My holidays in the Philippines will never be complete without a hike with my good friends. The original plan was to scale 3 peaks in Benguet. However, due to inevitable circumstances, we spontaneously hiked in Mt. Tenglawan in Bakun, Benguet. We are getting old so we never did the Bakun trio.

My exhausted eyes began to re-capture energy when I saw Aira & my bff Ira coming out from the car. Waiting for them for 5 hours inside the 24 hours fastfood chain in La Trinidad was no easy. I tried to take a nap but the cleaner girl was too noisy with her vacuum cleaner. After sipping the not-so-good brewed coffee that tastes like cardboard, we started the long drive to Brgy. Dalipey, Bakun, Benguet.

We were welcomed by this gorgeous sunrise as we drove to Bakun, Benguet.

Arriving in Buguias, we treated ourselves with delectable local dishes such as a generous bowl of papaitan, beef steak and a huge serving of my favorite pancit canton. The red rice was the perfect pair for papaitan. We also bought some food for dinner to avoid the hassle of cooking dinner at the campsite. Aira and I were seated at the back while Renan keeps bff awake. The Google Map and Waze were our friends in navigation and successfully reached Dalipey (pronounced as da-li-poy).

Vegetable terraces in Buguias, Benguet.
Papaitan is a famous Ilocano dish made from beef or goat intestines. Bile produces the bitter taste of the soup.

Cabbages almost ready for harvest

Dalipey to Sinacbat

We were welcomed by barangay councilor Jerome in Dalipey, changed hiking gears, parked the car and switched to his van. From there, we traipse a bit under the heat of the sun and rode to Sinacbat passing by “Dancing Without Music Trail”. That took us more than an hour ride. From Brgy. Sinacbat, we bought some supplies such as rice, dropped by at the barangay hall for registration and finally to the jumping-off point in Luponan. Sinacbat is the last barangay in Bakun. Few scattered houses perched along the vegetable terraces. From the barangay hall, we can see the summit of Mt. Tenglawan.

It was 1136H when we started the trek. The heat of the sun trying to intimidate us was quite serious. It was more of an open trail on the first hour until we reached “Kainan ni Baltazar”. We passed by a panoramic trail of Bakun trio. As long as we wanted to enjoy the views, we had to continue and find some shade for lunch. The salty sweat absorbed by the bandana was too painful for my eye as it squeezed slowly from time to time.  Please bring with you enough water and energy. Well, it was just less than an hour. If starting early, then there is no problem with the heat.

Luponan is a sitio in Brgy. Sinacbat and is the major jumping-off point to Mt. Tenglawan. Right from the beginning is the open trails until the Hagdan ni Bulilit.
Mt. Kabunian and Mt. Lobo
Prepare yourself physically especially on a sunny day. Wear some sunscreen and always hydrate.

After 40 minutes of lunch and siesta, we continued the trek passing by “Hagdan ni Bulilit”.  It’s a steel staircase some parts embedded on the rock while at the end of it were improvised wooden handrails. Beside the rails were ripe coffee beans ready for harvest. Quite tempting. The landscape changes from pine forest, passing by a huge cave with a campsite in it, then mossy forest and, eventually leading us to the “bathtub” at 1425H where we fetched water. From there, it’s the final assault to the first campsite.

Start of Hagdanan ni Bulilit. A steel staircase going to the bathtub.

The bathtub is the last water source going to the first campsite. There’s one more like that few meters away.

At 1540H, we arrived at the campsite. It was wide enough to organize and celebrate a mountain festival. My bff suggested to camp at the summit so we headed right away and got there before sunset. The “Durungawan ni Jose” is a campsite at the summit protected with a steel fence. We got plenty of time for the sunset so we visited the “Carrot Peak” which is obligatory according to our guide. This massive boulder perched beside the summit is worth visiting with a cross marker on top. Going back to the ridge viewing deck, we were stunned by the magnificent sunset as the thin clouds pass by which adds drama to the view.

Tatay Baltazar was a rich source of story and information. Prior to being a guide, he was the former Brgy. Chairman of Sinacbat.
The pine trails from the “bathtub” to the first campsite.
Pine resin has plenty of uses including varnish, sealant or glue. When distilled (rosin), it is used used in construction to promote a better grip between objects, oil of turpentine which is used as a solvent and as a paint thinner. Aside from that, it has some medicinal use such as the treatment of rheumatism, burns, sores and other medical conditions.
The first campsite where we found a stick insect (Clitarchus hookeri). This insect is commonly found in the tropics and feeds on plants. It is remarkable for camouflage.
The Durungawan ni Jose offers a panoramic view of Sinacbat, surrounding mountains of Bakun and the province of Ilocos.
The “Carrot Peak” with a cross on top is a must when scaling Tenglawan. It’s just a 7 minutes walk from the summit.

For dinner, slight heating of meals bought from Buguias was prepared by my bff. After that, a bottle of Jose Cuervo was opened and enjoyed. The guide really loved it. For him, it’s special and he even recited a prayer prior to tagay (drinking) session.

Second Day – Back to Sinacbat

We were greeted by a gorgeous sunrise. Everybody was lazy to come out of their tent as occasional fog passes by the ridge. I just opened my tent door and gazed at the horizon. As soon as the breakfast was ready, we hurriedly chow down, decamp, made an obligatory group photo then started the descent.

My bff Ira is still the best when it comes to mountain food preparation. You deserve an award bff!

Aira doing some maneuvering during our ascent from the summit.

Staghorn fern

Finally passed by the open trails. From there, it’s 15 minutes away to Luponan.

The trail after Kainan ni Baltazar to Luponan was excruciatingly painful to skin and eyes. It gives me sunburn after. Please cover all throughout.

For guide, contact Tatay Baltazar Bisley at 09205882645.

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I live my life everyday celebrating. An easy go lucky guy. Always hungry for adventure and learning different cultures. If I'm not at the summit, I'm at the sea. Traveling is my way of life. Deeply in love with mountaineering, swimming, skinny dipping, island hopping, fishing, and cycling. Loves good food, beer, music, and good human conversation. At home, I used to cook, do yoga, and meditate. A coffee lover. Stay most of my time at the outdoors, breathing the cold air, tasting the saltiness of sea breeze, watch the waves swiftly caressing the sand, listen to the flowing water of the river, pitch my tent or hang my hammock and sleep under 5 billion stars. I hate manicured places (resorts). Adores sunrise and sunset which gives me extraordinary energy.