Adventure Notes # 16: Mt. Hapunang Banoy

MARCH 20, 2016

Mt. Hapunang Banoy is one of the Rizal mountains (the others are Mts. Pamitinan, Binacayan, and Ayaas) accessible from Brgy Wawa, Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal. The relative proximity and convenience of going to Rizal has opened the area to more visitors looking for a quick getaway from the city.

According to some sources, hapunang banoy refers to the mountain being observed as a perching place for eagles in the past. Today however, spotting these magnificent birds of the sky is very rare due to human incursion into their natural habitats.

Phoebe and I are joined by our college friend Patrick as well as another group from SGV led by my friend Paolo. Phoebe, Patrick and I took public transport from Cubao while Paolo’s group came via private transportation, with Brgy. Wawa serving as our rendezvous point. After registering and securing our guide, we started the hike at around 7:30 AM.

Brgy. Wawa has already become a popular spot for visitors. On any weekend, hundreds climb its mountains and more during summertime to take a dip at the river. The hike starts with the familiar hanging bridge and cluster of village houses before entering the wooded ascending trail.

On a brisk pace, we reached the junction in under an hour. The junction is where the trail to Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoy splits. To my surprise, there are already many stores here when it used to be just a small flat resting place several months ago when we climbed Pamitinan. Meals, snacks, refreshment and even T shirt are already being sold.

Stores at the junction.

Stores at the junction of Banoy and Pamitinan

After resting at the junction, we proceeded to the trail leading to Hapunang Banoy. At first, it was the same semi forested trail, with viewpoints along the way offering a glimpse of the neighboring mountains and of the plains below. As we climbed higher, the limestones became more pronounced, interspersed at some points with forested trail.

The most challenging part involves going through a narrow opening in between limestone boulders, and then stepping over wide cracks with nary a handhold. After  more than two hours, we arrived at the summit. It was scorchingly hot, and the large number of hikers and not much space to move around meant a long wait for a turn to get at the desired viewing spots.

Instead of pushing for the summit, we have to contend with a spot that was still offering a good view of the summit. After our photo ops and a few minutes basking in the view (and the intense heat), we started our descent.

Mark, Phoebe and Patrick

Mark, Phoebe and Patrick at Hapunang Banoy summit.

We were back at the junction in an hour. After the heat of the assault, the ice cold melon and coconut juice was heaven sent, I downed three of them straight (they cost P15/10 ounce glass). After we had our lunch, our guice suggested we go down using another trail that will lead to Wawa dam and the campsite beside the river.

This descent trail is steep for the first part only. Once you get through it, it is more gradual, and you will pass by fruit bearing trees such as guavas, mango, and starapples. After some time, we reached a small, almost dry river bed, and I recognized this as the same river system in our last Pamitinan day hike. The dry summer months has reduced the river into a mere trickle.

Our hike ended at the campsite before crossing to the other side of Wawa river. On summer months, the waters of the river receded enough for you to cross without going into the water, with only a small bridge in place. Wawa river also becomes an alternative swimming destination for beaches. Floating cottages line up the river side, and even at the cascade of the dam!

Hapunang Banoy 13

Wawa river in the summer.

Hapunang Banoy 14

Wawa Dam transforms into a summer destination

Fresh produce from Wawa - big, juicy

Fresh produce from Wawa – big, juicy starapples (kaimito) and singkamas.

5:15 AM Depart Cubao via FX to Eastwood, Rodriguez
6:10 AM Arrive in Rodriguez. Take tricycle to Brgy. Wawa
6:25 AM Arrive in Brgy. Wawa. Register and arrange guide
7:30 AM Start of hike.
8:15 AM Arrive in junction, where the trail to Pamitinan and Banoy separates
10:00 AM Arrive in Hapunang Banoy summit, take photo ops
10:30 AM Start descent
11:30 AM Back at junction, rest and lunch.
12:30 PM Start descent to Wawa Dam.
2:00 PM Back at jump off, tidy up
3:00 PM Take jeepney back to Eastwood Rodriguez.
3:15 PM Rodriguez, take van to Cubao
4:20 PM Arrive in Cubao. End of Itinerary.
FX Fare to Eastwood Rodriguez P50
Tricycle fare to Brgy. Wawa P60/trip for 3 persons
Registration fee P50/person
Guide fee (P800 for 8) P100
Bath fee P25
Jeepney fare to Eastwood, Rodriguez P8
Van fare to Cubao P50
Others: Breakfast, buko/melon juice, halo2, fresh fruits P100
  • Registration fee at Brgy. Wawa Tourism Center has bumped up from P2 to P50 per person.
  • Guides can already be secured at the Tourism Center, as opposed to them being contacted in advanced. In fact, this is now the preferred arrangement.
  • There are now more stores and resting points along the way
  • There is a traverse trail from the junction that leads to the campsite beside Wawa river.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

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