The Department of Tourism – Region IVA has its flagship domestic program with the Green Corridor Initiative. This aims to boost sustainable tourism in and around Calabarzon. Its role is to maintain regional biodiversity, improve environmental quality, and offer economic resilience opportunities. Recently, the Department of Tourism’s Calabarzon office invited Village Pipol Magazine on a two-day trip for an Old Meets New Tourism Circuit for Laguna province. This showcases attractions, exhibiting historic spots while making sure it caters to modern tourists.
DOT-Calabarzon exhibits ‘old meets new’ tourism spots in Laguna
The validation of the identified tourism circuit became one of the essential steps in its development. It considers the specific measures of readiness and quality of tourism products that will remain promoted and marketed under the Green Corridor Initiative. Laguna features tourist attractions and destinations in San Pedro, Biñan, Sta. Rosa, and Calamba, as its program’s second phase tourism circuit model.
Day 1 | Laguna
Located at the San Antonio Exchange Terminal, Kapiterya Restaurant greets you with a cozy atmosphere and a homey vibe. With a warm ambiance and a heavenly feel, this restaurant offers Filipino cuisine in San Pedro, Laguna.
San Pedro Apostol Parish
San Pedro Apostol Parish houses the Krus ng Tunasan, famously mentioned in the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.
May sakit si Maria. Pinag-uusapan ng magpinsang Tiya Isabel at Kapitan Tiyago kung alin ang mabuting bigyan ng limos, ang krus sa Tunasan na lumaki, o ang krus sa Matahong na nagpapawis.
The cross has been in town for centuries and it became popular due to its miraculous healing powers. Its legend, on the other hand, varies. Some say that there was a sudden apparition from a barrio in San Pedro. Meanwhile, some say that it came straight from heaven.
Santo Sepulco Church
The Spanish colonization sought to spread Christianity all over the world. Originally, the church was made of bamboo and Nipa. However, as time passes renovation comes. It houses the miraculous image of Jesus lying in the tomb, more fondly called Lolo Uweng. When we visited the church, we were able to listen to its legend. Aside from that, representatives have also given us pieces of cotton and cloth where they have seen Lolo Uweng bleed on.
Historic Alberto Mansion
Built in the 1800s, Jose Alberto Alonso, the grandfather of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal, originally owned the mansion. His mother Teodora Alonso Realonda would spend her teenage years and where she would meet Francisco Mercado who lived in a house nearby. The property would later be passed down through several generations.
In 2011, the Biñan city government finally issued an ordinance that declared the mansion a heritage site. The Biñan council also sought for the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to declare the building a National Historical Landmark to allow for its expropriation. In 2017, the government filed an expropriation which resulted in its restoration.
Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan
Located at the heart of the town plaza, Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan houses the city museum, city studies center, and the Biñan City Culture, History, Arts, and Tourism Office. It actually used to be the Casa Hacienda of the friars during the Spanish regime. Then, it became a school during the American times. After that, the structure also became a municipal hall from the 1940s until 2010.
School of Rizal Site and Museum
Opened in 2016, The School of Rizal Site and Museum is located along Gen. Capinpin Street in Barangay Poblacion. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed a National Historical Marker on the site in 1948. That way, it memorializes Jose Rizal’s stay in Biñan as a young student where he received his first formal education under Maestro Justiniano Cruz from 1869 to 1871.
St. John the Baptist Church
Commonly known as Calamba Church, St. John the Baptist Parish Church is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Calamba, Laguna under the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Pablo. The location is adjacent to Rizal Shrine and is actually known as the christening site of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal. The church is stone-built in the Baroque style. It also has several stained glasses, two of which depict St. Dominic and San Lorenzo Ruiz. Aside from that, the other stained glasses depict the seven holy sacraments of the Church.
Banga (Giant Calamba Claypot)
The Giant Calamba Claypot or also known as just Banga is a landmark in Calamba, Laguna. Believed to be the largest clay pot in the world, its location remains at the City Plaza near Calamba Church and Rizal Shrine. Built in 1937, it was actually constructed as a reference to the town’s original name from kalamba which means water jar.
