MANILA–Located on the southeast edge of Bulacan, bordered by Rodriguez, Rizal, Maranat falls is one of the famed tourist destinations in this spot of the province. Usually planned as a side trip after Mt. Balagbag (777+masl) traverse from Rizal, we’ve decided to camp and solely enjoy the falls.
The clear and cool waters are ideal for washing off the tropical heat, plus its scenic view of large boulders and forested terrain.
We went there as a group of 8, composed of my co-workers in the publication. And once we were assembled from our meeting place, Jollibee Tungko branch at 6am, we walk for a couple of blocks to a Jeepney terminal for Licao-Licao. The ride would take you an hour or an hour and a half, depending on the usual traffic along the route.
From the jump-off point, we logged in, hired our guide and start our ascent at around 8 in the morning. Rated with 3/9 difficulty with trail class of 1-3, Mt. Maranat can be challenging for beginners specially on the sudden steep drop and ascend part of the trail before reaching the campsite near the falls.
In some part of the first half of the forested trail, you will encounter a number of swamps and small falls which serve as a spot for a quick refreshing break before continuing the two to two and half hours trek.
One of the highlight of the surprisingly exhausting trek, maybe due to the intense heat of the sun, is a river crossing that would require your rappelling skills.Seriously, I had fun hanging my ass at 25 feet high!
While the second half is an open trail, the part where you could thank yourself for wearing arm bands or sleeves as the path is surrounded by 5-10 feet high bushes or talahib. In a blog entry by Gideon Velasco, he mentioned that the area was formerly shaded with trees until the extensive illegal logging damaged the area.
From this part, the campsite is already visible and only 30 to 45 minutes away.
We reached the campsite at around 11 in the morning and greatly welcomed by the Brothers of Maranat or Kapatid Maranat, a group of mountaineers and locals that are responsible in protecting the area and educating visitors on the fragile condition of Maranat. The group is headed by Tatay Nestor whom they consider as their second father, you’ve never been to Maranat if you missed meeting him. Yes, they are the avatars of the mountain.
We were lucky to meet some of Tatay Nestor’s children who just got back from their non-stop trail run from Mt. Balagbag. In my conversation with them, the trail they took was established just a few months ago.
The heat is already reaching its peak so we immediately pitched our tents and took a short nap.
From the campsite, it will only take you a 5 minute trek down to the falls.
The next day, we break camp at 6 in the morning, had breakfast and trek back to the jump off point. Like any other hikes or trips, always practice LNT. Its the only way we could consider ourselves responsible/civilized and paying the highest respect to the environment.
How to get there?
Public: (1) UVExpress bound to SM Fairview, then take a jeepney to Tungko, to Licao-Licao. (2) City bus bound to Tungko, then Licao-Licao.
Private: Take Commonwealth avenue (north bound), then turn left to Quirino Highway. From Tungko, turn left to Skyline Road then turn left to Igay Road and directly drive to Licao-Licao.
Travel time from Tungko is roughly an hour to an hour and half.
Fees: Registration fee is at Php20.00 or half a dollar per person and guide fee is around Php300 to Php400 or USD 8.00 for dayhikes.
*USD 1 = Php 46.32 (February 2016)