Hooh! Finally! Yes, just like what the title said, after two long years of isolation brought by travel restrictions due to Covid 19. I finally got to wear my hiking attire and carry my travel gears again. As the restriction eases in my hometown Benguet, I got an invitation from my long time friends and hike partners, Team Ladaw to go on a weekend overnight hike to Mt. Pulag.

Mt. Pulag, branded as The Playground of the Gods has an elevation of 2,926 masl and tagged as the third highest mountain in the Philippines.  The mountain maintains its long reputation as one of the most captivating summit to hike with its stunning sea of clouds, captivating sunrise and mesmerizing landscape as you hike. A lot of hikers I met surely puts Mt. Pulag as their top favorite mountain they set foot on.  It is also every hiker’s bucketlist and on their return list if they get the chance.

The Journey: How To Get There

There are several trails to get to Mt. Pulag with different jump offs but the two most popular are the Akiki Trail and Ambangeg Trail. Akiki is the challenging longer trail that can take three days, while the latter is the easiest one which can be done within a day or overnight.

Since we have been isolated for a long time and none of us have any training prior to the hike we opted to take the Ambangeg Trail. To save ourselves with any hassle we also choose to just go for joiners event with Mt. Pulag Akiki Trail on Facebook.

We left La Trinidad, Benguet at 8 am in the morning since there was no traffic we drove smoothly until we reached Amboklao Dam in Bokod at around 9:30 am. We took a break to enjoy the view of the dam and also for toilet break. (P.s. You can do boating activity in Ambokalo dam, if you have time to spare.)

We continued to drive until we reached Ambangeg Daclan to have our medical check up. Since 2015, the DENR requires all hikers to Mt. Pulag to secure medical certificate stating they are fit to hike. You can get your medical certificate to any clinic and hospital of your choice but as for us we didn’t have the time to acquire one so we got it from a local clinic, JB Medical Clinic. The consultation and certificate cost Php 130.

We carried on our journey to Mt. Pulag National Park Protected Area Office in which our medical certificates, vaccination cards and valid IDs are collected. We were also asked to watched a 15-minute video about the Dos and Don’ts  when hiking in Mt. Pulag as part of our orientation. After that, we were off to Ranger Station also know as Camp 1 which serves as our jump off point.

Camp 1 (Jump Off)

The Ranger Station is a residential area and can be reached thru any mode of transportation. It is located around 2,400 masl so YES, this hike is pretty chill. Some hikers in Camp 1 can opt to set up a tent or get accommodation in homestays. Since it is a community area you can spot some sari sari stores to eat and hang out with other hikers. Most hikers spend the night here before going up the summit at around 1 am just to be on time for the sunrise.

As for our team, we opted to camp out in Camp 2 which is around two hours hike up from Camp 1. We honestly find Camp 1 a bit too chill for our liking and crowded with other hikers so we want to space out plus we can have less hectic call time the next morning.

Camp 2

Camp 2 is the midpoint from Camp 1 to the summit. Hikers usually set up their tents here. It has toilet although don’t expect too much of it and a cabin built for those who don’t have tent. I personally find the hike from Camp 1 to Camp 2 somewhat the most difficult part of this hike especially when you start in the middle of the day since the sun will be quite harsh. It is mostly ascending but not assault so for us who haven’t exercise for a while it is quite a struggle. The view is nice. Most of the trail is shaded on the latter part of the hike and there’s a small mossy forest  in between. The pathways are well made and safe.

Tower Site

If you stay at Camp 2 the call time for the sunrise in the summit is usually 3 am. However, when we spoke to locals and our guide. They unanimously advise us to witness the sunrise in Tower Site for a sure view of the sea of clouds.  The hike going up to the Tower Site only takes 30 minutes so it means more time to sleep for us. Our call time is 4:30 am and going there is not difficult at all.  We’re glad we took their advice since the view of the sunrise above the sea of clouds didn’t disappoint.

Mt. Pulag Summit

After chasing the sunrise in Tower Site, we proceeded straight up to the Summit. The hike ascending to the peak can take 2 hours. It is easy and can be accomplished even just by a newbie hiker. It is open with no shades so just be wary of the harsh sun when you end up hiking until the mid day. The pathways are developed and very safe with no falling rocks, loose soil and assault areas. The views along the way are stunning. Out team really took the time to take a pause, appreciate and took photos of the landscape. When we reached the summit, we were greeted with cotton candy clouds above us, a bit of sea of clouds and other beautiful Benguet mountains. Dwarf bamboos are also present on the peak.

