Mount Batulao: Your First Mountain Climbing in the Philippines
by Rae Floresca
Friday, June 15, 2018
What I love the most about the Philippines is that you have so many places that you have yet to discover.
My first hike ever was at the rolling hills and mountains of Mount Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas. This is my first time to try go mountain climbing outside Cordillera mountains where I live in.
I and my boyfriend started the travel to Mount Batulao from Lipa City, Batangas. That is roughly an hour away from Makati City, Metro Manila. So, from the SM Lipa grand terminal, we rode a van going to Nasugbu. We left Lipa at around 6:30 in the morning. The van dropped us off at a terminal near the public market of Nasugbu, Batangas, another 20-minute ride to the jump-off point which is at KC Hillcrest Golf Course. We arrived at the jump-off at 8:30 am. We first rode a tricycle on the way to meet our tour guide. We’re four in the group and hired a locale to guide us. Trust me, you need a tour guide that knows the trail, even though they say that Mount Batulao is for beginners.
The “muddy” trek
Our tour guide lent us hiking “kawayan” or bamboo sticks, which is truly helpful. It rained the night before so the first part of the trek is a bit muddy. I advise you to wear comfortable shoes, better with spikes so that your feet have something to hold on to.
The beginning of Mountain Climbing: Trekking the “peaks”
There are 12 peaks of Mount Batulao, the 12th or the last peak is, of course, the summit or the highest peak. You can stop and rest for a few minutes at every peak. It is also a must to pay fees to the locales at some of the stopovers. Individually, hikers must pay Php20-30. In the Philippines, not everything is free. Particularly here in Nasugbu, Batangas City, the locales already thought of luring the tourists at this mountain and became their lucrative business. In our case, we only paid at one station and our tour guide just signed up our names at the next stopovers. Our tour guide made a deal with us that we’ll just pay him after the hike.
Mountain Climbing while Chasing noontime
We passed through the old and new trail. A lot Philippine hikers are following us too and the others are going down already. We tried to rush so we won’t arrive the summit too late. Some parts of the trail have only enough space for a few people to pass, only the hikers that can go down or go up. We must climb up a sturdy rope one by one, though it’s a bit scary, I just rushed because I know there are more hikers that will climb up or go down. This is something that the locales of Nasugbu, Batangas City should fix. There should be enough people who would like to go mountain climbing in Mount Batulao.
Conquering Fears in Mountain Climbing
For the record, I have a fear of heights. Honestly, I quit being part of the cheerleading group in college when I was told I will be on top of the pyramid or the one to be tossed up in the air! Anyways, back to the mountain climbing, on our way to peak 10, our tour guide already carefully holding me and my friend on the way to up to the “camel rocks” he says. It is rocky, high and oh man, I was so darn scared. I was advised to don’t look down. Nasugbu, Batangas City turns out to be mountainous and there are cliffs along the way of our mountain climbing. I focused on my steps and never looked down. I feel the rush in my chest because we don’t have any safety gear or harness or anything. Before reaching peak 11, my stomach is feeling acidic, and I was palpitating a bit. Seriously, we did not have enough sleep the night before and didn’t eat that much. I was telling my boyfriend I want to be left behind but still, he and my friends encouraged me. I pulled myself together and just kept on drinking water, Gatorade and eating jelly ace along the way!
Nasugbu, Batangas City, Mount Batulao: Peak 12
So we reached the summit around 11:00 in the morning! We brought food so we had our lunch there in front of the breathtaking view at the top of Mount Batulao. I must say, it totally different from what I used to, given that I am from Baguio City, yes, we are on top, the Cordilleras but it’s all mountains. At Mount Batulao, I can see not only mountains, there are plantations, valleys, the lake where the water breaks into the ocean. I think that’s already part of the Taal lake or the sea going to Mindoro.
Mountain Climbing Summary
There are no trees along the trek so basically, there are no shades but the stopovers at each peak. Good thing it wasn’t that too sunny. Going up Mount Batulao, it was drizzling but stops again when the sun shows up. The trail is covered with cogon grass where it bends, bows down and sways wherever the direction of the wind is. Ahh, it was quite windy in Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines. Along the way, it is a pleasant scenic view of towns in Batangas and grass ridges. Beside the trail, if it’s not cogon grasses, we sew a few wild berries, Makahiya leaves, small and pretty flower beds that you do not see often especially in the city. I love the feeling of going to a place that brings out the nature lover within me. I enjoyed the trip, what’s also surprising was that the other hikers you meet along the way would say “Take care!”, “good morning” and “enjoy!”, that makes me smile. On our way back to the jump-off of Nasugbu, it’s slightly difficult because the way is sometimes too steep, but I got the hang of it. We capped off the hike with a good serving of Batangas’ famous Lomi.
That’s it, I don’t want to make this blog too long. I just want to share with you all my experience on my trip to Mount Batulao. Where do you suggest I should climb next? Please do leave comments below!