Sunday, June 21, 2015

From Mt. Mauyog to Mt. Manunggal - Tribu Tagbu adventure

This time around, my itchy travel feet brought me to the odd-looking summit of Mt. Mauyog. That very feature of the summit was actually my reason why I was really eager to go to that place and hoped a jump shot on top (hmmm sketchy). That hope was short-lived, well, actually I have a fear of heights, but I am a kind of person who tries very hard to overcome my fears and I think I'm doing good so far.

Anyway, back to the odd-looking summit of Mt. Mauyog, It looks like a huge brain-shaped coral, more like a huge rock with natural carvings. It's picture perfect, I would say, and just like other sceneries, no words can explain its majesty.

Look at them laughing at each other! on the edge! Goodness gracious!

Just look at these two lovely ladies on the summit of Mt. Mauyog, fearless and thinking they rule the world with everything looking small from where they were sitting.

12 of us decided to visit 2 summits last June 6 and 7, Mt. Mauyog and Mt. Manunggal. It was one of the many pre-climbs that our group planned in preparation for our Mt. Pulag adventure. Located in Barangay Magsaysay in Balamban, Cebu, Mt. Manunggal rises 1,003 meters above sea level. It is where the late President Ramon Magsaysay and 17 of his companions died during an awful plane crash in March 17, 1957. An annual trek is held in the place to remember that unforgettable incident. Only a handful know (as of writing) that few distance from the summit of Mt. Manunggal situated a beautiful view in Mt. Mauyog, that is why we included it in our itinerary.

So, how to get there?

From Ayala Center Cebu Terminal you can ride your way via van (P150) to the jump off destination in Brgy. Cantipla.

Entry point to Tabunan proper

Get off the van once you have this signage in sight, and from there you can ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) going to Brgy. Tabunan. It'll be easier if your group can rent a private transportation going to the place since its quite pricey for a P100 habal-habal per person, or if your group can stomach a 6 kl. walk (3-4hrs), I don't think its a bad idea at all. However, it might compromise your arrival time to Mt. Mauyog and no one wants to trek in the dark, or unless your group has a different plan. We had a private transportation leading us to the place though down on one's luck our vehicle got overwhelmed with the upslope and surrendered a few kilometers travel in the hill of Busay. Part of the adventure and experience we thought about what happened, and went on through a much smaller vehicle with the same owner. We were still lucky to have such friend to let us clutter in his beloved van, and yes we were thankful of Stella and his husband Ian for such an accommodating climb-mates. More or less 2 hours was knocked off from our valuable time but everyone was still happy and motivated by each other to go on and reach our destination.

The dirt road leading to Brgy. Tabunan

We parked the car near the brgy. hall for easy pickup the next day.

It rained when we reach Brgy. Tabunan, but it didn't bother us and we ascended right after we ate lunch and dry-secure our stuff. 

mountain warriors preparing for the heavy pour

hop on the stones we go.

One of the many rocks on the river of brgy. Tabunan.

We soaked our socks and shoes in the rapids, piled mud in our suits and took a million snapshots. We reached our destination at 4:18pm after 3 hours of slippery walk. I pity Stella for her shoes failed her and she didn't have any choice but to go on with her flip flops, I cannot imagine every struggling step she had but in fairness to the mountain-spirited woman she is, never I saw her complain but all smiles with a little help from her husband. Well, I absolutely do the same, or even carry Ivane (my wife) if that happens to her. :)

Headcount? I took the photo! yep we're still complete.

Ivane was tired yet amused by the naturally beautiful rock wall.

Oh, that's me right there! heavy pack? indeed!
We left our packs in one of the stores in the foot of Mt. Mauyog, Brgy. Sunog the locals calls it, with plenty of buoyant people around, they sure were our motivation and rushed to the summit, not wasting any valuable second, knowing that darkness will blanket the sky few minutes upon our arrival.

The girls of Tribu Tagbu, with Stella's mountain-sturdy feet in flip flops.
The ascend to the summit of Mt. Mauyog should never be taken for granted, especially with the sharp rocks, some taller than a person, unforgiving needle-like thorns from some of the vines in the area, and narrower trails, not to mention slippery trails because of the moss and the mud. Mt. Mauyog is not referred as it is without the literally shaky and unstable rocks, after all, "mauyog" means shaky in the Cebuano dialect. So one should be extremely careful.
glad we left our packs, ready for this kind of action.

