Since this pandemic broke out we’ve been itching to head up to a white sand beach or trek to a waterfall. But it’s better to be safe than sorry so we chose to button up at home for most of 2020. A few days ago, however, we got the chance to visit some of the waterfalls at beautiful Siniloan in Laguna, a town slightly more than 2 hours drive from home.
We actually did a short hike to a waterfall near Patungan Cove in Cavite last month but the water flow was almost reduced to a trickle. When we learned that Siniloan’s waterfalls are now open to visitors – with Covid19 protocols in place – we decided to give it a go.
The town of Siniloan is famous for the waterfalls of Mt. Romelo including Buruwisan, Lansones, Sampaloc and Batya-Batya Falls. However there are lesser known falls such as Kalawang, Hagdang Bato and Tulay na Bato Falls, the latter which we visited more than 2 years ago. And the staff of Mayor Rainier Leopando of Siniloan town told us that there are close to 30 waterfalls in all – although many are not yet that accessible at the moment.
Our original plan was to trek to Buruwisan but the length of the hike (1.5 to 2 hours when the ground is dry and firm) plus the fact that we left Metro Manila too late in the morning meant we had to find an alternative. With numerous falls in town this wasn’t difficult. A friend whose family owns a farm in Siniloan had earlier invited us to his place. Inside his farm and in another adjacent lot are a few small cascades reachable via a short trek.
And so after lunch at Manay’s restaurant in nearby Famy town we were off to our friend’s place along the road to Real, Quezon. From the rest house at the farm to the first waterfall was a relatively short trek of about 20-25 minutes that involved crossing 2 streams along the way. The streams were easily fordable but we were warned about the notorious limatiks or blood leeches.
The unnamed first falls has a short drop of less than 10 feet but is wider than it is tall. Unlike other waterfalls open to tourism where the area appears to have been cleaned and set in order, the area around the catch basin of this waterfall contained broken branches, twigs and rotting leaves – a clear sign that it has been left untouched.
We hiked in less than 10 minutes to get to the second waterfall – or actually a collection of small waterfalls formed by the stream dropping down a series of boulders and forming several blue-green pools suitable for swimming. We later learned that this series of falls is locally called Asul na Talon (translated Blue Falls) so named for the color of the pools.
Our guides told us that Asul na Talon lies just outside our friend’s property and may also be approached from another direction from the road going to Real. Although there are several minor drops here there are at least 2 significant falls with the last one upstream reaching a height of at least 15 feet.
The taller waterfall upstream is narrower compared to the previous drops and is hemmed in by vertical rock walls. There is a small cave just at the back of the water that could be a minor challenge to explore since it requires negotiating slippery and almost vertical rock surfaces.
Before our hike to these waterfalls we actually attempted to reach Puting Bato Falls near the trail to Buruwisan, thinking it requires just a few minutes to reach. At the start of the trek we encountered a number of families swimming and having a picnic downstream. The turquoise color of pools along the stream and the strong water flow encouraged us to hike up the hill to Puting Bato.
We haven’t gone up for more than 100 meters when we realized that it would be too risky. The ground was muddy and slippery and part of the ascent was along a very steep and rocky trail. The guide also estimated that it would take an hour to get to Puting Bato Falls so we decided to abort and to continue on to Asul na Talon and the unnamed waterfall.
It had been an enjoyable time even if we had only sampled a fraction of what Siniloan has to offer. The local government has been actively promoting tourism and we were able to witness some of the many projects launched in this regard. Our heartfelt thanks to Mayor Rainier Leopando and his staff, his wife Ada and the Serrano family – especially our friend Henry – for making this trip possible. We’re certainly looking forward to more visits to Siniloan and its treasure trove of waterfalls and other tourist destinations in the near future.