Will Not Turn Back for Mt. Ugo

2 01 2011
Di Uurong kay Mt. Ugo (2130m asl)
Friday, 31 December 2010
Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya traverse
Marikit trail via Ambasa Barangay Tinongdan,
Itogon Benguet, Philippines

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Mt Ugo is known to be the “plane grabber” of the country since it had 3 plane crashes. The most tragic was the 1987 PAL’s killing all passengers and crews.

Why go to Mt Ugo?

I have known Mt Ugo from the iwak word “ugoan” meaning “to slit the throat”. But still does not have any “come on” for me other than the fact that I have not been there.

To make the Breadships 2010 Christmas get-together more exciting, I then suggested to the group Mt Ugo traverse itinerary back to back with Pandecoco’s yearly Simbunan Outreach. By default, Pandecoco became our fun climb expedition Team Leader.

During the last 5 days of hiking, I have discovered the beauty of Mt Ugo. Aside from being a forested mountainous and hilly area of Luzon island, Mt Ugo is located in a very scenic place where cool climate, streams and rivers abound. Terraced slopes of vegetable plantations, fruits, flowers, and rice fields are seen from Kayapa side. Then pine tree line, mountainous view can be seen at Marikit side.

The best reason I may say for going to Mt Ugo is meeting the “Kalanguya” tribes. They are hospitable, warm and humble. From Simbunan, we were hosted by Manong Satur. From Marikit it was the family of Ate Conchita “Conching” and Kuya Apolinario “Apol” who openly welcomed us.

During Marikit socials the family rendered local songs under glittering stars. Lola Bona, the mom of Kuya Apol even joined the singing while sipping local Benguet coffee. Richard “Randy” was their vocal guitarist and bajo player. Ben was overall lead in the whole “orchestra” show. Ate Conching was the main singer together with her children – Lerma, Melba, Philnes, Angeline, Rowena, JP, and the toddler JR. Vince and other cousins also joined the singing.

To reciprocate the hospitality of the family, Alpha, Crinkles and Rex rendered some songs as well strumming the guitar. July attempted but ended up passing on the turn. Matthew on the other hand made it to the chorus singing the lyrics “5 Golden Rings!” together with Billy, Jeff, Aileen and the rest of Breadships. The ambience was very homey, the real spirit of Christmas.

Trekking Time to Traverse

There are quite a number of trails to enjoy the scenic Mt Ugo: Kayapa-Kayapa, Lusod-Lusod, Kayapa-Lusod and Kayapa-Marikit. We did the Kayapa-Marikit trail via Ambasa Barangay Tinongdan, Itogon Benguet.

The travel time varies from one hiker to another. Since this was a group expedition, the itinerary was moved from 4 days to 5 days.

