April 3, 2016
The initial plan was to go up the Helipad, take some pictures, and go down for a quick half-day climb. But things don’t always turn out the way you plan, and sometimes that’s a good thing! Here is the entry of our extended Mt. Balagbag climb this past weekend.
I’ve heard of Mt. Balagbag numerous times, from mountain bikers to trail runners, it’s a popular place for training because of the uphills and its proximity to the metro. Since we were looking for a quick and nearby hike, my friend and I set this mountain as our trail practice destination.
Bringing only our assault packs, we met at Cubao and took a bus to Jollibee Tungko. The ride was quick despite the Sunday morning traffic and the campaigning politicians. Upon alighting at Tungko, we walked for a bit towards the Licao-licao Jeepney Terminal. When the jeep as full, we were on our way to Brgy. Licao-licao.
What welcomed us at Licao-licao was a wide and steep trail that alternated between dusty paths and concrete roads. It was pretty straightforward and the there were lots of kind locals along the way. It didn’t feel like a hike, but more like an ascending walk through residential areas. There was a quick monitoring at the baranggay where we had to write our names, and after that, we set off.
Walking further on, we reached the Balagbag Daycare Center where we had to register and pay a small fee. Further up the steep road, the houses started to clear. The cool morning breeze gave way to the sun’s rays and I felt the familiar sensation of the heat tasting the skin.
We reached the last rest stop before the Helipad trail. This was where our adventure really started. We met some trail runners there and they told us that we would finish the Helipad early and that it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Instead, they invited us to run with them to Panintingan Falls. Seeing as it was still a bit early, we decided to take their offer. Oops!
What we didn’t know was that it would be an approximately 9-kilometer run from the rest stop. But along the way, we were treated to wonderful views of the mountain range so the distance just seemed to pass by.
I remember Panintingan Falls when we went on our Mt. Lubog climb. I was aware of a Lubog-Balagbag traverse but I didn’t know I’d be almost doing it today. The good thing with Mt. Balagbag is the numerous trails that you can take to other destinations, and this is what makes it a great playground for trail runners and mountain bikers.
Once we got to the falls, we immediately de-clothed and went for a quick dip! We relished in the cold water and dove off the overhanging tree. Since it was still Sunday morning, we had the whole falls to ourselves.
We couldn’t stay for long so we backtracked our way to the Helipad junction. This time, the sun was already high in the sky. Our clothes dried quickly but were soaked with sweat just as fast. I was already running low on hydration when we reached the rest stop again. I immediately bought some refreshments.
After a short rest, my friend and I proceeded to the trail towards the Helipad. We were already there so we might as well climb the summit. We bid farewell to our new friends as they had another engagement to go to.
The trail to the helipad was also very wide and open, but the scorching sun drained our energies fast. Some bikers going down from the top passed us and and I envied their quick descent. A few minutes more and we reached the Helipad!
On the descent, we found a shorter and easier route so that made our time a bit faster. From the junction rest stop, it was about 4kms away to Licao-licao. Good thing it was downhill so we just walked and jogged down with plenty of rests in between.
Upon reaching Brgy. Licao-licao again, we freshened up with some Halo-halo and changed clothes before boarding a jeep back to Tungko. Then it was just a bus ride home!
Itinerary and Cost Breakdown:
- 05:15 ETD Cubao, bus to Jollibee Tungko
- P38 per head
- 06:05 ETA Jollibee Tungko, Find Licao-licao jeepney terminal
- 06:15 ETD Tungko, Jeep to Licao-licao
- P27 per head
- 06:55 ETA Licao-licao, register and start trek
- 07:25 Balagbag Daycare center registration
- P10 per head
- 09:40 Lubog-Panintingan Junction store, buy refreshments
- 10:30 ETA Panintingan Falls
- 11:10 ETD Panintingan Falls
- 11:45 Lubog-Panintingan Junction store
- 13:30 Helipad Junction store
- 14:30 Helipad, photo ops and descend
- 15:20 Balagbag Daycare center
- 15:50 ETA Licao-licao, freshen up
- P5 per head, ligo
- 16:15 ETD Licao-licao, Jeep bound for Tungko
- P27 per head
- 17:30 ETA Tungko, Bus bound for Cubao
- P~40 per head
Total Cost: P157
Safe Budget: P400
This was a surprisingly physically demanding hike and run. I was not prepared, but it was a pleasant workout. I was able to get some mileage in and also train my uphill powerhike. I will surely return to Mt. Balagbag and perhaps try the other trails it offers (Maranat Traverse, Ultra Mega, DLB, Deadman’s, etc.).
Thank you Jeka, for accompanying me, taking pictures, and congratulations on your trail run! To Mam Jinggay, and Sirs Johnny, Ed, and Kyle, of UPM, thank you for introducing us to the Balagbag trails. Good luck on your future events!
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, sometimes they go better than planned! Never say no to opportunities and above all, to Him be the Glory. Thank You for this opportunity!
Hike safe and hike always.
Props to the locals of Mt. Balagbag for placing lots of bathrooms along the helipad and for penalizing those that would litter and leave their junk everywhere. The amenities on the mountain are so good, campers can even enjoy chilling in the tub!