Trailhead: Sitio Lubog, Brgy. Puray, Rodriguez
LLA: 14°50′10.4′′ N, 121°14′12.9′′, 955 MASL (+337)
Specs: Minor, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-4 with rock scrambling
Feautures: Limestone formations, scenic views of the Sierra Madre
Hard roads often lead into beautiful destinations, and really, this is true after a visit at one of the new hiking destinations in Rizal: Mt. Lubog, and we can attest to that. Situated in a far flung area named Sitio Lubog, it is only reachable by “habal-habal” style tricycles and 4×4 vehicles, it just opened this year to the mountaineering community and outdoor enthusiasts.
A Ride To Remember
We boarded a UV Express which is bound to Montalban, Rizal at 5am and we asked to be dropped off at Brgy. San Rafael (Total Gas Station as landmark). After an hour, we reached the said place, had breakfast, and waited for our contact to fetch us by 7am. The said time came but no Kuya Hernan showed up, only to be notified that his ride was busted and gave us another contact. An hour we waited again, before another driver showed up and by 8am we were in for a sweet ride on a habal-habal.
Mt. Lubog is only reachable by a one to three hour habal ride (yes you read it right) on weather dependent rough roads. The initial part of the ride is quite the rough road you will expect, and after 20 minutes, the ride came to a halt, with the driver saying that the engine needs to cool down before the ascent.
And this is where things got exciting, as the ride will be mostly uphill on really rough and muddy roads.
After almost an hour we reached the welcome arch of Sitio Macaingalan, Brgy. Puray which is also a good hundred meter altitude gain since the mountains of Montalban are visible at most parts of the ride.
It was a series of dusty, bumpy, and muddy ride, that really needs a good driver to navigate this type of terrain. We had to go down several times and push the thing due to the wheels getting stuck in the mud, or the ride can’t manage to rise up from a deep trench on the road going uphill. The challenge of hiking this mountain really starts on a the transportation to its foot.
Behold, The Sierra Madre
After almost two hours of a heck of a ride, we were at long last, at Sitio Macaingalan proper where the wife of Kagawad Peter’s wife welcomed us. We immediately registered and payed the corresponding fees before we started our hike. After securing our guide, we once again rode the habal-habal and again: series of more rocky terrain. After thirty minutes the ride came to a halt since this is as far as the habal can go and we need to go on foot to reach the foot of the mountain.
On initial observation, there is no electricity in the area, but houses have solar panels on their roofs. Most grown up men in the sitio sports a machete wrapped around their waists, Kuya Danilo was a good example. We thought that it was named Lubog, because of the fact that your shoes will be in constant mud immersion considering the terrain is really caked. And ironically it is named lubog but it stands at 955 meters above sea level, our guide said that there is a body of water inside the mountain that cause the former peak to split into two because the soil in between gradually caved in.
The sun was up in the horizon, and its heat started to sting. From afar we noticed a rock formation somewhere in the bottom of the mountain, and it is called “Simbahang Bato” (Rock Church) owing to it’s formation of rocks that end on pointed shapes that resembles that of a cathedral.
To get a good view, our guide said that we can enter the backyard of a big house near the foot to catch a good photo of it. The house was owned by a man who will be running for Brgy. Captain of Puray, and also the one who might be giving shelter to the military detachment to the sitio. He greeted us politely and even said that we can have photos shot with the rock formations as the background and an M16 rifle as a prop. No man could refuse that badass offer. (No cartridge is loaded into the rifle.)
And also some rocks are scattered on a private property before the ascent.
The mountain is a welcoming sight, dense foliage of trees that provide covering from the sun, and mossy rocks that is reminiscent of Mt. Pamitinan. The forest floor is muddy with scattered leaves and insects. After several minutes of ascent, a first rest area will be seen that is also fronting the entrance to the Lubog Cave.
The cave and its three levels is open to the public, but we decided not to enter since we started late and catching the dark going home is not a good idea. After forty minutes, we reached the second and also the last resting area, from there the summit is only ten minutes.
The hike was kind of exhausting, but reaching the summit is really an energizing experience. It was indeed a cherry on top, the challenge to reach it is all worth it, since the rock formations in it is one of a kind, a haven of rocks clustered in one summit, plus scenic views of the mountain range with Mt. Irid visible from afar.
To Panintingan Falls
The photo opportunity at the summit is really countless, but always take good care since a small error can be fatal (read: YOLO). We had lunch at the second rest stop and after thirty minutes we descended down. After thirty minutes we were back at the military detachment, and did a sidetrip at the lagoon, or as they call it, Panintingan Falls.
It is only a ten minute walk from the trailhead and you will reach a small stream that cascades down into a round lagoon. Kuya Danny said that is can be as deep as ten feet, we just did a quick dip and immediately trekked down to where we left our habal-habal since it is already 2pm.
The Sad Truth
As were descending down on the muddy road, Kuya Danilo recounted the days when the road we were walking into was once a lush forest and how birds and different faunas once roam the area. Illegal logging is still perpetuating in the area, one will be able to see large wood planks hauled down to town which came from large trees from the area.
And also due to lack of information, the people who trailblazed the mountain, said that they were carrying mallets when they explored the area. Clobbering the sharp rocks along the trail to prevent hiking related injuries, and it was late before they found out that it is really a bad practice.
The 2 hour ride going back to the town opened new insights on how beautiful the mountain range of Sierra Madre can be. Even though tiring, the experience was worthwhile.
Itinerary and Expenses
Mt. Lubog Dayhike
0500 – ETD Gateway, Cubao, Ride UV Express to Montalban (50php/pax)
0600 – ETA Brgy. San Rafael, alight at Total Gas Station, Breakfast, wait for habal-habal (1000php/5pax)
0800 – ETD to Sitio Macaingalan, Brgy. Puray
0930 – ETA Sitio Macaingalan register (50php/pax) and secure guide (400php/5pax).
0945 – Resume habal-habal ride to Sitio Lubog jump off
1015 – ETA Sitio Lubog, start trek
1200 – Summit
1215 – Eat Lunch
1245 – Descent to jump-off
1330 – Back at jumpoff explore Panintingan Falls, swim, rest
1430 – Trek then habal habal to kagawad Peter’s house
1515 – Ride back to Brgy. San Rafael
1700 – ETA rodriguez highway,tidy up, post climb meal
1800 – ETD to Manila
2100 – Manila
*You can contact Kagawad Peter at +639284647447 a week prior to your climb, since signal is scarce to none at Sitio Macaingalan. (We tried to call but they are out of coverage area, you should wait for his text message)
Transportation: 100php (FX, back and forth)
250php (Habal-habal, group of 4pax)
Fees: 100php (guide fee, 400php/pax – 4pax)
50php (Environmental Fee)
Total Damage: 500php/pax – 800php/pax (safe budget)
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.