I was in doubt. I wasn’t sure if I can make it to the summit or I might faint on the first few steep trail I encounter along the way. I remember how I try to overcome my fear of heights when I was challenged to step on the scary edge of Kandungaw Peak in Dalaguete, Cebu. I was truly doubtful about my physical strength, thinking that my preparation of climbing the mountain wasn’t really that enough. I know from the very beginning that I never have imagined myself happily getting lost in the grown trees, to comfortably traipsing my feet in the verdant green forest, but I’m now caught between loving the mountain and being happy to be with the mountain.
My first visit in Biliran was merely exploring its stunning Islands, that moment I knew that I’ll surely be going back and explore more of what it has to offer. I never have expected that I’ll be having my first major climb this year as I have never seen myself do it. My doubt is even higher than my height, it is something that I can’t stop thinking, but by innately owning a wanderlust soul and being engaged with an adventure filled life, I was able to evade and even fought back with my doubts. Truly, marking my first major climb also means that I’ve done something amazing which has challenged my physical ability and endurance, patience, and my everything. More than one month of preparation after my one travel blogger friend invited about this escapade. I couldn’t deny that I was so elated after receiving the invitation and my excitement was extremely immeasurable.
The Mt. Tres Marias in Biliran is said to be the highest mountain on Biliran Island and the second highest mountain in Region VIII or in Eastern Visayas Region in the Philippines and one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines. It is next to Alto Peak, which is the highest mountain in the Eastern Visayas Region. The name was derived from the three peaks that comprise the stack. Our guide told us that we can explore the three peaks for 3-4 days, but only few people who have explored the three peaks. What most trekkers have done is to reach the 3rd and the highest pinnacle among the three which stands around 1,315 MASL.
A cold morning breeze welcomes us in Ormoc City port as we get down from the boat and since Biliran is 2 hours drive away from Ormoc City, I took the chance to get a nap, which has given me regret cause some of my friends have truly enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way. I also didn’t know that they are making fun of me cause I truly had a wonderful sleep while having my awkward sleep responses. Soon enough, we have reached the peaceful town of Naval, Biliran as we also had our breakfast before going to the jump off area. The hot chicken soup and one cup of rice has given me enough energy to start the adventure that I have long been waiting to experience. The grins making our faces confirmed to the satisfaction of our famished stomach. We also had a quick time to buy our food for lunch as we don’t want to faint as we explore the grandiouse and magical forest of Mt. Tres Marias.
I can truly feel the blood running in my veins as it speaks how excited I was that moment. While we were on board in the V-hire going to the jump off area, I can limpidly feel the strong urge of excitement and gives me a spine-chilling feeling. Shortly enough, we have reached the jump off area. We then had our registration and embracing the proper way to start our trek is to have our stretching exercises to elude muscle problems along the way.
We then embarked on our trek and we started to enjoy the beautiful sceneries. The first stunning scenery that welcome us was the innate beauty of Ulan-Ulan Falls. From where my feet stood, I have watched the partial view of Ulan-Ulan falls that seemed to be so shy cause of the green leaves that covers it from afar. I put my backpack down, and ran straight to the Falls and gazing at its innate beauty is what my natural reaction dictates. Truly, the name itself speaks, the cooling mist that peacefully arriving on my surface has rendered me a refreshing feeling. It brought back my colorful childhood memories, where I used to dance and play while the rain pours. I can’t seem to stop gazing at its beauty from its slender brink where the water started to go down and how it was naturally becoming wide before reaching the catching basin. The presence of green leaves where some of the water fell is what gets it like a painted picture hanging on the same wall shape rocks. It was simply beautiful and naturally captivating.
On the other hand, Ulan-Ulan falls is secretly unruly in some way. The rocks that surrounded the waterfalls can be really tough, coming down to the river and passing over the immense rock could be a dangerous attempt. I overlooked the immense rocks as I went down to the river to get a good spot to get a good photo, but eventually it gave me bruises and a small wound on my knees. It was very slippery because of the mist from the waterfalls that makes the rock surface always wet. I didn’t expect it to be that slippery until my whole body touching the huge and wet rock. It didn’t happen once, but twice and it was scary.
