LOS BANOS, LAGUNA

Just 30 kilometers southeast of Manila, Laguna is a veritable treasure
trove of cultural, historical and natural gems. It almost completely
surrounds the Laguna de Bay (Laguna Lake), one of Southeast Asia’s
largest lakes, thus, its name derived from the Spanish word “Lago”
which meant Lake. It is also the first province south of the bustling
National Capital Region with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
about 1-1 & 1/2 hours away from the industrial estates of Calamba.

Laguna was a hotbed of numerous historical events- it was the site of
one of the most sanguine battle grounds and Filipino nationalist
resistance so many times – the Chinese revolt in 1603, the British
plundered its capital during the years of the British invasion from 1762
to 1764, the revolts against the Spanish cruelty, the defense against the
onslaught of the American invaders, and guerrilla warfare waged against
the Japanese. And why not? Laguna’s very own and much revered son,
Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero – also a polymath, polyglot and
leading reformist, came from one of its Ilustrado families of Calamba –
was an immense inspiration not only to the nationalist movements in
the Philippines but in the budding anti-colonial forces around the world
as well.

One of the southern towns of Laguna, San Pablo City, one of the oldest
in the country is known for its collection of 7 lakes- Lakes Malucan,
Palakpakin/Palacpaquen, Yambo, Bunot, Pandin, Muhikap, Calibato,
and Sampalok – the latter which is the biggest and the one closest to
the city centre. There is a view deck near the city hall on the Dagatan
Boulevard which affords a sweeping view of this serene, yet ordinary
lake. Skip the overpriced lunches offered at the restaurants around the
lake though. San Pablo City is also a jump-off point to treks to the
nearby Mount Banahaw.
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