OPEN CLIMB: MT. DAGULDOL
San Juan, Batangas
Jump-off: Brgy. Hugom, San Juan
Latitude, Longitude, Altitude: 13°40.380N 121°19.160E, 672 Meters Above Sea Level (+ 672 m)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
A nice trek in southern Batangas is the coastal mountain of San Juan, Mt. Daguldul. The name 'Daguldul' or 'Daguldol' has been used since olden days. It has an onomatopoeic feeling – that of suspense and grandness. Maybe it describes the grandeur of the range and the abrupt rolling of its slopes.
Actually a small mountain range, Mt. Daguldul has several 'gems' to offer. First, there is the unique seascape that greets the hiker on the intial beach trail. Then, there is trail, moderate in difficulty, passing by woodlands and light forests. In some parts, the greenery is total. Of course there is the peak, which, although not really spectacular in terms of views, has a refreshing feel. Finally, there are excellent sidetrip choices such as the unique Naambon Falls and the acclaimed Laiya beach.
A good thing about Mt. Daguldul is that the guides are organized under the Hugom Environmental Guides Association (HEGA). This means that fees are fixed and they are reasonsable - guides for P400/day and a climbing fee of P30 (as of 2006; update needed). After meeting with the guides or registering, you can start trekking. The trail starts off at the beach - here is where you can see the good rock formations. Afterwards, you will enter the forest. After around 1.5-2 hrs, halfway through the trail, you will see Mang Lizardo's place; in this area are stores offering basic foodstuffs and softdrinks. Buco juice and even fresh, pure honey can be bought here. Another 1.5-2 hrs and you will reach the peak/campsite areas. Long Henson (2001-2002) was the first to report the names of these campsites, namely Campsite 1 (Gulugod-Baboy); Campsite 2 (Niyugan - lots of cocount trees); and Campsite 3 (Anahawan). Usually, the determining factor in camping is the one you reach before nightfall, but these campsites are all within the area which you can explore anyway.
The summit area is windy, as expected from a coastal mountain. Grasslands make for a 'picnic ground' feel; there are some rock formations also. In one viewpoint, called Biliran ng Limatik (20 minutes from Niyugan campsite), the nearby mountains such as Maculot (NW), Malipunyo (NNW), and more distant Mt. Banahaw (NE) can be seen; and also Mindoro (and perhaps Verde Island, SE), Tayabas Bay (SW) and a faint island, Marinduque (SSW). Visible also is Naguiling Peak in the same range - a pristine, promising destination.
On the way back, in between Mang Lizardo's place and the beach, there is a marker that leads to Naambon Falls, just 5 minutes away from the trail. The 25 meters cascade of water falling down a rock face is a must-visit on a trek to Mt. Daguldul. Finally, after the climb, you can unwind in the cool waters of Laiya beach before heading back to Manila.