One thing I’ve been continually learning with my short but challenging journeys is the geography and landscape of different places, especially the provinces that surround Metro Manila. I’ve always been keen on the roads that public transports take, and curious on the path that private vehicles opt to follow. It has become both a mind challenge and a therapy for me.
On June 11, my friends and I visited Mt. Romelo situated in Siniloan, Laguna. The mountain takes pride in a scenic landscape of Rizal, Laguna, and Quezon. It is also known for the seven wonderful falls that gives its visitors great challenges.
In a simple trip around Manila, Mt. Romelo left me in greater awe and appreciation of nature.
Go on a Roadtrip to the Pililla Windmills
From Pasig City, we opted to travel via the Tanay, Rizal course. My friends and I chose Shaw Boulevard as our meet up place, and we took a UV Express ride from there to Tanay Market. Upon arrival at the Tanay Market, we had the choice to either take a jeepney ride to Siniloan then a tricycle to Buruwisan, or go on a tricycle road trip directly to our destination. With the great persuasion of a tricycle driver, we chose the latter, and we were lucky because he offered to take us to the Pililla Windmills in Tanay, before continuing our journey to Siniloan.
Pililla Windmills is about an hour’s trip from Tanay Market, but the journey to that place is very refreshing. The paved roads are not filled with cars and other vehicle, and they are sandwiched between farmlands and grasslands in luscious green tinges. The air is fresh and is relatively cold compared to the usual Manila mornings, and this chill competes with the morning sunshine.
At the windmills, there were only a few visitors which may be because it was a bit early in the morning. There were about 20-30 windmills there, but no breeze arrived to make them move.
A vast see of water, which my friend believes to be Laguna de Bay, is also a sight to behold from where the windmills stand tall. There are also a number of stalls within the place which sells windmill miniatures, from refrigerator magnets and key chains to photo frames. Their price begins from 40 php for the small ones, and about 200-300 for the bigger versions.
Go for a Walk in the Park
Since we were already a bit late compared to our itinerary, we continued our journey to Siniloan and arrived after about 30 minutes to an hour. Our tour guide, Kuya Rey, whom we were in connection to since our Shaw Boulevard meet up, was already waiting for us along the highway.
From the highway to the barangay hall, tall and lively trees gave us shade from the sun. The air, still chill enough, provided us with more reasons to relax. We crossed a bridge and a dam before arriving at the barangay hall.
At the barangay hall, we had to register for 50 php per person and to log in so that they may know enough about the visitors. From there, there were two other bridges to cross, and a few residential lots owned by the locals. The foot of the mountain still looks like a park to stroll in.
Take a Simple Challenge to the Summit
Location: Siniloan, Laguna
Hours to reach the summit: 2 to 3 hours
Visited on: June 2016
The Mt. Romelo hike is rated 2/9 by. True enough, the trek is easy compared to those I’ve tried before. However, the trees are thin so the sun’s heat is very much felt. The trail is made of soil, and when we visited the place, the trail was a bit muddy because of the recent rains.
Although the hike was easy, one of my friends needed a ride up to the campsite, and thankfully, there are horses led by their owners which the hikers could rent for 300 php per ride. It was his first time to hike and he might have been forced in the first few minutes. Lucky was he because not all mountains can be trekked on by horses.
The real challenge in hiking the mountain was not into fall to the muddy trails. The main trails of soil are softened by the rain, while the paths on either side of the trails are slippery, for they, too, are made of softened soil. There are also a lot of horse dung in these trails, just to let you know :D.
The first station is a stall that sells fresh buko. Of course, we didn’t miss the chance to sip the fresh and clean liquid as we rest for a while. From the first station, the summit is almost very near. Hikers can reach it for about fifteen to thirty minutes.
The trail near the top is filled with tall grass that can itch the skin. Also, there are almost no trees near the top, so there is no escaping the sun.
top the summit, the 360-degree view is mostly mountain ranges that will leave you in awe. The skies are clear but the thin clouds hid the sun from us. From there, our tour guide decided to give us stalks to aid us, and I wondered why.
However, the summit is not the final destination. We learned that we have to continue our journey to the campsite. From the summit, our destination is on the other mountain.
The trek from the summit is mostly downhills, if not slightly strait paths. We stopped by another store which sells Buko Salad ice candy. We reached the campsite in after an hour, conquering the trails that are more slippery and steeper, compared to the hike up the summit.There were already a lot of groups pitching their tents at the campsite. There are also kubos that are for rent at the campsite. Since none in my group brought packed lunch, there is a store there where hikers can ask for cooked rice from, for 30 php per ¼ kilo.
As we wait for the cooked rice, we decided to take a dip in the falls.
Relax at the Waterbeds of Buruwisan and Lanzones
The nearest waterfalls from the campsite is the Buruwisan Falls. The way down to the falls was the steepest of all. We had to crawl down while holding on to the big and sturdy roots that also served as footing for us to reach the bottom. But the creepy way down was so worth it!
Buruwisan Falls looks like a serene and undisturbed place. The water is clear, rocks are smooth either because of moss or the water, and the dip is really cool. Since we were the first group to reach the falls, we were afraid that there might be a sudden depth in the falls’ floor. However, out of curiosity, we tested how deep the water is, and we found out that it gradually deepens. I was also challenged to swim to the end of the falls, but out of slight fear, I chose to circle the perimeter of the waterfalls instead, and my friends followed my lead.
After such a refreshing time there, and since a lot of other visitors arrived, we then decided to go to the next falls, the Lanzones Falls.
Lanzones Falls is just about a third or a fourth of the width of Buruwisan Falls, but its water is colder than the other one. It is only about five to ten minutes trek from Buruwisan, and we were once again the first group there.
The waterbed is not deep at all, but the rock formations beside the waterfalls are beautiful, black and polished, as if made by men and not by nature. Also, the whole vicinity of Lanzones Falls was hidden behind the shadows of the many towering trees up above.
You may also view the itinerary here.
Good to Know
1. An alternative route to Siniloan is via bus from Ortigas to Famy, then tricycle to Siniloan. However, these buses have an hourly schedule so better make sure you can catch them!
2. Both the fresh buko and buko salad costs 20php each. They’re good refreshments, though!
3. A one-way horseback ride costs 300 php.
4. At the campsite, a store sells canned goods, biscuits, and rice. A can of tuna costs 45php, a can of corned beef is sold at 60php, and biscuits can be bought at 12php each. The canned goods, if cooked, will cost additional 20php. A pancit canton is sold at 20php each. You can ask the owner to cook rice for you for about 30php per 1/4 kilo. They also sell hard boiled egg.
5. There are other falls in Mt. Romelo, and a one-day hike would not suffice. Here are the other falls.Some guides will take their group to the “Pusong Bato”, a heart-shaped pool of water which is rarely visited by hikers.