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|Photo taken at the summit of Mt. Tagapo. Below it is an imposing view of Laguna de Bay|
After a year, I reunited with Baklay 123, a friendly and fun outdoor group I met along the trail, while doing a solitary hike in Mt. Maculot on Independence day. On November 30, a holiday here in the Philippines, we set off for Mt. Tagapo, a mountain located in barangay Janosa, Binagonan, Rizal.
Around 6:30 AM, we traveled 1.5 hours via a hired van from Star Mall in EDSA-Crossing (950 Pesos, good for 18 pax with day packs). We shared the ride with another group of hikers we met at a nearby 7 Eleven store. The driver brought us directly to Binagonan Port where we rode a charmingly shabby and sturdy boat to Barangay Janosa (8:30 AM trip, 30 Pesos). The boat was packed with passengers, mostly locals, but we managed to secure good seats near the anchor which afforded us with generous views of islets, huts on stilts, fish pens and other barangays along Laguna de Bay.
|Taken while waiting for the boat to depart Binangonan Port|
Birds flew over at the back of the boat as though it was part of a flock. Instantly, I felt tempted to nap all day and just wait for the group to get down the mountain. The sun was revolting in the sky and it was too humid to hike anyway. :P
We arrived at Barangay Janosa after 1.5 hours. We walked over to the barangay hall to register (20 Pesos/head) and to meet our guide, Kuya Archie (Guide fee : 500 pesos for 7 PAX, Contact Number : +63-921-6530089).
|Group shot taken by Kuya Archie.|
A few blocks was the church which you need to pass to get to the foot of the mountain. The trail starts at a flat terrain with forested, rocky paths at the side of a dried up river. It only becomes steeper after 40 minutes. As Mt. Tagapo is only at a height of 438 MASL, the hiking time is short and only takes 1.5 hours to get to its peak. Right before the trail to the summit, you can find an enormous shady area where you can take your lunch and if spending a night, set-up several tents. From this area, the trail is highly visible. Grasses as tall as a person are on both sides which you can cling to on your way down.
|The trail beside a lifeless river bed.|
At the summit, we were rewarded with a 360-view which includes Laguna de bay and its surrounding towns, Ortigas and Makati skyline, Mt. Sembrano, the Sierra Madre mountain range, plus a couple of other peaks.
|The cities of Makati and Ortigas looks like a cluster of Legos from the summit.|
By 2:00 PM, we were already a few minutes away from the jump-off. Kuya Archie was nice enough to take us to his house where we sat down and composed ourselves before the boat ride back. It's also near a public bathroom where we changed (20 Pesos/person). Incidentally, a birthday party just ended and we were given a heaping plate of spaghetti while some of the guys were invited to drink and have a bite of grilled fish. We took the afternoon boat trip (4:30PM), which was barely half full, back to Binagonan port.
While the boat glided over Laguna de Bay, we witnessed a gorgeous sunset, the best I have ever seen. Like a radiating giant egg yolk, the sun descended over stilt huts while cool winds gently swooshed around us until we got back to the port. Though I was tired, I couldn't sleep because the views were just amazing and I couldn't resist relishing the winds. With the darker hues of the sky, everything I saw on our way here looked more dramatic.
|Best sunset I've seen, looks even more amazing from inside the boat|
When the boat docked, we saw the 200-Hundred year old Sta. Ursula Parish Church, a few blocks straight across the port. We went for a quick stop and snapped some photos. I would have loved to go around but it was late and everyone's famished.
|As it's Christmas season, Sta. Ursula Parish Church is adorn with lights that look like a thousand stars.|
We capped the day with dinner and more laughter at Jollibee, which is walking distance from the church. From there, we took a tricycle back to the highway where we caught an aircon van back to EDSA Crossing (around 55 Pesos).
Travel Notes :
1. Although Mt. Tagapo has been successfully hiked solo (check this guide by Ivan Lakwatsero), it's still highly recommended to get a guide to save you time from getting lost. The boat rides back to Binangonan port is limited so you need to inquire on the last trip when you get there as it may change.
2. A copy of the itinerary is available at Pinoy Mountaineer. Click here.
3. As always, leave no trace behind. Please bring your trash out of the mountain and avoid bringing creatures and other species from the mountains as a souvenir. Pictures last longer. :)
4. Locals here are very friendly. Don't forget to say hi when you pass by their homes. :)
Thanks to Baklay 1-2-3 for another happy hike. See you on the trails again soon.