Last Sunday, a spur of the moment decision brought me 113 Kilometers southeast of Manila to the quiet town of Paete, Laguna to check out a hiking trail and an art gallery cafe.
It started raining by the time the bus reached SLEX and for a moment, I thought about home and how nice it would be to spend the entire day in bed just watching DVD's! Haha!
Even as I got out of the bus in Sta. Cruz, the rain continued. Brrr, I prepared myself for one wet solitary hike. A jeepney to Siniloan which passes Paete (locals pronounce it as Pie-te) was immediately available by the side of the road. The driver informed me where to get off, a small street with imposing views of the Sierra Madre.
Confused where to go, I boarded a tricycle to take me to the jump-off which was just within walking distance from where I started. :P
Tatlong Krus is a hiking destination which turns into a pilgrimage spot during the Holy Week. The concrete trail starts at Barangay Ilaya Norte amidst a small community of uber chatty and friendly locals. The steps are established but quite steep. It leads to a forested portion where air is cooler.
In forty minutes, I made it to the peak. Views of Laguna Bay and the rest of the town can be seen from a veranda at the back of the three crosses. The winds were strong so after taking some photos and chatting with some mountaineers who spent the night there, I went down.
From the jump-off, Paete Church (officially known as St. James the Apostle Church) is within a short distance. It was rebuilt 1939 after a series of earthquakes destroyed the original structure which was constructed in 1646.
I capped off the day at Kape Kesada, an art gallery along Quesada Street. It was the first art gallery and coffee shop in Paete which was opened 2004 and is owned by Dr. Nilo Valdecantos. During the time I was there, only brewed coffee sourced from Batangas was served. It was good, so good, I drank two cups.
|Brewed Coffee - 65 pesos only, served with Muscovado sugar. Ahhh, I love cafes that does that! :)|
I spent about two hours browsing through paintings and art books. Have I ever mentioned that I was a frustrated painter? I was very much interested in the arts and ballet when I was a kid but it never progressed because I received different directives from my parents. Oh well. :)
ITINERARY & EXPENSES :
6:00 AM - Wait for buses along EDSA-Boni bound for Sta. Cruz (148.50 Pesos). As an alternate, you can go to the HM Terminal in Cubao, the ones in Alabang (hello South People!) or Buendia near the LRT station.
8:00 AM - ETA - Sta. Cruz. You will be getting off across the bus terminal going back to LRT/Buendia or Cubao. No need to cross the road, jeeps to Siniloan are frequent!
8:15 AM - ETD from Sta. Cruz to Paete via jeepneys to Siniloan (25 Pesos)
8:45 AM - ETA - Paete Town Proper
From there, you can buy drinks or snacks from the stores. You can walk to the jump-off. It's near the Barangay Outpost. It's really very near. :) Just ask directions. An alternate is to ride a tricycle from the town proper (10 Pesos/Head).
9:00 AM - No registration required but don't forget to acknowledge the people you meet along the road. Start Trek from Ilaya Norte. Prepare for concrete uphills!
9:30 AM - Arrival at the blue waiting shed. From here, you will encounter a fork. One leads to Ilaya Sur (where there's a 30-minute trail leading to Matabungka Falls) while the one on the left will bring you to the summit.
10:00 AM - ETA - Summit marked by 3 Crosses.
10:30 AM - Start trek down.
11:10 AM - ETA, Jump-off.
From here, Paete Church and Kape Kesada are within walking distance (less than 15 minutes). Eateries are abundant and you won't have difficulty finding a great place to eat.
What to Expect From the Hike :
- Prepare to get wet. I don't know if the current from the river is always strong but when I went here, I had to change to slippers because the water goes up to the ankles.
- Bring mosquito repellant.
- 500 ml of trail water should be sufficient for a day hike. That is if you don't intend to have a picnic there
Normal Hiking Pace : 40 minutes to One hour.
Additional References :
Bus Information to Sta Cruz - Backpacking Philippines