Hiking matters #416: The mountains of Lobo, Batangas, Part II: Mt. Naguiling, the highest in the range

At the Mt. Naguiling’s Balatikan campsite with
the summit (~1000m) at the background

Continued from Hiking matters #415: The following Saturday, we found ourselves following the
familiar – and kilometric – route to Lobo, this time to climb Mt. Naguiling, the highest peak in the range – and with Malipunyo, a candidate for Batangas’ tallest mountain. We were joined by Lobo explorer Ramon Gayas, Jr., who wrote itineraries for both the previous week’s Mt. Tibig as well as Mt. Naguiling itself (see itinerary here).

Mt. Naguiling is a relatively new hiking destination and to better appreciate its spatial relationship with the other mountains in the area, check out the illustration I created (above). As the paramount peak of the Lobo Mountain Range (also referred to as the Lobo-San Juan Mountains), Mt. Naguiling was bound to be longer and more challenging than Mt. Tibig, and so we left Manila early – at around 0230H. Even so – and even with private transport – it was already past 0730H by the time we got to start trekking. (Note: Your own vehicle will have to do a ‘river crossing’ to get the jumpoff – and it can be one hell of a ride!)

The Magnaye brothers (09488572737) served as our guides, and I found them very accommodating. They told us that no one has gone up Naguiling since Typhoon Glenda came, thus the trail is likely to have some obstacles. Fortunately, while there were some fallen trees and branches, the damage was minimal and the trail was more established that I expected.

The trail starts in the rice fields of Brgy. Jaybanga and goes through typical agricultural heartland, with coconuts, bananas, other fruit trees, root crops, and and lowland shrubs and trees. It is very much akin to Mt. Daguldol, which is not surprising, San Juan being just on the other side of the mountain – and as the map above shows – a traverse is very possible. From these slopes, the rugged lowlands of Rosario can be seen. I also saw some birds – including some kingfishers and sunbirds.

What makes Mt. Naguiling a multi-faceted hike is the forest that comes after the woodland.  It shares the same character as the Bataan mountains – or perhaps Malipunyo: forested but not with the same density as Makiling or Cristobal. Thankfully, the mosquitoes were on leave. Though generally straightforward – you won’t use your hands too much – the trail occasionally passes through slanted portions of the slopes, reminiscent of the fragile paths of Pantingan-Tarak. There are no water sources past the communities, but there are a number of rest stops in the forest.

The view at the summit, featuring Verde Island
and the passage that bears its name

We had lunch at around 930 MASL and reached the summit (13°39′50.7′′N 121°18′0.5′′ E 1007m) shortly thereafter, clocking past the 1000-meter mark at around 1230H. High noon is the worst time of the day for pictures, but even so, we had nice views of the Verde Island Passage, with some of the Mindoro mountains, including the veritable Halcon (S dome-shaped Malasimbo, to its left (SW) and the Lobo-Batangas City Mountain Range mountains to its right (W). Try climbing one of the trees to see more wonders – including Maculot (NW) and Makiling (NNW)!

On the way down, we detoured to the Balatikan campsite (13°40′18.1′′N 121°11′39.4′′ E, 548m), which offers nice views of the Southern Tagalog mountains. This is the traditional campsite of the two-day Naguiling hike, and we deliberately let the sun come down a bit so we can appreciate the scenery here.

From Balakitan campsite, the trailhead was just an hour away and we had a final side trip to a mini-falls with a nice pool where we all took a short but refreshing dip. Fifteen minutes after, we were back at the trailhead, delighted in what turned out to be a very nice dayhike – definitely more substantial than Mt. Tibig. As we headed back to Manila, I felt thankful that we got to spend two Saturdays in Lobo — and there are still plenty of reasons to come back!

My hiking companions (L-R): Mon Gayas, Melo Balugo, Niel Dagondon,
Jenny Aggangan, Pat Labitoria, Cynthia Sy, Ryan Tuiza,
Christine Fernandez, Daryl Comagon

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