Home // 2014 // February

Seeing Rivendell While Biking in Daraitan

Balete Tree in Daraitan

This Ent-like tree is supposed to be 300 years old. Not sure if that’s true, but it’s awesome nonetheless

Daraitan is a quiet little village in the Sierra Madre mountains in Tanay, Rizal. Daraitan is also one of the most beautiful places you can bike to from Metro Manila, and I don’t say those words lightly. I’ve become quite jaded when it comes to mountain biking destinations. But Daraitan is worth every pedal stroke, every ounce of sweat, every painful grunt it takes to get there. If you’re a Metro Manila biker planning to do a bike tour this summer, this should be at the top of your list.

Daraitan has been cited as having the cleanest waters in the Calabarzon area. One look at its clear flowing river was enough to convince me that it deserved that citation. But besides the clarity of its streams, there’s also its forest covered peaks, the fantastic boulders, cliffs and rock formations along the river, and an unspoiled cave that’s perfect for spelunking. This place radiates magic like Rivendell.

My first foray into Daraitan was less than a year ago. I joined the first leg of the Nature’s Trail Discovery Run and found myself crossing Daraitan’s streams and hopping around its boulders in a 31k trail run sufferfest. Needless to say, while my eyes registered the beauty of the place, my mind had been drained of any capacity for awe and wonder by the agonizing run. So I resolved to go back to Daraitan some time in the future and soak in its vibe at a more leisurely pace. Read more [+]

Selfie Run up Shotgun San Mateo

Shotgun San Mateo

Because selfies are very important in a run like this

Shotgun in San Mateo: Masochistic mountain bikers consider this the ultimate trophy in Metro Manila. It is 5 kilometers of almost relentless climbing that only gets more difficult with each turn. Last weekend I thought of doing a different challenge on Shotgun. Instead of biking all the way to top, I was gonna run it and see if I still had my mountain legs.

Shotgun is without doubt, the most punishing climb a mountain biker or runner can do near Metro Manila. The road is steep—definitely one of the steepest in the country. The Wall is a difficult climb, but Shotgun takes that difficulty to an even more sinister level.

Take the most difficult section of The Wall and multiply it three times and you get a good idea of what I’m talking about. Just when you thought you’d get a reprieve, just when you thought you’d get a chance to recover, the next twist in the road smacks you in the face with even more climbing. Such is the evil that is Shotgun. Read more [+]

Rock Climbing in Wawa, Montalban

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

A route with a view. Photo courtesy of Dennis Pagayon

Wawa in Montalban/Rodriguez, Rizal is a well known destination for mountain bikers in Metro Manila. But this little rural village on the foothills of the Sierra Madre is also a mecca for another tribe of outdoor sports enthusiasts. Rock climbers flock to Wawa Montalban because of its limestone cliffs which offer some of the finest and most challenging climbing in the Philippines.

In my ten year on-and-off love affair with climbing, Wawa has always occupied a special spot. The first time I went there, I gazed stupefied at its cliffs. I did not know that there were walls like that so near to Manila. I’ve gone there two more times since my first visit, and it has never been boring. Just looking at the cliffs can make you dizzy with both dread and anticipation. With some crags shooting up more than a hundred feet, you need to be a real badass to try to scale them. Read more [+]