Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Hulugan Falls (Luisiana, Laguna)

There are times when the office feels like something else - as if everything is limited by walls and everyone are somehow domesticated to stay and work. Rooms, cubicles, or any other form of work stations emulate a prison where the clock acts like a warden telling people when to stay or head back home. In moments like this, I remember those stunning waterfalls in Cebu, Iligan, Camiguin and Palo Alto. How I wish to be chasing waterfalls at the end of the day!

Time however is something that most of us do not have the luxury of. In life, chess and travel – time is essential. It is valuable and irreplaceable. Once lost, it is gone forever. And despite advances in technology no one has invented nor created a formula on how to save time for future use.  It is at this juncture that we should realize that perhaps, nothing really matters in this world (where everything is fleeting and nothing is permanent) except to spend time to enjoy life, travel and play chess.

To enjoy life, the easiest way is to play chess or travel. Otherwise head to the nearest waterfalls. Just like in chess where players seem to metamorphose into another world, waterfalls create that surreal moment where great thoughts appear to be real. Underneath the cascades is where I want to be as a means of temporarily escaping the convoluted and often boring times in life.

It was not planned but upon reaching Pagsanjan, Laguna, Hulugan Falls suddenly came to mind. I had read and seen a lot of photos about this falls but I just can’t find the time. I had been very busy lately. In fact, most of the time I am busy. I got a lot of things to do from those we consider important and routine.  But somehow on that day I decided to take a day trip.

Getting to Hulugan Falls

I drove to Laguna via the scenic route of Marilaque (Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon Highway). From Quezon City, I drove to Masinag in Antipolo, Cogeo, Palo Alto Subdivision, passing several beautiful and notable resorts, a Bulaluhan Restaurant, Paseo de Rizal, Sampaloc Road, then to Pagsanjan. I asked for directions where I found myself at a road sign to Hulugan Falls. I was made to park at a vacant lot near the house of the Barangay Captain. After paying the mandatory yet very minimal fee of P15.00, I was advised that all those who intend to trek to the falls are obliged to hire a guide without a fixed rate.

After my guide arrived, we took a tricycle until the end of a newly concreted road. We then started the trek. It was easy at first but the descent is a little more difficult. It rained last night and the way down to Hulugan Falls is muddy and slippery. After taking challenging steps downhill and holding on to some makeshift bamboo railings, we practically survived to reach the falls. At first sight of the falls, I knew the effort was worth it! Indeed, this falls is one hidden gem in the province of Laguna. The first thing that came to my mind upon seeing Hulugan is the Tumalog Falls in Cebu. The former however has a deeper basin for swimming which according to my guide is around 20 feet deep.

It was a very enjoyable experience swimming and marveling at this very stunning gift of nature! When it is nature that creates something the result is truly outstanding.  While I am happy that Hulugan Falls is finally being shared to the public, it is incumbent upon everyone to preserve and protect this wonderful gift of nature.

After almost two hours of swimming, it is time to get back.  Having a guide provides not only convenience but also some sort of security. My guide offered to look after my things while I was swimming and continuously reminded me to be very careful as the rocks were slippery. She likewise provided insights about Hulugan Falls, how the in flock of tourists started and the different ways the community is doing to protect  the falls.

We then headed back to the house of the Barangay Captain for a shower and change of clothes. There are no comfort rooms in the falls and that should always be the case. I would rather be inconvenienced than compromise nature. Thereafter, I paid a minimal fee for the use of the comfort room and then gave some amount to my guide that she gratefully accepted. Before I left, I bought some rice cakes packaged in a locally made basket that I enjoyed very much and is still craving for more.

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