After a few days away from Cebu, (from a 3-day trip at Antique), I found myself back on the mountains again. Hmmm ….
Where? Mt. Manunggal and Mt. Mauyog in Balamban!
With whom? Of course! The Wanderers Of Nature (TWON)! Plus, plus, plus! New found friends who have the same interests as we have!
Read more to find out more about adventure below!
The group was already in talks of trekking to Mauyog & Manunggal for few months. Remember Lanaya? Adventure planning is a common talk in the group haha! Due to circumstances, we never really had the perfect schedule and weather. During our Opeak to Kawasan Falls traverse, we were planning to join Habagat’s Mauyog event but most of the members declined (including me) because of personal matters. Of course it’s a secret, it’s personal! Just kidding. I declined because it was my birthday and I spent it with my family.
Overwhelmed Stella Maris
Team president and organizer Stella Maris (The Wandering Itinerant) was overwhelmed with the reach of the event she created via her Facebook page. There were quite a few who confirmed of going to the event (which was posted 3-4 weeks before the scheduled traverse). She was also very patient (as she always is) contacting each one of them. She got a few confirmation. But you know what? Most of the people who said they were going few weeks before the schedule weren’t able to come. What’s surprising? The late joiners – i.e., those who just confirmed a day before the event.
We met at Ayala PUV terminal at 2:30PM. Filipino as we are, we left the terminal at 3PM. IKR! We were having a tagu-taguan (hide and seek) with the jeepney driver. HAHA!
P.S. We chartered a jeepney for the whole trip. Agreed price: 4, 500 pesos
From there, I met the rest of the gang. There’s Stella Maris, Brandon, Helene, Mae, Gretchen. We knew each other because we worked at the same company before. These people are my trekking buddy (as you could see in the videos and blog posts).
… then there’s Arlet and Alvin. Arlet is from Makati and barely speaks Cebuano. But you know what? She’s just here for a week for a business trip. But with less than a week of being in the city, she already got a few Cebuano words on her vocabulary. She’s a fast learner and is very observant. On the other hand, there’s Alvin, a seasoned mountaineer which was the laughing stock in the group. (Daghan siyag bawon og napawong akong mga corny jokes ahhah!) The two seemed to hit it off since Alvin (from Cebu) have been to several mountains in Luzon, where Arlet happened to climb them too – Mt. Ulap, Pulag, etc.
From Ayala, we fetched Rico and Diana at JY Square Mall in Lahug. Rico is an experienced mountaineer and he does triathlon too! Diana is a young free-spirited woman who’s very familiar with the mountains too! She had conquered Mt. Pulag! Amazing!
The Unexpected – Fishy Payment Scheme
So after more than an hour of jeepney ride, we had encountered some few bumps along the way – not the literal bump though. You know what it is? The staggering and fishy payment scheme of local barangay officials! We were asked to pay 80 pesos (each) – 20 pesos for DENR fee, 20 pesos for the land owner, 20 pesos for the coop, 20 pesos for the barangay. We know that it’s normal for barangay officials to ask fees from campers (for maintenance and such). We were just surprised because they weren’t able to provide documents supporting what they were asking from us. Rico and Alvin, whom are very experienced when it comes to trekking, sought out the presence of the barangay captain to discuss the matters. To tell you, 80 pesos isn’t really that expensive but if we don’t know what we’re paying for or if the local government won’t be able to provide the necessary document, it’s like we are paying for our own ignorance. We spent about 20-30 minutes waiting for the barangay captain. It’s getting dark already and we were planning to get into the summit before the day ends. The group then decided to proceed to the campsite after negotiating other officials to visit us to the camp site for the discussion. We haven’t given our payment yet.
Manunggal – Historic Site Of The Late President Ramon Magsaysay
We reached the jump off point at around 5PM. We then walk for about 8-10 minutes to the camp site. There are concrete boxes that served as stairs for easy trek going to the camp site. Very friendly to beginners and young mountaineers.
Along the way, we passed through the remains of the engine of Mt. Pinatubo, the presidential plane of the late President Ramon Magsaysay. Manunggal became famous because it is the crash site of Mt. Pinatubo, which unfortunately took the lives of our late president along with other 26 people on board. The reason of the accident? We couldn’t tell. Some say it’s pilot error, metal fatigue (it’s quite an old plane, given by the US government). Some would resort to conspiracy. Well, if there’s a politician involved, reasons like this will really come into play. Be the judge. I wasn’t born by the time of the crash. It’s quite surreal to finally see what you have been hearing a lot during your history classes way back in Elementary days.
The University of San Jose Recoletos (a reputable university in Cebu City), erected a monument of President Magsaysay to commemorate him. Every March, people gathered at Manunggal for the said historical event.
Check Stella Maris’ blog on what it feels like to attend a commemorative event –> https://thewanderingitinerant.com/2017/07/15/climbing-the-historic-mt-manunggal-where-dear-president-ramon-magsaysays-life-ended/
P.S. Ramon Magsaysay is well loved president by the masses. He is (according to history), is “the guy”.
Failed Attempt to Reach the Manunggal Peak (pang-pang)
We tried climbing the peak of Manunggal after we reached the camp site (hoping to catch the sunset). However, we failed. We got lost along the way. So, the group decided to get back to the camp site as it is quite difficult to climb the sharp rocks especially at night. It’s kind of useless climbing the peak at night when you cannot properly see what’s around you. It’s just too risky.