I cannot imagine this hitting anyone there! crazy!

Almost there! I can even touch it from here.

Indeed, the much needed daylight was still on when we reached the summit at 5:10pm after an hour of rush yet careful uphill trek.
And she wanted that mountain named after her. hmmmm.

Tribu Tagbu reaching the top of Mt. Mauyog.

Since we still have another 2 hours walk from the foot of Mt. Mauyog to the campsite in Mt. Manunggal, we headed back to the store where we left our bags and bought other needed supplies.

Approximately 6pm we started our walk to the campsite and it was a decision Fritz, our leader made that the 2 of us should sprint towards our destination to cook dinner and to secure a place for our group, knowing that there were already plenty of groups made their way to the campsite already, it is a decision I agreed for the sake of the others who were already hungry and tired in the middle of the night. Since Donnel was also familiar with the place, he looked after the rest who took their time to feel each tired step in the dark. Cold and wet, Fritz and I ran and reached the campsite with enough time to fetch water located a few 2-3 minutes walk from the campsite.

with her headlamp on, the darkness is undeniably scary.

Seriously, this looks creepy, knowing this is an actual gear from the wreckage.

Everybody arrived approximate 7:40pm, and yes, we picked up speed because we needed to. It's not a good idea to walk in the dark regardless of available headlamps or flashlights.

After everybody settled in and a hefty dinner was served, we called it a night in preparation for another long day ahead of us. Yep, you read it right, no booze, maybe because Christian nor Kat wasn't around, they're the heavy Kulafu or Tequila members, (and of course I was just kidding, well, maybe not) Peace!!.

Day 2 rolled in, after a quick breakfast and after everybody gets ready for a long walk we headed down going to the infamous Guining waterfalls, another look-forward destination in our itinerary.

Tribu Tagbu with me and Ivane preparing a feast!

Mt. Manunggal campsite from afar.

We like it orange. No we like it bright orange!

Here comes the pack clash!

We bid goodbye to Mt. Manunggal.

We started our descend at exactly 10am.

One of the famous guide dog in Mt. Manunggal.

Hey! what's that! a dog? Yep! and not just 1 but 2 guide dogs. These dogs accompanied us all the way down, a 2 to 3-hour grueling slippery walk towards the last destination of our trip.

Upon arrival at 12:30pm, we filled ourselves with a feast prepared that morning in Mt. Manunggal. We fed the dogs and enjoyed the much-deserved dip in the cold yet relaxing Guining waterfalls.

Cold yet happy.

Look at him, he is begging for a peace of our viand.

The 2nd guide dog, comfortably resting in the river sand.

That beautiful river right there!

This beautiful and sexy woman I call my wife :D

The Tribu Tagbu baby boys, sure are ready to help! actual boy scouts.

and we're heading home!

We did not waste time and head back to Tabunan proper as vegetable trucks sure welcomes mountaineers a ride until 3pm only. So, what happen to Ians van? Well, them beautiful girls cushioned their bottoms in the air-conditioned pickup. Aside from that, the slope going back to the highway was uninviting and we just didn't invite the idea of our van stopping in the middle of the road because of how heavy we were. All of us hopped to the same van in the main highway when the road was calmer.
on the other side of the foot bridge you can find the vegetable trucks bound to the city.

We were lucky to be in one of the trucks! great help!

It was another great experience with Tribu Tagbu who surely I consider my extended family now.

Thanks to these amazing people for the company and the stories shared during our Mt. Mauyog and Mt. Manunggal adventure. 


    • Fritz Hortelano
    • Russel Marie Campus
    • Jayson Evangelista
    • Stephen Demetillo
    • Ivan Quibod
    • Ian Gumera
    • Stella Gumera
    • Ivane Gesite
    • Fenni Rose Baculao
    • Verdi Natad

    (Credits to my Tribu Tagbu friends for some of the pictures in this post)

    Other snapshots during the trip:

    The noisy cicada..  gangis as they call it.

    That's me right there! with my beautiful wife Ivane Gesite.

    Me and my balancing act.

    unripe wild berry.

    the tart tasting wild berry!

