Between the mystical yin-yang, colossal mounts lie the idyllic yet high potential town of DOLORES. Deep within its borders are blossoming and budding travel experiences that would ignite the wanderlust’s excitement and soothe one’s, tired city-dwelling soul.
Since of its altitude, the locals experience a year-round cooler climate and would surely soothe its guest while roaming around. Its rugged topography allows guests to enjoy panoramic views along the way and destinations with commanding view decks.
The town of Dolores, being a landlocked pocket town shares no coastline. But they boast their clean rivers, spring and brooks as natural bathing sites. Having volcanic soil proves it capacity to support healthy and thriving agriculture yields this town never-ending crops, fruits and vegetables year round.
Despite having a smaller land area than its neighbours, this town is arguably one of the most aggressive in terms of tourism development, thanks to its internationally acclaimed tourism expert Sir Lax Mendoza, who brought the town’s tourism to what it is today. Sir Lax is the mastermind behind the remarkable improvement of its tourism sector. He enthusiastically narrated to us from the time he assumed the responsibility, to mobilizing the tourism grassroots level, to providing pragmatic and strategic thrusts in their plans and programs up to realizing step by step his significant tourism undertaking in his own town.
With the wisdom emanating from his thoughts and words, I wish I could spend more time with him and get to know more about his line of expertise. Sir Lax’s idea would not have been implemented if not without the support of the good local executive, Mayor Orlan Calayag, who warmly welcomed us during our exploration of his jurisdiction. Mayor Calayag explained to us where his heart in leadership is at and expressed the importance of an effective tourism approach and projects that would drive their economy.
With indeed a wide array of tourism destinations and experiences that Dolores can offer, let me highlight a dozen “must” try and experience. Here is the list:
Floating Huts at Kubli Farm, Arts and Nature Camp
Akin to its nomenclature, “Kubli” which translates to concealed – the nature camp mystically appears from view after minutes of driving through a quite rugged road surrounded by thick greeneries. Having its own lagoon within its perimeters features two floating huts you can rent and enjoy. The floating huts feature an A-Frame thatched roofing and curtain on both ends. You can have a mattress set up upon request if you wish to spend the night there.
Another striking feature of this Artsy Camp is the EARTH DOME. It features unique and contemporary designs from available items they have. The EARTH DOME features three astonishingly decorated rooms with a unique central staircase leading to its lofts. The exceptional element of this design is the natural ventilation flowing through, allowing naturally cool air to condition its interiors. The room has two wide bunk beds and mattresses at its loft and can comfortably fit ten guests.
Owned by partners – an artist and a chef – hence, the visual and gustatory experience is expected to be superb. Delight with their farm-to-table dishes while dining in their open-air halls overviewing the lagoon below. Try their 7 Sorrows Salad and Alagaw Salad. Enjoy high fibre, nutritious yet flavorful main dishes like their own version of Herbed Chicken, Aubergine Croquettes, and Buttered Fish Fillet served with Blue Rice and refresh your palate with tangy Passion Fruit Juice.
Address: Purok V, Barangay Dagatan, Dolores, Quezon
Mobile: SMART 0999-404-2422 / 0999-030-5188
Landline: (02) 8703-8425
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kublifarms
Farm Tour at Lukong Valley Farm
I will always remember Lukong Valley Farm because of its sweet purple Dragonfruits and the amazing villas perched atop a hill that features sweeping views of the farm below and the mountainous skyline. You can spend the night here and stay in its European-style two-story wooden cabins complete with private Toilet and Bath, private terrace, sleeping quarters and well-appointed living area.
The cabins are social media-worthy themselves, and most of the buildings there are made from wood, including furnishings and accents. It exudes a snugly and warm homey ambience wanting you to spend longer nights.
They have common halls that you can utilize if you have intimate events and gatherings while enjoying the view and the cool microclimate.
They have 100+ steps that lead to the plantation below, where you can meet also free-range chickens and cows.
Lukong Valley Farm also has a spacious hall where you can hold larger crowds.
Address: #1 Sitio Lukong, Barangay Pinagdanlayan, Dolores, Quezon
Landline: (042) 565-3333 / (042) 565 3101
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lukongvalleyfarm/
Understand Slow Food Practice plus Esoteric Experiences and Healing at Banahaw Circle Nature Retreat
Welcomed by one of the warmest voices I have ever listened to, Ms. Jeannie Javelosa, a celebrated visual artist, author-critic and expert curator, who heed the call of Mt. Banahaw to put up the Banahaw Circle Nature Retreat along with her two “sisters”, Annie Tangco of Bizu. They built, in phases, starting with the Nature Villa, a homey intimate bed and breakfast, and features well-curated known Philippine textile from the Cordilleras down to the Pisyabit of the Yakans, including her own works of art. More features and amenities will be soon available for guests and visitors.
