Extraordinary Cavinti

A few weeks ago, this little known place in Laguna called Cavinti held its first organized trail race.  Until this race, I’ve never heard of this place.  And after this race, Cavinti is a place I won’t soon forget.

One of the spillways of Cavinti

The little known town of Cavinti is a third class municipality in the province of Laguna.  It is basically on the other side of Laguna de Bay from Metro Manila and is about a two to three hour drive.  Ironically, the popular tourist site Pagsanjan Falls is located within the municipality but is not usually associated with Cavinti.

My trip to this beautiful municipality started a day before most participants of the first Cavinti Adventure Road and Trail Marathon.  This race is organized by my good old friend, Prince Baltazar, and I joined the shuttle service he had to pick up the materials here in the Metro that would be transported to Cavinti.  Among the “commuters” were Rene “Jazz Runner,” who provided his wisdom with setting up the race and Z, who would be hosting the program proper.  It was Friday early morning.

The town hall of Cavinti
The Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic Church in Cavinti


The town proper was the first place my feet set upon in Cavinti.  A covered court, the town hall, and an old church are the prominent features of this place.  After a while we headed off to where the finish line would be, at Bumbungan EcoPark just about a kilometer away.

The entrance to Bumbungan EcoPark
The “would-be” site of the finish line of the race

Finally, we settled in into what would be our home in Cavinti, the Lagos Del Sol resort.  But we had a quick tour of Cavinti before we did as we visited another resort (which was fully booked due to the impending race).  Here I got to try for the first time a fruit they call katmon which was quite interesting with its lightly sour taste.

Lagos Del Sol resort is at least 11 kilometers away from Cavinti town proper, but it is an attraction in itself.  The resort lies in front of Caliraya Lake, one of the many lakes in the municipality.  In this resort you get to stay in big houses on stilts, each divided into two rooms which has a connecting door in between.  Our room has a twin and a single bed, television, refrigerator, a mini electric pitcher, and a toilet with hot showers.  It’s pretty decent and a bit charming but the smell tells you it had been unoccupied for quite a while.

The resort’s reception area
The accommodations
One of the neighbors
That’s the other neighbor
The gang over lunch
Dig in! 😀

One of the most noticeable traits of Cavinti is its weather—it’s cool and windy weather!  The temperature is unexpectedly cool and the wind is similar to those we encounter during strong typhoons.  We know that there aren’t any storms in the country at the time so it seems these winds are normal, so maybe this could be a good spot for wind turbines.  These winds combined with the cool temperature makes it feel much like you’re in Baguio.

A bench under a tree with Caliraya Lake on the background
Panoramic view of the resort from our balcony

Cavinti Adventure Road and Trail Marathon

Saturday morning.  A drizzly, windy, and cool one.  I admit it was very difficult to get up and you just want to sleep!  But the clock is ticking, and the race is not going to wait for us.  And so we’re off to the Cavinti town proper.

Hydration for the race: all of which are alkaline water

Runners were slowly arriving at the town proper when we arrived, and before you know it, the covered court was packed!

Runners eagerly awaiting the start of the race at the covered court of the town proper

Just minutes before the 42K gun start, something unexpected happened—brownout!  For no apparent reason the town proper just lost its electricity.  Suddenly we were all engulfed in darkness.  And at this time of the year, sunlight don’t come early.  And so we had to wait.

Nothing but headlights to give illumination

Eventually, the 42K leg coincided with the start of the 21K.  The sun hasn’t yet risen, but the light of dawn is slowly making the roads visible.

Early part of the race

I originally intended to run the full marathon distance of the event, but I had to settle for the half on the last minute.  I’ve not had any marathon distance race this year, and I was concerned that I may take too long to finish one due to lack of training.  I don’t mind sightseeing, but I don’t want to get hungry on the trails. 😀

The first several kilometers of my 21K race were roads, but they’re hardly boring.  The route that we were taking was just beautiful.  Add to that the cool weather, the winds, and the drizzle, and running was just really pleasant.  I think everyone who were running that time would agree that it was so much fun!

And then, we had this view…

Panoramic view of Lumot Mahipon Lake

It’s not so often that you run alongside a lake!

Eventually, we took a right turn into the trails.  And then the fun began.  It was a mud fest!  There’s just mud everywhere, the type that’s slippery and also very sticky.  It feels like it wants to eat your shoes!  Luckily, I came relatively unscathed with all the mud.  But unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to take some shots as my hands were always muddy.  Good thing the Running Photographers were there to take our pictures!

Look how muddy my shoes were!
(Courtesy Running Photographers)

One of the interesting features of this race is the fresh coconut juice being served along the route.  Coconuts were cracked open as runners arrived and it took quite some time so I didn’t have the pleasure of having one.  There also weren’t that many that only a minority would enjoy it, but nonetheless the gesture was nice and greatly appreciated by those who had one.  It’s an entire coconut per runner for crying out loud!

A carabao by the road
A different view of the lake

The mud were fun while it lasted.  Eventually we were back on paved roads.  Just as I thought I’ve seen it all as we were back to the roads we took, things turned out for the better.  We had a detour from the roads and, while it’s still paved, we were shown new vistas.

Panoramic view of a part of the route with the lake in the background

The return to the finish line was quite a fun one—it was mostly downhill!  The drizzle and the wind didn’t stop so despite being more than two-thirds of the way done, I can hardly feel any fatigue.  It was just a perfect day to go out and run on some scenic routes.

