Category Archives: BENGUET

SNAPSHOT: Diplomat Hotel

Located in Baguio City, in the province of Benguet, Diplomat Hotel sits atop the famed Dominican Hill and has been dubbed as one of the most haunted places in the country and in the world. It was built by the Order of the Dominicans as a vacation house and was later turned as a school, eventually it closed down due to low turn-out of enrolees. During the Japanese occupation, it was turned into a refugee camp and was bombed multiple times, damaging the place and killing quite a number of people. In the early 70’s it was repaired back to life as Diplomat Hotel, a 33-bedroom hotel, this is where the haunted scores of apparitions came into circulation until it ceased its operation and was deemed off limits as the owner died of unexplained illness. The haunting continues up to this day.

How To Get There:

● Take any Baguio bound buses in Cubao, Quezon City (Victory Liner, Five Star Bus). (Travel Time is around 5-6hrs)

● Upon arrival at Baguio City, take a cab going to Burnham Park and alight at the jeepney terminal located at Zandueta St. near the Harrison-Abanao-Magsaysay Intersection, take the jeeps bound for Dominican Hill. Alternately, you can hail a cab to take you directly to the Diplomat Hotel.

● Ask the driver to drop you off at the foot of Diplomat Hotel then walk until you reach the famed property.

Full Article Here:

How Far Can You Go? – Mt. Ugo (2150+)

MT. UGO (2,150+)
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

Day by day, this world is fast changing and sometimes we feel like being left behind. Look back, and see that great things changed in just a year. Do new stuff, seek higher playgrounds, that you’ll be proud of as you look back years from now.

The Way to the Indupit

We left Manila at around 12:30am and had a long ride amidst the battering rains outside. Trip took longer than expected since zero visibility welcomed us as we took the winding roads of Aritao by 7:30am. We arrived at Kayapa an hour later and the weather got better and that was a sigh of relief.

A quick breakfast at the public market and courtesy call at the police station before we proceeded with the trek by 9:45am. Although guides were still not with us since they are coming down from the mountain, we just agreed to meet somewhere along the trail. First leg of the trail is through some local houses while walking on cemented stairs and a few minutes later, pine forests welcomed us and so are the guides.

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First flat area after the initial leg of the trail
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Where will the scent of pine take you tonight?

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With Team Trip Ni Juan

The weather was a bit gloomy and dank, but thank god that it was not raining hard. The steepness are gradual on some parts and took us around 2hrs before we reached the Indupit Village, local kids joined us as we arrived. We decided to have our lunch from there and rest for a while.

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Picture, picture!

From Indupit Village, a wide road connects it down to the town proper for easy hauling of goods from village to village, and it is also a government project to make this part of the mountain accessible to vehicles.

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Gates like this are all over the area, made for grazing cows
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Sleep is for the weak

On the west is Mt. Samiento at 1730masl while the summit of Mt. Ugo is at the back, it showed up for a brief time before clouds started to engulf the whole place in white again. Still a long way to go.

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Chasing Ansipsip

After taking a brief rest, temperature started to drop down together with cold winds blowing from all directions. So we continued with the trek. We also happened to pass by Mt. Samiento (1730+) and took take 5’s every now and then.

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Who wouldn’t love dogs?
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Still no clearing

Almost three hours now on the trail, with nothing to see but fog and nothing to feel but cold winds and light rains. We reached the Ansipsip Waiting Shed near the Km. 4 marker and planned to rest, but instead we continued since stopping would mean cooling down and feeling the cold a little bit stinging than the usual.

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In their highest leaves, the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity, but they do not lose themselves

The Great Cordillera Traverse

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The silent hill
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Leave and get lost in the right direction, if that is what it takes

What led to the discovery of this mountain is due to two seperate accounts of plane crashes that happened in the past decades. First one happened in the late 1960’s where a passenger plane crashed at Sitio Kalaudan, and the second one took place some 200 yards from the southwest part of the summit, killing 50 passengers, on a fateful day of June 1987 as it was about to land at Loakan Airport in Baguio during a monsoon.

