Los Banos is a city, a resort and university town, in Laguna, located south of Metro Manila, across a large lake. It is 63 km from Manila and is a popular weekend destination for residents. The 2015 census showed a population of 112,000.
Los Baños is Spanish for "the baths"; the city takes its name from the thermal springs at the foot of Mount Makiling, a dormant volcano located just south of town. As early as 1595, a building was constructed to serve as shelter for the patients who came to seek cures for their ailments at the hot springs. The springs are still an attraction and many of the better class of hotels in town include bathing areas.
Though Los Baños is considered a municipality for administrative and political purposes, it has been considered a city for travel purposes. Los Baños has significantly grown as a satellite community of adjacent Calamba. The town has been a center of learning since the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA) was established there in 1909. Various other Filipino and international institutions followed. Although Los Baños is a small town, it now has the largest scientific community in Southeast Asia, and their achievements, particularly in the study of agriculture, have been a source of local pride and worldwide note.
Once you get down from your bus or Jeepney at crossing, Los Banos, you can take a walk from Jollibee to Robinson Shopping Mall, it's just about 20 meters opposite each other and if you go further, there's a nice Aglipayan Church next to Bangkal street where once upon a time, a beautiful young lady named Maria who lives at a foothills of the mountain used to pray quietly at the church in the evening. One day While gathering wild mushrooms, Maria accidentally met a young son of a prominent family from Barrio Mayondon, Los Banos whose parents lived in a distant southern part of Laguna de bay. He was lost while climbing the mountain to search for orchids and fungus. The handsome young man fell in loved with Maria and a whirlwind romance begun.
Secretly the young man would sneak by night towards the mountainside and meet her. Before he left, he promised to return and marry her. She waited for him, pregnant and bore a son, she defied all odds, expecting him to return soon however, her son grew day by day but never to see him return. The prominent young man's uncles and aunts found out and decided to breakup the relationship by evicting Maria from the side of the mountain. Mysteriously she left and not to be seen for years but one day, the young man now a fully grown gentleman searched for her in the mountain and found her with a fair and cheerful son, tears from Maria's enchanting eyes shocked the earth of the mountain while wild animals can be heard growling for miles as if there was a celebration in the middle of the night. He proposed her for marriage but his relatives succeeded in bribing the church priest so that he would not be allowed a wedding because they argued that Maria was unclean to face the altar. Maria begged to the priest but to no avail, frustrated, they went to the town mayor's office and their wish was granted with a simple wedding and later vanished on the foothills of the mountain.
The Church priest was not aware Maria was actually Maria Makiling and if the priest did allow them the wedding, the walls of the Aglipayan church would have been turned into gold. The town mayor was rewarded by Maria and he retired quietly but unknown to the locals, he buried a huge amount of gold somewhere at the peak of Mount Makiling. The prominent son was never to be found again but local folks believed that they both have two sons Banahaw and Taal and they lived happily ever after.
Maria Makiling is a local folklore and character in Philippine mythology who is said to be a diwata, (equivalent of a fairy or goddess). She inhabits Mount Makiling in Laguna province, and protects the animals and plants of the mountain from those who would harm or defile it. Folklore usually portrays her as kind and generous towards human beings, giving them gifts and blessings. But when she is provoked to anger by the greed or cruelty of humans, she withdraws her favors and/or dispenses frightening punishments.
Her true name is not known; she is simply called "Maria Makiling" because "Maria" is a generic name for a woman, and "makiling" (crooked/uneven) refers to the mountain. Some say that "Maria Makiling" is the Spanish-era name of Dian Masalanta, the ancient Tagalog goddess of love, pregnancy and childbirth.
Take the HM Bus Liner at EDSA-Cubao (adjacent to Victory Liner) or DLTBco at EDSA (beside Ramon Magsaysay National High School Cubao and ALPS Bus Terminal) that goes to Sta. Cruz. Tell the conductor to drop you off at "Olivarez Plaza" (it's a town mall) or "College" (UPLB is popularly known as 'College') or you can ride the Sta. Cruz bus from Manila (take the bus from Buendia).
If you are from Manila, Navotas, you can ride a bus bound to Calamba coming from Lawton. Ride a jeepney from Calamba, tell the driver you want to get down at UPLB. If you plan to go to University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB), take a jeepney with a signboard that says "UP College". It will take you inside the campus.
You may take the South Luzon Expressway southeast from Manila, then exit at Calamba to follow the national roads. A bypass road opened in 2015 at Calamba to divert cars from the already congested section of Maharlika Highway at Real and Calamba Crossing, but prepare for traffic jams when it is peak season at the resorts.
