Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mystical Cave and Hill (Rizal, 214+ MASL)

Inside the Mystical Cave (Dec 2017)
Inside the inner chamber of Mystical Cave (Dec 2017)

As the year draws to a close and the remaining days of 2017 are filled to the brim with activities and parties to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, this would perhaps be my last hike before the year ends. Visiting Mystical Cave and hiking to the cross at its hilltop has been in my to-do list for quite some time now and finally I was able to check it off. Said to have around seven levels, the cave is thought to be one of the biggest and most extensive in Rizal, although it has not been fully mapped yet. And even though Mystical Cave is one of Antipolo City's well-known pilgrimage sites, it is still a bit far removed from the city center that being within a city does not totally mar its charms and rustic beauty.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mt. Masungki and Nagpatong Rock (Rizal, 660+ MASL)

At the top of Nagpatong Rock (Nov. 2017)
At the top of Nagpatong Rock (Nov. 2017)

Located along the southern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Tanay, Rizal, Mt. Masungki features jagged limestone rock formations, sheer towering cliffs and bluffs and precarious crags so characteristic of the mountains of Rizal. The name itself, Masungki, means uneven or jagged in Tagalog. Among the towering rock formations of this area is the Nagpatong Rock, a formidable-looking piece of rock made up of layers of limestone stacked together forming a majestic cliff. Home to the native Dumagat tribe, the mountain forms part of the ancestral domain of this native people. Located in Brgy. Cuyambay which is where the Maysawa Circuit and Mt. Paliparan are also located, it is accessible by public transport from Cubao via Cogeo going to Sampaloc.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mt. Batong Amat/Mt. 387 and Aloha Falls RevTrav (Nueva Ecija, 724+ MASL)

At the summit of Mt. Batong Amat/387 overlooking the "Chocolate Hills of the North"

Within the foothills of the Caraballo Mountain Range in Nueva Ecija is the Talavera Watershed Forest Reserve where the trails of Mt. Batong Amat is located. The name of the mountain literally means "Ghost Rock" in the local Tagalog dialect of Carranglan. Aptly christened as Mt. 387 due to the fact that it covers 387.9 hectares of the Talavera Watershed Forest Reserve, Mt. Batong Amat combines just the right elements for a great dayhike - challenging 60 - 70 degrees inclines perfect for scrambling and nice grassy rolling terrain for a relaxing stroll, not to mention excellent views of the Caraballo Mountain Range, the hilly section of the range  popularly referred to as the "Chocolate Hills of the North" and the southern part of the Cordilleras. At the end of the trail is a nice side trip to the picturesque Aloha Falls.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mt. Ulap (Benguet, 1,846+ MASL)

Atop the Gungal Rock of Mt. Ulap (October 2017)

Set in a picturesque piece of the high Cordilleras is the Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail. This trail runs through open and forested sections studded with majestic views of the high mountains, pine forests and several peaks which highlights the many and varied attractions of the Eco-Trail. Conveniently located some 40 minutes away from Baguio City, Mt. Ulap is a perfect destination of choice for hikers wanting to sample the mountains of the Cordillera Range that can be completed within a day without going into a major hike.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mt. Marami and Oriit Falls (Cavite, 405+ MASL)

Atop the Silyang Bato at the summit of Mt. Marami (October 2017)

Located within the Maragondon Range in the same locale as Mt. Pico de Loro, Mt. Marami is another favorite destination for hikers and mountaineers in the province of Cavite. True to its name, Mt. Marami's sheer rock cliff face is composed of many towering rocky pillars pushing out of the earth skyward, giving it such a majestic appearance even from a distance. A true test of stamina and willpower, the trails towards the summit of Mt. Marami takes about 4-6 hours of hike, with several river crossings through forested and open areas vulnerable to the elements. Weather plays a great role in hiking to the summit - the rainy season provides relief from the scorching sun but can slow hikers down due to the extremely muddy trail while the summer season dries out these muddy patches yet exposes hikers to extreme heat.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mt. Bikay (337+ MASL) and Buntot Palos Falls (Laguna)

By the catch basin of Buntot Palos Falls

Buntot Palos Falls, located deep into the forests of the rugged Sierra Madre mountain range in the town of Pangil, Laguna is one of the several majestic waterfalls of the province. Also known as "Hidden Falls" it is in really, hidden away from civilization, requiring about two to three hours of hike into the rocky and mud pit-riddled trails and cutting into the slopes of Mt. Bikay. All the effort though is well rewarded with the sights and sounds of a grand cascade of falling water from a rocky precipice into a rugged collection of huge rocks and a wide and deep catch basin, perfect for swimming and of course, snapping photos.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mt. Humarap (Tatlong Krus) and Matabungka Falls (Laguna, 310+ MASL)

At the summit of Mt. Humarap with the Three Crosses of Paete in the background

The town of Paete on the northeastern shores of the Laguna de Bay is known to be the home of some of the most highly skilled wood carving craftsmen and artisans. Shops offering a menagerie of these wonderful wooden and papier-mâché products line the streets of the town. Accessible from Manila either via Tanay in Rizal or Sta. Cruz in Laguna, the town is about 3-4 hours away from the Metro. Being at the foothills of the Sierra Madre, the town lies in the shadow of Mt. Humarap, with the three crosses at the summit overlooking the entire town down below.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mt. Sembrano and Manggahan Falls (Rizal, 745+ MASL)

