Mar 13, 2011

Climb Alert!: Mt. Balagbag, the New LOGBOOK County

Incident date: March 13, 2011

There ARE already several LOGBOOK stations collecting REGISTRATION FEES here.
(1) Barangay watch near the San Isidro diversion.
(2) Land-owner of Mt. Balagbag helipad
(3) Near the Church in Veterans (Mt. Balagbag Portside)
(4) anyone who thinks of jumping to the money-making scheme bandwagon that was prevalent among locals living near the mountain area.

@ Biak na Mukha

“Pamemera” was first noted when we made a stop-over at the last house on the road before the Biak na Mukha diversion. I have heard of this as one of the rest house of the helipad land owner.

I saw several mountaineers on descent making a stop in that area. My companion also had her rest there, with me several meters away, slumped and cooling down in a little piece of concrete pavement. After a few minutes I got up and went to where they were.

I noticed there were already a number people in that house compared to last time I went there (December 2010), including a woman who’s holding a LOGBOOK and a man she introduced as the owner. Later I asked the man if he’s a congressman as I’ve heard during my first climb there in April 2009 that the place was owned by a Congressman. He said he’s not, but he seemed to know the person so I was a bit confused about the claim of ownership on the land.

At first there were no mention of logbook and the so-called “donation”. But the woman opened the topic on how there were people down the brgy. who were collecting fees. At this I blurted out:

“Ikaanim na akyat ko na dito at never pa akong nagbayad!!!”.

To which the woman responded defensively: ”Ang amin lang naman eh nanghihingi kami ng donasyon, para ipampagawa ng CR, at ipaayos yung helipad. Kasi yun ang request ng mga mountaineers”.

We stayed on a bit, and I think they can sense that I was silent and not interested in hearing what are their plans about the area. So off they had their lunch, with proper courtesy of course of asking us to join them. Before we left, disgusted, we gave Php10.00 each which is more than what was asked, just to comply with the ongoing regulations there (php5.00 was the amount stated in the logbook).

On our way down, I made a stop-over at the same house to use the CR. We then rested a bit, and one of the drunken caretaker took the chance to make a comment about their plans to put facilities at the helipad etc, same story blahblah. But what really got to me was when he added that:

“Pag aakyat dun, kelangan dumaan na kayo samin para magpaalam kasi isasara na yung GATE na yun, tapos kami lang ang magbubukas”.

I was recollecting if I ever saw a gate there... But one thing I noticed were the barb wire fences at the side of the road going to the summit. My friend told me later on that she indeed saw a gate at the Biak na Mukha diversion. It really got to our nerves so we decided to push through.

Again we left disgusted to which the drunken man said:

“Pasencia na kayo at naabala naming kayo ha”.

I never stayed to ask what he meant by those words.

While walking down, I have been wondering about that they referred to as the barangay collecting fees. My companion waited for me in a store near the San Isidro diversion as she was having coffee and currently chitchatting with the female storeowner. Upon arrival I saw halo-halo and ordered one. I joined the conversation with the storeowner and managed to squeeze in the topic about the fees being collected by the land owner… with me again blurting out:

“Ikaanim na akyat ko na dito at NOW pa lang ako pinagbayad!!!”.

Ok, so that was a mistake again. The storeowner became defensive as it turned out that they are the ones being referred to as the “other collector”. She tried to get a LOGBOOK to show/brag about the climbers that were registered with them. And out of nowhere…. a drunken man appeared and introduced himself as the officer in charge of the barangay collecting the fees.  He explained the rationale at why they were collecting fees, and expressed surprise at the fact that there were “other collectors” around.

Guess that kind of ruffled their feathers, knowing there’s competition.

So after spending some plastik time with the storeowner as I am disgusted with her as well, we now headed for Veterans and then to the Grotto, which we planned to visit before going home. On our way to Veterans, my companion whispered something about an old woman inside a house near the Church… on the window with a LOGBOOK.

We walked in a hurry to pass her by, hoping this will be the last time we will see a person with a logbook before we reach the jump-off

Personal Note
This is kind of sad. Mt. Balagbag is a mountain close to my heart, and I was more than willing to guide friends here to share the wonderful view above. With these recent incidents involving money and greed… I am now thinking twice on promoting it to others.

In my opinion, the locals there noted the increasing number of visitors, and the temptation to make money out of them proved to be too strong to resist. They were like hyenas fighting over a piece of meat.

I am hoping that the situation there will not turn for the worse, as what happened in other mountains. It’s just the suddenness of the conversion of the place into a tourist spot that saddens me.

So this is how it felt to witness something of that sort. To discover it while it was still innocent and free from greed and see it transformed into something that is expected to generate money.

Also, I am not sure whether the man masquerading as the owner is as he purports to be, or just a mascot for entitlement over management and mandate of regulation on climbers visiting the area. 

Last observation I’ve got was a gate and some fences, and the repaired wooden shed at the helipad. They are talking of putting a restroom there. I now wonder what’s next.

Clarification: I am not sure if they still collect money even if you have already paid to the other "collectors"


  1. galing pu kami jan nung last week at hiningian pu kami ng donation..

  2. Hi Sir.. Plan po sana naming umakyat sa Mt. Balagbag sa April 17. Hingi po sana ako ng IT para sa dayhike. Mga magkano po ang budget per head? Need din po ng guide? Plan po namin na sa Bulacan umakyat then sa Rizal na po ang baba namin. Kaya din po kaya ng isang 7 yr old at 10 yr old ang trail? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks a lot po.


