Conquering Pico de Loro and Layag-Layag Island [★]

December 12, 2015

[September 2015]

Since Batulao, I was itching to climb another mountain. Finally an opportunity came to climb again! A colleague's cousin was organizing this Pico-De-Loro-Layag-Layag-Island trip. It was short notice, but our group at the office immediately said yes! We just had to pay a fee, and the cousin would be the one in charge of arranging the hike and the island camping itinerary. We were the guests on this trip. Pico De Loro and Layag-Layag island are both in Nasugbu, Batangas which is around a two-hour drive south of Metro Manila.

Pico De Loro Hike
This is my second mountain to hike, and I was more prepared this time. I already have an idea on how much water I would need for the journey up and so I prepared enough. I also know already which items I would be leaving behind, and so my backpack is lighter this time. (⌒_⌒;)

Most of the trail was in the forest, covered with trees, so it was easier for me because there were lots of things to grab on. However I had to be extra careful because there were some trees whose barks had spikes. I fell victim to their thorns more than twice. Good thing there was no reaction on my skin, like allergies or itching.

The view at the top was breathtaking again. Really, the effort of climbing up is always worth it because of views like this. Thanks again to my ever reliable Merrell shoes for making the hike easier.

photo credit: April B.

This time we didn't have sticks when we climbed up, but we improvised with the branches that we found along the way.

A photo posted by Kathleen R (@katalinarosario) on

Actually for most of the hike, it felt easier compared to Mt, Batulao, except for the last part. I was not that afraid of heights, so it was not difficult to climb the first peak during the latter part, the one before the monolith (aka Parrot's beak). It's the peak where people take pictures of those people that are on the top of the monolith.

I was really thankful with the tour guides during that part, because my legs couldn't barely carry my weight anymore that I had to crawl my way up, in a staggering way, while our guide pulled one of my hands up to the top.

Initially, our group was doubting to climb the monolith, because some of us (hmm well mostly me hehe) were intimidated to do it. It was an optional part and requires intermediate climbing skills. In the end, we decided to go for it because we we're already there anyway, and it will only take a few more effort to climb the monolith.

Our group was already at the base of the monolith, but the line to the top was still long. The peak area can hold only a limited number of people at a time and we were still waiting for them to climb down. I guess they were taking their time up there savoring the great view. Unfortunately, we still had a boat to catch so we did not wait anymore for those people and just went our way back and hiked down to the starting point of the trail. We took a bath and freshened up, and then we were on our way to Layag-Layag Island!

Layag-Layag Island Overnight Camping
The island was a few minutes ride from the starting point of the Pico De Loro trail. We had a van who took us to the shore where the boat that would take us to the island was docked. It was already dark when we arrived on the shore. While waiting, I saw a firefly, and it was so beautiful. My colleagues mentioned a place somewhere in the country (ah I cannot remember the details anymore) wherein one can do firefly watching at night along the shore. It was my first time hearing an activity like that, but I could already imagine it to involve a very beautiful scenery at night.

Anyway, our boat finally came, but we had to give way to our other companions who were the hosts of the trip, because they were still going to set the tents up in the island and would start cooking food for dinner.

At last the boat returned and it was our turn to ride. It was my first time to be on a boat (in years) and so I was a bit nervous when I climbed onto it. I also didn't know how to swim, and that was no help in calming my nerves. It was just a slim (if that is the right term) boat and it was a bit shaky when the motor was turned on and we were already sailing towards the island. I had to keep my hands holding on opposite sides of the boat to maintain my balance inside. It was a windy night and the waves were big. It felt like I was on an amusement park ride. Good thing I am not really sea-sick or else I might have thrown up. (/.\)

When we arrived on the island, our tent was already set up (thanks to our hosts!). Me and a colleague shared one tent. I was tired that night and was starting to feel the damage I inflicted onto my muscles because of the hike. xD When I was settled down in the tent, I laid on my back and closed my eyes. I was getting irritated with the sound of the crickets because it was the same as the sound of my alarm clock! (>д<)After several minutes, I began to doze off. The last thing I could remember was that they were starting to call people for dinner, and then it just went pitch black....

I was awakened by the constant sound of the waves hitting the shore. I was among the first people to wake up. The sun was just about to rise.

Our camping site!
With how I saw the things that morning, I could just already imagine what kind of things happened that previous night.

There were people sleeping outside the tent,
and bottles were scattered in the area. :o
I didn't really know what to do then so I just went out and walked along the shore. It was so peaceful. It was the best feeling to have during a vacation. I returned to our tent and just waited for people to get up. We had two couples in the group. I saw each pair have their moment to walk along the shore holding hands. #sweet #ihopeicouldalsodothatwithsomeonelol

While most people were asleep, me and my colleague (the one I shared a tent with) went and walked along the shore and looked at the view of the island on the other side. It was beautiful!

Too bad, there were several trash floating by and some stuck on the shore. Layag-Layag is still a very uncommercialized island, and is a favorite camping spot. However, the people's camping remnants are just being left there, polluting the surroundings.

When everyone was awake, we had our breakfast, care of the hosts again. We still had island hopping in our itinerary that day, but our group wanted to call it a day already (because were still tired, and there's still work the next day :p). And so after breakfast, we already packed our things and rode the boat back to Nasugbu. The van brought us back to the city. Then, we rode the bus back to Manila.

This experience is again one for the books, Hiking tested my body's endurance and patience, while camping along the shore made me feel closer with nature. Camping was kind of uncomfortable at first, because I was not used to it (no soft and comfy bed to lie on, no proper bathroom to do your business). However it gave me a peaceful kind of feeling, because I was away from everything. #emo

As I looked onto the forest of the island, I felt peace. I also felt attracted to the mysteries the forest is keeping as a secret. It was also relaxing to just be along the shore, my thoughts getting lost onto the waves of the water. I don't know, it just felt so wonderful looking at nature that way.

This trip was surely a break from the busy and techy life that I am living.  I should do this more often.


Next mountain on target: Mt. Pulag!

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