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MT. MANABU: Travel Guide + Itinerary To One Of The Easiest Day Hikes In Batangas


Name: Mt. Manabu (Manabu Peak)
Elevation: 760+ MASL
Diffulty: 2/9
Location: Sto. Tomas Batangas
Jump-Off: Sulok, Brgy. Sta Cruz, Sto. Tomas
Feature: Woodlands | Stunning view of the other mountains in Batangas

Mt. Manabu is simply among the all-time favorites of seasoned mountaineers. Newcomers would also do best to start on this mountain. Not only that it has one of the richest natural environment among the mountains in Batangas but it promises an enriching experience that first-time hikers would definitely learn from and would certainly make them love the sport. Its trail is a right combination of both chill and challenge. Chill because it’s fairly an easy hike with only a handful of assaults towards the summit. Challenge as it involves river crossing and steep assaults as you approach the peak. With the abundance of more glorified mountains around, Mt. Manabu stands out from the rest as it offers not just a stunning view at its peak but moments with strangers and new found friends over a cup of Alamid/Civet coffee you would surely cherish for the rest of your days.


THE CLIMB


It was a cold Saturday morning in January this year that I finally had the chance to hike up the top of Mt. Manabu. After several cancelled plans, I am finally going into one of my dream hikes. I was with Ian, my boyfie/travel buddy and two of his bestfriends Pet and Dadzkie who were first time hikers. While this would be my 14th mountain, I knew those two newcomers would take this hike in a breeze and would even give me a run for my money. We were coming from Taguig and after the 3-hour trip, we arrived in Sulok, Brgy. Sta Cruz Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

The sky was already threatening for a downpour while we were still on our way to the registration point. The past couple of days in Manila were filled with sunshine that I never expected the opposite in Batangas. Turns out it had been raining there since the day prior to our hike that we had been warned of an extremely muddy trail by the locals. While all over the internet Mt. Manabu is described as an easy 4-hour trek, the rain and a muddy trail could make ten times the difference. I was kind of having cold feet the last minute since navigating through muddy trails is my greatest weakness given how I have the worst of balance which reminded me of our hike in Mt. Daraitan when the supposedly 5-hour hike turned into one full day of stumbling and falling on my back.

While I hate hiking along muddy trails, I didn’t have any choice but to push through unless I can withstand those three hating me for days. We didn’t hire a guide despite my fear of getting lost, credit to my companions and their desire to save themselves 500 bucks that they can spend on drinks instead. Oh well if anything unthinkable ever happens, I have me three stubborn heads to blame.

The hike kicked off with us crossing the grass covered land across the resting place at the jump off point. We passed by a water tank and walked three more minutes before reaching a fork that marked Station 1.  This time, we were faced with our very first dilemma as we didn’t know whether we should keep walking straight down the muddy trail or take the other trail to the right. Good heavens for the three local passersby who  told us which way to go.

The trail that leads down into the woods was quite steep and slippery. Slowly and with careful steps, we walked until we reached a flat surface. After that, the trail became a series of muddy slopes with rugged parts. Fifteen minutes later, we reached Station 2 and went on to continue the hike to Station 3. The trail passed Station 2 was slippier and mostly consists of rocky slopes with steep descents. We didn’t stop for breathers as there was no need for it at that time. We knew we were in Station 3 upon reaching the stream which also bore its marker.

The stream expands to about 5 meters with scattered boulders covered in moss. The water flowing through was shallow, cold and clear. Passed that was a field of coconut with the resting camp to Station 3 situated a few walks away from the stream. We continued trekking passed the resting camp until we reached Station 4. Here we thought of stopping to catch us some air to prepare ourselves to a long and steep ascent to Station 5.

We took another 20 minutes to relieve ourselves of exhaustion. It felt awesome to have covered 4 stations in less than an hour without any breathers in between which is prolly the longest I’ve had since my first ascent almost 3 years ago. I am usually the take-five-every-five-minutes kind of hiker but that time, I was in the mood despite the difficulty caused by the extremely muddy trail. Perhaps I was just enjoying my company that it made things a lot easier to manage. Or maybe I was feeling no pressure as I knew those homies of mine were ever ready to come to my aid at anytime.

We resumed hiking when we heard voices coming towards us. We were kinda feeling playful that we wanted not to let the oncomers be ahead of us. We were trekking steadily at a quicker pace but still cautious of our assault since the trail was kind of worn out that we ended dragging our shoes out of the mud with our every step. There were also steep and rugged parts. Hiking up huge rocks was another arduous task that it slowed us down allowing the others to catch up to us. We couldn’t help but laugh at our mischief that we instead gave them room to advance.

dav

It might have taken us twenty minutes to reach Station 5. There we met the legend that was Tatay Pirying. If you’re wondering why is he a legend? Hmmm.. I think it’s because Mt. Manabu owes half of its popularity to Tatay Pirying and his alamid coffee. Don’t believe me? Then ask anyone who has hiked Mt. Manabu and most of them would tell you more about their moments with Tatay Pirying than the mountain itself.

dav

 

We lingered in Station 5 longer that we intended due to the unexpected heavy downpour which lasted for over 30 minutes. When the rain finally subsided off we went bracing the final assault to the summit. The trail was still a combination of soft earth and slippery rocks. Water flowing down from the top of the mountain caused some parts of the trail to erode imposing more challenge to the ascent. The hike was an assault all the way through the campsite. Passed the campsite was another steep 10-minute assault to the summit.

dav

We reached the summit 45 minutes after we left Station 5. As soon as I set foot on Manabu Peak, I felt the same sense of fulfillment I’ve always had with every marvelous mountains I’ve climbed before. I marveled at the large cross planted in the middle of Manabu Peak. It was painted white. No ornaments. So simple but very commanding similar to the beauty of this mountain. We weren’t blessed with clear skies but its abundance was more than enough to make me fall in love. Whenever the wind would blow the clouds away giving us glimpses of a stunning view, we would snap ourselves some photos. We stayed at the summit a little while longer hoping for the sun to vie its way through the clouds but to no avail. We finally decided to start the descent when a bugs came to chase us off the summit.