  3. Hi Sir/Mam Cory, I can prepare a post on suggested Mt.Balagbag itinerary. Yep, it can be done on a dayhike basis.

    I don't know about the traverse of Bulacan-Rizal, hindi ba ito yung Karahume-Licaolicao?

  4. No guide is needed, from Manila to Licao jumpoff the estimated expenses per head are:

    Bus to Tungko - P70+
    Jeep to Karahume/Licao from Tungko - P25+
    Registration - P5

  5. Hi Mam..:).....Thank you so much for the info..:).. For the IT, thanks in advance..:).. I don't know kung yan po yung karahume-licaolicao trail.. Yung officemate ko po, umakyat sa Balagbag from bulacan down to sumulong highway in rizal pero wala po syang IT.. if you have climbs mam, pwede pong sumama (kahit anong bundok)? add po kita sa fb..:).. thank u po..:)-Cory

  6. Sir/Mam Cory, I'll try to post po this Saturday yung IT. Matagal ko na din meaning ipost yun eh, nakadraft pa lang. Apat na trail lang po ang alam ko sa Balagbag, isang (1) Licao licao at tatlong Karahume. Yung tatlong karahume (2) waterfalls trail (3) rotary trail (4) carabao/cow trail. Namimili lang ako ng combination ng traverse minsan, hehe.

    Last time tinry ko sundan yung pulang lupa to base ng Mt. Oriod, pero kulang na kasi sa oras. Dun yung dinadaanan ng bikers. I don't know where yung labas nun, me nagsasabi sa wawa daw. Will be back there to continue yung nasimulan kong lakaran na trail. Mam/sir, sure sige sama po kayo minsan, iwan nyo lang po nung number nyo dito. Be forwarned lang po na mabagal ako magtrek hehe. =D

  7. Hi Mam.. :).. Kelan po plan nyo mag-climb ulit sa balagbag? Yung akyat po na plan ko sa April 17, parang ocular inspection po kasi plan kong mag-tree planting sa month of May.:). Yun nga lang, try kong kausapin yung kilala ko from bulacan para makakuha ng info bout dun sa politician. Nabasa ko kasi article mo mam at kay sir gid. Yun po atang dinadaanan ng bikers ang trail na dinaanan ng officemate ko nung umakyat sila..:).. san po plan nyo na climb mam? :)

  8. Di ko din po sure kung kelan ulit ako makaakyat dun. May sked na po ako ng April 17 eh.

    Word of advice lang po, walang mangyayari sa tree planting ng Balagbag kasi privately owned po yung lugar, kagaya ng Talamitam. Matagal ng project ni Fredd Ochavo (UPMENCOM) yang Balagbag at parang wala namang nangyayari. Plus rampant po ang kahirapan dun sa area, at pag naalis ang pagkakaingin at paguuling ng mga tao dun, mawawalan po sila ng trabaho. Honestly mas naaawa po ako sa tao kesa sa bundok.

    Licao-licao po yung daanan ng bikers paakyat, yung pababa traverse to Rizal ang hindi ko po kabisado pero kita naman po yung trail eh well established. Kung maaga kayong magiistart pwede nyong iexplore yung pababa kasi marami namang taong dumadaan dun na mapagtatanungan.

    Yung kay Gid na trail, hindi yun talagang daanan ng mga tao, parang naligaw lang siguro sila kasi me sinundan silang mga kaingeros db. Swertehan lang na nakahitch sila pauwi.

    Hopefully maipost ko po tomoro yung suggested itinerary. I know na well meaning po kayo sa tree planting pero baka hindi kayo mapayagan ng meari. May bakod na nga papuntang summit/helipad eh.

  9. Hi Ma'am.. mam, hindi po delikado na umakyat sa Balagbag? Baka babae kaming lahat na umakyat..:).. cge po mam, take ko po advice nyo na wag na lang kaming mag tree planting.. Allot na lang namin sa ibang bundok yung activity..:). In case po mam, maraming sasakyan pabalik ng tungko from jump-off? tnx po..:)-Cory

  10. Yap, dun na lang kayo magtree planting sa mga kalbong gubat, kasi ang Mt. Balagbag hindi naman cia gubat eh. Yung looban pa ng Sierra Madre pwede. Yung dati sa Talamitam, after ng treeplanting kinain din daw ng mga baka. Saka after ng tree planting dapat me tree nurturing din, ang activity na yan ay hindi nagtatapos sa pagtatanim.

    Yep, perfect yan sa all womens climb. Madali lang yung trail, and safe naman sa pagkakaalam ko. Yung Licao licao terminal may jeep na galing Tungko meron din galing daw ng Montalban though hindi ko pa natry. Every 15 minutes daw ang byahe, maraming jeep sa umaga, sa hapon mga 6-7pm yata yung paubos ng byahe. Don't worry kasi marami namang tricycle, kami pag ginagabi either naghahire ng tricycle or jeep. Yung tricycle in my experience eh P200-250 hanggang sa kalsada na sakayan ng bus. Pwede ciang hanggang 3-4 na passenger. Yung jeep naman mga P400 hanggang Tungko, pero pwede tawaran siguro.

    Sa rough road trail, pwede kayo magpahatid hanggang sa checkpoint (lagpas ng Veterans/waterfalls trail exit), almost half na ng trail yun from jumpoff na terminal. P70 ang isang byahe ng tricycle paakyat. Yung pababa naman eh P10.

  11. Hi po,Plan namin mag-dayhike sana sa sat(apr23) pwede po bang mgdala ng private transpo. my safe parking po kaya sa jump-off saka rough road po ba going to the jumpoff, kaya po ba ng ordinary car? thanks po in advance.