Second Chapter: Mt. Pamitinan

Elevation: 426 MASL
Difficulty: 3/9
Type: Limestone

After a brief respite from our earlier physical assertion, we are now prepared to take on our next challenge. At around 9:50 AM we were all set for our next assault. From the original 12 who trekked to the first summit, the group was reduced to eight trekkers as three opted to go swimming at Wawa Dam while the other one had to opt out due to the injury he sustained while climbing down Mt. Binacayan.

Our guides’ original plan was to take on Mt. Hapunang Banoi first before Mt. Pamitinan. However, due to the influx of Sunday trekkers and the anticipation that they’d trek the former first before the latter, we deviated from the original itinerary to avoid the crowd. This, they deem, will provide us ample opportunity to take pictures.

So, up we go again!

The first part of the trek is a bit easier. Exhausted we maybe but we were all up for the task. For an hour or so we walked through the forest vegetation, under the shades of the tall trees. Owing to exhaustion, we had to stop numerous times to catch our breath. Upon reaching the junction, we saw a lot of trekkers who were regrouping after  before tackling the daunting mountains. The junction is where Mt. Hapunang Banoi and Mt. Pamitinan meet. It is also a watering hole where some locals sell food, water and other juices for the exasperated trekkers.

After our brief stopover, we began our trek towards the summit of Mt. Pamitinan. The path towards the summit became more treacherous as the seemingly harmless path turned into a rocky path. The rocks and limestone have jagged edges, making the climb more difficult and more treacherous.

In climbing Mt. Pamitinan first, we thought we were being wise because we were avoiding the throng of people trekking Mt. Hapunang Banoi. As we climb higher though, we’ve realized that the other trekkers had the same ideas as our guides. Just like our earlier trek, this one is a crowded one, which made more difficult. As a result, our pace slowed down because we have to wait for the others who are either climbing down or up. The brief stopovers, however, gave us time to catch our breath.

I honestly didn’t expect this huge a turnout for this Sunday trek. There were just too many trekkers that particular day. Thank you Angel Locsin.
While waiting for our turn to go up, snap, snap!

After thirty minutes of traversing the mountain, we have reached the first view point. As there’s a throng of trekkers going down the mountain, we took the time to delve in our surrounding. Our current location gave a great view of the Sierra Madre mountains and the last mountain on our itinerary, Mt. Hapunang Banoi. While waiting for our turn to go up, we snapped pictures.

Again with that “The Thinker” pose on the first view point of Mt. Pamitinan. On the background is Mt. Hapunang Banoi.
I won these mountains. Wrong! I own this picture is more like it.

When at last our turn came to climb up, we didn’t waste the time to trek faster as our next destination is the famed spot where those famed “buwis buhay” shots were taken. These so-called “buwis buhay” shots have filled Facebook and other social media outlet recently. These pictures show daredevils dangling on the side of the rock. This is arguably one of the reasons why a number of people flock to this mountain. When we reached this stop, a crowd unsurprisingly has already formed and everyone is waiting for their turn to have their pictures be snapped.

Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to wait that long. However, we had to take our pictures quickly so that the other trekkers can also take their “buwis buhay” shots. All in all, it took us about 10 minutes to take individual “buwis buhay” photos and a couple of group shots atop the very same rock where we dangled to have our pictures be taken.

Another groufie at that famed spot. ©G.E. Eclarino



But of course I am gong to do the challenge. They did, so why can’t I? ©G.E. Eclarino for all our “buwis buhay” photos.

To take the “buwis buhay” shot takes guts. To not lose focus, one must not look down to see the very ominous drop. Otherwise, one would get nervous as the plunge obviously is quite high. But then, when you’re taking your pictures quickly, one becomes nonchalant to such “minute” details.

After we took our “buwis buhay” shots, we continued trekking towards the summit. In thirty minutes, we reached the summit where another huge rock is located. To get to the top of the rock, one must climb up using a rope. When we reached the top, we were awestruck again by the stupendous view. In 180 degrees, one can see numerous mountains, and further away are the towering peaks of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The top of the rock can only accommodate a small group. The various groups must take turns in going up to have their pictures be taken. For about 10 minutes we took pictures, took a rest and breathed in our environment. After drinking in the marvelous sight, we climbed down the very same way we climbed up, dangling on the rope. As the rock has sharp edges, we were cautious in climbing up and down.

Oh yes, we made it! Second summit of three.
Astounding. The view at the top is as always, stupendous!
First summit as viewed from Mt. Pamitinan. On the foreground is Mt. Binacayan, the first of our three-part trek.
Last summit as viewed from Mt. Pamitinan. Mt. Hapunang Banoi will be our last summit for the day.


Time check: 1:00 PM. We started our trek down to the junction which will be our starting point for our next trek. On the way, we met other trekkers, who are both anxious and excited of the adventures that are before them. To lighten the mood, we smiled at them, greeted them “good afternoon” and told them to always be careful.

The trek down is no easier than the trek up because we had to bear the very same sharp rocks we’ve already encountered going up. But knowing that we are a couple of hours away from attaining our goal, we got motivated. We didn’t mind the exasperation, the heat nor the scratches as the overwhelming adrenaline rush made us want to complete what we have committed to complete.

We reached the junction at about 2 PM. Before setting out for the last leg of our expedition, we first rested our tired feet. We drunk refreshments to be ready for what lies ahead. It was unfortunate though that Karen opted out on the last trek. In the end, there would just be seven of us who’ll take on the last challenge that is Mt. Hapunang Banoi.

There’s nowhere to go but up!

Around Mt. Pamitinan is the famed Pamitinan Cave. The cave was previously known as the Bernardo Carpio’s Cave after the insolent character in Philippine mythology, wh, according to legends, was chained forever by the gods in these mountains, cursed to keep the two mountains (Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Hapunang Banoi) from colliding with each other.

Pamitinan Cave also has a historical significance. In this cave, renowned Filipino revolutionist Andres Bonifacio and eight of his men declared independence from the Spanish oppressors. Inscriptions of “Viva la Independencia Filipinas” dating from the Philippine revolution can be found on the walls of the cave. Moreover, during the Second World War, the Japanese conquerors occupied the cave and turned it into their camp. It is due to these events that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared the cave as a historic site.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to check out the caves.

Part I     Rizal Trilogy Hike: An Assault to the Top Part I
Part II   Rizal Trilogy Hike: An Assault to the Top Part II
Part III  Rizal Trilogy Hike: An Assault to the Top Part III

Read also My 2017 Travel Resolutions.