dav

We took a different route going down that instead of going back to Station 5, we chose the path that led down to Station 7 to complete the loop which will lead us back to Station 4. We weren’t really sure which way it was so we decided to rely on our instinct instead. We all agreed that in the event that we took the wrong trail, we will just trace our way back to the summit and backtrail down to the foot of the mountain.

dav

The descent was thrice as treacherous than the ascent with the first leg consisted of trekking down along huge slippery rocks before reaching a flat soften earth that stretched to about ten meters before it slid to an almost 90-degree descent. During the first ten minutes of the hike going down, it was obvious that this part of the mountain is less traveled considering how narrow the trail was in the middle of a seemingly unperturbed forest and how the grass rose past my waist. We also noticed that this is the more challenging trail prolly the reason why not many take this route. There was pretty much nothing we can hold on to prevent ourselves from falling on our backs. The side of the trail is mostly consist of rattan trees filled with thorns that lent us no help to alleviate the difficulty of the trail that we were rendered no other choice but to cut one of those rattan trees so we could use it as trekking poles.

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Even with the use of trekking poles, the seemingly endless descent along limestone rocks and mud had never been easy. It was even made impossible when the rain poured relentlessly while we were in the middle of the hike to the grotto. We were dripping wet upon reaching Station 8 (Grotto) after what might have been almost an hour. There we rested and waited for the rain to subside. When the rain stopped, off we continued the hike and in no time we found ourselves passing by the resting hut of Station 4 then went on to finish the hike back to the jump off.

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TIPS AND OTHER INFO


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  • The hike is overall an easy one but just like any other mountains, Manabu Peak has it’s fair share of challenges too. Please come prepared mentally and physically.
  • Guide is not required and trail is straightforward so chances of getting lost is pretty slim.
  • If you want to experience Mt. Manabu and it’s more challenging nature, try completing the rosary trail/the loop.
  • The jump off is still a 10-minute drive away from the registration site.
  • There is a designated parking space at the jumpoff for those bringing their cars.
  •  Campsite is spacious and can probably accommodate up to 20 tents.
  •  Reservation or prior booking is not required.
  •  Please bring rubbish bag to collate your waste and bring them down along with you.
  •  Always observe LNT.
  • Manabu Peak can be a twin hike with Mt. Maculot or can be part of Malipunyo traverse with the other two peaks being Mt. Malipunyo summit and Susong Dalaga.
  • Don’t miss alamid coffee. It’s good. Have as many cups as you like. Please remember to buy you some as well before going home.

HOW TO GO THERE


  • Commute – From Buendia/Cubao Stations, ride a bus going to Lipa and alight in front of Robinsons Lipa (3hrs ; P124). Ride a jeep going to Fiesta Mall Junction (15 minutes ; P10). At the junction, ride a tricycle to Sulok (30 minutes ; P60). You will do a quick stopover at the registration office then will continue the ride to the jump-off.
  • Private – Drive along SLEX then continue to STAR Tollway. Take the Lipa-Tambo exit. Pass the tollgate, turn right going to Lipa along JP Laurel Hwy. Continue driving along JP Laurel until you reach Fiesta Mall junction. Turn right at the junction and drive straight until the end of the road leading you to a T-junction. Turn left and continue driving until you reach the road leading to Brgy. Sta. Cruz. Don’t forget to stop by the registration site and ask further details leading to Sulok and the parking area.

BUDGET, ITINERARY & OTHER INFO


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (4Pax without guide)2-way Bus Fare - P248
Jeep (Fiesta Mall Junction) - P10
Tricycle to Sulok - P15
Registration Fee - P20
Tricycle to Lipa - P15

Total <<>> P308
SAMPLE ITINERARY (Dayhike)0500 Meet Up Buendia/Cubao Bus Station
0530 ETD Lipa
0730 ETA Lipa. Breakfast.
0800 Jeep Fiesta Mall Junction
0830 Trike to Sulok
0900 Register
0915 ETA Jump-Off. Final Prep.
0930 Start Trek
1000 Station 4
1030 Station 5
1100 Summit. Photo Ops.
1200 Lunch
1300 Start Descent
1400 Back at the Jump-Off
1500 SM Lipa
1700 ETA Manila

REGISTRATION AND OTHER FEESRegistration Fee: P20
Guide Fee: Day Hike - P500 ; Overnight - P1250
CONTACT INFOMario (Guide) – 09994106990

SNAPS IN MANABU PEAK


People come and go. That’s the way life goes but, there are always those people who, in your heart, will make you feel home.


There you have it lovelies. I hope you enjoy reading our Manabu Peak Story. For questions and suggestions, just shoot me a comment below. Until next time. Ciao!

MT. PAMITINAN: Ain’t An Easy Peasy Hike Along Limestone Karst


BASIC INFO

Name: Mt. Pamitinan
Elevation: 426+ MASL
Location: Rodriguez, Rizal (previously Montalban)
Major Jump Off: Sitio Wawa, Brgy. San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal
Difficulty: 3/9 (Pinoy Mountaineer)
Features: Steep trails. Limestone cliffs. Panoramic View of the other karst mountains in Montalban/Rodriguez

Rizal Province is easily the playground of both seasoned and newbie hikers who are looking for a quick fix of the outdoor as it is just an hour of drive from the busy capital and a great portion of the marvelous Sierra Madre is within its vicinity. Just recently 10 or so mountains in Rizal opened its doors to hiking enthusiasts adding to the impeccable selection of hiking destinations in the province. But despite the emergence of new, off-beaten and beautiful trails, still nothing comes close to one of the all-time favorites in this side of the bush, the karst mountains in Rodriguez (Montalban) which promise not just a panoramic view at their summits but also a physical challenge that would make the hike all worth it. One of these Montalban favorites is Mt. Pamitinan which is one of the trio in Sitio Wawa with Mts. Binacayan and Hapunang Banoi as the other two. These three also share Wawa Dam as the must see chill side trip come the end of a back-breaking hike.