Museo ni Rizal
Literally just a stone’s throw from the town plaza and parish church, Museo ni Rizal is a replica of the house where Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861. The two-story stone and hardwood structure was made from Narra floors, a red tile roof, and capiz shell windows. It also houses six galleries that tell the story of Jose Rizal. These six galleries were appropriately named Kaliwanagan, Kapaligiran, Karunungan, Bahay na-Bato, Unang Paglalakbay sa Europa, and Pangalawang Paglalakbay sa Europa.
Auro Chocolate Production Site and Cacao Farm
This was probably the highlight of the trip. As a person who loves chocolate, especially uniquely flavored ones, Auro Chocolate Production Site and Cacao Farm was the place to be. From learning their name was playfully derived from the chemical element of Gold (Au) to the factory visit, it was definitely a fun learning experience.
Auro Chocolate is an internationally-awarded tree-to-bar chocolate brand. The brand promotes sustainability by working directly with local farmers in Davao to create fine Filipino cacao beans, ingredients, and retail products with unique and bold tropical flavors.
Founders Kelly Go and Mark Ocampo feel extremely passionate about all things chocolate. In 2015, they decided to start Auro and make a difference through fine chocolate. Then, in 2017, they officially launched the brand which now has at least 56 partners.
Jose Rizal Tall Monument
Standing at a 6.7-meter or 22 feet, Jonas Roces sculpted the monument located at the plaza in front of the Calamba City Hall complex along Bacnotan Road. It was unveiled on June 19, 2011, and was cited as the tallest Rizal monument before another monument was inaugurated in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
The monument depicts Rizal holding a book in his right hand. It was also made of bronze. The height actually symbolizes the 22 languages and dialects that the hero mastered during his time. Placed on top of a 2.8-meter podium consisting of a 15-step stairway, symbolizing one decade since he was born in 1861.
An integral part of the Nuvali eco-city development, Seda Hotel has a stunning view of the lake, overlooking structures that blend perfectly with the natural landscape that surrounds it. It has six kinds of rooms which include the Deluxe, Premier, Executive Deluxe, Suite, Executive Suite, and the Seda Suite.
Day 2 | Laguna
Our favorite Philippine amusement park, Enchanted Kingdom has unveiled new attractions in Laguna. These include Agila, Twin Spin, and their new horror attraction, Alcatraz.
Agila will take you on a thrilling journey across the Philippines, showcasing different must-go tourist spots. Named after the Philippine National Bird, Agila the EKsperience is the first flying theatre in the country. The moving seats lift off the ground equipped with multi-sensory special effects of wind, water, and earth in eagle-like motion.
Twin Spin, on the other hand, has the Enchanted Kingdom trademark with the twists and turns of a rollercoaster. Meanwhile, the 12-seater trains have spinning coaches with back-to-back seating to match. I, Angela, was seated next to a friend, Kyle Vergara, in front of Josh Austria. And, we were like, “No shouting.” Of course, I took the challenge at heart and didn’t shout. I did laugh — both at Kyle and Josh who seemed as if they yelled their throats out.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try out Alcatraz. The newest horror attraction allows you to walk through the chilling cell blocks of this maximum security prison. Visitors will come face-to-face with confined delinquents, rioting inmates, and other distorted beings who are bent on keeping you in with them. The regular rate comes at Php 270 and it’s rated at PG-13. All guests are required to fill out and submit a waiver prior to entry.
Fountain of Lights Show at Nuvali
Of course, the trip doesn’t end until we see the Fountain of Lights Show at Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The manmade lake in the eco-city features three themes which include sea creatures, constellations, and biodiversity. It’s free and definitely a must-visit for Christmas.
Again, thank you Department of Tourism-Region IVA for touring us around Laguna and its tourist attractions. We would love to go back again and bring our friends and family to these destinations!
Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.