Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mt. Tagapo: From Santa Rosa to Talim Island

I have been wanting to climb Mt. Tagapo in Talim island, especially when I saw it from the summits of Tayak Hill, Mounts Kalisungan and Cristobal. Finally, that dream had materialized last 10 March 2013 with AKAC group and my boys.

Half of our group met at Central Mall in upper Binan, where we took our breakfast and bought sandwiches at a fastfood restaurant. We left the mall before 7:00 am on a jeepney to Sta. Rosa Plaza, with fare at Php 9/person. Near the Mercury drug store, we rode tricycles that traversed the baybay (lakeshore) road to brgy. Caingin's dulo (end) at Php 11/person.

From the tricycle's last point, we just crossed the bridge to brgy. Bigaa, which is actually part of Cabuyao town. A short walk to the left going to the lakeshore took us to the wharf with a lone store and few passengers. Unfortunately, 9:00 am is the first trip to Talim island, so we waited for 1.5 hours before the main boat trip.

By past 8:00 am, we were advised to board the motorboat "Hiwaga". We rode a small banca first with fee of Php 7/person, that will transfer us to the bigger boat. The water near the wharf is too shallow for the bigger boat to access it. We saw a few men on top of those bamboo towers, holding a rifle, probably to hunt fish and/or birds.

See the large boats from afar that we are boarding.

We are the first group to arrive at the Hiwaga motorboat, so we have the luxury to choose our seats at the back, where some of us dozed off. The locals seated with us in the boat seem nice, even inviting us to their barangay fiesta on Easter Sunday. By 9:05 am, the boat left for the 45-minute trip to Talim island, and the crew started to collect the fare of Php 40/person.

It was a cloudy morning, so Talim island and Mt. Tagapo look hazy from the motorboat.

As we approach the island, we noticed lots of bamboo trees dotting its landscape.

Our first stop was at brgy. Sapang, on the western side of the island, which is still part of Binangonan town. The eastern part of the island is under the municipality of Cardona, both within Rizal province.

It was followed by another 2 wharf stops, before we finally alighted at brgy. Janosa dock, then registered at their barangay hall for Php 20/person. We took the guideship offer of Archie for Php 300, who also arranged the chicken tinola lunch meal for us.

We started our hike by 10:30 am, passing the covered walkway below from the chapel. 

The trail is dry, rocky on some parts, partly shaded by bamboo and other trees. Hiking at almost noon time in dry season, its a good thing that we brought lots of drinking water to avoid dehydration. Upon reaching the large mango tree, we turned right and the trail started to become steep.

On the second fork, we took the left trail this time. In less than an hour, we arrived and took a break at the tree-covered campsite on the left part of the saddle. It was high noon and we waited for some cloud cover, but none came until we made the assault to the summit. The trail is slippery with the loose soil, while the sun's heat forced us to climb faster to finish the task at hand ASAP.

As with most bald summits, Mt. Tagapo rewarded us a 360-degree view of Laguna lake and the surrounding landscapes. Looking at the north and south points of the island, one will notice the dagger-shape of the island, which explains its name "Talim" meaning dagger in Filipino. Below is the northern tip of the island as it meets the mainland of Binangonan.

Looking eastward, we saw Mt. Sembrano and the town of Jala-Jala, also part of Rizal province.

More fishpens around the lake. Distant lands are the eastern Laguna towns of Sta. Cruz, etc.

Further south are the mountains of Atimla, Kalisungan, partly-hidden Malipunyo, and Makiling. If it was a clearer day, Mounts Cristobal and Banahaw may also be seen behind Mount Kalisungan. Note the south end point of the "dagger" island.   

Turning our view on the northwest, we can see the buildings in Makati City.

After some photo shoots, we started our descent after getting our packs in the campsite.

We got back at the jump off point by 3:00 pm, took us only a little over an hour for the descent. After a short break, we started to take a bath on the house of Archie for Php 20/person. My boys and I skipped the prepared lunch, to catch the 4:00 pm last trip of the boat back to Caingin, Sta. Rosa.

Unfortunately, we missed that last passenger boat trip. Luckily, a boat who transports bamboo furniture was about to leave for Sta. Rosa, so we hitched a ride. The crew asked only for the fare of my eldest son and myself. The 2 younger boys ride for free, as it has been the practice even with the passenger boats.

Not exactly a comfortable ride, but its much faster and cheaper than going around Binangonan then Mandaluyong, Makati, Alabang, then Binan. The boys fell asleep on the almost one hour boat ride.

Buildings of Makati and Alabang from this part of the lake. Its quite unusual to see them on this angle, which makes this adventure extra special. Besides, very few people have ever set foot on Talim island within Laguna Lake, right?

Mount Makiling as seen from the Caingin/Bigaa wharf.

The bridge that we crossed to ride the tricycle on our way back.

Mt. Tagapo hike from our home is the least expensive trekking site on my experience. Its a fun, budget-friendly, yet unusual hiking destination preceded by lake crossing. I'm sure that this is not my last hike to the mountain island, considering its proximity and expenses involved. On my return, I would like to try the Janosa-Sapang traverse trail.

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  1. Very informative sir especially for us mountaineers from the south.

  2. 9am na po ba ung pinaka maagang trip? Walang 6am? Or may narerent po bang boat don?