Mt. Sembrano: Let’s Go Back to Basics

mt sembrano

One of the “beginner climbs” is Mt. Sembrano, and I woke up one Friday wanting to climb it.

I don’t usually favor creating bucket lists, last-minute trips or even limiting yourself to a difficulty level when it comes to mountain climbing. But with Mt. Sembrano, I wanted to graduate, so to speak, from beginner climbs. You know, move on to tougher ones.

Lack of preparation for climb, however, can be a source of both hilarious misadventures and horror stories. Might I share with you some lessons I had to relearn from our Mt. Sembrano climb. It pays to keep a beginner’s mindset, even if it’s your nth beginner climb:Mt. Sembrano

Lessons from Mt. Sembrano: Arrive at the Jumpoff Point Early

Night before I managed to convince two of my friends to climb Mt. Sembrano, we packed our bags to head to Pililla, Rizal. But come morning, everyone arrived late for the trip.

One of the major no-no’s in mountain climbing is arriving at the jump-off point after sunrise. A lot of things can happen. Since the sun is already up, the trail is extra hot, causing the climber to tire and thirst easily. And since Mt. Sembrano is pegged as a 3-hour climb, arriving at noon meant we might finish close to nightfall, posing a great danger in itself.Mt. Sembrano

Come Armed with Useful Information

A funny mishap from our Mt. Sembrano climb is Toni’s shoe malfunction upon arrival at Tanay marketplace. A horde of tricycle drivers offering special rides to Daranak Falls literally hounded on us even before we got down the jeep. One of them hit her shoes, causing the heels to fall off. Good thing we were at the market, we had time to buy fake Sandugo sandals (therefore we baptized them Sandugas).

Prepare for worse-case scenarios when it comes to mountain climbing. Even if you have read countless blogs about your next mountain, it pays to note vital location information such as water source, marketplaces, restrooms, food stores and emergency hotlines. Don’t leave everything to luck.

Join Groups as Much as Possible

At the registration of Mt. Sembrano, a group of three other hikers happened to be late for their climb too. We proposed that we share the tour guide, which is PHP 500 exclusive of lunch. They agreed, and we ended up only paying PHP 100 individually. Plus, our bigger group proved to be a happy, supportive bunch!

Although I welcome the idea of solo travel, I still would prefer climbing in groups when it comes to mountain climbing. Trips will simply be cheaper, and the adventure much safer. Plus, it’s an awesome way to make friends — you’ll see it’s actually easier outdoors.Mt. Sembrano

Know Your Limits

Even though I like finding my way around the mountains, and am much comfortable doing away with guides, we hired one for Mt. Sembrano. We acknowledged that there are forks on the road due to caingin activity, which caused a lot of misleading trails to emerge. And since we were late, it’s best to have a local guide us should we encounter problems along the road or should we reach nightfall.

At Mt. Sembrano’s campsite, we also chose to skip the waterfalls and head straight to the assault after we took our lunch. Sacrifices have to be made so that we don’t have to rush our descent before sunset.

Enjoy The Climb, Not Just the View

At lunch, our newfound friends ended up sharing stories of previous travels. We enjoyed conversation over fresh coconut juice for PHP 20, pretending it was a networking scheme “Open-minded ka ba? Tara, buko tayo.”

The Mt. Sembrano assault turned our cheery banter into silent concentration. Characterized by stair-like slopes, the assault got us on all fours with dirt on our nails for half an hour. There are parts when we were literally on the edge, catching our breaths. We scrambled upon the loose soils, rocks and tall grasses, until we reached the second campsite where Mt. Sembrano’s peak is on sight.

The sun was scorching hot by 2PM, and peak of Mt. Sembrano is devoid of trees for shade. Still, it provided one of the best views I have seen.

The breezy afternoon  atop the peak of Mt. Sembrano revealed the towns of Rizal, Laguna, the Laguna Bay and Talim Island. We can clearly see Mt. Tagapo at a distance! On the farther edges are Ortigas and Cavite. As with my previous climbs, all the difficulties from the journey fell away at this vantage point.

Although I have lessons to relearn, I can’t help being reminded of how each climb teaches me unique things about the world. And I’ve just gotten started this year.

