Mt. Balagbag

Take the road less traveled and see the beauty lies beyond the skyscrapers and urban life.

It has been a month since we haven’t had any over the weekend adventure. Buddy and I were buzzin  for some adrenaline kick which a hike, a dive, even a little spice over our weekend aside from sweeping the floor and painting our flat could give.

2 July, just the right start for mid-year assessment,  in work, in  our plans for the year and a kick off for our 2nd semester series of #outofthebox and #extremeadventure, we decided to hike Mt. Balagbag in Rizal.

An almost 2 hours ride from Manila, and more or  less 2 hours of hike to reach the summit and you’ll be able to see series of mountains challenging  you to take the plunge and hike them out! On the North West was the Mt. Arayat in Pampanga (already hiked  in 2014), Mt. Pamitinan and a lot more to discover!

It was a usual hike for  buddy and I, but we were surprised with what  life has to offer- a group of students walked with and literally hiked with us as they did their case study for their documentary. It was a nice Saturday morning and in amazement, they’ve got surprised to know that  buddy and I were no longer uni students, instead working  for the public.

From the usual hike to a search for possible subject of a university documentary we ended up listening to the interview and IR skills were in hype to asked for answers to taboo issues (e.g. child labor, human trafficking, UN SDG, prostitution and etc.) We gave them the not so usual  advice-seek the reality world with questions for you to find the real answers.

The adventure did not stop with the  almost 2 hour hike, instead, we opt to take the adventure to a higher level, despite the  gloomy weather and high chance of rain, we chose to do waterfalls chasing. The initial plan was to have it at Mt.Maranat which was a bit easier and way to descend, but we chose the hard way,together with buddy, 3 students, 2 individuals we’ve just met,and  with our guide, we decided to go to  Odiong Falls. As instructed, it was a four hours hike (RT) and see a crystal clear water before you. However, on the onset and in search of real adventure, we were  descending in a jungle like ambiance as the heavy rain poured as if it has no plan to stop, we kept walking. We heard the usual first time hike jitters of leg pain , but continued to walk.

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Unfortunately, since the rain  did not stop, the river turned into mud-like river. As if we were trapped in a secluded area (like the ones you see in Indiana Jones movie),  the adrenaline just started to set in. Our guide  has been a great help when we were about to go home (3pm). He assisted each and everyone of us to hike the steep and muddy part of the mountain since we were no longer able to cross the river. Some went dehydrated, others got hypoglycemic but  we had to move.

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The road less traveled

After a couple of hours,  we reached the registration  area (starting  point) and just as any other hiking adventure we had, muddy, sweaty and dehydrated body welcomed the city. But such wont be a reason not to take the road less traveled – again. Perhaps it was a call to be on the road away from the demands of urban life and let ourselves soaked in the rain.

Itinerary: 

8am: Depart San Jose, Rodriguez Rizal

9am: Reached Brgy. Licao  Licao

10am: start trek

12nn: reached summit

1pm: descended, off to Odiong Falls

2:30pm: reached odiong falls (river, wasn’t able to reached the falls due to heavy rain)

3pm: start trek (going home)

4:30pm: reached registration (starting point)

 

 

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Argao in 6 Hours

Situated in South Eastern part of Cebu, approximately 68 km from Cebu City. Approximately, one and a half to two hours travel time from the Cebu South Bus Station.

What to do in Argao?

If you’re an adventure junky just like me, there’s plenty of activities waiting for you. You can choose from spelunking to chasing waterfalls or just simply roaming around the Municipality and see the beautiful old structure that’s being well preserve by the people of Argao.

If you’re up for adventures (e.g. cave diving, and water falls chasing and some food trip), the Municipality of Argao has something to offer for your adrenaline rush cravings.

How to Get to Local Tourism Office of Argao?

From Mactan International Airport, take a cab to Cebu South Bus Station which would cost around 150. Take Ceres bus going to bato via lilo-an and tell the asst. driver (conductor) to drop you at Argao’s Town Proper / poblacion. From the bus stop you may opt to take:

  1. a tricycle ride (around 8 pesos each) going to the Tourism office or
  2. just walk.

