Isle of Wight Snippets: The Needles and Alum Bay

Isle of Wight is a well-known local tourist destination in England. Of the popular places to go, The Needles in Alum Bay is among the most searched online as a testament of its beauty.

The place is very family friendly. You can also bring your dogs on lead.

There are a lot of activities in the area aside from visiting the tip of the island where the Needles are located. Among them are 4D Cinema, a chairlift to the sea side, glass demonstration, games, and a small jurassic adventure golf in Alum Bay. You can also walk to Tennyson Down, a very scenic foothpath, which leads to Freshwater Bay.

You can easily reach this destination with the public bus operating in the Island. You can visit the Northern Vectis website for updated information of bus schedule and fees. The place also has a good-sized car park if you want to travel in your own wheels. The Island’s official webpage for The Needles and Alum Bay is also a good place to start especially for guide fees and activities.

The following are images I took on my multiple visits to The Needles in Alum Bay.

The wooden stairs leading to the dirt road going to the seaside in Alum Bay
This footpath leads to the sea side and the platform where the chairlift ends. From this vantage, you can see the Needles.
One side of Alum Bay seen from the stairs connecting to the stairs.
The Needles as seen from Alum Bay.
Closer look of The Needles on the other side.
The other side of The Needles.

In conclusion, the The Needles and Alum Bay is still a good place for family relaxation. It is best enjoyed though during late Spring, all throughout Summer, and early Autumn.




Last updated:

03 August 2016

25 North Santo Tomas Road, Campo Sioco, Baguio City, Philippines.
Contact Details:
Tel. No.: +63 74 424 5745;
CP No.: +63 915 655 5745
Registration Fee:
Business Hours:
8:30AM to 4:30PM (Cosmic Journey closed on Mondays)
How to Get There:
·         Take a Campo Sioco jeep at the Igorot Park
·         Take a taxi.
·         For private car, drive to Marcos Highway, then take a right turn to North Santo Tomas Road


Revisiting the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary had been a nostalgic moment to me as it had been a venue to several self-awareness activities with my students when I was working as a clinical nurse instructor. The stonehenge, the native huts, and concrete benches had been mute witnesses to some of my students’ priceless smiles as they recounted their best life experiences as well as tearful accounting of their struggles and how they coped with it. It is basically the perfect place when you want to unwind, find the inner peace in yourself, or  discover the balance in your stressful life.
The Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, a green museum, is located in the City of Pines just a few minute drive away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district. The green museum offers a two-hour Cosmic Journey among its several programs. The Cosmic Journey walks you to 14 stations depicting natural history along its easy trail.
Following the trail gives you a serene feeling that “challenges us to reassess our role and relationship with the Universe, and to refashion our way of life in conformity with nature” (Cosmic Journey, n.d.). This had been the biggest factor why this venue is good for self-awareness activities.