THE CLIMB


I was slightly suffocating as I tried to summon what remained of my strength while struggling to last the descent to the junction where water, food, comfort and my hiking buddies await. I can still clearly recall in my head that just a good 30 minutes ago I was still grinning from ear to ear while I relished the warmth of the morning sunshine, basking at the magnificent view of this mountain’s summit and smiling without fail to every click our guide made on our camera. This moment however felt like I’m in the burning fires of hell with my neck strangled and my feet clad in iron limiting my movement. I was starving, thirsty, too tired and almost in the brink of giving up all at the same time. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of a hearty conversation the minute I reunite with my buddies where I can let this torturing pain I had endured for quite a while now vanish in the mist of our laughter.

Mt. Pamitinan was surprisingly challenging. Its trails of straightforward assault along soft earth emblazoned with rocks hit me hard in the gut as I have expected it to be an easy hike. I had not done any research nor had I made time to read me some blogs on what to expect during the climb. I was holding on to the idea I was told that this is only going to be an hour hike to the summit which got me thinking this was going to be a peice of cake. Never have I imagined it will challenge me to lengths I could no longer fathom. Perhaps it was not just this mountain’s seemingly insurmountable challenge that was wearing me down but the fact that it far exceeded my expectations which totally caught me unguarded and unprepared. Underestimating Mt. Pamitinan was my greatest failure and I had come to realize that in the most difficult way possible. I don’t normally fall for that mistake but when I did, Mother Nature just had her way to punish me good.

The past 30 minutes I had spent during the descent felt like the longest I’ve ever been in a mountain. Kuya Ronnie our guide kept telling me we were only 15 minutes away to the junction but he’s probably have said 15 minutes 20 times and still our destination was nowhere in sight. He offered me his water bottle as he urged me to take a breather for a minute. The thought of cold water as it flows down my throat relieving me of that punishing thirst was so tempting but I refused to deny this kind man that comfort he has brought for himself just to satisfy mine. I politely declined the offer and he was quick to put the water back to his bag. Guess, he knew how painful it must be for me to see him drink from that bottle. Geez… So how did I get myself into this whole messed up thing again?

Past midnight today, I recalled myself standing in front of Jollibee in Farmers Cubao QC while we wait for Marie and Ryan. At 2:30 AM, we arrived in Eastwood Subdivision where Poleng and Julius await in front of a Ministop Branch. At 3:00 AM we rode a tricycle to Sitio Wawa where we arrived just after 10 minutes of journeying along a pitch black highway. The DENR registration area was still closed and won’t open until 4:30 AM. Our plan was to start off early to be at the summit before sunrise where we can witness the ever coveted sea of clouds. Well, this turns out to be the first consequence of not doing any research prior to the hike. We stayed in the receiving area for almost an hour where I took a nap. At exactly 4:30 AM, the registration area opened and off we went to register and start with our adventure.

We were the first group to jump-start for the day. After sending our prayers to the heavens above, we started tracing the roads leading to the foot of Mt. Pamitinan. First 2 minutes was along a concrete road, then we turned left, into a space between residential houses that led to the hanging bridge. The hanging bridge stretches to about 50 meters. After passing the hanging bridge we then took another left and few steps away took a left to climb a concrete ladder. I guess we took 15 minutes to finish the climb along the concrete ladder then went to continue the hike along an ascending concrete footpath and at the end of it we crossed a stream to the first muddy encounter of our day. This was where the straightforward muddy trail with a touch of rocks and boulders began.

We took another 10 minutes to reach the first resting camp. After 5 minutes of catching our breaths, we head on to take the assault. Another 15 minutes and we reached the 2nd resting camp. We took a breather a little longer than the usual 5 minutes. We resumed the hike and another 15 minutes passed, we reached the 3rd resting camp. We spent another 15 minutes to catch our breaths and to let Ian do me his bullying antics. If you wonder why our in between breathers had taken longer than five (5), I don’t know. It must be the trail getting steeper with every ascent taking wider steps up as we inch closer to the top.

It was 5:30 AM when we left the 3rd resting camp. The muddy trail continued but this time rocks and boulders have dominated most of the scene until that spot when they finally took over. Ten (10) minutes before reaching the junction, all I can see was rocks with the greens trying to vie their way through them. At last we were at the junction 20 minutes from the time we left the 3rd resting camp. The sun was slowly making its presence felt shedding us its warmth and lighting everything in sight.

Note: Junction is the resting camp where the trail is broken into 2. The left leads to Hapunang Banoi and the right is to Mt. Pamitinan Summit. 

Without further ado, we went on to start the assault to the summit. We left our bags along with our snacks and trail water in the care of one local vendor. We were told it was just going to take us another 30 minutes to reach the summit. Little did I know, the real challenge was yet to reveal itself to us. The assault was along limestone rocks. Some of them have pointed edges. We were literally walking along pointed rocks and when I was at that point where my knees fail me and they were about to turn jelly on me, I was scrambling through those rocks instead. It was grueling and challenging but I was enjoying it. It completely caught me off-guard but at that time I was still too ecstatic to be worrying about anything. Halfway through the summit, the gorgeous sea of clouds finally revealed itself. It was such a marvelous sight to behold which made me fall in love in an instance.

We took photos everywhere. Everything we saw was snap worthy. What should have been a 30 minute assault to the summit took us almost an hour. We reached Peak 1 at 7:00 AM where we waited for the other groups to finish with their death defying shenanigans. We went through our own photo ops and continued the assault to the other peak. At Peak 2 we waited for the other groups to finish with their photo shoots before starting the final assault to the summit.

Exactly 25 minutes from the time we arrived at the foot of Peak 2, we started the final assault which in my opinion was the most difficult that day as you need to rappel your way up using a thick rope. The rappel stretches to about 10 feet and was placed in the gape between two limestone boulders. My very struggle was pulling myself up mainly relying on the rope as I could barely carry my weight. Instead of merely pulling myself up using the rope, I used my other hand to grab me some steady rock to aid my ascent. It was painful to my hands but that was the only option I had unless I would skip this part of the climb just like missing Pico De Loro’s monolith before. After 2 minutes of painstaking assault to the final leg of this day’s hike, I finally set foot on the highest spot of Mt. Pamitinan.

