Mt. Guiting Guiting is one of the most technically challenging mountain terrains in the Philippines and that is why it comes as no surprise that its part of the bucket list of the country’s most seasoned climbers and hikers. Aside from the challenge, the view from the top makes one believe that they’s in another part of the world, making the journey all the more exciting.
By boat from the Batangas port, travelers need to travel approximately 14-15 hours to reach Sibuyan. By plane, it’s a much shorter trip with an hour-long plane ride and a couple more hours on boat.
It’s a long trip, but visitors believe it’s worth it to conquer Mt. Guiting Guiting.
Even before visitors set foot on Sibuyan, they will already realize that the island is different. It has a very provincial vibe but its charm lies with the fact that nature blends so well with the towns in the island.
The pier is lined by rich natural mangrove stands, and roads are flanked by trees and mangroves. According to PASu Hernandez, residents have agreed to move to one side of the road so that the areas near the coast can be used for enrichment planting endeavors of the DENR which will begin this year.
According to PASu Thelmo Hernandez, the mountain serves as a beacon for hard core hikers, and at the same time an opportunity for locals to earn from the ecotourism trade.
Because Mt. Guiting Guiting is a natural park, it operates under the guidelines of the NIPAS Act, which dictates that activities in the mountain are regulated. Being part of the NIPAS means that hikers need to follow strict guidelines to ensure their safety as well protect the mountain from abuse.
As such, mountaineers need to register with the PASu office at Barangay Magdiwang, and undergo a short briefing by DENR officials about the rules and regulations of entering a natural park.
Guests are also required to pay a P300 entrance fee per person. This will cover the food expenses for the guide and porter who will join the hikers on their journey.
The PASu requires that guides accompany hikers because of the tedious journey that may endanger travelers who do not know the proper trail. Locals who are accredited by the PASu are entitled to a P800 fee per day for locals and a slightly more expensive fee of P1,000 for foreigners.
For a group of five, one guide is required, as well as a porter who can be hired at P500 per day, as the park officials advise travelers to distribute the weight of their gear for a safer and more comfortable journey For mountaineers who want to traverse the mountain range and exit through San Fernando, one guide is required for a group of three travelers.
This is a viable income-generating endeavor for locals as the mountain is growing more popular among hikers looking for a tough adventure.
Journeying through Mt. Guiting Guiting will take a total of three days for the normal trail. The first day is scheduled to commence upon reaching Mayo’s Peak where hikers can spend the night camping. Mayo’s Peak is nothing to scoff at, as it is as high or even higher than most Philippine mountains at 1,550 MASL. On the second day, hikers are advised to leave their camping gear and travel light for the next leg of the journey.
It will take another four to five hours to reach the summit but they will be faced with a lot of challenges that will test their technical skills. This is why beginners are advised to end their journey with the Mayo’s Peak and head back the morning after.
Those who wish to continue will have to deal with creatively named landmarks like the Knife Edge, a rocky road flanked by ravines; the Kiss the Wall, where mountaineers need to plant their faces and bodies against the wall to get across; the Peak of Deception, where climbers have to decide to go through with the climb or not; and the Hillary Pass, before finally reaching the summit.
“This is an accomplishment for even the most accomplished technical climber. The view is simply out of this world,” Hernandez said, adding that even before reaching the top, hikers will definitely enjoy the view of the forests, waterfalls, wildlife; and the experience of interacting with the natives known as Sibuyanons.
Mt. Guiting Guiting got its name from the local phrase for “saw-toothed” because of its jagged edges.