  • Follow the trail as indicated by the map given by the security guard.
  •  Do not pick flowers.
  • Do not vandalize any of the art forms along the trail.
  • Be guided by the Leave No Trace mantra.
After securing a ticket, the security guard will direct you to the start of the journey.
Follow the stairs going up to the right, the left merges with the end of the journey.
You will not be lost as you will be guided by arrows, rails, and caricatures along the trail.
One of the ruins during the 1990s earthquake.
A good place to sit, relax, or even meditate. However, there are even better places along the trail.
Obviously, another building ruin.
The Hermitage near the ruins.
The first station.
“The universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago.”
Near the first station is a bell inscribed with “We are the Earth, the people, plants and animals, breath of the forest and flow of the sea.”
“I pledge allegiance to the Earth and to the flora, fauna and human life that it supports, one planet, indivisible, safe air, water and soil, economic justice equal rights and peace for all.”
Unfortunately, the concrete chairs arranged in a circular manner is located near a private building. I remember sitting and talking with my students before on those concrete chairs. I just cannot reconcile with my memory if the building was there before.
Another station.
“Planet Earth emerges 5 billion years ago.”
A depiction of the Stonehenge is the center of the second station.
One of the stonehenges. Don’t climb it just to have a selfie.
This is also located in the Stonehenge area serving as a gate or entry way.
Another place for chitchat though could only accommodate a few.
Another station.
“The oceans are the birthplace for life 3 ½ years ago. “
Adorned with shells, the min-pool at the center gives connection to the station. I remember burning papers inscribed with my students’ bitter memories here, a symbolic act of letting the bitterness of those memories go as we go on in our life.
The sanctuary is a haven covered with pine trees and Chinese bamboo. During my revisit, the bamboos and grasses are abundant awaiting for pruning and mowing.
The side rails guides you to the next station. You might as well enjoy the plants along the way.
Another station.
“Dinosaurs on the scene 235 million years ago.”
Unfortunately, the art depiction on this station is on maintenance during my revisit. Anyway, it shows dinosaur eggs and a hatchling.
Another station.
“The mammals arrive 220 million years ago.”
Well, though we are mammals humans are not yet here, I think.
Another station.
“The birds take flight 150 years ago.”
A nest made out of pine needles.
Another station.
“Flowers spread on the earth 130 million years ago.”
A flower at the center of the circular stone bench depicting the station.
Another station.
Here we are!
“The primates come forth 65 million years ago.”
Charles Darwin versus the Bible, huh?
Another station.
“Early humans lives in caves 50,000 years ago.”
Depiction of the Tabon cave.
A note inside the “cave.”
Yeah, yeah, that is the exit from the cave. Don’t worry, you don’t need to crawl or slide like in real caves.
Lo, the bridge! I have seen a few of my extraordinarily brave students cower in this bridge.
From this vantage, you cannot see the full stretch of the bridge because of its upward curve.
Another station.
“The village period 10,000 years ago.”
A traditional Cordilleran village had been used to depict the flourishing of villages.
A closer look at one of the depiction of the native huts.
It’s not typical in a native hut but it’s an artwork I must say.
The campsite is near the traditional village.
The campsite as seen from a high vantage point.
A path leading to the next station. There is a comfort room to the left of the path (not shown in photo).
Another station.
“The earth gives sweet water.”
A well depicting the station’s theme.
Another station
“The emergence of the Earth’s religious traditions.”
A bulol depicting the station’s theme.
At this point, there are still few remaining station and artworks depicting each station’s theme. However, I was already engaged in a conversation with visitors like me in the sanctuary, thus I was not able to take images. This, I guess, is a cue that you need to visit the sanctuary to see the remaining artworks, the gallery [no images shown], take a coffee at Mollies Café, or you might try the other programs being offered.

Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail

Location: Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet, Philippines.
Trail: Tomtombek-Sta. Fe Ridge traverse (or backtrack).
Contact Number: 0928-483-1133; 0921-729-2726; 0946-340-4561.
Registration Area: Ampucao Barangay Hall
Registration Fee: Php100.00 per person.
Guide Fee: Php400.00  (max of 10 persons per guide). This will double to Php800.00 if you decide to camp for a night.
How to get there:
·         From Baguio City. Take a PUJ bound to Samuyao or Ampucao. The loading station is located behind Jollibee Magsaysay and beside Orion Drug. There’s a couple of tarpaulins indicating “loading area for Mt. Ulap” posted near it. Fare as of April 2016 is Php31.00. Just inform the driver that you need to drop at the Ampucao Barangay Hall for the Mt. Ulap hike registration. PUJ fare from Sta. Fe to Baguio City is Php50.00.
·         From outside CAR. Take a bus bound to Baguio City. Follow above information.
A newly formalized hiking destination, Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail, a less-than-an-hour drive from Baguio City, offers six stations which boast majestic views of Cordillera mountains, pine forests, grassland ranges, man-made stone stacks, picturesque boulders, and a faraway glimpse of the San Roque Dam and Philex mining area.
Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail is in close proximity to Baguio City unlike other popular hiking destinations in the region such as Mt. Ugo and Mt. Pulag. Travel time would be about 45 minutes depending on the traffic at the central business district. En route, you will pass by Camp John Hay, Philippine Military Academy, and Texas Instruments. Don’t get confused with the arch indicating Ampucao Elementary School at the drop-off area. Both the elementary school and barangay hall are located in the same compound. There is a table for registration with logbooks for Baguio City and NCR hikers attended by an officer. You will pay here the registration fee and guide fee. You will be assigned a guide according to the local queuing. An environmental orientation by your guide is a must before leaving the barangay hall. There are foods and bottled drinks peddled in the area, so don’t get nervous when you forgot to buy bottled water for the hike. There’s clean comfort rooms in case you need to attend to nature’s call or change clothes before the hike.
There are six stations along the trail. Tomtombek, the first station, is an easy walk from Ampucao Barangal Hall. A raised metal welcome board showing the stations marks the beginning of the upward assault. The next station, Ambanao Paoay, a 1,788 mASL peak, is adorned with man-made stone stacks. You may add your own design in here. Careful however not to erect it along a footpath. Camping is allowed at the lower portion of this station. Also, along this station, a portion of the San Roque Dam and Philex mining area can be seen. The third station, Gungal, at 1,814 mASL is characterized with rock boulders. Some tourists say that this part is the highlight of the trek. Taking a solo shot at the famous, pentacle-vandalized, Gungal rock seems to appeal to most hikers, thus making this the most populated station during the day. The fourth station and the 1,846 mASL summit, Mt. Ulap, is covered with grass. A concrete marker is seen in its highest point inscribed with the name of the Engineer who surveyed the area. Most of the campers favour this area than in Gungal. For campers, the magical sunset and sunrise is often sought here. There is a store and two open pit comfort room near the camping area. The fifth station, Pong-ol burial cave, is now closed to the public. Desecration of the sacred place as well as dangerous path are the reasons for its closure. Midway along the downhill path to the fifth station is a barricaded burial rock left. However, only a few bones were left by mummy thieves. Sta. Fe, the sixth station, marks the end of the trek.
Officially launched on 31 October 2015, hiking through Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail now means paying standard fees and adhering to its rules and regulations. According to a local guide, tour guide fees costs about Php500.00 before its official opening. Environmental prep talks is not done thus vandalism as well as desecration of the sacred burials areas is uncommon. As of April 2016, the Pong-ol Burial Caves is now closed to the public.
·         Practice the Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principle when visiting and camping.
·         Do not vandalize the stone and tree trunks.
·         Closing of registration at Ampucao Barangay Hall is 2:00PM. If you are a slow hiker, register before lunch or earlier if you don’t intend to camp for the night.
·         The fees including the guide fee are standardized. There’s no bargaining for lower price. Take note that the fees are lower compared to other eco-trails.
·         During holidays and weekends, registration starts as early as 4AM. However, to make sure of the availability of an officer at the barangay hall, It doesn’t hurt to inform the Tourism Council through the numbers listed above.
·         To those who are not regular hikers, take time to prepare yourself physically and mentally.
·         The foot paths are slippery during rainy season. However, you still need to be vigilant during summer because the dried soil easily crumbles under when stepped on.
The metal signage that marks the start of the six stations.
These are the sic stations of the Eco-Trail. However, to protect and preserve the sacred burial site, the Pong-ol Burial Cave is now out of the regular trail offering.
The trail is slippery during rainy season but the danger is as much present during summer. You need shoes that can conquer the dry, brittle and pebbled footpaths. Sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries to hikers during summer.

