Another weekend was spent on higher ground as we headed to the far-flung town of Pilillia Rizal to hike Mt. Sembrano. Sticking out in to Laguna lake in the Jala Jala Peninsula, It peaks at 745 meters above sea level and is one of the most accessible hiking destinations in the Province of Rizal.
Upon reaching Pililla, we dropped our bags in the adjacent covered court of the Barangay hall to register ourselves for the climb.
We started at 7am and the sun was already up, facing us. I had a feeling that it would be a very hot climb especially after the steep assault to the grasslands.
The jumpoff was a bit interesting, the hike started with a few hundred meters of concrete which eventually got steeper. It was then replaced with a rocky terrain as we reached the foot of mount Sembrano.
It was an easy hike going to the campsite which the local calls ‘Manggahan’. we hiked for another hour before reaching the site. It was a good spot as we saw locals selling fresh buko juice. There were also a makesafe bench for resting, flowing fresh water from a natural source, and a hammock where you can lie down to face Laguna lake peering from the leaves of the trees in the surroundings.
I saw some hikers going down from a steep trail covered with rocks from meters away. We were informed that we had to climb that steepest and most difficult part of the mountain.
We refilled our bottles from the water source and then headed to the 45 minute rocky assault.
It was indeed harder that the previous section of the trail but was pretty much doable. The rocks that served as raisers for the stair-like pathway was quite high that I had to muster more leg power than usual just to move on. There were times when I had to scramble all the way up because of the steepness.
After less than an hour, I saw the bright sky signalling the end of the assault. We were then welcomed by the breathtaking view of Laguna lake and Mt. Sembrano’s green and open grasslands. It was a relief but the open area made the hike even hotter.
We reached North Peak to take some photos and rest for a while. From there we enjoyed the scenic view of Laguna Lake, Talim Island and it’s highest peak, Mount Tagapo. It was also overwhelming to think that I just live on the other side of the lake!
Facing the opposite direction, I saw the rolling hills with tall grassy trails which was where we were headed. It was getting hotter and my headwear wasn’t that effective any longer so we moved on to the South Peak.
After the sloping pathway, we hiked through blades upon blades of grass which were inches taller than us. It obstructed our views of the trail most of the time which made us brush a bunch off with our arms to proceed farther.
A few more meters of grassy hike and we were now in an open area once again. It was noon time at this point and the scorching heat of the sun was directly at us. This was the hottest climb I have experienced so far and I was getting drained by the painful heat even if we slowed down!
The trail then got steeper and my pace got slower than usual because of heat and exhaustion, this was the point where I was about to run out of water, 1 liter just didn’t cut it. Good thing there was a refilling station back in the Manggahan Camp Site.
The steep path finally ended as we finally reached the summit! It was bright, clear skies with the 360 degree view of Rizal, Laguna, and even Quezon.
I didn’t last too long on the summit because of the noon time weather. I sat up, got back up, took my shirt off, but none of it helped in dissipating the afternoon heat. Good thing my friend, BJ took his bottle out so I poured some water on myself.
We got back down after a few minutes. We made our way through the grasslands, back to North Peak, and then a gnarly descent from the rocky assault to Manggahan Camp site. We refilled our bottles from the water source and then headed to Manggahan falls situated on the right from where we started.
We hiked for about 5 minutes until we reached the waterfalls. We just went at it without any hesitation. We took a dip and give ourselves a well-deserved back massage from its gushing water. The soreness from my feet and heat from the summit just disappeared because of the relaxing experience.
We got back to the campsite where I laid on a hammock to take another rest. I asked a local for a buko juice, she then asked a kid to get one and to my surprise, the kid just climbed a 40 foot coconut tree effortlessly! I thought they already had supplies ready to be sold but I was astounded to know that they had to climb a tree to pick fresh coconuts for customers.
We hiked back to the jumpoff and reached the barangay hall. We stayed at the falls and campsite too long that we ended the hike at around 4pm.
It was a tiring but awesome experience. The afternoon heat made the hike more difficult but it was all worth it. The whole of Laguna lake from the peaks was a beautiful site, and the relaxing campsite will make you forget the grueling climb to the assault almost in an instant.
- Jumpoff: Barangay Malaya, Pililla Rizal
- Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 3-4 hours
- Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
- Features: Views of Laguna Lake and Southern Tagalog mountains
Barangay Hall registration: 20Php
Manggahan Camp Site registration: 10php
Guide: 500php per group of 10 (not required)
By Private Vehicle:
- Via c6- head to straight to Taytay, Angono, and Binangonan following Manila East Road going to Pililla.
- There will be a fork along the way where the left road will lead you to the Pililla Wind farm. Take the straight road to lead you to Barangay Malaya.
- Parking spaces are available at the Barangay Hall
By Public vehicle:
- From Edsa crossing, take a jeepney to Tanay, Rizal (approx. 50php)
- At the terminal in Tanay, take another jeep to Pililla. Ask the driver to drop you off Malaya Barangay Hall (approx. 25php)
- 0630: Registration in Barangay hall
- 0700: Start hike
- 0830: Manggahan camp site
- 0900: Start assault to North peak
- 1045: Arrival at North Peak – Snack/Lunch
- 1115: Prepare for trek to Summit
- 1200: Summit
- 1245: Hike back to North Peak
- 1300: Head back to Manggahan
- 1315: Start Trek to Manggahan falls
- 1320: Settle/dip/photo op at Manggahan Falls
- 1530: prepare to hike Back Manggahan camp site
- 1535: Rest at camp site while waiting for other group members
- 1600: Hike back to Jumpoff
- 1700: Back to Malaya Barangay Hall