Bud Bongao (Tawi-tawi, PH)

You haven’t been to Tawi-tawi if you didn’t go climb its highest peak (422 masl) – Bud Bongao. This is what most travelers would say when advising someone who plans to go on a sojourn down the Philippines’ southernmost province.

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And so during our last day in Tawi-tawi, we decided to trek our way to the majestic and sacred Bud Bongao or simply Bud. Actually, upon arrival at the Sang-Sanga airport, this imposing landmark would already catch one’s attention for it dominates the landscape of Tawi-tawi’s capital – Bongao. The mountain looks like a miniature version of Table Mountain in South Africa from afar (especially if you’re coming from the Celebes Sea area), although some people would say it looks like a turtle too.

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The mountain is forested and is home to different exotic flora and fauna like wild cattle and pig, and the ever famous white and brown monkeys. (Do not forget to bring some food to feed the friendly and cute primates you’ll meet along the way). Being a sacred ground and a burial place, there are hallowed sites along the way. Having an accessible jump-off point, and an established trail, the climb to the peak is pretty easy and can be done in half a day.

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Upon reaching the peak, you will have a stunning view of the sea that stretches up to Borneo, a bird’s eye-view of Sanga-Sanga island/airport, the islands of Sibutu and Simunul, and of course the quaint Bongao town. Truly, a climb to Bud Bongao is an amazing experience.

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How to Reach Bud Bongao:

There is no direct flight from Manila to Tawi-tawi, so you need to first take a plane ride to Zamboanga, and from Zamboanga, there are flights to Tawi-tawi. Once at the airport, ride a tricycle that will take you to Bongao town proper. From the center, take either a tricycle or habal-habal to the jump-off point.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Cachup Mountain (Benguet, PH)

Reaching the top of a mountain is, most of the time, an impressive physical, mental, and emotional accomplishment. Why? Because most mountains pose a certain degree of challenge. But not all mountains are difficult to climb. We have several reasons why we climb mountains. I have shared most these in my write-up about Mount Pulag (Read here at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/mount-pulag/.  Moreover, I climb mountains in order to relax. Read along…

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During my awesome years in Baguio, climbing a mountain or 2 during a weekend is a usual activity. You see, Baguio is blessed to have these serrated landscapes that are pretty easy to scale. Some even are just a walk in the park. Sometimes, Sundays are spent on climbing them.

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One of the easiest (if not the easiest) mountain that me and my friends favour to saunter is Cachup Mountain in Ambiong, La Trinidad, Benguet. This has to be one of the most accessible mountains I have been to that by just riding a jeepney or taxi plus a 10-minute walk, you are already at the peak. My friends and I would usually jog our way to this easy, breezy place that gives a stunning view of Baguio and La Trinidad specially early in the morning.

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History 101: It is called Cachup because according to locals, the area used to be higher in terms of height. As time passed by, the a significant amount of land has been chopped out (in a term they use, na-“chop-chop”.  I know it could be funny that I even wanted to give a better sounding name to it. Hahahaha…

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This place is both for the newbies and the not-so-athletic ones. It is truly a beginner friendly mountain. No rugged terrain, no knee-trembling ascent and descent. Besides the refreshing landscape, you will get toencounter several animals along the way, cows, and even dogs. I actually brought my chow, Kabbage, one time here. So, if you are looking for an uber-easy-chill-relaxing climb or jogging area in Baguio, why not see Cachup Mountain. DSC06783DSC00455

How To Reach Cachup Mountain:

From Manila, ride a Baguio-bound bus. Once in Baguio, you may either ride a taxi and inform the driver to take you to Ambiong Central School or ride an Ambiong-bound jeepney and walk your way to Ambiong Central School. From the gate of the school, make your way towards the school, passing by their basketball court. At the back of the school is a trail leading to the top of the mountain. You know you’re at the peak when a 360-degrees view of Baguio City and La Trinidad comes into view.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Pico de Loro (Cavite, PH)

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.”