These are gates for cattle. Never open and pass through these gates; use the wooden makeshift stairs.
This is the first boulder along the trail where you can have a glimpse of the picturesque Itogon, Mt. Ugo, and even the mountains of Pangasinan.
A typical yet enthralling view of The Cordillera.

Pine trees and more pine trees but you’ll never get tired of it.
A corral for cattle branding.
Notice that most of the trunks are scorched. During summer, the dried pine needles are very combustible. Please be responsible not to cause fire during your visit [to any mountain].

A patch of pine tree saplings.
You will notice a lot of fallen trees. This was caused by previous tropical storms.
Cattle herd near the Ambanao Paoay peak.
Ambanao Paoay, the second station, is adorned with man-made stone stacks. This peak and its neighbour peak are cluttered with rocks, thus, often named as twin peaks.

The trail ahead as it snakes along the side and on top of the mountain as seen from Ambanao Paoay.

Pinit (Rubus niveus Thumb.), an indigenous wild berry in Cordillera, are commonly seen along the trail. This wild berry is edible.

Grassy sloped and sometimes dotted with pine trees is but one of many of what the Eco-Trail can offer.

Even the dead pines trees have their own charm.

Grass-covered mountain top.

Pine trees and grassland: a perfect duo for the eyes.

You’ll love this more with a clear blue sky background.

We’re not there yet.
You need to be sure-footed.
Survivor pine tree.

Of ferns and stones.

Those seconds when you just want to sit and marvel at the beauty of the mountains.
Another boulder for photo ops.
Another angle of the previous picture.
Let’s continue the trek.
Further along the trail.
Like walking at the top of the world.
Grace even during death.
And we are at Gungal station!
The famous pentacle-vandalized Gungal rock, where the heaviest hiker traffic happens. When taking a selfie, dangling your feet at the edge is now prohibited.
The trail out of Gungal station.
A closer look at the grass that covers the mountains.
Grassland ho!
More grassland.
The lines seen in the photo are actually cattle  paths made for years.
Never pull sapling when heaving your body upwards along difficult trails.
A downhill path before the upward assault to the summit.
These fences either denotes the boundary of land ownership or serves as safety barricade for cattle.
Another indigenous plant along the trail.
A mossy area near the summit.
The marker at the highest point at the summit. Engineer Lagman is the first surveyor of the then known as Pong-ol mountain. However, he forgot the name and just wrote what he saw, obviously, ulap (clouds).
The summit—Mt. Ulap.
Start of descend from the summit.
More cattle!
Cattle close up.
Another angle.
A glimpse of where we’ve walked.
The camping site.
A stall selling refreshments near the campsite.
The camp site has a nice flat surface.
Parts of the downhill trail were steps made with pine branches.
Shower areas, refreshments stalls and souvenir shops are available along Sta. Fe.
Concrete foot paths near the road.