My Thoughts

Obviously, My Pulag is a must try experience. Although, some of my friends who have been there told me that I might not see the most stunning view of the mountain on my first hike because it took them numerous attempts before they could see the best view. I ended this laidback hike really contented with the scenery I witnessed.  I also appreciate our guide for setting our expectations straight and giving us tips to make the most out of our first hike. For someone whose been hiking for years the level of difficulty for me is 3 out of 10 and that contributed to the development of the national park because of the long standing popularity of the mountain.


Mt. Pulag Akiki Trail Joiners Event: Php 3,100

Package Inclusions:

> Transportation (Baguio-Mt. Pulag Vice versa)

>  Park Fees (Entrance Fee, Guide Fee, Cultural and Camping Fee)

> 3 Meals (Dinner, Breakfast and Lunch)

> Coordinator’s Fee

> Homestay/ Tent

Porter Fee: Php 1,750

Shout out to Team Ladaw and Mt. Pulag Akiki Trail for making this post possible.



With most of us still on quarantine we can’t help but to wish to be on holiday somewhere except our house. Given the situation all we can do for now is to reminisce the old days when we used to have all the freedom to be anywhere in the world. As we wait and hope for this pandemic to be over, here are the good old music and their videos to enjoy and remind us how traveling used to be.

I Got U by Duke Dumont ft. Jax Jones

This music video will remind us how good life was before pandemic happened. How a lot of us are wishing to escape that city life and spend holidays in the tropics. With the world shut down and border restrictions, how we wish we have that VR giving us a close to reality experience of the tropics. Resort living, white sand beach, swimming in a clear blue water and sipping cocktails on beach parties, you would wish you are in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand right now where it was shot.

Perfect Strangers by Jonas Blue ft. JP Cooper

This is literally a story of travel romance a lot of backpackers can relate to. When a man and a woman traveling on their own cross paths, and ended up being together or maybe just another casual travel fling. As travelers, we can totally relate to the music video scenes where a traveller got attracted to a fellow traveler at first sight. Keep on bumping on the same stranger in different places and having mutual connection that usually ends up hitting it off together. Watching the music video makes me miss dating on the road such as a day hike, a motorbike city tour or simply just watching the sunset together by the beach. Whether it’s a casual travel fling or start of something serious, you can never deny that travel date is the best date ever.

Guns and Roses by Helly Luv & Ardian Bujupi

The first impression I got in this Kurdish song basing on the title is drugs and killing. (Please don’t come after me for thinking that way.) Thanks to Google translator and the English part of the song I came to understand it’s about working hard and luxury living. However the best thing that hooks me into the music video of this song is the location. It features fast cars in the desert, sailing in luxury yacht and simply enjoying life. This song can be an inspiration to hustle now and enjoy our travels later when everything is back to old normal.

Tropical Love by Nadro and Timmy Commerford

The lyric of this song is a message for those who want to travel long term, book one way ticket and never look back. Aside from the lyrics the views in its music video are also spectacular. Beaches, safaris, waterfalls plus a drone shot of Table Mountain in South Africa. Remember the time when you were waking up with the view from a villa in Bali Indonesia? The next thing you know you are catching a flight to South America. Ahhh, The good old days!

Sweet Chin Music by Kid Ink

This 3-minute track features Kid Ink rapping in the bustling city of Bangkok showing the busy streets filled with tuktuks, temples and hustling people.

If Life Is Too Short (Cover) by Music Travel Love

A cover song of the original 90’s soundtrack of The Mofats by Music Travel Love features the foggy view of the Pu Chi Fa Mountain in Chang Rai, Thailand. The mountain is well known for many tourists catching the glimpse of the sea mist at dawn. If you are on a hunt for acoustic versions of songs in the 90’s with top notch sceneries on their background check more of Music Travel Love videos on YouTube.

Lean On by Major Lazer & DJ Snake Feat. MØ

The 18th most viewed video on YouTube is a track shot in the beautiful state of Maharashtra, India. Although some scenes were filmed in the Golden Hall of Stockholm City Hall, the musicians showcased their modernized Bollywood dance. Major Lazer mentioned that they were always been a culture mash up and to them, India feels like some kind of special creature with one foot in history and one firmly in the future.

Came Here For Love by Sigala, Ella Eyre

Sigala and Ella Eyre released this song in 2017 and it is still on my playlist up to this date. The song says “I came here for love.” And for the love of traveling we will surely appreciate the music video that was filmed in the colorful houses of Las Palmitas neighborhood in Pachuca, México. It will remind us of the other colorful neighborhood in South America such as the Favela in Brazil and the hillside houses in Lima, Peru.

