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Mt. Romelo (Famy) Laguna Hiking » How to Torture Yourself to a Trek and Be Happy About It

July seems to be not a good time to experience the magic of mountains. Late July brings bitter weather and wetter days, however Mt. Romelo surprised me, even at this time of the year. Ignoring a forecast for overcast skies and crazy rains, we conquered Mt. Romelo in Siniloan Laguna. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how anyone can tolerate a sit-on-your-ass all day cubicled job staring at the computer, so yes, even if it’s raining (and a possible typhoon coming) I decided to go trekking at Mt. Romelo, a lovely mountain range which is part of the legendary Sierra Madre, known to mountaineers simply as Famy.

The sky was a bit over generous that day and gave us lots of cold rain at the jump-off. Well, we just shake it off with a bottle of The Bar vodka over a bowl of beef wanton at Ros Anthony Dimsum Kubo - how’s that for a pre-trek ceremony – cool ayt?

A round of vodka before the hike
Ready to hike..hiyaaaa!!!!
Although unconventional, it did break the ice among our group and the cool guys from Emerson Outdoor Group (EmeROG) who actually arranged the trek.

Crossing the rapids
Calmed by a round of vodka, we started the trek at around one o’clock wearing disposable raincoats and trash bags to protect us from rain. I felt my heart beating a little faster as we were doing the initial steep climb – I don’t know if it’s vodka circulating, Blair Witch Project on my mind or I’m just a little excited, it’s the latter I guess.

The torture trail

Along the narrow and muddy trail, we came across a lady riding a pony like Jesus entering Jerusalem. I instantly thought, what’s the damn point of having a wretched pony do the trek for you? Eat some mud, prima donna! Well, yes it’s none of my business, thank you. (just a pakialamero thought.)

Muddy trail - slippery when wet
Going back the trail, unfortunately it’s not your usual a-whole-new-world tra-la-la-la trail during rainy season. Like many things - when wet, it’s slippery and will make you kiss the mud. Many times we literally slide our way down and made love with the mud. We end up having muddy ass, sore feet and few bruises. But despite that, after each fall, we end up lighthearted and happy.

Bleeding leech bite and bruises
Oh, and did I mention the leeches? Well, don’t get excited ridding yourself of mud or washing too long on small streams – you may end up leech infested. Although it is not deadly, seeing trickles of blood on your arms and feet is disturbing.

View of Mt. Romelo after sunset
But don’t fret, en route you will be treated with amazing vistas of the mountain vegetation while climbing steadily through fields of talahib grass with occasional peeks into the rugged province of Laguna and the surrounding lake. And don’t forget a walk into the fog is always an extra treat like a scoop of ice cream on your halo-halo (although fogs remind me of death).
Camwhoring at Buruwisan Falls
Majestic Buruwisan Falls at the end of the Mt. Romelo trail
Also, at the heart of Mt. Romelo is the Buruwisan Falls descending majestically into a wide catchbasin. The waterfalls look like it is veiling an enclave verdant with moss and ferns hiding the magical throne of the queen fairy of Mt. Romelo. At 180 ft, it is ideal for rappelling, but we didn’t try it due to heavy rains. Our local guide told us that Buruwisan Falls is named after a hardwood variety that used to grow on the banks of Romelo River. But our other local guide has different theory, he said Buruwisan actually came from the word Buntisan because many girls got pregnant after the hike – hmmm lovemaking in the mountains eh (excitingly-sexy, I wanna try it someday weeee)

Steep trail going down Buruwisan Falls
Want to add extra trekking challenge? Do the trek descend at night, like what happened to us. Imagine this: walking in the middle of a mountain on steep, muddy and dangerous trail on a pitch-black night under the rain. That’s a real blast! (Ooops, I’m not actually endorsing it ok. I’m just extra happy because we survived it… cheers! Happy to Climb! clap clap clap)

Each step on the mud is priceless

"Each step on the mud, each fall, the laughter, the extended hand of a fellow hiker to pull you up – that is priceless"
We are in fact torturing ourselves on this Mt. Romelo trek and so happy about it. Ironic, but I guess that’s the beauty of having this hike. It will make you realize that accomplishments and success doesn’t always mean having big houses, grand vacations, luxury cars or executive position in the company. You can find feeling of accomplishment and moments of happiness on mundane things as crossing a raging stream or getting on the other side of a steep and muddy trail. Each step on the mud, each fall, the laughter, the extended hand of a fellow hiker to pull you up – that is priceless.

The uber-cool guys from Emerson & my Eastgate buddies (Eddie, Anjho, Carla, Grace, Gennell, Bern, Ruben, Mel, Kuya Vanny, Leslie and Claire)  Talu-nan Happy to Climb!!! Clap Clap Clap..yes!!!
I still find this day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, the trails I want to walk, all the photos I want  to take and all the new friends I want to spend more time with   - yodz -  

Miscellaneous Information:
Here’s a quick information if you and your buddies are planning to conquer Mt. Romelo:

Location: Siniloan, Laguna
Major Jump-off: Brgy. Macatad, Upland Siniloan
Elevation: 300 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 1 day, 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail Class 1
Note: Mt. Romelo is often referred to as Mt. Famy because the town of Famy is where mountaineers usually get off the bus from Manila. However Mt. Romelo is not even in Famy, it is already part of the adjacent town called Siniloan.

Buruwisan Falls
Has a more or less 50-meter drop suitable for rappelling
Ideal training ground for neophyte mountain climbers
The largest falls among other nearby falls: Batya-Batya, Sampaloc and Lanzones
Location : Brgy Macatad, end of Mt. Romelo (Famy) trek, Siniloan, Laguna

Our Itinerary:

Mt. Famy Dayhike (July 31, 2011)

0700 Assembly at RSC
0730 ETD for Siniloan
1030 ETA jump-off point. Register (P20/person)
Lunch Break (jump off). Packed lunch.
1130 Start trek
0130 ETA Campsite. Visit Buruwisan and other Falls (if possible).
0500 Back at campsite.
0515 Start descent.
0700 ETA jump-off; tidy-up.
0730 ETD going to Manila
1000 ETA to Manila (RSC)

1. Trail Water (at least 1L)
2. Packed Lunch
3. Towel
4. Trail Food (jelly ace, crackers, chocolates, chicha, etc.)
5. Extra Shirt
6. Personal Hygiene Kit
7. Personal First Aid Kit & Medicines (for emergency)
8. Extra cash
9. Isopropyl Alcohol (for the leeches)

Actual Expenses:

Van Rental :             4,300.00
Meal and Parking       200.00
Jump-off Registration 50.00
Local Guide               400.00
Shower Fee               20.00

You might also like to visit Majayjay Falls also in Laguna, check out my entry: Getting High at Majayjay » Taytay Falls, Laguna Escapade

Related Links and More Info: [Retrieved: 02 August 2011]

» Mt. Romelo (240+): – Your guide to Hiking in the Philippines []
» Climb Advisory (May 2011): Theft situation in Mt. Romelo and Mt. Sembrano [Pinoymountaineer:]
» Siniloan River: Wikipedia []
» Buruwisan Falls []

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