Banahaw Circle is more than a bed and breakfast, but is a community that believes in what they believe in, as explained by Ms. Jeannie. Another highlight of the Banahaw Circle is esoteric activities, like meditation and yoga, that aim for healing the mind, body and soul. They are welcome with different faith and spiritual techniques and expertise to be performed inside their unique hall. If you believe in mysticism, this is the best place to be.
The Bed and Breakfast segments feature two experiences – the rooms at the wooden cabin – the rustic rooms of Nature Villa, and the Contemporary style Rooms designed from stones and concrete. They have a uniquely designed dining hall capable of fine dining service, while immersed with nature through its pocket gardens.
Aside from healing activities, they also introduce the way of the Slow Food Movement. In this fast-paced world, Slow Food is another way to help your body and spirit to recover and heal. This involves the ethical production of food that is approved by local traditional custodians. Introducing fresh locally sourced ingredients with the magic touch of Ms. Anne Tangco would be your day’s sustenance of nutritious yet exquisite meals. Banahaw Circle can be your corporate executives’ destination for strategic planning and teambuilding venue.
Address: 387 Holy Trinity Compound, Barangay Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/banahawcirclenatureretreat
Shop Local Food Products at PRIC-MPC and PMPC
Empowering tourism means empowering the locals. Dolores has two of the many beneficial cooperatives that are indeed active and truly a big help for the local farmers and producers. These two cooperatives have distinct products. PRIC-MPC focus on rhizome crops such as ginger and turmeric, turning them into healthy and quality instant teas.
PRIC-MPC also sells its own version of peanut brittle which is way better. It has chunkier peanuts in thicker caramel sheets.
Contact Pinagdanlayan Rural Improvement Club – Multipurpose Cooperative
Landline: (042) 565-6933
SMART 0907-778-8644 / 0950-162-7734
Pinagdanlayan Multipurpose Cooperative produces its own unique coffee line which is composed of a 70/30 ratio (Excelsa and Robusta). They sell in various sizes including drip-style brewed coffee for people on the go. Their coffee products are sold under the brand name Kape Danlayan, named after their barangay.
Mobile: 0930-352-1799 / 0998-953-3328
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KAPEDANLAYANbyPMPC
Enjoy Filipino Dining and Play Darts at Venue 501 Grill and Restobar
Managed by a 5 government employee team, they are able to strategically operate a resto-bar in its downtown area, right beside the gas station fronting the municipal hall grounds. It seems concealed by a structure, but the stairs leading to its level welcome you to a huge native hut style with wood accents and furnishings. Their menu is All Filipino cuisine and staples. Try their version of Chopsuey, Sinigang, Crispy Pata, Pinakbet and whole fried chicken. While waiting for your cravings to be served, try your bulls’ eye prowesses with their indoor Dartboard, or you can serenade your friends or family with their in-house videoke. You have also the choice to dine at their private huts outside the main dining hall and enjoy the experience with the cool fresh breeze.
While waiting for your meal to be served, you can try playing darts or singing your heart out with their videoke.
501 means the “on the dot” egress of clocking out after the usual morning shift.
Jacuzzi and infinity style pool in Wilmel’s Resort
Contrary to Dolores’ rural theme, Wilmel Resort offers contemporary accommodation featuring an infinity-style pool and jacuzzi for those tired bodies after a day’s worth of exploring the town. The resort features a two-story three-bedroom villa complete with kitchen amenities, a loft activity area and spacious living space. The ceiling is decorated with natural woven materials that add to a native house feel.
Each room has separate access doors leading to pocket doors eventually to the pool and jacuzzi area. The master bedroom features its own private toilet and bath. All bedrooms are fully airconditioned and pull-up curtains if you wish to enjoy natural light.
They have their citrus farm right beside where you can pick ripe ones as the resort’s guests. They have Tirante variety, grapefruits and rambutan, and all are at their fruiting age. This resort can be a venue for office team building and strategic planning meetings.
Mobile: +63 956 445 4249 (Globe)
+63 969 538 4770 (Smart)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/wilmelsfarmandresort/
Cheese and Wine and Western Style Garden DIning at Everyday Eden
Enjoy your late afternoon refreshment and dinner with the enticing western and Asian menu of Everyday Eden while in Dolores. Located on a spacious land full of mature greeneries, get to enjoy their al fresco cafe with the fresh cool breeze. You can poise yourself at its own standalone bar area or table sets located elsewhere in its garden area. Much of the spaces are illuminated with warm lighting and sophisticated chandeliers adding up to its charm.
