#LoveLaguna: Here are More Reasons For Us to Love Laguna!

With its rich and diverse economy and culture, Laguna has been a major key point of commerce, entertainment, arts, leisure, and festivities not only in Luzon but in the whole of the Philippines. Gifted with vast wonders of nature and people, Laguna Province recently launched its #LoveLaguna tourism campaign to strengthen its impact on local and foreign tourists further highlighting the province’s lovely sights, food, culture, products, and people.

Welcome to Laguna!

To many Filipinos, especially those who are living in Metro Manila, Laguna is the center of summer outings and field trips due to its historical contribution and home to the great number of resort businesses in the Philippines. I remember so many field trips and outings here with family and high school friends back then. So, if you are looking for a quick getaway, Laguna is absolutely on top of the list given its affordable and accessible accommodation and activities suited for young and old.

With Friends, Rod, Ana, Aisa and Rodel

As the easing of the spread of COVID-19 continues, Laguna is reopening its province to share its wonders and beauty that is bound to make one exclaim “I Love Laguna!” I’ve listed below 10 amazing things you can see and experience in Laguna, which I hope will excite you, your family, and friends to revisit this province and probably take home some of their lovely products.

1. Natural Beauty 
With Mt. Makiling serving as Laguna’s focal point, it’s no surprise as to how gifted and wonderful this province is. With the abundance of different natural resources, people from Laguna are indeed the luckiest ones surrounded by inspirations that make life more creative and meaningful. 

Turumba Spring Resort in Pakil, Laguna

From the revitalizing Mt. Makiling, down to the Laguna de Bay, which aside from being a scenic spot when heading down south from Metro Manila, is also known as the largest lake in the country, offering fresh water harvest including three species endemic to the Philippines. 

From the largest lake to a natural town pool, Turumba Spring Resort in Pakil, Laguna is a natural pool filled with fresh spring water coming from Mount Ping-as. A popular destination for local tourists, this resort has two pools that offer reprieve to its people and guests any time of the year. Entry to this resort requires a minimal fee for maintenance and security of the area. I was also told that some guests even bring galloons to fill it with the spring water, which some belief to be a miraculous and natural remedy for some ailments.

2. The Accommodations 
Laguna is one of the many provinces in the Philippines that graciously offers affordable accommodations whether you are traveling alone or with family and friends. During my recent visit to this lovely province, I witnessed once again how Laguna highlights its hospitality with new places to experience. From Pansol to Los Banos, Calamba and Bay, I was amazed at how the province maintained its exquisite accommodations over the past two years of the pandemic, which now shows how ready they are for the coming influx of tourists this time around.

Laresio Lakeside Resort and Spa 

Laresio Lakeside Resort and Spa 
For fun and water-sports-loving people, Laresio Lakeside Resort and Spa in Los Banos, Laguna offers a thrilling adventure with its top-of-the-line water facilities that you can enjoy. With activities bound to test one’s agility and sportsmanship, Laresio offers 8 amazing villas, wall climbing activities, videoke, other sports, and lounging areas that are perfect for private and corporate gatherings. Thanks to Tadlac Lake, Laresio offers that combination of man-made and natural activity and relaxation suited for a fun weekend trip.
Laresio Lakeside Resort and Spa 
Chateau Genevie
For a more intimate location, Chateau Genevie offers a tranquil and more private option in the vicinity of Calamba. Its modern Bali-inspired appeal is perfect for intimate celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, or other family gatherings. It has six themed rooms or chalets represented by six continents of the world such as Chalet D’Australia, Chalet D’Europa, Chalet D’America, Chalet D’Africa, Chalet D’Asia, and Chalet D’ Antartica.
Chateau Genevie
I was lucky to experience the Chalet D’Australia which has Sydney Opera ceiling wallpaper. The room has other amenities inspired by Australia including a mini bar, private toilet, bath, a queen-size bed, and closet. Chateau Genevie also boasts well-curated common areas such as receiving rooms, a garden patio, a swimming pool, and a wide events place that could fit 50 to 80 guests depending on the type of event that you’ll have.
Chalet D’Australia

Chateau Genevie
Lotus Pod Bed and Breakfast
The last but the most expansive accommodation that we visited during our trip to Laguna is the very lush and serene Lotus Pod Bed and Breakfast. A perfect place for those big and exclusive weddings and events, this place offers a combination of luxurious and nature retreat topped with amazing rooms and services that will bring you to paradise. 

