Biliran – a not so popular island to many but is definitely one of the hidden jewels of the Philippines. It is home to two majestic mountains: Mt. Panamao and Mt. Tres Marias. And we had had the chance to climb the latter. Mt. Tres Marias as the name implies, comprises of three (3) summits forming the Tres Marias Mountain Range. To climb the three summits it would require 4-5 days atleast; and since we didn’t have the luxury of time we only climbed the summit of Mt. Naliwatan, which according to our local guide is the highest peak of the three. The other two peaks namely Mt. Sugo (peak 1) and peak 2 (I forgot the name, sorry) are the two peaks that are least explored and mostly uncharted territories.
Our climbed started at the jump-off area at barangay Sampao at the town of Almeria, Biliran.
The first part of the trail was wide barangay roads and then becomes narrower the closer we got to the woodlands; once in the woodlands it becomes a single track forest trail. The mountain was like more water than land, because it consisted of countless waterfalls and streams, that locals don’t even bother anymore to named them all!. Sampawan falls, Ulan-Ulan Falls, Recoletos falls and Nomad falls just to name a few. But Ulan-Ulan Falls is perhaps the most majestic of them all because it mimicks the stunning Maria Cristina Falls in Illigan City.
It was almost night time when we reached the Aeta camp – the camp was so named because it is believed that a tribe of Aeta once dwelt on the said camp. It was raining almost the entire day, so we ended up in a cold and muddy campsite.
We woke up around 3am the following day to climb for the summit, it was still very dark, rainy, cold and slippery, so it was a bit of a challenge. But as the light rays of the sun slowly broke the dawn; the darkness that was, gradually turned into an enchanted realm of Mossy Forest protected by an enthralling misty white veil, it was indeed a sight to behold. However beautiful as it was, it was also unforgiving, the trail was exhausting, cold and the rain was unstoppable. We were drenched, freezing and tired.
But all that hardships were worth it when we reached Naliwatan summit, that finally despite all odds we were able to accomplished our goal to climb and to see Mt. Tres Marias in her full splendid.
The mountain’s wild life
And did I mention that Biliran also has alot of amazing neighboring isles. We visited one as part of our sidetrip and stayed there for a night – Sambawan Island. I need not say more of the island let the picture speaks for itself. It is the best island I’ve visited so far.
We will definitely be going back to Biliran, to Mt. Panamao this time around, till then.