March 3, 2014

Mt. Balagbag

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”
- Arthur Miller

At any given day except during a scorching high noon or sweltering summer time, Mt. Balagbag may be one of the easiest mountains to climb. 

At over 700 MASL, Mt. Balagbag which is part of the Sierra Madre Range, lies between the boundaries of Rizal and Bulacan, just an hour bus ride away from Manila. It is also known as the “Helipad” because its peak, a flat open camp site, was at some point used as helipad by the military to fight the insurgents in the area. 

The summit of Mt. Balagbag offers a 360-degree panoramic view of Metro Manila, and Bulacan and Rizal's vast lands and colorful green and reddish brown mountains, enhanced by big rocks and dried cogon grasses.

The trail is wide and fairly easy. In fact, the summit is accessible not only to hikers but also to mountain bikers, and could be reached in less than two hours. 

As I feel my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery, I keep reminding myself that sometimes our lives are defined by the challenges we surmounted. Even the ones we failed. 

How to get to Mt. Balagbag:
1From any point in EDSA or Philcoa, ride Fairview-Tungko-bound bus and get off at Jollibee Tungko.
2. Across the street of Jollibe-Tungko is the jeepney station (behind the market) bound for Licao-Licao. Take the jeep and get off at Licao-Licao terminal.
3. Licao-Licao is the popular jump off-point to Mt. Balagbag, you can start trekking from this point. But if you want to save time, you can opt to take a tricycle (P60 one way, maximum of three) up to the Balagbag Health Center.
4. From the health center, you can start your ascent to Mt. Balagbag. The road is well established.  Guides are not necessary, as the place is a residential area.  You will also come across mang-uulings along the way.
5. Once you see the red gate, enter, register and pay P20 entrance fee. Trek up to the helipad, which is the summit of Mt. Balagbag.
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