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Three more kilometers
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Head above the clouds
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Surreal landscapes at 4 in the afternoon
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A wild victreebell appeared!

We then reached the summit of Mt. Ugo by  5:00pm. It was also a relief to see the weather had been good to us upon reaching the peak, an afternoon sea of clouds appeared before us. Several provinces also came in full view.

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Brief period along the forest trail before the summit
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Garden of Ugo

This is dubbed as one of the great cordillera traverses followed by Mt. Napulauan and Mt. Amuyao. Mt. Ugo, being named as such, came from the Spanish word “Ugoan” or to “slit the throat” after the Headhunters or “Busols” took the head of a spanish secretary general as they protected their area from the invasion. But back in the days before it was named Ugo, it was first called Bundok Umag-aga (Mt. Umag-aga).

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Sea of clouds in the afternoon

How Far Can You Go?

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At 2150 meters above sea level

This is where the fun starts now: the traverse to Itogon. After some much needed rest, we made haste since night time is starting to befall on us. By 5:40pm we descended down. The steep trail composed of rolling terrains and ravines with pine trees made the trek more beautiful, seems like this side of the mountain came out from a fiction book. And as the dark night shrouded us, the group took a slower pace so that each can follow and no one will be left behind. We reached the Km. 10.5 marker by 7pm, while the Km. 4.5 by 9:20pm. Our endurance was tested largely by how far can each of us go, by how determined we are. And also our patience were tested big time. As we reached Km. 0 by 10:15pm. The great Agno River welcomed us, and passed over it via the Petican-Animal Hanging Bridge.

Thinking it was over was a great misconception, from here the Brgy. Hall of Tinongdan is somewhere located above the mountain sides and is still several kilometers from where we are. (read: basag tuhod)

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At long last, there you aree

We were really lying down on the concrete road just dreaming about the billion star kind of night upon having a brief break. But we still continued on and reached Tinongdan Brgy. Hall by 12 midnight and was welcomed with unlimited Kalinga Brewed Coffee. That was one for the bucketlist!. We got back at Manila safe and sound by 9am the following day.

Props to the Trip Ni Juan Crew, Sir Eros Agustin and Maria Rodas for making this climb possible.

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One with the clouds

Since this has been resounding for a while now, let me share my few cents. Whatever we choose, may it be a day hike or an overnight camp, both of it will produce impacts to the environment, and that is reality. Needless to say, be responsible and act your age, and just enjoy whatever you are doing. Camp if you must camp and wait for that glorious sunrise or test your limits and finish it in the shortest time possible, the thing is, just don’t brag about it and blow your own trumpets, the only competition here is with yourself. Maybe skip that posting of monumental pictures on social media groups of your amazing selfies/groupies and remind yourself: is this post helpful? will it benefit the reader or only the one who posted it by the number of likes? If yes, continue and spread the word, if no then you know the drill.

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Enjoy life, live in the moment, take risks, and carve that niche. 🙂

Budget and Itinerary

Mt. Ugo Day Hike Traverse
Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya – Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet

0030  – Departure from Manila
0730  – Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya
0830  – Arrival at Kayapa Town Proper
0845  – Register, breakfast
0945  – Start trek
1200  – Indupit Village, Lunch
1245  – Resume trek
1530  – Km. 4 marker, Ansipsip Waiting Shed
1700  – Mt. Ugo summit
1740  – Start descend to Itogon, Benguet
1900  – Km. 10.5 marker
2120  – Km. 4.5 marker
2215  – Km. 0 Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
           – walk to Tinongdan Brgy. Hall
0000  – Arrival at Brgy. Hall of Tinongdan
0200  – Take jeep to Tinongdan Police Station
0215  – Itogon Police Station, depart for Manila
0245  – ETD to Manila
0315  – Baguio City, early breakfast
0900  – Back to Manila

Budget:

