The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan
       
     
The images of Paete
       
     
Apocalypse Now: Laguna
       
     
The birthplace of the Jose Rizal...
       
     
A very important reminder
       
     
The embroiderers of Lumban
       
     
       
     
The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan
       
     
The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan

30 minutes ride from San Pablo City is the town of Nagcarlan which is famous for its beautiful Spanish Underground Cemetery- the only one of its kind in the country. Built in 1851 by Fr. Vicente Velloc, a Franciscan missionary who became the town’s parish priest, the cemetery was a burial ground exclusively used for the Spanish friars as well as the town’s more esteemed citizens. The cemetery’s crypts were also used as a meeting place for Filipino revolutionaries and it was here that the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was first planned by Gen. Severino Taino (Maluningning Command) and Pedro Paterno in 1897.

The images of Paete
       
     
The images of Paete

Paete’s woodcarvings are known all over the world and can be found in the statues, pulpits, murals, and bas reliefs in museums, churches and palaces like in the San Cayetano Church in Mexico, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, St. Joseph’s Shrine in Santa Cruz, California, the Mission Dolorosa in San Francisco as well as various churches in the Philippines and the Ayala Museum in Makati.

Apocalypse Now: Laguna
       
     
Apocalypse Now: Laguna

Snaking through the gorgeous moss, fern and jungle clad canyons is the Pagsanjan River (Bumbung River). While it wasn’t as exhilarating as I thought it was going to be (I can be an adrenaline junkie sometimes so Class 1 rapids weren’t that exciting for me), although I had to keep my balance all the time to make sure the camera was alright and so the long flat-bottomed fiber-glass boat wouldn’t tip over. During the rainy season, the waters turn muddy but nevertheless the views were just stunning, with dragonflies flitting around you felt ethereal while your boatmen (2 boatmen are required) navigate through the stillness of the canyons- no wonder, noted director Francis Ford Coppola filmed his final scenes for his Vietnam War-epic Apocalypse Now there. The set of course is no longer there, but one can’t help but imagine the scene of a carabao being slaughtered on the banks of the river. You start your trip at one of the boat stations in any of the resorts or hotels by the Balanac river and you will then turn right to the Bumbung River going through the different rapids and going upstream towards the direction of the thundering Magdapio Falls (or now known as Pagsanjan Falls).

The problem with Pagsanjan is just the non-stop badgering from locals asking for money. It's a beautiful waterfall, but the experience with the locals isn't exactly something to come back for. If you ever go here, arrange a  tour from Manila, ignore local touts. 

The birthplace of the Jose Rizal...
       
     
The birthplace of the Jose Rizal...

was turned into an avocado.

According to historian, Ambeth Ocampo, “the green hues are meant to honor the memory of the Rizal family and their way of life.”

I don't think restoring heritage places involves personal interpretation of how it should look like rather than what it was supposed to look like.

A very important reminder
       
     
A very important reminder

A sign at Majayjay's church. I think this sign is also appropriate in any Philippine government office.

The embroiderers of Lumban
       
     
The embroiderers of Lumban

Complete opposite of Pagsanjan are the townsfolk of Lumban known for their intricate and fine embroidery. They usually source their fabric (piña silk) from Aklan and process this into stunning Barong Tagalog, the Philippine national attire as well as many other pieces. There are shops near the church and you can choose either embroidered or painted, all done by hand. 

 

 

       
     
Laguna, Philippines

We spent several weekends doing day trips all over Laguna. This was just using a point and shoot camera using the most basic video editor back then.