The 360 view of Montalban was nothing short of beautiful with Wawa River snaking through the luscious greens around. I can see the other peaks of the trio also filled with happy souls doing themselves their photo shoots. It was just a little passed the hour of 8:00 and judging by the looks of it, it seemed like we can still continue the fun to the nearby Hapunang Banoi. I was struggling with my every step as I haven’t fully overcome my fear of heights and my knees were trembling like hell. Looking down made me sick almost making me faint but it didn’t really matter as I was once again atop a magnificent peak enjoying the joyous moment after quite an unimaginable struggle.

Sitting uncomfortably in one of the rocks, I let out a chuckle as I recall everything that happened so far. Not one instance will I regret everything I had been through from the moment we left our house in Biñan down to this very minute when I question what am I even doing to myself?! This experience definitely taught me a lot of things most importantly how worst of an idea is to leave my trail water!

Kuya Ronnie once again urged me to get up and continue the hike. His word of encouragement, “15 minutes na lang. Pramis!” With all the things that’s wearing me down, my aching toes were the most unbearable! The pain it sent throughout my body with every careful step I took was excruciating! Man, I can go on for few more hours not drinking water but my freaking toes! There is no helping it. Oh well. God must have heard my cry as a few minutes after we resumed the descent, I can already hear faint voices and from the distance were the roofs of the resting camps in the Junction. I looked all smiles at Kuya Ronnie. He wasn’t such a liar after all.

As soon as I reached the junction, my buddies cheered me up and offered me a bottle of cold water. Believe me! I’m usually not a regular water drinker but at that moment, water was my favorite drink in the world!

The final descent from the junction to the jump off took place a little passed the hour of 10:00 AM. We were supposed to descend directly to Wawa Dam but we figured we wanted to fill our tummies first with a decent meal for lunch. Going down was still tiring and my toes were still bothering me but I tried real hard to endure the pain as I was looking forward to ridding my feet off my shoes once this was over. Kuya Ronnie was also there assisting me in all ways possible so it wasn’t as if I was on my own. I actually hate being tagged as the weakest link during any climb but guess part of the reason why I haven’t gotten better after hiking several mountains was my continuous denial of my limitations. I know I will be better someday cause I need to but for now, I have to learn to embrace my abilities and learn to be better as I go on surviving many more formidable mountains.





TRAVEL TIPS AND OTHER INFORMATION


  • Transportation service to Rodriguez/Montalban, Rizal is available 24/7 in Cubao in front of Jolibee Farmers Plaza branch or in front of Gateway Mall. Fare is P50 per person.
  • Tricycle service to Sitio Wawa is available 24/7 and cost P60 for 3 people.
  • DENR Office in Sitio Wawa doesn’t open until 4:30 AM and hikers are not allowed entry to the trails unless they have made prior arrangements with the officials. Reservations are required to those going to hike 5-6 mountains in a day which needs to be started prior to 4:30 AM.
  • The mountains of Rizal has one of the most scenic views of the early morning sun with the dreamy clouds filling up the horizon. Prior notification to the DENR office in Brgy. Wawa is needed to start of the hike early to witness the sea of clouds.
  • Bring gloves and/or any hand protection gear. You’ll need it to navigate through sharp limestone rocks when you assault to the summit.
  • Please wear shoes since trekking sandals might not give enough support for your feet during the hike along limestone rocks.
  • There are gloves sold in front of DENR registration for P50/pair.
  • Guide Fee is P500 for 5 people in a group for each mountain. If you are to hike all 3 within the day, some guides would ask you to pay P1500 but there are some who would kindly consider a lower payment.
  • As the common rule, please observe the LNT Principles. Bring trash bags with you and dispose them upon getting back in the city. The locals of Sitio Wawa has no proper waste disposal facility at the moment so it will be helpful if we won’t add to the trash they would need to carefully dispose of.
  • Wawa Dam is a quick 10 minute walk from the registration area.

HOW TO GO THERE


Ride a UV Express in front of Gateway Mall Cubao in QC and alight in Eastwood Subdivision in front of the Ministop branch. Fare is P50. From there, ride a tricycle to Sitio Wawa and alight at the DENR Registration area. Fare is P60/trike/way.


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, ITINERARY AND OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSESRT Fare Van Cubao-Eastwood > P100
RT Fare Tricycle Eastwood-Sitio Wawa @ P60/3 > P40
Registration Fee > P30
Guide Fee @ P600/6 > P100
Snacks > P50
Lunch > P150

TOTAL <<>> P470
SAMPLE ITINERARY0230 Meet Up Jollibee Cubao Farmers Plaza
0300 ETD Eastwood
0400 Ministop Eastwood. Ride Trike to Brgy. Wawa
0415 ETA Brgy. Wawa
0430 Register
0445 Start Hike
0530 Junction. Rest.
0545 Assault to Summit
0615 Peak 1. Photo Ops
0645 Peak 2. Photo Ops
0700 Start Descent
0830 Back to Jump Off. Wash Up
0900 Breakfast
1000 Wawa Dam. Chill. Photos Ops.
1200 Lunch
1300 Start Trek Karugo Falls
1400 Karugo Falls. Chill Photo Ops
1600 Pack Up. Trek to Jump Off
1700 Jump Off. Log Out. Head Home
1900 Home




THINGS TO BRING-2L Water
-Trail Snacks
-Packed Lunch
-First Aid Kit with personal medication
-Extra Clothes
-Gloves
-Sunblock
-Toiletries
-Garbage Bag
CONTACT NUMBERSBrgy. Wawa DENR Office:

Guide:
Kuya Ronnie - 09072395042

FUN MEMORIES



There you have it folks. I hope you enjoy my narrative of our Mt. Pamitinan hike as much as I had fun recalling what I had been through and writing about it. If you have questions, please leave them on the comments box below. And Please… Make reading a habit. I didn’t spend a day or two editing and revising this post to make it as informative as it possibly can just so you could drop by and simply ask me questions without reading a single thing. Not trying to be difficult at all. It’s for your own sake actually. You’ll see.