Event: Dayhike/Overnight – 1500php-2500php
DIY:
Transportation:
Bus – 230php/Pax (Manila – Aritao)
Jeep – 1000php-2000php/20pax (Aritao – Kayapa)
        – 2500php (Baguio-Itogon-Baguio)
Fees:
-From Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya

-From Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
• Registration Fee: 200php/pax
• Guide Fee: 500php/10pax/day
• Porter Fee: 500php/day (optional)

Total Damage: 1800php (2500php/safe budget)

Notes:
If starting from Itogon, Benguet:
– Take Baguio bound buses (e.g. Victory Liner), then from Baguio, rent jeepneys going to Tinongdan. Alternately, some mountaineers takes the taxi going to the jump off, rates range from 600php-800php.
– You can contact:
Brgy. Chairman Benjamin Medino  09082637134 / 09282890886 / 09398345655
Tourism Coordinator Norbert Pacio 09102508492
If starting from Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya:
– Take Nueva Vizcaya or Ifugao bound buses (e.g. Ohayami, Florida, Victory), alight at Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya and from there, you can catch jeepneys bound to Kayapa, or contact the Kayapa Tourism for them to pre-arrange your ride prior to the day of event
– You can contact:
Sir Alex – 09461978178
■ Water sources are only at Indupit Village and Domolpos Village, bring lots of water
■ Practice LNT Principles

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
-Helen Keller

Go, carve that niche,
Rex

Reach for the Sky – Mt. Pulag (2926+)

MT. PULAG (AKIKI TRAIL)
Kabayan, Benguet
Major jump-off: Brgy. Doacan, Kabayan (Akiki)
LLA: 16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E, 2922 MASL
Hours to summit / Days required: 10-11 hours / 2-4 days
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 7/9, Trail class 3
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)
“Different roads all lead to the same destination” as the saying goes, but as a friend once coined, it can also be said as “Different trails all lead to the same summit”. It will be constantly one of the bucketlist entry of any individual who loves the outdoors: to climb Mt. Pulag. Now it will be our turn to cross it off on our lists.



Day 01, The Road to Kabayan

Travelling to Baguio which is 250+ kilometers from Manila was never easy as one must endure a 6-7 hour travel time, but I guess the new normal is that after work shift, this will be the only time to catch some sleep. Around 6:30am we arrived in Baguio City to transfer to the rented monster jeeps by our organizers, and by 7am we are now on our way to Kabayan, Benguet. Travel time is three hours at the most.

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By 9am we had a stop over at Jang-Jang’s canteen to have some breakfast and secure our packed lunch. Another interesting fact is that behind the canteen is the longest hanging bridge in the Benguet province so we did a little sidetrip.

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We resumed our jeepney ride by 10am, but little did we know that some of the participants failed to have their medical certificates, so we dropped by the municipal hospital and spent almost an hour before we arrived at the Mt. Pulag visitor center by 11am.

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Briefing and courtesy call at the DENR is required for any visitor who wishes to climb the summit of Mt. Pulag. We had our turn by 12noon and finished by 1pm, that was long I must admit.

The Akiki

From the visitor center the jump-off point of the Akiki Trail is at Duacan, Kabayan, Benguet and took us an hour of jeepney ride before we arrived at the Akiki Ranger Station.

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There are several trails leading to the summit of Mt. Pulag: Ambangeg (Celebrity Trail) due to only slight elevation gains and pleasant trails, Akiki (Killer Trail) due to the steepness and length of trail, Ambaguio and Tawangan (Death Trails) due to the steepness and far jump off points that starts at Lusod, Bokod, Benguet (Farthest municipality in Bokod) and Nueva Vizcaya respectively, another fact is that their forests are all limatik infested that makes it a little more deadly (and exciting). But today we chose the more popular trail, which is the Akiki to Ambangeg Trail.

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We then registered at the ranger station and had our final preparations, we then started the hike by 3pm. First part of the trail is a gradual one passing by mountain slopes and lush vegetation, and it took us 15 minutes before reaching the Ambagiyawan Shelter.

