It was one of the most unexpected trips I had this summer. Well, it is not like I hate unexpected adventures, but the circumstances happened in ways that we have never imagined. It was summer then, and of course, it was definitely the best time of the year for the most. Well, the heat of the sun already caused me triple layers of sunburns, but who cares? It is summer! Everything started one lovely dinner when my friends and I decided to have a weekend trip to Laguna and to finally cross Hulugan Falls off our travel bucket list.
Hulugan Falls is located in San Salvador, Luisiana, Laguna and is one of the many falls that you can see in the province. Laguna is the home to several geological wonders such as lakes, and of course, falls, including the famous Pagsanjan Falls. However, despite the abundant natural tourist destinations, we still decided to visit Hulugan Falls due to its understated grandness.
How to get there to Hulugan Falls
There are two ways to get there:
1. Via private vehicle:
2. Via public transport:
A sudden side-trip
One of the reasons why I mentioned that I considered this trip full of unexpected twists and turns (both literally and figuratively) is due to the fact that we never expected that we’ll be able to see two more falls on our way to Hulugan. We originally just wanted to visit Hulugan Falls but our guide insisted that we visit first Talay and Hidden Falls, and the side-trip was all worth it!
As you may have noticed in the directions above, Talay and Hidden Falls unexpectedly became part of the itinerary. Truth is, it was the most difficult part of the trip. After trekking to the resting area near the falls, we had to rock climb, crawl, rappel, and acrobat our way to see the hidden wonders. If you’re afraid of heights or you’re a bit on the clumsy side, you’ll have to be extremely careful climbing your way up there and going back. But again, I find it worth all the sweat and energy. After having few minutes of rest, we started to trek to Hulugan Falls.
The understated grandness
Searching online, I’ve seen how majestic and grand Hulugan Falls is. However, since it was the first time for me to actually see a falls that high and majestic, I actually found it a bit intimidating. Unfortunately, we didn’t see Hulugan Falls in its prime natural state. Due to El Niño, the water was so scarce and the Local Government had to divert most of the water supposedly falling through Hulugan to supply the agricultural and domestic water demand of the municipality. The guides were even apologetic because we did not see the falls in its full glory. Despite the lack of grandiose curtain of water, the falls was still worth traveling to.
One of the most common Hulugan shots I’ve seen online would that be of with the rainbow shot. I wasn’t able to see that famous rainbow and obviously didn’t have a chance to take the shot. It was probably due to the lack of enough water, which is again still okay. The good thing is, since the water current isn’t that strong, I was able to stand directly under the waterfalls. I am glad I did because that was when I was able to see the rainbows surrounding me, all you have to do is look down and you’ll see the magic of light refractions (some science stuff that causes rainbows to appear).
Where to eat
There are cafeterias at the entrance or near the house of the Village (where the Barangay Chairman’s home is) if you’re looking for affordable meals and if you’re already starving. But if you prefer a nice sit-down lunch or dinner, I would highly recommend Calle Arco. You will have to travel for about thirty minutes to an hour to get to the restaurant from Hulugan.
The food is tasty but a bit pricey compared to regular cafeteria or fast-food chains. But if you are to compare the cost to Manila restaurants, it is by far relatively cheaper. Calle Arco is an old family home turned into a restaurant serving home-cooked traditional Filipino food, in a relatively generous serving.
You can find Calle Arco in Pagsanjan, Laguna.
Tips and Expenses
1. The best months to go to Hulugan, according to the guides, are the months of October to December. The trail is not that muddy, and the water curtain is in its full glory.
2. Bring trail food or even packed meals if you’d stay at the falls for an extended time.
3. Bring at least two litres of water. Unfortunately, the vendors that you’ll encounter while trekking doesn’t sell water. They sell popsicles though.
4. Weekdays are still the best time to visit any tourist destinations, as always.
5. The famous rainbow at the foot of the falls can, most of the time, be seen in the afternoon.
6. Wear comfortable trekking shoes or sandals. Trek and the stones surrounding the falls are a bit slippery.
7. There are shower rooms available at a cost.
8. If you have a drone, be careful in flying it. You’ll only receive GPS/GLONASS signal once your drone is already up in the air.
Expectations vs. Experience
The trip was indeed full of unexpected events and we didn’t even see the Hulugan Falls in its prime state. But we still found the trip worth all the effort and adventure anyway. And that is why it is called an adventure, to begin with. What you may experience can be either below or beyond your expectations, and getting either of the two is nonetheless a rewarding experience in itself. I remain to look forward to seeing Hulugan Falls the second time around, hoping that the next visit would finally top my first encounter with the majestic waterfalls.