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    Mt. Kanlaon - Summer Climb with Tribu Tagbu

    (Credits to my Tribu Tagbu friends for some of the pictures in this post)

    The grand Mt. Kanlaon

    Never in my wildest dream that I will draw myself near a volcano, more not on its crater. Well, as the song goes "Nothing is Impossible", that never-in-my-wildest-dream thought did come true. April of 2015 me and my wife, along with 11 other friends set foot on top of the highest peak in the Visayas region , Mt. Kanlaon, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, Philippines. (Or Mt. Canlaon). 

    Tribu Tagbu in Toledo Port.

    No words, not even the most expensive cameras, nor any other expensive gadgets to record, can capture the fascinating sight i personally witness with my own eyes, but allow me to share my Mt. Kanlaon experience. 

    I recently joined Tribu Tagbu (headed by Fritz Hortelano) because of my wife. Our Mt. Kanlaon adventure was more than a month of preparation and planning. We even had series of pre-treks in advance for the major climb, and i was able to join 1 of those treks that you can read here.

    Standing at an elevation of 2,435 meters above sea level, this active stratovolcano is the highest peak in Central Visayas. Because of Mt. Kanlaon's colossal size, it is visible from many parts of Cebu, specially the Western part of Cebu.

    The best time to go to Mt. Kanlaon National Park is during the summer season between February and May. It'll be difficult or impossible to hike through Mt. Kanlaon during the monsoon season, I've heard many adventurers who halted their trek because of the risk involved when the rocks and the trails are mostly slippery.

    According to my research, there are many trails you can take to reach Mt. Kanlaon peak and th
    ese are:

    •Mapot (Canlaon City, Negros Oriental side)
    •Mananawin (Canlaon City, Negros Oriental side)
    •Guintubdan (Murcia, Negros Occidental side)
    •Wasay (Murcia, Negros Occidental side)
    Our group (Tribu Tagbu) decided to take the Mapot trail with the help of 2 experienced guides (Kim and Tata) and 1 efficient porter (Jun). Such a cool group i would say.

    Oh, yes! we love Toledo!

    From Cebu South Bus Terminal, we arrived in Toledo City's Port in the morning to catch the 2nd fast craft heading to San Carlos City across the TaƱon strait. We had our breakfast in Toledo City, and our lunch in San Carlos City.

    In San Carlos Bus Terminal.

    After riding a tricycle to reach San Carlos City's Bus Terminal we then jaunted a trip to Canlaon City at the base of Mt. Kanlaon through a small bus. From there we were fetched by our guides through a minivan with an open back compartment, 2 vans were needed for our group.

    Tribu Tagbu in Kanlaon's town proper.

    On our way to Mapot Camp.

    We had a quick debrief when we reached the Mapot jump off point and then went straight to the Mapot Basecamp after 2 hours of walking within series of farm trails. It was a slow yet awful walk under the harsh sun and the dry-dusty trail adding the effect. To think, that was just level 0 when it comes to the degree of difficulty that we had to face the following days.

    Ivane going uphill to Mapot Campsite

    The slow yet grueling climb to Mapot.

    When we arrived in Mapot’s basecamp, we rushed in preparing dinner and in setting up our tents. Immediately the fog and darkness hugged the entire place in no time. We had ample rest in preparation for the real action the next morning.

    Cabbage farm.

    The famous Bao-Bao (Turtle Hill).

    Kim, our guide wearing his smirk.

    a beautiful sunset in Mapot Basecamp.

    Kat, Shiela, Ivane and Russel doing the yoga.

    Our festive meal in Mapot basecamp.

    Tribu Tagbu from L - R: Ericson Gucela, Shiela Cruz, Mark Joseph Gesite, Ivane Gesite, Russel Marie Capus, Fritz Jay Hortelano, Christian Rey Martinito, Kat Romero, Donnel Demetillo, Joseph Tapasao, Hyra De La Cruz, Junry Zabate and Perci Mansueto (Bottom)

    Right after we had our breakfast the next morning and refilled our individual water containers we then started our journey to the majestic Mt. Kanlaon. The Mapot basecamp was the last site we saw signs of civilization, right after we reached the tree line and as we went uphill, it was a totally different experience. The trail started becoming moist and cold, that is why wearing proper clothing (protection) is vital in climbs like this. It was for me a grueling hike, especially with the full packs we were carrying and the pacing we need to maintain to reach the next basecamp before sundown.

    nearing the treeline

    Fritz and Russel with Shiela going downhill.

