It was yet another stressful week at work… Feeling the need for a weekly de-stressing activity, I found myself looking for a weekend event I could join in. There were a handful of choices actually – from beach getaways to out-of-town day tours to mountain climbing sprees. I just came from a weekend climb last time and I felt it wasn’t enough and so I opted to join another climb with random people.
A newly opened mountain along the coast of Lobo, Batangas called Lalayag Monolith or Nalayag Peak — is making a buzz and is slowly luring a number of hiking enthusiasts. Since I like off-beaten destinations, I chose to do this climb with an Instagram friend. A day before the event, I tried to look for some articles about Lalayag but I didn’t find any except for a Facebook event page and a Youtube video. It wasn’t surprising since it just opened its doors to outdoor lovers late last year.
So I promised myself to make a write-up about it after yesterday’s climb. Here it goes. I hope this would help my friends who have been asking about this mountain since I posted a photo on my Instagram.
Lalayag (or Nalayag) Monolith is actually a rock formation with three peaks. It is part of a mountain in Lobo town of Batangas called Mount Masalukot. (FYI: Lalayag came from the Filipino word “layag” meaning sail, like that of a boat because it looks like one; while Masalukot comes from the local term “salakot” a kind of hat).
This was our itinerary:
01:00 am – meet-up at Kia Theater in Cubao (near Gateway) – pretty early, I know…
02:00 am – expected time of departure to Lobo, Batangas
04:30 am – expected time of arrival in Lobo Municipality
* Here, one has to register at the Police Station and have a group photo (yes, they require visitors to have a group photo); in case you need to buy anything, there is a 711 store near the plaza. Then off we go to Sitio Balibago (which is the jump off of the climb).
05:30 am – expected time of arrival at Sitio Balibago (where one registers again) and guides are obtained. There are several stores in here so you can actually buy some trail food.
06:00 am – Start of Trek (There is a water source along the way, ask the guide about it). It’s pretty easy if you ask me, and the only thing that could possibly make the walk a bit challenging is when the sun is already up as this part of the trek is quite exposed (so better start your climb early).
07:00 am – One reaches a part of the trail called “Bukuhan” (as the area abounds with coconut). This signals the start of the more challenging part of the trail as there is an obvious assault. Ropes are strategically placed in most segments of the ascent towards the rock formations. Be careful as in some parts, the soil is a bit loose.
08:00 am – Arrival at the base of the monolith. As I have mentioned earlier, there are three peaks of varying height.
*The monolith may be reminiscent of Pico de Loro’s monolith (although I believe Pico’s have a larger space atop). The highest of these 3 rock peaks can accommodate approximately 10 people or less, the 2nd one with 2 to 3 persons, while the smallest peak can only accommodate 1. In order to reach the 1st peak, one has to ascend via series of stairs made of wood and ropes. It could be really, really scary if you aren’t used to this kind of adventure. The 2nd peak also requires a bit rappelling and a lot of courage. The way to the top is made a bit scarier by the strong wind. So be extra, extra, extra cautious.
Once you reach the top, all that weary, frightening feeling will subside (or maybe not) as you will be greeted by a super awesome 360 degrees view. Verdant mountains at one side, and the azure Batangas beachscape on another side. You look up and you see how infinite the azure sky could be, and if you look down (now don’t over-do that), you’ll see how high you are and you might get giddy. Hahaha. As a person who likes the adrenaline feeling high places bring about, it was an amazing ephemeral experience. I would have loved to do my signature jump shot BUT that is a no-no for one’s safety.
Since the peaks can only accommodate a specific number of people, you can have merienda/ lunch at the monolith’s base while waiting fpr your group’s turn . There is actually a good spot also for taking photos with the view of the sea as your backdrop aside from the main peaks.
After conquering Lalayag’s Peak, one has the option of traversing to Mount Masalukot’s Peak. But since our group’s plan was to have a side trip at the Malabrigo Lighthouse and a beach resort, we didn’t do this. Moreover, the photo-ops and the queue to the peak took a bit of our time since we were the 3rd group to arrive at the monolith area. We spent roughly 3 to 4 hours here.
12: 00 noon Lunch time/ Siesta
01:00 pm – start of descent (again be extra careful as the way going down can be as challenging as the way up. It can be knee-trembling if you haven’t climbed for quite some time. Be mindful also of the several beehives along the way making sure not to disturb them or else, not even cetirizine may save you. Harhar.
02:30 pm – expected time of arrival at the jump-off (Sitio Balibago). Several households offer food for lunch, merienda and you can even take a bath or do your wash up.
04:00 – Side trip to Malabrigo Beach & Lighthouse for a short dip or even sunset viewing. (Sunset at this side of Batangas is really stunning!
06:00 – Expected time of departure from Lobo town proper
08:00 – had dinner along the way (we had ours in Calamba)
09:30 – Home sweet home!
Since I joined an organized trip, the cost of which is Php 1, 000.00 that included transportation (we rode a van group for 16 people), environmental fee, guide fee, entrance to resort and our dinner. Actually, it isn’t bad at all. (At least I get to skip the hassle of commuting and hopping from one transportation vehicle to another). Big thanks to Sir Jefrey Hila (09951456488) for accommodating me and my friend Dee to join your group. If you want him to organize a Lalayag trip for you and your friends, just send him a message (or you can check him out on his Facebook HERE.
To those who would want to do a “do-it-yourself” trip, you can follow our sample itinerary and these instructions. So if you will commute, and would come from the Greater Manila Area, make your way to Buendia-Taft in Manila. Take a Batangas Pier-bound bus then ask the conductor to drop you off at the Grand Terminal. From the Terminal, hop into a jeepney that plies Batangas City – Balagtas Route. Inform the driver to drop you off the Lobo Terminal. Finally, at Lobo Jeepney Terminal, ride a jeep bound for Lobo. Once in Lobo proper, make your way to the police station for registration. You have to contact their tourism office to arrange transportation going to Sitio Balibago (the jump-off site).
You may contact the following personnel for your guidance.
Mr. Rolly Magtibay or his wife, Marissa Magtibay (responsible for guide designation) – 0919-975-6465
Sorayan “Ayan” de Mesa (for transportation arrangement) – 0995-496-0103
Environmental Fee – Php20.00
Barangay Fee – Php20.00 (paid at Sitio Balibago)
Guide Fee – Php550.00/ 5 pax
It was a great day to commune with nature again. It was an experience made even better by meeting new people with whom you get to share your stories and passion. Special shout out to my friend Dee for coming with me. So don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…