Would you rather go with the same group of travel buddies or go with the random people along your adventures? Confusing? There’s actually no right or wrong answer to this as some time in our life, whether we are caught in a circumstance or have planned it ahead, we get to mingle with people who are not our go-to gang, our friends per se. Humans as we are, we need to get along and hang-out with new pals to live life as it should be.
I have been hearing about Mt. Manunggal since my elementary years, and since I have been working and living in Cebu, it would be a great opportunity for me to visit the area. It was then in my glorious passion of going outdoors did I know about the yearly trek to Mt. Manunggal in commemoration of the death anniversary of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.
History outlines the crash of the presidential plane (Pinatubo) of President Magsaysay in the vicinity of Mt. Manunggal in Balamban, Cebu on March 17, 1957. With the 26 other passengers, the president died at the time when he was perceived by Filipinos as an incorruptible and clean president. Thus, the barangay where the mountain is situated was renamed after him.
I am actually with my badminton group and other friends for the 2017 Mt. Manunggal Annual Trek, the 60th death anniversary of Magsaysay. First to join this event, I never expected to meet and see many people at the campsite. There are many activities for the event including a variety show, entertainment competition from the participating campers, and mountain bike. We even had socials and disco after the program.
The following morning, some of us decided to wake up early to wander the trail going to somewhere we are still yet to uncover. Our gut feeling never failed us as we headed to the wrong trail and ended up in a small hut only to find out that we’ve already passed through the supposed trail to the peak. I do believe it’s not a total loss because our feet just led us to somewhere rarely traversed by hikers to see the mesmerizing greenery view of the mountains around.
We trek back to the trail and follow the muddy, stony trail to reach the peak, giving us one of the greatest stuns of our life. It pays the gushing sweat, nearly short-breathe, and monkey-like rock climb to the top. Indeed, nature heals.
Time to get back to the campsite as most of the group are already breaking up their tent and had their morning meal. The heat of the sun is already burning, which is why we need to get down before lunch.
How to Get There?
From Ayala Center PUJ Terminal in Cebu City, take a passenger van bound for Balamban then instruct the driver to drop you at the jump-off at Barangay Gaas (right side of the road). You have an option to ride a single motorcycle (habal-habal) or trek for 5 km. A guide is not necessary with its established road, just take the right side of the trail so you won’t be lost, otherwise, you can ask the community for the right direction.
At the resting area, where vehicles are parked, you will find a welcome signage followed by stairs going to the engine of the presidential plane Mt. Pinatubo then further down towards the campsite. Engraved in the engine are the brief history of the plane and the names of those who perished in the plane crash. Also in the campsite is the monument of Magsaysay.
In getting back to Cebu City, it would best to hire a passenger jeepney to fetch you from the parking area beforehand. Other options are to hit the back trail by foot or via habal-habal to the highway where you can ride a van back to the city.
March 11, 2017
2:30 PM: Assembly
3:00 PM: ETD Ayala PUJ Terminal
4:45 PM: ETA Barangay Gaas, Balamban, Cebu (jump-off)
5:30 PM: ETA Campsite of Mt. Manunggal in Barangay Magsaysay, Balamban (through habal-habal), registration
6:00 PM: Pitch Tents, Photo Ops, Dinner
7:30 PM: Socials
11:30 PM: Lights Off
March 12, 2017
5:30 AM: Wake-Up Call
6:00 AM: Trek to Manunggal Peak
8:30 AM: ETA Back to the Camp
9:00 AM: Breakfast, Decamp
10:00 AM: Descend from Manunggal (via hired jeepney)
12:00 NN: ETA JY Square
— Home Sweet Home —
150 – van fare from the Ayala PUJ Terminal to Barangay Gaas, Balamban
50 – habal-habal fare from Barangay Gaas, Balamban to Manunggal
150 – jeepney fare from Manunggal to JY Square
*Note: This cost excludes food and other personal expenses
• Wear proper hiking attire
• Bring light for ease in traveling, but carry things like trail foods, eating utensils, protection from rain and/or the sunshine, water, energy drink, toiletries
• Respect each other’s time and effort, in short, be on time
• Hike with fun
Also read: Why Philippines Should Be Your Next Destination?
*some photos solicited to friends