If you opt to take the latter, from the bus stop, cross the national road, straight ahead, turn right at the first corner then turn left and straight ahead you will see the Cabecera de Argao sign warmly welcomes you to the Municipality of Argao.

It is best and highly advisable to contact the Local Tourism Office of Argao if you want to try spelunking and exploring Balay sa Agta. The reason is always due to safety precautions and the travel time from the Tourism office to the starting point is quite far.

The standard package of the local tourism office costs us 600 each with the following inclusions:

  • habal-habal(motorcycle) ride to and from the tourism office and starting point;
  • snacks (their famous delicacies- torta over a hot locally grown chocolate de baterol/ Cocoa);
  • transit and guide to Bugasok Falls;
  • Payment for two (2) tour guides;
  • equipments (rappeling ropes, saftey gears, helmets and headlights)
  1. Spelungking (Balay sa Agta)

– Situated in Barangay Conalum and is believed to be the dwelling of Argao’s mythical giant, Mangao. Large quantities of guano or bat droppings are found in this cave. Also, one of the largest caves in Cebu.

It is a standard Procedure to have 2 guides one in the front and one at the back, it was risky to assist a team of 2 or more individuals upon approaching the starting point of the cave.

The entire spelunking took us around 3 hours, (1.5 hours) each way, with fruit bats, various rock formation welcomes you and as if waving their best spot for your camera to capture.

The highlight of the exploration was the image of a giant seems staring at you from above (we were requested by our tour guides to switch off our headlights to see the image). Honestly, it was really creepy as if someone really  staring at you having his cigar on his mouth. We tried to take a photo of the giant but we were failed, as if he’s not social creature. 🙂

  1. Bugasok Falls

As part of the package set by the local tourism office, my travel buddy and I took our liberty to capture the beauty of the falls.

After a creepy encounter with the giant, you will be amazed by the eye candid view of Bugasok Falls from the top. As one of our guides find us (me and my travel buddy) a bit adventurous, our guide opt to take us to a nice view spot of the Bugasok Falls.

Before, some professional mountaineers used to rappel from the top and have a nice dip on the falls. unfortunately, when we visited the place, it was no longer allowed. I am not sure for the reason.

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3.Torta & Tablea

Argao is known for its delicacies such as torta and tablea/cocoa. Torta is their version of “mamon” made out of flour, tuba (coconut wine), margarine, yard, sugar on top and milk. We tried Jessie’s homemade torta over a cup of hot cocoa/tablea. The torta has its soft, yet a bit dry in texture (perhaps due to the wine) and the sweetness hot cocoa (due to its freshly harvest/freshly brewed) compliments the torta which made it irresistible and you would ask for more.

  1. Riverstone Castle

Are you familiar with the Medieval Structures and castles back then in your history class? How about pictures of cavaliers and other Medieval aged personalities settled in one place? That is how Riverstone Castle was made of.

It is actually an inn for those tourist who want to indulged themselves in different time and ambiance. The cost per night is 1,000 pesos without breakfast though.

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  1. San Miguel Church

-Every backpacker has their adrenaline for old churches (which Cebu has a lot to offer). A rococo-baroque church built in 1734 but finished in 1788.

(Sample Itenerary for Argao)

Breakdown of Costs:

TIME ACTIVITY COST
5:00 am – 7: 07 am  MLA- CEBU 2,321.92 (Seat sale for 2)
7:20 am – 8: 20 am Airport to Cebu South Bus Station 257.00 (Cab)

 

8:36 am – 10:30 am Depart Cebu South Bus Station to

Municipality  of Argao (via Ceres Bus)

2  hours travel time

 

 89.00/pax
11:20 am- 12:45 pm *LUNCH

**Waiting time at the Tourism Office

Pay Local Tourism Office of Argao for the

activity

 

 

104 for 2 pax

600.00/pax

included in the package

–       Spelungking

(Balay sa Agta)