Moving on. This hike in Mt, Pamitinan is just the beginning of many more hikes in this side of Rizal Province. If I haven’t told you yet but I actually swore not to hike any mountains in Rizal anymore after our disastrous Mt. Sapari hike but there’s just no resisting the beauty of Sierra Madre.

Share me your thoughts or be awesome and share this post.. Until next time. Ciao 🙂

GULUGOD BABOY (Mt. Pinagbanderahan): Hiking Anilao’s Most Priced Treasure


BASIC INFO


Name: Mt. Pinagbanderahan (Gulugod Baboy Peak)
Elevation: 525+ MASL
Location: Anilao, Batangas
Jump Off: Brgy. Ligaya, Anilao Batangas
Difficulty: 2/9 (Pinoy Mountaineer)
Features: Marvelous view of the coastal lines of Batangas

Gulugod Baboy has been a favorite hiking destination in Batangas for a very long time. Rolling hills, sprawling grasslands and an unobstructed 360 view of the coastal waters that surround the province are reasons why hikers find this mountain too irresistible. Frequented by seasoned mountaineers and a great beginner hike for aspiring newbies, Gulugod Baboy is certainly both a worthwhile challenge and a masterpiece to behold. Diving in one of the country’s rich underwater heaven is also one of the promise to look forward to after the hike since several pebblestone beaches line at its foot and not so distant away is the stunning Sombrero Island.

HIKING MT. MABILOG? Read About Our 2-Hour Awe-Inspiring Trek Made More Fun With The Rain

BASIC INFO

Name: Mt. Mabilog
Elevation: 428 MASL
Difficulty: 2/9
Location: San Pablo & Nagcarlan, Laguna
Jump Off Point: Brgy. Sulsuguin, Nagcarlan
Features: Grasslands. Coconut, Banana & Corn Fields. Breathtaking View of the 7 Lakes of San Pablo, Mts. Makiling, Banahaw, Cristobal and the other surrounding mountain ranges.


OVERVIEW

Considering its elevation, Mt. Mabilog doesn’t seem to be much of a challenging hike. Yet.. I do beg for you to not spit such conclusion early on as this little mountain other hikers consider more as a hill might make you regret it. Nestled among the formidable giants of Laguna, Mt. Mabilog stood out to be a favourite day hike for both seasoned and rookie mountaineers due to the impeccable view of the 7 lakes of San Pablo seen atop its summit and on the not so distant horizon stood in full glory Mts. Makiling, Banahaw and Cristobal.


THE HIKE UNDER THE POURING SKY

I tilted my head upward and let the raindrops wash my ashen face. Just 45 minutes ago, the sun was shining at its brightest with his warmth burning against my skin. My cheeks have turned red and I was already sweating like hell until the sky decided to get nasty. As I watched the sky turned grey, I noticed my skin resemble its colour. Pale. Lifeless. Cold. The wind blew a chilling air sending my body shivering all the way to my spine. I gazed at the summit obscured by the same darkness that had engulfed the entire mountain. I was standing 10 minutes away from the peak. A few more painstaking assault and I will soon find myself basking at another fulfilling moment atop a magnificent summit. But it rained. And there was no helping it. I let out a sigh and it didn’t take long for a once distant voice to finally find its way through waking me out of my reverie.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

It was Ian, my-boyfie-slash-ill-tempered-hiking-buddy calling me to run for shelter at an empty farmer’s hut behind the thick bush. There were soft drizzles during the earlier 45 minutes of the hike but this downpour was threatening to stay for yet another hour. I ran towards the hut where Ian and our guide stood with their wary looks pointed at the worsening rain. I was praying real hard for not a soul to ever speak about turning back and cancelling the hike for another day. Nobody spoke and I felt a bit of ease as I squeezed myself in to sit at a bench. I settled my backpack and camera beside me pulling out a dry cloth to pat them dry. I then pulled out a pack of Rebisco chocolate coated cookies. I was surprised to realize the last time I had eaten was 5 hours ago and the clock was about to hit 2 in the afternoon. I offered them the cookies. I couldn’t help but think the delight to be sipping hot chocolate in this cold stormy weather while I nibbled the cookie in my hand.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

We were in a moment of silence for a little while until Ian, being the outgoing, sociable, friendly whatever person that he is, started talking to our guide, engaging him to each of the stuff he managed to bring up the table. I just listened to them while I suppress the urge to say a word. Before this year’s Presidential Elections, Ian was all about Mayor Duterte and how much he is rooting for him to win. He spoke about it to anyone. To some random strangers at the smoking area. The cab driver on our way home. To some of my friends in the office whom he barely knew. To our neighbours. And even now when the elections was over, it is pretty much the same. I looked at the guy whom I have shared 4 years of roller coaster ride with and marvelled at how he can be so spontaneous. I am not the bashful type. In fact I do think I am an outgoing person too. But I always find it hard to keep the conversation going. While Ian. He makes it as easy as breathing.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

While keenly observing the two men in front of me, I noticed Ian was hardly soiled. I suddenly felt the need the check myself. Slowly, I shifted my eyes to my shoes tracing my legs until a few inches up my knees. I was a mess. Mud painted my shoes and some parts of my lower legs. I suddenly became intrigue. How could that be possible? While I was the outdoor enthusiast and Ian was more of a couch potato, how is that possible for him to stay so poised and cool even after the most arduous hike while I am completely the opposite of those definitions. Like how is that even possible now where right at the start of the hike, filth was everywhere. Like there wasn’t an instant we passed by a dry, dusty trail. And like a sudden outpour of knowledge, I decided to do me some notes.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

I pulled out a pen and my journal which I haven’t cared to write on since my trip to Vietnam on the last week of March. I figured the rain isn’t about to stop pouring anytime soon so it would serve me best to jut down some important things about the hike. I focused and tried to recall what took place within the first 45 minutes before we were stalled by the heavy rain. I remembered us walking on a flat concrete road after coming from the cottages lined in front of Yambo Lake. The guide told me we were taking a different route and we won’t be tracing the shores of the lake to cut the hike short. The concrete road where we have walked for a few good minutes went straight then we turned left at the first block. Upon us reaching a T-junction in front of a huge red gate, we took a quick left off the road.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

