During the season of Lanzones, we sometimes go to the farm itself to buy them and we sometimes ask the owner to allow the us to pick the lanzones from the tree. Same is true for the rambutans that we usually purchase directly from the farm. Not only does it cost less, the kids enjoy the fact that they are participating in harvesting the fruits.
Have to be careful with the ants though. :)
Though more known for being the place where the Filipino female version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, "Ang Kampanerang Kuba", was filmed, Nagcarlan church is actually a national historical landmark. It is one of the oldest church in the Philippines having been built and rebuilt by the Franciscan missionaries between 1500 and 1700. Patron saint is St. Bartholomew.
Nagcarlan is situated between Mt Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal and as such, there are natural bodies of water that can be found all over the place like streams, rivers and lakes. Hiking with your camera would prove to be interesting and enjoyable as you take pictures of the local flora and fauna. End your hike with a dip in the cool mountain waters and refresh your tired body.
One of the places to visit in Nagcarlan would be Bunga Falls. Unlike other waterfalls where you need to hike for several minutes to reach them, Bunga Falls is accessible via a car or a tricycle ride coupled with a 5 to 10 minute trek going down to the falls. There is a minimal fee being collected by the barangay. There are also a number of makeshift picnic shelters you can use (again for a minimal fee) should you wish to bring food and enjoy an afternoon dip in the cold and refreshing water.
If there's one place Nagcarlan is most famous for, it's probably the Underground Cemetery. Built by Franciscan missionaries in 1845, it's one of its kind in the Philippines and is a national historical landmark.
The are no entrance fees and it is open from Tuesdays to Sunday, 8:00 to 4:00 a.m. No flash photography is allowed in the underground cemetery.
I was only a teenager when I first went to Bunga Falls, so my next visit with my family was still an exciting experience. It was easier going to Nagcarlan's almost identical twin waterfalls that cascade side by side because roads have been constructed. There is still a short distance of traveling through a dirt road though, and parking is under the coconut trees:-)
Said to be named after the "bunga" (betel nut) palms that were abundant on the area, Bunga Falls used to be the center of the local folks' tradition of letting boys jump from the falls down to the deep catch basin to prove their worthiness as a man. There is a popular talk among locals that a nature spirit/creature lives and guards the pool of Bunga Falls, snatching "mga dayo" (strangers to Nagcarlan) into the depth of the catch basin. Locals and "dayos" (people not from the town) reportedly swore they felt the grip of a hand pulling their feet down. There is much debate over these stories, as some argue that these are fabricated tales to make the tourists "behave properly" while in the area; some rationalize that the the feeling of being pulled may be due to the sudden plunge to the deep catch basin (again, there is argument if it is 10 or 20 meters deep), making it difficult for some amateur swimmers to rise up and swim.
When we went there, we were lucky to have Bunga Falls by ourselves. There were no other tourists. Two vehicles backed out driving through the dirt road because their suspension is low and they were afraid they might have a difficult time leaving the place if/when it rains. Bunga Falls is an "untamed beauty" and the vicinity may be full of fallen dried leaves, twigs, etc. but at least the litter didn't consist of plastic wrappers and other junk. I hope it will stay that way, unlike Taytay Falls in Majayjay which was developed, but got riddled with a lot of trash from tourists.
Although Nagcarlan has a cool climate being an upland town of Laguna, many people go there for swimming and picnic. They brave the cool waters which they say is good for body circulation. But what makes swimming more enjoyable is the refreshing beauty of nature and the plants & flowers in the surroundings.
The place I'm referring to is Villa Sylvia Resort which has 3 swimming pools for adults, 2 kiddie pools and a "batis" (natural brook).
Entrance Fees for Swimming: P50/adult and P40/child for day swimming; P70/adult and P60/child for night swimming.
Picnic cottages (nipa huts): P600-1,000 for pool area; P300-600 for "batis" area
The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was declared a National Historical Landmark, so it is understandable why many people come to visit it. We were fortunate to have met the Cemetery Administrator, Ms. Cecille Sumagui who gave us a brief orientation and tour. She allowed us to take pictures inside the chapel and underground crypt, provided our cameras didn't use the flash.
The construction of the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was the brainchild of Fr. Vicente Velloc,a Franciscan friar. Following the decrees and canon laws of the Catholic Church and mindful of the health of the local people, he thought of constructing a large cemetery about 2 kms. south of the poblacion in 1845. The cemetery faces the road leading to the poblacion,and is easily recognized by its arched entrance about 18 ft high, with 2-winged iron gate grills.
