Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mystic Mount Makiling

LOCATION : Laguna Province
ELEVATION : 1,110 meters above sea level
LEVEL : Minor Climb, Level II, Moderate
JUMP OFF POINTS : UP Los Baños, Laguna
AVERAGE DAYS REQUIRED : 2 Days (including travel time from Manila)
MINIMUM DAYS REQUIRED : 1 Day (including travel time from Manila)
DISTINCT CHARACTERISTICS: Rainforest, inactive volcano, mud springs

The legendary, Mt. Makiling, one of the most, if not the most famous mountain in Luzon, has inspired a number of poets, writers and lyricist for a long time. It is a perfect site for hiking even for first timers since trails are from easy to moderate. The place also has picnic grounds where you can camp and enjoy nature with your family even for non-hikers and unfit individuals since vehicles can climb up to this area. Found in the locality of the famous Los Baños Hot Springs and is home to the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Mt. Makiling has three known trails. The first trail, the most popular and frequently used, is the UPLB route through the UPLB College of Forestry, another one is at the Makiling Philippine Art’s Center which you can also access via the university and the third one, the most difficult and unestablished, is the Sto. Tomas trail located at the other side of the mountain, in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The UPLB route has a well-established trail wherein you can even drive your way up three-fourth to the summit. Mt. Makiling is actually an inactive volcano. It has a "mud-spring" park with sulfuric vents, which are located near the picnic grounds. Makiling is the source of Los Baños’ hot springs. Makiling has three peaks, the highest and the usual destination is the Second Peak.

Legends of Mount Makiling

Makiling is one of the most famous mountain in the archipelago and with that comes a lot of folklore and legends about the mountain and the goddess that lives in the mountain, Mariang Maikiling. In fact people living within the towns under the shadow of the mountains has always describe the silhouette of the mountain peak as that of Makiling lying down.

One of the famous stories is about an enchanted woman who lived in the quiet woods at the foot of Mt. Makiling. The people named her Maria Makiling because of where she lived. She was a young and beautiful woman. The beauty abundance and serenity of this enchanted place complimented her rare qualities. She was kind and compassionate to the town people. She shared the full and rich abundance of her enchanted places; fishes in the lake, food and crops, fruits and trees. All were for free. People could borrow from her whatever they need, whatever they wanted. Her kindness was known far and wide. One afternoon, a hunter came by and wandered into her kingdom. When he saw her beauty, he fell in love with her and she too felt the same way for him. They met and talk everyday and promised to love each other forever. Until one day Maria waited for him but he did not come. Maria discovered that he found a real woman and got married. She was very sad and frustrated. She felt deeply hurt and realized that the town people could not be trusted because she was different from them and they were just using her. Forgiving was really difficult. Her sadness and frustration turned into anger that she refused to give fruits to the trees. Animals and birds were no more. Fish no longer abound the lakes. People seldom saw her. It was only during g pale moonlit nights that they sometimes see her.

Another story is about three suitors who intensely battled for the heart of Makiling. One was a Spanish soldier, another, a Spanish-Filipino mestizo and the third, a Filipino farmer named Juan. In the end the Filipino won the heart of Maria Makiling which angered the two other suitor. They have plotted to kill him through a fire that broke down on the garrison, which they blamed against Filipinos including Juan. They shot Juan as punishment and before dying he shouted the name of Maria. Maria went down in the mountain and cursed the two as well as the other men who cannot accept failure in love then she went back in the mountains never to be seen again. The Spanish soldier died during the revolution while the mestizo died of illness. When somebody gets lost in the mountains, people attribute it to the curse on Makiling.

Los Banos: The Hot Spring and Mystic Mountain

It’s summer. Oppressively hot and humid. At 92 0F today, it won’t get any cooler as the summer bores on us. Those living in the metropolis get it worse. The congested traffic and smog make the air more hot and sticky. Overload from stress, bones aching from sitting 8-5 in the office, the endless routine, and a weekend that’s coming up fast, and you’re just about ready to get away. Head for somewhere cooler, more relaxing, more adventurous. Where is the nearest exit?