This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners

The remix of this track has the catchiest beat of all. I don’t remember anyone not liking this song when I introduced it to them way back years ago. The music video shows a boy and girl meeting on a cruise ship then later became a couple. When the ship reached the shore, they explored the land, coming across lakes and hills. They later discovered a cave and begin dancing in the cave over a bonfire. It shows another travel fling but this time focused on young flame. Well, it can’t be helped and a lot of travelers are aware of that. The stunning place is the Greek island of Milos, in the Cyclades.

Nobody to Love by Sigma

Although the lyric of the song is repetitive, the music video exhibits a fresh view of Cape Town in South Africa. It shows two girls on a road trip enjoying life and some African dancing talent. The message of the song is probably when you got nobody to love go grab your bff and hit the road together.

*Bonus: If you are into EDM check out EDM Crusher on YouTube. The channel has great travel music video uploads.



Benguet, a province in Cordillera Region in the Philippines is blessed with scenic views of countless mountains. Some of the most popular mountains like Mt. Pulag, Ugo and Ulap don’t need introduction but there are still a lot of underrated mountains and trails waiting to be discovered. One of those is a trail lying in the municipality of Kibungan. The municipality has a lot of trails scattered throughout and somewhat connected with nearby provinces. One safest and simplest trail is Tacadang Circuit. This trail can be done by both beginners and professional since the pathway is paved decently. Using this trail will give you opportunity to pass by rice paddies, blue mountains, waterfalls and hanging coffins. Unfortunately, for us, it was summer when we were there so the waterfalls gone dry or the others don’t have enough water.




Tanap Rice Terraces

We started the journey upon arriving in Municipal Hall in Poblacion, Kibungan, Benguet for the registration and breakfast. The view deck greeted us with a scenic view of the untouched steep slope mountains and rock formation. The trail starts in Sitio Tanap where we pass through Tanap Rice Terraces which was such a good start. The way is decent with narrow but cemented pathway. However summer heat, lack of air and consistent assault trail are the biggest challenges. We marched for four hours until we reached Buga campsite for our lunch and water source. Luckily until here, cellphone signal is consistently strong.


After lunch, we rest and nap for a while. At one thirty in the afternoon, we continued to hike up to Mt. Tagpaya. Unfortunately in the middle of the hike we were greeted with quite heavy rain. We had some rest along the hike because the heavy fog continued to block our way and our view until we reached the summit. I guess we were not that lucky at that time. Our guide joked that our photos resulted to i.d picture with white background. (LOL)


After the summit we trek down to Tacadang where we will spend the night in our homestay. The place is used as a multi-purpose hall. It is not a room with bed that you expect so it is advisable to bring your sleeping bag. For toilet and bathroom you will be guided to houses nearby. Just ask permission if you can use their bathroom and toilet. The people there are nice, they would allow you to use their resources so make sure to always say “Thank you.” They don’t even take payments even if you insist so just be nice and be sure to clean as you go. Don’t litter, the locals are very responsible on their trash so as you. Also there’s no network signal here.



My most favorite view!

For our second day, on our way back to Poblacion we trek and pass through Barangay Polis going up to Barangay Poblacion where we started our hike from yesterday. The view in this trail is much better or maybe because the weather is calmer than yesterday. But the biggest challenge to us is the summer heat especially the trail is not shady, more exposed, and lesser wind compared to our trek the other day. The path is always decent with enough size to walk and mostly cemented too. There’s not many loose soil but expect a lot of assault which is personally my weakness plus the heat. When we reached Barangay Polis the cellphone signal comes to life again. Overall, it took our team ten hours to finish the hike for this day including our rest from the heat, exhaustion and lunch.


Polis Elementary School

Personally, I would recommend this hike for everyone beginners and experienced. What I like in this trail is that, it may be long but the pathways are decent, cemented and has enough size to walk with two feet. There’s no cliff to deal with and not many loose soil to worry about. As a person that has issues with heights these are the factors that weigh me down during hikes.



Day 1

6:00 AM: Kibungan Municipal Hall (breakfast, registration)

8:00 AM: Sitio Tanap jump off (start of trek)

11:30 AM: Buga Campsite (water source, lunch)

1:30 PM: Resume trek

4:00 PM: Mt. Tagpaya Summit

6:00 PM: Tacadang (homestay)


Day 2

8:30 AM: Start trek

1:30 PM: Polis Bario School (lunch)

3:00 PM: Resume trek

6:30 PM: Poblacion (end of trek)



Registration Fee: Php 160/ person

Guide Fee: Php 850/ day for 7 pax

Porter: Php 850/ day (15 kilos)

Homestay: Php 30/ person


This post is in partnership with Team Ladaw. For more hiking activities in Benguet and inquiries visit their facebook page and follow their instagram. (links below)





