While visiting Nina’s uncle at Hacienda Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon along with some friends, we thought about hiking to a waterfall in that region of Laguna and Quezon. It was tempting to try Hulugan Falls in Luisiana, Laguna or the lesser known Hangga Falls in Sampaloc, Quezon but both would require more than a leisurely stroll so we opted instead for Aliw Falls in Luisiana.
We’ve been to Aliw Falls in February, 2016 and was surprised by the easy 15 to 20-minute walk from the jump-off point at Dafi Resort. Just the perfect trek for our group, a few of of them already in their early senior years. Or so we thought.
Unfortunately a typhoon bearing Nina’s name had just passed over Southern Tagalog right after Christmas day, swelling the rivers in the area. It had also been raining the previous evenings, playing havoc with the ground on the pathway to Aliw. Back in February our guide narrated anecdotes about groups who slogged through, waded in and slid on the muddy path to Aliw Falls during the rainy season but we were totally unprepared for the trek that awaited us.
One friend in our group backed out as soon as we began the hike (and just as Leo – wearing only flip-flops – slid and almost fell over a slippery part of the trail). Good for her. We were soon struggling over the sodden and muddy ground right at the very start of the trek. At one point some of us found it easier to go barefoot since our muddied feet were sliding off our slippers even if the latter still had some traction on the muddy soil. We had counted on the sun drying off the wet ground during daytime but realized that much of the trail was over forested area, with trees effectively shielding the mucky soil from the sun’s rays.
We finally made it to Aliw after probably 30 minutes or so. It wasn’t really a tiring hike although obviously a bit frustrating. And with the water colored a murky brown from silt carried off by the swollen Dapi River, swimming at Aliw’s catch basin was out of the question. We weren’t about to let all that spoil our fun though so we took our time and enjoyed the spectacular view of Aliw’s voluminous cascading waters.
Interestingly Aliw Falls now looked very different from what we saw back in February when the water flow was moderate and the catch basin of a mossy green color. One would think these were two completely different falls.
It always seems to happen but the trek going back felt shorter and easier. At least no one slid in the mud although there were quite a number of close calls. Fortunately too, Nina decided to use an old pair of sandals for the hike rather than her new, yet unused pair. She lost the former when she sank her foot into the mud and a strap broke when she attempted to pull it out; she had to walk the rest of the way barefoot.
We thought the group would be disappointed by the whole experience but on the contrary they seemed to enjoy the adventure. Nina’s brother who very rarely went on hikes like this said it’s much better to take the trek that we just did than to take an easy, non-challenging stroll to reach Aliw. We tend to agree. A journey might be difficult and challenging but once you complete it you can look back and enjoy the feeling of what you just did.
Lunch at Chef Mau’s
We had initially planned about driving north to Pagsanjan to have lunch at one of the restos there but later decided to drive back to Tiaong by way of Majayjay and Liliw. We dropped by for a late lunch at the latter – heading straight for the Chef Mau Restaurant where we had dined a few times before. The fare here is mostly local or Filipino with the ubiquitous paco or fiddlehead fern salad as our appetizer. We also ordered their crispy biya – a guppy-like fish that you rarely find in Metro Manila’s markets these days but of which there is still a considerable supply in Laguna. Vege dishes, pansit (noodles) with crispy pork belly cuts and bulalo (beef marrow or beef shank stew) rounded up our fare.