I say, LOS BAÑOS, in nearby Laguna.

Spanish for “the baths”, this town is famous for its therapeutic pools of mineral hot springs at the base of mystic Mount Makiling. The first thing you do when you’re around the bend to the welcome sign - roll down the windows and breathe deep. Breathe in the fresh air and see the difference why this place is a therapy. Escape to a local resort like the Splash Mountain, sink into a soothingly hot pool and feel your tension melt away. Spa-like, that’s how the experience is. You can stay at these pools the whole day if you like - swim, soak, sunbathe, and it’s enough to refresh your weary soul.

But then again, it’s time to eat. World famous buko-pie (coconut pie) will be on the top of your list. Next is sea food at Samaral Restaurant. Now if you just have to have burgers and fries, local fastfood chains and malls dot the way from Crossing to UP. For desserts? Try Los Banos’ homemade icecream, fresh milk, and kesong-puti (cottage cheese) at DTRI.

What is Los Baños without Mt. Makiling? You just have to visit “Maria” as locals like to refer to the mountain. Mount Makiling is a dormant volcano with slopes that resemble a woman reclining, a profile of the goddess Maria Makiling who is thought to stands guard over her mountain and townfolks.

For those who want to do hiking or trekking, Mount Makiling is a great destination of mystery, excitement and adventure. It is a haven to mountaineers being the only virgin forest in close proximity to Metro Manila. You can start your trek to Mudspring (volcano vent) all the way up to its highest peak called Peak 2.

For a leisurely tour, the University of the University of the Philippines - Los Banos campus offers many interesting things to see and do. The Museum of Natural History houses more than 200,000 preserved specimens. Visit the home of the Philippine Raptors. Enjoy a panoramic view of Laguna Bay at The National Arts Center. Explore the Flat Rocks of Makiling. Get “stuck” at the Magnetic Hill. Stroll UPLB’s sprawling campus and take pictures of the naked Oblation…

I could go on and on and on, but it won’t do you any good to just read this blog and wish you were there. Pack your weekend bags and leave for the paradise that is Los Banos… maybe I’ll see you there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Los Baños | Places of interest

University of the Philippines, Los Baños and other places of interest within its administered area
Mount Makiling
Makiling Botanical Gardens
ASEAN Center for Biodiversity
UPLB Museum of Natural History
Flatrocks - creek usually frequented by hikers
Mudspring - Presumed volcanic crater of Mt. Makiling
Peak 2 - Highest peak of Mt. Makiling
Pook ni Maria Makiling, an eco-tourism site adjacent to the Jamboree Site, National Arts Center and U.P. Los Baños
Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Jamboree Site - a campsite at the foot of Mount Makiling adjacent to U.P. Los Baños, which is being managed by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the site of the 10th World Scout Jamboree in 1959, the 1st and 12th Asia Pacific Jamboree in 1973 and 1991, and the 1st ASEAN Jamboree in 1993.
National Arts Center - a patch of land at the foot of Mount Makiling adjacent to U.P. Los Baños, which is being managed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the site of the Philippine High School for the Arts, a special school for young artist scholars
University of the Philippines Open University Headquarters
International Rice Research Institute headquarters - located within the campus of U.P. Los Baños
Agricultural and Life Sciences Complex
National Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB/BIOTECH) - UPLB
Institute for Plant Breeding
APEC Center for Technology Exchange and Training for Small and Medium Enterprises (ACTETSME)
National Crop Protection Center (NCPC)
College of Agriculture AgriPark
Baker Hall (also known as Los Baños Internment Camp)
Philippine Council For Agricultural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD)
Department of Science and Technology Regional Office for Region IV (DOST IV)
Magnetic Hill near PCARRD
Dampalit Falls, Brgy. Lalakay
La Roca de Trinidad Resort - a nature hot spring resort, Brgy. Lalakay (
Immaculate Conception Parish - a centuries old church at the town proper (Poblacion/Bayan)
Paciano Rizal Shrine - house of Paciano Rizal, brother of National Hero Jose Rizal
Paciano Rizal Park - park dedicated to Paciano Rizal, brother of National Hero Jose Rizal
Trace College, Trace Suites and Trace Aqua Sports Complex and Museum - hosts aquatics sporting events (2005 SEAGames, Philippine Olympic Festival)
Junction/Crossing Area - location of many major commercial establishments
Grove, Lopez Avenue - location of many bars, cafes and other restaurants and establishments
College Country Club - Premier tennis club of UPLB
Olivarez Plaza, shopping mall
Robinsons' Town Mall Los Baños, shopping mall
Boston Cafe Robinsons Los Baños [1]
Vega Centre
Los Baños Square
Los Banos Presbyterian Church [2]
Los Baños Eco-Waste Processing Area - noted and commended for its solid waste management
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Los Baños Seventh-day Adventist Church
Los Baños Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School