    We had our lunch break in the Kutitap camp. it was supposedly the last water source but there wasn’t any when we arrived the place, good thing we had more than enough water that we got from the Mapot camp. We didn’t waste time and got back on our feet to head to the Makawiwili camp hoping for a clear view of the mighty Mt. Kanlaon.

    Kim and Kat in Kutitap.

    Kim and Hyra in Kutitap.

    Tribu tagbu with Jun (our porter, wearing red at the back) and Tata (in Kawasaki pullover)

    uphill going to Mt. Kanlaon.

    What is distinct when you reach the Makawiwili camp are the cogon grasses that covers the entire place, and yes, we were lucky enough to have a clearing when we reached the place and witnessed the enchanting Margaha Valley. I hate heights, but I was still blown away by the sight and so the rest of us. Though because of a tragic accident last April 2015 (Holy Week) 29 hectares of Margaha Valley was scorched, it will take years for the carpet-like grass to grow and recover its natural beauty.

    Nearing the Makawiwili Campsite.

    Ivane with the Mighty Mt. Kanlaon (Margaha Valley)

    The scorched Margaha Valley.

    Sad view of the Margaha Valley.

    After few minutes of rest, we then head to our final destination for the day, the Eastern Saddle Camp of Mt. Kanlaon. It wasn't a pleasant hike but the much needed rest and dinner was a motivation for most of us. We reached the campsite before dusk, we had enough light to prepare dinner and set our tents up.

    A display of colorful tents in the East Saddle of Mt. Kanlaon.

    prepping for nightfall.

    A superb view from the top of Mt. Kanlaon.

    Christian, Kat, Ivane and I, reached the old crater's peak first from our group.

    Ivane getting a glimps of the old crater from its rim.

    Striking a pose from the peak of Mt. Kanlaon.

    The following day was another surprise for me, we went up to the Crater Summit and was amazed by the splendid sight of the entire Canlaon. It was one of the greatest experiences in my life that money cannot pay, I was fortunate enough to witness in my own eyes how clever nature is in creating such a grandeur. It took me minutes to grasp the entire idea that i was on top of Mt. Kanlaon and nothing else came out of my mouth but words of applaud. I told myself, I will continue to climb mountains to pay tribute to nature and pay tribute to life as a whole.

    After realizing that we were beyond the schedule to reach the last barge bound to Cebu from San Carlos at 3pm, we immediately ate breakfast, packed up and started our descend back to civilization through the Mananawin Trail. We ate lunch along the way and still failed to catch the last barge. I was doomed, I still had work that night (I ended up going to work 3 hours late). When we reached the town proper, I separated from the group after knowing that there were still barges bound to Cebu in Sitio Basak and rode a motorcycle (just imagine the speed we had trying to catch that trip), but in hapless circumstances I still wasn't able to catch those barges. I ended up going back to the group and we decided to travel far south to the town of Tampi to catch a late trip bound to Santander, Cebu.

    Ivane going downhill with a little help of a blue rope.

    Kat trying to get a hold of free healthy snacks.

    Patay na Sapa (dead river)

    Ericson looking up at a tall tree in the Pula trail.

    It was a helluva travel, yet fun and exciting at the same time.

    My two cents:

    • Go on a pre-climb to limber or at least go to the gym at least a month to condition your legs and build that endurance.
    • The fast craft is nauseous, find any meclizine to ingest few minutes before your travel, and bring a liniment to be safe.
    • Conserve water as much as possible, you cannot tell if the next water source will indeed provide you water.
    • Always follow the trail and follow the guide/s' advice.
    • Arrange transportation with your guide ahead of time.
    • Do not bring things that aren't necessary.
    • Come up with a committee for your group, like those assigned for the Food, Cleanup, and other stuff.
    • Never leave trash behind and be responsible enough to respect nature.
    • Stick to your schedules to avoid getting left behind by buses/barges

    Let me express my gratitude to the following (amazing) people for such a great company during the climb:

    • Ericson Gucela
    • Shiela Cruz
    • Ivane Gesite
    • Russel Marie Capus
    • Fritz Jay Hortelano
    • Christian Rey Martinito
    • Kat Romero
    • Donnel Demetillo
    • Joseph Tapasao
    • Hyra De La Cruz
    • Junry Zabate
    • Perci Mansueto
    (Credits to my Tribu Tagbu friends for some of the pictures in this post)