Kinabuhayan Cafe ran out of the Viaje map so we relied on Jay's directions on how to get to Ugu Bigyan's
"...turn left to the highway, left again to the diversion road, drive pass the market and railroad, turn left at the old bank and left again after the basketball court. You'll see a red brick house, can't miss it."
Did I mention that we had no idea how to get to every destination in our itinerary? We were relying on information gathered from the internet, road signs and the handy EZ map. I was staring at the EZ map so intently you'd think that it had the secrets of the universe.
The sight of a red brick house greeted us upon turning left from the main street.
A vast garden landscape compound is filled with pottery clay, cabanas, a guest room, furniture, furnishing and music. Definitely not the messy brick workshop I had in mind. Meals are served at his garden.
Augusto "Ugu" Bigyan, the ceramic artist opens his home/workshop for people to appreciate his creations; both culinary and clay. His works are often found in luxurious hotels and resorts. The pieces are pricey but if you buy during his birthday or in bulk, you may enjoy certain discounts.
Too bad we were not able to try the food, they require a minimum of 5 people for lunch reservations.
Things to watch out for: Red brick house, pottery pieces, workshop
Details from Viaje's Map:
Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden
490 Alvarez Village , Brgy Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon
Call + 63(42)545-9144
Directions: From Manila, head towards the end of South Express Way and take the second to the last exit going to Batangas. Take the road going to bicol heading towards Tiaong, Quezon. This is about 90-120 minutes drive. After San Pablo, Laguna, you will arrive in Tiaong, Quezon. Drive past the Tiaong public market and watch for the Tiaong Elementary School. Five minutes from the school, watch for a sign pointing to Lusacan National high school, to your left. Turn left on the road near the sign. Follow the road and turn left on Alvarez Village. The house is the red clay house to your left.
We decided to move on to our final stop for the day before sunset.
Sitio de Amor requires prior reservations even for day trips, so during the planning session, I managed to speak to the owner, Amor Bondad. A very nice accommodating lady who answered my questions patiently as I made my reservation.
Driving along the highway, we realized that we didn't have the information on how to get to Sitio. Thank goodness we had the contact number stored. I managed to get a hold of Jorge Bondad, who navigated via mobile phone. "....from Villa escudero go straight until you see Hardin ni San (I forgot)... then turn right into the private road. You'll see the entrance gate at the end of that road."
Jorge met us as soon as we got out of the car. "Kayo ba yung tumawag na galing Ugu?" I nodded in response.
He took us around the vicinity, explaining that most of the fixtures in Sitio de Amor are antiques from his old home. "Wow, almost all your fixtures are antiques!" I exclaimed. "Antique na din kasi yung may ari" He replied laughing.
"Behind this guest room is the man made lagoon..." Lagoon?? Sneaking a peek over the railing and there it was, an oasis. Visitors may take a dip and be soothe the hush sound of water flowing into the lagoon from the Balanga River.
Sitio de amore is a 4.5 hectar lush orchard expertly landscaped by Igorots. The place is ideal for intimate functions and a great place to stay for a weekend getaway. We wanted to see the rooms but they were completely booked. We did however, managed to sneak a peak at the new tree house. The treehouse may be rented at Php 10,000.00 a night, has one bedroom which can accommodate 4 people, a huge dining area, a jacuzzi and a sitting area. Add 500.00 for extra person.
Sitio de Amor is the perfect place to unwind, lie on the hammock and let the day pass. Walk around the vast area, swim, enjoy the bonfire at night or just simply appreciate nature. They also offer horse back riding and massage upon advance request.
I have been craving for rambutan and was hoping that there would be some in Sitio. Rambutan trees along with others lined the orchard and most had green rambutan fruits on them. "ay hilaw pa" I thought. To my surprise, Jorge instructed one of the gardeners to get some ripe rambutan for us to try and take home. The luscious spickey red fruits were sweet and juicy. It was definitely a treat for me. We were also lucky enough to be provided with the coveted Viaje del Sol map.
No wonder people have been raving about this place. A must see stop when doing Viaje del Sol.
Things to watch out for: Lagoon, Treehouse, Owls, Rambutan.
Sitio de Amor
Km 88.8 Maharlika Highway
Brgy. San Antonio 1
San Pablo City, Laguna
100.00/ head Entrance fee for Day trip without meals
600.00/ head for buffet lunch, minimum of 5 people.