Preparing for your Mt. Sembrano trip

  • How to commute to Mt. Sembrano. Take the Tanay Palengke jeepney (PHP 50) at the terminal located at Shaw Boulevard, in front of Jollibee. Upon arrival at Tanay Palengke, take the jeepney to Pililla (PHP 23) and ask to be dropped off at the Mt. Sembrano barangay hall.
  • Fees. Registration fee is at PHP 20. You may choose to hire a tour guide for PHP 500 typically at the group size of six.
  • Food. There are buko juice for sale at the campsite, and a small store which may occasionally be closed. It’s best to pack your own meal and water.
  • Best time to visit. The most important must-do is a weather check prior to your trip because rainy weather can make the climb riskier and more difficult. The months of November to April may be a good time. Climb before the crack of dawn to avoid excessive heat.
  • What to Bring. Bring enough water, minimum of 1 Liter depending on how you consume. Bring trash bag and avoid leaving anything at campsite. Don’t forget your camera!
  • What to Wear. Because it is an open trail, the heat can be harsh by noontime at the summit of Mt. Sembrano. Cover your skin, and wear sturdy shoes with good traction. You will need this during the assault to the peak.
  • Contact at Mt. Sembrano. Reach the barangay hall via mobile numbers (+63) 905-4982567, (+63) 928-2808632.

Although I have lessons to relearn, I can’t help being reminded of how each climb teaches me unique things about the world. And I’ve just gotten started this year.


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  • Reply
    Aron Jay
    January 21, 2017 at 2:14 AM

    Hi. Thank you for this post. I’m organizing a trip to Mount Sembrano this coming month and wondering if the registration fee is per head or for the whole group. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      January 25, 2017 at 1:03 AM

      Per head sir Aron! Good luck on your trip! 🙂

  • Reply
    jaalah noelle
    September 10, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    Hi! I enjoyed reading your blog.. 🙂
    do you know if they allow night trekking?
    We’re planning to climb tomorrow.. haha.. last minute!

  • Reply
    Abigail Magistrado
    June 2, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    Hello! My friends and I are planning to climb this month. May I know if you have any number from the Brgy? Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      June 2, 2016 at 7:50 PM

      Hi Abigail! Nice of you to drop by. We didn’t have the Brgy’s number when we climbed, but you can head straight there as it is along the highway. It is also a jumpoff point. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Cai Dominguez-Travelosyo
    May 5, 2016 at 3:33 AM

    I agree with all your tips. Especially arriving at the peak during lunch time that’s terribly hot. Also, it’s nice to join other smaller group to form a bigger one not only to save some expenses but to meet other people and to have someone that you could ask for help during the trek.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      May 10, 2016 at 2:55 PM

      True! I love traveling solo but sometimes it’s great to meet new friends too 🙂

  • Reply
    Emiliana Sison
    February 23, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    The first and last climb I did was Taal volcano 3 decades ago. How I wish I have to take on this feat.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    Great pictures and article! It sounds like you are the adventurous type! How long have yoi been climbing?

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 6:57 PM

    Trekking, hiking, and mountain climbing are the bests activities to de-stress. It is so relieving when you make it at the peak of a mountain.

  • Reply
    Roselle Toledo
    February 22, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    Mountain climbing is still an activity I’m hesistant to try because I’m not sure if I can endure. My scolio has been limiting my adventures. Been wondering how it feels like on top.

  • Reply
    Charu Chhitwal
    February 22, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Reminded me of my mountain climb with my mother and friends and we ended up late for the trail. I kid you not on our way back we were ill equipped to see through the forest and literally slid through half our way

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    What an amazing adventure! I would love to try to climb it! 😀

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 6:33 AM

    The view looks amazing, it looks like it was worth the climb! I do hike quite a lot and I know how difficult sometimes it can be and how small “accidents” can make you return (as an example, I forgot my water bottle once and I had to go back half way because I was too dehydrated).

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 5:06 AM

    What a gorgeous envirement and gorgeous pictures! I like it a lot! Philipines is very beautiful. Stands on my Bucket list!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2016 at 4:39 AM

    Great tips! I used to really enjoy climbing. Also your photos are amazing!

  • Reply
    Migs&Alaine Alejandrino
    February 22, 2016 at 4:16 AM

    I love reading your posts about your adventures. You have very nice photos too. I wish I could do this activity with my husband soon.

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    February 18, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    your adventures made me eager to do a mountain climbing soon.. It has always been on my bucket list but the problem is I don’t think i have the courage yet.. I wonder how rewarding it is when you reached the summit and embrace that relaxing view from the top!

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

    Great view! I wish to take my family climbing one of those beginner climb one of these days.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    I think climbing as a group is extra fun because you will have somebody to turn to when you’re lost or bored. Did you wear trekking shoes or just regular rubber shoes?

  • Reply
    January 18, 2016 at 2:27 AM

    This looks like a great adventurous journey you there.The sight scene are just superb.

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