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Pico de Loro and Its Monolith
Maragondon, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas
Major jump-off: DENR Station, Magnetic Hill, Ternate, Cavite
Minor jump-off: Ternate-Nasugbu Highway, Nasugbu, Batangas
LLA: 14° 12.855 N; 120° 38.785 E; 664 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 2-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Distinctive spire at the summit, forests, scenic views of Cavite

*Details above is from from pinoymountaineer.com000

Mount Pico de Loro, also known as Mount Palay-Palay, is a dormant volcano in Cavite. The mountain is 664 m (2,178 ft) above sea level, and is considered the highest point in the province. It is considered to be the most notable mountain and is considered as one of the two prominent mountains of the protected landscape together with Mount Marami.DSC_1790

This mountain rose to fame because of a monolith or a natural 60-meter rock column beside its summit which serves as the major attraction of the mountain looks like a beak of a bird hence the moniker Parrot’s Peak.0000efg

The major jump-off of the mountain is in the town of Ternate in Cavite although majority of its area is under the town of Maragondon. Moreover, the summit is shared between the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.

The approximately 2 hour trek to the summit features a 5-kilometer terrain passing through forested areas and some minor streams. There is a saddle camp beside the summit with noteworthy and lovely bamboo features. There is also a waterfalls near the area, that can be a sight to behold during the rainy season.

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Sample Itinerary (also from PinoyMountaineer.com

DAYHIKE
0400 Board bus at Coastal Mall Terminal to Ternate (P82)
0700 ETA Ternate. Rent jeepney or tricycle to jumpoff
0745 ETA DENR / jump-off point. (P25 registration)
0800 Start trek.
0945 Reach highest point of the New Trail
1000 Arrival at junction with Old Trail
1030 ETA campsite

1100 ETA summit. Lunch

From this point, take either Option A (Backtrail) or B (Traverse)

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Option A: Backtrail to Ternate
1230 start descent to Magnetic Hill
1430 Back at DENR; take jeep/trike to Ternate then take bus back to Manila

1900 ETA Manila.

Option B: Traverse to Nasugbu
1230 start descent to Nasugbu-Ternate Highway
1530 ETA Nasugbu-Ternate Highway.

1700 Arrival in Nasugbu. Dinner. Bus terminal is near Jolibee.

2100 ETA Manila.

A friend I saw along the trail of Pico.
A friend I saw along the trail of Pico.

Mount Timbak (Benguet, Philippines)

“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” – Edmund Hillary

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MOUNT TIMBAK

Major Jump-Off: Km. 55, Atok, Benguet
Elevation: 2717 MASL (8914.04  feet)
Days Required / Hours to Summit: 1 day / 1.5-2.5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9
Features: cabbage terraces (sometimes carrots), mummies, village life, and views of major Cordillera peaks (like Mount Pulag)

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Mount Timbak – also called Mount Singakalsa is the 9th highest mountain in the Philippines and the 3rd in Luzon. It is one of the prominent peaks of the Cordillera Mountains range. If you happen to pass by the Halsema Hi-way, one would take notice of this mountain’s imposing beauty that serves as a backdrop of the highest point in Atok, Benguet.
It maybe the third highest mountain in Luzon, next to Pulag and Tabayoc, however, the hike is pretty much easy. Most people who scale the mountain not for its height but for the mummies and vegetable and flower terraces along the way.

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At the summit of Mt. Timbak are three crosses and some other religious figures. It is a great vantage point to see Mounts Tabayoc, Pulag, Purgatory, and Ugo on a clear day. One would be too glad to see also a sea of clouds, and if the weather is good – both sunrise and sunset viewing would be youre reward.

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While one can do just a day hike to Mount Timbak, it would also be good to spend a night at the peak and experience a Pulag like weather. Find a flat area to pitch your tents on. Take note that the nightly winds (and even rain) can bring a very cold temperature.