Truly, right after enjoying the cold and fine cloudy water droplets of Ulan-Ulan Falls, there’s actually another waterfall that has long been waiting for all of us. It is peacefully hiding above the Ulan-Ulan Falls and it has a cold and deep catching basin. I felt like I wasn’t satisfied enough with how I flirted with Ulan-Ulan falls because of the unfavorable leisure time that I should have had. And because of that, I was also thinking that travelling to the Recoletos Falls might fill my delectation.
As shortly as I’ve seen the waterfalls, a wide and greenish water seemed to be so tempting. But before I decided to douse myself in its cold water, I try to capture some photos and it took me sometimes to decide whether I jump in its cold deep water or remain standing on the well designed rocks while watching my friends who have been enjoying the natural pool of Recoletos Falls. I saw how happy they were while swimming in the natural pool and some of them were courageous enough to jump from the high level of the cliff. Yes, there’s a perfect spot for you to jump if you want to make your Recoletos Falls experience awesome, but make sure to be extra careful cause climbing to the higher level is a bit slippery.
The defining moment came, I jump in its cold water and swim. Truly, the water is really cold and appears like a thousand of ice, which is brisk from the fridge has been thrown in the natural pool. I genuinely have enjoyed the whole time I drenched myself in its cold water. What I like about it aside from the cold water that gives me refreshing feeling is how wide the natural pool is and not herded, in fact, it was only our team who truly have enjoyed the waterfalls during our visit. I can truly swim freely without bothering to think about the crowd.
Our guide reminded us about our time, we then quickly set up ourselves for the coming backbreaking trek going to Mt. Tres Marias and dousing ourselves in the frigid water of Recoletos Falls before the first leg of our ascent to Mt. Tres Marias is really a beneficial choice.
Our foremost goal is to reach the lunch area so we can have our lunch. The track leading to the lunch area is not really that steep, but along the way, I felt like the trail is starting to divulge its backbreaking nature. A true training of what patience and perseverance is what I’m trying to espouse. The action is being learned to fully understand both is what I’m trying to bear in mind while I continue traipsing my feet on the trail. I was hungry and my trail food has helped to mollify my famished stomach until I got to the lunch area. Our guide pointed his finger while telling us, that’s where we can have our lunch break. I was grinning from ear to ear as I heard him completely uttering the whole sentence.
Near the river and on the flattened rock while listening to the gurgling sound of the river while having our lunch was what made our lunch time romantic. Genuinely, the plashing river soothed our jaded body. We rested after our lunch and I even tried to get a nap. A quick lunch and a quick rest as this is enough to continue on our trek to the camping site of Mt. Tres Marias which is our primary goal before the evening will arrive.
The trail starts to change and so the weather. I can truly feel the cold mountain breeze hugging me tight, but due to my active sweat glands, it didn’t get in. The assault track started to open its world, like as if welcoming us and reminding us to be ready. And before we can eventually fight with the backbreaking trail, our guide told us to get our water since we pass on the last source of water until we finally be arriving at the camping site which is 3-4 hours of trek. Without any question, we then immediately get some water on the river.
Just before I started traipsing my feet to the assault track, I reminded myself that getting to the summit is my real destination. Then the strenuous trek has started, getting lost in the forest has made me to pant like a horse. I begin to feel my heavy backpack while my two little feet are struggling, but patiently moving upward. The umbrageous surrounding due to the lush scenery green forest has somehow given me a comforting touch. I’ve seen wild flowers, small insects, a lowly snake, unusual scenery and above all, seeing the whole forest like I owned whatever I see. It’s truly beyond compare and I started enjoying the trek. My tiring body slowly learning how to rhyme to the natural beauty of the virgin forest. I started capturing small, but beautiful objects whenever I get the chance. The trail becomes my closest ally and the scenery becomes my pacifier.
