Los Baños, Laguna
Major Jump-off: Station 1, UP College of Forestry
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to summit / days required: 1-2 days / 4-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
Features: Tropical forests, variety of flora and fauna
Three successive typhoons have brought intense rains all over the country, and such rains is really not ideal for a hike. The supposedly major climb into the devil’s mountain of Mt. Cristobal were cancelled due to several reasons, first, monsoon rains for a week, second, military operations against the NPA’s taking refuge in it. We were sporting our backpacks that friday night when the second unfortunate event struck, dashing hopes. Then we decided to hike Mt. Makiling as an alternative.
The Lambana Of The Mountain
Maria Makiling, a central figure in the Philippine mythology, is most widely known as the Nymph or “Diwata” that lives and protects the mountain. She is believed to be as old as the mountain itself, and for ages, Mt. Makiling has been a haven of flora and fauna amid detrimental changes of her surroundings, and has been as mystical as the name.
We took a bus bound to Los Baños, Laguna at Buendia around 5am, upon arrival we then catched a jeepney that plies the route of UPLB Forestry. We passed by the largest UP campus in the country at 14, 669.23 hectares (uplb.edu.ph) comparing it with University of Santo Tomas at 21.5 hectares. By 7:00am we were already at the ranger station and logged our names and paid some fees.
After some final preparations, we started the trek at 8:00am.
The Road To Agila Base
Reaching peak 2, you have to pass 30 camps, first part of which is the camps 1 to 11 leading to the Agila Base. The road is very ideal for bikers and wide enough for vehicles to pass. After 45 minutes of walking we reached the nursery and where the Makiling Rainforest Park is also situated.
And several more camps and an hour of walking alongside the tall trees, the bike trail ends at camp 11. And the real hike into Makiling’s embrace starts.
Into The Wilderness
The foliage of plants and tall trees became more dense and the breeze was cooler from camp 12 and up. We passed by the Malaboo campsite at camp 14 and were greeted by fellow hikers who spent the night in there.
Around 10:30am we were finally at Camp 20 or so called the Wilderness Zone, where thick overgrowth of plants and Limatiks/Leech are now present.
The Long and Winding Road
So far, this has been the longest trail that we had experienced. We were very excited for a Limatik attack on our way to the summit and finally, they showed up. They were really “attached” to you if not for the alcohol.
The ascent gets more steeper as it nears the second peak, but the sight was really scenic upon reaching camps 26-29.
And by 12noon, we are finally at the peak 2 of Mt. Makiling, it was just bare ground with no view point. Only by attempting a traverse to Sto. Tomas, Batangas will one be able to get a good photo of the mountain from the summit.
And after spending an hour of rest, we descended back the UPLB Trail since we do not have someone to guide us to the Sipit Trail.
Hot Spring, Anyone?
The descent is now getting tiring and by 3:00pm we were already back at the Agila Base. At camp 10, taking a Habal-Habal at a cost down to the ranger station is optional, but we are still about to do two more sidetrips before heading back that we refused to take one. Along the first half of the trail, two possible sidetrips are present. At Camp 8 was the Mudsprings, at 682 meters from the trail head, is one of the few mud pots left of the dormant volcano which is Mt. Makiling.
This spring is characterized by a distinct sulfuric smell and you will see steam billowing from its hot and acidic water. Some say that before the fence was erected, they used to make hard boiled eggs in its murky waters.
Then There’s Water
After paying a visit into its Mudspring we then got back at the trail and continued walking down until we reached camp 2. And again from the trailhead, another 948 meters is the Flat Rocks.
This is a small river characterized by flat slabs of rock on top of each other, hence, Flat Rocks. Some incidents tell of a flashflood that washed away some students having a picnic, bodies were not immediately found, until the following day, were seen floating along the creeks inside the campus.
It was already 5:30pm when we are at the ranger station, tidied up and reached the town proper come 6:00pm. It was a good (and tiring) day indeed.
Sample Itinerary & Budget
Via UPLB Trail
4:45 – Assembly at Buendia, take bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (100php/pax)
5:15 – ETD to Los Baños, Laguna
6:30 – ETA Los Baños Crossing, take jeep near Robinson’s Place with signboard “UPLB Forestry” (7.50php/pax)
7:00 – ETA UPLB College of Forestry, log in, leave 1 ID for your group. (10php/pax)
7:30 – Start hike
8:45 – Makiling Rainforest Park, refreshments are available
9:30 – Agila Base
10:00 – Malaboo Campsite
10:30 – Camp 20, Wilderness Zone
12:00 – Peak 2, take pictures, eat lunch, rest.
13:00 – Proceed with descent
15:00 – ETA Agila Base
15:30 – Camp 8, proceed to Mudspring
15:45 – ETA Mudspring, take pictures
17:00 – ETA Flatrocks, take pictures
17:30 – ETA Ranger Station, tidy up
18:00 – Take a jeep going back to Los Baños, Crossing (7.50php/pax)
18:30 – Dinner
19:15 – Take Bus going back to Buendia (100php/pax)
20:00 – ETA Buendia
Itinerary & Expenses
Guide and Fees: 10php/pax (Registration Fee)
Total Damage: 475php – 600php safe budget
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Go, Carve that Niche,