View from Mt. Natib
Yes. Leeches. Limatiks. They have declared war on us. As if I have not had my fill and fair share of the infamous mountain bloodsuckers of Makiling, I found myself saying yes to another climb involving such a major-major concern. This climb is popular not only for its leeches, moreso for the fact that it has been declared closed (then open, then closed, then open) by the military for insurgency-related attacks by our leftist brothers and sisters.
At 1,287+ MASL, I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday and to report that I have summitted another mountain in one piece. Of course I left out the part about the insanely aggressive limatiks and the NPAs (lest I want to cap and prematurely end my budding and flourishing hobby). I also left out the portion describing the one-and-a-half hour cardiac assault to the summit, the almost 90-degree rocky roped segments and the steep and slippery forested trails.
No, I knew better than to bother her with such trifling details. :D
Mt. Natib is currently open. Prior arrangements with the barangay are however encouraged to ensure that your group has the military’s permission to proceed with the climb. Manageable for beginners, the trail to the foot of the mountain is established. It begins with a wide sloping dirt road near a farm for fighting cocks. It then transforms to grass-covered paths that take you through Pinagbutasan (literally an opening in the mountain made by an energy company for their geothermal equipment to get through) and a lunch area called “bahay kubo” (where a water source is available). Afterwards, the paths narrow to the usual single-file trail, most portions of which are lined with tall cogon grass. The foot of the mountain is reached after about three or four hours. At the final stretch, our group’s mountain guides managed the paths and installed ropes at three different segments. The trail to the summit were mostly (if not, all the way) punishing assaults through a heavily covered and cool forest. At the summit, if blessed with a clearing, there are good views of Bataan and her neighboring mountains.
04:00 ETD for Bataan
06:00 ETA at Orani, Bataan
08:00 ETD for Brgy. Tala, Orani, Bataan
08:15 register at barangay hall
08:20 register at military checkpoint
09:00 jump-off point
09:30 start of trek
11:00 ETA Pinagbutasan
11:30 lunch at the “bahay kubo”
12:30 resume trek
13:30 foot of Mt. Natib
15:00 ETA summit
08:00 break camp
09:00 start of descent
10:30 foot of natib
11:30 start of trek to Pasukulan Falls
13:30 lunch at Pasukulan Falls
15:00 trek to base of falls
15:20 ETA at the falls
16:00 back to lunch area
16:45 start trek to jump-off point
18:00 ETA main trail
18:45 ETA “bahay kubo”
20:30 ETA jump-off point at Brgy. Tala
21:00 ETD for Brgy. Laya (past 9:00 PM, buses will no longer pass through Brgy. Tala; Manila-bound buses are available at Brgy. Laya until 10:00 PM)
22:00 ETD from Bataan
23:45 ETA at Cubao
To fully maximize the trip, we went to Orani’s other attraction, Pasukulan Falls. An additional three-hour trek from the base of Mt. Natib, the trail to the sidetrip was honestly more challenging than the main trail to Mt. Natib.
Mt. Natib is accessible by public transportation. Take either Bataan Transit or Genesis Lines and alight at Orani (more specifically the Petron station along the highway). With prior arrangements, a jeepney can take you to Tala from there. For supplies, the Orani Public Market is a short ten-minute walk from the highway.
A registration fee of Php20.00 is collected by the barangay. Mountaineers will be required to register twice though. One at the barangay hall and the other one at the military detachment.
Expect cold winds at the summit and the presence of limatiks from the Pinagbutasan area all the way to the summit and campsite.