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How To Go To Mount Timbak:
Most mountain-enthusiasts go to Mt. Timbak from Manila or from Baguio City. Going from Manila first you must get to Baguio City. The easiest way is to get a bus from Metro Manila, from the Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Cubao, EDSA. Buses to Baguio leave every hour.
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From Baguio, take a bus going to the direction to Bontoc, via the Halsema Higway. Buses going in this direction depart from the Slaughterhouse Road or the terminal of buses going to Sagada at the back of Center Mall. It takes about 2 hours to the jump-off point at the 55 km of the Halsema Highway.

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From the Halsema highway you have to turn right to a very steep cement-paved side road. If you stray away from the main path, all the other roads terminate at one of the houses of the locals who would then direct you back to the main road. The main road is actually the same road that traverses Timbak down to Kabayan Barrio. Then, one will pass by an elementary school. One may ask the locals for the trail to the peak. Following the main road farther would lead you to the Timbak mummies.

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SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 0 – If one is coming from Manila
22:00 – Assembly
23:00 – Departure Manila to Baguio City

Day 1 

05:00 – Arrive at Baguio City / Breakfast / Buy supplies
07:30 – Proceed to bus terminal
08:00 – Depart Baguio City to Jump-off
10:00 – Arrival at jump-off (final preparation)
10:30 – Start trek (road trek)
11:00 – ETA Mongoto Elementary School / Lunch / Refill water
13:00 – Resume trek to camp or go and visit the Timbak mummies
14:00 – End of road
15:00 – ETA Mount Timbak summit/ Set-up camp / Free time / Socials/ Wait for sunset

Day 2 

05:00 – Wake-up call / Sunrise viewing / Breakfast / Pack-up
08:30 – Start descend
10:00 – ETA KM 55
10:30 – Ride back to Baguio City
13:00 – ETA Baguio City / Free time
21:00 – Depart Baguio City to Manila (time may vary)

Day 3 – September 8, Monday

03:00 – Arrival in Manila

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“Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.” – William Blake)

***To date, I have scaled this mountain on 2 occasions, and it was really great to have influenced friends to come with me and enjoy the beauty of nature.

You can also check out (and hit the like button) my FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/roamulofied

Instagram: roamulofied

Taraw Cliff (El Nido, Palawan)

When you go to the mountains, you see them and you admire them. In a sense, they give you a challenge, and you try to express that challenge by climbing them. – Edmund Hillary

When I was planning our El Nido trip last year, I stumbled upon an itinerary that included a trek to El Nido’s highest point. I was pretty surprised since I wasn’t expecting that there is such a thing in this quaint coastal town which is more famous for its beaches. And so I did a little more research and lol! El Nido also boasts off limestone (mountain) cliffs that line up the town and its many islands.

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“Taraw Cliff” (or Mt. Taraw) is the highest point in El Nido, and is actually a monolith made of limestone – sharp, jagged, treacherous ones. And so, during our 3rd day in El Nido (after doing island hopping for 2-days) off we went to do some trekking because my friends and I love mountains. Most blogs described it as ‘seriously not for the faint of heart.’ True enough, the hike would welcome you a steep assault and a lot of rock climbing. Good thing our guides were very generous in helping us with what to do.

I could say that the highlights of this escapade were climbing vertical cliffs along the trail. Ninety degrees of heart-thumping, adrenaline-inducing climb! Although one may find it frightening, my friends (who are also adrenaline junkie like me) found the boulder-filled terrain to be fun-filled and exciting.

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spectacular view of Bacuit Bay!

It took us around an hour to to reach the peak. And the view atop? It was surreal! It was picturesque! We were literally lost for words. And it evoked a joyful feeling sharing this spectacular view with your friends. From the summit is overlooking the azure waters of Bacuit Bay with some of El Nido’s island floating like emerald gems. We spent about an hour at the summit – it was peaceful, satisfying and made me appreciate how wonderful life is.

After almost an hour of staying at the monolith’s peak, we started our descent. The descent was faster however it remains to be quite treacherous (so one has to be as careful as during the ascend).

Happy to be sharing this view with my friends!
Happy to be sharing this view with my friends!

