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Mt. Cabuyao, Benguet: Into the Clouds

Not quite Mt. Pulag. But like other mountains in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines, Mt. Cabuyao at 2,025 meters above sea level, is almost constantly engulfed in a sea of clouds even on a clear summer day. Its renowned two discs called ‘radar’ by locals perched atop the peak, though gargantuan, could easily hide.

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Just off the paved trail. With my girls Christine and Morena.

It was the last week of January this year, I shivered as I walked up and down Session Road at six in the morn. Baguio was experiencing one of its coldest months of all time. The lowest temperature recorded that month was a freezing 9.6 degrees centigrade.

Amidst the darkness of dawn, I caught a glimpse of three figures strolling my way. It didn’t take long for me to recognize who they were. Hearing one woman’s boisterous laughter was enough for me to know.

I met up with my old mountaineering buddies. There’s Christine of the Jovial Wanderer, Tristan, and his girlfriend Morena who I met for the first time. The previous night, the three just arrived in Baguio from Sagada. My family have been living in the city for almost three months already, but have not been outdoors much. So when I received their invite for a climb, even with a toe nail that completely chipped off which left me limping, I blurted a resounding yes.

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Approaching the peak.

We were soon on our way to the jump off point after a quick brekkie at Pizza Volante, one of the few food joints that’s open early in the morn. It only took us one jeep ride to get to Green Valley from the city proper. The driver dropped us off at the end of his route.

I tied the knot of my handicapped toe’s makeshift cast made of mesh ribbon tighter in preparation for the hike. It sure is a minor climb, but even walking on flat ground was burdensome for me. I was armed with a liter of water and an expectation that I could bum off trail food from the person who’s got a stockpile of it, *cough* Christine *cough*. And so, we began our hike.

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Why it’s worth the hike.

Our pace was snail speed. No one was in a rush. It’s been almost a year and a month since my last gruesome trek. I was then two months pregnant, and with the encouragement of my bacpacking-partner-slash-hubby I braved the seven falls of Mambukal in Murcia, Bacolod City.

So it’s been a while. A very long while since I conquered a mountain. A very long while since I had that empowering feeling that can only be attained through summiting peaks. I relished every step. For every step represented a temporal freedom from the insane abyss of motherhood. And every step symbolized the courage to hold on to my individual self. Yes I am a mom, but I am also a mountaineer.

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Benguet, into the clouds.

Though these random, abstruse thoughts were running in my head, I was merrily catching up with the group. And eating Christine’s food. Being with them always makes me feel alive. Our hike (about 5 kilometers) lasted for almost two hours, snail speed remember? We intended to reach Mt. Sto. Tomas, the highest point in Baguio. But because of laziness a misunderstanding with locals (they told us we’re already in Sto. Tomas, referring to the baranggay not the mountain) and dark clouds approaching, we all agreed to hike back once we have reached the two radio transmitters. We couldn’t risk getting stuck up there in the rain for they were heading to Manila in the afternoon.

Plus, my hubby and then 4-month old infant (who was low on milk!) were locked out of the house and I had the keys. They waited for almost five hours for me to come home. The hubby’s first words when I arrived, “Did you enjoy your climb?”.

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The backpacker mum savoring an infant-free morning.

Trip’s Nitty Gritty:

1. How to get to Mt. Cabuyao/Mt. Sto. Tomas jump off: Jeeps to Green Valley at the time of our trip were parked along Shagem Street, between the streets of Abanao and Otek. Fare was about P15. Takes a while for the jeep to get packed.

2. Drive from Baguio City proper to Green Valley’s about half an hour. Driver will drop you off at the end part of the jeep’s route. Just follow the ascending paved road.

3. There’s no admission fee collected.

4. If you feel like hitching a ride going down, there are few vehicles that do pass, mostly trucks or jeeps transporting newly harvested veggies.

5. Jeeps heading back to the city proper from the jump off point are rare. Ask for the schedule. Cabs are a few as well.

Gay Emami
When not backpacking, she teaches her daughter sight words and belly dancing (even if she's not good at it). She's currently eating her way around some hippie town in Australia. She loves talking about herself in the third person.

44 thoughts on “Mt. Cabuyao, Benguet: Into the Clouds

  1. Some stunning photos there. I’ve not really thought of the Philippines as a hiking destination (more scuba/cocktails on the beach), but I think it’d be a nice change of pace.

  2. Renevic, I love your term ‘momtaineer’! Hahaha! I was wearing a jacket while climbing, then I got sweaty and all (kakapagod din pala) that’s why I ended up in my sleeveless top na lang.

  3. “I agree, mahirap sagutin ang tanong na “Bakit ka umaakyat?” sa mga taong hindi namumundok. At pag nayaya ka ng akyat, hindi ka nagka-counter question ng “Bakit?” kundi “Saan at kelan?” – Oh my gosh, Mel. This is sooo true!

  4. At inggit mode na naman ako. Never tried climbing. Medical issues.. kaya I envy those who are physically fit. Mountains are Cordillera’s charm no? Kung hindi rice terraces, ganyan kagandang view from the top. Isama mo pa ang malamig na klima. Nice find. Hindi ko rin alam yan before.

  5. thanks for posting so many blogs about baguio. I always wondered why people took the long drive there..i always thought it was just for the weather. very informative, as always :)

  6. @Gay – Batulao’s my first too! Something we share in common then. :) Ma’am Janet was very warm and down-to-earth, one kick-ass chick! :)

  7. Thanks for posting this Gay, I wanted to do this trek too when I was in Baguio but I didn’t know how.

    Ang sweet naman ng ending, such a perfect greeting after a well deserved break. Hope I can find a partner like that in my lifetime.

  8. I’ve never been there, but I heard it’s a hard climb. Judging from your pics, though, it doesn’t seem to be so. hehe. Or was it?

  9. I have lived in baguio for 6 years and has never done mountaineering. sounds weird ‘no?…and pathetic, too! LOL! Sto. Tomas climb was the in-thing back in the day…but with a daily commune with mountains and going up and down the hills everyday, my friends and I preferred the beaches of La union back then…hehe.

  10. was there 2 weeks ago… akala ko Mt. Sto Tomas yung inakyat namin, Mt. Cabuyao pala… mas malayo pa pala ang Mt. Sto Tomas… na confused din ako.. hehehe! anyway, on my next visit to Baguio, will climb Sto Tomas.. Hehehe! :)

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