Los Baños – Calamba

A visit to the 1,090-meter Mt. Makiling is the supreme nature trip. It has a staggering diversity of plants and animals — literally hundreds of species of ferns, moss, birds and insects. There’s a lot to discover on the hike to the top of the mountain via trails from UP Los Baños or Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

Another nature adventure is communing with the centuries-old trees of the Makiling Forest Reserve. If flowers and plants are more your thing, there’s always the Makiling Botanic Gardens. Cap your visit with a trip to one of the natural hot springs that the area is known for.

Some 11 kilometers away from Los Baños is Calamba. It’s the regional capital, and the birthplace of Jose Rizal — the country’s national hero. Jose Rizal Shrine, a replica of the great man’s ancestral home, houses memorabilia such as books and Rizal’s trademark black overcoat.

Because the area has so many coconut trees, several local delicacies are coconut-based. Be sure to try buko (young coconut) pie, a staple pasalubong (take-home treat). Espasol (a sweet, sticky treat dusted with coconut powder) is another bite you should take.