Published: November 30th 2005November 30th 2005 Taking advantage of the long weekend, we decided to venture into the famous Taytay Falls in Majayjay, Laguna. Armed only with a friend’s vague memories of how to get there, we prepared for our adventure.
Mystic Mt. Banahaw -- view outside our room
Leaving Makati at 2:30PM on Sunday, we hied-off to Alabang to catch any transport going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. The bus ride (P29) via Skyway was a quick 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we had to wait for one of our friends at Jollibee Alabang so we decided to do some last-minute shopping of toiletries, etc. at the nearby 7-11. Since our “tour guide” said there were no food establishments in the area, we insured ourselves by buying our dinners at Jollibee.
Two minutes away is the Alabang terminal where we looked for transport going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and found vans. For P75 per person, we were transported comfortably to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. The trip took 1.5 hours. Unfortunately, our tour guide’s vague memory brought us to the wrong stop and the driver recommended that we just take a tricycle going back to the Sta. Cruz town / market. Of course, a group of 9 bedraggled “dayos”, lost in the pouring rain
The path going down the falls
and falling darkness is tantamount to a “RIP US OFF” neon sign. We were charged double the price in the trikes (P50/per tricycle for the short trip).
Our tricycle had to make a stop-over at a nearby gasoline station so the other group arrived ahead at the market where the jeeps going to Majayjay town are located. We knew that after this 1-hour trip to Majayjay town, we had to catch yet another jeep going up the mountain to Taytay. Unfortunately, the last trip from Majayjay to Taytay was at 5PM. It was already 6PM.
As luck would have it, another group of eight people was waiting for a ride to Majayjay. We asked them to join us so we could negotiate with the driver to take us directly to Taytay. The driver initially asked for P700 for the entire trip but on the way he asked us for P45 each. Of course, no one dared complain.
Again, as people in this part of the country seem to have little sense of urgency (did I mention that our van from Alabang also made a stop-over???), he made a stop-over in his home to fetch his wife and
daughter so he has company going down the mountain. Baka “may horror” daw pagbaba niya.
Apparently, the mountain where Taytay Falls is, is already part of the mystic Banahaw and the mountain comes alive at night :)
After 1.5 hours, we arrived in darkness dotted only by electric light from 3 small houses. There is only one apartment-type cottage with 5 rooms for rent here. Fortunately, only 2 were occupied when we arrived. The rooms are new but bare / unfurnished, with only a double-decker, 1 pillow, electric fan and CR. In fact, one of the 5 rooms had no CR (I wonder who would take that except in desperation?). The water from the faucet is as cold as ice. But for P350 per room with no limit on the number of occupants per room, who’s going to complain :)
Anyway, anticipating that no one will actually be sleeping much, we just took 1 room (there were 9 of us :)). After settling in, we had our Jollibee Chickenjoy dinners at the store adjacent to the cottage. We ordered breakfast (rice, sunny side up eggs and corned beef) for the next morning.
As the store
in our cottage closes at 10PM and because there was a group of old men with their “partners” hoarding the Videoke machine, we planted ourselves in the other sari-sari store a stone’s throw away from our cottage. This store is right at the entrance of the path going down to the falls. We watched local TV shows while guzzling cheap beer (San Mig Light at P18!) and munching on cheap chichirya which we were just pulling from the “clothesline” above our heads. After a few bottles, we hit the Videoke - kanya-kanyang banat na
:) Time was so slow here, even after all the talking and the singing, it was still before midnight so we want back to our position in front of the store’s TV, ordered instant noodles with egg (only P15!) and had a steaming midnight snack :)
The cold was making my back ache so I settled in for the night past midnight. The others stayed on until no one could take any more beer - and it was only 2AM!
No one slept much during the night, not only because we couldn’t fit ourselves together in the 2 beds but also because there were
a lot of strange noises around. Howling dogs (the type you only hear in horror movies) and other unidentifiable sounds kept giving me goosebumps even when I was half-asleep.
Everyone was up for breakfast at 6:30AM. After hoarding suha (pomelo) which cost a measly P10 or P15 each depending on size (puede pa ipabalat), we started the 20-minute trek down to the falls. With a stream of very clear water on the left and deep ravines with a makeshift PVC pipe railing on the right, the concrete path is manageable except in some areas where literally the path is just as narrow as your foot :) I was glad to see that forest cover is still thick in this area, the trees are old, the air fresh and the surroundings free of garbage. Taytay Falls itself, by its height (about 2-storeys tall), is not as awesome as others I’ve seen before. Certainly not as tall as Katibawasan Falls in Camiguin. But the very clean pool of water on its base, the force of its spray, the slippery boulders at the base which you just know are untouched by human hands, the old verdant trees and the awesome sense of Banahaw mystery are so powerful it commands silence.
There were a lot of campers about (I can’t imagine how they could actually sleep in tents around the falls - everything is just so wet and cold) but the rushing sound of water from the falls drowns everything out. It’s just you and the falls out there.
EATING TIME AGAIN!
After swimming about for an hour or so, we trekked up back to the cottage. After taking showers, preparing our things and stuffing ourselves with homemade super-delicious puto we bought from a vendor (only P10 each!), we went back to our suking tindahan and warmed up the Videoke machine while waiting for lunch.
Lunch was paluto -- original Pancit Habhab (Majayjay sits where Laguna meets Quezon - Lucban is just an hour away), rice and pork barbeque - all for only P32 per person. The food here is simple, clean and amazingly cheap. If we can only skip the 4-hour travel and just enjoy the perpetually cold weather, cheap beer and warm food here, we would do so every Friday night :)
Syempre after lunch, Videoke na naman! At about 1PM, we
said our goodbyes to our suking tindahan and settled our bill at the cottage. The place never ceases to amaze: upon computation of our bed and paluto breakfast, we only had to shell out P70 each!
The jeepney terminal going back to Majayjay town is just 5 minutes away. I think the jeeps come every hour so we had to wait for the 2PM trip. There were few commuters going home so we waited for about 40 minutes more for the jeep to fill up. Fare was P12. At the town, we transferred to the jeep going to Sta. Cruz. Fare was P25.50.
At Sta. Cruz, we alighted at the JAM Bus Terminal where we caught the bus going to LRT Buendia. Fare was P116 for those alighting at Magallanes and P123 for those alighting at Buendia. The bus ride took longer because it was not an express bus - it kept stopping for passengers at all points in Laguna until we entered the South Luzon Expressway. All in all, it was a fun adventure. Half of us were on half-day yesterday because of creaking joints but otherwise, we enjoyed the trip. Really, if only the travel was much shorter and easier on the bones… :)
Bus from Makati to Alabang P29.00
Van from Alabang to Sta. Cruz P75.00
Tricycle to Sta. Cruz market P10.00
Jeep from Sta. Cruz to Taytay P45.00
Entrance fee to Falls P30.00
Bed and breakfast P70.00
Jeep from Taytay to Majayjay P12.00
Jeep from Majayjay to Sta. Cruz P25.50
Bus from Sta. Cruz to Manila P123.00
TOTAL EXPENSES P340.50
There are more photos below