Cascading hot springs and bubbly cool soda pools abound at Hidden Valley Springs, a 90-minute drive from Manila to Alaminos, Laguna.
Deep into the woods, a not so distant 90-minute drive from Manila, one of Philippines’ best-kept secrets remains in the hands of one family. Home of the mystical waterfalls guarded by 300-year-old towering amlang trees, this hideaway serves as a romantic respite for those seeking to commune with nature’s spirit.
During the shooting of “Apocalypse Now” director Francis Ford Coppola fell in love with the natural setting of the place that he stayed for six months in 1977 while his wife wrote a book. According to Raffy Roxas, his family was then prompted to build a helipad at the rim of the property surrounding the valley, where the cell site tower is now located.
Coppola’s daughter was a little girl when she used to play in the forest resort. One of the actors, Martin Sheen, is pictured by the soda pool while filming the movie segment where they are looking for mangoes and meet a tiger. From the few cottages that were discovered by the noted film director, Hidden Valley Springs slowly mushroomed to a midsize natural resort complex teeming with bubbly pools.
What used to be the tallest amlang tree fell after the typhoon on July 16, 2014 hit the valley; the majestic trunk remains and continues to amaze visitors dwarfed by humongous roots; part of the downed tree is now a footbridge.
Walking leisurely past the endless falls, across grassy paths and bamboo bridges, one will feel the spirit that suffuses the air. The sound of water trickling soothes the senses, inviting a romantic rendezvous with mystical nature. Hidden pools of warm springs and cool soda abound. Solo travelers will find solace in meditating, simply communicating with nature.
A walking trail is lined by massive boulders and fallen trees. What used to be the tallest amlang tree fell after the typhoon in 2014 hit the valley; its majestic trunk remains and continues to amaze visitors dwarfed by humongous roots grown out of proportion. A childlike feeling of being lost in the woods, guided only by fireflies, evokes a scene from fantasy wonderland.
The short nine-hole course is a welcome challenge to golf aficionados who want to spend weekends with their family in a secluded forest setting. A putting green, mini-golf and a netted driving range are also available onsite.
The legacy of the 250-year-old amlang tree that went down during typhoon Glenda on July 16, 2014 continues; its fallen trunk now serves as a bridge that links the rest of the rainforest to the hidden falls. The giant amlang trees indigenous to the forest continue to grow through centuries.
A 15-minute walk further down the valley leads to a pristine waterfall, a sight to behold. Nothing beats the endless stream of soothing cascades. Taking an actual dip in the hidden falls may require a challenging trek between slippery boulders. Visitors are usually content just sitting on top of a rock, feeling the magic.
This hidden gem has been preserved by four generations of one family. In 1918, Eufrocino Roxas bought the 110-acre tropical forest and kept it as a secluded paradise accessible only to the discriminating public. His daughter-in-law grand matriarch Rebecca, now 82, still lives onsite overseeing the kitchen. Great grandson Luigi manages the 90 employees responsible for the upkeep of the resort and the newly minted nine-hole golf course.
Luigi’s dad, Willy, is himself an avid golfer, and he understands that golf and family fun can mix together. So, he throws in tee time for free for those staying overnight. Uncle Raffy Roxas takes care of the Makati booking office, which accepts day trips and all-inclusive hotel stays, ranging from $50 to $300. Further information can be obtained directly at(632)8404112-14, or through the website hiddenvalleysprings.com.ph
Rebecca Roxas, 82, stayed in the resort all her life overseeing the kitchen, while grandson Luigi Roxas manages the property operations. All-inclusive six-course buffet breakfast at the garden, sumptuous lunch, native merienda and dinner buffet with local entertainers, are offered daily.
It is hard to believe that nature in its unspoiled condition is just a 90-minute drive via South Super Highway and Sto. Thomas Batangas, leading to Alaminos, Laguna and the small town of Calauan. This is the same amount of time one can spend sitting in traffic in the metropolis.
Upon entering the heavily secured property, the warmth of a rustic home, visitors are greeted by exotic flowers and abundant foliage. Hidden Valley Springs remains an icon from the days of “Apocalypse Now” filming to the modern resort golf complex it is today.
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