We did catch a glimpse of the sunset:
We had 4 joiners that night – Arlet, Alvin, Rico and Diana. Though we are completely strangers, it didn’t stop us from the unlimited chitchats during dinner and drinking session. Well, that’s what you get if you spend time with people who have the same interests as you.
Reminiscing Old Mountaineering Days
We shared food and stories on why we love the outdoors. We shared a few good laughs and experiences while sharing some few drinks too! (painit besh). It’s amazing to know about how and what it felt like to be a mountaineer few decades ago. Rico has been able to compare the recent and the old mountaineering days. According to him, it was really hard to get mountaineering gears in the Philippines before. You need to buy the gears outside the country. So if you have loved ones in the U.S. or anywhere outside PH, you are very lucky. Yes, it’s a pretty expensive hobby way back then. He also mentioned the rise of local outdoor shops like Silangan, Conquer and the popular brand Habagat. Most of the local outdoor shops he mentioned (aside from Habagat) were also forgotten (and others have closed their business) when the time mountaineering have reached its low point. Lately, going to the mountains have gotten popular due to social media. He was quite happy that lots of new and old local outdoor shops like Silangan and Brown Trekker have been known and are quite doing a great job in competing with international companies like Deuter, North Face, and Colombia.
Climbing the Manunggal Summit
The revenge! LOL! Most of us were already awake at 5AM. We’ve eaten a light breakfast (bread and coffee) to catch the sunrise at the peak. Prior to start the trek, we asked the land owner (who also manages the comfort room) to cook us rice and canned goods for our breakfast. She was very accommodating and didn’t overprice the food and the service she provided. We were only asked to pay 70 pesos for a cooked 1 kilo of rice. Sweet deal!
The trail from the camp site to the summit of Mt. Manunggal is pretty easy – that is in the initial phase. The trail can be a bit slippery on some parts. There was no rain during our stay so we were blessed. Probably the most difficult part of the trail would be the portion where you have to climb the steep and sharp rocks. Fret not, the getting through this obstacle, you’ll be rewarded with the overlooking view of Balamban.
I am out of words, how about see these photos:
En Route to Brgy. Sunog Proper
After spending an early morning trek to the peak of Mt. Manunggal, we took our breakfast. At around 10am, we left the Manunggal camp site and proceed to Brgy. Sunog proper for the jump off to Mt. Mauyog.
The Trek to Mt. Mauyog
Estimated trek from Manunggal camp site to Mt. Mauyog jump off is about an hour. No worries, the trail is passable by vehicles, so yep it’s a proper trail.
spoiler: ranting ahead
From the jump off, we proceed to the registration area. The local council imposes a 300 pesos per guide per 5 person. In our case, it should have been 600 since we are 10. However, after haggling, we get it at 500 pesos. Apart from that, they also require each hiker to pay 30 pesos each for disturbance fee. This fee, according to them, is that locals were no longer able to farm because lots of people have been climbing the mountain – and that my friend is that they are putting all the blame to trekkers HAHA! I mean, what??!!! Well, if it’s environmental fee, we understand. Remember the 80 pesos I mentioned earlier on this post? Why are we required to pay such thing? Also, I don’t think lots of hikers will step on the plants or something. Besides, the trail going to the peak isn’t a great idea for farming. Perhaps, we may pass through a small portion of farm land but that’s just unfair. I suddenly remember how the land owner (Mt. Manunggal camp site) hoped that the barangay council will give her portion to the payment (so meaning, aren’t they imposing something when the land owner has no idea about it?).
The Brain Like Stones Of Mt. Mauyog
The trail going to the peak of Mt. Mauyog is steep but it’s short and mostly shady. You’ll get to pass narrow ridges (like lots of them). So please be very careful because one misstep will surely be a rolling down the hill action. HEHE! Like the peak of Mt. Manunggal, the hardest part would probably be the portion when you are approaching the summit. You’ll need to pass through sharp and loose rocks. That’s why it’s called Mauyog since there are shaky rocks (which are limestone btw). Big rocks (I should say). Okay let’s say boulder. HEHE!
There are actually 2 parts in the summit where the boulders gather. As if they are living organisms haha!
When we get to the second area, we were surrounded with fogs. It feels like we are in a studio with white backdrop haha!
450 pesos – transpo (4500/10 people chartered jeepney; back and forth)
80 pesos – this was the fishy scheme I mentioned above; make sure to ask the necessary documents. Accordingly, the 80 pesos include 20 pesos for the DENR, 20 pesos for the barangay, 20 pesos for the coop, and 20 pesos for the land owner.
20 pesos – comfort room usage (Mt. Manunggal campsite) good for the whole stay; good water supply (from the spring)
30 pesos – disturbance fee (Mt. Mauyog). According to them, since the flock of climbers to the mountain, locals weren’t able to farm well, hence, they asked for the payment.
500 pesos – guide fee; by the way, the local officials of Brgy. Sunog require 1 guide for each 5 people (300 pesos). So for our group, we were asked to pay 600 pesos since there are 10 of us. We haggled and got 500 pesos instead.
NOTE: Climbing mountains shouldn’t really be that expensive. I’m not sure why the local government of Brgy. Sunog, Balamban have been really asking for expensive fees without even providing necessary documents (or ordinance whatever).
see our video below:
By the way, make sure to visit https://thewanderingitinerant.com/2017/09/01/traversing-mt-manunggal-mt-mauyog-a-random-journey/ for the full itinerary.
… and remember:
splash that smile every mile!