Yes, getting tired is normal, in fact, I took rest many times before I arrive at the camping site. We truly trek faster as much as we can so we won’t be arriving at camping site at night. Each and everyone of us became a motivation and an aspiration. We encourage each other and having jokes and tales while on the track has helped us a lot as well. Then the defining moment came, after our gallons of perspiration, a tiring body, unending stories and enjoying the forest views, we finally have reached the camping site around 4:30 PM with the whole team.
The minute we arrived at the camping site, we didn’t bother to rest, we put down all our backpacks and started setting up our tent. The camping site has a small area, and can only cater 8-12 camping tent depending on the sizes. Our whole team has 7 mountain tent, we make certain that we all have a good space for our camping tent. Right after setting our camping tent, we went to the small stream as a source of water to fetch some water for our food and to have a quick bath as well.
What makes the camping scenario fun when everyone have reached the camping site is how everyone trying to offer their loads of food like canned foods, rice and other stuff to be free of an additional weight when going down to the foot of the mountain. Whoever has the quickest movement can be free of an additional weight, but since we always make sure that the whole team has a fair share of weights, we still distribute the remaining supplies on the following day as we all descend.
We then had to prepare our food for our dinner to reward ourselves from the tiring trek. Shortly enough, we all gather in a lively camping set up while enjoying our luscious food. After our dinner, and as we have given enough time to repose. Our guide told us about the mysterious and a unique scenery that continues its never ending work in the darkness and can entirely be experienced at the camping site of Mt. Tres Marias. In the peaceful forest ground at the camping site is where the presence of fungi, and some own an enzyme that can be luminous. He asked us to turn off all our lights and check the natural luminous light that can be found around the camping site by going close to the huge trees. They were all beautiful and just amazing to gaze at. I feel like I was one of the casts of the Avatar movie that have felt the very unaccustomed scenery. We couldn’t stop throwing questions to our guide about what we have seen, he simply told us that maybe an expert could explain better.
I was truly bothered about what I have just seen until I fell into a deep sleep. The mountain breeze and the serenity I have experienced was what lulled me into a deep slumber. I felt like I was sick, my body was so hot, but I felt like I was so frigid. I sincerely don’t understand what I’m feeling at that moment. I was praying to feel okay on the following day cause we need to wake up early in the morning to trek to the summit of Mt. Tres Marias. God truly have heard me pleading for my plea, on the following morning, I was feeling so alive, energetic and more than okay.
At 5:00 AM, everyone has woken up, we then prepared for our breakfast, had some hot coffee, and early breakfast, since we set out to climb the summit. As we depart from the camping site and starting to trek in the dense woodland. I felt like I was far from the normal world that I used to experience. The infinite stunning scenery of beautiful trees and a mossy forest is truly beyond comparison. You’ll be seeing millions of bryophyticplants characterized by a gametophyte which is a generation of a plant with an alteration of generations that begins with a haploidspore and produces gametes through mitotic divisions. It is indeed an unaccustomed scenery that won’t stop you to keep appreciating it and be amazed while trekking to the summit.
Along the way, you’ll be seeing wild flowers, insects and other small species as they are humbly playing in the woods. Aside from seeing and enjoying the beautiful scenery, you’ll get to crawl under the big trellis of interlacing branches of trees and some roots are out of the ground which will require you to pass over it or crawl down. At some point, I realized that being small is an advantage cause crawling under the semi uprooted roots won’t take so much effort, merely when the only way is passing over it, I find it hard cause I own a small leg to lift it up. It was really challenging, but I have truly enjoyed it.
