The Waterfalls of Mt. Romelo

I woke up around 3:30 AM that August 1 morning, so excited to go to a waterfall in Laguna which boasts of its freezing-cold water. Gerald, the friend who went with me to Kwebang Lampas last month, was also supposed to go with me on that waterfall trip. I texted him before I took a shower telling him to get his lazy butt out of bed. We agreed the night before to meet at my house 4:30 AM so we could start early. Ever so excited, I was all set to go a few minutes before the agreed time. But when I checked my phone for his reply, I found none.


By that time, I kinda knew something was off. I started calling him to wake him up, thinking he overslept. I rang his phone over and over for 2 hours. Nanay left for church at 6 that morning and she reminded me not to leave if Gerald wouldn’t make it.


But then I was all set wearing my new Penshoppe shorts, and with my rucksack packed especially light, I didn’t want anything (read: being stood up) to get in the way of having an eventful Sunday.


So I left home to go out alone. It was already 6:30 AM and I didn’t have any specific place to go. I didn’t wanna go to that waterfall-with-freezing-cold-water anymore because I heard it gets so crowded with local tourists on weekends. Going there alone, in the midst of people having fun swimming and picnicking, would be so sad.


While commuting towards the bus terminal in Alabang (you can always start your waypoint at the bus terminal), I fished out my tickler which I always keep in the rucksack mesh pocket, and searched in my list of destinations (something like a wish list) that I have. And since it was supposed to be a waterfall day, I wanted to keep it that way. I have another waterfall on my list, and I heard not many people go there even on a weekend – the Buruwisan Falls in Mt. Romelo.


At 7:30 AM I boarded a bus to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. After two hours, I was already seated beside the driver of a jeepney bound for Siniloan (pronounced Si-ni-loo-an). It was almost an hour ride, passing by the towns of Pakil, Pagsanjan, and a couple others I’m not familiar with. At 10:30 AM, which was quite late considering I still have to climb a mountain to reach the falls, I was dropped off across the road from a Jollibee branch and boy, was I happy! I crossed the road deciding to have a quick brunch, but once inside the store, something on the other side of the road caught my eyes.


Sts. Peter & Paul Parish, Siniloan, Laguna


I was even happier because I wouldn’t have to ask the locals for direction to their local parish anymore. Across the road, actually it’s the side of the road where the jeep dropped me off, was the Saints Peter and Paul Parish of Siniloan, Laguna. I left Jollibee and went to the church first, almost forgetting my promise to visit a church first thing upon arriving at my destination.


After a quick round of the church, I immediately left, not dropping by Jollibee anymore because it was almost 11 AM.


Mt. Romelo Jump-off Point in Barangay Macatad


I quickly hired a tricycle to go to the jump-off point in Barangay Macatad. I thought it would be a problem getting a guide, but with my rucksack and all, people at the jump-off already knew where I was headed and they all offered to be my guide. I chose a 46-year-old man who was shorter than me but looked good-hearted and talked with much zest.


The ever-so-kind guide, Ray Suplado


His name is Ray Suplado. I actually thought he was kidding with the surname but eventually found out that it was real.


The Registration Area


Anyway, I’ve already read about the official mountaineer guides at the registration but was also aware that the locals ask for a cheaper fee so I decided to just hire someone from the jump-off.


Muddy Trek


I must say that I underestimated Mt. Romelo, with its 240+ MSL and being the mountain that newbie mountaineers climb. I actually thought it was an easy trek, but it was not. The mud was horrendous. What with the tropical storms that hit the country and the almost daily afternoon rains that that part of Luzon (including Metro Manila) gets? I wouldn’t wanna dwell, though, on the hard climb because it being my first real mountain climb (I also climbed a quarter of a mountain in Laurel, Batangas some 10 years ago and it was not a climb at all when compared to Mt. Romelo), I know I could go on forever detailing how hard it was to walk up a slope on a slippery mud and how harder it was to cling on those small cement posts they had put up on the very steep parts of the trek.


A Very Steep Descent to the Falls


After almost 2 hours of walking, I felt so excited when I heard sounds of the water rushing. I knew it was the falls. And after one very steep descent, I was rewarded with this view:


Buruwisan Falls


There were around 6-8 persons about, swimming and taking pictures. One group was rappelling. I wanted to try to rappel but I was informed by my guide that you have to bring your own rappelling stuff and do it at your own risk. So never mind that.


I told my guide that I wanted to finish touring the place before we eat lunch so we headed off to Lansones Falls by following the flow of the water from the Buruwisan Falls. A few feet from the Buruwisan Falls, there was another river that connects to the one coming from the falls. We trekked the side of that river, going against the flow of its waters.


The River Coming From Lansones Falls


Rock formations were so picturesque that I stopped numerous times to admire their beauty.


Lansones Falls


Arriving at Lansones Falls, I gladly found out there was not a single mountaineer in sight. Me and my guide were alone and he told me to swim even just for a bit. I didn’t wanna swim because I was so tired but realized it was better to swim there than at Buruwisan Falls where a group of photogs was present. LoL!


So I took all my valuables from my pockets and neck and put them at the mesh pocket of my rucksack. After swimming, I forgot to take my beloved Cherry Mobile phone from the mesh pocket and that’s how it got lost. Walking in the water, jumping from one rock to another, I so many times lost my balance, bending over and stuff and that’s how the phone fell from my bag. I really should have put on the rucksack's rain cover but it was already too late when I realized that.