For those who want to squeeze in a different activity when you are in El Nido, besides the usual beachneering and island-hopping, brave your way to Taraw’s summit and feast your eyes with El Nido’s unending charm through a bird’s eyeview.

Things To Consider:

  • Wear the right footwear.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Pack light.
  • Bring energy drink/water.
  • There is no fixed guide fee. We paid ours 400/pax.
  • It is best to trek during daytime (preferably early morning).

Sampe Itinerary

6:30am – Meet up with your guide (got ours from the owner of the inn we stayed at).

7:00am – Start trek

8:00am – Summit

09:00am – Start descent

10:00am – back at the jump off point

that's me atop the monolith!
that’s me atop the monolith!

During our stay in El Nido, we did stay at the Northern Hope Inn. You may contact them at http://www.northernhopetours.com/accommodations/el-nido/northern-hope-inn/

Mount Pulag (Benguet, PH)

Climbing Mt. Pulag: Thoughts and Reflection

“Yes, tell your story. Be an example to others. Tell everyone that it is possible, and then others will find the courage to climb their own mountains.” Paulo Coelho, Like The Flowing River

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This is about someone’s passion. It is about excitement and fervor – a simple straight forward account as to why some people are passionate about mountains and how climbing mountains change some of us. This is my passion.

The grassland.
The grassland.

I know I’ve made several blogs now but I have to confess, I still have trouble starting out one… it worries me since I may not be able to substantiate my reasons… But then again, given that I assert this as my own account, then I guess no one can malign me for my own words and perspective… I have scaled Mount Pulag 13 times for the past 10 years. Yes, 13 times! This is not a rundown as to what happened on each of those 13 Pulag climbs but a narrative of the reasons of climbing this very same mountain. More so, this is a tale about happiness, friendship and all else that comes in between the two. I am no longer surprised whenever someone asks me as to why I continue climbing Mount Pulag… Here are some personal reasons I have come to realize why I keep coming back to the Playground of the Gods.

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Most enjoyable way to experience Pulag is with friends!

Recreating the Past Why not go somewhere new and have completely new experiences? – Someone once told me. I have to admit though that I am pretty stuck with the thought that “I keep going back to one place because it makes me recreate the experiences I had the last time.” True enough, going back makes me feel reunited with the people who once shared that memorable escapade with me. It makes me feel rejuvenated and alive, and no one can take that fact away from me.

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Things never happen the same way twice. I have been sharing this line to anyone who persistently asks me as to why I like going back to a place where I have been to several times. I may have that tendency to recreate the past experiences I have had, but there is more to recreating. For me, no matter how frequent I have been to one place, no matter how similar things may look like, there are those small details that make something very special… something different…. It would be inequitable to say that one climb is more memorable than the other since every climb I made was unique and unforgettable. Hence turning something into a whole, new experience…

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The famed sea of clouds.

Being on top of the mountain is like partly living a dream.

There are times when I close my eyes, I could vividly imagine how quaint the grassland is with its swaying dwarf bamboos; the way the sun bursts over the cottony sea of clouds. The astonishing display of emblem during a crack of dawn – swathed in amazing gold, carroty, scarlet, and burgundy shades never fails to amaze. Sunrise experience over 2,922 meters above sea level is indescribable feeling. I would think of the azure sky during the day; the stars in the night sky and how that vastness made me feel smaller. When you’re out there, you suppose that you see every minute star in the universe, especially during clear hours of darkness. Gazing up from mats laid on campsites, you see the grimy lights of the Milky Way. It is like being in a planetarium with the sky as your dome. It sounded like a dream, a trance perhaps few of the mountaineers and nature-lovers took to their forty winks after the entire climb.

Moments of unqualified free will.

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Jump of Joy atop Pulag’s peak!

