Talim Island is the largest lake island within the largest lake in Luzon.Get a 360 degree view and get a glimpse at its highest peak, Mt. Tagapo.
Mt. Tagapo: In an Island Within a Lake
Mt. Tagapo lies at the last stop of the pumpboat from Binangonan Port. It is often used for transport goods and leaves every 45 minutes until it is fully occupied. It took us around an hour from the port to Brgy. Janosa, the jump-off point for the trek.
Some introductions with our fellow open climbers and we’re all set to scale Mt. Tagapo. It is highly advised to get a local guide because the trail can get a little confusing, as people have climbed the foot of the mountain frequently for livelihood purposes, creating many trails along the way.
Hot Off the Trail
Our group headed for the trail at 2PM — not exactly the best time but we had to make it in time to set up camp and cook. The trail of Mt. Tagapo was mostly surrounded with bamboo, which unfortunately do not provide much shade, and a lot of shallow ravines to watch out for.
It only takes around 1.5 hours from the jump-off point to the campsite. Before we knew it, we were already halfway Mt. Tagapo marked by the huge sampaloc tree. Towards the campsite it gets more steep, like you are on a permanent lunging position. Our guides created walking sticks from fallen bamboo to assist us.
Setting up Camp
By the end of the more grueling uphill climb, we were rewarded by the sight of the “hill to the summit” of Mt. Tagapo — characterized by wild grass and zigzag tracks to the top against the blue afternoon sky.
At campsite, we had time to catch our breath and set up our tents for the overnight hike. My first overnight hike in fact. Not to mention, we also had a preliminary view at the top of Mt. Tagapo overlooking the fishing areas of Laguna de Bay.
Some people (like me haha) could not bear to miss out the sunset at the summit. After settling down and while others are cooking liempo and rice, we climbed up the peak. It was totally worth it, as you can see the thousands of hues exploding around the setting sun.
At the top of Mt. Tagapo, you can supposedly get a glimpse of four mountains — Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Arayat and Mt. Maculot. At night, the Makati and Ortigas skylines that glistens from below. It was like a mini-Tagaytay if you ask me. I only wished I camped right up at the summit!
Twilight at the Mountain
Before dark, we have made the 10-minute descent to the campsite. The sun set beneath the clouds creating a glorious sight just before it dimmed.
By twilight, everybody got busy cooking dinner, which is one of the more fun activity. For some reason, food cooked in the mountains tasted better even if we didn’t have fancy amenities to enjoy them. Never tasted liempo this good, until Mt. Tagapo!
Beneath the trees and beside embers of what’s left of the bonfire, we enjoyed quiet company, the gazillion stars overhead and the buzzing sounds of cicadas. We helped ourselves into the tents to get some sleep, but not after horror legends because of the name “Tagapo”. Apparently, Mt. Tagapo was named as such because of the bamboo industry in Talim Island which entails chopping (“taga”) it off.
Sunrise at the Summit
Come sunrise, we began our second ascent to Mt. Tagapo summit, 438 meters above sea level. It was even more beautiful in the morning.
One of the reasons why I loved this Mt. Tagapo climb is that I was with my high school friends Lyka and Neil, as well as new friends from the Mt. Manalmon climb, Ferds and Lyn. Come to think of it, I spent the first and last day of May 2014 on a mountain.
Exploring Brgy. Janosa
At campsite, we cooked breakfast and packed up our tents to begin our descent. Going down Mt. Tagapo is relatively faster because of the easier downward slope.
At our jumpoff point, we had some time to explore Brgy. Janosa because the pumpboats were filled early (one of the adjustments of a trip to Talim Island). The locals are very welcoming of mountaineers and even offered up their deep well for us to wash up in. I also think the local government is doing a great job in opening up the island to travelers especially with the wonder like Mt. Tagapo.
Mt. Tagapo is an ideal climb for beginners because of its nearness to Manila and the novelty of riding pumpboats and seeing Laguna de Bay from a vantage point of a blade-shaped island. Because we are clingy and we are already in Rizal, we took a sidetrip for lunch to one of the more iconic restaurants in Angono.
We stopped by Balaw-Balaw to try local and exotic food because we have some foreigners in the group. We settled for a bilao of seafood goodness. Balaw-balaw has an art gallery in the upstairs, filled with paintings, wood carvings and creepy images which adds to the beauty and mystery of the place.
Really enjoyed Talim Island, Mt. Tagapo and Balaw-Balaw thanks to these wonderful people. More climbs, more friends, more sights. Thank you Travel Compass PH!