Sunday, April 30, 2017


Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Jump-off: Brgy. San Miguel, Sto. Tomas
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to Peak 2 / days required: 1-2 days / 7-8 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 3 with roped segments
Source: Pinoy Mountaineer

Still a part of UP Los Banos Campus just around 150 meters away from the registration site

My first two climbs of Mount Makiling Peak 2 were recorded on June 25, 1998 and May 29, 1999. That was the time when I was still active as a member of PNB Mountaineering Club. I did not find those climbs memorable then for really the mountain from its jump-off point to the summit offers no magnificent scenery. All I remember then was the mountain is good for a workout climb in preparation for major climbs and its fierce limatik (blood sucking leech).

University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) Campus Main Gate

Would you believe that the best views I took were not really from Mount Makiling but some part of UPLB? I suggested to my group that we should disembarked from the jeepney right from the main gate and take monumental pictures. I have been in UP Los Banos for a number of times but I did not have a chance to take pictures on its main gate since we usually ride in a car whether private or public transport. This time, I highly influenced my group to stop at the main gate for pictorials which they agreed.

Part of UPLB Campus Main Gate

I find very interested in this mountain when I was preparing for my Mount Halcon Climb. I did some research on it and by then, I came to appreciate it very much. Not to mention that I invited 12 friends and three of them were my climbing buddies in my Mount Halcon climb.

A closer look of the university

This time, I did a sort of research about the mountain. It was a simple research which I retrieved from Wikipedia and I want to share it with you and they are as follows:

Mount Makiling, or Mount Maquiling, is a dormant volcano in Laguna province on the island of Luzon, Philippines. The mountain rises to an elevation of 1,090 m (3,580 ft) above mean sea level and is the highest feature of the Laguna Volcanic Field. The volcano has no recorded historic eruption but volcanism is still evident through geothermal features like mud spring and hot springs. South of the mountain is the Makiling-Banahaw Geothermal Plant. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) classifies the volcano as potentially active.

Mount Makiling is a state-owned forest reserve administered by the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Prior its transfer to the university, the mountain was the first national park of the Philippines. Mount Makiling National Park was established on February 23, 1933 by Proclamation No. 552. However, it was decommissioned as a national park on June 20, 1963 by Republic Act no. 3523 when it was transferred to the University for use in forestry education and information. Now known as Mount Makiling Forest Reserve, it was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2013.

Mt. Makiling is a popular hiking destination. The two major trails begin at the UPLB College of Forestry and Brgy. San Miguel, Santo Tomas. The UPLB trail is more commonly used, taking 4–5 hours to reach the summit (Peak 2). This trail was closed in October 2007 due to trail damage wrought by Typhoon Xangsane on September 2006. The trail was closed again in December 2012 after two students were found drowned in a restricted area on the mountain. The trail was re-opened most recently in March 2013. The second trail, known as Maktrav, starts in Santo Tomas. This route is more difficult and requires 6–7 hours to reach the summit. Both trails are generally established and safe, although throughout the years there have been occasional reports of fatal accidents and injuries, especially on the Santo Tomas side. Climbers also frequently encounter leeches along the way.

Trekking started when the jeepney dropped us on the bridge heading to the Forestry

There is actually a jeepney heading to the forestry near the registration site but by the time we were there, the driver only dropped us before crossing the bridge where it turned left. It was a long walk but the verdant surrounding along a concrete road was quite refreshing. The following pictures were taken before the registration site.

UPLB Forestry and Natural Resources Department

UPLB Museum of Natural History

Makiling Botanical Gardens

Around 50 meters heading to the registration site

The staff in the registration site

I can't believe that Mount Makiling only charges P10 for the registration. Climbers can bring their cars and park it nearby as there are a lot of parking spaces. Any valid ID is left with the registration staff in exchange of a visitor's ID. From this point, the road is cemented but no vehicle is allowed to go beyond. It is an 8-kilometer walk anyway. Climbers can have the option to take a single motor bike for a fare of P100. However, we opted to walk instead. We realized, it is such a punishment to your feet to walk over a concrete road. It causes so much friction on your feet and the solid hard cemented road.

