Overcoming Fear at Pico de Loro
Part of Mt. Palay-palay National Park which can be found in the town of Maragondon. Its proximity near Manila makes it a popular destination for hikers. With the height of 664 meters above sea level, it gives a breathtaking view that even a novice hiker can climb. We accepted this challenge offered by nature and we decided to conquer it.
It was exactly six on Thursday morning when we reached the DENR Field Office to register. And because we were all first timers we hired a guide. After registration, we immediately took the road. The first part of the expedition is a rocky trail. The stream which passes by the side of the trail can be seen.
As we go further, the trail slowly becomes more difficult as most of the routes are becoming steeper. The mountain is lush with trees which gave us shade and you can feel the cool breeze.
After half an hour of our expedition, we rested a bit on the rocks which were placed to serve as a stopping point. We felt an exhaustion that is so great that our hearts seem to blow up. Despite this, we decided to continue our trek, and we briefly stopped to took photos which allows us to rest a bit as we go along our way. A little bit slow but effective. As what Confucius said, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop”.
It is at 7:43 am when we reached a watchtower that was built on high lands. Here we can see the summit. We can also feel the drop of dew from the trees and plants.
After several climbs, we finally reached the base camp at 8:10 in the morning. The flock who joined with us can’t hide their joy. We didn’t waste our opportunity and we took photos with the summit, now within our reach, serving as our backdrop.
Finally, we reached the summit at 8:40 in the morning. We were so filled with joy that we want to leap but the winds are strong and it’s hard to stand up. We just sat down while we gazed at the rewards of the summit – the breathtaking view it offers. We can see the coast of Cavite and the mountains of Batangas. From the summit, the people at the base camp looked like ants.
After a while, we took the downward trail towards the base of the monolith. We were accompanied by Marty, who was assigned as a guide to the hikers. We just learned that the monolith is, in fact, a part of Batangas, and the summit serves as a boundary with the Cavite province so we need to get a different guide to climb it. And to climb the monolith we need to step on the large chunks of rocks. Ropes are already in place to aid the hikers, especially in treacherous parts. At 9:09 am we finally climbed to the top of the monolith. Like on the summit before, we felt a different kind of joy that we sniffed every breeze that touches our face. As there were other hikers wanting to climb the monolith, we went down not long after.
At 10:30 am, we left the camp and took the trail downwards. As we are walking down the route we are increasingly coming across with hikers going to the summit. We also encountered a troop of playing monkeys leaping across the tree branches.
At 12:30 noontime, exactly two hours, we reached the DENR Field Office. To the wandering sheeps like us, we are claiming this as a great feat especially that this is our first hike (except for Lhordy who already wandered through several mountains). We realized our fears conquered, overcome doubts as we achieved the most challenging things. And if we are fortunate to return we are already prepared for the challenges of Pico de Loro.
- Environmental Fee – PhP25 per head
- Parking Fee – PhP50
- Hiking Guide – PhP1000 / 5pax; PhP1200/10pax (which you can bargain); if you have a companion who already experienced hiking here you may not need to get a guide
- Hiking Guide (Monolith) – PhP50 / pax
- The hike from the DENR Field Office up to the summit takes about 5 kilometers
- We have a count of 11,980 steps (going up) and consumed an average of 1478 Kcal (entire trek)
- Don’t be surprised if you see a battalion of soldiers: this place is often used by the soldiers as a training ground, especially that it is near the Philippine Marines Base
- Because of its popularity with the hikers (like other natural rock formations), you can see graffiti in the monolith
- There’s a mini store at the base camp but the price is also grossly elevated (a Coke 1.5 is PhP120 compared to PhP50 in normal sari-sari stores)
DASH OF HISTORY
During the trial of Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo originally wanted to have the Bonifacio brothers (Andres and Procopio) exiled at Pico de Loro. “Aking pinatatawad sina Andres Bonifacio at Procopio Bonifacio mula sa parusang kamatayan, at sa halip, sila’y pinapatawan kong maitapon sa ilang na lugar, kung saan sila’y ibibilango nang mag-isa sa pagmamatyag ng mga tanod at hindi papayagang makipag-usap sa isa’t isa ni sa iba.” (I am hereby giving pardon to Andres Bonifacio and Procopi Bonifacio from the penalty of death, and instead, I am giving them a penalty to be exiled to some places, where they shall be detained alone under the close watch of a tanod [watchman] and will be forbidden to talk to anyone.) But this was fiercely opposed by Generals Mariano Noriel and Pio del Pilar, so the Bonifacio brothers were eventually executed.
6:00 am – Registration at DENR Field Office
7:43 – Arrived at Watchtower
7:55 – Arrived at mountain peak view deck
8:10 – Descend to base camp
8:40 – Arrived at summit
9:09 – Arrived at the monolith
10:30 – Descend from the camp site
12:30 – Arrived at DENR
THINGS TO BRING
* A good pair of trekking shoes
* Sun and Rain Protection (Sunblock, rain coat, shades, cap etc..)
* Water or rehydration fluids (prescribed is 3L)
* Extra clothes
* Personal Medications
* Packed lunch (Easy open can)
* Snacks (Trail Food)
* Jelly Ace/Gelatin
* Headlamp/ Flashlight
* Extra plastic (for trash disposal as littering is strictly forbidden)
**Leave No Trace