I arrived in Liliw late in the afternoon by way of San Pablo City, the initial plan was to visit a good old friend of mine in his hometown to do some catching up. With my recent fascination with waterfalls and to maximize my time in the place, I searched the web for which alluring cascades are within the boundaries of Liliw, Laguna and was lucky enough to have found Kilangin Falls.
Getting in touch with my friend and satiating my appetite for waterfalls was like hitting two birds with one stone. As soon as I arrived, I met with my friend and shared some stories over a few bottles of ice cold beer in front of Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan food stall along Mabini Street.
“Ah, ang layo nun”, (That’s too far) were the words that my friend uttered when I laid out my plan that I wanted to go on a journey to Kilangin Falls and most of the locals that we asked said the same. He suggested a more accessible alternative, Imelda Falls also known as Taytay Falls in Majayjay, Laguna. But I already had my eyes fixed to seeing Kilangin Falls at that very moment, so I insisted.
Unfortunately, my friend had some important errands to attend to the following day so he can’t join me but he asked the young locals to be my guide and they enthusiastically accepted the mission. Only a couple out of the nine youngsters have been to Kilangin Falls and the rest of them who have not been there yet were as excited as I was.
Most of the locals, even the older residents of Liliw themselves haven’t been to Kilangin Falls. When they were younger, they didn’t get the chance to visit. All they know was it was of great distance and the trail that they would have to endure is quite tough.
A Little Information About Liliw
If Pansol in Laguna is popular for its hot springs, Liliw, on the other hand, is quite famous for its cold springs. It is also known as the Footwear Capital of Laguna, favored for its production of quality and well-made footwear. The quaint little town of Liliw is located approximately three hours from Manila (by public transportation, depending on city traffic) between the municipalities of Nagcarlan to the west and Majayjay to the east.
One of the iconic landmarks in Liliw is the stunning red bricked, baroque style century-old Saint John the Baptist Parish Church commonly known as Liliw Church or Lilio Church. Fittingly, behind the church, serving as its backdrop is Mt. Banahaw, which is believed by many as a “Holy Mountain”.
One of the iconic landmarks in #Liliw #Laguna is the stunning red bricked, baroque style century-old St. John the Baptist Parish Church, commonly known as Liliw Church or Lilio Church. #liliwchurch #nightphotography #historicsites #wheninmyjourneys #wheninlaguna #solotavel #itsmorefuninthephilippines #sinopinas #choosephilippines #traversephilippines #explorephmag #visitphilippinesagain2017 #oldchurch #nikonphotography #nikond3300 #philippines #travelph #grammerph #beautifuldestinations
The night before, we all agreed to start early on our journey since we already knew that it would take us at least two hours to get to Kilangin Falls. Wake up at around 7:00 AM, go to the public market and buy our provisions, cook our own food and by 9:00 AM we should be on our way. It would have been an ideal plan for long treks like this.
But the reality was, we woke up at 7:30 AM, had breakfast, went to the market, started cooking our food by 9:00 AM, waited for it to cook…waited some more…and more waiting until everybody had showed up and finally left by 11:30 AM. 🙂
Well, sometimes there are plans that are not meant to be followed to a tee. What’s important was that we pushed through despite the setbacks. “At least, hindi naging drawing.”
A Territorial Dispute Uncovered, Kilangin Falls of Liliw or Bukal Falls of Majayjay
We chartered two tricycles that would take us to the drop off point of Kilangin Falls via Valiche which was supposed to be five minutes away from Liliw town proper. However, our driver drove going to the town of Majayjay instead. But why? I was puzzled. Then I was enlightened by one of the young locals that I was with.
Kilangin Falls a.k.a. Bukal Falls is still being disputed by two towns as to who has the right to call her as their own. She is known by two names depending on which part of Laguna you are from. The locals of Liliw call her by the name Kilangin Falls while those who are from the municipality of Majayjay, she is Bukal (Bucal) Falls. There are 2 trails that you can take to get to her. The trail from Barangay Bukal (hence the name) in Majayjay is a much easier option. The footpath is already developed and you can get to her in about an hour but it requires some fees. On the other hand, the Liliw trail is free but be ready for a 2-hour trek on a more grueling trail.
Our driver must have sensed that it would be too difficult for us to go the Valiche route and we might not have ample time to enjoy Kilangin Falls as it was already midday that time.
We went all the way until we have reached the end of the road of Barangay Bukal which was roughly ten to fifteen minutes from Liliw. The second group took a while to arrive, when they came they said that they were flagged by the local officials at the registration area to register and pay for the mandatory fees. They said that they tried to wave at us too but our driver went so fast and failed to notice them. Nevertheless, one of us went back to the registration area to pay the entrance fee and register all our names.
It was just kind of ironic that our group who all came from Liliw and who claims that Kilangin Falls is within the territorial boundaries of their hometown were starting the trek from Barangay Bukal in Majayjay.
