NAGCARLAN UNDERGROUND CEMETERY HISTORICAL LANDMARK
About two kilometers south of downtown Nagcarlan lies the town’s primary tourist attraction – the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. Built in 1845 under the direction of a Franciscan missionary, Father Vicente Velloc, this architectural wonder was meant as a public burial site although its underground chamber or crypt was exclusively for Spanish friars and prominent citizens of the town. This cemetery, according to early church historians, is the only one of its kind in the entire Philippines.
The cemetery has an entrance arch about 18 feet high and is surrounded by octagonal stone walls. From the gate, one gets a good view of the spacious green lawn and the brick-tiled pathway that leads to the towering facade of the cemetery chapel on the other side of the lawn. There are 240 apartment-type niches on the walls, 120 on each side of the chapel.
In 1896, this cemetery served as venue for the clandestine meeting of revolutionary leaders in Laguna, particularly Pedro Paterno and Gen. Severino Tainio.
By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260, dated August 1, 1973, as amended by Administrative Order 1505, dated June 11, 1978, this cemetery was declared a national historical landmark, and henceforth was closed for further burials.
At present, it remains a property of the Roman Catholic Church; however its management and maintenance is lodged with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
BUNGA TWIN FALLS
The Bunga Twin Falls is nestled amidst the green environs of Brgy. Bunga, about four kilometers from the town proper via concrete road. The falls and the barangay were both named after the “bunga” palm (betel palm) that used to grow in abundance in the area and that until the recent past had given a means of livelihood to local residents. (The betel nut is an essential ingredient in the making of the “nganga” or betel chew and therefore was once considered part of the town’s agricultural produce.)
This gift of nature comprises of two 20-foot high waterfalls ostentatiously cascading into a 40-foot deep pool set in a sunken spot of Bunga’s naturescape. Visitors say that what the falls lacks in height it makes up for in depth and expanse of its catch basin. And they agree that the unique charm of Bunga Twin Falls comes from the fact that it is a twin falls–two falls, almost identical, flowing down in synergy to keep the pool incessantly overflowing with refreshing water.
Visitors are welcome any time of the year but it is best to come in summer time, when the place becomes alive with the peak of arrivals and the increased services offered by the residents to tourists. It is the time when grass and bushes on the picnic grounds are trimmed, when native huts for rent are mounted around the pool, when food and beverage vendors put up their makeshift stall nearby, and when public safety volunteers won’t desert the area until the last visitor is out.
Although still undeveloped and therefore devoid of the amenities offered by a resort, this falls has much to offer to nature-trippers. One who happens to drop by finds no reason not to enjoy the sight and to try a dip into its refreshing water.
There is available parking space and campsite on the grove right before the start of the 7- or 10- minute trail down the waterfalls. When visiting the place during the off-peak season, it is best to first drop by the barangay hall and seeks assistance from barangay officials or public safety officers on duty.
With a waterfalls approximately 20 feet high and a catch basin about 30 feet wide and believed to be 20 feet deep, this falls is fed by two springs: one that is located about 30 meters southeast of the falls and another, within the catch basin.
Located at the heart of Brgy. Lagulo, this falls served as public bath and laundry for the residents of Lagulo and the adjacent barangay of Nagcalbang before World War II. The perils of the war compelled the residents of said barangays to transfer their residences along the roadsides in Brgy. Sta. Lucia. After the war they found it more convenient to live along the roadsides and have since then chosen to stay.
To get there, one takes a 10 to 15-minute jeepney ride from the Poblacion to Brgy. Sta. Lucia, from where he starts a 20 to 30-minute walk to Brgy. Lagulo passing through Brgy. Nagcalbang.
Unknown to many and unexplored because of its hidden location, Sagilala Falls lies in the outskirts of Brgy. Banilad, along the territorial boundary of Nagcarlan and Rizal. The falls is about 18 feet high, cascading into a catch basin 20 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It is fed by three springs about 100 meters away, which converge into one stream about 50 meters before falls.
Sagilala may not possess the rush and splash of the bigger Bunga Falls, but its charm rests on the quality of its water – calm, pure and pristine. Away from public encroachment, its water has remained the way nature has made it.
One can get to Sagilala by a 15-minute trek from the barangay road, following a trail that directly leads to the falls. But if one wants a more challenging path, he may choose to climb the morning side of Mt. Lansay, take a break right on top, and trek down its twilight side until he gets to the falls. A dip in the shallow pool of Sagilala becomes more soothing after sweating it out.
