Buruwisan Falls, Mt. Romelo, 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
[Trivia] Mt. Romelo is often (mis) referred to as Mt. Famy because the town of Famy is where folks usually get off the bus from Manila. Mt. Romelo is not even in Famy, it is already part of the adjacent town called Siniloan).
This land of waterfalls is a captivating retreat at the southwest border of the Sierra Madre, known to hikers as Mt. Romelo. Nestled in the bucolic town of Siniloan in Laguna, it is as tropical as mountains can get. Easy trails, taking just two hours to complete, lead to a wide campsite, and from there the awaited exploration can begin. For more details click here.
0600 Assembly at EDSA Crossing jeepney terminal, arrange for jeep to Mt. Romelo (Php 3,000/jeep)
0630 ETD for Siniloan, Laguna
0930 ETA jump-off point. Register (P20/person) and get optional guides (P200/day)
1000 Start trek
1200 ETA Campsite. Set camp. Visit Buruwisan. Lunch.
1230 Commence exploration: Batya-Batya and Sampaloc Falls
0500 Back at campsite
0600 Dinner, socials
0700 Rappel down Buruwisan Falls; try to explore Old Buruwisan
0900 Explore Lanzones Falls
1200 Lunch at campsite; break camp
1300 Start descent
1500 ETA jump-off; tidy-up.
1600 ETD Manila
2000 ETA Manila
My love to outdoor sports, passion and love for mountaineering and some misadventures began on this very first climb of mine at Mt. Famy. At first, I am very hesitant to join because it was like 5 years ago since my last climb. Back in college, me and my college friends would hike and trek a not so high mountains somewhere in Rosario, La Union and we descent at the other side of San Fabian, Pangasinan. The last climb that I ever remembered doing was in the Antong Falls adventure still in La Union.
It was crazy because we set up a camp on a big rock near the water that drops 12 feet, bad thing that we don’t have a camera to document the beautiful falls that day but I can still remember how amazing it is.
Knowing that we will chase for falls this time I was so excited. I’ve been thinking that the trail would be same and I pack many things and it was an epic fail because I haven’t read the last email that we should pack our thing lightly, huhu.
Good thing, there is a porter for hire in the place and carrying our stuff is not a problem but without it, I might throw it all away, haha!
Trekking, hiking and climbing to me was not new because I’ve been doing it for a long time but backpacking is new to me that’s why I brought many things. My bag is full of unnecessary things (e.g. too many extra shirts, 2 blankets, a pair of shoes etc.) that was useless when we arrived at the campsite as they are all wet plus I am only wearing a rubber slipper.
Though I brought up many things I can tell that I can carry it but in the long run I was already giving up. Fortunately, we met a man with a horse along the way and offered a help carry our packs for a fee, the porter fee is Php 200 and he also guided us to the campsite.
This climb was part of our Team Building activity and the Online Team decided to summit Mt. Famy. We hired a jeepney (a local transportation) for our convenience and we assemble at the office and hit the road . After hours of traveling we dropped by a near wet market to buy food, toiletres and everyone’s best friend booze. Finally we arrived at Brgy. Macatad, Siniloan, Laguna. We eat our breakfast at KM3 Restaurant (TROIS) and start preparing.
In order for us to start climbing we need to register first and we crossed the river for us to reach the registration area. At the registration area there we met Mrs. Merlin the owner of the house with her kids as her assistant because they are responsible for the registration.
A Php 20.00 per head is required to all mountaineers. After registering, we huddled for a couple of minutes and discussed the plan or how we will climb the mountain.
A buddy up was encouraged since we are 16 in the group. This is the first time that I heard the words head and tail when climbing.
You are called the Head if you are the one leading the climb and Tail if you will stay at the end of the pack to check the last group to climb and oftentimes they are called sweeper. We also had a team leader on this climb and he is responsible for the safety of the whole group and makes sure that we are in one piece no matter what happens.
I had to admit not all of us here are experienced climber most of them are first time climber and we took hours and hours on the trail. To my concern I had to check them from time to time so I had to stay at the middle of the pack and make sure that they are following the correct path or trail. Along the way there were cliffs, mud, leche, mosquitoes and more mud.
So the trek began, after crossing the river in order to get to the other side of the mountain as it was the right trail. This will be the first time that I will be crossing a river after a long time again. Oh, I remember when I am still living with my parents in our province during rainy season in order for us to go to school we had to cross a creek because the water overflows in the bridge during a typhoon so crossing a river is not something new to me.
After hours of walking the rain pours heavily I was worried that my back pack will get wet because I forgot to waterproof my things inside so I had to look for a shade under a tree to avoid getting wet and wait momentarily to stop the rain. Others manage to carry an umbrella with them and it is good for them. It is too early for us to take a shower in the rain as we just started climbing.
The path was not as easy as I think, the stretch of the trail were covered with grass you have to use the branches of the trees to climb up so your hands must be free at all times. The trail was slippery now after the rain and it makes us harder to assault.
We really took our time in climbing but it was fun. Then finally they call for a take five.
Finally, five minutes of rest so I put my pack down and started to pose for the camera and we took more than five minutes just to give way to those who arrived last.
Take five is over, everybody get their strength back on again and we are ready to move on. Forward march people we still have a long way to go as we are still the foot of the mountain haha.
We reached the first camp in no time, that was easy I guess but our journey is just beginning. I don’t know what lies ahead. It is still raining so the shed was quite helpful. We put our bags down and pose for the camera.
When everybody got enough rest we are ready to continue. We are now entering the muddy land.
At this point, I walked barefoot on the mud as it was difficult to walk with my slippers on as it will get stuck on the mud, its like a sanction cup.