I love the ride to Pulag despite the long and meandering path. I love that sweltering feeling yet cold and clammy sensation enveloping my body during exasperating walks through the pine and mossy forests. I have loved the sub-zero cold weather that sometimes robs me off some precious time to sleep despite being cocooned inside my sleeping bag. I have had a time of my life with different people who made every climb extra, extra memorable and uniquely special. The incomparable persona of the different individuals who decided to come and experience Pulag with me added more excitement and color to my climbs. Friends were made out of total strangers… Stories shared have stirred each other to look at life with a more hopeful stance… And the wonders of nature made us value the righteousness of God’s creation. The days spent may have passed too soon… And most of us went back to face our own lives… But then again, the memories derived continue to hang around.

Mount Pulag's amazing sea of clouds.
Mount Pulag’s amazing sea of clouds.

This entry may sound pretty minor and unimportant to most of you; nevertheless, I don’t intend to make you understand every emotion and information I have jotted down. But as I go through my writing, I am convinced that this is something I am passionate about – all of these I have personally experienced, all of these my eyes have marvelled face-to-face. And as I wrap up this piece, I felt more wistful than ever. The voices, the laughter, and the clicking of the cameras during spur-of-the moment shots slowly reverberate into my ears. With my eyes shut, I could still feel the arctic touch of the breeze brushing through my cheeks, like I am still perched atop Mount Pulag’s peak… with my friends laughing… and celebrating life. And for a fleeting moment, I am in nostalgia .

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Remember – Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak . And as Edmund Hillary once said — It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. And that is something that will make us happy.”

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Some Things You Might Just Wanna Know: (If you are planning a Do-It-Yourself Climb with your friends and you do not want to join a travel group).

PULAG BUDGET ESTIMATE

Manila-Baguio-Manila via Victory (either from Pasay or Cubao) – Php940

Taxi from Victory terminal to Slaughterhouse and back (Magsaysay) – Php150

Baguio-Bokod-Baguio via A-Liner – Php250-270

Bokod-Babadak-Bokod via habal-habal – Php400*** (I am not sure if there is a fixed rate now)

Registration fee (+ environmental fee) in Mt. Pulag – Php225 Guide fee (P1000/group of 7)

***If you opt to hire a chartered jeepney if you come in group of 10 or more, then this is much more convenient and advisable. (Jeep rental is around Php 8-10K)

CONTACTS NEEDED Emerita Albas +639196315402 – It is essential to inform her that you are climbing Mt..

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SAMPLE ITINERARY (via Ambangeg Trail or the Easy trail)

Day 1

0000 Take bus from Manila to Baguio City

0600 ETA Baguio City Baguio City. Breakfast.

0700 Head to the bus terminal at Old Slaughterhouse

0800 Take A-Liner bus bound for Kabayan

1100 ETA Visitors’ Center. Registration / Orientation 1200 Set out for Ranger Station via habal-habal

1300 ETA at Ranger Station; Lunch/secure guide; Start trek

1600 ETA Camp 2. Set up camp

1800 Dinner at campsite; socials

*However, if you opt for a chartered jeepney, you might want to be in Baguio a little earlier.

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Day 2

0330 Early morning trek to summit for sunrise

0500 Arrival at summit and wait for sunrise

0730 Start descent from summit

0830 Back at Camp 2; breakfast

1000 Decamp; start descent to Ranger Station

1200 Back at Ranger; Lunch/Settle guide fees

1300 Back at Visitors’ Center. Wait for bus back to Baguio

1700 ETA Baguio City.

1900 Head back to Manila

*Please note that bus rides do not have fix schedules as they would come from Kabayan Town proper.

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What to Bring: (from Chasing Philippines)
Each participant should have the following:
* bubble-type jacket
* poncho
* trekking shoes
* sleeping pad
* sleeping bag
* thermal gloves
* thermal pants
* thermal socks
* bonnet
* at least 1.5 to 2 L of water
* headlamp
* toiletries
* thermal blanket

The group should bring the following depending on the number of joiners:
* tent
* stoves
* butane gas
* rice
* canned goods
* trail food
* medicine kit
* cookset
* trash bag

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AGAIN: Important Contacts:
Ms. Gina Epe (Monster Jeepney) – 09198169234
Ms. Emerita Albas (aka Maam Mering of DENR) – 09196315402