The Underrated Beauty of Laiban Trilogy

*You may skip the story and scroll down below for the mountain’s FAQs! 🙂

This is supposedly my first quarter hike. Pero dahil paguran sa workload, nausod nang nausod nang nausod ang akyat na ‘to. At first, I was thinking sort of a major hike. Pero narealize ko, hindi pala ako prepared. So a friendly mountain will do. Luckily, Tanay – a province in Rizal has a lot to offer.

Yes, maraming kabundukan sa Tanay. Most of them are beginners-friendly with sidestrip to rivers or falls. Plus, their huge advantage is the sea of clouds. Ang daming sea of clouds sa mountain ranges ng Tanay. Hindi mo kailangan magpakalayo-layo sa Benguet province if you’re looking for some sea of clouds serenity.

Our first hike in Tanay was in Mt. Daraitan (2015), then Mt. Batolusong (2016) and another later that same year, Mt Maynoba & Mt. Cayabu where we met Glen, isa sa mga tour guides doon. I actually saw Laiban Trilogy from Glen’s Facebook and PM-ed him about the mountain. Mga twice din na-postpone ang akyat kong ito, until umabot na ng April. Glen referred me to Kuya Rene, isa sa mga head ng tour guides sa Laiban. Pero hindi ko siya na-meet when I get there dahil di niya nareceive ang confirmation ko sa chat. May training daw sila somewhere and walang data signal doon.

Getting There

Traveling to Laiban is pretty much easy. From Cubao or Santolan LRT station, sakay ka ng jeep byaheng Cogeo and baba ka sa Cogeo Gate 2 (Lower Antipolo). Then lakad ka papuntang jeep terminal going to Tanay. Sabihan mo lang ang driver to drop you off at Sitio Mayagay Uno, katabi lang yun ng Martessem Mountain Resort. Usually kapag nagtanong ka ng ganyan, alam na nila na aakyat ka sa Laiban. Along the way, malalampasan mo ang mga extraction points ng Batolusong and other hike-able mountains in Tanay. Jeep travel is around 1 hours din. Sa Mayugay Uno, may mga habal-habal na naka standby doon which will take you to Laiban Barangay Hall, the jump-off area. Brace yourself for the habal-habal ride. It’s a 20 to 30 minutes rough road ride with more than 7 rivers or streams to pass by. From habal-habal ride, you’ll get to start the adventure feels.

Walang tao sa jump-off pagdating ko. Sarado ang registration. Ibigsabihin, ngayong Friday, wala pang umaakyat. Exactly 4PM ng makarating ako. Tinawag ni kuya habal-habal si Kuya Ampay, siya ang pinaka tour guide coordinator. At ayon sa kanya, walang available tour guides daw sa araw na ‘to dahil nasa training sila. At hindi rin daw nila alam na tuloy ako sa akyat ko ngayon. Nabanggit na pala ako ni Kuya Rene. A few minutes later, I saw Kuya Ampay walking around the barangay, naghahanap ng magtu-tour guide sa ‘kin for an overnight hike. Hindi daw kase pwede mag overnight ang babaeng tour guide so he had to find a male one. Luckily, he found Kuya Bino (if I remember and spelled it correctly) after almost an hour.

The Trail (Summary)

The climb is steep pero hindi naman hardcore. As I went up, unti-unti mong nakikita ang overview ng Laiban mountain ranges. The Laiban Trilogy is a 3-mountain hike. Mt. Lubo is the first peak where the campsite is located nearby, 60-90 minutes from the jump off, depende sa speed ng pag-akyat. Mabilis kami naka-akyat dahil si Kuya Bino na tour guide ay hindi nag-a-alok ng pahinga. Hahaha! Tuloy-tuloy lang siya maglakad sa unahan, like a normal local.