As I mentioned I had no idea what I will be encountering on the climb as I think of it as an easy assault but to my surprise most of the trail are muddy and most of my teammates are having difficulty walking as they are not aware of the trail. It was raining that day and the trail is really wet and muddy.
One of us took a picture of the muddy trail and it reminds me of Typhoon Ondoy when he hit the Philippines. Walking in the mud is very challenging and one of my teammates lose his favorite shoe because it was torn out completely.
The sole was removed and can never be used so he throws it away, he was like Dr. Jose Rizal when he was a kid but the shoes in unusable. Without a choice, he also walked barefooted along with me to continue our falls chase adventure.
The trail itself is a test of patience and he ended up saying inner peace and it really worked for him as he pulled himself together. He is a survivor and I admired him for that. Kudos!
The pictures above shows how terrible the pathway is. Are you ready to get wet and mud?
As we tag along, our patience was tested and teamwork was proven. In every obstacle, journey and big step you make there is always a hand ready to help you conquer the mountain. Along the stretch we get past four stations, we rested together, shared water and heavy load. On the said stations the locals made long bamboo seats for hikers and improvised table to have a great resting place. On some stations they are selling coconut juice. We took a group picture as we approach our destination.
After the photo opt, our journey continues. This time is life and death situation as you are nearing a cliff and muddy path. You can see on the pictures below how inconvenient the trail for us that day. I decided to stay behind and watch over the others and give them moral support, shouting at them that they can do it and directing them to the right trail.
We walk into the bush and tall grasses, as we get higher the humidity also changes. We started to feel the breeze of cold air coming from the mountains, we are almost rejoicing because we hear drops of water coming from the falls.
We took another five minutes of rest.
After resting, all the gang is here and they rested well too, we are now 30 minutes away to reach Ministop. They call it Ministop because they are selling fresh coconut juice, soft drinks, Mr. Chips, Hanzel etc. Unfortunately, that day there is no one around to sell these items. 😦
It is like a small store on top of the mountain. This is where we met Manong with his horse offer his service this is big relief as we put all our heavy loads to his big basket carried by his horse. There are still mud and more mud along the way and we were able to reach the campsite. At the campsite, they started cooking for our dinner, others go for a swim, while me I went back to others who are still on the trail and helped them out. I saw almost all of us fell down, trip off and slipped along the trail and had their ass kick.
Others hurt their butt many times, some almost cried while others still had a helping hand in front like me as I go forward and back to check them from time to time but the experience is worth trying for. We set up camp separately.
Those who bring tent they pitched it near the water falls and they are so brave to camp there because it was raining that day and you might never know when the water will rise up but the good thing is it didn’t.
A shelter for rent, so for those who didn’t bring a tent like me, we rented an established nipa hut house available at the campsite. After putting our things inside the house we immediately go out and took a swim. The water is as cold as Ice and we lasted I think 30 to 40 minutes. That was a relief to me that I almost don’t felt that I am tired after the long walks in the mud.
That night there is a separate socials night, those who camped near the falls were drinking booze and singing with the tune of a guitar and we did our socials with the help of cooked noodles courtesy of manong at the store. They were to hospitable that they cooked our instant noodles for us to have a midnight snack.
At socials night we had a great time getting to know each other, telling stories and discussed everything under the moon because its night-time already. When everybody was tired and ran out of topic to tell without a word we all fall asleep. I am wondering what is going on down there as I know they set up tent near the river where the water falls is visible and of course they are drinking and singing. As much as I want to go there but tiredness won’t let me so I decided not to go instead and took a rest already.
After two hours of sleep I was awake by a foot steps so I had to check it out but no one is outside and my team is all here and still asleep. I tried to get back to sleep but I couldn’t so I decide to have a trek and heed downstream to check those who camped at the river. To my surprise they are all awake I am wondering if they had a good night sleep I guess not because they look all wet.
Thinking I had to cook for breakfast I took the portable gas range and kitchen utensils with me and climb up to the nipa hut and started cooking rice, hot-dogs, noodle soup and scrambled egg.
After half an hour, folks downstream already ascent and by that time the breakfast is ready. They took out their canned goods, we heated it and started calling everyone else for a morning breakfast. We happily ate and telling stories and experience about the climb and the food we are eating.
After the breakfast it’s the free time, we took our banner with us and took pictures on the place, we did a short river trek on site and it was fun.
We took pictures on a big rock, on a tree, on a man-made bridge etc. All cameras are flashing and pearly white teeth are very visible that’s the power of digital camera I guess, haha! I don’t have a camera yet at this time, so almost on all pictures you will see me. Lol! Thanks guys for bringing your camera, you’ve captured the perfect moment. 🙂 😀
Those who camp at the nipa hut except me and Jamie was not able to see the waterfalls and they did not bother to go down because it was really steep and you will be using the roots and branches of the trees to rappel up and down. Nevertheless they still enjoyed the place because they see water everywhere.
Free time is over and it’s time to descent the place and guess what we’re back on the muddy trail and hope we all go down in one piece.
Manong with his horse arrived we put our heavy packs on the back of his horse that carries a big basket. Along the way, the girls are singing then we heard someone slipped real hard, ouch we rushed back to that guy and helped him/her then a long silence follow. I guess they were back to the same dilemma again. We can do it guys!
Our descent took almost or more than 8 hours and we take a shower at the flowing river but others preferred to take a bath at Mrs. Merlin’s shower room and paid a fee. We swim at the river while taking a bath but nobody remember to take pictures I guess all of us are tired that day and wanted to get rid of the mud.
We took group pictures and headed home. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed your trip with us. Until next time. Have a great day!
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