You will pass through a number of hanging bridges.


Location: Cabalitocan, Luna, La Union, Philippines
Major Jump-Off Area: Municipal Plaza, Luna, La Union
Contact Person: Tito Gorospe (Tourism Officer): 09158072728 (Mobile No.) OR (072) 607 0099 / 607 1132 (Landline)
Registration Fee: Php10.00
How to Get There:
·         From Manila or Baguio City, take a bus bound to Laoag, Vigan or Abra. Drop at Municipal Plaza, Balaoan, La Union. Take a tricycle near the Seven-Eleven Store to Luna town proper. Regular fare is Php10.00 while Php50.00 if you hire the tricycle. Take another tricycle to Okkalong Falls at Php200.00 round trip fare with waiting time. One-way travel time is about 20 minutes.
·         From San Fernando City, La Union, you can take a Luna-bound jeepney. Otherwise, follow the travel plan for those coming from Manila or Baguio City. Bus ride from San Fernando City to Balaoan costs Php30.00 for ordinary buses. Travel time generally takes about 45 minutes.
Okkalong Falls (also Ukkalong Falls) is located in the mountainous barangay of Cabalitocan, Luna, La Union. Contrary to its name, it is not actually a water fall but an about 10-feet water cascade draining to a pool about the size of a half volleyball court. The pool is surrounded with tall trees, thus, getting sunburnt is less likely a problem. The area is obviously well-kept and is dotted with ornamental plants and orchids. Interestingly, there is a monkey in collar near the sari-sari store, probably for additional attraction purposes.
Amenities in the area include a small sari-sari store, a makeshift comfort room, and a shed with tables and benches. The shed is built primarily as a haven when raining.
Probably due to its size, Okkalong Falls is not as popular as Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel, La Union. However, locals flock to this area during summer and holidays.
Please be honest in paying the registration fee. The meagre registration fee goes to the maintenance of the area. Though Okkalong Falls is a small tourist attraction, it is regularly maintained even during off-peak season.
There is a footpath from Okkalong Falls that snakes up to the mountain. About 30-45 minutes uphill walk would lead you to a clearing that gives a panoramic view of the municipality with the sea as the horizon. Give another 30-45 minutes uphill hike and you will be blessed with a 360-degree view with the mountains of Bangar, Balaoan and Bacnotan in the eastern part.
Other notable tourist attractions in this municipality are the pebble-covered beaches, Baluarte ruin (Biyak na Bato) and Bahay na Bato.
·         If there is a sudden heavy downpour during the rainy season, do not linger in the river as it may swell to a dangerous level at any point in time. Cancel your trip if there is a continuous heavy downpour in the municipality.
·         Do not vandalize the stones by marker pens or etching upon it.
·         Stones along the river could be slippery.
·         Do not climb beyond the water cascade.
·         Do not wash things such as used plate, oily hands, etc. in the pool. Use the lower part of the river near the entrance for such activities.
Okkalong Falls is quite popular among Luna locals. If you want solitude in a fresh water park, this is more convenient than the heavily-populated rivers and water falls in La Union.
The pool is about half a volleyball court and not deep.
Halfway to the top of the mountain, about half an hour uphill trek from Okkalong Falls, you can have a panoramic view of the municipality with the West Philippine Sea as the horizon.
At the top of the mountain in Cabalitocan, about an hour uphill walk from Okkalong Falls, the mountains of Bangar, Balaoan, and Bacnotan gives a breath taking panorama.