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Akiki, as the word suggests, is onomatopeic by origin, meaning it came from the bird calls often heard at the area, and it also a fact that Mt. Pulag is home to hundreds of species including endemic ones. Then as we continued the trek, we reached the Manenchen Burial cave after a good 45 minutes of walk, where skeletal remains of tribal ancestors are buried and as of today, displayed at wooden crates.

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After passing the burial cave the trail led to the Eddet Campsite by 4:20pm and we took a little rest before crossing the Eddet River via a steel hanging bridge. The cascades at the background as you are crossing is breathtaking, nevermind the steel bridge that shakes wildly at each step.

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From the river, this is where the trail became notorious.

The Marlboro Country

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The inclination of the trail got steeper by the minute. Pine trees are now all over the place and it is in a perpetual zigzagging mountain climb amidst the cold weather. We had to take brief rests every ten to twenty minutes, before continuing, it took us two hours before we reached the flat part of the trail, the Kadagwayan Campsite at 6:24pm.

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The sun started to sink below the horizon and the Marlboro Campsite is still far from imagining, so we continued with our flashlights on, inspite the light occasional rains and cold temperature. What recharged us is seeing multitudes of fireflies emerge from the bushes and trees around the trail, that scene was a magical one, and our cameras were no match against the pitch black darkness. Some things are best experienced with what the eyes can only see and not with what our cameras could capture, these moments are happening, live it.

The rain continued on for an hour until we reached the Marlboro Country, it was named as such due to the appearance of the mountain area that is consisted of golden brown colored hills and slopes. Drenched and chilling, that is how the experience got a little more challenging, so we set up our camps and had a quick dinner before calling it a night.

We woke up by 2am, temperature dropped real sharp and good thing our jackets kept us warm. The rain has subsided and as soon as we opened our tent fly open, lo and behold, the Milky Way. What a treat to start our day, there are thousands, and if not, millions of stars flocking the sky, the galactic core and nebulas have gathered in a play of lights amidst the cosmos, shooting stars passed by in a spectacular movement only nature could choreograph.

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Day 02, The Grasslands

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By 4am we started our trek again, unlimited assaults on encore. In high hopes to catch the grand sea of clouds contrasted by the sunrise that is experienced at the summit of Mt. Pulag, we made haste. After 45 minutes we are now at the Mossy Forest and taking brief breaks in betweens. But it took us an hour more before we reached the grasslands but the sun finally rose from the sky, no sunrise at the summit for us then. From here, scaling every inch all the way up to where we are is priceless, knowing that you worked hard for whatever lies at the end of the adventure, so we continued on.

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Parts of the cordillera mountains are now seen from the grasslands, and thinking that we are walking among grass is a misconception, they were dwarf bamboos all along!. Another 40 minutes before we reached the saddle camp and only one last assault before we reach the very summit.

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Rooftop 2926

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Knees are shaking, legs are trembling, as one friend cried out, but we kept on climbing that one final assault leading to the rooftop of Luzon. By 7am we were finally at the summit, 2926MASL (new height certified by NAMRIA) and the third highest in the country.

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Pulag came from the word “Pulog” or in the local tongue, “Kalbo” or “Bald” when translated due to the appearance of the summit with no other vegetation rather than dwarf bamboos that appears to be like golden rolling hills from afar. And indeed, the Playground of the Gods.

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The highest point divides three provinces at its peak, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet. And from here the Three Great Cordillera Mountains are seen, namely Mt. Ugo, Mt. Napulauan and Mt. Amuyao. The peaks of the 2nd (Mt. Tabayoc) and 3rd (Mt. Timbak) highest mountains in Luzon is also seen.

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There were no sea of clouds that day, but nature never did betray the heart that loved her, and the clouds around did a little dance and gave us little clouds as consolation. Then it soon vanished and became fog as it covered the summit area in a blanket of white.

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The Ambangeg

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By 9:22am, we descended down via the Ambangeg trail, the trek in here is pleasant, no steep inclines that hurts the knees and the spectacular views of golden hued slopes and what we saw kind of confirmed the issues that the National Park is facing.

