GETTING IN AND OUT:
Ok, this was really tricky. We knew that commuting is going to be hard because it’s Holy Week but we were hopeful that since it was already Thursday, we expected that people have gone and traveled to their respective provinces the day before. We decided to take the bus from South Station since it was more convenient for Celine and me, and Alabang is really a better jump-off point if you are going to Laguna.
However, we were surprised that there were no buses at all and there was a long queue of passengers, and we don’t even know if we are really in the correct queue for buses going to Sta. Cruz. After queueing for about 30 minutes, we decided to ask around since we heard someone calling for passengers in a van going to SM Calamba. After checking if this is doable, we boarded the van to SM Calamba. From there, we took a jeepney to Sta. Cruz, then from Sta. Cruz, took a jeepney to Liliw, and once in Liliw, took a tricycle to Casita Carlos.
The fares are as follows:
Van to SM Calamba – PHP150
Jeep to Sta. Cruz – PHP60
Jeep to Liliw – PHP60
Trike to Casita Carlos – PHP20
This was pretty crazy because I left the house at 8am, and we were able to check in at around 3pm. LOL. We traveled almost the entire day, but I actually arrived in Alabang at 9:30am and this also includes the time we spent queuing at South Station, more queuing at SM Calamba, and our late lunch in Sta. Cruz. I would say the entire travel time was around 4 hours, it was super traffic from SM Calamba to Sta. Cruz. Going from Calamba to Los Banos alone took an hour. It was really bad.
Looking back, I think it would have been better if, from SM Calamba, we took a jeepney to Nagcarlan instead. Because while the distance from SM Calamba to Sta. Cruz and Nagcarlan are almost the same, once you reach Nagcarlan, Liliw is literally the next town. While if you’re coming from Sta. Cruz, Liliw is still around 45 mins away. So, the total distance is definitely shorter via this route.
Because of this, we decided to look for a carpool from Liliw to Manila. Also, since we were leaving on a Sunday, literally everyone is going to be traveling back to Manila and we didn’t want to spend 6 hours on the road. We found one from a Facebook group. It was PHP1500 for 2 people and we shared the ride with a mother and her two small children. The route we took this time was Liliw – Nagcarlan – Rizal – San Pablo – Sto. Tomas – SLEX, and it only took us 3 hours. We were picked up at 1pm from Casita Carlos, I was dropped off near our street at 4pm. It was so funny because Celine and I were prepared for a really long ride, we even had a baon (ham and cheese sandwich and iced tea from 2nd Street Cafe) but I didn’t even get to eat this. I had a few sips of my (lukewarm) iced tea and that was it. Moreover, I was very comfortable in the passenger seat. Sure, it set us back to PHP750 per person, which is 3 times more than we spent when we commuted on Thursday, but what to do, sometimes, you just got to choose comfort.
This is actually why we decided to spend our Holy Week in Liliw! We were looking for a place where we can spend our Holy Week, and this place just opened so we decided to book here.
This place is owned by someone we know so it was like staying with family during the Holy Week. The room was very spacious, has a dining table where we had our meals and also where I occasionally worked. They have a water heater in the bathroom because it can be cold on this side of Laguna. I think, just put a refrigerator inside and the rooms would be perfect for long-term stays. You can order breakfast from them at a very affordable price and they provided free coffee, tea and water throughout our stay.
The terrace is very Instagrammable, totally loved the plants and had a beautiful view of the mountains. I spent most of my evenings here since I worked for 2 nights during our stay.
Liliw is a small town so it is a short walk from most places. For places that are farther, you can always get a trike to take you there. During our stay, they arranged for a trike to take us to Esmeris Farm, AJ4 Brena Farm, and Kilangin Falls.
If interested, check out their FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/CasitaCarlos.LiliwLaguna/
Apparently, this is a new Italian-Spanish restaurant in Liliw, located just beside the church. We had lunch here after our half-day tour at Esmeris Farm and AJ4 Brena Farm. We asked to be the dropped off at the church and coincidentally saw this after we exited on the other side of the church. Unfortunately, it was already full inside so we dined outside, which we didn’t particularly mind since it was beautiful. I really didn’t mind dining while being surrounded by plants. I’ll say this – I enjoyed the food. If I can provide some feedback though, it was crazy how most of the food on the menu is no longer available when we arrived for lunch at noon. We had to go look at the menu a few times because what we wanted to order turned out to be unavailable.
I also found out that Lilio was once the name of the town of Liliw. It was changed by the conquerors (if I remember correctly, the Americans) before it was changed back to its original name, Liliw.