Location: Carcarmay, Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines
Major Jump-Off Areas: Poblacion, Bacnotan, La Union and Bitalag Junction, Bitalag, Bacnotan, La Union.
How to Get There:
·         From Poblacion, Bacnotan, La Union. There are three options:
ü  Hire a tricycle directly to Carcarmay Elementary School. Tricycle hire is Php80-100; or
ü  Ballogo route: take a PUJ bound for Paraoir or Darigayos. Drop at Ballogo Junction. Take a tricycle to Carcarmay Elementary School; or
ü  Bitalag route: take a north-bound mini-bus (Vigan, Laoag, or Abra). Drop at Bitalag Junction and take a tricycle to Carcarmay Elementary School.
·         From San Fernando City, La Union. There are two options:
ü  Take a north-bound minibus or PUJ bound to Bacnotan or Luna. Drop at Bitalag Junction and take tricycle to Carcarmay Elementary School; or
ü  Take a PUJ bound for Paraoir or Darigayos. Drop at Ballogo Junction. Take a tricycle to Carcarmay Elementary School.
·         Bus from Manila or Baguio City bound to Laoag, Vigan, or Abra or vice versa.
ü  Drop at Poblacion, Bacnotan or San Fernando City Plaza and take any of the above schemes; or
ü  Drop at Bitalag Junction and take a tricycle to Carcarmay Elementary School.
A silent witness of peace, war, and development, the La Union Centennial Tree in Barangay Carcarmay, Bacnotan, La Union is continually adding up years in its existence. With a trunk of about 8 meters, it easily gives shade to a very wide area of the Carcarmay Elementary School where it has rooted.
The tree’s age’s traceability and its mute part in the locality’s history is highly notable. In 1896, the late Innocencio Mendioro, a Grade 3 pupil of the then nipa hut primary school, planted this acacia tree (Rudio, 2014a). Interestingly, this is the age of Dr. Jose Rizal’s execution. During the World War II, the shade of the Centennial Tree had been a sanctuary of the Japanese soldiers and their Filipino friends from the heat of the day. In time of peace decades later, one of these Japanese soldiers even used this as a marker in locating their former base (Rudio, 2014b). Rudio also cited that locals even have belief that treasures could be buried beneath its ground. In 2013, the caring and protection of the La Union Centennial Tree was officially transferred to Carcarmay Elementary School.
The La Union Centennial Tree was proclaimed as one of the 13 other Philippine Centennial Tree under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 98-25 on 03 June 1998. This AO also proclaims these centennial trees as Protected Trees. This also mandates a multi-sectoral effort in protecting these trees and the provision of corresponding penalties and for damage or injury to the tree (Rudio, 2014a).
·         The school where it is located is open for tourists even during weekends and holidays. It highly advisable though to go there outside class hours to avoid disturbance and to ask permission from the locals or school teachers.
·         As the tree serves as shade to the program and activity ground of the school, please maintain cleanliness and moving any equipment, furniture or things within the premises is highly discouraged.
·         Do not climb the tree.
You need to go through the entrance of the Carcarmay Elementary School. It highly advisable though to go there outside class hours to avoid disturbance and to ask permission from the locals or school teachers.
The marker is also pursuant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 98-25 dated 03 June 1998.
This tree served as a shade under the sun by pupils, soldiers, and community locals alike in parts of the Spanish colonization, Japanese and American invasion.
The circumference of the trunk is about 8 meters.
Branches branching out! Well, this is how it covers more than a quarter of the school premises.
Rudio, O. O. (2014a). News Item: MINDA Park Blessing & Turnover Ceremonies Held. Retrieved on March 15, 2016 from Probinsial Gobierno ti La Union Opisyal nga Website:
Rudio, O. O. (2014b). La Union Centennial Tree. Retrieved on March 15, 2016 from Provincial Government of La Union Official Website:

Tangadan Falls

Location: Amontoc, San Gabriel, La Union, Philippines
Major Jump-Off Area: Poblacion, San Gabriel, La Union
How to Get There:
·         Public transportation:
1.       Via San Fernando City, La Union. Take a PUJ (terminal at the northern side of the San Fernando City Round Market bound to San Gabriel. The regular fare is Php26.00. All San Gabriel-bound PUJs will stop at Barangay Poblacion with 30 minutes to an hour duration depending on the traffic. Preferably, you need to go to the San Gabriel Municipal Hall for arrangement of tour guides and transportation bound to Tangadan Falls parking area in Barangay Amontoc. For DIY transportation arrangement, you can ask the locals where to hire a PUJ or a motorcycle. Round trip hire including waiting time is Php1500.00-Php2000.00 for PUJ and Php350.00 for motorcycles. PUJ ride usually takes about 20 minutes; this is typically shorter when riding a motorcycle. From the parking area, you need to hike downhill on uneven [some parts are paved] foot path at least 10 minutes [for fast hikers] or [usually] longer depending on your pace. Going back may take thrice as much since you’ll be hiking uphill. (Take note that there are no PUJs going to the area on an hourly basis. Usually, there is a single Poblacion to Amontoc trip during or after lunch hours and Amontoc to Poblacion trip only in the morning. Thus, there is a need to hire a PUJ or motorcycle in a round trip basis if you don’t have your own transportation.)
2.       Via San Juan, La Union. Wait for San Gabriel-bound PUJs at the national hi-way crossing north of the San Juan Municipal Hall. There is a small sign “→ San Gabriel” along the crossing. Fare is around Php16.00
3.       Via Bacnotan, La Union. Take a PUJ from Poblacion, Bacnotan to Poblacion, San Gabriel. This is the least suggested itinerary since there is a limited Bacnotan-San Gabriel trips.
4.       Via Bucao, San Gabriel, La Union. This route is highly advisable when your transportation budget is limited. Take a tricycle from Poblacion, San Gabriel to Duplas, San Juan (via Bucao). Tricycle fare is PhP80.00. The hike, however, may take about an hour or even much longer to those who have a slower pace. This has a longer hike time than via Amontoc and thus not advisable to those who have no patience in exerting physical effort. On the other hand, this route might be more interesting to adventurous pips.
·         Private car: Google map suffices for direction. Also, asking the locals is highly advisable. 
1.       Via San Juan, La Union.
2.       Via Bacnotan, La Union.
Tangadan Falls is located in Amontoc, San Gabriel, La Union, a predominantly mountainous municipality in Region I. The name of Tangadan Falls is derived from an Ilokano root word “tangad,” which means to look up, probably due to the about 40–feet high water plunge.
Via Amontoc: Strenuous the hike as it may be, your physical effort will be rewarded with the mesmerizing cascade-to-pool and waterfall-to-pool series. From the parking area, you need to traverse a downhill footpath for at least 15 minutes. This may take longer depending on your pace and the condition of the path. Halfway, you will hear the roar of the water. During rainy season, the unpaved parts of the path tend to be muddy and slippery. Also, during this season, you may be rewarded with green vegetable gardens and rice paddies in you trek. Your bodily exertion during the hike will be rewarded when you reach your destination: clean, clear and invigoratingly cold water in a short cascade-to-pool-to-waterfall-to-pool series.

