I was allowed to only have a day of leave during my group's outreach program in the area of Mt. Tabayok. The actual outreach program was scheduled on a Saturday (May 23), but the whole trip will last for 4 days given the distance of the place. Mt. Tabayok is located near Brgy. Ballay (pronounced Bal-lay) in Kabayan, Benguet. The land travel will take about 15-20 hours, almost two days is allocated just for the trip.
As part of the 'Habol'group, we left Manila taking the Victory bus bound for Baguio . We left on Friday night and arrived on Baguio early morning of the next day (the first group left thursday). From here, the idea is take the bus bound to Kabayan, this is the same bus that is normally taken by climbers going to Mt. Pulag via Akiki trail. The problem here is that there are only two bus trips per day, and they are scheduled to leave Baguio by 10:00am and the other one is 04:00pm. Its is still very early when we arrived at the bus station (8:00am) and being on a time constraint, we don't want to waste any moment. So, we decided to hire an FX taxi and maybe we could still be able to catch the actual turn-over of Donations. Its the drivers first time going to Kabayan, my guess is that if he knew the place (and the roads) he might not have agreed on being hired since half of the road is not yet cemented and its an eight hour trip.
When we arrived at Brgy. Ballay, the actual gift giving was completed. We missed it by an hour or two. The school supplies had been distributed to the students and the computers had been installed in the Faculty rooms. There are also several boxes of vitamins that had been distributed to the kids of the community (thanks to Unilab). A bit disappointing but were still OK, we'll planned to be the support group anyways. And the community was already very happy whenever urban citizens visits their place. Our companions had been camping out in the schools rooms. This is the reason they told us not to bring tents. We also lodged hourselves in the vacant rooms.
The next day is the actual climb day to Mt. Tabayok. The first batch hired a jeepney going here and this was also the one that took us to Mt. Tabayok. Mt. Tabayok is the 5th highest mountain in Philippines with height estimated at 2,870 MASL. There is a lake situated beside the mountain (Lake Tabeyo), this lake was voted for cleanest lake in the PI way back in 2003, but now I guess it has lost its glory. The lake is not crystal clear anymore and looks more like Taal lake. The jumpoff starts at 2,200 MASL, since we started climbing at a high altitude there were only 600 meters left to gain. According to my friend who was one of the pioneers in climbing this mountain there were only 2 houses around the foot of the mountain during their exploration climb. But now there are a lot, and a big part of the mountain slope is now being converted to farmlands. I also noticed that there are a lot of cut mountain trees which are near the farmlands, my hunched is that the farmers are planning to expand their farms. I could rate the climb easy as there is a well established trail and there are lots of portruding branches and roots to hang-on to. The forrest is very mossy and the weather is cold. The summit has no clearing, but what the locals did was they created an elevated viewing deck that lets you peek at the top of the trees. You can see Mt. Pulag from summit. We stayed here for a few hours and then we decided to head back down. The trek back down was also relatively easy and we managed to get back on the jumpoff with only minor hitches.
We left early the next day and the same jeepney took us to Baguio. The locals were so happy of our visit that the Baranggay Captain keep on texting while were on our way. Special thanks to Raymond for giving us extra entertainment during this trip.
Lake Tebayo with Mt. Tabayok on the background
At the Flatform