At the end of the paved road was where we started our trek. A narrow footpath was all there was for us to march on. The bigger portion of the road is for the horses that transport the goods from the farms to the town. The track is surrounded with abundant plant life that shielded us from the burning midday sun.
“I can handle this”, I said to myself with confidence. It all seemed pretty easy at first and then it got a bit more challenging as we continued trudging on the narrow trail of what appeared to be a never ending gradual ascend. I was stopping to take some photos but the truth was, I was stopping to take a minute to rest and then tried to catch up with the rest of the group. Then finally, 20 minutes later, a stopover.
We still have a lot of ground to cover but we’re already halfway there according to the locals at the stopover. So, after refueling our tired bodies and gathering our strengths back (or was it just me who felt exhausted?) we moved along.
There were no more houses in sight, the path led us deeper into the woods closer to the mountain. We were eventually surrounded with dense foliage; we can already hear the strong gush of water as we tread towards the sharp downhill slopes.
The trail has already been developed by the locals. Makeshift handrails made of metal tubing, tree branches and bamboo were already in place. Some portions of the steps have been cemented and these aided us on our descent. However, utmost caution was still needed as some steps were uneven and slippery.
A few moments later, we’ve reached the first tier of the falls, passed over a bamboo bridge, a few series of mini falls, made one more final steep climb and there she was right before us.
Mind you, she really wasn’t that easy. After almost an hour of trekking deep into the forest at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, we’ve finally met her. She has a huge 40-foot moss-covered wall and an invigorating verdant surroundings. The alcove resembles that of an altar of a chapel or church.
During the summer months, the water that flows from her crown gets dry and most of the water source are the ones that continuously flows out from the cracks on the walls. Huge rocks served as barriers to its clear aquamarine catch basin that goes 15 feet deep. The water is freezing cold and it can even get colder during the month of December according to the guide that I spoke with. Of all the waterfalls that I’ve chased, Kilangin Falls by far has the coldest and freshest water.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” And I can say that it was spot-on for what we have gone through. I’m sure that whichever way we took, at the end of our journey we will still find ourselves in awe upon seeing the magnificence of Kilangin Falls of Liliw or Bukal Falls of Majayjay. To be fair to both towns, they are already doing a good job in safeguarding the falls, separately.
What You Need to Know
- From Valiche route in Liliw – No entrance fee but will be assigned a guide
- From Barangay Bukal, Majayjay – Registration Fee is Php 30, tour guide (required) is Php 300
- You can ride a horse up to the stop over for Php 100
- There are no cottages on site
- Overnight camping is not allowed
- There are no available restrooms
- No stores near the falls
- No cooking allowed in the premises
- No eating near the stream or falls. After eating, do not wash your hands in the stream or falls.
- If it is raining heavily, tourists can still visit but swimming is not allowed as the water flow would be too powerful.
- What’s more impressive was there were not any enhancements made with the pool, they have kept it as natural as it was before.
- On the other hand, they have fitted a pipe from one of the water sources where tourists can drink directly or fill up their water bottles, if they’re not too sensitive.
- Do your Part. Be a responsible traveler. Respect the place and its local rules and leave no trace behind.
How to Get to Kilangin Falls from Liliw
Via San Pablo City to Liliw
From Buendia, take a JAC Liner bus bound for San Pablo City or Lucena, alight at San Pablo City. If the bus is not going inside San Pablo City town proper, inform the conductor to drop you off along the highway in front of Jollibee near the Medical Center (after SM City San Pablo). Travel time is approximately two hours.
In front of Jollibee, take a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to the jeepney stop bound for Liliw (it’s next to the fire station, near San Pablo Cathedral). Travel time from San Pablo City to Liliw takes approximately forty five minutes to one hour.
From Liliw, ride a tricycle to take you to either of the drop off points where you want to start, in Valiche or Barangay Bukal in Majayjay.
If you have an extra day to spare, you can also try and visit any of the attractions which are all within the same route like the 7 Lakes of San Pablo, Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery and Bunga Twin Falls.
- Bus Fare, Buendia to San Pablo City – Php 120.00
- Tricycle Fare, San Pablo City Highway to Liliw Jeepney Terminal – Php 40.00
- Jeep Fare, San Pablo City to Liliw Church – Php 30.00
- Tricycle Fare, Liliw to Valiche or Barangay Bukal – Php 50.00 per person minimum of 3 persons, per way.
- Entrance Fee, From Valiche route in Liliw – No entrance fee but will be assigned a guide (tip). From Barangay Bukal, Majayjay – Registration Fee is Php 30.00, tour guide (required) is Php 300.00
- Food, Try Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan along Mabini Street in Liliw. Prices start from Php 30.00 for a rice toppings meal.
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How about you? Have you been to Kilangin Falls a.k.a Bukal Falls? How was your experience? We would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts.