Hike, Travel

Akyat: Mt. Tapulao

Saturday to Sunday
October 22-23, 2016

Whenever this mountain is brought up in conversation, those who have already been here would almost always say that it’s a very long and rocky climb up. But with my curiosity always set to high, I know that I had to experience it myself. Well, I finally had the chance. I won’t spare you any details. This is my Tapulao climb.

I booked my slot a few weeks in advance after meeting one of the organizers in a new team (Shoutout to Team Choloflight!). Tapulao has always been in my climb list and after knowing that the event will also be an outreach for the local children, I was sold. Thank you, universe for setting this up.

Knowing only one person in the climb, I was a bit nervous (shytype me), so I attended the pre-climb meeting where I got to meet the other attendees. They turned out to be a bunch of friendly and accommodating people and I was put at ease.

Pre-climb meeting with new friends
Pre-climb meeting with new friends and alcohol

Day Zero, we met up at the usual Jollibee in Cubao, and rode a private van to the jump-off in Sitio Dampay, Zambales. It was a long, 5-hour ride and I spent the bulk of it sleeping. We arrived at around dawn and after a quick breakfast and some final reminders, we started our trek.

The group before starting the rock and roll hike
The group before starting the rock and roll hike

To better encompass my feelings with this climb, I decided to write a poem commemorating the experience. In it are important details about the climb interspersed with literature that could touch your soul. Enjoy!

“Tapulao” by Jai Guzon


Bato, bato, bato, bato, bato. Ahon.

Look at all those rocks
Look at all those rocks

Bato, bato. Bato! Bato. Bato, bato. Liko. Bato.

Ahon, bato, bato. Init. Bato, bato, bato. Ahon.

See the farthest peak? That's where we're going
See the farthest peak? That’s where we’re going



The rocks came from the river and were brought to the trail to allow trucks to pass
The rocks came from the nearby river and were brought to the trail to allow trucks to pass

Bato, bato, bato. Ahon. Bato. Putik, bato.

The kilometer marker of the first water source
The kilometer marker of the first water source
The natural water source at KM6
The natural water source at KM6

Refill. Bato, bato, bato. Ahon, bato, bato.

Bato. Bato! Bato, talahib, bato. Tubig.

The second water source marker
The second water source marker
A much bigger water source at KM10
A much bigger water source at KM10

Bato, tubig. Tubig. Relax, refill. Bato, bato.

Free mini-waterfall at KM10
Free mini-waterfall at KM10

Bato, bato, bato. Bato. Hangin. Bato, bato. Viewdeck. Picture picture.

At the viewdeck (little Tapulao) but the view was all cloudy
At the viewdeck (little Tapulao) but the view was all cloudy

Bato, ahon, bato. Ahon, bato. Bato, hangin, bato, ahon.

Bato. Bato, bato. Pine trees.

Almost near the campsite with my trekking pole
Almost near the campsite with my newfound trekking pole

Bato, bato. Pine trees.



A most welcome sight
A most welcome sight

Once we arrived at the campsite, or KM16, we immediately pitched our tents. Good thing we were only the second group there. After setting up camp, I successfully pitched my hammock for the first time ever! However, I only enjoyed it for a few minutes because it suddenly drizzled. Wet and cold, I retired into my borrowed tent and waited for the rain to pass.

Standing near my favorite tent
Standing near my favorite tent

The rain left as suddenly as it came. And as the sun descended and the cold seeped into my skin, we prepared our dinner. To be more accurate, I watched them prepare dinner because I am absolutely useless at camping lololol. After eating our delicious food, we had some nice socials until it became to cold to bear and so I retreated to my tent. Using my hammock as a blanket, I tried to get some shuteye for the early summit climb the next morning.

I kept waking up during the night because of the cold. I remember looking at my watch and praying for the calltime to arrive faster. Finally, I was able to get some decent sleep and woke up to my campmates brewing coffee. After some quick preparation we started the summit assault.

Wonderful wonderful view
Wonderful wonderful view

The view of the way towards the mossy forest was enchanting. It made me miss Mt. Pulag’s Akiki trail. The pine trees and the views of the nearby mountains were just too much for me to take in. I shed a single tear.