At the start of the grassland trail of Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Tagapo in Talim Island in the background

The highest point of the Jala-jala peninsula jutting out of the waters of Laguna de Bay is Mt. Sembrano. Rising tall and proud at a height of 745+ MASL, the peaks of Mt. Sembrano offer stunning views of the plains and mountains of Southern Tagalog on clear days, from the nearby Mt. Tagapo in Talim Island, to as far south as the Banahaw Volcano Complex, and all the peaks and valleys in between. Easily accessible from Manila via buses, vans and jeep that ply the route to Tanay, Rizal, Mt. Sembrano offers a quick and refreshing break from the daily city life grind.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Twin Dayhike (Laguna) - Mt. Prinza (510+ MASL) and Mt. Obabis/Imoc Hill (410+ MASL)

On the slopes of Mt. Prinza, Mts. Banahaw and Cristobal and Lakes Mohicap and Palakpakin in the background

Comprising the Laguna Volcanic Field are numerous mountains, hills and lakes of volcanic origin. This area lies between Laguna de Bay, the Mt. Banahaw volcano complex and the Malipunyo Range. Within the boundaries of the towns of San Pablo, Nagcarlan and Calauan are several of these landforms lumped together forming their own chain of mountains, comprising of Mt. Kalisungan, Mt. Atimla, Mt. Mabilog, Mt. Prinza, Mt. Obabis (Imoc Hill) and a couple more hills in between which remain unnamed. These hills and mountain peaks feature prominently in my previous climbs in Laguna so I decided it was time to also hike these mountains.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mt. Romelo (300+ MASL) Buruwisan Falls, Lanzones Falls and Batya-Batya Falls (Laguna)

By the catch basin of Buruwisan Falls

Hiking the easy trails of Mt. Romelo bestows a great and wonderful reward - an opportunity to behold the majestic waterfalls of Siniloan, Laguna. Within the dense forests on the slopes of the foothills of the Sierra Madre lie several waterfalls which makes the relatively easy trek to Mt. Romelo well worth taking. Easily accessible from Manila via buses and vans that ply the route to Infanta, Quezon, travel time from Manila is just around 3-4 hours, depending on the traffic. With its lust forests, swiftly flowing rivers with clear water and majestic waterfalls, a trip to Siniloan is another great way to get close to nature.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tayak Hill (560+ MASL), Bunga Falls (15+ meters) and Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery (Laguna)

At the summit of Tayak Hill, Mt. Cristobal's slopes and cloud-covered summit in the background

Tayak Hill, named after the tayak grass growing on its slopes stands at around 560+ MASL, making it higher than most of the mountains of the Wawa-Mascap area in Montalban. Located in the municipality of Rizal in Laguna, the jump-off is easily accessible from San Pablo via jeepneys that ply the route to Nagcarlan and Liliw. As a favorite hiking destination for both local residents and tourists, the trail leading to the hill is now paved in concrete all the way to Tayak Adventure, Nature and Wildlife Park, making it possible to drive all the way to the base of the hill. Conveniently located between San Pablo City and Nagcarlan, hikers can add several sidetrips to the hike such as a visit to the Lakes of San Pablo, Bunga Falls and the Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Magdapio (Pagsanjan) Falls via Pueblo El Salvador (Laguna, 90+ meters)

Magdapio (Pagsanjan Falls) viewed from the catch basin

Perhaps the best-known natural attraction in the whole province of Laguna is the Pagsanjan Falls. I distinctly remember studying this and other natural attractions of the Philippines back in my elementary school days during our Civics and Culture class (later on Tagalized into Sibika at Kultura). The name itself is a misnomer - the falls is located outside the town of Pagsanjan and is within the boundaries of the adjacent town of Cavinti. However since time immemorial the easiest and most convenient way for tourists to reach the falls is from Pagsanjan, the name stuck and is what most people know. Cavinti locals refer to the falls as Magdapio Falls and there has been a proposal to rename it to Cavinti Falls.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mt. Mabilog (441+ MASL) and Lake Pandin (Laguna)

Along the trail towards the summit of Mt. Mabilog, Mts Banahaw and Cristobal in the background

A fun, easy and newbie-friendly dayhike with a refreshing side trip is what Mt. Mabilog has to offer. Conveniently located in the city of San Pablo, Laguna, Mt. Mabilog is a mere 2 to 3-hour ride away from the metro. With Lake Pandin as the jump-off, hikers are rewarded with a beautiful scenery and a great side trip after the hike. Easily accessible from Manila via buses that ply the route to Lucena, passing through the city of San Pablo in Laguna, hikers can also add several other side trips to their itinerary like a tour of the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery and a visit to Bunga Falls.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nagsasa Cove - Camping, Hill Walking and Waterfall Chasing (Zambales, 140+ MASL)

Along the trail towards the hilltop, Nagsasa Cove's beaches and Mt. Balingkilat in the background

