Our 4x4 emerged from a cloud of dust and was eaten by a narrow gorge. We were rumbling through the lahar-laden wasteland east of Mt. Pinatubo; our destination a lone resort at the foot of one of the most destructive volcanoes of the 21st century.
Looping around North Luzon for a week, we have seen some pretty spectacular places and most of us were really not expecting much for the last day of the Lakbay Norte 3, I mean what else can they throw at us? Pretty big it turns out.
The jump off point to Puning Hot Spring is at Sapang Bato in Angeles City. Dubbed as Station One, it’s where we chose our 4x4’s. We piled on the back of the trucks and within minutes were racing across the road, passing Station Two and rumbling down the dusty landscapes of Porac.
I have been to Mt. Pinatubo before and had hiked its slope once. The landscape we passed then was really beautiful and I never imagined it can’t get any more amazing than that.
Our ride en route to Puning topped it easily. The scenery was simply stunning; fragile karst-like cliffs made from pyroclastic materials loomed over the horizon, seemingly threatening to collapse in a moment’s notice. We passed through two amazing canyons where the air seemed cooler, the sun faint and far above its narrow walls; our vehicle splashing through its shallow streams.
The name of the place came from the word Punang, which in Aeta means trees. Hard as it is to imagine, the arid plane we were traversing were once filled with lush trees. The massive eruption of 1991 indeed left its mark in this land and it is from this destructive force that the Puning Hot Spring came about.
Our scenic ride took half an hour before we finally saw the fortress-like resort. Resting on a cliff, the stone-clad Puning Hot Spring reminds me so much of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Helm’s Deep. The scenery was stunning enough to induce Tolkienisms.
Puning Hot Spring or Station Three has eight pools of hot spring and a single cold spring pool. The water comes from the thermal spring of Sacobia River. The water is brought to boiling by the volcano and is filtered through the catch pools of the resort.
Temperature can go as high as 70 degrees and gradually tapers off to 40 degrees on the lower pools. The water is constantly running and disperses like a waterfall on the foot of the resort. I was unable to immerse my whole body instantly in the water as it was really scalding hot. The trick was to do it slowly, letting your body acclimatize before plunging all the way in.
The spring and resort is manned by the natives in partnership with the developer since the area is marked as the ancestral land of the Aetas.
After being steamed pink, we went back to the resort’s Station Two, again passing the spectacular landscape of Porac.
Covered in dust, we passed through the gates of Station Two and saw people buried in sand to their necks. Every now and then, the Aetas would press a tower over their heads to wipe sweat away. I soon found that below the sand-filled hut is a massive oven heating the sand above. After changing clothes, it was soon our turn to get buried.
The sand was indeed hot, but not hot enough to burn; the heat was just enough to make you sweat which according to the guy burying me was therapeutic and was quite good for my blood circulation. Well if they say so, personally, I really just want to experience getting buried in hot sand.
After sweating buckets, we were moved to the recliners at the other part of the resort. Mudpacks were lathered all over our raw body and were let dry. It was a crusty experience to say the least. A quick shower later and everyone was exclaiming over their seemingly healthier skin.
Our backs and sides were still sore from the rugged 4x4 ride through the exhilarating terrain of Porac, our skin pink from the scalding hot water of Puning and the slow roast of its sands, and my mind was still replaying the majestic landscapes en route to Station Three as we left Porac.
Puning Hot Spring came at the tail end of our tour and I bet no one imagined that the most memorable of the Lakbay Norte tour would be coming from the province of Pampanga.
Puning Hot Spring and Restaurant
Sitio Target, Brgy. Sapang Bato
Angeles City, Pampanga
Telephone: (045) 499-0629 | (0919) 339-2795 | (0928) 622-5024 | (0947) 889-5884
(0947) 889-5885 | (0906) 446-1694 | (0906) 446-1695 | (0920) 866-4246 | (0919) 339-2795
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
GPS Coordinates: 15.1694,120.512027 | Click to view location on Google Maps
Fees & Rates
Php3,000 per person (minimum of 2)
Inclusion: Local Guide, 4x4 Rental, Hot Spring Entrance, Sand Spa, Mudpack, Buffet Lunch, Foot Massage
Towel, Shirt and Shorts Rental