One Saturday in UPLB

I had a work trip and some free time so I made arrangements to meet with my college roommates. We have not seen one another in 12 years.  I stayed for one weekend in the house of one of my roommates and we agreed to meet  my other roommate who lives in Laguna.  All of us needed a break from work and school. We brought my roommate’s kids. Laguna is a perfect escape from Metro Manila.

Because my roommate spent her high school in the University of Philippines Los Baños’ Rural High School, she is familiar with the campus and toured us. We were all roommates at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP Diliman). I love the UP Diliman campus but I have to say UP LosBaños (UPLB) has its own charm. I should have cross registered and took some subjects there for one summer.

I’ll take you to some places we visited though my photos. This is the park near the entrance.


UPLB has a Thai Pavilion.  I do not know what the structure is for but anyone can hang out here.


One of my roommates and I at the Nihon Koen Steps. It looked like we’re in Japan, eh?


If you get tired after waking on these steps, there are benches where you can rest.


Going up the mountain, there is the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Jamboree Site.


This site is near the entrance to the National Art Center of the Philippines.


On our way up, we passed by this open church, where a wedding scene in one of Aga-Regine movies was shot.


These are the buildings of the Philippine High School for the Arts. Artistically-inclined scholars study high school here. 


The topmost area in this route is the National Arts Center.


On this plateau, we can see the Alligator Lake, parts of Los Baños and Calamba. I think.


All the touring made us thirsty. We dropped by the College of Agriculture.  They sell delicious fresh milk, yogurt, pork and beef products!


We still have a lot of time in our hands so we visited IRRI (International Rice Research Institute).  This is the Ipil drive on the way to IRRI.


We visited  IRRI  a month before Bill Gates did. (Not an important information, I just want to mention that. Hahaha)  IRRI is the premiere institution in the world that conducts research on rice.   The top rice scientists from all over the world work here.


They study different varieties of rice from all over the world.


They have different enclosures that mimic the climate of a particular country.


At the end of the road at IRRI, we found the UP Open University Oblation.


After this tour, we hung out at the open field in UPLB near the fertility tree.  The fertility tree is just a large acacia tree. It is called as such because a lot of things happen underneath the tree.  What are those things? Your guess is as good as mine.

IMG_1413We had dinner at Dalcielo inside the campus and we called it a day.

It was a wonderful day with friends.

The Unplanned Road Trip to Laguna

While we were on our Ilocos trip, Janine of Wowtrippers asked us when we are going back to Butuan.  When she learned that we still had two days to spare, she suggested a road trip to Laguna after a day of rest. The cool thing about Wowtrippers is that they treat us like friends. Since this was an unplanned road trip, no additional fees were collected. We just pitched in for the van rental and paid for entrance fees and all.  They even contributed their share! We would have pitched in for their share, too, but it was our last day of our trip to Manila. We were running low on budget.

We have no prior expectations for this trip since we do not know the itinerary. We just knew we were visiting some falls like Pagsanjan.

Our first stop was in Panguil, Laguna.  We visited Ambon-ambon Falls.  No,  it was  not the regular trek-and-pose-for-picture type of trip.

We trekked and crossed bamboo bridges.


Photo credit: Mau Rago

We waded the river.

Photo credit: Wowtrippers

We “climbed” boulders.

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Photo credit: Wowtrippers

We rode a raft.

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Photo by Wowtrippers

Funny story about the raft: Only 5 passengers are allowed. My 5 friends went ahead (see picture below). When it was our group’s turn, I walked confidently to the middle and found myself sitting comfortably until I felt that I was sinking. Woah! Was I that heavy?  I tried to maneuver myself with my legs up. Poise forgotten. I was laughing my ass off.

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

We swam. There are ropes to hang on to for those who do not know how to swim. (Me!)  Below is my friend trying to show me how to do it.  Nah, she was posing for the camera. 😀

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

No, this is not yet the falls.

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

After another river trek and a few meters of swimming (using the rope), we finally reached Ambon-ambon Falls.

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Photo by Wowtrippers

But  wait, there’s more! On our way back to the starting point, we dropped by the river tubing area.  River tubing is an activity where a group rides on connected lifesavers (salbabida). It was a fun activity!

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

We really had fun with this activity.
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All the trekking and swimming made us hungry. Prior to trekking, we paid the guides to cook for us. There were no utensils so we had a boodle lunch. Yum! We even had soup. We took turns in using the cut-up plastic softdrink bottle.
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We had our lunch in a hut near the river. This was our view.
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We were already full so off we went to our next adventure: Pagsanjan Falls. No, we did not ride the fancy boats to get to the falls. We used the alternate route where we walked 589 steps downhill (It should be called “downmountain”!).

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

We had to rappel twice. No, the rope did not break even with my weight. We asked Toto of Wowtrippers to take a photo of us. He already rappelled down. He climbed up again. We told him he should not have climbed up because he could take the photo from down there. He replied that the angle is better from the top because our faces will be seen. From the bottom, all the photos will be of our behind! Oo nga ano?

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Photo by Wowtrippers

When we reached the ground, we rode the raft going to the falls.

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

Notice how happy we are? Notice also that the Korean tourists had life jackets on and helmets on their heads while we only had a rope to hang on to. Ha! The happy poor people still had fun.

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

My friend, Mau, had a photoop with the colorful Pagsanjan boats. This easy route costs P1,250 per person. You get to help the boatmen earn their living. They only get a fraction of the amount. I am not sure where the rest of the fee goes.

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Photo credit: Mau Rago

After this is another 589 steps up. I suddenly regretted the times when I did not exercise. HA! Each step was a challenge.

It was already getting dark when we reached the top. Time to go home!

We had dinner at Isdaan in Calauan, Laguna. It is also a nice place for picture-taking.

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Photo by Wowtrippers

We had dinner in one of these huts.
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Food was a little pricey but it was good since the restaurant is owned by the same people who own Barrio Fiesta.
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By the time we got to the pension house, I hit the sack without changing clothes. I was that tired.

Do you want to experience the Laguna road trip? Wowtrippers offers such an experience with white water rafting. Check out their Facebook page and get in touch with them.

I was not asked to write this post for Wowtrippers. I am just a happy client.
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