Via Bucao: About an hour walk from the turning point, you will pass by farms, irrigation dikes, and generally the river snaking up to the glorious Tangadan Falls. To nature-lovers, the rivulet, naturally-occuring pools, fishes (especially the abundant locally-termed “Bunog”), underwater grasses, diving cliffs, and low-height falls are but a few of the many delights en route.
Tangadan river could be divided into two levels: upper and lower. The upper level is composed of a short cascade of about 7 feet high and 4 feet wide. The width of the cascade narrows or widens depending on the season and amount of rainfall. Through the steep stone slope, water cascades to the narrow pool below. The pool is deep and about 30 feet wide by 90 feet long. It is surrounded with steep stone walls. The lower wall is easily accessible and serves as the diving and jumping point. The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The smaller outlet exits as a narrow cascade to the right of the precipice. The bigger outlet flattens as it moves above the rock ledge and plunges down to the wide pool of the lower level. The size of the pool could easily engulf two basketball courts. As of the beginning of 2016, there are three bamboo rafts (“raket” or “balsa”) which can be hired. You may ask the operator to take you near or under the falls, which tourists usually do. This is common because the jets of falling water gives a natural massage. Unlike in hand massage, you control the pressure by your proximity to the waterfall. You can also exhaust yourself swimming in this pool because of its size, thus the need for life vest for those who are not good and non-swimmers. The water from the second pool flows out through slippery rocks and exits to a gentle, wide, long, and 2-4 feet deep basin. Somehow, this is more conducive to children who does not know how to swim and those who wants to learn how to swim.
Amenities (rental prices may vary or increase without prior notice):
·        Parking fee: Php10.00
      Cottage: Php200.00-300.00.
·         Life vest or salbabida: Php50.00.
·         Bamboo raft (“raket”): Php400.00 (maximum of 10 pax)
  • Cancel your trip if there is a continuous heavy downpour in the municipality.
  • Registration is a must to all tourists.
  • Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes and clothes.
  • Strictly no cooking, grilling, and the likes. Take pre-prepared foods including water.
  • Life vest is a must for those who cannot swim in fresh water. Drowning is higher in fresh water than sea water.
  • Do not vandalize the stones by marker pens or etching upon it. As of late February 2016, the extent of etches upon stones have yet to abate.
  • Eating and throwing of garbage or food scraps along the river is prohibited.
  • The Municipality of San Gabriel is a Red Orchid Awardee and also awarded by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health as the Best LGU Implementer of Smoke-free Program in Region 1 (CSC, 2013). Most of the tourists in Tangadan Falls do not know this and are unendingly a-huffin’ and a-puffin’ clouds of cigarette smokes in and around the cottages.
  • When riding a PUJ to or from Tangadan Falls, “topload style” is allowed, as this is not uncommon among PUJs bound to the municipality’s mountain barangays. Make sure that you are secure and to always be vigilant in your grips. Take note, however, that the locals are used to this and are aware to strengthen and secure their grips in parts of the ride. Though, no accidents involving tourists on “topload style” is reported yet, do not be the first in the local statistics.
  • Do not go or cross cordoned areas (barricaded with bamboos or branches).
  • Stones along the river could be slippery.
  • If there is a sudden heavy downpour during the rainy season, do not linger in the river as it may swell to a dangerous level at any point in time.

