When asked what’s my most unforgettable hike?
My answer would be when we traverse Mt. Makiling from Sto. Tomas, Batangas to UPLB Laguna – popularly known as MAKTRAV. It has a height of 1, 090+ MASL and a trail difficulty of 5/9.
A reminder: Mt. Makiling must not be underestimated. Several cases of deaths have been reported throughout the years, especially in the Sto. Tomas trail. In the Los Baños trail, danger comes in the form of flash floods. During the 1990s, students picnicking in the Flatrock area got swept by a flash flood. Some were never found; bodies of others were seen floating in the creeks in UP Los Baños. So, make sure to follow the authorities and guides when you decide to climb the mountain.
I heard so many things about Mt. Makiling even when I was in grade school. That includes its famous legendary story.
Mt. Makiling Legend:
“The most common “full” story is that of Maria turning ginger into gold to help one villager or the other.
Maria is said to live in a place known to the villagers, and interacts with them regularly. The villager in question is often either a mother seeking a cure for her ill child, or a husband seeking a cure for his wife.
The wise Maria recognizes the symptoms as signs not of disease, but of hunger brought about by extreme poverty. She gives the villager some ginger, which, by the time the villager gets home, has magically turned to gold.
In versions where the villager is going home to his wife, he unwisely throws some of the ginger away because it had become too heavy to carry. Some versions, the villagers love her all the more for her act of kindness.
In most, however, greedy villagers break into Maria’s garden to see if her other plants were really gold. Distressed by the villager’s greed, Maria runs away up the mountain, her pristine white clothing soon becoming indistinguishable from the white clouds that play amongst the trees on the upper parts of the mountains.
Today,it is still believed that Mariang Makiling is still living there.”
For hikers, there are two options for climbing the mountain. The first is from the University of the Philippines in Laguna up to the summit and going back to UPLB again. This trail is considered a minor climb. The second option is from Sto. Tomas Batangas all the way to the summit and exiting at UPLB – which is known as MAKTRAVE.
Me and my friends decided to take the Maktrave trail. On the day of the climb, we meet up at MCDO in Buendia early in the morning. Just beside it, is the terminal going to Lucena. We arrived at the jump-off around 6 AM. After finishing the registration process, our tour guide did a short orientation. He also told us what to expect during the climb – including Limatiks.
Mt. Makiling was a bit shy that day. 🙂 We already expected zero clearing at the summit but we still decided to continue hiking.
The hike started at around 7:00 AM. We were still chilling at the first part of the trail until we reached the Kubo (Station 1). There is a water station there.
This is the first Limatik that welcomed us. The first victim? My sister. 🙂 It went to her hand and our brave tour guide took it off and it transferred to his hands. Limatiks are bloodsuckers, small vampires I would say. 😂 As an extra precaution, we did put tissues on our ears to prevent limatiks from going inside – which is probably not a pleasant experience.😅
All throughout the hike, we encountered a lot of limatiks. Some went to our hands, to our checks and necks. What’s on the picture on the right is one of those that are still thin because it hasn’t sucked blood yet. But it grows wider as it sucks blood from your skin and getting it off your body is not fun to watch because of the blood you’ll see.
There are 60 stations in total for the Maktrav trail. Starting from station 1 to station 9 was a bit of a challenge having that steep assault and narrow trail. While station 10 to 19 was a long walk. Then, the tough hike started again at station 19 where we needed to pull ourselves up with the ropes to ascend to what they called “haring bato” or the rocky surface.
It started to rain when we reached the mossy part of Mt. Makiling. I stumbled several times. 🙂 We couldn’t take pictures because we had to secure our gadgets inside our bags to prevent them from getting wet. Plus you can only see fog everywhere and the sky is gloomy that day. Nevertheless, it was an experience I will never forget.
At last, we arrived at station 30 or Peak 2. Look how messy we were. From here, we still have another 30 stations to finish.
It was still raining when we continued and the trail was already slippery and muddy. After 2 hours, we finally reached the station commonly called the “Agila Base”. This is where we parted with our tour guide. This is also where “habal-habal” or motorcycle are usually waiting for the hikers if they want to take a ride going to UPLB.
We reached this station when the sun started to disappear. There’s a house and a small sari-sari store where we waited for an available motorcycle to bring us to UPLB. But after 2 hours of waiting and there was no more sunlight, we decided to start walking our way to UPLB.
This is where the creepy part is for me. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was pitched black. It was scary! If it weren’t for the flashlights on our cellphones, we would walk in complete darkness. We were walking close to each other so no one would get lost. With this setup, my imagination is playing tricks on me. I was thinking of the movie I watched where a group of friends went on what a supposed to be a happy vacation but turned into a horror event. My mind is not helping me!!! I shouldn’t have read the horror stories of Makiling and UPLB. It’s a very long 60 minutes of my life.
After more than an hour of walking, we reached the station at the gate of UPLB finally. They have bathrooms that we used to wash up as we prepare to go back to Manila.
04:00 AM – Ride a bus bound to Lucena
6:00 AM – Drop off to Brgy. San Felix
06:15 AM – Ride tricycle going to Sitio Jordan – Jump off
6:30 AM – Registration and secure tour guide
7:00 AM – Start the trek
11:00 AM – Lunch at Station 20
01: 30 PM – Station 30 or Peak 2
04:00 PM – Agila Base
06:00 PM – UPLB Jump-off – Wash up
06:30 PM – ETD Los Banos bus to Cubao
Bus to Lucena – Php 105 per pax
Tricycle to Jump-off – Php 20 per pax
Tour guide – Php 1000 (Dived by 5 pax)
Jeep from UPLB to the highway – Php 10 per pax
Shower – Php 10.00
Bus to Cubao – Php 99
This is my toughest hike so far and my first major hike. I’m not sure if I still want to go back but the experience was one of a kind. A beautiful mountain indeed.
Revenge hike? Hmm… Let me think about it. 🙂
Note: The UPLB Trail is now open all the way to Peak 2, but online pre-registration is required (see link below). Guide is also required but I hope they will change it back to allowing regular hikers to go on their own, while making guides available to those who need them. https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLScvoLeIbo20zn…/viewform
Looking for another mountain to hike? Tarak Ridge (Mariveles) Day Hike Itinerary and Guide
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