The Caliraya Spillway is fast becoming popular as a photographer's favorite site because of the many experiments one can do with all things around. If you go there early, you can have a nice view of the sunrise. But if you arrive past the sunrise, you can still take nice pictures during the golden hours.
We saw the Bumbungan Eco Park as we passed the new Cavinti Bridge. We stopped to explore the place, but there was a block to the driveway and nobody was around, just a worker who was cleaning the river spillway below.
I took some shots to remind me to check out the place the next time we go to Cavinti. I saw some picnic huts and water cascading from the river spillway that looked like a small waterfalls.
The first time I saw the Cavinti Church, I was still in my grade school, when my childhood bestfriend invited me to their town fiesta. In my recent visit, I noticed that there was very little change in the church exterior, although the interior seems to have undergone renovation jobs.
I fondly remember the story related to us by my best friend's grandma regarding how the site of the church was chosen. She said that it was the Lord Jesus who chose the place. Her story begins when Cavinti was just a forest clearing long time ago, inhabited by Aetas. Since they were a nomadic tribe, they left to look for another settlement. Sometime 1606, the Puhawan brothers ( baptized by Spanish missionaries as Antonio, Dionisio, and Gabriel) came to Cavinti to become the first Tagalog settlers. They widened the forest clearing left by the Aetas and cultivated the soil for farming. Soon, locals from nearby villages also came to make their own farms until the clearings widened to become the place that is now Cavinti.
One day, while clearing the forest, the brothers found an icon beneath a "Binayuyu" tree. Suddenly, there was a glow of light. They got so scared that they knelt and prayed, and asked who it was. An undescribable voice replied, "Salvador del Mundo". Not knowing what to do, they decided to take the image home. Out of excitement, they told other farmers what they found. Naturally, they became curious and asked to see it at the Puhawan home, but when they arrived, the image was nowhere to be found. Everybody looked for it until the next morning; it was found on the same place where it was originally discovered. The people then thought it didn't want to be brought elsewhere, so they decided to put up a shed over the religious icon to protect it from the weather. In no time, they built a make-shift chapel. Meantime, the Puhawan brothers, believing that what happened was a miracle, reported the matter to the "cura paroco" (parish priest) of Lumban (Cavinti was part of Lumban before), who immediately went with them to investigate. The priest was surprised to see that the icon was that of “Our Lord of the Transfiguration,” whom they had chosen as protector of the village. A mass was celebrated in the newly finished chapel. That day was August 6; villagers celebrated and considered it the first town fiesta of Cavinti.
The small chapel made by the villagers became the site of the first Catholic Church built in 1621. The church was dedicated to “Our Lord of the Transfiguration” lovingly called San Salvador del Mundo by the devotees .
Despite the present state of the Japanese Garden today, you will still see some interesting subjects for photography. In fact, it is a nice challenge for the photographer to capture the beauty and/or uniqueness of various subjects seen around.
Lumot Lake is less known to the passersby who probably think it is still Caliraya Lake. Personally, I think it is more beautiful than Caliraya Lake. Like the latter, Lumot is also surrounded by lush vegetation and tall trees. I don't know if the weather had something to do with it, but when we paused by the road to take some pictures, I noticed that the water seemed cleaner and clearer than that of Caliraya Lake. I watched with amusement the "changing" colors of the water; it changed as often as the sky changed its condition.
The surroundings of Lumot Lake were much cleaner, too; no trash at all. "No Littering" signs were conspicously posted on the banks; perhaps that helped to remind people to preserve the beauty of the place.
Just looking at Lumot Lake gives me renewed energy and serene feeling.
In Cavinti, there are so many beautiful things that interest me. I always delight in stopping at even the oddest places just to watch the cows, horse and other farm animals graze; to pause, take pictures, and sometimes, even smell the flowers; to shoot sights that I want to share with friends and/or family.
As tribute to General Yamashita, a shrine in his honor was put up within the Japanese Garden compound. When we went there, I noticed some fresh flowers, glasses of wine and burnt incense. The gardener told me, many Japanese tourists dropp by to pay homage to Gen. Yamashita.
Not an ordinary Japanese-inspired garden, this place is actually a shrine created by Philippine-Japan Friendship Society in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died during an encounter between the Japanese and Filipino-American troops in the World War II. The Japanese Garden is also a symbol of the amity agreement that now exist between the Philippines and Japan.
It's been years since I last went to the Japanese Garden. Whenever we visited my parents in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, we always went for a joy ride to Cavinti. My children's favorite destination was the Japanese Garden. There, they were able to run, hike and play before we had a picnic at the cottages.