Located in a sheltered cove lined with fine gray volcanic sands, Nagsasa is a perfect destination for folks wanting to get away from the city and relax but do not want to be too far from Manila and are on a budget. The beach is easily accessible from Manila yet remote enough to feel far removed from the frantic and stressful city life. Like its neighboring Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove is also off the grid - no electricity, no cellular signal and is isolated by the deep blue sea and the towering exposed mountains from the nearest town center. Such is the charm of this isolated piece of natural beauty that hordes of beach bums and adventurers flock to its beaches during weekends and holidays.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mt. Kalisungan (Laguna, 760+ MASL)

At the summit of Mt. Kalisungan, the lakes of San Pablo, Mt. Prinza, Imoc Hill, Malipunyo Range and Mt. Maculot in the background

Mt. Kalisungan marks my first foray into the mountains of Laguna, being the first peak I summitted within the province. A popular dayhike destination especially during the Holy Week, I decided to hike the mountain on Easter Sunday, after the masses of hikers and the crowds of pilgrims have already cleared. Located in the town of Calauan, Laguna, the mountain is easily accessible from Pasay, Alabang or Cubao via buses that ply the route to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Having read several blog posts about this mountain recounting it's charms - the abundance of fruit trees and the magnificent views at the summit, to warnings of confusing and convoluted, constantly ascending steep trails, I decided to give Mt. Kalisungan a try.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Twin Dayhike (Batangas) - Mt. Talamitam (630+ MASL), Mt. Apayang (662+ MASL) and Layong Bato River

At the summit of Mt. Apayang, Mts. Pico de Loro and Marami in the background

Appearing almost like twins from a distance, Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Apayang both sit on the vast Talamitam Plateau. In contrast to the mostly bare and desiccated slopes of Mt. Talamitam, however, the thick green canopy cover of Mt. Apayang appears verdant in spite of the heat of the summer sun. Almost a year ago, together with some friends, I was able to hike Mt. Talamitam. During that time, the green slopes of the adjacent Mt. Apayang appears quite inviting and so I promised that I will definitely be back to hike that other peak.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Twin Dayhike (Rizal) - Mt. Parawagan (480+ MASL) and Mt. Susong Dalaga (325+ MASL)

Mts. Hapunang Banoi, Pamitinan and Binacayan viewed from the slopes of Mt. Parawagan (Feb. 2017)

Two of the newly opened mountain trails to hikers in Sitio Wawa, Brgy San Rafael in Rodriguez, Rizal, Mt. Parawagan and Mt. Susong Dalaga rise majestically south of the Wawa River. While the more distant Mt. Susong Dalaga is often overshadowed by its more lofty neighbors, Mt. Parawagan rises tall and proud. Owing to its peculiar long ridge and extensive slopes, the mountain is clearly visible from almost all points of Montalban. On clear days, the slopes of this mountain can even be seen from as far away as Libis and Cubao in Quezon City, being at the southern tail end of the Sierra Madre before it transitions into the flat plains of Metro Manila.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mt. Lagyo (Rizal, 396+ MASL)

Between the crags. Taken on the first peak of Mt. Lagyo (Feb. 2017)

Recently opened on the last week of January, Mt. Lagyo together with Mts. Parawagan, Susong Dalaga and Kapananan are the newest attractions of Sitio Wawa in Brgy. San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal. Located south of the Wawa River, Mt. Lagyo can clearly be seen on the summits of Mt. Binacayan, Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Hapunang Banoi. From the summits of these mountains Mt. Lagyo rises modestly at just around 396 MASL. Although dwarfed by its more well-known neighbors in terms of altitude, Mt. Lagyo presents its own challenges and difficulties even seasoned hikers would certainly appreciate.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mt. Manalmon (196+ MASL), Mt. Gola (192+ MASL) and Madlum Cave (Bulacan)

Crossing the Madlum River, Mts. Manalmon and Gola in the background (Taken on January 2017)

The Biak na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan offers great outdoor destinations perfectly suited for anyone looking to commune with nature. Included in its many varied options are the Madlum River with its emerald green waters, Bayukbok and Madlum Caves studded with glittering crystalline rock formations and of course Mts. Manalmon and Gola which offer stunning views of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Located in Sitio Madlum in San Miguel, Bulacan, the park is a mere 2 to 3-hour ride away from Manila. With its proximity to the Metro, the park is a perfect destination for a quick and fun hike.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mt. Tagapo (Rizal, 438+ MASL)

At the summit of Mt. Tagapo, with Mt. Sembrano in the background

Located in the heart of Laguna de Bay, Mt. Tagapo, or Bundok ng Susong Dalaga as locally referred to, is the highest point of Talim Island. Being volcanic in origin, the peak forms part of the southwestern rim of the Laguna Caldera, an ancient massive volcano whose eruptions created the central lobe of the present-day Laguna Lake. Under the jurisdiction of the towns of Binangonan and Cardona in Rizal province, Talim Island is easily accessible from Manila via several jeepneys and UV express vans that ply the route from Shaw Boulevard and Cubao to Binangonan and then through a ferry ride via the lake from Binangonan to the jump-off at Brgy. Janosa in the eastern part of the island.