Recently, this writer started using his air-conditioning unit again at his Tagaytay abode, which signifies the entry of the summer season. I can still count myself lucky because despite the prevailing searing heat in Metro Manila, the temperature here at the highlands is still a bit cooler.
I can just imagine how it must be like to endure the daytime temperature in Metro Manila. It must be difficult to escape the city on weekdays because of work, but on weekends, it is easy to drive out and go to popular nearby destinations.
But think again. Popular destinations like Tagaytay and Los Banos are getting heavy with tourists especially during summer. Traffic getting in and out of these destinations makes driving stressful. Fortunately, there are now some new destinations that are very close to Manila that one can drive to on a weekend and they are just located just south. Here is my list quick summer get-aways in Southern Tagalog:
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Cavinti town (two hours from Manila) is home to over a hundred of caves. Opened to the public few years ago, the Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex literally allows visitors to go “underground” with a series of 4X4 drive, trekking, rafting, and cave connections.
Another adventure that one can do while in Cavinti is to go trekking to Pagsanjan Falls or as the local residents claim as Cavinti Falls without shooting the rapids. Actually, the claim of the locals is true as the waterfalls is really located in Cavinti. It is just that the more popular, more expensive entry point is in Pagsanjan.
But the trek to the waterfalls is as fun as taking the boat. The trail starts in Pueblo El Salvador where one has to pay an entrance fee of P270 per head. It takes over an hour of vertical descent to reach the waterfalls. Those who wish to try the “Cavinti massage” can take the bamboo raft that goes inside the cave at the back of the waterfalls.
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This little known town in Batangas, which is only two hours away from Manila, offers the urban dwellers with plenty of options for adventures.
The waters surround Lobo is known to be a submarine garden. All one has to do is to just wear a snorkel and one can already see the colorful corals and under-the-sea creatures that have been spared from the dynamite fishing of the past.
Its completely deserted pebble beach allows visitors to enjoy the sound of the waves without being pestered by vendors selling beads. Camping overnight at its famous Punta Malabrigo Lighthouse brings out the excitement of doing some ghost hunting or watching the stars.
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This man-made lake situated in the towns of Cavinti, Kalayaan, and Lumban was created in 1939 to collect water for the Caliraya Hydroelectric Dam, a project under US Army Corps of Engineers.
The lake’s surface elevation of 300 meters above sea level and its generally cool climate have attracted the Manila’s elite to lease lands and build their own vacation houses. Nowadays, there are several resorts and recreation centers built around the lake and these have made Lake Caliraya a popular destination for business conferences, company outings and retreats.
Families on a budget who wish to stay at the lake now have an option: they can now camp by the lake. For a minimal fee, Surf Camp and Eco Saddle allow overnight camping. These are safe areas with plenty of parking spaces, large camp sites, with public bathrooms and water-source.
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The mountains of Palay Palay and Mataas na Gulod in Ternate and Maragondon in Cavite offer some unique adventures. The whole mountain range, including the peak called Pico de Loro, has been declared as protected landscape by virtue of Proclamation No. 1596 since October 1976.
It is now considered an important site for birdwatching in Luzon. The area is also popular for students and backpackers who wish to do mountain climbing and “beachineering” on a weekend. There’s a small waterfalls at the base of Pico de Loro, but for those who really wish to cool down after a hot climb can proceed to Marine Base. With an entrance fee of P100 per head, one can enjoy the cool and clean water of the so-called Boracay de Ternate, which is cleaned daily by the Marines in training.
Another fun adventure is to drive to the foot of Mount Susong Dalaga to visit the shrine where Andres Bonifacio was killed.
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For those who wish to try whitewater rafting but cannot afford to fly all the way to Cagayan de Oro or take the 10-hour bus trip to Kalinga, they now have an alternative, and it only takes two hours to get there.
It’s on this little known town called Magdalena in Laguna. It is actually a famous location sites for many of the local movies, particularly those starring Fernando Poe Jr. The same river where FPJ usually gallops in his horse on many of his movies in now is now where rafting is being done.
Ralph Bueno or Tito Raf (contact him via Facebook) conducts a day tour around Magdalena. Fee is P1,500 per person for a group of eight, inclusive of rafting and tubing, meals, transportation around Magdalena and visit to waterfalls.
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San Pablo is known as the city with seven lakes. Aside from Sampaloc, which is the biggest and is located in the city center, only few have visited the six other lakes.
For those who wish to have a relaxing weekend by the lake can now try the new adventures being offered at the twin lakes of Pandin and Yambo. The tour is a joint project of the Samahang Mangingisda sa Lawa ng Pandin.
The tour cost P360 per head inclusive of lunch, the use of a bamboo raft and a local guide. The guide takes the guests to western side of the lake where a short hike leads to the hidden Lake of Pandin.
PHOTOS BY JOSEPH T. BAUTISTA