San Juan, Batangas
Major jump-off: Brgy. Hugom, San Juan
LLA: 13°40.380N 121°19.160E, 672 MASL (+ 672 m)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
A nice trek in southern Batangas is the coastal mountain of San Juan, Mt. Daguldul. The name 'Daguldul' or 'Daguldol' has been used since olden days. It has an onomatopoeic feeling – that of suspense and grandness. Maybe it describes the grandeur of the range and the abrupt rolling of its slopes.
Actually a small mountain range, Mt. Daguldul has several 'gems' to offer. First, there is the unique seascape that greets the hiker on the intial beach trail. Then, there is trail, moderate in difficulty, passing by woodlands and light forests. In some parts, the greenery is total. Of course there is the peak, which, although not really spectacular in terms of views, has a refreshing feel. Finally, there are excellent sidetrip choices such as the unique Naambon Falls and the acclaimed Laiya beach.
A good things about Mt. Daguldul is that the guides are organized under the Hugom Environmental Guides Association (HEGA). This means that fees are fixed and they are reasonsable - guides for P400/day and a climbing fee of P30 (as of 2006; update needed). After meeting with the guides or registering, you can start trekking. The trail starts off at the beach - here is where you can see the good rock formations. Afterwards, you will enter the forest. After around 1.5-2 hrs, halfway through the trail, you will see Mang Lizardo's place; in this area are stores offering basic foodstuffs and softdrinks. Buco juice and even fresh, pure honey can be bought here. Another 1.5-2 hrs and you will reach the peak/campsite areas. Long Henson (2001-2002) was the first to report the names of these campsites, namely Campsite 1 (Gulugod-Baboy); Campsite 2 (Niyugan - lots of cocount trees); and Campsite 3 (Anahawan). Usually, the determining factor in camping is the one you reach before nightfall, but these campsites are all within the area which you can explore anyway.
The summit area is windy, as expected from a coastal mountain. Grasslands make for a 'picnic ground' feel; there are some rock formations also. In one viewpoint, called Biliran ng Limatik (20 minutes from Niyugan campsite), the nearby mountains such as Maculot (NW), Malipunyo (NNW), and more distant Mt. Banahaw (NE) can be seen; and also Mindoro (and perhaps Verde Island, SE), Tayabas Bay (SW) and a faint island, Marinduque (SSW). Visible also is Naguiling Peak in the same range - a pristine, promising destination.
On the way back, in between Mang Lizardo's place and the beach, there is a marker that leads to Naambon Falls, just 5 minutes away from the trail. The 25 meters cascade of water falling down a rock face is a must-visit on a trek to Mt. Daguldul. Finally, after the climb, you can unwind in the cool waters of Laiya beach before heading back to Manila.
0600 Take Lipa-bound bus from Manila (Buendia, Cubao)
0830 At Lipa, charter jeep to Brgy. Hugom
1130 ETA Brgy. Hugom; Arrange for Guides. Lunch
1300 Start Trek - Beach Front
1530 ETA Mang Lizardo's place
1730 ETA Niyugan Campsite, Set Camp
1900 Dinner / Socials
0500 Wake up call
0520 Start Trek going to summit
0540 ETA summit
0700 ETD from summit
0830 Break Camp
0900 Start Descent
1000 Back at Mang Lizardo's place
1100 Take Naambon Falls sidetrip (1 hr)
1200 Resume descent
1300 Back at Brgy. Hugom; head to beach resorts
1700 Rent jeep back to Lipa or Batangas City en route to Manila
Transportation. Climbing Mt. Daguldul is quite convenient but getting there is quite long and bothersome, consuming up to 5 hours if relying on public transport. Large groups usually take the bus to Lipa (P120), do their market needs there, then rent a jeep from Lipa if with >12 persons. The latest updates place the rental rate from P3000-4000. These jeepneys may be found in the terminals around the town proper, particularly near Robinson's Mall. Travel time to jumpoff is around 90-100 minutes. Alternatively, one may take a bus ride directly to Batangas City (from Cubao or Buendia) then rent a jeep (or use the regular jeepney service to Brgy. Hugom) from there.
Another alternative - suggested by roi in the message board - is to take a Lucena-bound bus (from Cubao or Buendia), drop off at Candelaria, Quezon, and from there take a provincial bus to San Juan. From San Juan local transport (jeeps, tricycles) are available to the Brgy. Hugom jumpoff.
Private transport utilize either the Maharlika Highway to Candelaria then turning left to San Juan, or using Star Tollway all the way to Batangas City then proceeding to San Juan. Free parking is available at the jumpoff.
Logistics. The HEGA (Hugom Environmental Guide Association) is the official guide service in Mt. Daguldol. The most recent updates place the daily fee at P350; there is also a P35 registration fee per person.
Cellphone signal is present in most parts of the trail, including the summit area. A water source is available at the Niyugan campsite. Aside from the standard precautions, there is no major concern in this climb; as mentioned it is quite convenient.
If staying in Laiya Beach, you can actually daytrip Mt. Daguldul. Arrange for a guide / register the day before, then leave very early morning (0530hr) to avoid the hot beachfront walk. With light packs, 3 hours should be more than enough to reach the summit (0900) and by 1230hr (1330 if with Naambon Falls sidetrip) you should be back in your resort for a late, hearty lunch.
Biliran ng Limatik, the viewpoint, should suggest the presence of the blood leech but actually they have long retreated to other, deeper regions of the range.
Mt. Daguldul actually bounds two towns, San Juan and Lobo. The latter is also a mountainous area, with Mt. Lobo being its highest peak (948 MASL). New destinations are bound to emerge from this area.
The UP Mountaineers were the pioneering group that led led to the establishment of Mt. Daguldul as a hiking destination in the 1990s.
Many thanks to the UP Remondatos, including Dr. Francis Daytec, with whom I first climbed Mt. Daguldul on Oct. 2005. I referred to some websites including a helpful review by Sir Omar jhersey33.multiply.com) and of course Long Henson's IT to fortify this blog entry. Finally, the cover photo courtesy of Ma'am Ivan Manalansan (ivanulrich.multiply.com ) Many thanks!
Saturday, November 17, 2007