After about 2 hours of trekking and overcoming the backbreaking trail from the camping site going to the summit, we had finally set foot on the summit. I actually didn’t recognize that we have reached the summit as I haven’t seen any clear spot where we get to see the overlooking view. As our guide told us that we are now on the summit, I handed him a blank face. What makes it funny as we compare our expectation to the reality is when the summit setting isn’t the usual summit that we used to see. In order for us to see the stunning view, we need to climb the unstable and movable trees which would make our whole body shake. There were actually a mass of trees that surround the summit and if you’re brave enough to climb, then you’ll get to see the stunning view from above. Truly, after viewing the astonishing summit view in a glimpse, the clouds started to fill the whole space of the view which makes the view became so shy and started hiding its beauty away from us.
Traipsing my feet on a tree while taking a photo is never an easy thing to do. Hence, I wasn’t able to really capture the stunning view of the summit of Mt. Tres Marias, but knowing that I have reached its summit really made me elated and a very rare accomplishment to treasure. We didn’t stay that long on the summit, cause we need to descend back to the camping site as early as we can.
The steep track that we have encountered as we ascend to the summit is the same level of challenge as we moved down. We get to really be careful and make sure to really use our firm muscle leg to stave off the pressure while treading our feet on the steep track. Shortly enough, we have arrived at the camping site and we immediately had our early lunch, break camp in the fastest way as we can so we won’t get to the foot of Mt. Tres Marias in an evening time. We had our quick group picture before leaving the camping site, while holding the flag of the Philippines, as we celebrate the Philippines Independence day.
Right after having our lunch, we trek down while bearing in mind to reach the base of Mt. Tres Marias before 5:00 PM since we still need to catch the boat ride going to Sambawan Island. Getting down was still challenging, but knowing that we have eaten the trail leading to the summit, we felt like we are already immune with its backbreaking trail.
After more than an hour of trekking down, me and two of my friends Angel and Sean and our guide as the head of the trail, we had our quick rest and our guide have seen a tree squirrel which he pointed his fingers at a tree where the squirrel is. I simply have seen the tail of the squirrel, but didn’t able to see everything. It’s a rare experience and somehow made me genuinely happy as I haven’t seen a squirrel in real life.
As we keep on our trek, we started to see the king sun as it slowly moves down below the horizon. We started to see its perfect sunset hue, it reflects on a vast rice terraces which welcome us as we nearly get to the base of Mt. Tres Marias. The rice terraces are somehow similar to the famous rice terraces in Ifugao or also known as Banaue Rice Terraces. Yes, we are really blessed to have witnessed the very rare scenery.
The V-hire who brought us to the drop off area of Mt. Tres Marias from Naval, Biliran was the same V-hire who fetched us. Hence, we need to reach the Cawayan Port for us to catch the boat ride going to Sambawan Island. We had 5 minutes of loading all our backpacks and stuff inside the V-hire and had a quick buying of drinking water in the near store. We then headed to the Cawayan Port which is about one hour of travel. While on our way to the Cawayan Port, we also savor the stunning sunset hue which has truly completed our day. It was already about 6:30 PM as we reached the Cawayan Port and we had a quick time to buy everything that we need on Sambawan Island. In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing our experiences on Sambawan Island and how it feels like to set foot on the Island for the second time.
I was in doubt at first. I wasn’t in the mood of guaranteeing myself that I was confident enough to make it to the summit. My first major climb made me sick, but reaching the summit made me so elated and I feel like reaching the summit could also mean overcoming my cynical thought and doubt about my ability to reach the summit. It is what made me fearless and strong and hopefully, I can experience more major climb in the future. This is just a beginning, and I’m just so excited to reach more summit not only in the Philippines, but also outside the Philippines. Truly, climbing Mt. Tres Marias is one of my memorable climbs.
