The Muffin Hill: Mount Babag – Bocaue Peak Traverse

I haven’t been to a lot of mountains — that’s a fact. So, please excuse me for stating such a bold claim but, at least among the mountains I’ve been to, the Bocaue Peak (aka Muffin Hill) is the most awe-inspiring of all.

The peak can be reached via many different trails but we chose the trail from Napo to Babag then to Bonbon — where Muffin Hill sits — for our hiking escapade last weekend. It’s been a while since I last climbed and I was a bit doubtful about my athletic prowess (if there is any) to brave such a challenging feat. Mount Babag is what many mountaineers in Cebu consider their training ground before a major climb —  and indeed it is. It may not be as tall as other mountains at 752+ MASL, but the unforgiving mix of narrow trail, steep assault, loose dirt, thick vegetation and the cruel sun above makes it an ideal place for a major climb simulation. And, as if some cruel joke were played on us, it rained hard the night before the trek making the trail wet and slippery, but the sun shone so hot above the next day and all throughout the duration of our trek. Slippery, wet trail and the blistering noonday sun were not exactly a combo good for a 78-kilogram obese with a 40-liter cheap backpack hanging from my back — but I did survive the grueling climb alright.

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…early morning at the Guadalupe Church…

There were only three of us in the trek. We decided to rendezvous in front of the Guadalupe Church in, uhm, Guadalupe (what else is new, dude?) at 8 AM. We ate breakfast at a nearby carenderia. And, at 8:30 AM, we were already cautiously negotiating a not-so-comfortable road to Napo, our jump-off point, on a habal-habal we chartered for Php 20. After less than 20 minutes of quite a bumpy ride, we were ready to start the climb to Babag.

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…one of the flower farms along the trail to Mount Babag…

The climb started with a small assault right away, but it was a quick one. The first part of the trail was quite a stroll winding along the side of the mountain but the sun was already burning with all its wrath above us. After ten minutes on a relatively easy trail in Napo, we arrived at a small river called Kahugan. This was the first water source along the trail. Here, the trail forked into two. We chose the one to the right where the trail immediately went up on a very steep climb without any preamble. This was the Busan Trail, and from here the trek was generally an ascent that parched my throat dry.

At 11 AM, we arrived at Manuel’s (maybe one of the Robleses). This used to be home to the Robleses who were friends to many of the mountaineers here in Cebu. What used to be a lively home was now abandoned with nothing but some worn-out bamboo benches lying in ruins. We ate our lunch there. From there, we could see the array of RCPI towers at the summit above. It looked near but it was actually still an hour and a half climb from where we were.

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…the Robleses’ Home — or, at least, what is left of it…
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…and, yes… the flowers are still there along with the weather-beaten bamboo benches…

Thirty minutes after, we resumed our climb to the summit of Babag. The trail was an even more difficult assault than the trail from Kahugan. Thorny wild bushes grew in abundance along the trail. The sun grew even fiercer. But, we’re getting nearer to the summit.

We then descended quickly reaching the second water source before the summit. We filled our containers to the brim. We would be spending the night in Bonbon so we needed all the water we could have. After resting for a few minutes, we continued on our way through the last stretch of climbing toward the summit. At 1 PM, we finally reached the RCPI Towers, which was unofficially dubbed as the peak of Mount Babag.

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Finally, we are at the summit of Mount Babag.
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…one of the RCPI Towers up close…
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…the RCPI Towers…

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We rested for almost half an hour in Babag before we began our trek to Bonbon. We still had two hours more of walking and trudging to do before reaching the campsite on top of Muffin Hill. We proceeded to a narrow trail covered in dense foliage. The trail was relatively gentle but less established. It was less discernible, and we lost our way in the middle of a dense jungle full of crickets chirping in chorus. After, perhaps, half an hour of wandering about, we finally found our way to Muffin Hill.

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…the peak of Muffin Hill…
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The trail to the summit is a moderate assault directly under the blistering heat of the afternoon sun. (Photo by Ritch)

The place is officially known as Bocaue Peak but some mountaineers call it the Muffin Hill simply because it looks like a muffin (duh!). We camped on top of the hill. This presented some concerns as the wind was stronger there. But, we didn’t want to miss an amazing night on top of an even more amazing peak so we decided to tie some guy lines to secure our tents and crossed our fingers for a great morning tomorrow.

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My thighs and legs ache so bad but I am glad I made it. I am at the peak at last.

The view from the peak was magnificent. We had a perfect city view in front of us and a grandiose array of mountains at our back. We had an obstructed view of Kan-irag at a distance and we could see the entire landscape of Babag and Bonbon in the background.

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We pitch our tents on top of the hill. The strong winds make it challenging but with some guy lines securing our tents and some strong faith in a Deity somewhere, we hope for a beautiful tomorrow.

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It drizzled a bit when we were preparing our dinner. Fortunately, it did not really rain. We had our menudo, some egg-cabbage soup and, of course, some bottles of Emperador (yeah, healthy!).

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As the sun slowly set in the west, the city in the east lit up like hundreds of fireflies twinkling one after the other. The mountain was so silent we could hear the cicadas singing under the blanket of darkness yonder. It was a solemn moment for me — a moment of discernment, if you will. As I lay silently inside my tent waiting for sleep to takeover, I felt happy living life at the present moment. Somehow, I knew, things would get better henceforth.

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Photo courtesy of Ritch

I woke up late the next day. The sun was already up when we prepared our breakfast. The only drawback about camping on top of Muffin Hill was being exposed to the sun. As early as eight in the morning, we could already feel the singeing sting of the sun at our backs. We hurriedly prepared breakfast, ate and broke camp. We were already short in water and we still had at least two hours of walking ahead of us. After half an hour of walking, our water containers were empty. We were slowly getting dehydrated and we could no longer walk further. Fortunately, we passed by a house and we begged for some water. Ate was so generous that she gave us some fresh buko with the water. We offered Ate some payment for the water and the buko but she declined. She said she was glad she could help. We left her the meager money we had anyway. We were so thankful she saved our lives that the least we could do was pay her Php 40 — which was all the spare money we had. Ate told us about her kids who were attending school at least 4 kilometers away from home. She talked about how scary it was when Typhoon Yolanda hit Cebu, and how she prayed so hard that God spare their home. After all, it was all they had.

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Our throats are dry; our water bottles, empty. We are eternally grateful to Ate and her kids for saving us from dehydration and exhaustion.
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Fresh buko, anyone? (Photo by Ritch)

The water, buko and the act of kindness fueled us to move on with our trek. We passed by RCPI Towers and descended to Busay. We passed by a store and bought some soda. There was a small bamboo hut by the road overlooking the city below. We rested for almost an hour there and recalled the hard work we had gone through that weekend. But, it was definitely worth it.

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We continued our descent to Chalet Hills then to the Temple of Leah – where a couple gave us a lift. Two acts of kindness in one day. Not bad! We did plan on hitchhiking just to feel the thrill of the experience, and we did get it that day.

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Hitchhikers, Incorporated.

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An easier alternative to the trail we took in going to Muffin Hill is available by passing through Mountain View then to Chalet Hills. You may then proceed hiking to RCPI Towers. From there, you may take the usual trail to Muffin Hill.

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marjodegoro

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7 thoughts on “The Muffin Hill: Mount Babag – Bocaue Peak Traverse

  1. Boss pwede mangotana. Asa ang trail to bocaue peak from rcpi towers. We are planning on taking the same trail you did. We know how to get from napo to rcpi via kahugan trail but how do we get get from rcpi to bocaue? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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