Downhill, woohoo! 😀
My shoes were submerged in mud, but eventually, most of it fell off when I got back on paved roads
I took the previous shot just before crossing this
Let’s have a rinse
Voila! 😀
And then an uphill greeted us right after crossing the spillway
This picture did not do the view any justice, but in reality it kind of remind me of Baguio sceneries

Running really is one of the best ways to get to know a place better.  If I wasn’t running I wouldn’t have realized that we were running alongside a cemetery, and even the “houses” I saw in some part of the highway were actually mausoleums!  Talk about cemeteries in prime locations!

Eventually, we were right back where we started.  That was where the 21K mark was for me according to my Soleus Fit 1.0 GPS watch.  The finish line is at Bumbungan EcoPark about a kilometer away—so I got some extra mileage!

Crossing the finish line
(Courtesy Running Photographers)

Cavinti Adventure Road and Trail Marathon has one of the most unique finish lines in any race you can ever find!  The race ends in a spillway!  A perfect way to end a trail run as you can also get to rinse your muddy shoes outright.  You can also take a dip to cool yourself (not that it’s needed as the weather then was cool).  Where else can you find such an ending?

The finish line, just as I crossed
This is something that you can only do in Cavinti: taking a dip just after the finish line!  Caught taking a picture of…
…this! 😀
View from the finish line area

After the race, finishers were treated to a finisher’s shirt, medal, and some breakfast.  Prizes were also given off via raffle, but I wasn’t so lucky to win any. 😛

Complimentary breakfast
The 21K + 1 route 🙂

Cavinti Adventure Road and Trail Marathon has some of the best trail routes I’ve ever seen and we were fortunate to be blessed with a great weather.  The sceneries were just beautiful and the mud was just fun!  There were places that you can easily get lost but overall I really, really liked it!  And apparently, I’m not alone as many runners were also looking forward to returning to Cavinti next year should a sequel arise!  I give it my two muddy thumbs up!

Next time, let’s do the full! 😀
(Courtesy Running Photographers)

But Wait!  There’s More!

Our adventure in Cavinti didn’t end with the race.  There’s still one more that Cavinti has in store for us.  Because everyone was busy with the race, we were stuck in Bumbungan EcoPark for much longer than we wanted.  Despite being so hungry, we don’t really have any means to get back in our resort, there aren’t any food in the vicinity, and we don’t have any money even if there is as we left our wallets in our room at the resort!  It was quite a predicament we got ourselves into.

Thankfully, Price was able to call for a tricycle to shuttle us back to the resort.  That’s at least 10 kilometers.  In a tricycle.  It’s no biggie, but it’s dreadfully slow for hungry folks.  Our problem was not only were we hungry, we were also cashless!  Our resort is some 11 kilometers away from the town proper and public transportation in the area is quite trivial.  We can only pay for our tricycle service once we’re back in the resort, once we’re back we don’t have any means of going out to eat!  And there’s no guarantee that the resort have any food for sale.

We were discussing our situation as we cruise along the road and what we can come up isn’t really practical: go back to the resort, have our tricycle wait, get our money, go back out to eat while having our tricycle wait again, and finally have our tricycle return us to our resort.  It’s tiring just thinking about it!  But then there’s plan B.

Apparently our tricycle driver heard our “plan B” and he actually brought it up to us, to our huge surprise!  Plan B actually involves us borrowing money from our driver to pay for food that we could find along the way to our resort, and paying it in full including the transport costs ultimately at the resort.  It’s crazy but it’s practical, and our driver actually agreed!  He’s actually the one who mentioned that he’d lend us the money so that we can eat!  Just amazing!  I don’t think we can get away with this anywhere else.  This just shows how hospitable and kind hearted the people of Cavinti are.

With our monetary constraints out of the way, our driver took us to this quaint little eatery along the road.  Our driver even told us he’s willing to wait for us to finish so that we can just eat there and not take our food to the resort.  Just unbelievable.  It just brings back your faith in humanity.

Moving on, it was already way past lunchtime then so there were only two viands available: chicken adobo and caldereta.  Caldereta made of carabao meat!  Curious, curious, curious!  We were so hungry that we didn’t gave it much thought and had an order of each.

I don’t know if it was the hunger talking but everything was just delicious!  I had never eaten carabao meat, but I really liked it.  Personally, I think its taste and texture is similar to that of beef.  And in just a few minutes, we’re done!  We also bought some ₱1 snacks for munching in our resort.

To cut the story short, we got back to our resort safely, paid our dues, and had a nice warm bath thereafter.  Our tricycle driver was godsend! 😀

Later that afternoon, the rest of the gang followed to raid our room, had some very nice chitchats, and enjoyed the windy cool weather.  That night, we were back at the town proper for dinner before we were off back to Manila.

* * *

I would like to congratulate my friend, Prince, and the rest of his crew for a very successful event and a job well done!  You have successfully introduced us to the natural beauty of Cavinti and gave us a fun trail run in the process.  We’re all looking forward to running again next year!  Thank you as well for the accommodation!

To all the finishers of Cavinti Adventure Road and Trail Marathon, regardless of the distance, Congratulations!

Finally, to our tricycle driver, thank you very much for the kindness!  What you did for us was just unbelievable!  It really does restore your belief in the kindness in people’s hearts and may there be more people in the world like you.

I may have only known Cavinti for a short time.  I may have only stayed a while.  But I shall not forget all the fond memories and new friends I made in Cavinti.  Thank you very much!  I hope to see more of you next time!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bobby Oliveros mesina says:

    Well said, see you next year.


🎙 Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s