Looking for a quick one-day getaway from Metro Manila’s urban chaos we decided to look east instead of south where most of the destinations were still blanketed by ash and still at risk from Taal Volcano’s wrath. That led us to the towns east of Laguna de Bay and into the town of Kalayaan, Laguna and its hilly eastern side.
Much of Kalayaan lies at the foothills of the Sierra Madre range with Laguna de Bay to the west and Caliraya Lake and the town of Lumban to the south. Like most of the towns of Laguna in this area, Kalayaan is home to waterfalls created by streams emanating from the surrounding hills. And on this day our sights were set on Kalayaan Twin Falls, a series of waterfalls located in the town’s southwest corner at Barangay San Juan.
The Kalayaan Twin Falls sits inside a government-run resort, reachable through a narrow road from the main highway that runs along the shores of Laguna de Bay (the Manila East Road). It’s actually possible to walk all the way from the corner of the Manila East Road to the resort. Immediately at the resort entrance, one can already observe a waterfall created by a stream and a row of boulders across.
The name Kalayaan Twin Falls seems like a misnomer; we’ve counted at least 6 waterfalls inside the resort. Upstream and just beyond the first waterfall near the resort entrance are two more – a minor cascade peeking through the rocks and a much larger one beyond.
The centerpiece of the resort is a large swimming pool that is fed directly by a small waterfall with a grotto beside it. There is another smaller cascade nearby. Several years ago there used to be a natural catch basin filled with huge rocks in what is now the pool area. Today we couldn’t help but imagine how better the place would have looked had the developers kept that basin intact and just made it more accessible and swimmable.
But wait, there’s more. To the left of one of the waterfalls in the pool area is a short uphill climb through a series of concrete steps leading to a forested area. The steps end at a catch basin and a waterfall bigger and taller than the previous four.
We’ve actually been at this place twice before, the last time exactly six years ago. The water level at the catch basin is somewhat lower than when we last saw it – probably because of the small amount of rainfall we’ve been receiving recently – but the pool is still swimmable in some parts. And it is still relatively pristine.
An even steeper though short ascent up another series of steps took us to the sixth and last waterfall – the tallest among all the falls within the resort grounds. Several huge boulders are scattered about the stream resulting in a smaller catch basin. Just to the right of the waterfall is a small cave burrowed into the rock cliff. This waterfall is almost concealed by the forest cover while the stillness of the surroundings at this higher level gave it an almost mystical feel.
According to locals there are more waterfalls in the forests above the location of Kalayaan’s Twin Falls but these may only be reached after a few hours of hiking.
It was on a weekday when we arrived here and, like our previous visits, encountered few other visitors. This place fills up on a weekend according to the resort caretakers so if you’re planning to visit, a weekday would be the ideal time.
The return drive from Kalayaan Twin Falls passes through the rolling hills of Pililla and Mabitac which gave us an opportunity for a quick stop to let our travel buddies see the Pililla Wind Farm up close. Afterwards it was another pit stop at our favorite watering hole this side of Rizal – the Daily Beans Coffee Lounge & Restaurant,
If you’re driving to Kalayaan Twin Falls you can easily locate it on Waze or Google Maps. Just be careful on the final approach to the resort, a road beside the San Juan Evangelist Parish Church that leads uphill. This road is a bit narrow for cars and SUVs.
If commuting from Metro Manila, take a bus going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. At Sta. Cruz take a jeepney going to Paete or Siniloan and ask the driver to drop you off along San Juan Evangelist Parish Church in Kalayaan town. You can then take a tricycle near the San Juan church to take you up to the resort. Or simply walk up the road beside the church for to the resort – a 10 minute walk. We are not aware at the present time about a commuting option through the Manila East Road from Antipolo and Tanay but that route is definitely the shorter one if coming from the northern and eastern parts of Metro Manila.