Mt. Ngusong Kabayo Summit Area

The second peak is the Mt. Ngusong Kabayo, named after the limestone formation that shapes like a horse’s snout. It’s a 45-60 minute walk from Mt. Lubo peak or campsite na inakyat ko na kinabukasan ng umaga. The trail going up to Mt Ngusong Kabayo is grassy with an added bamboo forest as a bonus. I like the bamboo forest!

Mt. Tangwa Peak

The third peak is the highest peak, the Mt. Tangwa which is only 30 minutes away from Mt. Ngusong Kabayo. Nandito ang 360-degree view ng Rizal sierra madre. This is where you can get a nice view for your Instagram photos. Dito na rin ang muni-muni moment at nature-appreciation. I was lucky dahil it was already Saturday morning when I get to Mt. Tangwa peak pero wala pa ring umaakyat na ibang hikers. Nasolo ko ang summit. Medyo mataas na nga lang ang araw nun, around 8AM kaya hindi na rin kami masyadong nagtagal ni Kuya Bino.

But I swear the view from Mt. Tangwa is breathtaking. It will take you 3 to 4 hours from jump off to Tangwa peak. Walang lilim or mga puno sa peak ng Tangwa so you better get there just before the sunrise but since I’m on an overnight hike, I spent the sunrise in Mt. Lubo peak.

Mt. Lubo Overnight & Sea of Clouds

It’s already pass 6PM when we reached the summit of Mt. Lubo. Near the summit is the flattened area serving as the camp site. Kuya Ampay had to go down na rin dahil tinulungan niya lang ako magbitbit ng gamit paakyat as a porter. Ang lakas lang maka-mayor ng may kasama kang isang tour guide at isa pang porter. Hahaha!

Selfie with Kuya Ampay (Guide Coordinator)

It was a pretty nice experience spending the night solo at Mt Lubo. Pitched my tent, cooked my dinner, read a few pages of the book that I brought, blogged a bit on my phone about spending the night on mountains then spent the rest of the evening listening to crickets and to the sound of the wind. There is no reception sa peak for data so it was also a social media detox moment for me.

The temperature is also just right. Or hindi lang ako lamigin. Malamig pero hindi naman ganun kalamig like one I had in Lake Holon or in Mt. Pigingan na talagang pati sipon mo magyeyelo. The coldness in Mt. Lubo is tolerable. Siguro dahil wala na rin ang hanging amihan dahil pa-summer season na.

Bukang Liwayway at the Mt Lubo Summit

I woke up around 5AM the next day. Pinakiramdaman ko kung may ibang hikers na dumating or darating, pero tahimik ang bundok. Napakatahimik. Wala pa ring ibang umaakyat. Kaya ang sarap ng patuloy na katahimikan. From the campsite, I made my way back to Mt Lubo peak (mga 3 minutes na lakad) to wait for the sunrise. And there behold, a fascinating sea of clouds waiting exclusively for me to see. I had sea of cloud in Batolusong, Maynoba at Daraitan. But the sea of clouds here in Mt. Lubo is so far the best in Tanay!

Nakakapangilabot ang ganda. Nakakawala ng pagod. Nakakawala ng kung anomang emote or baggage mo sa buhay. Napakahusay lang ni Lord. Sometimes, He comforts us in a way that we don’t expect. Sometimes He comforts us through a trusted person, through a sort of realization, or sometimes through a beautiful sea of clouds at the top of a mountain. And this is what I badly need now. So if you want to take some rest, 3 hours na byahe lang ang bundok na ito from Manila.

The Mt. Lubo Sea of Clouds (no filter or color enhancement)
Me on white shirt. The highest peak at my back is the Tangwa Peak.

I stayed in the peak for about 2 hours. 7AM when I head back to the campsite. Nag-almusal ng konte, nagpack-up and nag-ready para akyatin ang second and third peak which I had discussed earlier. Iniwan namin ni Kuya Bino ang mga bags sa campsite since dito rin naman kami dadaan pababa.