The start of an 8-kilometer walk over a concrete road with some parts ascending

By then, we were so energetic and we did not mind the eight kilometer walk. There was a point when we met an old man selling a very delicious ice candy at very minimal cost.

Need to pass thru this point (Model:Victor Michael Octaviano )

This is just along the road

Still along the periphery of the road

The Agila Base

The Aguila Base is the end of the 8-kilometer walk where we could have the option to ride in a single motorbike. This is also the jump-off point to Mount Makiling and most importantly, it is a place where we had our refreshments including the buco fruit at P25 each.

Indeed, a rain forest trail

I really don't know where the station markers started but after a long walk from Agila Base I came to see Station 15 Marker. As we go deeper to the forest, it was becoming thick and limatik was evident. The trail was narrow and wet.

Station 22 I suppose can be used for a camp site

Station 22 is the only part of the trail where its space can accommodate a few tents. It is equipped with long bamboo and wood chairs. For such a long walk, nobody can't resist to sit on these bamboo flatforms.

The only viewdeck I have seen along the trail

After few minutes walk from Station 22 is a viewdeck which offers with such a magnificent scenery of the lowlands. Each of us had take turns it capturing solo pictures in this viewdeck.

A test of vertical climb with rope (Model: Kayecelyn Pacris)

After Station 26, a vertical climb with rope segment. But on our way back, an improvised bamboo ladder was installed since this point is muddy.

The mossy forest after Station 27

The trail as we climb higher was becoming difficult with a lot of cardiac assaults. You need to leap from one point to another and trailing over big roots. It was becoming muddy. The trail was becoming narrow. Indeed, one can maximize his workout here.

Station 30: The Summit (Model:Daryll Isorena Pedro )

There was no view at the summit. It was an enclosure of bushes, cogon and other grass family species, I suppose. At one point, you can see the neighboring mountains. At the center of the summit is a small clearing where we took our lunch and took a nap while limatik were feasting on us. We stayed there for more than an hour waiting for the arrival of two other climbing buddies who did not make it fast like what we did.

Considering Station 30 Significantly (Model: Kaiem Ganelo )

Very relaxing moments at the summit after taking lunch

Our group just before leaving the summit

The pictures below were taken as we trekked back to Agila Base. This would be before Station 16, I suppose. I honestly did not notice these points when I was ascending.

Since it was slippery, descending was really difficult then. It took more than 2 and half hours to descend back to Agila Base. We had an ample rest at the Agila Base and took again cold drinks and buco for sale. In leaving the place, others opted to ride in a single motor bike and the rest walked. It was already 6pm when all our companions arrived at the registration site and some others took shower there. There were no enough shower rooms and so it took time for all those who took a bath to finish their shower.

Expenses if through public transport:

SN Particulars Amount
1. Round Trip Airconditioned JAC Liner Bus from Buendia LRT to UPLB Drop Off Point and vice versa (One way is P99)
2. Round Trip Jeepney fare from Jollibee Drop Off point to the Forestry (P8.5 one-way)
3. Registration
4. Breakfast and Lunch

REMEMBER: Taking a single motorbike (habal-habal) is just optional at P100 one way.

NOTE: Our group did not hire a guide for there was not lost trail but they are readily available with a rate ranging from P500 to P1,200. Anyway, there are a lot of climbers where you can join and you will not be lost on the trail. Regarding the food, you can take breakfast and pack lunch either at Jollibee in the corner where you will take the jeepney ride to Forestry or drop off at UPLB Main Gate to buy food at McDonalds. You can't find a carenderia along your way.


By Public Transport

Take a JAC Liner Bus near the Buendia-LRT station. If you take a bus very early in the morning like 4:30 A.M., then it will only be less than 2 hours bus travel to your destination, but don't forget to tell the conductor to drop you at the UPLB drop off point. From there, you will walk forward maybe 15 meters until you reach the corner with Jollibee where you can either dine there or take a jeepney ride going to the Forestry. However, you need to ask the driver if it ply to the Forestry for not all jeepnies go there. When you reach the registration site, there is still eight kilometers walk from registration to Aguila Base. You have the option to take a habal-habal ride for P100 per head for 25 minutes.