As nature lovers, my hubby and I enjoyed walking through the tree-lined paths; we examined the ornamental flowers and watched the birds that flew from one tree to another, until we reached the top. .After the ardous climb to the top, we rested at the benches in the Japanese tea gardens overlooking the beautiful Cavinti valley, nearby towns and Caliraya Lake.
In our recent visit, I was saddened to see that the Japanese Garden wasn't well-maintained. There were gardeners who swept the dried leaves, but the grass, shrubs and trees were obviously not regularly pruned and maintained for that peculiar Japanese Garden look. There were very few flowering shrubs, though the lotus and some ornamental trees were in bloom. I'm very sorry to say, but the place looked more like an ecopark with overgrown plants and moss-covered rocks, very far from the simple, neat but reinvigorating Japanese gardens.
The facilities (picnic cottages and comfort rooms) were also in dismal condition. I hope the local government or whoever is in charge gives more attention to the maintenance of the Japanese Garden.
The Americans who created Caliraya Lake seeded the lake with imported Largemouth Black Bass, one of the top freshwater gamefish of the United States of America. The fish continue to proliferate, to the excitement of game fishers who frequent the place on weekends all year-round. Aside from skilled anglers, father-son tandems are a common sight on weekends, too. Fishing has proven to be a good bonding time. My husband used to go there for fishing with my nephew, since we don't have a son. On weekdays, it is usually the locals who go there to fish early in the morning.
Lake Caliraya is so big, it encompasses the towns of Cavinti, Kalayaan and Lumban. It is situated high in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range (about 1,200 feet above sea level) so the area has cool climate all year round. The sight of the valley below the dams around the lake is so restful to the eyes, with the deep green-colored grass, trees and weeds with wild flowers. Everywhere you set your eyes on the lake's surroundings, you'll see lush, verdant trees and wild flowering shrubs, and occasionally, some cows and horses grazing. Numerous sandbars/islands/islets have formed as a result of frequent flooding of the lake. They come in various shapes and sizes, and the bigger ones were transformed into resorts.
Since Lake Caliraya is situated about 1200 feet in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and due to it's sudden popularity as a relaxation and water activity destination, the windind road going to is was refirbished and was converted from asphalt to an all weather concrete road and if offers spectacular views of the humongous Laguna Lake, Distant but Mystical Mount Banahaw, the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the Distant views of Tagaytay in Cavite province.
What is a better thing to do in Lake Caliraya besides the water sports but to walk around and hike a little. The cold mountain breeze that blows from the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges and the majestic distant views of the Mystical Mountain Mount Banahaw, make Lake Caliraya an ideal place for sailing, windsurfing, fishing and other water sports. There are also many campsites, My favorite nearby Japanese garden, first-class resort facilities like Lagos del Sol and Lake front communities surround the lake. For the avid golf fans, there are golf courses too.
Part two of My Japanese Tea Garden Tips and Pictures. Aside from the Widely rumored location of General Tomoyuki Yamashita's Treasure (which is still debated), The Tea Garden is a shrine created by Philippine-Japan Friendship Society in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died during the encounter between the Japanese and Filipino-American troops at the close of World War II. Also to symbolizethe amity and friendship that exist between the Philippines and Japan. Hiking and picnic and just hang around here is nice since this is a serene and beatiful area.
The Japanese Tea Garden is both famous and notorious, famous because it is a nice place to unwind or have a picnic since it has sweeping vista views of the mountains of the Sierra Madre Range and of Lake Caliraya and Lake Lumot and various Japanese flowers and memorabilia. Notorious since a lot of people try to dig treasure here since there were rumours that the famed Yamashita Treasure was Buried Here. Overall, this is a wonderful area to relax and commune with nature (see pictures). The way to Japanese tea Garden is to turn right once you see a forked road in lake caliraya just after the concret water level gauge tower.
Entrance is 10 pesos.
Lake Caliraya was created in 1937 by US Army Engineer Major General Hugh J. Casey by flooding the Cavinti valley of the Sierra Madre to generate hydroelectric power for Manila. It was sabotaged by retreating Americans to prevent use by Invading Japanese who rebuilt it, then themselves sabotaged it as their own defeat approached. Lake Caliraya is situated at 1,200 feet above sea level and measures about 50 meters at its deepest. It is endowed with cool winds, clear water, and the surrounding greenery. The deep waters of the lake and the strong, cold mountain breeze that blows from the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges and the distant Mt. Banahaw, make Lake Caliraya an ideal place for aqua sports such as boating, wind surfing and water skiing. Commercial fishing is prohibited in the lake. A boat trip around the lake would take approximately four hours. A Boat can be rented at 900 pesos half day.