Back in the year 2016 when Mt Ulap is on the rise, making noise on social media filling my feeds with scenic views of the mountains, clouds and people enjoying the hike. It was my first time to hike this mountain when my friend beep me up and invited me for a day hike. I didn’t hesitate and welcomed the challenge. After 2 years I came back and I saw a huge difference with that short span of time. This 1846m high mountain in barangay Ampucao Itogon, Benguet is for beginners according to a group of professional mountaineer group, back then I would say  “I DON”T THINK SO”. But now I would say “YES!” because the trail is made easier and wider. According to our guide they changed some routes and made them easier because of the flock of tourists and hikers that rave this place. However, I still suggest you to be ready with loads of chocolates or trail food, liters of water and energy that would last for at least 5 to 6 hours.




Take a jeepney to Ampucao, Itogon Benguet from Baguio City. The first trip leaves at 7:30 am. Get down to Ampucao barangay hall for the registration, orientation and for your tour guide.

*Note: We first did our reservation through a google document on their facebook page. Three days before the hike I received a text message saying our reservation was approved. However, when I talked to my guide he told us that if we are less than 10 people (we are a group of 4 people) it is not really necessary because those are for travel agencies who are booking a huge number of visitors. In 2016 it was not like this. There’s no reservation needed now it is advisable to message their facebook page first.



Mt. Ulap has 6 stations. These are Totombek, Ambanao Paoay, Gungal and Mt. Ulap (summit), Pong-ol Burial Cave which is currently closed and Sta Fe. This is the usual trail. Other hikers use the reverse one or the backtrail which ends in Mt. Ulap summit and skips Sta Fe.




The first peak and the most challenging, since the trail going there is purely assault. Starting from the barangay hall to Totombek, the entrance and gateway of the hike, is a decent cemented way. However, from Totombek to Ambanaw Paway is a steep ascending path. On our way, I noticed some changes on the trail. The pathway going to the peak is not what we used to pass by 2 years ago. I thought that the new path is wider and easier. Nearby is a camping site for overnight hikers.




This peak has the best view and mostly seen on social media. The nerve racking location of the rock hanging by the cliff amazes every visitors and tempts them to challenge themselves to stand on it. It is advisable to start the trek early to get here early. The guide told us that starting at 2 pm the clouds starts to go down and cover the view. We went there in the month of April which is summer but still the clouds didn’t cooperate with us LOL.

MT. ULAP: The Summit


An hour hike from Gungal, is the highest peak among the three. With the view comparable to some epic drama on television, all the long tiring trail is all worth it when you see the 360 view of Cordillera mountain.  Nearby down the summit is another campsite for overnight hikers and stores for souvenir, drinks and snacks.


The Campsite


Santa Fe

One of the burial caves in Santa Fe station. Our tour guide inform us that, there used to be coffins with dead bodies in it but some drunk fellas make fun of them by throwing them away and some foreign hikers stole them to sell so they disappeared.

The mark that states you made it to Mt. Ulap! The traverse route states you will end here. Along the way getting here you will pass by some burial caves and stores that sell souvenirs, snacks and drinks. The trail getting down is very steep as seen on the trail map. From here there are jeepneys you can take to go back to Baguio. Although be aware that the last trip of jeepneys to Baguio is at 4pm.

A heartbreaking view while we are passing by, it is called open pit in which they scrape the mountain to get the gold in it. It is just sad because they just left it hanging not even trying to restore the mountains. I just sigh of the thought that what if there’s no more clean, fresh air to breath can their gold buy them?

End of hike! Shopping for some souvenirs.

You can buy your souvenirs in this station. There are t-shirts, key chains and ref magnets available.


Jeep to Ampucao from Baguio: Php 30

Registration Fee: Php 100

Guide Fee: Php 600 maximum of 10 people

Jeepney from Philex trail to Baguio: Php 50 (if the jeepney is not full, the driver might negotiate with you to add a little for the jeepney to leave or wait a little longer)



“Pigingan” in one of Cordillera’s local dialect means slanted, which describes the shape of the summit. It is not as popular as its neighboring mountains, Mt. Ugo and Mt. Ulap but it is really worth to give this a mountain a shot especially its main highlight, its beautiful sunrise. The hike to the summit may take 3-5 hours depending on your speed. The trail is friendly even for beginners in hiking since it is paved and sculpted. However the biggest struggle is the hot afternoon sun especially if you start the hike at midday. Pigingan is located in Barangay Dalupirip in Itogon, Benguet near Pangasinan so the temperature is warmer than other mountains of Benguet (we went there in the month of May). Plus the fact that the pathway doesn’t have much trees to shade the trail that slows down the hike. Day hike and overnight hike are both possible however the schedule of jeepneys going to the Sitio Balococ, the jump off is a big conflict so having a private vehicle is strongly recommended. I never heard of Mt. Pigingan before until my friends from Team Ladaw, a travel group on facebook introduced me to this mountain. They invited me to join their first Hike for a Cause event to raise funds for their upcoming outreach program. Of course, I packed my weekend bag and just go.


