Fresh air. Beautiful views. Top-notch resorts. These are words that come to mind when one thinks about Laguna. The province definitely delivers. It’s a popular destination for international and domestic tourists. It’s also seeing steady population growth, with more people moving to Laguna to get away from the hustle and bustle of the country’s capital.
Laguna has a total land area of 1,917.85 square kilometers, divided into six component cities and 24 municipalities. It has 681 barangays overall. This province is home to over 3,382,193 people, according to the 2020 Census figures.
Laguna is located southeast of Metro Manila. It’s bounded by Rizal, Quezon, Batangas, and Cavite. Its coastal towns are situated along the Laguna de Bay, which the province is named after.
This province is known for its historical significance during the eras of foreign occupation. Laguna is the home province of the Philippines’ national hero. It’s also the site of revolts against Spanish and American oppressors. The events of these battles are immortalized in museums and shrines across the province.
Laguna’s economy just keeps getting stronger and more diverse. It ranks fourth in the competitiveness rankings of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This province used to rely solely on agriculture and aquaculture for income. Throughout the decades, it’s become an industrial powerhouse.
The province’s residential real estate industry is also booming. Developers like Ayala Land, Vista Land, Greenfield Development Corp, and Eton Properties Philippines invest heavily in Laguna. They fill the high demand for housing as workers from all over Luzon flock to industrial towns like Santa Rosa and Calamba for work.
The properties in Laguna aren’t just for people looking to work in the province. It’s also becoming popular among property seekers who work in Manila. The towns of San Pedro, Biñan, and Santa Rosa are less than 60 kilometers away from the capital.
Roads like the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX), and Metro Manila Skyway make it easy to commute to and from Manila. It takes just an hour to drive from Santa Rosa to the City of Makati on a good day.
Laguna is the perfect place for people who want to experience the benefits of provincial living without straying too far from the Metro. It’s no wonder that it’s become a popular destination on Lamudi for property seekers on the hunt for their forever home.
The Resort Capital
Laguna is known for being the “Resort Capital of the Philippines.” It’s home to hundreds of hot springs and beach resorts. Most of them are in more rural towns like Los Baños and Calamba. The springs come from Mt. Makiling, one of Laguna’s dormant volcanoes. Its magma heats the rocks beneath the springs, making the water warm and relaxing to bathe in.
The Los Baños springs were discovered by Franciscan Friars back in the late 1500s. They turned it into public bathhouses for visitors and sick patients. Popular patrons of these hot springs were historical figures Jose Rizal and Apolinario Mabini. Now, the springs are popular vacation spots for domestic and international tourists.
Hometown of Heroes and Artists
This province is also home to renowned revolutionaries and artists in the country. The City of Calamba is the birthplace of the Philippines’ national hero: Jose Rizal. He became one of the leaders of the anti-colonial movement in the country, which eventually led to the Philippine Revolution. Residents of Laguna, especially those in Los Baños, Santa Cruz, and Magdalena, joined the revolt against Spanish misrule.
Laguna is also a major contributor to the country’s arts and culture. The town of Paete is known for its wood carving industry. Artisans in the area create everything from intricate and detailed miniatures to large, grandiose wooden statues. Most of these sculptures depict life in the province or images of religious figures.
Laguna has a primarily agricultural economy. However, the province has branched out to different industries in recent decades, like manufacturing, food processing, retail, and tourism. The diversification of Laguna’s economy is thanks to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), which was launched in the 1980s.
The SLEX provides quick and direct access to different towns in Laguna, from Quezon Province, Batangas, Cavite, and Metro Manila. This road makes it easy to deliver equipment and materials to and from the area. Commuting to this province from different parts of Luzon is also more accessible than ever because of the SLEX.
MORE ABOUT LAGUNA
Laguna ranks fourth in the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) provincial rankings. Its high placement is thanks to the province’s dynamic economy, updated infrastructure, and efficient government.
Booming Manufacturing Industry
Laguna is a haven for manufacturers and food processing companies. Special economic zones in the province make it easy for manufacturers to do business through various tax and importation incentives. In turn, the companies provide vast employment opportunities to Laguna’s residents.
This province is also known as the “Detroit” of the Philippines because it’s home to automotive manufacturing companies, like:
- Toyota Motor Philippines
- Laguna Autoparts Manufacturing Corporation
- Enkei Philippines, Inc.
