mt. asog: the mountain of the rising sun

Mt. Asog / Mt. Iriga

Iriga City, Camarines Sur
1,140 MASL
Jump Off: Sitio Ilian, Brgy. San Nicolas
Trek time: 3 – 4 hrs.
Considered a Minor climb with a difficulty level of 4/9

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This old volcano saw my entire childhood literally because our house is just located at the foot of Mt. Asog where I play, study and most of all do hard labor to earn money. My grandfathers’ land is located almost  midway to the summit and we usually go there every weekend to either plant or harvest corn and other vegetable plant such as okra, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots etc. Mt. Asog has a special place in me since this is where my parents get most of our product to sustain our needs. 

Though Mt. Asog is literally my playground I’ve never reach the summit not until December 26, 2015. Ironic Isn’t it? Well, I didn’t know that the mountaineering path will be my passion when I grow up.

The Climb to Mt. Asog

It happened so fast, we planned for it a month before but our initial plan was to hike Mt. Asog together with Mt. Isarog. Unfortunately, sad things are meant to happen even if we don’t want it to happen. My Mom died of Cancer on the 17th of December so I had to rush home and help prepare for everything since I am the eldest. Anyway, we are mourning on the week before Christmas but we decided not to mourn after the burial because we know that our Mom would not be happy for us spending the Christmas mourning. We have accepted the truth that we can no longer do anything after knowing that she has a stage 4 Colon Cancer. We prayed for her and make her feel loved that’s all we can do and let God decide for her fate.

On the 26th of December after Christmas we decided to dayhike Mt. Asog. I prayed to my Mom and asked her permission to let us climb Mt. Asog. I told her that at the summit Me, my buddy and her will admire the beauty of Mt. Asog and let this mountain heal ourselves and accept the fate that was given to us.

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Ilian Tribal Settlement

The day before our climb we went to Brgy. Hall of San Nicolas to ask the Chairman if we still need to get a permit to climb Mt. Asog, unluckily the Chairman is out of his house so we head home and decided that we will directly go to Ilian where we need to ask the local Agta tribe for permission and of course ask for guide.

Normally before climbing Mt. Asog one needs to get a permit from the Tourism Office of Iriga City according to the chieftain of the tribe but since it’s a holiday there’s no office on that day and we argued that we are locals of Iriga. We spoke the same language so he didn’t dwell much on the permit issue. I politely asked him for a local guide since we don’t know the trail, though we can really manage to hike without a guide using our cellphones offline gps map. (Guide is mandatory for non residents of Iriga)

Once we had our guide we decided to eat pansit lomi for breakfast before starting our trek. We brought 4 liters of water because according to the local guide there’s no water source along the way.

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At the start of the trek the trail is flat with occasional gradual ascent littered with coconut trees and fruit bearing tree along the way. Bare in mind though that there maybe some trees along the trail but the heat is formidable it doesn’t cover much of the trail that’s why I suggest you prepare accordingly. After around 30 minutes of gradual ascent be prepared for more heat coz from here all trails lead to vegetable plantation are open trail. Most trees were cleared to give way to the growing crops. The heat is really your enemy in this hike plus the fact that the air is very humid. (Sobrang nakaka drain buti may mga buko sa daan)

Past the plantation is the Cogon Grass trail where you will have to battle your way up to the campsite. It is almost another 30-40 minutes of dueling with the sharp and itchy leaves of Cogon Grass. The trail to the summit is very established but beware of the fire ants along the trail because it’s painful when you get bitten. (I wasn’t mindful as I admire the view, two fire ant wants a piece of me as I stand on their home.)

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The Dead Crater of Mt. Asog

We finally reached the Summit of Mt. Asog after 3 hours of battling with the heat and itchy tall Cogon grasses. The view is rather breathtaking and marvelous. You’ll have a 360 degree view of Iriga City, to your east you will see Mt. Masaraga standing tall and proud while beneath it is the famous lake Buhi with its famous smallest food fish in the world listed in the Guiness Book of Record the “Sinarapan” or Mistichthys luzonensis. To the North the view was obscured by the clouds but the foot of Mt. Isarog can never escape you. To the west you will see both the Baao Lake and Lake Bato.