Crossing Agno River. Photo credit to Team Ladaw

  1. Jeepney to Dalupirip
  • Jeepneys leaving from Baguio to Dalupirip starts from 10 a.m. – 12nn and vice versa is at 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. However, if the jeepney is full it will leave immediately without following the schedule so to be safe, be at their terminal in front of Shopper’s Lane at 9 a.m. Fare is ₱60 and travel time is 2 hours.
  1. Private Vehicle
  • Strongly recommended since the schedule of jeepneys going and leaving Dalupirip is a conflict to day hikers and overnight ones. To get there take the Loakan Road to Virac, Itogon until you reach the twin river. From there you will see two separate roads, take the left road going to barangay Dalupirip then follow the road going up to Sitio Balococ, the jump off of the hike. Signs are visible so there won’t be much problem driving or getting lost.


The campsite. Photo credit to Team Ladaw.

There is no any type of accommodation here so camping will be your only choice unless locals will offer their place for you to crash.



We departed Baguio City at 9:30 am and reached Sitio Balococ at around 11:45 considering the battle of traffic in Baguio. We had our registration, hiring of guide and porter and lunch. By 1 p.m. we started to walk. The first hour of our hike is a decent path with cemented road, crossing Agno River thru a long suspended bridge and purely straight flat trail. However the struggle here is the hot afternoon sun that makes the hike a bit slower and tiring. The next 2 hours is where the hike starts to be challenging, gradually as we ascend, the trail becomes steeper and the heat becomes stronger. We passed by some shaded part of trail to rest and refill our empty water bottles from their natural spring water sources. There are three water sources along the way before reaching the campsite. The trail in this part of the hike is mostly composed of soil and some loose sand.

The Junction; almost there! Photo credit to Team Ladaw

When we reach the junction we saw a signage of different trails to take. It also has a store that sells snacks and cold drinks. Starting this point was another one and half hour tougher and steeper trail to the campsite. Some parts of the trail are composed of loose soil but mostly are sturdy decent path. And again not much trees to protect us from the harsh sun but the views are more stunning with surrounding mountains.


We reached the campsite at around 5:30 pm so that was a 4 ½ hour of hiking with a normal pace and a lot of rest (LOL). Maybe if it wouldn’t have been because of the heat we could have reached the campsite earlier. Anyway 5 minutes from the campsite are the water source and toilet.

The stunning sunrise of Mt. Pigingan.

From the campsite is another 30 minutes trail to the peak of Mt. Pigingan. The trail going to the summit is easy but the peak is quite difficult since it was too steep. The highlights of this mountain are its generous sunrise and picturesque mountains surrounding it. On the right side you will find the sunrise while on the left are smaller but high definition resolution (HDR) mountains view.

The team, thank you Team Ladaw. Photo credit to Team Ladaw.



Day 1

8 am: Assembly (Slaughter, Magsaysay, BC)

9 am: Departure to Balococ

12nn: Arrival to Balococ (Lunch, Registration, Prepare to trek)

1 pm: Start trek

5 pm: Arrival at campsite (Tent set up, dinner, socials)

9 pm: Lights Off


Day 2:

3 am: Wake up call (Coffee)

4 am: Start trek to the summit

8 am: Back to the campsite (breakfast, pack up)

10am: Start to descend

1 pm: Arrival to Balococ (Lunch, Shower, Prepare to go home)

4 pm: Arrival in Baguio City

Hiking the summit at dawn.


Registration Fee: ₱100/ person

Guide: ₱ 500/ day max of 7 people

Porter: ₱ 500/ 15 kg (₱50/ 1 kg excess)

Shower Fee:  ₱25

The view on the other side of Mt. Pigingan.

For more inquiries contact their barangay captain, Mr. Joel Bauson at 0947 521 2627 or person in charge Ms. Lanie Pastor at 0998 233 7994.

For guiding service contact Raven Pili (totally recommended) at 0950 145 8485

  • Note: Signal is a big problem in Sitio Balococ so it may take a while before they could respond to your messages and calls.

For more hiking events visit Team Ladaw’s Facebook page.

First rest; it’s been a long walk.

The view halfway from the junction to the campsite.


Another view from another side. Photo credit to Team Ladaw.