The restaurant is a family-owned business that is managed by the matriarch and supported by her three skilled daughters. Being in the events business for three decades, they are able to put forth their creative executions to their very own posh and deluxe Everyday Eden restaurant.
With sustainability and unique branding in mind, they structured their menu that is different from nearby food businesses. The matriarch herself, Ms. Beth, is hands-on in kitchen operations and also in the continuing development of their recipes. Being a traveller as well, she introduced her favourite foreign recipes in their menu for her guests to try. The restaurant operates from Thursday to Sunday.
Everyday Even also caters to intimate events and is more than ready to customize its property to your liking. It is also recommended to slather on insect repellant lotion since of its open-air set-up.
OPERATING HOURS: Thursdays-Sundays 2:00PM to 9:00PM
Address: Urrea, Barangay Bungoy, Dolores, Quezon
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EverydayEdenLiving/
Camping at Latag’s by Vicente
Latag is one of the high-altitude camping sites in Dolores that features a treehouse accommodation overlooking its vegetable farm and open-air dining huts at the road level. Their property is dotted with colourful pocket gardens and a chance to encounter their ultra-friendly waggly tail pooch.
The Campsite is not yet connected to the power grid as of writing, however, they can run on batteries to support an intimate event if needed. Latag’s menu features a Filipino-style all-day breakfast within budget reason yet quality on taste.
My favourite spot at this campsite is the treehouse that has scenic views of the surrounding foothills of Mt. Banahaw. Often, the site gets shrouded in thick fog especially in the afternoon, thanks to its altitude. Latag’s by Vicente is the best destination for adventurers like me who wish to experience mother nature at its barest.
OPERATING HOURS: Open daily from (Store Operations) 7am-4pm
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LatagbyVicente
Recharge at Ritwal Wellness Camp
Ritwal is the newest camping ground as of writing in Dolores. Owned by an artist himself, Sir Raj, he designed Ritwal with plenty of open spaces to support events related to wellness, healing and other intimate events. The campsite features two huts named after the two towering mounts – Banahaw and Cristobal. The huts comfortably fit two guests, with a private balcony and private seats and a hammock right below. They allow their own tent pitching with a minimal fee.
In their dining service, they have a unique menu that features an all-day Pinoy breakfast that you can customize based on your preferences. Their open dining area has wifi connection if you need a quick digital connection during your vacation. Ritwal Wellness Camp is also ideal for groups who are into meditation, yoga or other esoteric practices.
The road leading to the camp is uphill and newly paved.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RitwalCamp
Address: Sitio Buntog, San Mateo, Dolores, Quezon
Visit the Our Lady of Dolores National Shrine
Being a Faith Tourist Zone, devotees and pilgrims can visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Dolores, the town’s patron and namesake. The church features a sizable front yard and ample parking space. The church grounds are located fronting the Dolores Public Market and its own tourism office.
From Manila, you can take Lucena bound buses from Cubao or Buendia and alight at Lalig, Tiaong. Charter a tricycle to your destination.
Alternatively, you can alight at San Pablo Public Market in Laguna and take the jeep bound to Dolores.
Public Utility Jeepney Schedule (as of posting)
From Dolores to San Pablo City:
First Trip: around 5:30AM
Last Trip: around 6:00PM
From San Pablo City to Dolores
First Trip: around 6:00AM
Last Trip: around 8:00PM
Note: Schedule may change without prior notice and only 12-13 Jeepneys ply this route.
Via Private Vehicle, take the SLEX and take toll exit to San Pablo. Landmark is Meralco where you can see the signage “TO DOLORES”.
Alternatively, you can use Waze or Google Maps.
DOLORES TOURISM OFFICE
The town of Dolores is truly mystically wonderfully and magical. Who would have known a quiet agricultural town would boast one of the most synergised tourism thrusts that certainly adds depth and meaning to one’s experience. The unspoken positive healing energy of Mt. Banahaw that earned its monicker and a steady stream of believers led Dolores to be truly a Faith and Wellness Tourist spot in the Philippines.
To better experience Dolores, contact their tourism office with the below contact details:
Landline: (042) 565-3124
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FaithAndWellnessTourism
Our heartfelt thanks to Sir Lax Mendoza and his team, the tourism officer, for inviting us in their lovely town. Thank you to Mayor Orlan Calayag (in black shirt)for the warm welcome.