Wandering into the mossy forest
Wandering into the mossy forest

At the entrance of the mossy forest, we caught up with the other group. From there, it was a quick ascent through the lush, green trees until we broke the canopy and emerged at the summit. I saw the famous world tree that marked the summit. Our guide, kuya Edward showed me the highest part of the summit where I was able to see the morning sun and the clouds. I can’t describe the beauty. I shed another single tear.

So of course, we took lots of pics at the summit.

Boy band at the summit
Boy band at the summit
Hindi naiwasan eh
Hindi naiwasan eh

Then it was time to go down. We had breakfast back at the campsite and when that was done, we packed up our things and started our descent.

For the details about our going down, just read the poem above in reverse. However, at KM6, it started to rain hard. We were forced to stop and I saw with my own two eyes how the trail turned into a river. Good thing that we were scheduled to have lunch at that exact place so we were still inside the set itinerary. After eating and waiting for the rain to pass, we continued on our descent right back to the jump-off.

When everyone was accounted for, we started the second part of this journey, the outreach! We went to the local church where all the kids were gathered. There, we had a short program and had games with the kids and finally gave them school supplies. It was so nice to play with the kids and see them smile. I love it when I immediately see the results of the things I do. I’ll always love doing outreach programs for kids.

Enjoying with the local kids
Enjoying with the local youth

After the program and when all the kids already went home, we had a quick dinner and after fixing up, we hopped on our van and were finally on our way home. Of course, I was asleep for most of the way. I woke up when were already back in the metro. It was already early in the morning when I got home so I just unpacked my hike bag and collapsed on the bed.


Day 0

  • 23:30 ETD Cubao, Private van

Day 1

  • 05:50 ETA Sitio Dampay, Register and eat breakfast
  • 07:30 Start Trek
  • 10:30 ETA KM6, Refill water
  • 11:10 ETD KM6
  • 12:45 ETA KM10, Refill water and eat lunch
  • 14:20 ETD KM10
  • 16:45 ETA Camp 1 (KM16), Set up camp and socials
  • 21:00 Lights off

Day 2

  • 04:30 Wake up call
  • 05:45 Start trek to summit
  • 06:45 ETA Summit, Take pictures
  • 07:45 ETD Summit
  • 08:20 Camp 1, Breakfast and break camp\
  • 10:00 Start descent
  • 11:30 KM10
  • 12:40 ETA KM6, Lunch
  • 14:30 ETD KM6
  • 16:30 ETA Jump-off

Safe Budget: P2,000

This is one memorable hike. At first I was a bit shy with the people I was hiking with. Being the sabit always, I don’t really know the people I’m with until the hike itself. But for this group, they accepted my entire being immediately. I would gladly hike with them again.

Thank you, organizer Dencio and friends. Maan for the invite. Tapu and Love for the good times and the tent. Isabel and Martin for the chocolates. Harold and Ramel for the inuman sessions. Until the next hike! Wow po ang lakas niyo. And of course to our very friendly guides, kuya Edward and Marshal.

Thank you also to the Big Guy for giving us relatively good weather and a summit clearing. Thank you also to my fambam for allowing me this two-day escape from the mundane city life. Mwahugs!

Tapulao crew; thank you, Ikalahan
Tapulao crew; thank you, Ikalahan

You all know I’m more of a dayhike person, but overnight climbs like these are actually pretty great too. What’s important is the group of people you’re with. I’m open to spending more nights like this on the mountains, as long as someone is willing to sponsor a tent for me hahaha.

So that’s the highest mountain in Zambales finished! My god, I hate rocks!

Pink at the peak of Zambales!
Pink at the peak of Zambales!



8 thoughts on “Akyat: Mt. Tapulao”

  1. horeee shiets nakasandals ka lang buong climb? sobrang mamaw patay na kuko lang ang inabot mo D: sayang di ka nilamon ng limatik pero finally nakapagtapulao ka na and nakita mo na din ang mga panganay mong hindi mo na natutustusan haha to more bato in ur layf beh hahaha


    1. It’s not so difficult as long as one is well-prepared. If you’re having doubts, there are lots of overnight hikes to Tapulao as well! :)


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