Mt. Masaraga (1,328+) in Ligao City, Albay

Ligao City, Albay

Major jumpoff: Sitio Sabluyon, Brgy. Amtic, Ligao City
LLA: 13.3125 N, 123.5988 E, 1328 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 4-7 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-4
Features: Steep ridge walks, views of Mayon, Asog, Isarog
Mt. Masaraga is the third of three mountains that comprise the ‘Magayon Trio’ or the three beautiful mountains of Albay: Mayon, Malinao, and Masaraga. Little-known to outsiders, it has revealed itself to be one of Bicol’s best-kept hiking secrets, with stunning views of Mt. Mayon, and, as the guides (and the blogger) discovered in April 2011, its summit possesses equally spectacular views of the north, revealing Mt. Isarog, Mt. Asog, and Lake Buhi.
Although a Masagara climb can be done as a dayhike, it has historically been done as an overnight climb. The first part of the trail passes by open, exposed fields, before entering intermittent forests, with the trails getting steeper and steeper. Prior to the summit, there is a final challenging assault but the visual rewards at the summit make it well worth it.
From Legazpi

0500 Head to Ligao City by jeepney or van
0600 Arrival at Ligao; Register at municipal hall
0630 Head to Sitio Sabloyon by taking jeep to Tabaco City
0715 ETA jumpoff. Coordinate with guides
0730 Start trekking
0900 ETA campsite
1100 Start of steep ascent
1200 ETA summit; lunch
1300 Start descent
1630 Back at jumpof; wait for jeep back to Tabaco or Ligao
1830 ETA Legazpi City
Guides and permits. The best guides for Mt. Masaraga are the Ulayao brothers, Tupe and Toy. They may be reached at +63.939.386.2565. They emphasize, however, that one must first register at the city hall / police station of Ligao City before proceeding for the climb.
Getting there. From Legazpi City, one can reach Ligao City by taking a jeepney (terminals are near the market) or vans near the Central Terminal near the Gaisano Mall. Departure time is ‘alas-puno’ i.e. as soon as the van is filled to capacity. Fare is P30. From Ligao City, ask for the jeepneys to Tabaco and tell your jeepney driver to drop you off at Sitio Sabluyon, Brgy. Amtic.
Trail notes. It might be prudent to bring a rope to assist climbers in the higher areas of the mountain. Beware of lipa (noxious plants) and thorns.
The initial leg of the trail is exposed to the sun. The summit of Mt. Masaraga is at the background.
At the summit of Mt. Masaraga, with Mayon Volcano at the background.

A view of the two mountains of Camarines Sur: Mt. Isarog and Mt. Asog, as well as Lake Buhi. This is one of the first-ever pictures taken of these landforms from the summit of Mt. Masaraga.
A stunning view of Mayon Volcano at the foot of Mt. Masaraga.

On February 14, 2011, a year-long effort to make a trail all the way to the summit finally came to an end – marking what may be termed the ‘first ascent’ of the mountain. On April 20111, the blogger , and as the weather, it was the first time that views from the top of the mountain were seen. The guides were surprised to see Mt. Isarog, Mt. Asog, and Lake Buhi. An account of climb is described in Hiking matters #162.

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