A Mountain, a Cave, and a Dam: Traversing Mount Pamitinan

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 8, 2015

There I was, my hands akimbo, staring unseeingly at the lid of a cast-iron pot. At that moment, I thought the saying "A watched pot never boils" couldn't be anymore true. It was 4AM and I wanted boiled eggs for breakfast. I can hear and feel that all too familiar gurgling sound within me. Borborygmus. I was hungry.

The subtle noise became insistent so I decided to have yesterday's yellow corn instead. The boiled eggs would then be trail food.

Trail food. Yes.

Thinking about trail food, I realized how much I miss the mountains. Sure, it's only been a month since I've been to Tagapo, but, trust me, you can never get enough of the mountains.

Mount Pamitinan was mentioned by our guide when my nephew RJ and I had gone to Wawa Dam to go exploring last April 2014. Truth be told, I took this most recent adventure on without so much as a shrugging of the shoulders. Gideon Lasco's Facebook post of his recent hike here completed my arsenal of information about it. The other being how to get there. These were all that were needed, apparently.

At any rate, Dennis and I arrived at Wawa Dam at around 8AM. We saw a group of hikers alighting a tricycle almost at the same time as we did. The gist of this part of the story is that we joined in on this group. We were adopted by Adah and her gang of mountaineers. Fun fact: Adah is the author of the popular post 14 People You Meet in the Philippine Mountains.
Wawa Dam
Mount Pamitinan and the Ice White Boulders of Wawa River
Dennis and I agreed to go with their itinerary, which included spelunking at Pamitinan Cave, a Mount Pamitinan traverse, and swimming at Wawa Dam (which we did not partake in). We thought it was practical since our group already paid Php300.00 for these activities. More on the fees later.
Mount Pamitinan
Our hiking buddies for this adventure

Our first stop was Pamitinan Cave. The first time I had been here, I hadn't been able to reach what is called the "Bulwagan". Our guide had explained that it wasn't safe for RJ to do it. This time, though, our group was able to explore this part of the cave. Pamitinan Cave, by the way, is historically significant. Members of the KKK, Andres Bonifacio's faction in particular, used the cave as a hideout. And the Bulwagan served as their conference room. One might wonder how the Katipuneros ever accomplished anything inside a dark and slippery cave probably filled with creatures waiting to pounce. But, hey, they're Katipuneros. They're essentially the Justice League of their time.
Bulwagan ni Bonifacio
The entrance to Pamitinan Cave
I digress.

The significance of the Pamitinan Cave to Philippine history doesn't end in its association with the Katipuneros. During World War II, Japanese soldiers also used the cave as a hideout. In fact, black rectangular strips that were apparently gun powder littered the floors of the cave. Kuya Allan, our guide, ignited one with a lighter. And it still burned. Mind blown.
Katipunero Hideout
Saying a little prayer before we enter the cave
Reaching the Bulwagan, I understood why RJ had not been allowed to enter it. The way to there consisted of climbing slippery and jagged rocks, squeezing into tight openings, and ocassionally being drenched by cold water.
In the Bulwagan ni Bonifacio, the only sources of light are the ones you bring with you
Photo cred: Adah
It took us two hours to explore Pamitinan Cave.

Mount Pamitinan is situated in Brgy. Wawa, Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal. It is notable that this particular mountain is a prominent figure in the local folklore involving Bernardo Carpio. Together with Mount Binacayan, Mount Pamitinan forms the distinct gorge of Wawa.

The trail begins at the mouth of Pamitinan Cave. The trail mostly comprises of scaling jagged and sharp-edged rocks. The rocks appear to be coral formations, similar to that of Mount Daraitan.
Some parts of the trail require scaling sharp-edged rocks
The trail is largely inclined, albeit most of them minor, and  involves rock climbing on some parts.

Vegetation is abundant along the trail, but nonexistent at the summit.
Vegetation is thick along the trail
Trees provide enough protection from the sun
Reaching the summit could take two to three hours. It took us almost two and a half.