We entered the woods where the muddy trek began. The beginning of the trek was through a series of muddy slopes emblazoned with huge slippery rocks which lasted for about 10 minutes before we descended to a stream. After crossing the stream with branches protruding overhead, we reached a coconut field. Finally! A relaxing walk on a flat surface which stretch for about 100 meters until the beginning of the nonstop assault. The beginning of the assault was through the muddiest part of the trail which isn’t at all surprising since this is the same pathway farmers and their horses use to tend to their fields situated up the mountains. The sky would softly drizzle while the sun shone in the middle. It was surreal seeing two forces of nature, the rain and the sun battling until one emerges a victor while we hurriedly hike to reach the peak.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

Mt. Mabilog is so stunning. I like that she is off the mainstream. Her unperturbed world is so serene. The tranquillity she offers is just soothing with only the sounds of the birds and insects playing in repeat. I was in awe to see butterflies flying to sniff the sweet scented flowers abundantly growing in her soil. Their wings the different hues of happiness. The enchanting scene I was marvelling at made me oblivious of time. I hardly even noticed we were trekking for 30 minutes with us barely taking breathers in between. If only my backpack was not bothering me, I wouldn’t have thought about taking a rest.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

I called for our guide to slow down. He looked back and in a heartbeat traced his way towards us. I jokingly remarked about him being the only person to have made me walk for 30 minutes without taking short breathers. Ian supported my statement while laughing at how we are not used to be speedy mitty whenever we hike. Our guide smiled. He was a little embarrassed for not taking into account our preferred pace to which we dismissed shortly telling him it was okay. He gladly took the bag off me. I was carrying like a 30L filled to the brink company backpack which my goodie goodie boyfie who is not much of a gentleman refused to load himself with. I was determined to take the weight up the summit on my own but considering the bag with no ample back support and ventilation, I doubt my back stricken with scoliosis will last another minute carrying that much weight.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

We continued with the assault as the muddy trail quickly became too steep and a little unestablished. It wasn’t until after 10 minutes that I decided to take another breather. This time we are only 10-15 minutes away from the summit. I braced myself for the oncoming torture, quenching my thirst with what’s  left of our water. Just when we were about to resume the hike, thunder came roaring and in a blink of an eye, the rest of the mountain was dripping wet from the unexpected heavy downpour. The sun was nowhere to be found. Not a single of its blinding rays peeking at the canopy. He lost after putting up a good fight. It was just shades of grey now and the rain washing everything away.

MT. MABILOG NAGCARLAN LAGUNA

I was just about to finish jutting down my journal when I caught a ray of light slowly chasing the gloom away. Quickly everything in sight was brimming with life like the first morning of spring. The sound of raindrops as it hit the ground a thousand times in a second that was our lullaby for the past hour was then replaced by the blissful chirping of the birds. The entire mountain seemed to have been born anew. The sky was suddenly painted blue and the threat of another downpour completely gone. The sweet dewy air smelled so cheerful that it didn’t take long for us to feel the renewed sense of adventure. In no time, off we went to take on the challenge of the last leg of the hike towards the finish line.

The hike to the summit was a relentless assault along thick bushes growing overhead. The trail has no established pathways and was a little obscured by the surrounding vegetation. As the sweeper of us three my only indication of the right path was the familiar voices of two men who, after an hour of nonstop conversation, have refused to be tamed and shut. After passing  by the overgrown bushes, I found myself at the foot of a hill without a well defined pathway and the only indication it was the way up was the bamboo pipes provided as handrail to an invisible staircase which stretch to about 40-50 meters of steep and slippery assault. Passed that is the last mild assault to the summit.






THE GLORIOUS HOUR AT THE SUMMIT AND MEETING A PURR FRIEND

Mts. Makiling, Cristobal and Banahaw were such immaculate sights as the snowy white clouds sit atop their summits obstructing the entirety of them from view. Their stance were forbidding that I found even the mere thought of planning to hike within their world too intimidating. They are formidable giants only seasoned mountaineers dare explore, I thought. Basking at the glory in front of me, I made a promise of someday finding the courage to unravel the mystery behind these enchanting mountains most rookie mountaineers like myself dared not dip fingers on. There at the spacious and flat summit of Mt. Mabilog, I swore to one day see her atop those mountains I was looking at in a distance.

The panoramic view of the 7 Lakes of San Pablo is not to be ignored either. While the marvellous view of the Southern Tagalog mountains may have made them no more than a shadow of an unrivalled charm, all 7 of them however have refused to stay behind the spotlight. They looked like natural pools from afar with Yambo and Pandin Lakes standing out the most. Them surrounded with lush forest made them seem greener and more pristine than ever. And just when I was about to content myself with the picturesque view I beheld, an adorably cheerful little creature so suddenly made its presence felt.

My jaw dropped, slightly opening my mouth much like the way when one get struck by a movie star as I watched a white and orange coated purr baby ran towards us while meowing constantly as if we were his humans. He must have seen a big heart from my 176 pound body that goes out as always for adorable creatures such as he since he wasted no time to show off. Unfortunately for him though, I only had chocolate cookies and a bunch of chocolate goodies in my backpack. Poor little buddy, he had to settle to  drinking empty our water bottle.

MT UGO: A Bit Of Everything In One Stunning Mountain

BASIC INFO

Name: Mt. Ugo
Jump-Off: Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya
Exit Point: Brgy. Tinongdan Itogon, Benguet
Elevation: 2150+ MASL
Difficulty: 5/9 (Pinoy Mountaineer)
Features: Pine Forest. Highland rice paddies and villages. Marvelous view of the Cordilleras.