- Furukawa Electric Autoparts Philippines Incorporated
- Honda Parts Manufacturing Corp.
- Denso Philippines Corporation
These plants are spread across towns like Santa Rosa, Biñan, and Calamba. Some of them enjoy incentives from economic zones like the Greenfield Autopark and Toyota Special Economic Zone.
Laguna is also known for its electronics manufacturing sector, thanks to the Laguna Technopark. This special economic zone started development in 1989 to answer the government’s call to invest in provinces like Laguna. It originally covered 2.24 square kilometers of land in Santa Rosa and Biñan.
Now, the Laguna Technopark is 4.6 square kilometers strong, with over eight phases. It’s home to 239 light and medium enterprises in different specializations, like electronics, automotive manufacturing, consumer goods, food processing, and pharmaceuticals.
This economic zone’s tenants enjoy incentives, like tax breaks and duty-free equipment and material imports. They also have access to highway-grade concrete roads and a fiber-optic telecommunication network. The Laguna Technopark also offers amenities like round-the-clock security, banking facilities, a multi-purpose hall, and transport terminals for workers.
Rich Agricultural Sector
Laguna is, at its roots, an agricultural province. Its towns produce a diverse array of crops, processed food, fresh meat, poultry, and fish.
The province’s top export is rice. Over 309 square kilometers of land in Laguna is dedicated to rice cultivation. Towns like Los Baños are home to rice research facilities, like the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). This organization provides local farmers with tools to improve crop management, pest prevention, efficient rice breeding techniques, and disaster and risk mitigation.
Livestock and poultry farms are scattered across the province. Towns like Cavinti, Cabuyao, and San Pablo are known for their goat, carabao, duck, chicken, and swine products. Municipalities and cities along the Laguna de Bay have access to over 900 kilometers of fishing ground. Tilapia and carp are the main species that the province exports.
Laguna is a key player in the Philippines’ tourism and hospitality industry — even amid a worldwide pandemic, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). The province is home to eco-tourism spots like tree-lined parks, lakes, hiking trails, hills, waterfalls, and volcanoes. Popular destinations include:
- Pagsanjan Falls
- Cavinti Underground River
- Laguna Volcanic Field
- Crocodile Park
- Hulugan Falls
Laguna’s man-made tourist spots are also quite popular. The most significant one is the Rizal Shrine in Calamba. It is the ancestral home of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. The shrine contains exact copies of Rizal’s illustrations and writings while growing up in the area.
FUTURE PROJECTS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
South Luzon Expressway (SLEX)
The South Luzon Expressway connects Metro Manila to different provinces in the CALABARZON region. It has a total length of 46.9 kilometers, from Magallanes Interchange in Makati to Santo Tomas, Batangas. This road has exits to different towns in Laguna, like San Pedro, Biñan, Santa Rosa, and Calamba.
The SLEX had a significant influence on Laguna’s economic growth and diversification. Agriculture used to be the primary source of income for municipalities like Santa Rosa and Biñan. When the SLEX extended to these towns in the 1980s, manufacturing and food processing companies started moving their plants south.
Santa Rosa is now an industrial powerhouse, home to factories from prominent brands like Coca-Cola, Monde-Nissin, Magnolia, Toyota, and Hyundai. Employment opportunities in these companies continue to attract workers from all over the country. As such, the real estate industry in the area also grew rapidly throughout the decades.
Laguna Lakeshore Road Network (LLRN)
The LLRN is a proposed road project that stretches from Taguig in Metro Manila to Calamba. It’s a 37-kilometer highway with over eight junctions in Bicutan, Sucat, Alabang, Tunasan, San Pedro, Santa Rosa, Cabuyao, and Calamba.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) stated that the PhP 116.27 billion LLRN would offer a safe and fast alternative to motorists looking to travel south. The agency also aims to revitalize the economies of the road’s surrounding areas, which include towns in Batangas, Quezon, Rizal, and Laguna.
Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX)
The CALAX is a partially operational expressway between the provinces of Laguna and Cavite. Its purpose is to relieve congestion from major road networks like the Santa Rosa – Tagaytay Road, Aguinaldo Highway, and Governor’s Drive. These roads consistently get heavy traffic, as they lead to commercial centers in Cavite and Laguna.
