Mountains and Beyond

Let’s Walk and Talk | Mt Balagbag

“We don’t live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means, and that is what life is for.” ― George Mallory

On the first day of the love month, we head to the east of Manila for another adventure.

Me and my friends organized this event on Facebook to hike Mt Balagbag in Rodriguez, Rizal. Of the many who confirmed, fourteen made it!

We agreed to meet up at Jollibee farmers in Cubao. By 6AM, we were already on a bus bound  to Tungko. It was a little past 8 when we reached the terminal and embarked on another hour trip to Sitio Karahume, the first jumpoff.

We then decided to walk from Karahume to Sitio Balagbag. The  trail is noticeably easy and wide. We even met bikers along the way. No huge boulders of rocks and steep ascents. But like many of the remote roads in the Philippines, walking that road pretty much gave me the impression of how it would be like walking on the moon! It was drizzling all throughout the hike. What the trail lacks in exciting angle, it made up with the breathtaking view. Though the clouds were too thick at many points during the hike, we were still able to have a peak of the beauty the mountain view is known for.

Group shot I took as we head off to Sitio Balagbag on foot.
This road will soon widen as we near Sitio Balagbag.

The second jumpoff. (c) Max Fray

We listed our names and paid the registration fee at the health center. We asked if a guide is required but the one in charge (also a Bicolano himself) told us that there is no need since the trail is easy and there’s a very little chance we would get lost.

The drizzle was pouring steady as we head off to the summit, we had to take out our umbrellas and cover our bags to prevent it from getting soaked.

Here’s me with my improvised rain cover. I really need to invest on proper hiking gears!
Here’s me with my improvised rain cover. I really need to invest on proper hiking gears!
The view halfway through.
Window view.
The cousins and me. And that view…
At the gate heading to the helipad. Yep, that’s right. (c) Rona Villaflores
The sky was seriously dark as the last of our party arrived.
Me and the lonely house. No, it’s not abandoned, I saw a kid peaking at the door…
We listed our names and paid dues again at this point.
To the summit.

By the time we reached the summit, it was really raining. There’s nowhere to run for shelter, so we just endured the cold wind and rain as we ate our lunch. There were many people on top already, all hudled closely for warmth.

Al Fresco lunch, anyone?
Thankfully, the clouds cleared up eventually. I was so happy I just had to have this shot.

At 700+ MASL, Mt Balagbag offers a view of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, some parts of Ortigas, and the Ipo watershed (from Nothing really beats the blue and green world when on top of the mountain.

The girls.
Happy happy me!
Jumpshot! (c) Rona Villaflores
Before the descent.
The descent.

After a series of selfies, group shots and jump shots, we started our descent. Rizal is known for its many waterfalls so we wanted to visit even just one of them. We passed by the health center again and asked for directions to the nearest falls. After a few minutes of walking, we saw the entrance trail to Otso Otso waterfalls. Compared to the hike we just did, the trail to the falls was somewhat more challenging. The trail was steep and slippery.

Do not expect so you won’t get disappointed, I should’ve told myself. For as soon as we saw the waterfalls, there was a collective sigh. Tired sighs. Apparently, we were all expecting a majestic waterfall from up high. Otso otso falls is pretty small.

The water was cold but not exactly crystal clear. But personally, I am not as disappointed because I enjoyed the sound of the water. Some have taken a dip, most of us just sat on the rocks and rested.

Froilie braving the dive!

Mt Balagbag is the easiest hike I ever did so far. It was not as physically demanding compared to the previous mountains I’ve been to. What made this climb extra special was the fact that I get to convince my 2 college friends to come with us. I also learned from this climb that mountains need not be so high and I don’t have be so hardcore to experience the outdoors to the fullest. After all, nature is available anywhere! We just have to take extra effort, have an appreciative heart, and life outside will never be the same again. Be it the highest peak, or the lowest waterfall, we should always be thankful for having the glory of reaching them. What counts at the end of each adventure is that we grow from what we saw, experienced, and learned. May I be the kind of hiker who not only seeks for the mighty beauty, but for the humble simplicity of the outdoors as well.

Cheers to a beautiful life, Zai.


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