Mt. Ugo has a very rich history which even dates back to the Spanish era that one will find totally insightful. According to our guide, the word “Ugo” was derived from a native term which means beheading someone. It was said that the native people living in the mountains in the effort to defend their lands used to take their Spanish and American captives to Mt. Ugo to behead them. Now that I think about it! Isn’t it creepy? Bet thoughts of beheaded zombies running after you on a dark stormy night within the vastness of Mt. Ugo flooded your mind instantly upon learning about this like I did! Or… Am I all alone in this? 😀 But anyways thoughts of those horrible things (ever you had one) will simply vanish in the air once you get to marvel at the breathtaking pine infused scenery while trekking through the trails from Kayapa to the summit and down Itogon.

MT. ULAP: A Little Slice Of Heaven In The Cordilleras

BASIC INFO

Name: Mt. Ulap or Cloud Mountain
Jump Off: Ampucao Itogon Benguet
Exit Point: Sta. Fe Itogon Benguet
Elevation: 1846 MASL
Difficulty: 3/9 (Pinoy Mountaineer)
Features: Grassland and Pine ridges. Scenic views of the Cordilleras. Burial Caves.

Adding to the impeccable selection of stunning mountains in Benguet is Mt. Ulap, a newly opened hiking heaven located in Itogon. She first welcomed avid mountaineers to her rich, unspoiled lands in September of 2015 and quickly, she rose on top sitting next to the more coveted Mt. Pulag and all for the good reasons. She would knock you off your feet during the first leg of the hike not only because of relentless assaults but also because of the beguiling scenery which your eyes can feed on in every direction. Early on she would give you tons of reasons not to regret giving her a try. Passed the sea of pine trees are endless slopes of grasslands and a marvelous 360 view of the surrounding mountain ranges. She won’t give you a hard time and will keep you cool despite the unforgiving sun. She would get you closer to the clouds at her summit and just when you think she is pretty much uneventful as you inch closer to cap off the day, she would entertain you with a steep 80-degree cliff descent.

MT. TIBIG and Getting Lost In Its Off-Beaten Path

BASIC INFO

Location: Lobo, Batangas
Jump-Off: Sitio Hulo, Brgy Banalo – Lobo, Batangas
Height: 563 MASL
Difficulty: 2/9 Minor Climb
Trail Class: 1-3
Features: Woodlands | Grasslands | Scenic Views of the Coastlines of Southern Batangas

Mt. Tibig is totally off the path. She is rarely on any hiker’s list. While its neighboring mountains are suffering from way too many footprints beating their trails, she on the other hand enjoys the serenity and unperturbed silence of her land. Not that she is less stunning than the others. In fact she has quite a few tricks up her sleeves. She offers a panoramic view of the lush mountain range that surrounds her which includes her close neighbor, Mt. Banoi, and at the far corner of the horizon are the beautiful coastlines of Batangas. Her abundance is immeasurable. Tall, luscious trees. Various colorful flowers. Sweet scented air. And beautiful ridges of grasslands. All these she offers those who dare endure long hours on the road just to take a glimpse of her unspoken beauty..


MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS


THE CLIMB

The hike kicked off a little late at 10:00 AM. There were just the 6 of us (Sir Teo, Poleng and Kuya Julius, Tin, Ian and I) and 4 came all the way from Cubao, QC – Metro Manila. We joined them at the Grand Terminal in Batangas City at 6:30AM and together we took a jeepney ride towards the terminal of passenger jeepneys enroute Lobo Batangas which turned out to be one more jeepney ride away. Yeah I know it sounds a lot of work. After almost an hour getting lost (cause non of us was familiar with the area and none of us had the idea where we were while ridden on a jeepney), we finally arrived in the jeepney terminal bound for Lobo, Batangas. We took another hour to fill up tanks and do some last minute buys then head on towards Lobo.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

The jeepney ride to Lobo took an hour along a paved concrete highway which somewhat resembles the ride we had going to Mt. Pulag but instead of vegetable plantation and terraces, we reached a busy town on a Sunday morning. We were advised to head to the Police Station first where we registered our names for their reference in case of Emergency and paid P20 environmental fee for each. We couldn’t find ourselves a cheap ride to Sitio Hulo Brgy. Banalo anywhere near the Police Station so we walked back to the town plaza. There we found a trike who offered to take us to the jump-off point for P150/trike good for 3-4 people, way cheaper as opposed to the first offer of P250/trike. The ride towards Brgy. Banalo took around 30 minutes.

Upon arriving at the registration point in Brgy. Banalo, we were greeted with warm welcome by the locales. The only thing that turned me off though was the stink coming off the many pig pens situated near the registration site. We chatted with the locales for a little bit and when our guide (Michael) was ready, we then head on to face the challenge of Mt. Tibig. We took a few walk along limestone rocks towards the trail. After passing through the pens of farm goats, the ordeal began.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

Mt. Tibig may not be as tall as the other surrounding mountains, just standing at 563 MASL but she sure does know how to punish. Her trail is a snakelike nonstop assault from her foot all the way to her summit. There are no resting camps along the trail so taking short breathers is a luxury readily available at my disposal. Barely 10 minutes after we started trekking, my breathing already became labored. I was so thirsty but my water bottle was with Ian who was nowhere in sight as he went ahead of the pack while I was at the tail end of it. I had to endure the too excruciating pang in my throat until I spotted them resting under a tree together with the first group of hikers we came across with that day. After satisfying my thirst, we then resume trekking.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

I couldn’t remember trekking along a flat surface. If there was then it might have stretched for just a few good feet because all I am reminded is how I came to survive every aching assault despite my trembling knees and heavy breathing which was made worse when the rain started pouring down the cloudy skies. The downpour had continued as we inch closer to the top. It would abruptly stop and start pouring down again after a few minutes making me unable to snap photos on my camera.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

It was 11:30 AM when we reached a residential house, those typical in the mountains. Small hut made of native materials but not entirely for this one. There was a long table situated under a tree and a bench that stretched for about 2 meters not far from the house. From that spot, we can clearly see the summit filled with acres and acres of greens. There we decided to have our lunch. The rain have just stopped and the sky cleared a little bit giving us a better glimpse of the peak. After eating lunch to our hearts’ content, we each enjoyed posing for the camera with the summit as the backdrop.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

