Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016
A view from below the deep crevice of the rock formation

Bulacan is often off the tourist map. Although known to still have pockets of bucolic life, it's fast becoming industrialized. Since it's located next to Metro Manila, it's where a getaway is perceived to be nothing different from having a staycation in a progressive city. For the longest time, it's only been associated with heritage houses and native delicacies. What many don't know is that the clean Angat River flows through some of its towns and the foothills of Sierra Madre are just nearby. That combo alone makes for a game-changing weekend that doesn't require a painful commute or drive. It's just a couple of hours away from Cubao where one can board the Baliwag Bus to eventually explore San Rafael, a quaint town that's home to San Rafael River Adventure (SRRA) and the Malangaan Cave and Spring.

Both tourists destinations are just an hour's drive away from each other. What I consider to be a complementing presence to the cave and spring is that of the resort because it enables intrepid travelers to have a relaxing tour base in the province where some lodgings can be lackluster in quality. SRRA is next to Angat River where guests can opt for an adventurous overnight stay inside a tent that's pitched on top of a floating bamboo raft which has an extended walkway to the riverbank for easy access. Now that is truly unconventional!

Glamping with a Twist on Angat River
The turquoise-colored water of the Malangaan Spring
The rural scenery on the way to Malangaan Cave and Spring
San Rafael River Adventure's Glass Cottage (good for 4 to 6 guests)
Lounging at the poolside of San Rafael River Adventure

Glamping and Glass Cottage

The resort owner dubbed it as Glamping with a Twist in its menu of inventive lodgings that include a Glass Cottage (good for 4 to 6 guests), a Glass Villa (good for 12 to 16 guests), and a Glass Treehouse (perfect for romantic couples). All have one-way glass walls (interiors are not totally visible from the outside) to let the natural light in and for an unobstructed view of nature from the inside. At night, guests can simply pull down the window blinds and hit the bed.

"Assigned to a glamping guest is a resort butler who is tasked to bring pre-ordered meals for dinner, breakfast and lunch..."

Assigned to a glamping guest is a resort butler who is tasked to bring pre-ordered meals for dinner, breakfast and lunch to the dining table setup next to the tent. For those who want to experience glamping off the river, there's a camping site at the resort near the glass lodgings where the same setup can be arranged.

One of four Glass Cottages at the resort
A cute morning greeter beyond the glass wall of my booked Glass Cottage
Two variations of Glamping on Angat River
What to see on your way to Malangaan Cave and Spring
A hearty breakfast prepared by an assigned butler to my Glamping site

During my stay at SRRA, I was able to experience two of the various types of lodgings -- Glamping and Glass Cottage. Both appealed well to me since the convenience of resort amenities allowed me to easily adjust from sleeping in a tent to staying inside an air-conditioned cottage. Depending on your budget, each is worth a try.

"A buffet-style River Cruise can also be scheduled for lunch at the front desk for an experience of the extraordinary in Bulacan."

Exciting Resort Amenities

Resort amenities include river-based activities like kayak, Jet Ski, stand up paddle and floating trampoline. An ATV trail is also available for adventure rides. For relaxation, guests can have cool midday soaks at its river-view infinity pool which is also designed to be enjoyable for kids. For the nocturnal guest, night swimming is allowed. A buffet-style River Cruise can also be scheduled for lunch at the front desk for an experience of the extraordinary in Bulacan.

The Angat River-view infinity pool of the resort
Glamping with a Twist on Angat River
River kayak
Waking up to this countryside view in Bulacan
The limestone-rich Malangaan Rock Formation

Side Trip To Malangaan Cave and Spring

Should guests intend to stay for more than a night, I recommend a tour of Malangaan Cave and Spring which is just an hour away from the resort. The natural attraction is located in the village of Tukod in the same town and can be a great itinerary for one's second day in the province. The limestone-rich site is accessible on foot past the Malangaan Spring, a popular local getaway which is frequented by residents from neighboring and distant villages.

"The natural attraction is located in the village of Tukod in the same town..."

