Mount Pinagbanderahan is located inside the Quezon National Forest Park. The trek through the forest is relaxing and following the trail to the top is no problem at all. The roads are well established, with stairs and cemented parts, making the climb to the peak easy even for beginners. Being part of the National Park, the local government has made continued efforts to preserve the beauty of the site. Up at the peak, the view of the long Sierra Madre mountain range greets you, together with miniature views of cities and provinces below you.
Being part of the famed mountain range, Mount Pinagbanderahan shares the same environment as its neighboring peaks. The mountain is covered with a lush rainforest, with river flowing in one part or another. It also houses many other attractions such as the Bantakay cave and waterfalls. These side trips are definitely a must see. So if you have enough time to spare, why not make your adventure an overnight one?
Aside from the wonderful view, a hike up Mount Pinagbanderahan can also be an educational journey. The summit is marked with a flagpole and a small signage, relating the history of the place. The reason this mountain is called Pinagbanderahan is because it is literally the site where our flag was hoisted in 1946 to signify our independence. There are a lot of things to discover there and it would be great if you could learn a thing or two while climbing through this mountain.
Elevation: 366 m above sea level
Days needed to complete hike: 1 day
Average hike duration to reach summit (From jump-off point): 1 to 2 hours
Major jump-off point: Barangay Malinao Ilaya, Atimonan, Quezon
If you’re looking for a fulfilling but short day hike, the traditional trail up Mount Pinagbanderahan is what you should try. Taking a complete trek through the forest, hikers can get a nice experience of walking surrounded by nature. Immerse yourselves with the natural environment and enjoy being away from the city noise even just for a few hours. Continue following the easy path until you reach a set of stairs. Don’t lose heart because this last assault takes you to your destination, the summit!
Relish in the amazing view of the green slopes and blue skies as you take a breather at the top. All around you, the long Sierra Madre envelops you among its many different peaks that seem to go on for miles and miles to no end. Once you’re ready to start your descent, take the same route as before. If you have a few minutes to spare, take a quick side trip to see one of the small caves in the area. It’s a nice bonus to end your little adventure.
On the other hand, for hikers who’ve got a bit more time on their hands, why not take the side trip to see the waterfalls? The trail is actually separate to that of Mount Pinagbanderahan. So, hikers should make a quick visit to the first trail first and return to the jump-off point as soon as possible to start your trek to the falls. Proceed to Barangay Sta. Catalina, where the jump-off point for Bantakay Falls is located.
From the Sta. Catalina jump-off point, expect a slightly longer trek than the one in Mount Pinagbanderahan. Hikers will have to do some river crossing as they enter the forested area. In about 2 hours, you will reach the Niyugan campsite where you are to spend the night. In the morning, that’s where hikers get the chance to enjoy the area and take a quick swim in the cold waters of Bantakay Falls. Visit the majestic caves where you get a chance to see the wonderful rock formations. The overall experience is one you wouldn’t forget in a while. You will definitely get wet in this journey, so bring enough clothing!
It’s important to plan your trip in advance to make sure you know exactly what to do and where to go on the day itself. Here are some ways to get to your destination:
From Manila, take a bus bound for Lucena, Quezon. In about 4 hours, you will reach the bus terminal in Lucena city. Proceed to take a bus, jeepney or an FX headed to Atimonan. Get off when you reach the town proper. Decide whether to walk or hire a trike to take you to the Quezon National Forest Park. (Taking a trike is recommended unless you’re ready to take on a long and winding trail at this point) The park is where all necessary registrations are done. Local guides are not mandatory but you can get one if you want. Continue on to the jump-off point at the foot of Mount Pinagbanderahan.
Another alternative is to take your own private transportation to Quezon province. Many companies also offer jeeps and vans to be chartered. Either way, this is a much more flexible and convenient set-up.