Short for Mataas na Bundok, Manabu Peak is an easily accessible dayhike destination. It has an MASL of 760+ and a total trail length of 4.7 km.
The trail is interestingly shaped like a rosary with Manabu’s signature big white cross aptly capping the peak.
Perfectly manageable for beginners. The trail is visible and established. Save for a few forks here and there, it is possible to trek Manabu without a guide. If my memory serves me right, just remember to always take the right forks when going up, and (logically) the left forks when going down.
To get there by public transportation, ride the Lipa- or Tanauan-bound JAC or JAM Lines and specify that you will be alighting at the Fiesta Mall (more specifically the Lipa Memorial Park along the highway). A 100-peso tricycle ride will take a group of three to Sulok, Brgy. Sta. Cruz in Sto. Tomas. It will take you twenty minutes on the tricycle to get to the jumpoff point. Alternatively, for bigger groups, you can hire a jeepney to take you to Sulok.
A registration fee of Php15.00 is collected by the barangay. (Un)Fortunately, since our hike was on a Sunday, the tanods were enjoying their (work)day-off. :) Some useful pieces of information about the tanods: 1. pay the exact amount as some regulars say they are not in the habit of giving you change for big bills; 2. take down with a shroud of doubt the mobile number they will give upon registration as it is apparently a dummy according to my friend, and; 3. sympathize with the famous barista, Mang Perying, as he launches a spiel on how seemingly useless the collection of registration fees is since it is not the barangay who maintains the trails to the peak, but the residents like himself.
Like Tirad Pass and Daguldol, there are plenty of huts and tables for take-fives. There are also the huts of Mang Perying for free barako coffee and another enterprising resident selling overpriced fresh buko juice.
Expect to get caught in a drizzle and to be caked in mud during the rainy season. Fortunately, when the heavy rains poured we were already at the jumpoff point for a quick wash-up and shower (Php15.00).
Here is a suggested itinerary for dayhikers:
05:30 Meet up at Buendia corner Taft Avenue
06:00 ETD Manila for Lipa
07:30 ETA Fiesta Mall
08:00 ride tricycle for jumpoff point at Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas
08:20 ETA Sulok, Brgy. Sta. Cruz; register at baragay center (if open)
08:30 start of trek
10:30 ETA at peak
11:00 start of descent
11:30 coffee at Mang Perying’s place
13:00 ETA jumpoff point; wash-up
14:00 ETD for Lipa bus stop
14:30 ETD Lipa for Manila
16:30 ETA Manila