Going up where eagles nest: Mount Hapunang Banoi Experience

Mt. Hapunang Banoi in Rodriguez, Rizal is the first of five peaks that offer maximum thrills for hikers


Mount Hapunang Banoi summit

The journey starts at the registration office in Brgy. Wawa, Rodriguez, Rizal. There, we are briefed about regulations while going up the mountain. After paying the necessary fees, we are assigned a guide: on this trip, we meet Allan.


Mt. Hapunang Banoi is 460 meters high. It is conjoined by Mt. Pamitinan, which is less difficult to climb by only a notch. The Tagalog word banoi literally means eagle, while “hapunan” refers to dinner; however, Allan explained hapunan also means the place where birds rest at the end of the day, or a dapuan. The truth is because of human disruptions, eagles can rarely be seen in the area.


Be careful of sharp rocks when hiking. Use shoes and gloves!

While the climb up the mountain is considered to be intermediate in terms of difficulty, the terrain is harsh even for veterans, because half the climb would be on sharp rocks.

It is not as dangerous as you think it is, but with the proper attire and with the help of an experienced guide, you will find yourself enjoying the fresh air up there in no time at all.


If you have not given away your hiking shoes yet, this is the opportunity to use them one last time before you retire them from your wardrobe. The climb up the mountaintop takes you to the aerie where the king of the skies rests his wings before roaming around his abode, asserting his right over his domain. AT THE JUNCTION

The local guide showing off his balancing skills

The approach to the junction where hikers can take a break before continuing their final assault to the top is quite steep, despite the tilled stairs carved out of the ground. We constantly stopped in several occasions to catch our breaths, as the way up was a challenging one; beginners might find this ascent twice as hard as experienced climbers.


Professionals up for a challenge can also opt to climb the mountain’s rocky face if they brought ropes and carabiners. Surprisingly, you can have a simple halohalo to refresh yourself at the junction. Then, it was time to put on our gloves as sharp rocks lie in the oncoming part of the climb.



THE FIRST OF MANY SUMMITS

It would take you about two hours to reach the first summit. With the view it offers, you can start taking selfies or, better yet, ask your guide to take photos of you. They actually know the best spots and poses at each summit. The next summits provide a better backdrop as the environment turns green with thickets of bamboo. They stretch endlessly across the horizon.


A breathtaking view at the Mount Hapunang Banoi summit

The final peak will leave you speechless as you are surrounded by limestone formations. You start marveling at how these land masses were carved by thousands of years of exposure to the element. The sight will leave you speechless. More than that, you can finally give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.


Your knees might shake, your hands might get tired, and your grip might loosen at some point. The fear of falling is inevitable, and you might even earn your first battle scar on this ascent, but you just have to trust your own strength and ask for your guide’s help when you need it. You can ask your mountaineering colleagues to stop and rest, but the only secret to reaching your goal to the top is to keep on going. The old saying says it perfectly: “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


Here is a detailed account on how to get there for a day hike.


Start early so you could catch the sea of clouds!


Mount Hapunang Banoi summit


At 3:00 in the morning, take the van or any public transportation from Cubao to Eastwoord, Rodriguez, Rizal. Take note of the signs and placards so you won't get confused. The fare should be around Php50 per head. Once you arrive at Rodriguez, Rizal, take a tricycle to Brgy. Wawa. This should cost around Php150 for 3 persons.


Proceed right away to the DENR station and register at the barangay hall. Each hiker would need to pay a Php50 environmental fee and they would assign you a guide which would cost Php600 for the whole group.


Mount Hapunang Banoi

By 5:30 in the morning, you should be able to start hiking to the junction area where one can also embark on a hike to Mount Pamitinan - Mount Hapunang Banoi's twin mountain. One should be able to see the sea of clouds when the weather permits.


For an hour and a half hike, hikers can already reach the summit of Hapunang Banoi. The guides are well trained to help you in your journey.


One can start to descent at around 10:00 in the morning and can have lunch at the junction. Home-cooked food by the locals, lunch prices can range from Php50 to Php100. Don't forget to rest after you eat!


Wawa Dam at Rodriguez, Rizal

Further descend down the barangay hall and have sidetrips to Wawa Dam before going back to Manila through the same route used in the morning.


With around a Php500 budget each person for a group of 3 hikers, you can experience an out-of-town trip for a day!



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