Climb a mountain; gain perspective

 
When was the last time you walked for a full hour or two? When was the last time you literally had a breath fresh air, seeing the world’s natural beauty at your feet?

From the perspective of those who grew up in an urban setting, traffic jams and noise are part of the everyday scene. But when the hustle and bustle of city life gets overwhelming, we seek adventure that offers radically different landscapes.

One such adventure is hiking or trekking in mountains near the metro. Though easily accessible, these destinations can be a step out of your comfort zone.

#1. Mt. Batulao

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How far from Metro Manila?

From a three-hour road travel from the Coastal Mall Terminal in Pasay City, one can conquer the zigzag trail of Mt. Batulao situated at the Evercrest Golf Course in Nasugbu, Batangas. Considered as minor climb, this is a recommended trek for beginners.

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Trail Guide

Unlike other mountains, Mt. Batulao gained popularity because one can choose from its two major trails—the “old trail” and the “new trail”, the former being more challenging with steeper slopes and rope-assisted ascents.

For beginners, it’s better to wear trekking shoes than slip-on shoes to spare you from the trouble of getting stuck or slipping. Loose soil remains prominent along the trail, but reaching the summit would require extra willpower, as rocky ascents will take its toll on the trekker. But the effort is worth it–the summit of Mt. Batulao offers a 360-degree scenic view of Batangas.

When is the best time to climb?

February is the perfect month for hiking activities as the cold and dry wind of amihan (northeast monsoon) prevails. Nevertheless, Mt. Batulao is one of the highly recommended mountains to trek anytime of the year. Still, it’s best to check weather updates before the climb.

Hiking Essentials

Practice packing light. Bring enough extra clothes and a towel. Water sources are available in the area or you may just buy from locals selling atop of the mountain. You may be surprised that they even sell halo-halo, buko juice and soda there.

#2. Mt. Daguldol

How far from Metro Manila?

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At the southern part of Batangas in San Juan nestles a coastal mountain known as Mt. Daguldol, a three-hour ride from the Metro. Upon reaching its jump-off point, the breathtaking view of Laiya Beach welcomes you.

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Trail Guide

Before the four-hour trek, hikers are required to pay an environmental fee of Php35 each and hire a guide for Php 400 per group.

There are parts along the trail where soil and rocks are loose and muddy. But unlike Mt. Batulao, the trail of Mt. Daguldol is covered with a thick green forest.
The summit and campsite of Mt. Daguldol is spacious with a vast grassy terrain. Overhead, you can enjoy the stunning view of seascape and rolling slopes.

After trekking, cool down at the beach situated at the foot of Mt. Daguldol. Entrance is free to mountaineers.

When is the best time to climb?

Since Daguldol offers the best of both worlds— the mountain and the beach, the best time to climb here is between the months of March to May. According to PAGASA, hot and dry weather is very pronounced during these months. Less rainfall is also expected so trekking would be a lot easier.

Hiking Essentials

Climbing Mt. Daguldol is more demanding than Mt. Batulao. Make sure you get plenty of rest before the four-hour trek.

Water is very important to keep you hydrated throughout the trek. Bring compact high-energy foods such as raisins, nuts, and sweets to help fuel you during those long hours of ascent.

Extra clothes, towel, tissue and emergency kit are among the necessary items to bring.

#3. Mt. Pico De Loro

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How far from Metro Manila?

Within the boundaries of Cavite and Batangas is the majestic Mt. Pico de Loro, also known as Mt. Palay Palay. Trekkers may choose between two jump-off points: Nasugbu, Batangas and Ternate, Cavite. The road trip to both points may take two to three hours from Manila.

Trail Guide

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A new trail opened at Mt. Pico de Loro, and unlike the old trail, this offers an easier trekking experience. Starting from the middle of the trail to the campsite, expect the path to getting steeper. Reaching the campsite requires trekking with an average of two hours trek from Ternate, Cavite.

Mt. Pico de Loro is the highest point in Cavite with topography of 664 meters above sea level. Its campsite is an amazing vantage point that offers a high-altitude view of jagged landscapse and mountains that pepper Batangas.

MONOLITH

On the other side of Mt. Pico de Loro lies the famous Monolith (also known as Parrot’s Beak). Considered by many as death defying, the monolith is a vertical stone structure that can be scaled with a rope or harness. Recommended only for the experienced climbers.

When is the best time to climb?

Mt. Pico de Loro is accessible all year round, but for monolith, it is advisable to not to climb between the months of mid-May to September. According to PAGASA, the onset of rainy season usually starts on these months, and the peak of tropical cyclones activity in the country falls on July to August.

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Hiking Essentials

Since, Mt. Pico de Loro is a DENR-protected area, vendors are not allowed to camp and sell goods. Cooking at the campsite has been also prohibited. Hikers are advised to bring their own food and water.

Safety First

Because a mountaineer is at the mercy of Mother Nature, prepare for the worst possible scenario before you climb.

Accidents and even deaths are possible. In fact, the death of seven first time hikers in Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan made headlines in August 2014. Popular for its Madlum River, Mt. Manalmon is considered a mere hill, and can easily be conquered in two hours. But because of a sudden and heavy downpour, flashfloods were triggered, causing the fatalities.

Before climbing a mountain, make sure to register at the barangay or at the nearest DENR office that covers the area. Get their contact number and leave yours.

Study the mountain first. Research heavily prior to the scheduled trek. Make sure to have all the necessary items needed for the type of mountain you’ll be trekking.

Check the weather. PAGASA’s website is accessible 24/7. You may even call them at (02) 927-1335 to check the weather condition in a particular area. Through this, you’ll know what to expect, or at the very least, obtain important facts from the state weather bureau.

Always rent a guide. Local guides know best, so keep them at your side.

Aside from fulfilling our dream of adventure, mountain climbing is the perfect way to commune with nature. Remember the mountaineer’s creed, “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.” Be a responsible mountaineer and Mother Nature will reward you a thousandfold.

Jesy Basco

Jesy Basco

is an Advocate of Responsible Media and a Weather Reporter at Panahon TV, aired daily at 5:00 AM on the People’s Television (PTV).