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Lake Bato

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Baao Lake

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| As promised, I closed my eyes imagining the beauty of the surroundings feeling my Mom’s hand holding me and together touching the clouds, pointing familiar places we’ve known ever since, looking for our house beneath the trees, looking for the roads that leads to everywhere and finally accepting that all happens for a reason. She held me closed, hugged me in my imagination and let her go free into the vast blue sky promising that all will be okay soon. |

We spend an hour at the summit taking photographs and admiring the beauty of the environment.

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Me and My buddy having a mandatory picture

According to our guide the view in the south is very spectacular on a clear day. One may be blessed with the beauty of Mt. Mayon and the Catanduanes province but during our hike the cloud cover most of the mountain in the south, it maybe noteworthy to come back and spend the night to see for real the beauty of Mayon from Mt. Asog. I would also like to see the sunrise from Mt. Asog.

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My buddy doing our Sulit pose while sitting near the cliff

Suggested Itinerary for Mt. Asog Dayhike

0630 Assembly San Nicolas Brgy. Hall
0700 Breakfast
0730 ETD for Ilian Tribal Settlement (Walk or hail a Tryc P10.00)
0745 ETA Ilian Jump Off/Register/Get Guide (Guide Fee P300-500 dayhike)
0800 Start Trek
0900 Pass the last coconut plantation (prepare for intense heat)
1015 ETA Campsite
1100 Summit/Enjoy the view/Photo Ops
1200 Lunch
1230 Start Descent
1400 ETA jump off
1430 Wash up (note: there’s no wash up area in the tribal settlement but there’s an Irrigation that most local take a bath)
1600 Head Home

We started our descent after we had lunch and a few minutes siesta. You can’t really stay long at the summit because there’s no trees to protect you from intense heat. The first hour of descent wasn’t easy because you will have to avoid the sharp leaves of Cogon at the same time watch your step to avoid the slippery dried Cogon leaves and Cogon culm. Once you get past the Cogon area the rest of the trail is easy downhill. It took us 1.5 hr back to the jump off.

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The foot of Mt. Iriga where Ilian Tribal Settlement is located with the large IRIGA CITY symbol just like the one in Hollywood.

Special Concern

Please take note that there are presence of Lipa tree littered along the trail, there are also rattans along the trail and fire ants. The heat is your major concern, there’s no water source along the trail so we suggest that you bring enough water during your hike. Permit to climb is necessary, kindly communicate with the chieftain of the Aeta community for the process and for the guide fee.

Chieftain Lome Wapallas
Contact Info: 0946-0784-261
Most Notable Side Trip for Mt. Asog

Here are some of the noteworthy sidetrips that you may want to try.

  • Lake Buhi

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Lake Buhi up close, known for its “Sinarapan fish” the smallest food fish in the world listed in the Guinness Book of Record.

  • Tubigan Falls

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Tubigan falls is located in Sitio Tubigan, Brgy. Sta. Maria Iriga City, to get here kindly contact Jonas to guide you.

Jonas
Contact info: 0936-742-7272

He may also guide you to Sabang Falls located also in Sitio Cawayan, Brgy. Sta Maria kindly inform him that you get his number from Lakwatserong Sulit

  • Iriga Church

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Iriga Church; The first church was burned in 1585. The second church was damaged by a typhoon and destroyed by fire. The third church, constructed in 1727, was also burned in 1841. The present church, together with the two belfries, was constructed shortly afterwards.

  • Biggs Diner

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Who would not want to have a sumptuous meal after a hike? If you’re in the city you must try the food of Biggs Diner as it is very known in the bicol region.

  • Itbog Falls

I don’t have photo of the Itbog Falls but soon when I get back I will go there and took some photos and update this entry.


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One thought on “mt. asog: the mountain of the rising sun

  1. Very good reporting, hope to ask you more detailed questions, maybe in facebook. I love mountains and hike too. Thanks and more green…

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