Accessible, easy, cheap. These three words define Mt. Sembrano for me.
Just in Pililia, Rizal, one can go to Mt. Sembrano in less than 2 hours. You can meet at EDSA Crossing where there is a Jeep terminal at the very back. Make sure to start very early because the heat can be really bad at the summit when you get there around lunch time.
One way to Tanay costs Php 53.00 and then you can take another jeep going to Brgy. Malaya Hall in Pililia for Php 20.00. Or if you are going to rent a whole jeepney to bring you straight to the jump off in Malaya, it will cost roughly Php 1,250-1,400. For a group of 10, that’s only 140 pesos one-way. A registration fee of Php 20.00 is collected for each climber, and expect to shell out a few 10-peso buko juice purchases when you reach Manggahan. It will save you money to bring packed lunch, but you can always buy in EDSA Crossing where there are fast-food centers like McDonalds, Yellow Cab, and even Starbucks. In Tanay, there are also markets and food stalls and we stopped by to get ourselves some bananas. Over all, the climb will only cost you 350-400. Not bad, eh?
Mt. Sembrano is categorized by Pinoy Mountaineer as a Minor climb with a difficulty of 3/9. I actually likened it to Maculot because of the ascent at the beginning of the trek. It’s all rocky until you get to the woodland area. It’s not a hard climb and definitely doable even for non-climbers, and you have the option to not hire a guide because the trails are established. However, there are some crossroads that might get you lost. Fortunately, there are locals who would direct you to the right way, and it’s mostly “pakanan” (to the right). I’d still suggest putting on some training just to prepare the legs and knees for the gradual ascent.
We arrived at Manggahan (you’ll know it because of the gate) and paid an additional Php 10.00 each. This is because the land is privately owned. The waterfalls is just a 5-minute trek down from Manggahan rest point. The family tending to this lot sells fresh buko for only Php 10.00. We must have had 2 each and it was refreshing!
Just before reaching the grassland, we were offered a peek of Laguna de bay. A few minutes later we surfaced and arrived at the grassland all the way to the summit. The view was perfect, overlooking Laguna de Bay and Manila in the far distant view. Towering above all other views to our left are Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw. We arrived around 11:20 and decided to stay atop for more than hour because the heat wasn’t that bad yet. In fact, we were met with a cool breeze here and there and we decided to while away time talking about everything under the sun, literally. The hike down only took us 45 minutes. You can take a bath at the barangay hall for 10 pesos each.
- I enjoyed this fun climb. I liked that after months of not having climbed, I got to enjoy the mountains again and I liked that I was with friends who I climbed with in Apo and Kanlaon and with FR, a friend from AMCI. The ‘sub’ summit stay was the highlight for me, because it offered us the best view, and we literally just laid down on the grass, listened to music, talked about beautiful, senseless things.
- If you are looking for a dayhike that fits everyone’s budget and energy, I’d recommend Sembrano. I’ll also add “FUN” to the list of descriptions for this mountain :-)
- As for the robbery/theft cases, the barangay officials told us that so far there have been no reports made. I’m hoping this would continue. Most of these robberies happen when climbers leave their things at Manggahan to go to the waterfalls. I would advice that you bring your things with you for safety’s sake and peace of mind.
(With Luz, Jeff, Bin, FR, Higor, Martin, Mitch, Faye and Patrick)