CALAX is a 44.63-square meter tolled expressway with four lanes. This PhP 35.43 billion road project stretches from the CAVITEX toll gate in Kawit, Cavite to the SLEX-Malampasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna. It has nine interchanges, which are located in a toll barrier before the SLEX, the Laguna Technopark, Laguna Boulevard, Santa Rosa – Tagaytay Road, Silang, Aguinaldo Highway, Governor’s Drive, Daang Hari, and Kawit.
PIT STOPS IN BATANGAS
Laguna has modern lifestyle malls that residents and visitors frequent for everything, from errands to family bonding activities. They offer comprehensive department and grocery stores, a wide selection of retail shops and restaurants, and various service providers. The province is home to the following shopping centers:
- Pavilion Mall
- Southwoods Mall
- Victory Central Mall
- Centtro Mall
- Ayala Malls Solenad
- Robinsons Galleria South
- Checkpoint Mall
- Metro Central Mall
- Areza Mall and Shopping Complex
Laguna is home to top-notch educational institutions. Parents can rest easy knowing their kids get quality education, from pre-school to college. Here are some of the prestigious schools in the area:
- University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB)
- National University – Laguna
- Lyceum of the Philippines University – Laguna
- Malayan Colleges Laguna
- Laguna University
- Laguna State Polytechnic University
- University of the East – Laguna Campus
- University of Santo Tomas – Santa Rosa Campus
- Laguna College
Laguna hosts many excellent hospitals which provide proper healthcare to the province’s residents. Here are some of the highly-rated medical centers in the area:
- St. James Hospital
- Westlake Medical Center
- Healthserv Los Baños Medical Center
- SPC Medical Center
- Evangelista Medical Specialty Hospital
- Global Medical Center of Laguna
- Los Baños Doctors Hospital
- Calamba Doctors Hospital
- Calamba Medical Center
Laguna’s food scene continues to grow as new restaurants with fresh concepts pop up in the area to feed hungry locals and tourists. They offer everything, from traditional Filipino favorites to sumptuous dishes with imported ingredients. Great food places in the province include:
- Sulyap Gallery Café and Restaurant
- Patis Tito Garden Café
- The Pigpen
- The Morning After Restaurant
- Nonna’s Pasta & Pizzeria
- Kamayan sa Palaisdaan
- Faustina’s Restaurant
HOW TO MOVE AROUND IN LAGUNA
Laguna’s residents have access to a wide range of transportation options. They can get to different municipalities and cities in the province by jeepney. When it comes to transportation within residential subdivisions, tricycles remain supreme. They provide fast and affordable rides for residents traveling to and from their subdivision gates.
UV Express shuttle vans are also popular among professionals who want to get to Metro Manila. Buses are readily available along the main roads of Laguna. They offer rides to neighboring provinces and different parts of Metro Manila. Many buses in the area stop and park in the Santa Rosa Integrated Terminal (SRIT).
WHAT TO DO IN LAGUNA
Take a Dip
Laguna is called the resort capital of the Philippines for a good reason. It’s filled with hot springs, water spas, and pools. Residents have a wide array of resorts to choose from. There are affordable public pools for people on a tight budget. These include:
- Monte Vista Hotsprings & Conference Resort
- Laguna Hot Spring
- R Lapid’s Resortel
- Spring Forest Resort
- Hidden Valley Spring
Laguna is also home to upscale private resorts, great for people looking for amenities like premium cottages and in-house restaurants and bars. Such establishments include:
- The Cliffhouse Laguna
- Arabella Private Villas
- Casa Tropica
- California Beach Pansol
- Sol Y Viento Mountain Hot Spring Resort
There are also spots for people looking for a swimming experience like no other. Among those destinations is the famous Pagsanjan Falls in Cavinti. Getting to this natural wonder is an adventure in itself. Guests have to go on a river trip on a canoe from the town of Pagsanjan. They have to brave the rapids before reaching the waterfall. People can also access this place by hiking from Cavinti.
Go Back in Time
This province has a lot of historical significance, which one can easily see through the various shrines, monuments, museums, and churches scattered throughout its 30 towns.
Historical Marker of the Battle of Sambat in Pagsanjan
Its inscription chronicles one of the earliest battles of Laguna’s revolutionists, led by Severino Taiño, against the Spanish colony.