–       Bugasok Falls

–       Snack (Jessie’s Torta)

 

12:46 pm-1:20 pm Transit to Brgy. Conalum via habal-habal
1:21 pm-5:30 pm Start of Activity

 

5:30 pm-6:00 pm Eat Snack at Jessie’s Torta

Back to Local Tourism office

 

6:05 pm – 9:00 pm – Transit to Oslob for whale Watching  73.00/pax

 

*You can have your Lunch at Carmen’s Eatery the food is nice and it’s budget friendly, it’s a walking distance from the Bus stop so no need to ride a tricycle; There’s plenty of Carinderia along the Highway so you don’t have to worry about starving.

** If you don’t have reservations you have to wait for at least an hour for your tourguides who’s coming from Conalum. So it’s better to have your reservations ahead of time to avoid waiting.

Source:

Local Tourism Office- Municipality of Argao T: 485-8063

Office of the Mayor: T: 367-7542

Mt. Gulugod Baboy

A 48 hour trip to detoxify and be offline  for a day or two while satisfying adrenaline rush and crave for out of the box.

Target Place: Mt. Pinagbandirahan also known as Mt. Gulugod Baboy
Where: Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
Level of difficulty: Some bloggers/mountaineering enthusiast rate this with 2/9.
Hike time: 1-2hours depending on the pacing of hike

How to get there?

Option 1: If you are coming at nearby area like Cavite, you may opt to take a van ride going to Batangas and drop off at Bauan Town Proper. This will cost you around 140 each (from Dasmarinas Cavite)
From Bauan town proper take jeepney ride going to Mabini town proper (20each). From Mabini town proper take tricycle ride going to Philpan dive resort at Anilao which will cost you 40 per person. You will be required to sign up for registration which is 35 each and do sign off once you’re done hiking.

Option 2: Take bus ride from Cubao or Buendia bus terminal going to Batangas grand terminal or Batangas port.
From Batangas grand terminal there are jeepney rides going to Mabini. Either you rent the jeepney and pay 100/90 each 12122524_10205708109561832_7967857725059396427_ndepending on haggling skills.:). The jeepney will pass through Bauan, and Mabini town proper. If you opt to rent the jeep, the driver will take you to Philpan, Anilao Batangas for the jump off.

Register at the Barangay hall which would cost around 35 each and you’re off to go!

There are no stations by the way, unlike the usual hike where you will be able to see trail marks and stations, in Gulugod Baboy there are no signs, no trail marks, just a plain and simple train uphill.

It was a night hike, with 5 of us (ladies) who tried and exceeded our personal limits and defeat the stereotype of being fragile, and vulnerable. Since there were only  two of us who were used in climbing, the rest of the three were newbies, it was indeed a good start.

A Remarkable hike

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Reached Top at 8pm

It was indeed a remarkable hike for one of our friends who got tired at the start of the trek. She’s not use with long walks and even have a heavy bag with her. Pack light as the norm for backpacking and hiking was validated. While suffering from cramps, and difficulty in breathing, we kept ourselves calm as there’s no room for back-off and not having mental alertness. Luckily, while on our way to the top, a family of 5 were at our back waiting for their turn to be on their way to home. Unknowingly, Kuya Randy (our guide), became helpful in a thousand reasons. He was able to carry our friend’s bag and her 4ltrs of water and accompanied her as she walked bit slower. He also managed to gave us a nice spot on top where we set-up our tent and be prepared for the next day.

Nightmares

October 11, around 1am, we were suddenly woke up by soft rains yet, a bit strong winds hit o12074499_10203707140637522_2006758066096682189_nur tents. There was also hustling sound that made one of our friend more scared than ever she’d been. Certainly, It was a scary early morning as we don’t know when will the rain stop and if our tent is suffice to beat the strong wind. Personally, I was thinking of how the team would descend in a sticky and muddy trail? The rain last for 30 minutes and we go back to sleep only to find out that it was already early in the morning as the sunrise saying hi to us.

12118659_10205708100281600_6835207906858791226_n Sunrise or Sunset?

