Laguna is a quaint, rustic province south of Metro Manila. It is a place packed with history and culture.
To get here, you can take the bus that leaves from Manila for Los Banos or Calamba. From here, you can take a jeepney to go to the other towns.
Mt. Makiling in Los Banos is Laguna's main come-on especially for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Its mystique originates from the many folk tales and legends woven centuries before by the local residents. Aside from its majesticity and awesome view, it boasts of abundant natural hot springs on its slopes that provide therapeutic benefits and are the sources of the province's bottled water industry. You can also climb this 1144-meter volcanic mass via different trails. If you are in San Pablo--the City of the Seven Lakes-you can also climb the 2188-meter high Mt. Banahaw. This dormant volcano, with its springs and waterfalls, is believed to have mystical powers. Three days are needed for the climb.
About 10 kilometers south of San Pablo is Villa Escudero-a coconut plantation- cum-resort with a museum that has many valuable historical and cultural artifacts. Rooms and facilities are available here. Admission fee includes a guided tour, a lunch buffet, a trip on a raft, and use of the facilities.
If you want to experience adventure, head for the Pagsanjan Falls in Pagsanjan. The Pagsanjan River, which flows through a lovely canyon from Magdapio Falls, will give you the thrill of adventure as you take a boat ride down to shoot the rapids. Trips can be arranged with the Pagsanjan Youth Hostel, Pagsanjan Falls Lodge, and Willy Flores Lodge. Organized tours from Manila can be arranged at the various travel agencies and tourist offices.
Several resorts in Los Banos and Calamba have harnessed hot water from volcanic Mt. Makiling and channeled it into baths and spas where people go for medicinal cures. In Los Banos, you will find the University of the Philippines, which has a forestry institute with botanical gardens and a swimming pool. You will also find here the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippine Art Center, from where you can get a good view over Laguna de Bay.
The Rizal Shrine in Calamba is yet another must-see. This place will give you a feeling of nostalgia and a kind of historic sentiment as you go through the priceless Rizal memorabilia and take a look at the replica of the house where Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, once lived. The Nagcarlan Church and its centuries-old underground cemetery and the church in Liliw that gives you good views of Laguna de Bay from its bell tower, are also some of the sights that will provide you with the scattered pieces of Laguna's history. In Binan, you will also find many old Spanish houses with heavy tiled roofs.
The wood carvers and papier mache makers in Paete are also significant attractions of Laguna. They keep alive the skill and artistry of its people and preserve its traditions. Beyond Paete is the manmade Caliraya Lake. There are a few resorts in Caliraya's fringes where you can swim, windsurf, fish, and hike.
In the sleepy town of Pakil, you will see the pretty San Pedro de Alcantara Church, which houses the statue of the Virgin of Turumba. You will find interesting wood carvings here. Across the church is the house and gallery of well-known political cartoonist and artist Danilo Dalena.
Every Friday preceding Palm Sunday, the townspeople celebrate the Feast of the Virgin of Turumba, where they do the turumba, a strange, rhythmic dance.