If there is one major thing that swept me off of my feet about this place that is the lush field and lotus-field lake that brought a new and lovely dimension to the whole surrounding. This place is also equipped with rooms that are perfect for an overnight stay, and a family room that can rest well five persons. Kids will also enjoy swimming in their pool or even biking around the expansive garden decorated with local plants that give its paradise-like appeal. Though staying here might be a little high on the budget, the experience will surely be worthy mainly because of the calming effect of the greeneries around and the friendly staff that are ready to serve their guests.
Lotus Pod Bed and Breakfast

3. Century-Old Churches
The province’s rich culture and history may be rooted in the establishment of century-old churches that brought not just strong faith among its people, but also colorful festivities and products that made Laguna a top world exporter of handmade products and arts.

St. Peter of the Alcantara Parish Church in Pakil

Located in Pakil Laguna, St. Peter of the Alcantara Parish Church is home to the miraculous Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba. Possessing a façade with classical Corinthian columns and cornices across a floral stone relief, this church has a cruciform with an ecclesiastical museum in honor of the Our Lady of Turumba. When we visited this church, it is undergoing some renovation in preparation for Our Lady of Turumba’s upcoming festivity, which is set this September.

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba
St. Peter of the Alcantara Parish Church in Pakil

Another magnificent church that we visited during our trip is Lumban’s San Sebastian Parish. A church that was once popularized by a local telenovela, this century-old church was also the first stone church in the Philippines, and a standing witness to the historic American and Japanese occupations in the country.

The third church that we were able to visit was San Antonio de Padua Parish Church in Pila, Laguna. Adjacent to the ancestral homes of Pila, this historic church is the first national Shrine of St. Anthony de Padua in the Philippines. Standing grand with its Doric columns, this church along with 35 old houses in Pila is part of Pila Historic Town as proclaimed by the National Historical Institute (NHI)) on May 17, 2000.

San Antonio de Padua Parish Church in Pila

During Holy Week these churches are filled with devotees who are mostly doing the Station of the Cross or Visita Iglesia. So, if you are already planning your next Holy Week retreat and break, I highly suggest that you visit Laguna!

4. Ancestral Homes
Speaking of the historic town of Pila, we’ve also got to see some of the town’s most revered ancestral homes that starred in various local movies and TV series. The local government of Pila is set to include these sites in their town’s historical gems. Soon, guests of this lovely town can enjoy Pila Historical Tour, which will let them see and experience these ancestral homes that marked Pinoy’s artistry in architecture and interior design.

5. Food
Any trip around the Philippines would not be complete without any food indulgence – and during this trip, I won’t deny that I gained so much weight after visiting almost 6 towns of Laguna in two days. From the #LoveLaguna launch is Sta. Cruz, Laguna, where we had a hearty meal, to our stay in Laresio and visit five more municipal offices where we were graciously welcomed with spreads of local dishes and meals, Laguna is indeed more than just Buko Pies and Espasol that we all grew up enjoying and bringing home as pasalubong.

One notable dish that caught my attention is their love for Shrimp Fritter (Ukoy na Hipon). Three of the municipalities we’ve visited had this in their buffet spread which delighted us. Since I can’t help but wonder why, upon researching, the reason why this is popular in Laguna is mainly that this tiny specie of freshwater shrimp is living in Laguna de Bay. Haha! Whether you plan on having it as a snack or part of your lunch or dinner, Laguna’s Shrimp Fritters should be on your must-try list when visiting the lovely province.

6. Festivities
Laguna Province is comprised of 24 municipalities and 6 cities and is also home to numerous festivals that marked Filipino's colorful traditions and culture. From the major ones such as the Anilag Festival, which takes place every second week of March, to other celebrations that celebrate the province's vast natural gifts and abundances such as Coconut, Rambutan, Lanzones or CoRambLan Festival of Alaminos, Pinya Festival of Calauan, Kawayan Festival of Famy and Magdalena, Kamoteng Kahoy Festival of Kalayaan, Pandan Festival of Luisiana, Pailah Festival of Pila, Sampaguita Festival of San Pedro, and Itik Festival of Victoria, Laguna is indeed a province of wondrous gift worth celebrating.

Provincial Capitol of Laguna

For religion-related festivals, one can visit Pakil for the Turumba Festival and 3 Kings Festival of Mabitac, while for wondrous food and products of the province, one can experience Puto Latik Festival of Binan, Sambalilo Festival of Cavinti, Gat Tayaw Festival of Liliw, Burdang Lumban Festival of Lumban, Paet Taka Festival of Paete, Bandana Festival of Pangil, Kesong Puti Festival of Santa Cruz, and Guilingan Festival of Siniloan. 