By Private Transport

Take SLEX to Calamba exit, then follow National Highway and turn right at Los Baños Crossing. Continue driving until you reach the corner of Jollibee opposite Mercury Drug and turn right until you reach the UPLB Main Gate, then continue driving to the Colleg of of Forestry where you will see an arc. Drive further to the registration site and ask the staff at the registration where you can park your car. Some vehicles can go all the way to the Nursery if it’s not muddy. Remember, that no car is allowed beyond the registration site where you will you will walk 8 kilometers. The only option is to ride on habal-habal for P100 per head on a driving duration of 25 minutes.


Here is a suggested Itinerary which we partly followed and revised from Pinoy Mountaineer:

0430 Assembly at JAC Bus Terminal near Buendia LRT Station, board Sta. Cruz bus for P99.
0630 ETA UPLB Drop Off point and walk to the corner of Jollibee and take a jeepney to Forestry.
0700 ETA Registration site and register for P10 per head
0730 Start trek on a concrete road for 8 kilometers or take a habal-habal going to Agila Base.
0900 ETA Agila Base to take Buco and other cold refreshments.
0920 Head off to Peak 2. Take note of the stations to mark your progress.
1035 ETA last campsite at Station 22.
1150 Trail on a 90 degrees rope segment after the Station 27 marker.
1220 ETA Peak 2 (Station 30) to take lunch and ample rest.
1320 Start descent
1640 ETA road to Nursery, proceed to Mudspring as a sidetrip.
1700 Arrive at Mudspring, take pictures.
1725 Back at Nursery, start walking to the registration site
1830 Back at the registration site to take hot shower and wait for jeepney afterwards. If there is no jeepney, start walking towards the bridge
1840 Dinner at Grove, Los Baños (many food options here)
1940 Head back to Los Jollibee corner, take Buendia or Cubao. (Note: last trip for Buendia is 2030H)

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Location: Bgry. Tala, Orani, Bataan, Philippines

I have been in this serene resort of Sinagtala for thrice but each visit has always been memorable. To know the place, let me narrate to you a little of its background which I got from Mrs. Francy Pascual, one of its part-owners. Mrs. Pascual, is the wife of the former GSIS President, Mr.Federico Pascual.

The Resort's Background

Sinagtala is a 50-hectare farm resort which was originally a coffee plantation. It nestles on the slopes of the scenic Mount Natib, a dormant volcano and caldera complex in the province of Bataan on western Luzon Island of the Philippines. With the Pinatubo eruption and lahar rainfall, the owners lost of a lot of the coffee trees and their livelihood, necessitating the selling of the property. Former congressman and SBMA Chairman, Tong Payumo and partners purchased the land in 2001.

One of the two infinity pools of Sinagtala

The development of the resort began in 2009 with roadways, waterlines and electricification. Duyan house was the first house to accept overnight guests with only 6 rooms. This was followed by Beacon, Tampay and finally the Tanawin Houses --- all accepting overnight guests.

The Resort's First Infinity Pool and its Facilities

The following pictures showcase the first pool constructed near the Duyan houses accommodation.

The first infinity pool constructed at 240 square meters

Just below the infinity pool

The viewdeck and the sunbathing flatform area (Model: Dr. Judy Aguinaldo)

The Duyan Accommodation

Our accommodation during my first visit

The Chapel

The 150-capacity chapel which was blessed and dedicated to Our Lady Maria Ai Monti ( Our Lady of the Mountains), named after the Church that our late Cardinal Sin was assigned by the Vatican in Rome. What stands out in the chapel is its beautiful crucifix with the Crucified Christ made completely from harvested branches of coffee trees in the property.

The chapel is the first building from the resort's main gate just opposite the Sinagtala Cafe where guests can have their dining and bar experience.

The Sinagtala Cafe

The cafe's facade

Taken from inside the cafe

The cafe is turned into a vibrant bar at night

The Adventure Park

The adventure park is equipped with a hanging bridge, an air cycle (sky bike), giant swing, zipline and 30 mud huts for the camping affictionados and for team building accommodations.