14 barangays of Los Baños

Los Baños is politically subdivided into 14 barangays

Bagong Silang
Batong Malake
San Antonio (I Live here) ^_^

Recent History and Significant Events in Los Baños

In 1979, the evolution and development of academic excellence in Los Baños moved the people of Los Baños to request then president Ferdinand Marcos to declare the municipality as "A Special University Zone", granted on 15 June 1982 by virtue of letter of instruction No. 883.

Los Baños was further declared as an "Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences Community" on 17 March 1982 by virtue of Executive Order No. 784 (Section 23).

On August 7, 2000, Los Baños was declared as a "Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines" through Presidential Proclamation No. 349 in recognition as a center for science and technology in the development of agriculture and preservation of the environment.

Boundary marker at the westbound entrance to Los Baños from Bay, LagunaThe 6th Flora Malesiana, a triennial gathering of people with botanical expertise regarding "Malesia," was held from September 20 to 24 in 2004. It provided a forum for Flora Malesiana members and encouraged publications on Malesian plants.

During the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, Los Baños played host to the aquatics events, with the newly-built Trace Aquatic Center serving as the venue.

The headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Biodiversity was opened on August 8, 2006 at the DOST-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, located at the College of Forestry, University of the Philippines, Los Baños. It coincided with the foundation day celebrations of the organization. The Philippines assumed the Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2006 and played host to the 12th ASEAN and East Asia Summits (held in Metro Cebu, January 2007).

In January 2007, the 5th ASEAN Inter-Club Age-Group Swimming Championships was held in the Trace Aqua Sports Center.

Also in 2007, the Trace Aquatics Center in Los Baños hosted the swimming competitions during the 70th Season of the UAAP.

About Los Baños

Los Baños is a 1st class urban municipality in the province of Laguna, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 82,027 people in 17,030 households. It has a total land area of 56.5 square kilometers and is bordered on the south and southwest by Mount Makiling, on the north by Laguna de Bay, on the northwest by Calamba City and on the east by the town of Bay. The town is located 63 kilometers southeast of Manila and is accessible via the South Luzon Expressway.

The town lies on the northern slopes of the long dormant volcano Mount Makiling and is known among tourists for its hot spring resorts that dot the area. Los Baños also hosts the University of the Philippines along with other foreign and local and international research centers, such as the International Rice Research Institute, the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, the Philippine Rice Research Institute and SEAMEO-SEARCA, making the town a temporary home for tens of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, researchers and expatriates.

Aside from its importance in academics, science and research, Los Baños is a well-known tourist destination. Because of the town's proximity to Metro Manila, Los Baños' hot spring resorts are frequent weekend or summer getaways for residents of the vast metropolis and tourists from other places in the Philippines and abroad. Tourists who visit Los Baños also come to the several native delicacies stores in the town to buy the town's famous Buko pie (coconut meat pie).