So I’ve decided that my latest entry in my mountain-climbing series, and probably all my mountain-climbing posts thereafter, will follow my Travel Guide format. I might probably even rewrite my old posts so I can share my budgets and itineraries, so keep an eye out for that!
I’m kapalmuks enough to believe that people were helped by my post. Don’t ruin this illusion for me.
How it happened:
What’s that old saying? The mountains are calling, and I must go. Pretentious as hell, but true nonetheless. My last hike was Mt. Kiltepan last October, and you probably couldn’t call that a “real” hike since you can take vehicles up to the peak (although my friends and I did walk, so I’m counting it as a hike, so there). Anyway, I was itching to go climbing again, and saw photos of Mt. Paliparan on a friend’s blog (check out the rest of her travels here!). I thought it looked just the ticket, and began inviting friends.
(We are going to thoroughly ignore the fact that I was in Iloilo for work while I was looking this up, and that I set the hike’s date for the day immediately after my flight back to Manila would land. I’m hardcore like that.)
How we got there:
We left Manila at three in the morning – which is no joke, let me tell you that. You know how many cups of coffee it takes to get me to function out of bed? A morning person, I am not. Aside from hikes, the only time I’m up before the sunrise is if I haven’t gone to bed yet.
We were coming from a friend’s condo in Marikina along Marcos Highway, so we took a jeep to Cogeo for Php 20. Normally, from Cogeo you would take another jeep to Cuyambay junction and from there a habal-habal or tricycle to the Cuyambay Barangay Hall, where the jump-off point to the Mt. Paliparan trail is located. But when we got there, it was only 3:30 and there weren’t any jeeps around yet. Thankfully though, there are FXs parked at Cogeo (in front of the Jollibee) there that offer to take hiking groups all the way to the Cuyambay Barangay Hall for Php 100. This is a little more expensive than the usual route, but it wasn’t like we had a choice.
Sometimes, getting up at the ass-crack of dawn for a hike isn’t as good an idea as you might think it is.
After the hike, we took the usual way back. From the barangay hall, our group of ten was divided amongst two habal-habal (at Php 25 per bike) and two tricycles (with Php 30 per trike) that took us up to Cuyambay junction. From there, we got a jeep back to Cogeo for Php 48.
What to do:
Every hike begins with a safety briefing by the guides. Pay close attention to what they tell you, you never know when something they say will make the difference between life or death.
There were four major stops along the trail. The first is a rock formation called Pinagtukduan, which comes from the word tukdo which means to sit down on one’s haunches. There’s a small pathway that leads up the rock formation where you can take pictures, so there’s no rock climbing or scrambling yet.
The second stop is called Taguan Cave. As implied by its name, this cave was used a hiding place by the local Dumagat tribe during the Japanese occupation in World War II. Only one group can enter the Taguan Cave at a time, so you can sit down and rest a bit.
The inside of Taguan Cave is really dark, so I suggest bringing flashlights. There’s a section of the cave where there’s a crevasse in the ground; you’ll wanna watch out for that. We tossed some rocks in and it didn’t sound too deep, but better safe than sorry.
After the cave, our guides took us to another rock formation, this one called Tunghayan. Tunghayan is the first stop the involves actual climbing. It’s an almost ninety-degree angle climb, and the rocks are sharp, so exercise caution at all times. The guides will help you, don’t worry. And the view is so worth it.
The last stop is the summit of Paliparan. There are two levels of rock climbing needed to get to the summit. The first level has a rope with which you can pull yourself up, while you’ll need to rely solely on the strength of your fingers for the second. Like the Tunghayan rock formation, the climb is at a nearly ninety-degree angle, so again, be careful!
The summit of the mountain is marked out with a red flag and has a three-sixty view of the surrounding hills of Tanay. You can also see Laguna de Bay and the Pililla Wind Farm.
After descending from the summit, we went to the local Tuoy village for lunch, drinks, and a bit of a breather. We were all tuckered out from the early start we’d had, so the locals very kindly let us use their long bamboo benches to take naps!
We spent about an hour relaxing in the village, then headed off to the last stop on our hike: Tung-tong Falls. The trek to the falls took about an hour to an hour and a half, and it’s absolutely worth it. The falls are beautiful, cascading from a height of fifteen feet into a cool, clear pool. You can jump from the top of the falls, but the climb back up is a bit of a hassle, so take that into account before taking that leap.
We spent most of our time in a little pool on top of the falls which our guide told us was called “the bathtub”. After the long, arduous trek we’d just done, doing nothing but floating in a pool of cold mountain water absolutely hit the spot.
Of course, we paid for our relaxation later on when we had to hike up the freaking waterfall to get back to the barangay hall. We thought we would turn around and go back the way we came, but the tour guides told us that climbing up the waterfall cuts out almost half of the travel time back to Cuyambay. So we gave helpless sighs, gritted our teeth, and bit the proverbial bullet.
Going up that waterfall is no joke. The incline varies from forty-five degrees to straight up ninety-degree angles at a much, much, much taller height than the rock formations we’d climbed earlier. Literally, there is nothing between you and a horrible, blood-spattery death on the rocks than your arms, your legs, and a single flimsy-looking rope. Listen to your guides, pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t mess around. As long as you keep your wits about you, you’ll be safe.
We got back to the barangay hall at five in the afternoon, where we took quick showers before heading back to Manila.
Budget and expenses:
|Item||Cost per person|
|Jeep from Marcos Highway to Cogeo||Php 20|
|FX from Cogeo to Cuyambay Barangay Hall||Php 100|
|Registration fee||Php 20|
||Php 100 (Php 1,000 total)|
||Php 50 (Php 500 total)|
|Food bought at Tuoy village:
|Habal-habal or tricycle from Cuyambay Barangay Hall to Cuyambay junction||Php 25 for habal-habal
Php 30 for tricycle
|Jeep from Cuyambay junction to Cogeo||Php 48|
|TOTAL||Php 598 → Php 600|
Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, I actually ended up spending about Php 1,000 on this trip instead of the allotted Php 600. I live in the south of the metro, and there was no way I was taking a train and a bus from Cogeo to my place right after that grueling hike, so I ended up getting an Uber instead.