Our guide, Kuya Allan, took us to two peaks the summit and a view deck. The first one summit is a massive coral formation, jutting out of the top of the mountain like a misshapen head.
Rock climbing to reach Peak 1 the summit
This peak offers a breathtaking 360-degree view. The view from here is, hands down, the best one I've seen so far. Mount Tagapo now goes down a notch as the Mountain with the Most Scenic View.
One of the many unexplored mountains seen from Peak 1 the summit
The Wawa River in the background
On one side, you have layers of mountain ranges, green and lush and beckoning. On the other, Mount Binacayan, and a serpentine river that cuts through most of the landscape. So basically, a little piece of paradise.
A backdrop of mountain, sky, and just sheer majesty
The only concern would be the lack of covering. Here in this peak, one is directly exposed to the sun. Natural forms of cover are nil, so an alampay would truly come in handy. Or perhaps an umbrella.
The bare summit offers a spectacular view despite the unhealthy sun exposure
The rocks are similarly jagged and provides anything but a stable and comfortable footing. It need not be said but I shall say it: Be extra careful.
Group Picture at Peak 1 the summit
Photo cred: Adah
The other peak view deck is also a coral formation protruding from the outskirts of the mountain, directly overlooking Brgy. Wawa.
On the edge. Peak 2 The view deck overlooks Brgy. Wawa
The view is a backdrop of sprawling quasi-rural scenery, with patches of roofs melding with the natural landscape. Several rolling green pikes look majestic especially on a bright day.
mount pamitinan
This breathtaking backdrop can be seen from Peak 2 the view deck
The traverse passes through equally sharp rocks, banana and bamboo trees, and thick hedges of amor seco. It will take about an hour or so and will bring you abaft Wawa Dam.
Take 5. During the traverse, the company takes a short rest near a stream
wawa dam
The traverse will lead you to this part of Wawa Dam
Photo cred: Adah
Mount Pamitinan traverse
Mount Pamitinan on the right and Mount Binacayan on the left, forming the Wawa gorge
Photo cred: Adah

For more information about Wawa Dam, click here

For more photos, check out Celineism's Facebook Page.

From Angono, ride a jeepney with a signboard "Cubao / Hi-way", or "Tropical Hi-Way". You can also take a "Sta. Lucia / Hi-way" but you'll have to walk further to catch your next ride. Alight at "Tropical" or "Sta. Lucia". Walk towards Sumulong Hi-way and take a jeepney bound for "Montalban". Get off at "Dulo", From here, you can take a tricycle to Wawa Dam or wait for jeepneys, but there aren't plenty of them going to Wawa.

To get back, walk back to the baranggay hall. There should be one to two jeepneys waiting for passengers. Alight at "Hi-way". There are jeepneys bound for Cubao and Marikina passing by here. To get back to Sta. Lucia, take a Cubao-bound jeep. 

6:30 AM - ETD Angono
8:00 AM - ETA Brgy. Wawa, Register, secure permit, and pay fees at the baranggay hall, arrange for a guide at the tourism office
8:15 AM - Start trek to Pamitinan Cave
8:30 AM - Explore Pamitinan Cave
10:30 AM - Exit Pamitinan Cave, Rest, Prepare for ascent to Mount Pamitinan
10:40 AM - Start ascent
1:10 PM - Peak 1 Summit (the "misshapen head")
1:35 PM - Descend Peak 1 Summit, Trek to Peak 2 View Deck
1:50 PM - Peak 2 View Deck
2:00 PM - Start Traverse
3:10 PM - ETA Wawa Dam

Roundtrip Jeepney Fare (Angono vs Sta. Lucia) - Php46.00/pax
Roundtrip Jeepney Fare (Sta. Lucia vs "Dulo") - Php64.00/pax
Tricycle Fare ("Dulo" to Brgy. Wawa) - Php20.00/pax
Jeepney Fare (Wawa to "Hi-way") - Php8.00/pax
Environmental Permit (Php300/9 pax) - Php34/pax
Registration Fee - Php20.00/pax
Flashlight and Helmet Rental for Pamitinan Cave Exploration (Php50.00 each) - Php100.00/pax
Fee for using makeshift bamboo bridge - Php5.00/pax
Guide Fee (Php450/9 pax) - Php50.00/pax

Budget Range: Php350.00 to Php1000.00/pax 

The Php300.00/group fee was, according to the baranggay hall personnel, used to help out members of the community, i.e. financial aid.
The rocks in Mount Pamitinan are seriously sharp so, again, be very very careful.
There are no trees in both peaks, plan accordingly
Amor seco is abundant, avoid wearing shorts
No presence of limatik
Always practice the LEAVE NO TRACE policy

Guide: Kuya Allan - +639 99 365 2005

Cheers to the next adventure!

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