The small town of Cuenca in Batangas is most famous as the home of the mysterious Mt. Maculot. With the boom of mountain climbing in recent years, many hikers have taken a liking to the 947-meter easy climb with very rewarding views all throughout.
Sadly for many, the idea is usually to begin the hike early morning, traverse through the three peaks, go down late afternoon, clean up and go home. Some prefer to camp out in the mountain then go straight home in the morning.
Why is that sad? Because Cuenca, my hometown, has so much more than just a mountain. It’s a town filled with friendly people, some of the best lomi you can ever taste in your lifetime, an overwhelming number of bakeshops, and a view that you wouldn’t have to hike hours just to see.
If you’re looking for a place to spend a feel-good, hassle-free weekend, look no further than this beautiful refuge just 2 hours away from Manila.
Est. traverse time: 8 hours
Tour guide fee: P800/day (Lorenz: 09261227653)
Difficulty: Easy but challenging
Environmental fee: P20 each
I haven’t been to a lot of mountains, but I’m pretty sure there are not a lot of easy climbs with such an amazing view. It was very rewarding looking at my friends’ faces when we finally reached the Rockies after hiking for 5 hours.
It’s not a difficult climb, although the hike from the grotto to the peak can be a bit challenging for beginners. That’s the hardest bit though. From the peak, it’s an easy hour or so to the Rockies.
Just make sure you follow all your guide’s safety instructions while at the cliff! One wrong move and you can fall to… well, your death.
Home of the Bakers
For such a little town, Cuenca has way too many bakeshops. It’s called the Home of the Bakers after all.
You couldn’t go wrong with any of the bakeries in town, but for the best egg pie, meringue, mamon, kababayan, and monay, head to Pol and Buena’s Bakery at the Cuenca Public Market. When facing Maculot, this is at the northwest corner of the market, in front of the Rural Bank of Cuenca.
How do I know it’s the best? It’s ours. Been eating our bread for over a decade and still lovin’ them haha!
Lomi nom nom
I was never a fan of lomi growing up. Something about my first try turned me off for good… at least until new options came around and changed my opinion of this local dish.
I mean… how can you resist this?
My favorite by far is Lomi Ko, located at B. Laqui street. From St. Isidore Church — just go straight until you reach the end of the road. For a group of 4, the recommended size is that huge bowl worth P225. But I have shared that bowl with a group of 8 and it was still more than enough. The smaller P95-bowl should be good for 4 to 5 persons, unless you REALLY love lomi.
If ever you decide to spend a night in town, this is the place to be the next morning. I highly suggest a 20-minute (or less) jog or walk to this area while the sun is not yet scorching hot. There are very few people around and the route is so serene — houses are replaced by age-old trees as you near the viewpoint.
And the view… well, I’ll let it speak for itself.
Before you leave, check out this small makeshift store that sells softdrinks, chips and FRESH BUKO. Literally, they will pick the coconut from a tree in their backyard, cut a hole for the juice then cut it in half later so you can devour the meat. Sa Cuenca, ‘yan ang mararating ng bente pesos mo.
From the main town, there is a small sitio separated from civilization by 1,500 stairs. Residents of Lumampao supply the town with fresh seafood by going up these stairs every single morning and back home in the afternoons. Their tawilis and tulingan are pretty awesome.
I’ve always been impressed by their perseverance and strength, especially the older folks! Going down this town is a breeze, but going back up is a whole other story.
When we were young, our parents always told us the lake was cursed, and that a monster beneath has taken a lot of student lives. I’ve never tried swimming there but I have gone down a few times. I love it for its peaceful and laidback vibe. The people are also very hospitable to tourists, drinks and food offered everywhere!
On top of all that is the food trip every Sunday morning. Outside the church, you’ll find one of the best scrambles in the country (#truestory) and at the busy market you can have freshly-fried butchi, puto (if you’re lucky, they sell out fast!), pinindot (do you have any idea what that is?), and freshly-baked kababayan (srsly the bestest!) if you drop by our bakeshop around 9am.
Short weekends, long weekends, I’ve always had a heavy heart leaving this town. I love it to bits and pieces and I know you will too.