Family Trek to Hulugan and Two Other Falls

Family Trek to Hulugan and Two Other Falls
by Danny Tariman

It was good sunny Saturday. With all the excitement, my family is all set for the trek to three falls in Laguna.

We left the city at about 5 in the morning for a long 95-km drive to Luisiana town in Laguna. With a brief stop-over for a quick breakfast in Los Baños, we had an easy comfortable drive. We were headed to Bgy San Salvador, the jump-off point to the falls. We arrived in this fresh-mountain-air rural village at about 8:30am.

The awesome 95-meter high Hulugan Falls:

We were impressed by this small village’s organized system in handling trekkers. Upon turning right going to the inner road (there is a big tarpaulin marker announcing “Hulugan Falls”), we were greeted and met by a lady who introduced herself, and gave us some directions on how to proceed. We were also assigned a trek guide – “Kuya Boy”. Upon boarding our car, the guide led us the registration desk and the nearby parking area.

My family at the start of the trek

After a short 5-minute briefing, we started our way to the falls. Oh, by the way, we were warned to get our rubber shoes wet, or wear rubber sandals. Good enough, there is a store that sells rubber sandals at a fair price.

We boarded a tricycle which took us to the starting point of the trek. It was maybe a 2 to 2.5-km ride, but it was okay, since we saved time and energy for the mountain trek. It was an easy 35-40-minute hike going to the first falls. Passing thru a dam, and a river bed, a little down hill hike, and some up-hill trek we finally reached our first destination: the Talay Falls.

The tropical rain forest along our trail

The Talay falls has two down-streams. The first to greet you is a small “falls”. We had some good rest here as the place has bamboo benches and tables for picnic goers and trekkers. We had our snacks taken in this place too.

The Talay falls: our first stop

Few steps away, passing thru the big rocks or boulders, you will see the quiet beauty of “Talay-2” falls. This one is taller and the flowing waterfalls is slim.

The downstream from Talay Falls. This is where we had a rest for some food.

After a few minutes of rest and some photo ops, we proceeded to our next falls destination: the “Hidden Falls”. This is a short trek – about 15 minutes – from Talay but a bit challenging as it was an uphill trek. The good thing is the trail is lined with bamboo poles which serve as handles, so you can hold onto these while navigating through your uphill climb.

The Hidden Falls was a refreshing sight! Large volume of water gushing in-between big boulders. I reckon, maybe it was named “hidden” because indeed you won’t be able to see this beauty from the path of the trail. You will have to jump over to the rocks and boulders before you will see and appreciate this natural beauty.

The Hidden Falls.

We continued our trek to the final and the third falls for this adventure. It was a bit long trek.

We passed through a farm where pandan as large as trees abound – this is the variety which is used for making baskets and mats. There were even some “trees” with big fruits falling on the ground. We were told by our trek guide that some trekkers stay overnight in this area where they pitch tent and build bonfire at night.

The pandan farm along the way

After about 35-40 minute walk, with long down-hill hike, we reached our final destination: the Hulugan Falls. We were greeted by this wide rock formation where water flows freely. I thought it was IT! But it was just a ‘preview’. We were able to see the main scene when we stepped into the rocks and saw this awesome, very tall body of water, gracefully flowing down! We were told it is about 95 meters high! And it was so wide – providing a white veil that covers a wide portion of the cliff!

My family upon reaching Hulugan Falls

After looking for a spot to keep our backpacks, we immersed ourselves into the fresh gushing river from the falls. Wow, it was really refreshing after almost 1-1/2 hour of hiking! While my wife rested in a shaded area, me and my children had a good splash. We really enjoyed it!

Enjoying the gushing downstream from Hulugan Falls

Oh! We had our lunch right beside the huge falls! And our water for drinking was taken direct from a dripping water under the rocks! It was really refreshingly natural!

Fresh “mineral water” direct from the rocks, where we got refill of our drinking bottles.

After enjoying our river plunge, we trekked back passing through another route. This was the most difficult trail in this trekking adventure. We climbed almost vertically from the falls. Remember the falls was about 95 meters. And we had an almost vertical – well maybe 80 degrees – climb. We had to rest every 10 or 15 minutes! Haha! The nice thing is that the locals had placed bamboo poles as handles throughout the trail which we can hold while maneuvering the rocky path.