The cemetery chapel (which served as the last station for funeral rites before the dead was entombed) stands about 6 ft, topped with a tower-like structure designed to look like a niche, and with an ornate iron cross. The chapel actually looks like a grand niche built into a cemetery, aligned with cemetery walls that contain ground niches numbering 240,120 on each side. Its walls with niches are attached to the outer peripheral fences. Of Baroque architecture, the chapel has windows on each side covered by iron wrought grills. It has wooden ceiling which, though faded had hints of religious designs. The altar has intricate wood carvings. Old red floor tiles mixed with red and blue porcelain tiles extended to the wall as a foot-high paneling design. Originally, the chapel did not have pews or furniture except for the coffin stand.
Because of the uneven terrain of the area, the chapel structure included an underground crypt lit by three small grilled windows that opened outwards to the ground level. This can be reached by going down 2 flights of stairs. The first flight consists of 9 steps that lead to a landing with Spanish inscriptions (now illegible), a message about man's mortality and final resting place. The second flight of 6 steps leads to the underground cemetery. The crypt contains 36 niches arranged into rows on the four walls,and is said to have catered to the town's privileged class. The underground cemetery was venue to the secret meetings of revolutionary leaders in Laguna in 1896. Guerillas of World War II also used it as safehouse. Local folks believe that there was a secret passageway to Mt. Banahaw which revolutionaries and guerillas used as escape route.
When in the province, taste the local foods:
Tapsilog, acronym for Tapa (fried dried cured beef)-Sinangag (fried rice)-Itlog (Egg, cooked however you'd like it);
Lechon Kawale (Sliced tenderized pork belly deep fried in wrought iron pan);
Chicken-Pork Adobo (Stewed diced pork and chicken marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic, laurel leaves, peppercorns and a little sugar);
Beef Steak ala Nagcarlan (Ralphjoy's version is like a cross between beef tapa and bistek);
Halohalo for Dessert (Menagerie of colorful diced sweetened sweet potato & bananas, preserved red beans & jackfruit, mixed with sherbet-like ice shavings + milk, and topped with ube/yam ice cream)
"Anilag" is an acronym for "Ani ng Laguna" which means Harvests of Laguna. It is an annual festival participated in by all the towns of Laguna. In the recent "Anilag", one of my favorites was the Nagcarlan booth which featured a replica of the Underground Cemetery facade. It was intricately designed using indigenous materials like coco lumber, wood shavings, saw dust, etc..
We were impressed by the active involvement and moral support given by Mayor Nelson M. Osuna to his constituents who set up the booth. He and his wife thanked us for the visit, and he was happy to meet us; we learned that he knew my father-in-law, who hailed from Nagcarlan.
St. Bartholomew Church in Nagcarlan,Laguna was already noted for the miraculous cures of St. Batholomew, but it became even more popular when it was declared one of the country's Jubilee Churches.
According to the info sheet given to us by Parish office secretary, Sis Emma, the Franciscan Missionaries under the leadership of Frays Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropresa started the christianization of the locals in 1578.The first church was constructed by Fray Tomas de Miranda; it was made of light materials. In 1583, under the supervision of Fray Cristobal Torres, a new structure made of bricks and stone was constructed. When fire razed the church in1781, another structure was erected by Fray Atanacio Argobrejo and finished by Fr. Fernando de la Puebla who had the belfry constructed. When Fray Vicente Velloc (of the famed underground cemetery) became the Parish Priest, he had blue porcelain floor tiles laid, and he added the convent, sacristy,"bautisteryo" and choir loft. From then on, the church underwent a lot of renovations to repair damages caused by calamities and to answer the call of modern times.
In 2002, Rev. Msgr. Jose Barrion restored the "retablo" and had "Machuca" tiles (designs commonly used in Spain and Italy) laid as flooring to make it more in sync with the Baroque-inspired architecture.
(All pictures are my shots, except the panoramic view which was shot by my husband.)
While we were there in December, the waters were really cold so the best thing to enjoy the scenic natural beauty of NAgcarlan is to have a picnic along any of the many rivers dotting the town!
There are numerous huts which you can hire for a small fee. Food is plentiful, no worries! Locals selling heaps of fresh food will surely be hovering around you, the problem will be which ones to get? Boiled corn on the cob, grilled fresh fish and meats, rice cakes, etc. The list is endless!
The best way to come here is hire your own van, make sure it is air conditioned! At that time, we paid 1,500 pesos a day including the driver. I am not sure if this is still the rate though it is always near this amount.