- Ulan Ulan Falls: Enjoying Its Cold and fine Cloudy Water Droplets while gazing to its Natural Beauty
- Recoletos Falls: A quick douse in its cold natural pool before going up to Mt. Tres Marias
- Sambawan Island: A reward after successfully climbing Mt. Tres Marias (Summit to Sea)
- Lake Danao Natural Park: Ormoc City’s Natural Gem that provides a relaxing view to behold
HOW TO GET TO MT. TRES MARIAS
From Ormoc City
There are daily schedule of boat and fast craft trip from Cebu City to Ormoc City. You can take a fast craft for 2 hours or a boat via Roble Shipping Line and travel by night for 6 hours. The moment you arrived at the port area, simply walk a little bit going to the outside of the port and you’ll be seeing Vans there or go to the Ormoc terminal and ride a V-hire that bound for Naval starting at 5:00 am. Travel time from Ormoc to Naval, Biliran is around 2 hours.
From Naval, Biliran and if you’re traveling with 2-6 people you better ride a motorcycle (habal-habal), that will take you to Barangay Sampao. Travel time is about 20-30 minutes going to the drop off area of Mt. Tres Marias. Since we were around 12 people during our climb to Mt. Tres Marias, what we did was renting the whole V-hire going to the drop off area after we have met our guide in Naval, Biliran.
From Tacloban City
There is no airport in Biliran Province and the only nearby airport is in Tacloban City. Most trekkers from Luzon and Mindanao and other part of the Visayas are flying to Tacloban City to get to Mt. Tres Marias. From Tacloban Airport, ride a jeep to the downtown area, then ride a Grand Tours Van going to Naval Proper, fare is around (Php 130.00), and travel time is around 2.5 hours. From Naval, Biliran and if you’re traveling with 2-6 people you better ride a motorcycle (habal-habal), that will take you to Barangay Sampao. Travel time is about 20-30 minutes going to the drop off area of Mt. Tres Marias. Since we were around 12 people during our climb to Mt. Tres Marias, what we did was renting the whole V-hire going to the drop off area after we met our guide in Naval, Biliran.
- You can contact our very good guide who have been climbing Mt. Tres Marias countless times. His mobile number is + 63 915 569 2569. His name is Kyle Ryan. Just call him and tell him your trekking schedule so that he can fix up everything that you need.
- Make sure you stick to your guide’s instruction. Don’t create your own system, then follow.
- I advise you to have a good preparation before climbing up Mt. Tres Marias, to avoid physical problems along the way.
- Climbing Mt. Tres Marias is not easy for those who haven’t tried major mountain climbing, but very manageable.
- You’ll be visiting a lot of waterfalls along the way and swimming in the deep cold natural pool of the waterfalls is a must just be careful with wet rocks, for they are very slippery.
- There is no mobile signal from the jump off area and the whole time you trek up to the peak.
- Make sure your phone or camera is fully charged for picture purposes or bring a not so heavy Power bank.
- Wear your comfortable trekking shoes, clothes and everything that you need when trekking in the stack.
- Bring just the necessary thing you need when climbing the mountain. Always make sure that climbing the mountain with your heavy backpacks is not easy and it’s very tiring. It might drain your energy.
- Bring enough food, which includes trail food and always make sure to have a meal plan, particularly if you’re traveling with a group people. Bringing of drinking water is also advisable, but since going up to Mt. Tres Marias has a lot water source, then this won’t really be a burden.
- Always remember that your tent is where you take the chance to rest at night, so make sure to bring a sturdy mountaineering tent and a sleeping bag cause it might be really cold at night and at dawn. Bring a reliable head lamp for you need it at night and also a ground sheet for your tent.
- Be vigilant when walking on the trails, don’t hold on to any anything unless you make sure that it’s a safe one. Some of the plants are owning a needle tip, which would cause wounds when you hold it. Don’t also hold to any stick-looking object for it may a snake.
- Please remember to leave no trace behind. Take good care of our mother nature. Just enjoy and be responsible enough.
- Above all PRAY before going to the waterfalls for God’s guidance and protection.
Note: This is part of our Independence adventure that happened last June 9-12, 2017 from summit to sea. Trekking to Mt. Tres Marias and exploring Sambawan Island and Lake Danao.