Going Down with the Falls

Pababa madadaanan ang what they call four-tiered water falls of Laiban. Yes, during the descend, you will pass by not just one, two or three waterfalls, but four waterfalls! And these are the:

  • Tagpuan Falls
  • Mahangin Falls
  • Panat-in Falls
  • Kalaparan Falls
Descending Time
Panat-in Falls Catch Basin

Pwede kang maligo sa lahat dyan kung trip mo, but since its summer season, manipis ang bagsak ng tubig sa mga falls. Sa third falls (Panat-in) ang pinaka resting and swimming spot dahil malaki ang catch basin nito at mababaw lang. May deep water area din kung gusto mong mag dive. Dito kami nagpahinga ng mga isang oras ni Kuya Bino. Dito na rin kami ng refill ng tubig dahil nandito ang water source. According kay ate sa jump-off, the best time to experience the falls is during the rainy season like July.

Kapalaran Falls during Summer

Ang pinaka-instagrammable na falls ay pang-apat na falls (Kalaparan Falls) dahil para siyang mini-me version ng Tinuy-an Falls sa Surigao. Malapad kase ang falls. Pero ang sad dahil tuyo ang river to Kapalaran Falls when I get there. As in dry. Walang tubig sa Kapalaran Falls so I just had to enjoy the rocks at imaginin na may mga dragon na lalabas mula sa bundok dahil nagmistulang isang malawak na rock dessert ang Kapalaran river.

So in short…

Laiban trilogy is an instant favorite! I enjoyed the trail, the peak and the summits, the falls and the beauty of it in general. The mountains are beginner-friendly so kayang-kaya ‘to ng mga weekend warriors. Most hikers do dayhike sa Laiban because the entire trail can be finished in 6 to 7 hours only, kasama na pahinga and pag-ligo sa falls, I’m just not a fan of day hikes.

Kapatagan na. About 45 minutes back to the jump off.

Nakabalik kami sa jump-off pass 12noon. At surprisingly, wala pa ring ibang hikers na umaakyat. When I looked at the logsheet, the last hikers were registered 3 days ago and most likely, I’m the only one who climbed for the weekend dahil as per locals, most dayhikers arrive at early Saturday morning. When I asked Kuya Rene who I finally met sa jump off kinabukasan, the Laiban Trilogy was just opened to public earlier last year, that explains why this mountain circuit is still underrated. Pauwi from inside the jeepney, I saw na maraming bumababa sa extraction points ng Batolusong and Mt. Masungki para umakyat doon. But the habal-habal drivers in Sitio Mayugay Uno (Laiban’s extraction point) are still waiting for their own visitors for the weekend.

How to Get There

Heto ang outline:

  • From Cubao or Santolan LRT station, ride jeep going to Cogeo. Tell the driver to drop you off at Cogeo Gate 2. Walk up to the jeepney terminal. Ask the barkers kung saan ang jeep papuntang Sitio Mayugay Uno.
  • From Cogeo Gate 2 to Sitio Mayugay Uno takes about 1 hour ride (P55)
  • From Mayugay Uno, ride habal-habal to Laiban Brgy Hall Jump Off (P100)

Fees

  • Registration Fee P100 per head
  • Guide Fee P500 for 5 pax / P1,200 for overnight hike for 5 pax
  • Porter is P300 one way

Laiban Notes

  • Follow basic hiking rules. Don’t leave your thrash.
  • No data reception sa summit, but along the trail may mga areas with reception for texting only (Globe). As per locals, malakas ang Smart.
  • Bring at least 2 liters of water. The only water source is in the third waterfalls which is just 1 to 2 hours away back to jump off, so medyo dulo na yun.
  • Wear cap and/or sunblock. Maraming part ng trail ang bilad sa araw. So if umaga ang akyat niyo, better get protected.
  • It is best to inform and confirm with the locals when you plan to visit. Huwag tumulad sakin. Haha! You may message Kuya Rene sa facebook here or contact Kuya Ampay at 09291036193. Mabait si Kuya Ampay, super maasikaso. 5 stars ang community na ‘to!

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