T3 A Crafter’s Cafe
T3 is located right in front of Caffe Lilio. We didn’t actually dine here because the first time we went, Celine just bought a burger for her dinner. (I wasn’t really hungry that evening.) and the second time we went, although it was open, they didn’t have ingredients for coffee yet. (I don’t know why this seems to be an issue with some restaurants in Liliw.)
The place looks really cute though!
We also just went here for takeout. Since drinks weren’t available at T3, we went here so Celine can buy some drinks. I don’t have any pictures though, because at this point, I just wanted to go back to our room and sleep. LOL.for takeout
White House Bistro
I was really looking forward to going here since it looked so pretty! Luckily, there weren’t a lot of people when we came here and the food we wanted to order was available. LOL. Since there was just us and another group of people, we were able to roam around the house, I mean restaurant,and take pictures.
2nd Street Cafe
This restaurant was honestly a lifesaver! We were walking in the rain for a few minutes, and every place we went to was either closed or didn’t have the supply yet for the day. Good thing, we decided to walk here and it was open! We really just wanted to chill and have some drinks/snacks while waiting for our car at 1pm. Because of this, this is absolutely my favorite restaurant in Liliw. I would love to come back and actually try their food! We did take out a sandwich, that I ate at home. That was quite good.
St. John the Baptist Church / Liliw Church
Liliw Town Plaza
I Love Liliw Sign
This is truly the highlight of our trip! I have always wanted to go to Esmeris Farm. Tbh, I want to go camping here. However, since we were already booked at Casita Carlos for 3 nights, camping is not possible, but I was really still excited to visit the farm. Our hosts arranged a tricycle to take us to Esmeris Farm and AJ4 Brena Farm.
Esmeris Farm is only 3kms from Casita Carlos. From the parking lot though, you will have to walk for about 5 to 10 minutes to the entrance. The entrance fee is only PHP30. That is seriously super inexpensive! We really enjoyed taking photos here, so many Instagramable spots!
A4J Brena’s Farm
We went to A4J Brena Farm next, and this is way more tiring to explore than Esmeris Farm because of how it was set up. There were so many stairs, an uphill pathways. But then, as you go up, you are rewarded with an amazing view. I think it would be best to go here during sunrise or sunset, but we went in mid-morning, just when it started to get hot and looking back, that was not the perfect time to go. LOL. There are definitely many photo op spots here, too. The entrance fee is PHP80.
Let me preface this by saying that it was rainy the morning we went here so I think that made it extra difficult for us. Casita Carlos also arranged our trike going here. You will drop by first at the Kilangin Tourism Office to sign up and pay for the environmental fee (PHP10) and life vest rental fee (if you will need one, which I believe is PHP50). They will give you a slip, that you will provide to your guide when you get to the parking area of the falls. The guide fee is I think PHP300-350, which I split with Celine and the two other guests from Casita Carlos.
From the parking lot, you will need to trek for about 45 minutes to get to the falls, and it was not an easy trek either! It was a series of ups and downs and by the time we go to the falls, I can’t even figure out if my legs were shaking due to the very cold temperature in the falls or because of the trek. I was literally shaking the entire time, it was too cold for me to get into the water. I think this was definitely one of those moments when I should have worn leggings and rashguard. The falls was very beautiful, but I was just too damn cold to partake in the swimming in the freezing water.
And of course, going back to the parking lot was just as difficult. It also started raining on our way back. So I guess, just be prepared to do some trekking if you would like to visit Kilangin Falls. Kilangin Falls is also known as Bukal Falls, if you are going to get in via the Majayjay route. Our hosts informed us that there is some dispute between the two towns, that’s why there are two names for the falls. The Liliw route is closer, they told us that it takes an hour and a half to get to the falls if you are coming from Majayjay.
Our hosts had a get-together with their family at Liliw Resort and we were invited to come join them. We went here right after Kilangin Falls so I was still really freezing, and I couldn’t also swim in the pools. I think if we went the day before, when it was sunny then it would have been better. But then, that would mean going to the farms on a rainy day, which I also wouldn’t have liked.
It was here we got to try the famous Liliw lambanog, so if you get the chance to try, please do! ^^
Here’s a 1-minute video of our trip: (Really just a compilation of clips I took when I remember to take videos LOL)
I would love to go back to Liliw! There are so many restaurants that I would love to still visit! I really would like to do a take 2 of Kilangin Falls but when I think of the trek…. I start having second thoughts. LOL.