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The trail is wide and really muddy and slippery at the least. Dwarf bamboos are being trampled by visitors in order for them to be comfortable in their climb, no mud on their branded shoes, that’s better. And as a result, the once single lane trail is now three, four, five and even six folds the original. The bamboos were there even before us and it  years to thrive and it only took seconds for us to destroy. The pathways are now laid with stones after passing by the trail markers, after an hour we reached Camp 2.

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After the quick rest the Montane Forest welcomed us, trees were also mossy and we got the chance to see the century tree that stands at the left side of the trail.

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Then another hour passed before we reached the Babadak Ranger Station. We were back at Baguio City by 6pm and reached Manila by 2am the following day. What an experience!

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Mt. Pulag will give you hundreds of reasons to climb its summit all over again, and we will definitely visit again and gain new experiences and make more memories.

Special mention to Sir Alex Pedron, Team 1, and the Kapsig Outdoors Team, for making this trip awesome.

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Budget and Itinerary

Mt. Pulag Akiki-Ambangeg Trail

Day 00
2200  – Meet up at Cubao
2230  – Departure to Baguio

Day 01
0630  – Arrival at Baguio, transfer to Monster Jeep
0700  – ETD to Bokod, Benguet
0900  – Jang-Jang’s Canteen, breakfast, buy packed lunch, sidetrip to longest hanging bridge
1000  – Depart for Bokod Hospital
1020  – Get Medical Certificate for hiking
1100  – Arrival at Mt. Pulag Visitor Center
1200  – Briefing before climb proper
1300  – End of briefing, travel to Doacan, Benguet
1440  – Arrival at Akiki jump-off point
1500  – Start trek
1515  – Ambagiyawan Shelter
1620  – Eddet campsite
1824  – Kadagwayan Campsite
1915  – Marlboro Country campsite, set up camp, dinner
2000  – Lights off

Day 02
0230  – Wake up call, milky way chasing
0400  – Resume trek
0445  – Mossy Forest
0600  – Grassland
0640  – Saddle Camp
0700  – Mt. Pulag summit
0922  – Start descent via Ambangeg Trail
1022  – Camp 2
1125  – Arrival at Ambangeg, Babadak Ranger Station
1500  – Departure to Baguio via Monster jeep
1600  – Arrival at Visitor center for certificates
1800  – Arrival at Baguio, depart for Manila

Day 03
0200 – Arrival at Manila

Budget:
Event: 2500php/pax – 3000php/pax
(Camping Provisions are excluded)

DIY:
Transportation:
Bus: 450php/pax (MLA-BAGUIO)
Monster Jeep: 5000php/20pax (BAGUIO-KABAYAN-BAGUIO)
Fees:
Guide Fee: 1800php/7pax
Reg. Fee (Visitor Center): 225php/pax
Reg. Fee (Akiki Ranger Station): 50php/pax
Porter Fee (Optional): 150php/kilo

Notes:

● No Reservation, No Entry Policy to all who wants to visit the National Park, prior arrangements must be done before the hike
● Medical Certificates are required, one must secure a copy prior to the climb and not during the climb if he/she wants to hike Mt. Pulag so as not to delay the itinerary. Moreover, this should be done out of respect to those in the group who has secured one prior to the event
● Weekends: Only day treks are allowed, camping is only allowed at the Babadak ranger station area ( for Ambangeg Trail)
● Weekdays: Camping is allowed at designated campsites
● Monster Jeeps are mandatory from Baguio and entry of private vehicles to the National Park is discouraged
● Toploading is not allowed from Baguio to Visitor Center, but can be done from the latter to the point of destination
● Restrooms and watersources are available along the trail:
Akiki – Eddet and Marlboro Country campsites
Ambangeg – Camp 2 and Saddle Camp
● Prepare necessary provisions for camping and subzero temperatures to avoid any untoward incidents such as Hypothermia and the likes
● Practice LNT Principles

 

 

 

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

– Susan Sontag

Go, carve that niche,
Rex