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Scaling Mt. Romelo

gasgonia2Yes, you read it right. I did say scale because me and my buddies huffed and puffed climbing our way to Mt. Romelo’s peak over the weekend.

But we weren’t after the peak, really. We scaled the mountain to see Buruwisan Falls, which is just one of the seven falls hidden in Mt. Romelo.

Mt. Romelo, which is quite popular among mountaineers, is included among the Sierra Mountain range near Siniloan, Laguna. To get there, we had to ride our way from in Marikina all the way to Famy-Siniloan, Laguna.

So my buddies and I gathered at Shell Pugon station at about 5:30 in the morning and began revving our bikes half an hour later. From there we took Sumulong Highway that slithered from Antipolo to Morong. From Morong, we traced the Manila East Road that snaked from Pilillia in Rizal up to Famy in Laguna. The trip took us about two hours. Upon reaching Famy, we bought supplies like food and water. But before heading to the foot of Mt. Romelo, we had a sumptuous meal at Milagros Eatery.

Buruwisan Falls © motopilipinas.com
Buruwisan Falls
© motopilipinas.com

Several guides met us near the pathway that had the sign “Buruwisan Falls.” Locals said we needed someone familiar to the trek that we were about to do. A typical guide charges P300 for the way up to the falls and P300 back to the foot of Mt. Romelo. We haggled and agreed to pay P500 or about US$10.46 (for a round trip).

It was quite populated at the foot of the mountain but we had no problem parking our bikes. We then paid P50 entrance fee (about US$1.08) then started our climb. What happened next was unexpected. Since we read online that the climb was suitable for beginner-mountaineers, we were expecting an easy climb. Little did we expect that as riders, we will need some serious leg power to scale Mt. Romelo.

We were carrying large backpacks that contained food, swim wear, and water and these made the climb even more difficult. The path, which had various inclines, was partly muddy because of the recent rains. However, on the day we made the climb it was sunny so we considered ourselves lucky. Most of the time, we climbed 45 degree inclines. Sometimes it got steeper, like 60-70 degrees. We took rested frequently and noticed horses passing us by.

Our guide said horses are available to carry the bags for P300 (ba’t ‘di mo agad sinabi, kuya!?). But since we were already near our destination, we decided to just carry the load. It took us about two and a half hours to get to the camp site near the Buruwisan Falls, which is the most accessible among the seven falls of Mt. Romelo. Buruwisan Falls is a sight to behold. The water was cool and the falls was like 50 meters high. Unfortunately, there were lots of hikers occupying the waters so our guide took us to the nearby Lanzones Falls.

Lanzones Falls is just minutes away from Buruwisan and is quite smaller. But few people went there and by the time we reached the area, the place was all ours. It was a miniature version of Buruwisan and it poured fresh cold water from the Siniloan River. We savored our time, swam and played under the falls. We ate a bit and swam some more.

The guide told us that if we had extra time we could visit the remaining falls: the Old Buruwisan Falls, the Sampaloc Falls, the Batya-Batya Falls, the Twin Falls, and the Sapang Labo Falls. But alas, we were tired and only had a day to spend so we settled for Lanzones. If we we’re free for the night we could have rented one of the huts at the campsite for P300 each.

A trail in Mt. Romelo © motopilipinas.com
A trail on Mt. Romelo
© motopilipinas.com

At 3 p.m. we started packing our things and began our descent, which was a lot easier than our way up. We ate for the final time at the Milagros Eatery then headed back to Manila. We had a scare along the way when a wild horse escaped his stable in Famy and ran at the middle of the road. I twisted my throttle quickly to escape the beast before it began whipping out its hind legs. Apart from that it was all hassle free on our way home.

Dennis Gasgonia
Dennis is a veteran newsman who has written for the Philippine based Daily Tribune, The Standard and The Manila Times. Dennis currently works for ABS-CBN. He is also the publisher of motopilipinas.com

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