The Air Cycle or Sky Bike

The Sky Bike has an elevation of of 450 meters above sea level and with a length of 129.355 meters overlooking a rich verdant forest for a fee of P200 per head. By the way, this is round trip.

The Sky Bridge for a sky walk

The Sky Bridge is where sky walk is done with an elevation of 450 meters above sea level and with a length of 122.13 meters. It is just juxtapose the Sky Bike. It is safe in here because each person has a harness. It has also a fee of P200 per head.

How to move around the park

Since the park is wide and big, moving from one point to another was provided by the management with the electric bike though they are limited in number. This not used of course when the guests decide to have a trek to the forest and the water falls.

The Second Infinity Pool and Its Facilities

Enjoying a late afternoon climb (Model: Paulo Castillano)

The pool's cottages

Silangan View Function Hall

The Soccer Field

Engage into a nature trek

The park also offers a nature trek which ends into a river. They require the trekkers for a guide. It was not so far maybe around 20 minutes in a descending trail. The package is P100 per head for a minimum of 5 persons. For less than 5 persons, a P500 trekking page has to be paid. There is also a trek to the water falls but according to the guide it is almost two hours trek and it has a fee of P500 per head and I did not try it.


By Public Transport

You have the option to take buses plying the highways from Manila to Bataan. These are Bataan Transit, Saulog Transit, Genesis and Victory Liner.

Genesis has terminals at Pasay (beside the MRT Terminal) and Avenida (at the back of Philippine Rabbit terminal). Bataan Transit in Avenida (beside Genesis) and in Cubao (same terminal as 5 Star buses)

From Cubao ride a bus going to Balanga or Mariveles but tell the conductor to drop you off at the Orani Crossing of Brgy. Tala where the fare will cost you at P177.00 for a one way only. As far as I can remember, this point where you will be dropped off has a gasoline station and several tricycles waiting for passengers can take you to the park at P40 for a group of four persons but when you are alone or less and you want a special trip, then it will cost you P150. Besides, the distance is at 8 kilometers and partly some part of the road are rough. It is advisable to get the number of the tricycle driver so that you can call them whenever you want to be picked up from the park whether in day tour or overnight. But in my second trip going there which I did not have a private car, I just asked the park's guard to text for me a tricycle. The most that you can leave the park is at 6:30 P.M. if it is a day tour.

By Private Vehicle

Take SCTEX then exit at Dinalupihan, turn right going to Balanga and take the road leading Roman Super Highway and just few meters after the Orani Town Proper signage, then follow the sign to Sinagtala Farm Resort (right side of the highway).From Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, (SCTEX), it is accessible from Subic or Clark within 30 minutes.

Expenses if through public transport and overnight:

SN Particulars Amount
1. Round Trip Airconditioned Bus from Cubao to Sinagtala Crossing and vice versa (One way is P177)
2. Round Trip Tricycle fare from Sinagtala Crossing to the Park (P40 one-way)
3. Share in the accommodation good for 6
4. Share in food of the group
5. Sky Biking (Optional)
6. Sky Walk (Optional)

NOTE: If you opt to have a day tour, you will pay P300 for the entrance and just the same, you will pay separately for all the rides which you opt to avail and the trekking packages.

Expenses if through public transport at day tour basis:

SN Particulars Amount
1. Round Trip Airconditioned Bus from Cubao to Sinagtala Crossing and vice versa (One way is P177)
2. Round Trip Tricycle fare from Sinagtala Crossing to the Park (P40 one-way)
3. Entrance Fee
4. Share in food of the group
5. Sky Biking (Optional)
6. Sky Walk (Optional)

Note: The rate of accommodation may vary as to type: Duyan, Beacon, Tampay and Tanawin Houses; also in size as there is a whole house which can be rented or just simply double-bed; family and other sizes


Mrs. Francy Pascual
Cell 09988634964
Tel 027367775

Other Telephone Numbers:
+63 02 454-7592
+63 02 441-0856

Mobile Number
+63 920 901-7584