Hiking to the hilltop, Nagsasa Cove


To get the iconic crescent moon aerial shot of Nagsasa Cove, you head to the rightmost part of the beach, pay an Aeta guide P10, and climb the hill that introduces Mt. Nagsasa. It was hard to resist the urge to keep going up and up and up – but I was in a pink maillot and flimsy slippers which were no match for the rocks and occasionally loose red clay.

Here we spent a few moments taking in the 4pm sun and playing with a dog that stayed with us throughout our quick trek.

Please do not be inspired by Ranie’s decision to climb up that tree hanging by the cliff.

Mt. Daguldol and Laiya

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YES to a tandem weekend of hiking and hitting the beach!

On a fine, sunny Saturday, we went to Batangas with the intention of hiking the less popular Mt. Hugom, but the Barangay office informed us that it has apparently been closed to the public indefinitely because someone already owns the property (whut). So we ascended Mt. Daguldol (672 masl) instead. It’s all uphills and forests, and the terrain hardly has “lost in nature” feels because there are many locals (offering shade! and halo halo!) living along the trail. The summit is a rolling hill that has a bit of a view of the blue sea, which gives you enough motivation to get back to the jump off fast enough to enjoy sunset along the beach.

After the hike, we drove for about 10 minutes then pitched our tents at Laiya Coco Grove’s camping site, which we initially found a little expensive at P600/head. But it turned out to be worth it – the CRs were clean, had strong water pressure, and were actually cozy, the dining huts have lights and outlets, and after a day of pretending to be rugged mountaineers we craved our LTEs and chat apps, in-denial workaholics we all were (we all used to debate in college, and I don’t know if that’s a factor). Our dinner spread: Angus beef patties, cognac, roasted chicken, grilled zucchinis, wine. So good.

The next day, we had enough time for a sunrise swim and lunch at Cafeño before heading back home to our moms for Mother’s Day.

Enjoy the video recap below!

All photos by Ranie Catimbang

Walking on the ‘Dinosaur Spine:’ Mt. Batulao, Batangas

BATULAO (811 masl) – It’s one of the most popular hike destinations in the Southern Tagalog Region!

And with good reason: the “new trail” is basically a traverse through 12 mini-peaks that offers a scenic, sprawling view of Balayan Bay and even Taal and Mt. Maculot on a clear day. Continue reading “Walking on the ‘Dinosaur Spine:’ Mt. Batulao, Batangas”

Mt. Ulap, February 2017

Mt. Ulap (Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge) in Itocon, Benguet offered quite a few firsts for me – cold-weather hiking (in the PH at least), camping at the base of a summit, and at 1856masl, it’s the highest local peak I’ve reached so far.

We traversed this “Mini-Pulag” last weekend, when the temp reached at least 10 degrees Celsius (but felt like a 6), and there was a dense, delicious fog that permeated the trail. (“Forks!” said Justine. I completely missed the Twilight reference). Continue reading “Mt. Ulap, February 2017”

Masungi Georeserve, May 2016


Masungi Georeserve is only 30 minutes away from Marikina. It is a 1600-hectare property where the PH’s only exposed Paleocene (50-60 million years old!!!) rock formations can be found. Since 1996, it has been painstakingly restored, protected, and prepared to help people appreciate our country’s biodiversity and to inspire them to protect our environment as well. There are issues concerning its ownership at the moment but am inclined to side with the development company currently in charge of it now as their model aims to mix conservation and empowerment of the immediate community.  Continue reading “Masungi Georeserve, May 2016”

Tinipak River and Pililla Windmills, April 2016

Daraitan-April-2016-27Tinipak River is usually a side trip item for hikers headed to Mt. Daraitan in Rizal/Quezon. But it’s also a solid destination on its own, especially for a big group of first-time trekkers like ours was. Last weekend, I, my brother, and our respective SOs tagged along my Mama’s lakwatsa with her friends from work.  Continue reading “Tinipak River and Pililla Windmills, April 2016”

Day Hike to Mt. Balagbag


Yesterday, we went a for a quick day hike to Mt. Balagbag, a 777masl Sierra Madre peak situated between Rizal and Bulacan. Its proximity to Metro Manila (just an hour or so from Novaliches) and wide, easy trail make it perfect for a half-day itinerary when you just want to make a quick escape for the weekend. Continue reading “Day Hike to Mt. Balagbag”

Trekking in Pico De Loro


Yesterday, we trekked through my first Philippine mountain: Mt. Palay-Palay or Pico De Loro, a popular peak situated within the Mounts Palay-Palay–Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape. At 664masl, it’s the highest point in Cavite, and the hike to the summit affords an uninhibited view of Cavite and Batangas, as well as the South China sea.

It’s called a “beginner’s mountain,” perfect for introducing newbies to a little bit of everything: trekking through foliage, a 360-view from the flat, wide summit, rock climbing via the monolith, and traversing if you opt to go down through the Nasugbu side.

Continue reading “Trekking in Pico De Loro”

Mountaineers are not very superstitious people

Still from my Nepal notes. An anecdote that didn’t make it to my final drafts.

Mountaineers are not very superstitious people. At least not in the traditional way that other athletes are, with their lucky socks, best shoes, fortuitous days, or pre-game rituals.


Henry, a longtime member of the UP Mountaineers, is telling me this, as we make the gentle, sloping ascent on a trail towards Chumoa, one of the first stopovers on a hike through Nepal’s Sagamartha National Park. It’s the traditional route that hundreds of hikers and trekkers take every year to reach the popular destinations that dot the Himalayas: Base Camp. Gokyu. Lotse. And of course, the great mighty Everest.

As it is, he goes on to say, in the realm of endless steps, gorges, cliffs, ledges, precipices and summits, to put your faith on an object would be pointless.

Why, I ask, and he explains further: shoes can wear and tear after a rigorous trek or two; gear can break along the trail or be left behind. The weather can take a turn for worse without warning. Preparation can be mastered to an art. But there will be no such thing as a “perfect climb.” There can be no lucky day, pair of socks, pre-climb ritual that can protect you from what nature is or what it wants to be.

A mountaineer is always at the mercy of what surrounds him; he is merely passing through.

Postcards From The Sky


ALMOST KISSING THE HEAVENS. Photo by Adrian Portugal

Still gathering my thoughts for the longer pieces I have to write. But I need to buckle down and get the words rolling out ASAP. Because it was a work trip after all. 🙂

But I’m still enjoying looking and looking at the pictures (and resting). Also, still down with “Khumbu cough.”

Will get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, posting the paragraphs I came up with on Facebook:



NEWFOUND FRIENDS. See you on the trail

Just last week I was a girl who has never ran more than 5k, never done a day hike, never gone trekking, and never climbed a single peak. This week I got to do all of that in exponentials – 3 days of non stop hiking, up and down mountain trails, reaching up to 3800masl in sometimes single digit celsius weather.

Everyone (including myself!) was skeptical and apprehensive!

Fortunately, Porch and I got our editors’ blessing (and loooong list of bilins) and on we went with the warmest, funniest, wisest, and most inspiring group. Sad to be parting ways with them and missing the rest of the expedition (as if and also I have a story deadline haha), but now I am a girl who is looking forward to seeing you all again on the trail soon! Super grateful for this opportunity.