Old Buruwisan Falls (My Sandugo sandals just have to make a cameo. LoL!)


My guide also took me to the top of the Old Buruwisan Falls. Coming from the Lansones Falls, we trekked back to where the Lansones river joins the Buruwisan river and followed the water until the drop.


The Camp Site on top of Buruwisan Falls


After that, we climbed back up the very steep path we descended earlier to have lunch at the sari-sari store situated at the camp site which was near the drop of the Buruwisan Falls, near the rappelling spot. The guide told me we could ask the tindera to cook for us, but to our dismay, there was no rice at that time. We just settled for four packets of Lucky Me Pancit Canton which cost 13 pesos each. How much was the price of having it cooked? Depends on how much you'd be willing to give. I asked if a hundred pesos was enough for the 4 pancit canton and a bottle of Mountain Dew that cost 23 pesos, and the store owner said it was. The canton and softdrink already cost 75 pesos. 25 pesos wasn’t bad at all for the cooking, plus plates and forks. I had Hansel biscuits in my bag and I gave two of them to my guide.


The Way to Batya-Batya Falls


I knew there was a waterfall called Batya-Batya on that mountain and I asked my guide to take me there. We tried, but the water was so deep we would have to swim. The guide tried to show me how deep it was. A few steps into the blue-green pool and it was already neck-deep. Swimming wasn’t a problem at all. The problem was my bag which I didn’t pack water proof. I would have done it, though, if I knew I would be mountain climbing that day.


There was a trek in the mountain going to Batya-Batya but it was so steep my guide was worried I wouldn’t be able to descend Mt. Romelo and get to Sta. Cruz in time for the last bus bound for Alabang. It was almost 4 PM that time. He, though, offered his house for me to spend the night if I really wanted to see Batya-Batya Falls and another one named Sampaloc Falls, but I declined. Nanay would kill me. There were no cellphone signals on that part of the mountains. No Smart, no Globe, no PLDT Landine +. I knew she’s already worried that I went out nature tripping alone, what more if I didn’t go home without even a text or call?


The descent from Mt. Romelo was a breeze. I was actually surprised to find a group of mountaineers resting in front of an abandoned hut on their way down.


The Mountaineer's Stop-Over


By 5 PM I had already cleaned-up at the Mountaineer’s Stop-Over which asks for a 20-peso-fee for the use of the toilet and bath. I wasn’t able to use the toilet, though, because look at what you would have to go through if you have to do number 2:



Anyway, by 5:25 PM I was already at the Siniloan town proper, in a jeep bound for Sta. Cruz. I reached the Sta. Cruz bus terminal by 6:30 PM and was in Alabang by 8:20 PM.


Perhaps I was really destined to learn the art of travelling alone that first day of August 2010. If Gerald had come with me and we went to that other waterfall with all the local tourists who wanted to swim in its freezing waters, I wouldn’t be able to climb Mt. Romelo and see 3 waterfalls all in a day.


Now I can say that I have travelled alone to a new place, and can again travel alone in the future if I have to. Travelling with a buddy is fun, but travelling alone also has its perks and advantages. For one, you can visit three different falls one after another before you even have lunch and no one will complain (the guide didn’t, anyway). Two, your time is in your hands. You don’t have to worry about going home early because your friend wants to. Three, you can go wherever you want. I have originally planned a Mt. Romelo climb but Gerald has asthma and it can attack him while climbing.


Posing at the Lansones Falls (Thanks to Kuya Ray for this pic)


How to get to Mt.Romelo/Buruwisan Falls (from Alabang):


* Ride a bus to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (fare of a non-aircon bus from Alabang is Php77.00). Drop off at the Sta. Cruz bus terminal which is the end-point of that ride.


* Across the road from the terminal, take a jeepney bound for Siniloan (fare is Php35.00). Ask the driver to drop you off in front of Sts. Peter & Paul Parish or Jollibee.


* Beside Jollibee are tricycles you can hire to go to Mt. Romelo’s jump-off point in Brgy. Macatad. Special ride costs Php60.00.


* At the jump-off, you have the option to hire one of the locals as guide (mine asked for Php250.00 one-way so I paid Php500.00 because I didn’t wanna descend alone). If you don’t want a local, you can proceed to the Registration Area to get one of the mountaineers there as guide.


* If you decide to get a guide at the Registration Area, just follow the road until you reach the Mountaineer’s Stop-Over. Facing it, turn left and follow the road lined with trees. You will reach a river, cross it and follow the grassy path until you see a small house (pictured above) that is the Registration Office. Pay Php20.00. They’ll give you an ID if you’re staying at the mountains overnight, and not if you’ll just do a day hike.


(If you’re from Manila, make sure to schedule your descent so you’ll have enough time to reach the Sta. Cruz bus terminal to catch the last bus going to Alabang at 8:00 PM. Tricycles that will take you to Siniloan town are owned by the locals so there’s no problem with that. I was told, though, that jeepneys from Siniloan going to Sta. Cruz are only until 7:00 PM.)

2 comments :: The Waterfalls of Mt. Romelo

  1. I was only able to see one falls in Mt. Romelo. hopefully I can go back for more! :)
    keep exploring!

  2. I really regret not having enough time to go to Batya-batya. And yea, I also wanna go back there. Tara! Haha!

Related Posts with Thumbnails