When we all felt well rested, we resumed the trek. This time we passed through an obscured trail. The woodlands stretched for another 100 meters or less before the grasslands took over. It was so surreal being up in the mountains after the drizzle. The breeze have never felt so cold. The dewy air was so refreshing. Flowers seemed to be in full bloom with their sweet scent enveloping the entire mountain.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

The trail from the hut going all the way to the summit is less difficult and not much of an assault as compared to the one that came before. I had recovered from exhaustion and all I felt was excitement as we moved nearer the summit. The ridges of Mt. Tibig was so stunning. It was similar to that of Mt. Batulao and Mt. Pulag, just a bit greener. The mountains that surrounds her were so gorgeous and enticing. It got me wanting to take another ride to Lobo to hike up the other marvelous mountains I can see from afar.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

We had Mt. Tibig all to ourselves that day. No stranger getting caught in one of our photos. No crowd chattering. No other joyful voices except ours. It was just us and the crisp of our laughter. We had plenty of time to admire the scenery without being disrupted from our reverie. There was not a need for us to hurry up since there was just us and no other soul waiting for their turn. Just us and the couple of hours we have to get ourselves enough dose of the extraordinary charm before our eyes.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

If it wasn’t for the rain, we would have stayed longer. But there was no helping the sky becoming too upset. We went down the mountain while the sky drizzled. We were soaking wet but we didn’t mind. The hike down was a lot faster which just took over an hour allowing us to reach the registration a little over 3 PM. We spent several minutes prepping up and just before the clock hit the hour of 4, we head back to town to catch ourselves the last trip to Batangas City.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS

This is probably the shortest hike I’ve been to so far but one of my favorites for all the good reasons. Magnificent mountain. New found friends. Sheer joy and laughter. The day ended with a wish to see them another time, another summit.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS


MY 50 CENTS

  • I noticed people in that side of Batangas are very kind and accommodating. They were very eager to help and answer our queries. They were all smiles making me feel less intimidated.
  • I hope Mt. Tibig stays the way it is and Barangay officials would impose strict regulations with regards to the numbers of hikers they would allow to hike up the mountain to avoid scenarios like those in Mt. Batulao and Pico de loro from happening.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS


HOW TO GO THERE

  • Commute – From Metro Manila, ride a bus in Cubao/Buendia Stations going to Batangas and get off the Grand Terminal (If you get to travel early in the morning, you can ask the bus crew to drop you off in Balagtas). From there ride a jeep to Balagtas proper. Take another jeep going to Lobo jeepney terminal. Ride the jeep bound to Lobo get off the main town. Take a tricycle going to Sitio Hulo, Barangay Banalo and get off at the registration site.
  • Private – Take SLEX and follow S Luzon Expy/R-3 and Calabarzon Expy to San Jose-Ibaan – Batangas Rd in Ibaan. Take the exit toward Ibaan from Calabarzon Expy. Continue to San Jose-Ibaan – Batangas Rd. TakeTaysan – Ibaan Rd and Taysan – Lobo Rd to Jaybanga – Nagtaluntong Rd in Lobo. Upon arriving in Lobo continue to Barangay Banalo.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (Day Hike)

  • RT Fare Batangas-Cubao/Buendia – P350
  • RT Fare Grand Terminal-Balagtas – P22
  • RT Fare Balagtas-Lobo Jeep Terminal – P16
  • RT Fare Lobo – P110
  • RT Fare Lobo – Brgy. Banalo – P100
  • Environmental fee (Lobo) – P20
  • Environmental fee (Brgy. Banalo) – P20
  • Guide Fee @ P500/5 – P100
  • Food and/or other expenses – P200

TOTAL – P938/pax for a group of 5-6

THINGS TO BRING (Day Hike)

  • Packed Lunch
  • Trail Water at least 2 liters
  • Gatorade
  • Trail food
  • Garbage Bag
  • Umbrella
  • Bandana/Cap
  • Extra Clothes
  • Towel
  • Toiletries
  • Extra money
  • Waterproof bag for gadgets in case of rain
  • First aid kit including both OTC and maintenance meds

SAMPLE ITINERARY

0330: Assembly Cubao/Buendia
0400: ETD to Batangas
0500: Grand Terminal
0630: Balagtas
0700: Lobo Jeep Terminal
0830: Lobo town proper
0900: Barangay Banalo/Register
0930: Start Trek
1130: Summit/Photo Ops/LUNCH
1300: Descent
1500: Registration Site/Wash Up
1600: Head Home
1900: ETA Manila

CONTACT PERSON

Barangay Sitio Hulo: Gabino Boongaling

  • 0926 491 6824
  • 0919 440 3941

Lobo Police Station: 0916 719 4906


YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT

  • If you still haven’t had enough of the awesome beauty of nature, you can traverse to Mt. Banoi.
  • If you want somewhere to relax and get a dose of Vitamin Sea, check out the beaches in the area of Lobo.

MT. TIBIG LOBO BATANGAS


There you go! Another marvelous mountain, survived! If you need more info aside from what’s written in this post, don’t hesitate to give me a shout at the comments box below. Do check out BROW-BROW” AND THE STORY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIP to learn the story of the amazing fur buddy we came across with in this enchanting mountain. And be awesome. Share this post! Until next time. See yah! 🙂

MT. PULAG: The Quest Chasing The Sea Of Clouds

BASIC INFO

Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet
LLA: 16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E, 2922 MASL (#3)
Days required / Hours to summit: 4-5 hours / 1-2 days
Specs: Major Climb | Difficulty 3/9 | Trail class 1-2
Trail system: Grand Cordillera Trail, Section 3
Features: Sea of Clouds | Dwarf Bamboo Slopes | Mossy Oak Forest

Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak and the country’s 3rd at 2922 MASL. This marvelous mountain has long been very controversial due to the impeccable view at its summit – an endless horizon filled with fluffy white clouds – which has captured the hearts of mountain enthusiasts from different parts of the country drawing hundreds of them to her feet every single day. Also known as the “playground of the gods”, her ethereal beauty is truly unique and far encompasses other magnificent mountains of her league.

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