POSSIBLE TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THE WHOLE TRIP
- Boat fare from Cebu to Ormoc via Roble – Php 510.00
- Cebu Port Terminal Fee – Php 25.00
- Ormoc to Naval via Van- Php 130.00
- Breakfast – Php 60.00
- Ormoc to jump off area via Van – Php 70.00
- Lunch – Php 50.00
- Entrance Fee (Mt. Tres Marias)- Php 50.00
- Fare from the Drop off area of Tres Marias – Kawayan – Php 100.00
- Food, Guide Fee and Boat going to Sambawan Island (Food – Php 289, Boat (2,500÷12) = Php 208, Guide (1500÷12) = Php 125) = Php 622.00
- Entrance Fee Sambawan Island – Php 100.00
- Kawayan to Ormoc City – Php 250.00
- Snacks – Php 75.00
- Ormoc to Cebu – Php 420 (sitting)
- Jeep rental from Ormoc to Danao Lake (Php 1,500÷9) = Php 167.00
- Lunch – Php 115.00
- Lake Danao Environmental Fee – Php 5.00
- Lake Danao Entrance Fee- Php 25.00
- Lake Danao Cottage, mini Boat and Life buoy, (Cottage – Php 150, Boat Php 100, Salbabida or Life buoy Php 50 = Php 300 ÷ 9 = Php 58) – Php 58.00
- Dinner in Ormoc – Php 55.00
TOTAL – Php 2,987.00
Note: All expenses are split up into a number of people who joined during the entire trip. We are around 12 excluding our 1 guide to Mt. Tres Marias during this trip.
ITINERARY FOR THE WHOLE TRIP
- 10:00 PM – Boat ride going to Ormoc City
- 04:30 AM – ETA Ormoc City
- 04:40 AM – Depart for Naval, Biliran
- 06:30 AM – ETA Naval, Biliran
- 07:00 AM – Breakfast
- 08:00 AM – Buying food for Lunch
- 08:20 AM – Depart for Tres Marias Drop off area.
- 08:50 AM – ETA Drop off area
- 09:00 AM – Registration and Stretching
- 09:30 AM – Start trek
- 10:00 AM – ETA Ulan Ulan Falls
- 11:00 AM – ETA Recoletos Falls
- 11:40 AM – Depart for Lunch site
- 01:30 PM – Lunch
- 02:30 PM – Depart to Camping site
- 04:30 PM – ETA Camping site
- 05:30 PM – Prepare for dinner
- 07:00 PM – Dinner
- 09:00 PM lights off
- 05:00 AM – Prepare breakfast
- 06:00 AM – Breakfast
- 06:45 AM – Trek to Tres Marias Summit
- 09:00 AM – ETA Mt. Tres Marias Summit
- 09:30 AM – Depart for Camping site
- 11:00 AM – ETA Camping site
- 11:20 AM – Prepare for Lunch
- 12:20 PM – Lunch
- 12:45 PM – Depart from Camping site
- 05:20 PM – ETA Jump Off Area
- 05:30 PM – Depart for Kawayan
- 06:30 PM – ETA Kawayan Port
- 07:00 PM – Depart for Sambawan Island
- 07:45 PM – ETA Sambawan Island
- 08:00 PM – Prepare for dinner
- 09:30 PM – Dinner
- 10:30 PM – Socials and swimming time
- 05:00 AM – Waiting for Sunrise
- 09:00 AM – Breakfast
- 10:00 AM – Depart for Kawayan Port
- 11:00 AM – ETA Kawayan Port
- 11:10 AM – Depart for Ormoc City
- 01:20 PM – ETA Ormoc City
- 02:00 PM – Depart for Lake Danao
- 02:30 PM – ETA Lake Danao
- 05:45 PM – Depart for Ormoc City
- 06:30 PM – ETA Ormoc City
- 07:20 PM – Dinner
- 08:10 PM – Strolling around Ormoc City
- 09:20 PM – Ormoc Port
- 10:00 PM – Depart for Cebu City
- 04:00 AM – ETA Cebu City