With my children enjoying the refreshing swim

I wouldn’t recommend this “return trail” for those with weak heart. It was really difficult. We managed to reach the pick-up point after about 30-40 minutes trek, mostly uphill. With my and my wife’s age at over 50, it was indeed a feat to pass through the uphill trail from Hulugan Falls.

Wow, this was really another great adventure for my family.

A fantastic shot of Hulugan Falls, with my daughter at the foreground
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Manta Ray: A New Way to Enjoy the Depths of Anilao

Manta Ray: A New Way to Enjoy the Depths of Anilao
by Danny Tariman

It was a different kind of excitement for the family.

My family in front of the dive resort.

My 2 children had been to the depths of Anilao using the usual diving suit and gear: rubberized suits, air tanks, etc. We all enjoyed it. Me and my wife enjoyed to see the depths of the sea through the video clip that our daughter took while in the deep.

I was really fascinated by beauty of the undersea in Anilao: colorful corals – both soft and hard, variety of fishes swimming around with our children, the little discoveries they had: giant clams of various colors, lion fish, and others.

But this weekend, it was different. We are out to try the manta ray dive.

My son holding the manta-ray board

Manta rays are similar to stingray. Both are flat-type of fish that swim with their bodies (or flaps) in horizontal position. The difference is that manta rays don’t have the long tail.

And the manta ray dive use a board designed like of manta ray, which is tied to a rope and attached to a jet-ski. The diver holds onto the board while the jet-ski is in motion.

Our Adventure

It was a long drive from Manila. We passed by the SLEX tollway, then turned to STAR tollway, and out to the City of Batangas. We continued to drive to Anilao which is about 45 minutes drive from Batangas City.

We arrived at Sicilian Dive Resort at about 9 in the morning. It was sunny and clear. The resort was very nice and yet affordable. The resort owner, Eric, was very friendly too, we even had some talk about business! Haha! We didn’t slept overnight. We really had planned that this time, it will just be a day tour.

The Sicilian Dive Resort

My eyes surveyed the surroundings immediately upon our arrival. It was good! As expected of Anilao, there are no sandy beaches; only pebbles and stones. But no worry; we enjoyed this place as we were really for snorkeling, while our children went for the dive.

Snorkeling and Diving

While my wife and I enjoyed the shallow waters by just having little swimming here and there, our children went for the new adventure: the manta ray diving.

Our daughter had the first try. She held onto the manta-ray board, and when she was ready, the jet-ski went off. It was a 15-minute tour of the under-water world. I can see her enjoying the dive. She would go into the waters and in few minutes would come out again, repeating the routine as the diving board she was holding was being towed by the jet-ski.

Our daughter in the depths of the sea on manta-ray diving board

This dive was without the usual mask and oxygen tank. It was really under her control whether to go down the sea or to come out of water. She said it was really enjoyable.

After her, our son had his manta ray dive too. They both enjoyed the dive. And they got different exciting stories as we had our lunch! Haha! And yes, they were able to view the beautiful under-water scenery that they passed by.

After the dive, my family had some snorkeling. We all enjoyed seeing the colorful fishes swimming around. Some of the fishes would even get near us “thinking” that we will feed them. I realized that we should have brought with us some bread that we can feed the fish for a more exciting snorkeling. experience.

Our son trying out the manta-ray dive

More Family Bonding Moments

While are children were at the sea, my and my wife prepared the much. Oh! It was really nice! I prepared the charcoal grill and cooked the pork strips. My wife prepared the green mango salad with tomatoes and salted eggs. We really had a good and fulfilling lunch.

Our family-prepared lunch at the resort

In the afternoon, we went for a walk to a rock formation at the end of the cove. We had some photo ops here. We also noticed that near the rock formations is a dive site. There were a couple of boats ‘parked’ while waiting for the divers who were exploring the deep and the reef.

The rock formation at the end of cove. Note the dive sites where boats are parked

It was really a fun day for the family! And a new experience on manta-ray dive!

Snorkeling time for the family
Our simple family-prepared lunch.
The snorkeling area near the beach