San Juan, Batangas
A beach and a bundok. How can I resist it?
After an impromptu invitation by a UP friend and a frenzy of are-we-going-or-not conversations, last weekend, my office friends and I found ourselves in yet another weekend getaway. From our initial plan to go to the Hundred Islands in Alaminos to the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, we finally settled at the last minute to go to San Juan, Batangas for a beach and a mountain climbing trip.
Mt. Daguldol is located in Brgy. Hugom, San Juan, Batangas. It is a small mountain range with an MASL of 670+. Classified as an easy climb, the mountain along the coast of southern Batangas is a popular trekking destination. Accessible via private and public transportation, Mt. Daguldol appeals to both tourists and mountaineers. Apart from being only four to five hours away from the metro, San Juan is also popular for its beaches in Laiya which is a nice side trip.
To get there by public transportation, ride the RRCG buses in Buendia bound for San Juan. Unlike the Lipa- or pier-bound JAC or JAM Lines, these buses will take you directly to the town proper where you can alight at the town market. They leave at 4:00 AM, 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Their buses can be found near the MRT or LRT stations along Buendia in Pasay. From the town market, your group can either take the public jeepney (Php40.00 per head) or rent a van (Php650.00 per way) bound for Laiya or Hugom.
The Hugom local government has required all visitors to register and secure a guide at the Hugom Environmental Guides Association (HEGA) station. I don’t know how it goes because technically we did not register since no one handed us a form to sign our names on. We did however secure ourselves a HEGA guide for our day hike the next morning. Registration fee per head is Php35.00 while the guide fee is Php350.00 (per day for a maximum of 15 people).
To get to the jumpoff point, groups can either start by taking the 1+ km beach trek or by taking another jeepney ride to the foot of the mountain (Php100.00). We opted to do it the scenic and dehydrating way. The seaside trek is a 30-minute walk over varying beachscapes. The shore scenery will take you through changing coves, rock formations, corals, tree-lined resorts, sandy and pebbly beaches.
At the jumpoff, aircon rooms and cottages are easily available for overnight stays. For those prepared to rough it out, an alternative is setting up camp by the Piknikers beach.
Mt. Daguldol is an easy climb with established trails. First-timers will find the mostly steep forest paths manageable with a few hard trails here and there. :D We were fortunate enough that the summer sun was not at his peak during our climb. The clouds over the mountain and the shade provided by the trees made the trek relatively pleasant.
The pretty funny perks along the trail are the resting shelters slash sari-sari stores. At the halfway mark, Mang Zardo sells halo-halo while a few meters onward, another resident sells fresh coconut juice. We tried both on our way back. :)
For those staying overnight, Daguldol has three campsites: Gulugod-Baboy, Niyugan and Anahawan. At the summit area, pasture and grazing cows somewhat belies the feeling of being at the top. Still, the cool wind and the magnificent view of the beaches left and right made the climb worth the sweat.
Since most of my friends have never been happy campers, here is our itinerary as dayhikers:
08:00 ETD Manila for San Juan, Batangas
12:00 ETA San Juan; lunch at town proper; shop for food and supplies
13:30 rent van or board jeepney for Brgy. Hugom
14:30 ETA Brgy. Hugom; reserve guide for the next day’s hike
15:00 start of beach trek
15:30 ETA jumpoff point; look for cottage or resort
19:00 dinner and drinks
05:00 wakeup call
05:30 start of trek
08:30 ETA summit
09:00 start of descent
11:30 ETA jumpoff point
16:00 ETD jumpoff point; charter jeepney for Lipa
18:00 ETA Lipa
18:30 ETD Lipa for Manila
20:30 ETA Manila