Popularly known as one of the Seven Crater Lakes of San Pablo, Yambo Lake actually lies along the borders of Nagcarlan and San Pablo City. Of its normal surface area of 28.5 hectares, approximately two-thirds belongs to Brgy. San Lorenzo of San Pablo City and about one-third, to Brgy. Sulsuguin of Nagcarlan. Unexposed to sources of pollution, this freshwater lake hosts tilapia, ayungin, dalag, bakuli and prawn.
Nagcarlan may have the smaller share of this lake but it enjoys all the freshwater catch that Yambo brings forth from day to day. Even before a concrete road was constructed from Nagcarlan to the periphery of the lake, Yambo has always been more readily accessible from Nagcarlan than from San Pablo due to topographic reasons. Consequently, fisherfolks from Nagcarlan have taken upon themselves the privilege of harnessing this gift of nature and the responsibility of taking care of it.
Because of its proximity to Pandin Lake, which is smaller by 8 hectares, Yambo is called the twin of Pandin Lake. Barely 10-15 meters away from each other, it is believed that these two lakes share a common water source. And because of their considerable distance from population centers, fishing activities in these lakes have always been at nominal level, thus keeping their water very clean and suitable for swimming, picnics, bamboo rafting and paddling. This gives yet another reason for them to be dubbed twin lakes.
Yambo Lake is a 30-minute drive from Nagcarlan town proper through the Nagcarlan-Calauan National Road and the barangay roads of Alumbrado, Talahib and Sulsuguin. As one gets to the very end of the road, he just finds himself mesmerized by the placid water of Yambo and the serene beauty of its surroundings. So come and enjoy a refreshing dip, or paddle around on a bamboo raft or simply sit down and absorb the beauty and the quiet all around.
SAINT BARTHOLOMEW PARISH CHURCH
Franciscan missionaries, under the leadership of Frays Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa started the Christianization of the locals in 1578. The first church in the town was built out of wood and pawid through the effort of Fray Tomas de Miranda, a Franciscan priest credited for being the first one to plant wheat in the Philippines. This church was built in honor of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle (San Bartolome Apostol) who died a martyr.
In 1583, under the supervision of Fray Cristobal Torres, a new structure made of bricks and stone was constructed. When fire razed the church in 1781, another structure was erected by Fray Atanacio de Argobrejo and finished by Fray Fernando de la Puebla who also had the four-storey belfry constructed.
When Fray Vicente Velloc became parish priest, he had blue porcelain floor tiles laid, added the convent, the sacristy, the baptistry and the choir loft.
In 2002, Rev. Msgr. Jose Barrion restored the retablos and had machuca tiles (design commonly used in Spain and Italy) laid to make the new floor finish in sync with the Baroque-inspired architecture.
SHRINE OF SAINT JOSEPH (SINIPIAN)
Every Friday from 4 am until 10 am, hundreds of devotees flock to the Shrine of St. Joseph, located in the territorial boundaries of Brgy. Balimbing and Brgy. Sinipian, a ten-minute drive away from downtown Nagcarlan. The number multiplies to thousands during Lent, specifically on Holy Thursday until Good Friday, when probably half of the crowd that gather are either tourists or young adults and teeners out on a group date.
Devotees, mostly from Nagcarlan and the nearby towns and some from as far as Quezon, Cavite, Batangas and Manila, normally spend 30 minutes to one hour in the shrine. As soon as they arrive, they buy some candles from the hermano (caretaker of the images and the entire chapel) and proceed to the candle-burning area at the rear of the hall, where they light their candles and stick them on the steel candle holders provided for everyone’s use. They enter the chapel, take a seat or kneel down, and silently offer their personal prayers before the images of St. Joseph, the Child Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. When praying is done, they rise and join the long queue leading to the back of the images for a chance to touch and whisper their petitions to the Holy Family, but mostly to St. Joseph. They are then led to an exit door at the back of the chapel. Devotees who are sick or feel a need to be recharged usually make it a point to see one of the several manggagamot’s (traditional healers) in a room especially designated for them just outside the chapel by the eastern wall. After receiving a dose of the necessary medication, which may be in the form of a message with oil consecrated for healing (hilot), or application of paper patches with sap of the sahing tree (tapal), they are then ready to go home.
On their way out of the chapel premises, they are greeted with a wide array of native delicacies being sold at the stalls lining up the sidewalks. Choices range from rice delicacies such as galang-galang, tikoy sa bumbong, minukmok, bibingka, marhuya, maja blanca and puto palabok; rootcrop delicacies which include sumang kamoteng-kahoy, butse, tinalampakan, carioca, binayo and cassava pudding; corn delicacies like majang mais and kinabog; and others of mixed ingredients such as lumpiang sariwa, sinantulan, ginataang laing, and achara. Indeed, one can hardly resist the temptation to stop and buy, for a visit to the Shrine is never complete without a taste of Balimbing and Sinipian’s countryside delectables.