Its accessibility to the patronizing locals may be under the radar of the town's tourism office, but the presence of hideous graffiti on prominent rock formations clearly shows that tours are unregulated and a dedicated rulebook is nowhere in place. Proof of this is the existence of children who are currently serving as the attraction's tour guides as a result of the absence of any regulation that serves such a purpose.

Bulacan residents enjoying a dip at the Malangaan Spring
Malangaan Cave scenery

Trash can also be seen in several pockets of the area which only makes it sensible to make the locals get involved in the right way so as to preserve the beauty of the place while encouraging tourist arrivals.

Although it is noble to encourage locals to be the attraction's guides, an official training of age-appropriate residents under a tourism office initiative is necessary to ensure that best practices are upheld and the interests of both the town and the tourists are considered.

Beyond the damage done to the rock formations and the area's greenery, the Malangaan Cave and Spring is undoubtedly a sight to behold. The cave and river system weaves through the border of San Rafael and is known to have parts that belong to neighboring towns. What used to be a secret hiding place of Filipino World War II guerillas and the post-war Hukbalahap is now a silent witness to historic events in the province. According to residents in the area, it's where some of WWII's dead were dumped. Today, the attraction is where the adventurous can commence with a short hike, proceed with spelunking, and culminate with a cool soak at the spring before going back to the resort.

Huts can be rented at the site of the Malangaan Spring
What to see while visiting the cave
Bulacan tourism advocate Louie Dimaano with Brgy. Tukod kids
Malangaan Cave and Spring Tour Guide

I was actually able to visit the place with the assistance of Louie Dimaano, a Bulacan tourism advocate who is exerting the necessary efforts to coordinate such concerns with the local government.

As of this writing, he's been dubbed as a frontliner for various attractions in the province and is highly recommended to reach out to for such a tour until everything is properly established by those in the local tourism office.

For a tour of Malangaan Cave and Spring, you may contact Louie on his Facebook account.

How To Commute To San Rafael River Adventure From EDSA:

• Board an air-conditioned Baliuag-bound Baliwag Bus in Cubao for less than Php100 and get off at the town proper of Baliuag. Travel time is two hours or less on a good day.
• Hire a tricycle for San Rafael River Adventure (Php100) at the premises of the Baliuag Museum and Library that's across the town proper's Iglesia Ni Kristo. Travel time is 40 minutes or so.

How To Reach Malangaan Cave and Spring From The Resort:

• Hire a tricycle in Brgy. Talacsan (where San Rafael River Adventure is) for Malangaan Cave and Spring in Brgy. Tukod. Travel time is roughly an hour.
• Make sure that your chartered ride will agree to wait on you for a special fare (Php300++) after your visit of the cave and spring as there are no tricycle rides leaving the area as of this writing.

During the rainy season, the site can be quite slippery
A rock formation that looked like a face of an alien against the midday sunshine
Interested travelers can contact Bulacan-native Louie Dimaano for a tour of the cave and spring
The next time someone opines that Bulacan is nothing more than a day tour stopover for native delicacies or a heritage house visit only, tell him or her that an adventure of natural attractions can be experienced via an overnight stay or more. It's better to linger in a destination anyway to have a real whiff of its character.

Book now.

San Rafael River Adventure

Book a room at San Rafael River Adventure.

Address: Brgy. Talacsan, San Rafael, Bulacan, Philippines
Mobile: (63) 917-924-4546 and (63) 917-885-6761

Check out my other Bulacan-related blog posts:

A Riverside Getaway In Bulacan
• 3 Exciting Reasons To Go Glamping In Bulacan
• The Glass House of San Rafael River Adventure
• Essential Ways To Enjoy San Rafael, Bulacan

More Photos Below:

A charming sunset view at the resort
The awesome rock citadels of Malangaan
The rural scenery outside the gate of the resort
Graffiti can be found on rock walls
The buffet-style River Cruise of the resort


  1. Hi,

    The pictures are beautiful. As is the Philippines. The shades of the water, from the oceans to springs to rivers and all bodies of water in between, vibes with me the most, as do the super friendly people in your gorgeous country. Always smiling, always inviting....and this is just me meeting Filipinos in the US and while traveling :) Certainly they are fine ambassadors and wonderful sales people for their homeland. Can't wait to visit.



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