University of the Philippines, Los Baños and other places of interest within its administered area
- Makiling Botanical Gardens
- ASEAN Center for Biodiversity
- UPLB Museum of Natural History
- Flatrocks - creek usually frequented by hikers
- Mudspring - Presumed volcanic crater of Mt. Makiling
- Peak 2 - Highest peak of Mt. Makiling
- Pook ni Maria Makiling, an eco-tourism site adjacent to the Jamboree Site, National Arts Center and U.P. Los Baños
Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Jamboree Site - a campsite at the foot of Mount Makiling adjacent to U.P. Los Baños, which is being managed by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the site of the 10th World Scout Jamboree in 1959, the 1st and 12th Asia Pacific Jamboree in 1973 and 1991, and the 1st ASEAN Jamboree in 1993. National Arts Center - a patch of land at the foot of Mount Makiling adjacent to U.P. Los Baños, which is being managed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the site of the Philippine High School for the Arts, a special school for young artist scholars
University of the Philippines Open University
- International Rice Research Institute
- Dairy Training & Research Institute
- Philippine Carabao Center at UPLB (PCC at UPLB) - conducts R&D in water buffalo; implements other programs related to water buffalo development; one of the 13 regional centers of PCC (see the link below)
- Agricultural and Life Sciences Complex
- National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB/BIOTECH) - UPLB
Institute of Plant Breeding
- APEC Center for Technology Exchange and Training for Small and Medium Enterprises (ACTETSME)
- National Crop Protection Center (NCPC)
- College of Agriculture AgriPark
- Baker Hall (also known as Los Baños Internment Camp during World War II)
- Philippine Council For Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD)
Department of Science and Technology Regional Office for Region IV (DOST IV)
- Magnetic Hill
- Dampalit Falls
- Immaculate Conception Parish - a centuries old church at the town proper (Poblacion/Bayan)
- Paciano Rizal Shrine - house of Paciano Rizal, brother of National Hero Jose Rizal
- Paciano Rizal Park - park dedicated to Paciano Rizal, brother of National Hero Jose Rizal
- Trace Aqua Sports Complex and Museum - aquatic sports venue for the 2005 SEA Games and Philippine Olympic Festival
- Los Baños Eco-Waste Processing Area - noted and commended for its solid waste management
- Yamashita Shrine - execution site of Gen. Yamashita
The town is famous for its therapeutic pools of mineral hot springs at the base of mystic Mount Makiling. Most of the local residents' water supply is warm water and during the hot season residents sometimes have to bathe with ice blocks in a pail to cool the water. The first thing you do when you’re around the bend to the welcome sign – roll down the windows and breathe deep. Breathe in the fresh air and see the difference why this place is a therapy. Escape to a local resort like the Splash Mountain, sink into a soothingly hot pool and feel your tension melt away. Spa-like, that’s how the experience is. You can stay at these pools the whole day if you like – swim, soak, sunbathe, and it’s enough to refresh your weary soul.
Buko-pie (coconut pie) belongs near the top of your list. This is the town's signature dish and served in many places; find a place you like and take a few pies along when you leave. .
Los Banos is famous for its buko pie, young coconut meat deliciously baked in a pie crust. Well known buko pie outlets are The Original Buko Pie and Letty's Buko Pie but there are cheaper versions and it still tastes good. At crossing, you can find Toyang's Pancitan (Noodle Restaurant) which has been a very popular noodle. Next is sea food at Samaral Restaurant. Now if you just want burgers and fries, local fastfood chains and malls dot the way from Crossing to UP. For desserts? Try Los Banos’ homemade icecream, fresh milk, and kesong-puti (cottage cheese) at DTRI restaurant. Primarily hidden but well known by visitors and tourist alike but not the locals, Jo Clemente's famous curry restaurant about 200 meters from Crossing to UPLB is another wonder and if you managed to find it, you will come back and taste the delicious food served piping hot meals and when it is hot...it's really hot.
- Home Spun Cakes and Coffee Shop
Location: Vega Center. Near UPLB Gate Specialty: Home cooked cakes, pastries and meal. Specialty coffee.
- Café Maquiling
Location: Anest Tower, Lopez Ave., College, Laguna Ellens Fried Chicken Location: Crossing, Los Banos and Grove, near UPLB Gate Specialty: Fried Chicken and student meals
- Mother’s Best
Location: Grove, Near UPLB Gate Specialty: Student Meals
Nationwide fast food chains have their omnipresence in this town, but there are also local destinations if you want to find cheap eats.
- Sulyaw Sa Grove or known as Sulyaw, Lopez Avenue, Los Baños
- Big Belly's, Inside UPLB
- Ellen's Fried Chicken, Near Robinsons Town Mall Los Baños and in Demarces Subdivision
The local Mineral Water fresh from its springs is a health drink and once you tasted it, you will feel the amazing healing properties. Liquor is not allowed in the campus of UPLB so be aware of that before thinking a good night out at the campus.
There are a lot of boarding house and apartments to choose from all around the campus. You will get a place less than USD100. If you want a little bit higher, you can check-in at:
- Splash Mountain Resort Hotel
- Splash Oasis Hotel
- 88 Resort and Spa
- Hillspa Resort
- Makiling Onsen Hotel and Restaurant