Santo Tomas, Batangas
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Mt. Manabu can be found in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. It is considered to be a minor climb with a difficulty of 2/9. It is what some climbers describe as a “pabebe climb”, meaning the hike is so easy it is perfect for beginners. The climb can be finished in more or less 2 hours depending on your pace. The total trail length is 4,738.2 meters. Let me be honest though, it wasn’t that easy given the muddy condition of the trail.
Mt. Manabu is especially crowded during the Lenten Season because of its 8 stations that are being used for the stations of the cross. This explains the large cross in the summit and the little crosses that you will find along the way. If you look at the map you will notice that the trail is shaped like a rosary. The summit is in Station 6. On your way down, you have the option to take the same path from whence you came or take the other path that leads to Stations 7 and 8.
We managed to pass through Stations 1 and 2 with ease. There were a few creeks and rivers that we had to cross, which made me realize wearing trekking sandals was not a bad idea after all. From the jump-off point, we were being tailed by some dogs. We soon realized that they are taking part in our trek, or rather they were keeping their master/our guide, Mang Ellis company.
One of the dogs stayed close behind Mang Ellis. Because of its color, I started calling it Brownie. What I didn’t expect is that the dog is indeed named, Brownie. And he wasn’t the only brownie in the bunch, the other 2 dogs that also sport brown fur were also named Brownie. Mang Ellis just added a number to tell them apart, so there goes Brownie 1, Brownie 2, and Brownie 3. Isn’t it hilarious? Why did he name them so, it’s less stressful that way, he said.
Coffee awaits those who would climb Mt. Manabu. An old man with dark hair welcomed us in this little hut adorned with tarpaulins. Mang Ellis picked the thermos and poured coffee on some ceramic blue cups and handed them to us. On the table were jars of civet coffee grounds that he is selling to climbers for only ₱100.
The other interesting thing you will find at Station 5 is the life-size sculpture of a penis, which for some reason they are calling anito. Mang Tino said that maidens who have climbed Mt. Manabu and touched the anito have found love.
From Station 5, the assault begins. My headache has improved a little bit, thanks to the coffee. I haven’t been working out that often lately so my body was not in the best condition. Still, I persevered but as all the other climbs, I could only keep my head down to see where I am stepping on and didn’t have time to fully enjoy the view.
A few kilometers before the summit, we reached a flat area where we spotted some campers. Some of them spent the night over. It rained the night before, I’m sure camping there in that weather was anything but fun.
After 2 hours of labor, we reached the summit. Looking at the view made everything oh so worth it. I felt proud of my sister, cousin, and niece for finishing the climb. For first-timers, I think they did well. The dogs who have followed us all the way to the top found their spots to nap while the humans went about the whole business of picture taking.
We had a bit of a debate whether we should go back the way we came or take another trail for our descent. We ended up following Mang Ellis’s suggestion to take the other route.
We all agreed that the trek down is much more difficult than the climb. Because of the mud, the trail was quite slippery that I had to use all of my lower leg strength to prevent myself from slipping. I am such a restless person, always burdened with thoughts, but in that moment my mind blocked all things saved for the task at hand. I kept my eyes on the ground and was very careful where to put my feet. There were a few times that I found myself on the ground despite my best efforts.
The grottos can be found at Station 8. We stopped here to wash our muddy shoes in the creek.
At 2;42 p.m., the trek has officially ended. Getting there and doing the hike on your own is possible, but I still recommend getting a guide especially if you’re climbing with kids.
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I have conquered another mountain!!!
Mataas na Bundok or popularly known as Mt. Manabu is an ideal trail for beginners, based on some blogs that I’ve read.
Jump off: Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Difficulty: 2/9 Minor Climb (760 meters above sea level)
Length: 3.5+- miles (this was based on our own gps watch)
Mt Manabu has 8 stations:
Station 1 – Tangke ng Tubig
Station 2 – Dampa
Station 3 – Creek
Station 4 – Jackfruit Tree
Station 5 –Dampa
Station 6 – Malaking Krus – Summit of Mt. Manabu
Station 7 –Forest
Station 8 –Grotto
The first 4 stations were totally okay. It was a cold and stress-free walk at first. You have 2 ways to Malaking Krus once you reached station 4. You can either start with Station 5 or check the Grotto first at Station 8. We chose the Station 8.
The way to stations 8, 7 and 5 was a bit tough for all of us. It was a long, hot and steep hike to the summit. After 1 hour, we finally reached the summit of Mt. Manabu. The length of time will still depend on the pace of your group.
Our sweat, pain and exhaustion were all gone when we saw the view from the peak of the mountain. Reaching the summit was the most satisfying part of the trek. We all enjoyed the view and ate lunch while savoring the fresh air on a mountain peak.
· Bring plenty of water.
· Bring chocolates to boost your energy.
· Do not leave any trash on the site.
· 500 pesos is their fixed rate for the guide. Our tour guide was very nice and accommodating so we gave him an extra.
· Make a side trip and try Batangas Lomi or Goto.
“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” ― Ed Viesturs
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We went for an overnight camping trip in Mt. Manabu and the view at the summit at sunset and sunrise is worth the effort to climb the mountain with a 30kg backpack weighing you down.
Things I learned on an overnight camping trip:
1. Bring around 4L of water. You dont want to get dehydrated anytime during the climb and going down the mountain.
2. While youll want to wear light dri fit clothes in climbing up and down the mountain, youd also want to bring cold gear for the really cold night ahead. I was freezing at around 11pm up to 6am. Hahaha. Good thing I brought a jacket.
3. Try to empty your tummy before climbing unless youre ok with unloading by the bushes. Hehehe.
4. Enjoy the view and take lots of pics!
Oh and please, for the love of the mountain, don't leave your trash. Bring them back down and dispose properly. There's no one here to clean up after you, dont be an uneducated, uncivilized person who doesnt think of anything else but themselves.
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Back on track! Yahoo! The locals are very friendly starting from the outpost of Brgy Santa Cruz where registration is done before entering the peripherals of the mountain at Php 20.00 per pax. Hiring a guide is not necessary if you have someone in the team who had been here before, the trail is pretty straight forward but can be daunting if done at night, hence a guide is helpful at night to avoid getting lost in the heavy thickets of trees especially in the grotto trail.
Mt Manabu's trail is pretty easy. What I liked most about this mountain is that the trail is very refreshing. The shades of the green forest is relaxing to the eyes. The trail is surrounded by tall trees and green plants.
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