We have been hiking for two hours in pitch-black darkness; six hours prior, in unbearable noon heat. I was wet, frustrated, and spent. I glanced at poor Lia, asleep on some guy’s shoulder. It could be our guide or any of the cluster of men who fetched us at the river. I didn’t know anymore. All I know was I never want to hike again.
She was waiting for us to throw in the towel and just call it a day. We spent four hours from Cubao going there. There’s no way we will do that.
|At the foot of Ngusong Kabayo. Photo by Dennis Murillo.
Pointy, craggy, and precarious, its rock formations resemble a horse’s snout. Thrill-seekers may opt to scramble to the top (considered the summit at 602 masl), but we were just happy to finally find shade and eat our lunch of homemade spaghetti at the base.
|One of a number of bamboo forests on the circuit
Things weren’t going so well for Lia either. She didn’t refuse to be carried by our guide – which is rather unusual. She usually enjoys hikes. She no longer did.
By the time we got to the first leg of the falls at past six, she was exhausted, scared of the dark, and wailing like a beast. What have I gotten ourselves into, I thought.
|First part of Laiban falls
But everything in between during those final hours was a blur. We were walking nonstop. We couldn’t afford breaks. Food and rest became my obsession.
|Trail from Tangwa Peak going to Laiban Falls
Our cellphone torches offered little help. We played everything by ear. But in a night hike that only has sound of water, our hearing probably didn’t help much either.
|Celine at Tangwa Peak
Much thanks to the sweet tanods who went to check on us, Kaka, and our amazing guide, Kuya Efren, who tirelessly carried then-17 kilogram Lia for nearly seven hours. We are eternally grateful for your thoughtfulness and concern. The people of Laiban are a gem.
- Pinoy Mountaineer rates this circuit as 3/9 in difficulty, according it the same level as Mt. Pulag via the Ambangeg trail, Arayat, and Balagbag. I can tell you it’s much harder than those mountains. I’d probably rate it at 4.5 to 5/10, particularly the descent from Tangwa Peak to the falls. It’s very slippery especially during the rainy season. Going down the falls requires a bit of scrambling. Come prepared.
- This is an account of our hike in December 2016. Things might have changed since then. Refer to the contact person below for inquiries.
- For inquiries on hiking the Laiban circuit, contact Kagawad Kaka Munoz at +639984943595 or send him a Facebook message.
- Celineism has a useful Laiban Circuit guide with expenses, itinerary, and directions. Check it our here.
- Contact details and schedule of fees as of 2016: