“You are getting married; you shouldn’t be going out all the time!”
“Aren’t you afraid to hike alone? You’re a lady!”
“Rapists and criminals are everywhere. And you’re a woman!”
These are some of the words that people have told me when they found out I was alone while exploring Mt. Balagbag.
It’s the new year, and I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. First, I can’t keep up with those “promises”; I don’t need New Year just to change myself or do something in my life. However, I always set goals that I would like to do within that year. Usually, I write it down during my birthday and then check it the next year. To those things that I was not able to accomplish will still be added to my new list until I am able to fulfill it.
The year 2016 was different, though. It was special, and everything went so fast. Things happened unexpectedly, and I was not able to make a list on my birthday. I just arrived in the UK, and everything was new and overwhelming. My focus was not about what I wanted to do, but it was about how to make my new life with my partner to work. Gladly, it worked out so well! I’ve been traveling a lot when I was in the UK, and I started my blogging right then. After six months, I went back to the Philippines and spent my holidays with my family.I became busy with my blogs, hunting and shooting in festivals, part-time work as an event’s photographer and of course, preparing for our wedding. At the end of the year, I could breathe in for a while and decided to continue my birthday list.
One of my goals this year is to hike at least five mountains. So I checked out some easy mountains to hike and bumped into a nearby mountain. I know some areas in Bulacan that’s good for hiking, and I’ve been to some of them a few times, but this one is just new to me.
With my new action camera (a Christmas gift for myself), I went to Mt. Balagbag a day after the New Year. I was too excited to use it that I didn’t even bother to practice how to take videos properly. Believe me, I had headaches after watching my own videos! Anyway, it took more than two hours for me to get to this place. Mt. Balagbag is at the boundary of two provinces, Bulacan and Rizal. It is good for minor hikers because the trail is unchallenging.
When I reached the village of Licao-Licao, I saw a group of people in a small store. There was a lady who asked me to register before I took the path to the village of Balagbag. There was also a donation box, but it’s not compulsory. There were tricycle drivers in the area as well and asked me if I would like to ride. However, I chose to walk because I would like to enjoy the area. It was raining a couple of days ago, and the
path was muddy.
I’ve been walking for about twenty minutes, and I had no idea where I was going. All I know was that I have to follow the path, and it will lead me to Mt. Balagbag. Thankfully, two motorists came and offered to give me a lift. They said that it was still a long way to go for me to reach the next registration. I had a second thought, but I noticed that there were many people along the way and if these guys have bad plans for me, I could easily get help. Oh well, it will save me from walking a couple of kilometers, so I gladly accepted the offer. I hate riding a motorbike, but this time; I faced my fear. I just want to reach the place as soon as I can. I had a chat with the bloke that I was riding a bike with, and his name is Darwin. He said that they live in the nearby town, and they will go to the waterfalls. It took us about around 15 minutes to reach their location and sadly, it’s still far from the place I was going. So I thanked them and continued my journey.
It took a while before the next registration area and on my way there, I’ve seen a lot of hikers on their way back from the peak. Once I reached the Barangay (Village) hall of San Isidro, I registered again and paid PHP10 as a registration fee. They showed me the path going to the summit and told me that I would need to make another registration at the entrance of the hill. By this time, I already felt the steep slope of the area as I was struggling to walk faster. From the second registration, it took me more or less thirty minutes to reach the third registration booth. Again, I registered and this time it costs PHP30. I also met some kids here on their way to the peak as well.
Aside from the hikers, I also saw some mountain bikers on my way. There were tracks that quarrying was or is a source of income in this area. There are few trees along the way once you enter the third point. The fusion of the golden soil and the tall green grasses left me astonished. After another thirty minutes, I reached the summit. The weather was a bit overcasted that day, and the wind was strong. My jaws dropped once I saw the magnificent layers of the mountains. You can also see the tall buildings of the busy city of Manila from afar.
There is also a place called a helipad, aside from the summit. It took me fifteen minutes to climb that place from the summit. This place is at the opposite way towards the summit, so I needed to go back down a bit. there were hikers with their tents on top of the hill the moment I arrived. I also saw a dog wagging her tail and seemed like welcoming me as I reached the top. The kids who went up at the helipad played with the dog. From the hilltop, I could see the Mt. Balagbag summit and the cityscape while on the other side was the mountain range and the Ippo Dam came into view. The wind was stronger that it became difficult for me to walk straight. Once I felt that the air was getting colder and the clouds had formed to a darker shade, I’ve decided to start my trek down and head home.
The feeling of accomplishment once I reached the top was enigmatic. the sense of freedom and fear was there. This was not my initial time to hike and reach a summit. However, it was my first to go outdoors alone. And as a woman, I’ve heard a lot of comments about it. Some were good and some were about being worried. I was getting married that time, and everyone was telling me about superstitions and I shouldn’t be doing many activities that are prone to accidents. I do understand and appreciate the care that these people wanted to show me; however, these deterrent words can’t stop me from living my life to the fullest. YOLO as they say, but in every adventure I take, awareness and care must be affiliated.
How to get there?
From Marilao, Bulacan: ride a jeepney bound to Muzon. From there, ride a jeepney going to Tungko. When you reach that area, look for BDO bank or Shell station and behind those buildings is where the jeepney terminal to Licao-Licao is. The final stop will be the entrance to the Mt. Balagbag trek.
From Farmers Cubao: ride a bus bound to Tungko. Then follow the directions above once you reach Tungko.
Note: You have an option to ride a tricycle going to San Isidro Barangay Hall. And a tour guide is not necessary unless you want to do a traverse hike or go somewhere further beyond the vicinity of Mt. Balagbag.
Hiking alone made me appreciate myself more than I used to. It also helped me to learn things about myself. traveling alone as a woman is nerve racking due to our baleful surrounding. Nevertheless, it could give you the sense of independence and courage to face the rough times throughout your journey.
Here’s a video of my adventure in Mt. Balagbag. WARNING: The video is shaky and might give you headache! Sorry, I am new to videos and this was my first time to use my action camera. Thank you for your consideration! Peace y’all!