Pila Heritage Site
This town center, located in Barangay Santa Clara Norte, preserves old homes built with American and Spanish-era architecture. It was laid out using the Spanish Colonial Town Planning System for Filipino residents.
Apart from admiring the home designs of a bygone era, visitors can also check out the Pila Museum. This stone structure showcases artifacts, like pre-Spanish era jugs, appliances, and plates dug from the 1967 archaeological excavations in Pila.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
Built in 1845, this unique cemetery features an underground crypt with a vaulted ceiling and grilled windows. This is where the town’s elite was buried at the time. During the revolutions and wars against Spain, the United States, and Japan, this cemetery served as a meeting place and hideout for Filipino revolutionaries.
Visit the Wizard’s Palace
The Enchanted Kingdom is one of the most popular attractions in Laguna. This amusement park, also known as “EK,” is a 25-hectare complex with over 30 attractions. EK offers visitors an escape from their everyday lives with its fantasy-themed design and epic rides. Its most popular ones include the Space Shuttle, a high-octane roller coaster, and the Wheel of Fate, a 39.62-meter high Ferris wheel.
Enchanted Kingdom has continued to expand its attractions since it opened in 1995. Its ten-year plan, laid out in 2016, includes the redevelopment of the existing park areas. It also has plans to add new zones, a water park, a convention center, and a lifestyle center.
Bring Home Sweet Pastries
Laguna is home to famous bakeries, like The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop in Los Baños. This delicacy is sought after by visitors looking for the quintessential Laguna “pasalubong.” Locals are lucky to have quick and easy access to this bakery.
Another popular bakeshop in the area is Mer-Nel’s Cake House, which produces decadent yema-filled chocolate cakes. These goodies are perfect for all kinds of celebrations, from birthdays to anniversaries.
The name Los Baños translates to “The Baths.” It’s home to thermal springs that flow from the base of Mt. Makiling. Its waters are piped to the hot spring baths of various resorts and hotels in the area.
Los Baños was proclaimed as the Special Science and Nature Center of the country in the mid-2000s. This is because of its importance to the Philippines’ agricultural sciences community. This town is known as the home of various agriculture and forestry research centers, like:
- UPLB Philippine Carabao Center
- UPLB Dairy Training and Research Institute (DTRI)
- International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Biodiversity
- Philippine Rice Research Institute
This town is perfect for people who want to escape the city and settle near nature. The houses in the area are tucked away from the main road, often located in developments like Makiling Subdivision and Marymount subdivisions.
There aren’t as many high-rise buildings in the area compared to other cities and municipalities. So, residents get uninterrupted views of the beautiful mountains and plains of Los Baños.
People looking for a more urban living experience should consider Santa Rosa. This is a first-class component city with a flourishing industrial economy. It’s home to various special economic zones that make it easy and convenient for businesses to open and operate in the city. These zones also provide many job opportunities for Santa Rosa’s growing population.
This town is also home to upscale malls and business centers. A popular destination in the area is Nuvali, a 2,400-hectare mixed-use development by Ayala Land. It’s the site of shopping centers like Ayala Solenad, prestigious schools like Xavier School Nuvali, and outdoor recreational spaces like mountain bike trails and wildlife sanctuaries.
Other mixed-use complexes in the city include Eton City and Greenfield City. Like Nuvali, these primarily comprise residential subdivisions, office buildings, and shopping malls.
This city is the richest town in Laguna. It also ranks fifth in the Department of Trade and Industry’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index. These achievements are thanks to Calamba’s dynamic economy, updated infrastructure, and efficient government.
Calamba is home to various industrial parks, which manufacturing and food processing plants inhabit. These include Zenith Foods Corp., Zest-O Corporation, Samsung Electronics Philippines, Fuji Electric Philippines, and Toshiba Storage Device Philippines, Inc.
This city is also considered a “Next Wave City” for business process outsourcing (BPO) because of its modern internet infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce. BPO firms like Accenture and SPi Technologies have branches in Calamba.
Calamba has a rich heritage, as it’s home to the Rizal Shrine. It’s also the site of St. John the Baptist Parish, a church built in the late 1700s. There’s also the Matang Tubig cold spring, which was built in the mid-1900s.