We have seen the sunset the day before while we were on hike the mountain, as we woke up, we were greeted by the fog as zero visibility waves his hand saying hello! The feeling was surreal, as we climbed and reached the peak (note: the camp site is not that far from the peak), the feeling of a winner sets in. Winner in terms of conquering your personal inferiority, stress at work or home, feel independent and responsible for your own well being ( as no one will care if you got caught in  the middle of the night with  a dog bite- of course that is a bit exaggeration), a dose of positivism lingers till you no longer know the word pessimism and negative vies.

Time to Descend or Wait till Dawn

We left the camp site around 7am and started our way to the trail again. We met Kuya Randy again as he guide and assisted us on our way descending. As expected, it was a sticky, muddy and full of challenging trail awaited us. One of our friends got her shoes broken due to the mud, in result, she walked the trail barefooted. The descend took us 2 hours, as it was not that high mountain. We reached the jump-off by 9am.

Sidetrip

One of the perks of doing hike is to explore more of the place and even the community. It was a nice community by the way, as we planned to booked a nice boat ride to one of the islands in the nearby area. A trip to sumbrero island cost us a fortune, instead, we opt to take the not so popular island- Oscar’s Island. The cost was around 500 each (for group of 5) as we rented a boat and traveled for 45 minutes. We did a quick stop at Sumbrero Island before heading to a much crystal clear beach.

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High at Sumbrero Island

A feeling of relief, that anything can be conquered, and beat any challenges ahead of me. Let’s wait and see for the next trip! 😀

Mt. Manabu

1st Month of the Year, 2 Summits, 3 Different Outdoor Activities and 4 out of the box experiences.

A university fellow and I started doing this (mountain climbing) since last year (2014) marking our journey away from the norms set forth by our challenging, dynamic and heterogeneous society. This is a series of entries about our lives, our journey outside our usual routine; however, as much as possible, we wanted to capture every single detail of our journey in a particular place. Hence, this entry about eat, swim and climb came into existence.

It was early morning of the 2nd day of the 1st month of the year and we started working our way to Batangas with my university friend. It heavily rained the day before our ultimate backpacking experience started.

Climb for a Cup of Coffee

Mt. Manabu is known for having free civet coffee for the mountaineers who would try to conquer it. As both of us were on our hype of trying out new things, we opt to take the challenge aside from the pile of mud that would stick on your shoes. Since I am a certified coffeeholic, I did not deprived myself to descent without trying one of the most expensive coffee in the world- the Civet. Once you reached station 5, you’ll going to see a humble hut that is open to all mountaineers, and you’ll meet tatay Tino who takes care of few alamids (civet) and will offer you an unlimited access to this amazing coffee.

Since it rained the day before we climbed this mountain, expect to have an unfavorable fog along the way aside from the trade winds that comes with the yuletide season. A cup of alamid coffee was the perfect thing to do once you reached the half of the hike, unless otherwise, you want to spoil the entire climbing journey.

Enjoying our first cup of Civet Coffee.

Enjoying our first cup of Civet Coffee.

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Climbing is not about the Summits Conquered

Climbing buddy and I always takes time to climb a certain mountain. We don’t want to climb for the sake of climbing, but it is more of a personal thing. “it is not the mountain that you conquer but your fears” as what have been mentioned in station 2 of this hike. We were supposedly opt to descend on the 7th and 8th station, yet, since it was really foggy at that time, we opt to take the same path we had earlier and we don’t want to compromise our lives just for the sake of having an entry and pictures about this.

Unlimited Fresh Water

On our way descending, we decided to clean our shoes (muddy), in the running stream. It was like a melted ice water freely flowing to the bottom of the mountain. While trying to remove the mud that stocked on our shoes, we’ve seen how people were not able to maintain the “naive” feature of nature. We kept on practicing the outdoor ethics, yet there are still groups of people who don’t care about sustainability and development which made me think, it is just a facade to climb for personal reasons or it is just an implication of a more complex role?

The Summit

The Summit.