At 2,058 MASL, the mighty Guiting-Guiting may not be the highest I have summitted but it is by far the longest I have ever traversed in a “day”.
Usually a 2- to 3-day itinerary (on the climb alone), we opted to do a dayhike as a challenge to ourselves and since primarily, as a prolific mountaineer-friend puts it, we are scrimping on (and we simply cannot afford!) vacation leaves. Throw in the long ferry rides to and from Romblon and your trip easily extends to a week.
If interested in a dayhike traverse of Mt. Guiting-Guiting (G2), the only person to coordinate with is Sir Remy Robiso (+63 921 7322462). He may assist you in securing a climb permit and arranging for a tricycle or jeep to pick you up at the port. The guide fee for a G2 climb is Php1,500.00 (regardless of whether you do a one-, two- or three-day trip).
There are two entry points to G2: Magdiwang and San Fernando. The traditional climbs start and end at the Magdiwang side. For the dayhike traverse, the jumpoff is at the municipality of San Fernando. To get there from Metro Manila, ride the ferries departing from the Port of Batangas. They have daily trips to Romblon. Make sure to catch M/V Princess Annavel which sails up to the Azagra Port in San Fernando (she sails twice a week from Batangas on Thursdays and Saturdays at 4:00 PM).
Once in Romblon, for a small group like ours, the tricycle is the vehicle of choice. From Azagra to the jumpoff at Sitio Olango in San Fernando; and from DENR to our lodging in Bagumbayan Beach Resort and finally to Ambulong in Magdiwang, we were chartered by the trusty tricycle.
Going home, ferries leave from the Ambulong Port in Magdiwang. If Batangas-bound, they sell economy tickets only. All passengers alight at the Romblon Port and transfer to a big ship. Passengers get the chance to upgrade to a deluxe or airconditioned cabin only after the last stop in Odiongan Port.
A Mt. Guiting-Guiting traverse is normally done in three days; two days would be challenging enough. Since we were abnormal, we prepared for the most rad and epic dayhike of our lifetime. The mountain was beautiful. The experience was even more beautiful.
I especially loved the chocolate earth and russet brown rocks jutting like sawteeth across the greenery. There are also the “knife edge” ridge, the camel back, the “peaks” of deception and the numerous 90-degree rock cliffs. Negotiating the climb over the steep and sharp rock faces is fun in the beginning but becomes rather cumbersome as the hours wear on and the sun catches up.
The climb starts with an uphill trek through a thick forest until you reach camp 1. From there, you will enter the Outdoor Pilipinas Trail which is a diversion from a traditional path that was partially destroyed by rains. The end of the Outdoor Pilipinas Trail is camp 2 after which you will pass by the so-called helipad (where rescuers attempted to land for a mission). Camp 3 is 15 minutes away after which mountaineers will face another uphill climb and pass by the crash site of a Cessna plane that hit the treacherous slopes of G2 in the 1990s. Finally, Armin’s Peak is reached after half an hour (there is a water source near the area).
Two more grueling hours of tackling very interesting rock formations, overcoming the peak of deception (at the San Fernando side), walking over ridges and finally – the summit of G2 is reached. We were blessed with a magnificent 360-degree view of Sibuyan Island and G2′s peaks. Apparently, if the horizon is clear enough, the cone of Mt. Mayon can be seen. With the absence of cover, the heat becomes unbearable at the summit.
On the way down for the traverse, a new set of fun complications await. After an easy walk of 30 minutes, you will reach a wall called the Hillary Pass. Almost at a 90-degree angle, it was very tricky in stark contrast to the rather hyped kiss-the-wall segment (it went pretty much unnoticed until Sir Remy pointed it out). Then there is the peak of deception (at the Magdiwang side) and everyone’s favorite: the knife edge. Here, the entire trail is made of rocks and exposed to the beating of the winds. It was not too narrow for comfort but ravines on both sides make it all the more exciting and breathtaking.
Reaching Mayo’s Peak at twilight, the trek to Magdiwang becomes easier. Three camps are passed through well-seen and covered forest trails. The distance between camps 3 and 2 appear to be twice as long as that of camps 2 and 1. The woods provide excellent support especially when gliding through the slippery descent. Finally, as a fitting close to the climb, there is a river crossing before the final hour of trekking to the DENR office (where you may opt to stay for the night at their bunkhouse).
And now the fun part. This is how we did it.
10:30 ETD Kamuning via bus (Php175.00)
12:30 ETA Batangas Port; buy ferry tickets to Azagra Port (via M/V Princess Annavel Php950.00 for deluxe tickets and Php30.00 for the terminal fee)
16:00 ETD Batangas Port
02:00 ETA Odiongan Port
05:00 ETA Romblon Port
06:00 ETA Ambulong Port
08:00 ETA Cajidiocan Port
09:00 ETA Azagra Port, San Fernando, Sibuyan Island
09:30 breakfast at San Fernando market; buy supplies
11:00 courtesy visit to the municipality mayor (Mayor Dindo Rios)
11:30 Cantingas Eco-Adventure Park
12:00 proceed to Sir Remy’s house
13:00 arrival at Sitio Olango
13:30 depart for Dagubdub Falls
16:00 Dagubdub Falls (entrance fee is Php30.00)
18:00 back at Sir Remy’s house
02:00 light breakfast
02:30 start trek
04:45 Camp 1; take Outdoor Pilipinas Trail
07:00 Camp 2
08:00 Camp 3
10:00 ETA crash site
10:30 Armin’s Peak; brunch
11:00 resume trek
13:00 Guiting-Guiting summit
13:30 Hillary Pass
16:30 Knife Edge
18:00 Mayo’s Peak
18:10 Camp 3
21:00 Camp 2; dinner
21:30 resume trek
22:30 Camp 1
23:30 ETA river
00:30 ETA DENR
01:00 depart for Magdiwang
01:30 ETA Bagumbayan Beach Resort; rest
07:00 breakfast; pack up
09:30 depart for Ambulong Port
09:45 ETA Ambulong Port; buy ferry tickets (via Montenegro Shipping Lines Php1182.00 for economy tickets and Php10.00 for the terminal fee)
11:00 ETD Ambulong Port, Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island
13:00 ETA Romblon Port in Romblon Island (transfer to a bigger ferry)
13:30 depart Romblon Port
16:00 ETA Odiongan Port
17:00 ETD Odiongan Port, Tablas Island
07:00 ETA Batangas Port; take bus to Metro Manila
09:30 ETA Metro Manila