If you’ve read a few of my previous posts about the province of Rizal, you probably know by now how mountainous the landscape of this province is. Every time I go to this place for an adventure, I always end my day with a pair of sore thigh and leg muscles which I got from climbing its crazy slopes. I don’t really find any joy in pain or self-punishment, but I keep on coming back to Rizal because I never get tired of seeing its majestic landscape. All those slow hours I’ve spent climbing either by bike or by foot has always been worth it.
Last weekend I had the chance to climb one more of Rizal’s peak in Mt Sembrano, (big thanks to my friends who organized the trip). And once more, I was in awe by the beauty of this province.
Mt Sembrano is located in the town of Pililia, Rizal. Back in the days, this mountain was not too friendly for any civilian. It was once a refuge for the New People’s Army. Fortunately, today, the place has been cleared and has now become a destination for people looking for a quick day hike.
Getting to Mt Sembrano
It was around six in the morning, at Starmall Edsa-Shaw terminal, when we hopped on a commuter van bound to Tanay Market. Our alternate option is to ride a jeepney, which is a lot cheaper, but we chose to go with the van because it would save us at least an hour of travel time – and not to mention, convenience.
We arrived in Tanay Market a little past seven. Again from here, we had two options going to Mt Sembrano’s jump off in Brgy. Malaya : either by tricycle or by jeepney. Tricycles charge P30-40 each depending on how many you are on your group while jeepneys’ fare is fixed at P23. For a travel time of 30-45 mins, jeepneys are safer and more convenient.
Trail Sights and Scenes
Before starting our climb, we had to register first at the Malaya barangay hall, where we had to pay a fee of P20. Trails guides are not mandatory and we opt not to get one, but their standard rate is P500. We had a few final instructions from the barangay officials before heading to the jump off point to start our hike.
- Notes : Fees – Registration fee – P20. Trail guide – P500
The climb starts on a paved road which was relatively the easy part of the hike. It stretches for at most two hundred meters before reaching the rough road and the real start of the trail.
The trail in Mt Sembrano is well established and could easily be seen. There are just a few forks though where we had to to think at least twice on which one to take. Good thing there are trail marks that aided us in navigating. They could be arrows engraved on a tree trunk or a yellow ribbon tied on a branch.
We had our first stop at the campsite in Manggahan, an hour after we started our climb. Here, we paid another P10 to enter the compound. There are a couple of sari sari stores at the campsite where you can buy some refreshments.
Just like our last climb to Mt. Talamitam, Mt Sembrano is rated 3/9 by pinoymountaineer.com, so I was expecting them to be somehow similar in difficulty level. Our climb so far had been moderately challenging, with steep grades of around 20% on the average.
Just past the campsite, the slopes started to get steeper and we were greeted right away with a forty-five degree slope of slippery terrain.
From then on, our pace slowed down. There are several portions where we had to pull ourselves up some big boulders and tree roots. We had to be extra careful because the rocks were wet due to the rains the past day.
The climb to the summit of Mt Sembrano is roughly six kilometers long and mostly covered in tall trees until the final kilometer where it becomes all grass.
There are two peaks in Mt Sembrano, the north and the south. It was around 10:30 when we reached the north peak. We took a breather and lingered the view of the surrounding areas. Magnificent view of Mt. Tagapo and Talim Island can be seen from not too distant.
Minutes later, dark clouds started forming on our east, which was not a good sign. We tried to continue our hike but then the rain started pouring. The trail got slippery and cold strong winds started blowing, pushing us back. We weren’t much prepared for a hike in the rain so we decided to turn back and return to the campsite in Manggahan.
Going down was a lot trickier than going up, especially when it is raining. I actually slipped and fell, thankfully I had no injury. We arrived at Manggahan at 12 noon, just in time for lunch.
Five minutes away from the campsite is Manggahan Falls, a good sidetrip to your hike. It is quite small, probably around 12 feet high but it is a perfect place to spend lunch and recover energy.
We spent an hour and a half in Manggahan Falls before descending back to Brgy. Malaya to tidy up and return to Manila.
Mt Sembrano Sample Day Hike Itinerary
0600 ETD Starmall Edsa-Shaw
0715 ETA Tanay Market. Ride jeepney to Pililia.
0800 ETA Brgy. Malaya. Start Ascend.
0900 ETA Campsite in Manggahan.
1030 ETA Mt Sembrano North Peak
1100 ETA Mt Sembrano South Peak. Picture taking.
1130 Descend to Manggahan
1230 ETA Brgy. Manggahan. Have Lunch/ Sidetrip to Manggahan Falls.
1430 Descend to Brgy. Malaya
1530 ETA Brgy. Malaya. Tidy up.
1600 ETD from Pililia
1900 ETA Manila
70 x 2 – Van from Edsa-Shaw to Tanay Market (and back)
23 x 2 – Jeepney from Tanay to Brg. Malaya, Pililia (and back)
20 – Registration fee
10 – Manggahan campsite fee
100 ~ 200 – Food
You can contact these numbers from the barangay hall for inquiries – 09054982567, 09282808632
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