This is the start of the downhill trek. The surface of the unpaved footpaths can be easily powderized under your shoes during summer. However, it is muddy during rainy season. In both cases, you need comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Non-hikers need to be careful in these unpaved footpaths.
The stretch of paved footpaths is increasing each year as Tangadan Falls visitors increase. There is even a plan of extending the paved road nearer to the waterfall.

This is the first view which invites you to go nearer.
The upper part consists of a short cascade and a narrow pool. The lower wall of the pool serves as a diving and jumping point.
The upper pool narrows down towards the water exit.

A complete view of the upper level.

The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The smaller outlet exits as a narrow cascade to the right of the precipice.
The shallow part as the water exits from the upper pool towards the plunge.
The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. Above is the bigger outlet before it flattens near the ledge.

The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The bigger outlet flattens as it moves above the rock ledge and plunges down to the wide pool of the lower level.
The great plunge and the narrow cascade.

View from near the water exit of the second pool.

Two of the three bamboo rafts (“raket” or “balsa”).
You can hire a bamboo raft and try the back massage under the waterfall.
A closer look at the narrow cascade.

This cascade has a more brute force and greater volume during rainy season. 

Careful! The rocks are slippery.

The water from the second pool flows out through slippery rocks and exits to a gentle, wide, long, and 2-4 feet deep basin. Somehow, this is more conducive to children who does not know how to swim and those who wants to learn how to swim.

The organic cottages is but one of the reasons why cooking with fire is prohibited in the area.

The shower facility. But then again, why do you need one? The water you’re going to shower is the same water you’ve waded minutes ago!
Well, don’t get too tired while swimming. Remember, you’ve got a steep climb ahead!
CSC (2013). Best Practices [PDF File]. Retrieved from

Mt. Kalugong


Location: La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines
Google Map:
Coordinates: 16°27’37″N 120°35’44″E.
Major Jump-Off Areas: Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet
Contact Details: 09196728888 or 09498980328
Entrance Fee: Php50.00
How to Get There: From Baguio City, take a jeepney bound to Tomay, Acop or Shilan. Drop at Benguet Memorial Services in Brgy. Cruz. The trail starts at the cemented road at the right side of this establishment.
Of the mountains surrounding the salad bowl of the Philippines, Mt. Kalugong might be the most popular. There are three alluring reasons why this mountain is becoming more widely known. One, it offers a panoramic view of the whole valley and the pastureland and pine forests at the western portion of the municipality. Notable establishments seen from the mountain includes the whole stretch of Benguet State University, Benguet capitol building, La Trinidad municipal hall, strawberry fields, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources fish ponds, and the Balili River snaking along three-kilometre stretch. Two, Mt. Kalugong offers a quiet place to relieve the stresses of the urban life. Currently, there are native huts, benches and tables, swing, and two ziplines erected in the conifer-covered area of the mountain. This environment is very pleasant to family or group picnics. Three, for the adventurous persons, Mt. Kalugong offers boulders upon boulders of limestones of different sizes and shapes.
The name of Mt. Kalugong came from a local word which means “hat”. This name is coined from a stone boulder resembling a baseball hat at the southern portion of the mountain as seen from the eastern part of the valley. Before the place was developed as an ecological park, the rock formations had been drawing a lot of locals. The area where it is not covered with limestone was previously used as venue for 4×4 off-road car racing.
·         The Tabangaoen trail is already closed since 2014.
·         Practice the Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principle when visiting the place.
·         Do not vandalize the stone formations.
The limestone formations have always been the biggest asset of the place.
Plants growing at the crevices near the ground.

At the top of the mountain, the panoramic view of the valley can be seen. However, in order to see this you need to move further west.

Buburtak weeds are all over the place. With that being said, bees are also present during the blossoming season.

If you are afraid of heights, this is not your place. Wear clothes suited for climbing rocks upon rocks.

Mt. Jumbo can be seen towards the southeast horizon.

Its as if the rocks were strategically planted on the ground.

Note the size of the rock to the brush.

Don’t wander on the limestone area at the heat of the day. It will be hard finding a shaded area.

Lichens cover some surfaces of the stones. Be wary of them to avoid slipping.

Mushrooms growing in a piece of wood wedged between stones.

This part reminds me of NatGeo shows. Its a perfect combination of rocks and greens.

Spot the dragon.

