Sunday, June 6, 2010

Road trip 2010 (Leg 2)

After the Pahiyas (2010) adventure, we trooped to Tanay, Rizal to see the famous Daranak Falls. The general area of the waterfalls is a popular filming location; in fact, on today's trip, we passed by the road to the film set location of "Langit sa Piling Mo", a current GMA-7 television series. 

I'm glad that despite the fame of the place, it is still accessible to non-showbiz folk. The Manila East Road (which goes round the Laguna de Bay) is paved and relatively safe to go on (no traffic!). I loved driving on the hairpin turns and seeing the transformation of the scenery: mountain, lake, rice field, then back to mountain. There were also a lot of reminders to be alert for landslides because the roads cut through the Sierra Madre range. Keeping passengers not nauseated with the road was quite challenging in the Mabitac–Pililla stretch.

A lot of blogs have been written on how to go to the waterfalls via the Manila East Road, but most of the writers start from Manila. So for anyone from Laguna interested in visiting the waterfalls, here's what to do (going by private transportation):
  1. From Los Banos, drive past Bay, Victoria, Pila, and Sta Cruz. At Pagsanjan (across the town church), take a left to Lumban.
  2. Pass the towns of Kalayaan, Paete, and Pakil along the Manila East Road.
  3. Pass by Siniloan and Famy.
  4. Drive up the zigzag section of the Manila East Road in Mabitac (the last town of Laguna).
  5. Enter Pililla, Rizal and start descending (still on the zigzag road).
  6. Once on flat land, start looking for the intersection with a Shell station on the right. Turn right on that intersection. That is the Sampaloc Road.
  7. Stay on that road and follow directions to Daranak Falls. You're on the right road if you start smelling the unique aroma of poultry and hog farms. (I'm not kidding)
  8. Turn left at the small uphill road that has a sign board directing people to Daranak Falls. The road is quite steep and has unpaved sections which may be slippery during the rainy season.
  9. Park at the end of the road. You've arrived!

I'm quite surprised that despite the popularity of the place, rent of the tables and the entrance fees are on the cheap (really cheap!). In fact, when payment time came up, I only had to pay P75.00! To me, that meant the place is underdeveloped and may have a lot of visitors. I just wish that this waterfalls is not following the sorry path of Hinulugang Taktak, Antipolo City. I look forward to seeing it again (unchanged) in a few years.

The view of Daranak Falls was what I came for, and it did not disappoint. There was less water pouring from the cliff compared to what I remembered, but then the country is just coming from a nasty El Nino spell, so a smaller waterfall was expected. However, the water in the pool was still a stunning shade of blue and there were a lot of butterflies flitting about. The long drive was worth it.

Where to next?

**More photos of this road trip here: