Embracing connections at Laguna.

My grandmother just turned 80 years old. For 79 years, her birthday celebrations consist of the usual parties and gathering. This year, to celebrate her astounding feat of reaching the age of 80, the whole family decided to improvise. Our decision? A one-day road trip like no other.

With so much blessings to be thankful for, it is imperative that we thank Him. To start the day, we went straight to church and attended mass. Almost all of grandmother’s children were able to come, along with their respective families. We all shared a feeling of warmth after seeing each other. Cousins, uncles, aunts- all of us are family. And, all of us would not be there, if not for our grandmother. The photo above was taken in front of the lovely shrine of Don Bosco College, Canlubang Philippines.

A lot of suggestions came about when we planned about the places where we’ll go during the trip. Remembering my previous wonderful experience at Ambon-ambon falls, I humbly suggested the activity (by the way, if you wanted to see my first visit at the ecopark, click here). My mother asked several questions, specially about its accessibility. Since it is just a couple of hours away from the church, very few arguments were raised. Soon, we agreed upon going there. First stop: Pangil River Eco Park.

The rainy afternoon added up to the hiking vibe of the ambon-ambon trail. Since not all of us wanted to avail the trek, those who were left behind decided to accompany grandmother inside the cottage. I already saw what lies ahead of the trail, and that made me excited for the other members of the family. I know for sure that they too, will enjoy the trail. Yes, the cute little child (his name is Kiyosuke) at the left side of the photo will hike, too.

During my last experience here, Sandra and I crossed the water 3 times with a bamboo raft. With our group, it was reduced to 2. Not that I am disappointed though, the absence of the other bamboo raft made a huge difference (in a good sense). Laughs were thrown here and there when my older aunts and uncles struggled on crossing the water. A couple of jokes were made, and everybody is having a good time.

It took us roughly an hour to reach the ambon-ambon falls. As soon as the gushing waterfalls come into view, shouts of admiration also came rushing in. I looked around me, and smiled. Everyone is excited and happy. Times like these are very rare nowadays. Indeed, I am thankful that I got the opportunity to be with them on this trip. Another moment like this one may only come again after a very, very long time.

We are a large group, so water tubing became impossible. The other’s did not mind though. I guess the company of each other, as well as the marvelous sight of the falls are more than enough experience worth remembering. We headed down to the cottages and hastily changed our clothes for lunch.

We had our lunch at a native restaurant near the eco park. The restaurant’s name is Plate Magnate. They have very accommodating staff, as well as good Filipino food. It took some time before our orders were served, but I guess that is acceptable because of our number. Should you wish to eat here, you may view their menu and the people’s review at their facebook page, or through here.

Above photo not mine, I took it from their official facebook page. Credits to Plate Magnate’s facebook page.

We did not have dessert in plate magnate, and that is intentional. We intended to have it in Pagsanjan, which is fairly near Pangil. There is a famous halo-halo (a Filipino dessert composed of preserved sweets topped off with shaved ice and milk. Similar to Malaysia’s Cendol. Literally means Mix-mix in English) restaurant there, which has already made a reputation in making this dish since 1933. The restaurant’s name is Aling Taleng’s Halo-halo. If their halo-halo business survived the changing world up to now, then their halo-halo must be really something. After tasting it, I must say that their pride of being established since 1933 is really not for show. That dessert was good. Unfortunately, sweet cravings got the best of me. I ate the whole thing without taking its photo. If you’re curious about the restaurant, or wanted to pay it a visit, check it at their official website HERE.

We were supposed to finish the day with a shopping spree at the slippers capital of the Philippines in Liliw. However, it was too late when we realized that the road we’ve been on does not lead to Liliw. Instead, it leads to the neighboring city of Nagcarlan. It’s almost 0630 PM that time. We will not be able to make it if we pursue our last trip to Liliw. Also, the shops would have been closed by the time we even get there. Again, we improvised: We started the day with a visit to the church, why not end it the same way? With that, we stopped by the Nagcarlan Church to formally end the wonderful birthday celebration of our beloved 80-year-old grandmother.

If you wish to see the expenses of this trip, kindly refer to my previous post Ambon-ambon falls: Pangil’s Nature Sanctuary for the eco park admission and the links I included here for the Plate Magnate and Aling Taleng’s halo-halo.

Traveling as a group may be more difficult and challenging compared to traveling solo. However, it can’t be denied that as a group, there will be more laughs to hear, more stories to tell, and more memories to cherish. This day forged a stronger bond to all of us for the years to come. You know what they say: A family that travels together, stays together. Happy traveling, guys!

-Carlo, WHT.

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      Carlo Tuzon

      It’s been ages since we had a reunion. I am glad I was able to join this time. My grandmother gives her warmest thank you for the greeting. May you too, be blessed with a life full of happiness. Thanks for stopping by. 😉

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