ITINERARY (with Outreach at Simbunan)
430am   – meet up at Victory Bus Liner Pasay to catch the 5am bus. TIP!: Buy the bus ticket earlier than the scheduled trip to ensure seats.
5am       – ETD Manila via Tuguegarao. Bring out your jacket or sarong since the bus ride may surely be cold! Enjoy the view at Dalton pass.
12n        – ETA Bambang Nueva Vizcaya, Shell Station.
Have brunch (breakfast and lunch). Wait for any transport bound to Kayapa (2-hr ride. If you wish, contact a van driver Oliver Lagaban at 0919-3604421)
3pm       – ETA Kayapa. Register at PNP (Philippine National Police) Station. Wait for any transport bound to Balakbak, Pito (Outreach jump off). 1.5-2 hr ride
5pm       – ETA Balakbak, Pito Benguet (jump off ng Outreach). Then start trek to Simbunan, the Outreach community
6pm       – ETA Simbunan, mini rice terraces abound the area
– set camp or stay with a local host, prepare dinner
8pm       – dinner, socials.
11pm     – lights out
6am      –  prepare breakfast / pack lunch
7am      –  break camp
9am      –  ETD Simbunan and start trekking to Mt. Ugo via Indupit (An uphill terrain without forest cover.  From Simbunan, you will see a rugged trail where a 6×6 truck may go through. Enjoy the view of Lake Nayao and depending on the season, you may take photo of the farmers ploughing the area)
1pm      –  ETA Dayao Primary school. Have lunch
230pm  –  ETA Barangay Pangawan, Kayapa, Register at the Barangay office and pay Php15.00. Pangawan is a cemented highway, boundary of Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road.
330pm  –  ETD Barangay Pangawan. The trail towards Indupit is mossy and forested.
630pm – ETA Indupit Multi-purpose hall. Take note that Indupit village is located away from the main footpath. After reaching the last footpath, backtrack a little bit from the road widening area. Watch out for the landmark, a street post lamp.
Inside the multi-purpose hall, the weather reached 11 degrees C during our hike.
830pm – dinner
10pm – lights out
6am    – prepare breakfast / pack lunch
930am – ETD Indupit Village and continue trekking
1015am-ETA Waiting shed 1 Mt. Samiento (1730m asl), Ansipsip
1115am-ETA Waiting shed 2 Have an early lunch and enjoy the view of Mt Ugo
1pm     – ETD and start trekking. Get water from Domolpos, an off trail village or else get water near the footpath after the trail towards Domolpos village. Take note however, that this water source maybe visible to those discerning eyes only!
230pm-   ETA Waiting shed 3 still within the boundary of Domolpos village. This is a saddle type area so watch out for cows abound. Continue ascending until you reach a ridge trail, then a mossy mini forest
410pm- ETA Mt. Ugo summit. The Simbunan locals Joseph and Arnold joined us and reached the summit at 3:45pm or 2.45 minutes from the lunch break. It took us 3.10 minutes instead.
–  set camp, photo opt
6pm    –  prepare dinner
7pm    – dinner, socials
10pm  – lights out
Day 4 – DESCEND1
5am   – wake up call, sunrise viewing/photo opt, break camp, breakfast, prepare pack lunch
10am – Start descend from the marker on a very steep, ridge-like pine forest trail
11am – ETA saddle. Expect steep trail, start of rolling pine forest trail. One will see Ambuclao dam and the scenic mountainous areas around.
145pm- ETA on a 45 degrees lunch camp. Continue follow the established foot path down until you reach the mini falls. Get your water trail from here.
410pm –ETA Ambasa, Barangay Tinongdan Village, Itogon Benguet via Marikit where “palayan” rice plantations abound.
5pm    – sunset viewing overlooking Baguio city
Set camp, photo opt, immerse with the community
6pm    –  prepare dinner
7pm    – dinner, socials
10pm  – lights out
Day 5 – DESCEND2
5am   – wake up call
815am  – ETD
8:50am – ETA Waiting shed Padok, after crossing a steel hanging bridge. This is actually the old house of Kuya Apol. The trail from here is ascending on a grassy land. Then the trail becomes winding flat surface before reaching a waiting shed. Afterwards, ascend once again on a 65 degrees terrain then make sure you take the short cut to Coyola bridge passing through a cemented “pilapil” or rice paddies. Otherwise, you will hit the village and it will be a longer trail.
1145am – ETA Cayola bridge, Barangay Tinongdan Village, Itogon Benguet.
1pm    – ETD for Baguio (2-hr ride. If you wish, contact FX driver Rey at 0919-7563813)
3pm    – ETA Baguio, confirm the bus trip to Manila.
5pm    – ETD Baguio
1am    – ETA Manila
BUDGET (estimated): 1,500PHP or 35USD for a group of 12 hikers

Looking Back

Although the trail was really challenging considering that one will trek the side of the mountain through a steep rolling pine forest trail, I will surely consider going back to the communities of Balakbak, Simbunan and Marikit. They are the jewels of Mt Ugo.h




One response

3 01 2011

Hi H! That was also one of my favorite parts of the whole climb, yung singing songs under the stars with an orchestra 🙂 Who knows what could happen when you take the wrong (read: more difficult) trail? galing.

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