PHILIPPINES | MOUNT PALIPARAN AND TUNGTONG FALLS.

I’m lucky to be part of a group called “Halo Halo”, a community of women in Metro Manila who hike together. We’re not actually exclusive—the group also invite men to join us in our hikes—but we’re made up of mostly women from different corners of the world and of varying ages and backgrounds. Once in a while, we get together and discover local trails. We take these organized hiking trips as a great opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, connect, network, and share our different experiences while living here in the Philippines.

Dear Mila, If you get a chance to read this, THANK YOU for being the force behind “Halo Halo”, organizing these hikes and helping us discover the Philippines one mountain at a time. PSX_20181206_170810.jpg

Last week, we went to Mount Paliparan, located at Barangay Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal. We left Metro Manila at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at the trailhead just a few minutes shy of 7:00 a.m. There, we registered ourselves at the Barangay Hall, had a short briefing on what to expect, then set off with our assigned guides.

PSX_20181206_200710.jpgPSX_20181206_200608.jpgMount Paliparan was named such by the people of the local Dumagat tribe because it was a popular take-off point for flying kites. (“Paliparan” is the Filipino word for “airport”.) From the Tonghayan rock formation, you can spot the Touy village of the Dumagat tribe. The mountain was only opened for hiking activities in April 2016, which probably explains why some parts of the trail seem not well established yet.

CONQUERING THE MOUNTAIN

The initial part of the Mount Paliparan trail is through rice fields and is fairly flat. It was only when we arrived at the foot of the mountain where we started dancing to the music. On the first major assault to the Tonghayan rock formation, I learned my first set of hiking lessons: Always prepare for a hike both physically and mentally. Keep a slow but steady pace especially at the beginning because you want to save as much energy as possible. Never judge a mountain by the last one that you hiked.I had a hard time ascending because I was already burned out from walking too fast at the beginning. My endurance was at its worse and my heart was racing. I felt so out of shape. Thankfully, slowing down and breathing mindfully helped me throughout the rest of the hike.

Two things happen when you set off for the mountains: it either conquers you or you conquer it. There is a beautiful sense of reward when the latter happens.Mount Paliparan features breathtaking landscapes, picturesque views of Laguna De Bay, rolling grasslands, rocky river streams trails, and the majestic Tungtong Falls in all its glory.

TAKING A BREAK

Reaching the falls was the highlight of our hike. We took a break from the trail and dipped our sore feet in the cool waters. Some of us changed into swimsuits and hopped from one pool to the other. Daring ones jumped off the cliff into Tungtong’s natural pools. Relaxing amidst the surrounding nature to the sound of the cascading water crashing was rejuvenating to the senses, something we all needed at that point.

The remaining bit of our hike involved climbing the falls and a lot of scrambling up rocks with ropes. Appropriate hiking shoes, more mindfulness, less selfies, and lots of caution were definitely needed because things became a tad slippery and one wrong step could have lead to major injuries.

HELPFUL TIPS

Our Mount Paliparan hike was full of surprises. It challenged me on so many levels. But the lessons I learned there will be handy for future hikes.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS I LEARNED:

1. Pack light.

2. Bring enough water (at least three liters).

3. Bring gloves with appropriate grips for ropes and rocks.

4. Bring a sunblock and a cap/hat.

5. Wear full-length tights and a light, long sleeved T-shirt to avoid being scratched by grass.

6. Bring a swimsuit and an extra pair of clothes.

7. Hiking sticks come in handy.

8. A basic first aid kit can be useful.

9. There’s no better way to put this, but if you have a fear of heights, you might want to think twice before venturing into this one. It’s okay if you decide to skip it!

10. Prepare yourself both mentally and physically, focusing on your cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.

PREPARING AHEAD

I usually combine my daily yoga practice with three gym sessions per week. At the gym, I only do treadmill incline workouts and light weights. On the treadmill, I step up both the pace and incline to 6 and do brisk walking for at least 30 minutes.

Yoga helps with balance, breath regulation, and core strength. Along with a good diet plan, with acceptable cheat meals here and there, it’s basically my ideal fitness routine. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to the gym for two months. But I still practice yoga daily so I signed up for the hike convinced that I was fit.

Mount Paliparan proved me wrong. But I don’t regret it one bit! I’ll be more prepared for next time. Here’s to more cardiovascular exercises and more hikes in 2019!

Lora By Lora. x

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