It has been my dream to go to a place where I’ll be looking metro’s busy city in a different way — city lights overlooking for short — and to lie down in a grass land, gaze the open skies and wait for shooting stars.

Mount Balabag Hike
Mount Balagbag Hike

Then I’ve found this place to do these things, city lights overlooking and star gazing, at Mt. Balagbag which is situated in boundaries of Rodriguez, Rizal and San Jose Del Monte (SJDM) City, Bulacan.


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Camping in Mt Balabag
Camping in Mt Balagbag

At first, I had second thoughts of hiking Mt. Balagbag because of security issues I’ve read from the Internet. They said armed groups housed the mountain and there are also encounters between the armed groups and the military forces. But I really want to go to this mountain because I haven’t found any mountains that can offer city lights overlooking.

Sunset
Sunset

So the day before our schedule of hitting Mt. Balagbag, I asked my co-reporter who is assigned in Department of National Defense (DND) beat if it is safe to climb Mt. Balagbag and I got a positive news that it’s safe to go there since the 2nd Infantry Division of Armed Force of the Philippines is actually securing the area. So, no worries anymore.

Mt Balabag Trail
Camping in Mt Balagbag

And I must attest that people living in the area are very nice; one of the nicest communities I encountered so far in my entire adventures of climbing mountains.

Exploring the Wilds
Exploring the Wilds

The 777 meters-above-sea-level (MASL) Mt. Balagbag is not only a good place for hiking, camping, city lights overlooking, and star gazing. This is also a good spot for cycling and motorbike activities. Tough cars can also get into the summit — imagine how friendly the terrain of this mountain is, especially to those who are just hiking — perfect for family bonding and camping.

playing with the sun
playing with the sun

Day hike is also good but I suggest that if you want to try this mountain, make it an overnight activity for you to witness the Miss-Saigon-like sunset, dazzling city lights, star gazing, waiting for shooting stars, and the great view during sunrise.

Here’s how to get to Mt.Balagbag: Ride bus bound to SM Fairview Tungko (make sure that it will go up to Tungko and not just at SM Fairview) then alight at Jollibee Tungko. At the back of BDO bank in Tungko, there is a jeepney terminal going to Licao-Licao; ride that jeep to Licao-Licao. From Licao-Licao, you may start your trek up to the summit or you may wish to ride tricycle going to the registration area which is actually a 30-minute walk from Licao-Licao.

Silhouette Shot
Silhouette Shot

But if you’re coming from Bulacan, especially from Meycauayan or Marilao and other nearby towns, it’s best to take jeep going to Muñoz from Tabing-Ilog wet market or at SM Marilao. From Muñoz, ride another jeep going to Tungko Jollibee, then ride jeep to Licao-Licao. It will cut your travel time by about an hour.

So what we did in our escapade was we met at McDonald’s Cubao near MRT Cubao Station at 2 p.m. We arrived at Licao-Licao around 5 p.m. We walked for 30 minutes going to the registration area than riding a tricycle which will only cost Php20.00 per head.

mountain silhouette
mountain silhouette

Then we start our assault to the summit from 5:30 p.m. and get in to the summit in a slow pace with lots of rest and photo opps. Some in our groups had finished the trek around 7:30 p.m. but some of us (including me) got in to the peak at 9 p.m. as we cooked our dinner in the second registration area, 15 to 30 minutes away from the summit.

The Summit
The Summit

Group Shot at the summit
Group Shot at the summit

And I’m so happy to stop at the second registration area and met the infamous cat of Mt. Balagbag which hikers believed as the guard of the mountain. He’s so adorable and sweet and charismatic! And he knows how to pose for a picture.

Playing with a friendly cat
Playing with a friendly cat

strike a pose
strike a pose

So after our dinner, we had some “pictorial” with the city lights in our background. Each strikes for a pose.

City Lights Group Shot
City Lights Group Shot

About 11 p.m. when we decided to go to our tents, but my “tent-mates” and I stayed awake for an hour and cherished the open skies; lying down on the grass land and gazed to stars. The universe was on our side since it was a bright night, letting us saw billions of stars and caught four shooting stars with our naked eyes.

The author on top of Mt Balabag
The author on top of Mt Balagbag

We woke up pass 5 a.m. to wait for the sunrise. And that scenery was really worth the wait.

Sunrise in Mt Balabag
Sunrise in Mt Balagbag

So to take away stress from working in the busy city, visit Mt. Balagbag and see the central business districts the other way.

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