Check the following video of Nomadic Highlander for more details:

Mt. Pulag


Location:Parts of it are located in Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines.
Google Map:
Coordinates:16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E.
Major Jump-Off Areas: Babadak Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet (Ambangeg Trail), Brgy. Doacan, Kabayan, Benguet (Akiki Trail), Sitio Labang, Brgy. Tawangan, Kabayan (Tawangan Trail).
Trails:Ambangeg Trail, Akiki Trail, Vizcaya Trail, and Tawangan Trail.
Contact Person: Emerita Albas (DENR-PASU): 09196315402.
Registration Fee: Php225.00 (For updated fees, contact Ms. Albas).
At 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon (UNESCO, 2006). Its fame is attributed to the scenic view at the peak especially during sunrise and sunset. The heaven-like scene at the summit, the “sea-of-clouds” phenomenon, and the unobstructed view of the Milky Way at dawn are but some reasons why mountain climbers kept on coming back in this “playground of the Ibaloi gods”. During sunrise, the changing of colors in the horizon and the mountainsides turning into gold when kissed by the early morning sun are breath taking. In order to protect and preserve the outstanding natural features particularly the wildlife, vegetation and the tarns of the area, Mt. Pulag was proclaimed National Park by virtue of Pres. Proclamation No. 75 on February 20, 1987 covering an area of 11,550 hectares (Pres. Proclamation No. 75 s. 1987). The preservation of Mt. Pulag also greatly reflects the cultural values of the locals. The lakes and mountains, like Mount Pulag, are deemed sacred and home of the spirits of their ancestors; thus, protected and kept safe.
There are three types of vegetation in the area suggesting the transition of elevations. The summit is covered with grass and the dwarf bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis). At lower elevation, the mossy forest covers the mountainside. Below the small tree, fern, lichen, moss, and fog-covered mountainside is the coniferous forest. Mt. Pulag is also home to the Philippine Brown Deer, cloud rat (Crateromys schadenbergi) and the Luzon pygmy fruit bat (Otopteropus cartilagonodus).
Braving to camp at the summit during December, January and February exposes climbers to freezing temperatures and sometimes accompanied with rainfall. Planning ahead of time and considering the season of the year would prepare climbers from undue situations.
Respect and Protect
Respect the people and their culture. The beauty of Mt. Pulag has persevered until today mainly because of the belief and tradition of the locals surrounding it. Paying the meager registration, tour guide, and porter fee does not mean that you own them and the land. Give due respect to the locals, their culture and to the mountain.
Protect the environment. The influx of weekend and holiday tourists has a drastic impact on the mountain. For one, a lot of footpaths have been created in spite of the pre-climb orientation that only one path should be followed. Always practice the LNT principle when mountain climbing or camping. You can freely take pictures but don’t take any plant, stone or moss.
Sunset at the campsite. Unfortunately, the foggy afternoon blocked our view of the colourful sunset. During rainy season, this also becomes a problem during sunrise when the sun is covered with heavy fog and rain clouds.
During the dawn, the dark silhouette of the mountains adds to the beauty of the imminent sunrise. This is a common scene halfway to the summit.
The colors of the horizon will take your breath away. All you can do is widely open your eyes… and often your mouth, too.
The colourful sunrise and the sea of clouds will always be a treat to the early birds at the summit. You need to wake up and start the ascent to the summit as early as 4:00AM if you want to see this.
The sea of clouds sometimes become like a fast flowing river. Every minute, the wind changes the cloud scene.
The face of the mountains turns gold as it is kissed by the early morning sun.
Here comes the sun!
 You can witness mountain tops upon mountain tops touched by the rays of the sun.
The clusters of dwarf bamboos (Yushania niitakayamensis) at the summit grow as high as three to four feet.
During December to January, the dwarf bamboos are often moist from the fog. And they are haven for the ill-clothed climbers when the fog and chilly wind blows.
The rolling hills with the sea of clouds as background. When you thought you had your fill, more breath taking views are yet to be seen.
As the sun goes higher, the color of the grass-laden mountains turns to green.
The fog plays like a playful carpet. But this adds to the beauty of the moment making the mountaintops and hills like an elusive lady.
And just when a clear blue sky is needed, the fog and clouds obediently withdrew.
The sun warms the chilly atmosphere. Take note, however, that you are at high risk of sunburn without proper sun protection at this time and onwards.
It is not uncommon that you will just sit on the ground and be mesmerized by the wonder of God’s creation.
And yes, they’re grasses. And they’re beautiful.
It really must be the playground of the gods!

Even the trees are beautiful to behold.
Pres. Proclamation No. 75 (February 20, 1987). Retrieved on April 09, 2015 from
UNESCO (2006). Mt. Pulag National Park. Retrieved on April 09, 2015 from