falls, another of the beautiful attractions in that part of Laguna. It is just a little out of the way back to the town. There is nothing like trekking down two waterfalls with one trip!
|The lower tier of Talay Falls|
|The upper tier of Talay Falls|
*** A separate feature about Talay Falls will be published.
HOW TO GET THERE
You can ride a bus going to Sta. Cruz (Laguna) from Cubao, Buendia, Alabang, Calamba, or anywhere on EDSA. It will cost you P140 (from Metro Manila), lesser if from Alabang and Calamba (waltermart). From there you ride a Lucena jeep/minibus from the terminal and pay P30 to get off at crossing Barangay San Salvador or simply ask the driver to drop you in “Hulugan Falls”. The tricycle to the registration (Barangay Captain’s house) will cost you P15, and registration is P20. From there, you just pay for the rest of the trip with muscle fatigue. The guide fee to Hulugan Falls alone is usually P300, P600 if you also want to go to Talay Falls, no matter how many you are, so make it a group trip. The return trip is simply a reverse. The whole thing will cost you about P690 alone, about P520 per person for two (Hulugan Falls only).
If you have private transport, take the SLEX and exit at Calamba. The toll fee is P214. Hang a left after you pass the bridge and stay on that road (National Highway). You will pass Sta. Cruz, Pagsanjan, and Cavinti before you reach Barangay San Salvador. Look for the Hulugan Falls sign and turn right.
- It is required to get a tour/trekking guide. The area is a vast forest and still under development - we might get lost if Manong Simeon Mergino wasn’t there. There are more than 100 accredited guides once you reached the registration area – no worries all of them are very accommodating and caring.
- Get an early start as you can only stay there until 3-4 pm only.
- If you’re planning to visit the 2 waterfalls, better to visit Talay first before Hulugan. Why? Trekking from Talay Falls going to Hulugan is a way easier (more of going down) compared with Hulugan to Talay route which is steeper and mainly going up.
- BTW, staying overnight in the area is possible. There is a designated camping area, more or less 2 kilometers away from Talay Falls and more or less 5 kilometers away from Hulugan Falls.
- As of this writing, the roads going to the waterfalls are still under development so expect not so easy trekking specially during rainy days.
- Bring food and water in a waterproof bag, and make sure you bring a trash bag along to keep the place clean. BTW, food stalls are available only in the area close to registration center; vendors are selling their famous local delicacies – “silogs”, bibingka and pasit habhab.
- A rainbow appears in Hulugan Falls around 3:00 PM.
- If you want to take a bath before going home, you have to pay P20 (per person) - there are comfort/shower rooms for rent at the jump off point.
- If you still have time, you can also visit Aliw Falls in the neighboring barangay, San Jose.
- Don't forget to bring your camera and take your best selfies with the newest tourism sensation, the Hulugan Falls.
READ ALSO : Pagsanjan Falls of Laguna