So, if you already planning your next year’s escapades, look no more because Laguna has a lot for everyone to enjoy!

7. Artworks
For a more colorful experience, aside from festivals, Laguna is also a haven for remarkable pieces that scream nationality and pride. Thanks to the inspiring terrain and atmosphere of the province, one can easily find authentic and locally-made art pieces depicting the humble life in the province with such profound uniqueness and appeal. During our tour, we met two of the three budding artists of Laguna that are highlighted in the province’s Founding Anniversary. Through an art exhibit, we met Romer “Pio” Kagayutan and Jeff Dahilan, who delighted us with their stories about their artworks and the process they went into in creating such masterpieces. Believe me, you would want to have their artworks at home not just for their beauty but also as investments as these two are already gaining popularity abroad.

We also got an opportunity to visit the house of the family of Mr. Domingo Isorena, who popularized the art of whittling or wood shaving not only in the Philippines but also in different parts of the world. This form of art, though it may not be as popular as it was now, will be a top priority for the government of Laguna to revive and save for the future generation to appreciate, learn and enjoy. 

After our interesting trip to Pakil, we visited Mr. Glenn Cagandahan’s Display Heaven in Paete, which is the source of these contemporary sculptured pieces that depict Filipino life with a modern twist and choreography. I must say that upon seeing Mr. Cagandahan artworks, I immediately fell in love with them as it shows that distinct Filipino artistry and uniqueness that capture one’s eye and tick one’s imagination. Again, an art piece that you should have for beauty and investment.

Mr. Glenn Cagandahan

8. World-class Handmade Products
Diving further into the province’s gems, here in Laguna, we’ve witnessed three captivating and export-quality products that made us love the province even more. First on the list of items that we loved are these artsy wooden bags of Paete that are gaining popularity in Europe. The majority of the products they are making here in Paete are for export, which provided livelihood to the locals while nurturing their gifts. We were told that each bag being sold in Europe is now available at a minimum price of $100. I bet Heart Evangelist would want one of these wooden bags!

Wooden Bags of Paete

Aside from the wooden bags, another item that made us so proud is the embroidered products of Lumban. An old handmade craft that is passed on from one generation to another, these pieces are used to assemble our famous Barong Tagalog and Filipinianas. While we were in Lumban, the pieces that were shared with us are for made for this local designer in Manila, who is an avid fan of Lumban’s artistry. 

Embroideries of Lumban

Lastly, the ones that we enjoyed and made us buy for souvenirs are the water-hyacinth products of Bay, Laguna. Organic in nature, these handmade products have evolved from small bags, mats, and hats, to furniture and other household items that give that warm and aesthetic appeal. While there are shops that still cater to local buyers, RolyoLikha and SariliLikha are proud to share that they are also exporting their products to different parts of the world carrying that Filipino tradition and artistry.

9. Plants, Gardens, and More
The most exciting part for me during this tour is visiting Laguna’s gardens. As a new plant parent, visiting Laguna’s lovely gardens offer more than just relaxation but also a great deal of savings. Laguna, being at the foot of the beautiful Mt. Makiling is gifted with fertile soil that helps various plants blossom. In Bay, Laguna, you’ll be able to see and experience various garden shops that offer the widest selection of indoor and outdoor plants perfect for plant lovers like me at a very affordable price. 

Aside from that, these gardens are also offering services such as landscaping, which is perfect for those who are expanding their home to house more plants and make their gardens. If you are in the area, I suggest that you visit Dulay Garden, which provided a wide selection of products from plants, pots, stones, and other items you might need in your house garden.

10. Home of Lovely Filipino
Fitting for its newest tourism campaign, #LoveLaguna, Laguna is indeed home to the loveliest people on the planet. With warmth and pride in their beautiful province topped with amazing sights to see, wonderful products to have, amazing food to enjoy, festivals to remember, and artworks that you would love to own, there is so much more about this province to love and enjoy.

And while the local government is continuously preparing the grandest launch of this campaign along with its digital platforms that will provide the complete list of must-dos and must experience in the province, you can now freely explore the province by driving down south and let its beauty unfold right in front you.

Special thanks to the Laguna Tourism Culture Arts and Trade Office (LTCATO) for hosting us and touring us around Laguna. Those two days are not enough to explore the whole of the province and captivate the wondrous beauty and captivating appeal of everything in it.

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