What if you’re in a high-pressure job where you and your work buddies have finally scheduled two days off simultaneously so you can all go out of town to blow off some steam? The urgent question is, where do you go?
If you’re working in Metro Manila, there are just a few places that’s just within two hours travel time where you can be sure to rent a guest house for an overnight stay, even without reservations or advanced notice. That’s at Pansol, at the foot of Mount Makiling near Los Baños, Laguna.
You could go to other provinces: Bulacan, Rizal (e.g., Antipolo), Cavite, or even Batangas, but at these other places, you’d need to have a very sure reservation or else risk the chance of being turned away with only a small chance of finding a nearby alternate place to stay.
The nice thing about Pansol, aside from its proximity to Metro Manila, is that there are several dozens of guest houses for rent, many of them situated side by side in multiple subdivisions or side roads near the main highway. All of these have yard-sized swimming pools filled with either lukewarm to nearly scalding water from the numerous hot springs in the area.
It’s still a good idea to check out the guest houses ahead of time (some have websites) to see which one fits your budget, your schedule, and has the facilities you like… but the good news is, at Pansol, it isn’t really necessary. There are so many guest houses available that there’s a very big chance you could just go there with all your gear and just spend less than half an hour searching for an available house with the amenities you like at an affordable rate. The rates are variable but you could get an overnight stay between P5,000 to P10,000 (some are more expensive). It depends on the size and capacity of the particular guest house available and the range of facilities.
You don’t even need to have your own car or rent a special ride because it’s cheap and easy to just get on one of the Los Baños buses and get dropped off at one of the subdivisions in Pansol. Then just ask some of the locals if they know which houses are available for rent. A few minutes of scouting and negotiating is enough to set you up for a 12-, 24-, or 48-hour stay. Just bear in mind that many guest houses are fully booked during weekends so there are more choices available during weekdays.
Regarding food, you could order take-out meals from nearby restaurants, pay for a catered supper to be delivered, or cook your own with supplies you can buy from a nearby grocery or supermarket. Most guest houses have a refrigerator, a sink, gas ranges, and cooking utensils for vacationers to use. Guest just bring or purchase some disposable plates, cups, utensils, and condiments since they’re not planning on staying more than two days.
So if your group wants to engage in a spur-of-the-moment break from work with team building activities away from the rest of the world, sixty to eighty percent of the time, it will be at Pansol. The guest houses there usually have three to five bedrooms, showers and comfort rooms, a common cooking and dining area, and a recreation area equipped with a videoke set at high sound volume.
Usually, guests want to spend hours soaking in the warm spring waters, getting out from time to time for a bite to eat or to belt out a few songs or play some parlor games. It wouldn’t matter also if it’s sunny or raining heavily while at Pansol because most of the time you’d be wearing swimsuits or sportswear anyway. Even at the height of the rainy season, it’s going to be more fun soaking in the warm swimming pools during the heaviest downpour.
If for some reason you can’t rent a private guest house, there are also bigger resorts where you could share a large swimming pool with other patrons, thus with lesser privacy. It’s very cheap and easy to just spend three to six hours at such a resort (usually at P200 to P400 per person), and it’s usually not crowded after sundown.
If you’re on your way home to Metro Manila from some other destination much farther away, you could just stop by for a few hours swimming at Pansol before you take the homestretch drive back to the big city. There’s no extra planning needed.
So, how about going off to Pansol this coming weekend?
By Selwyn Clyde M. Alojipan