It was the day before the turn of the year and I found myself climbing up mountains to reach the nearby villages of Maligcong. I left Maligcong Homestay mid-morning to meet up with my guide Ezra at their family store near the turning point. He closed the store and got ready for our hike. We were going trek to Mainit to check out the hot springs and pass by the village of Guina-ang. I gave Ezra his share of oat bar from Suzette and we were on our way.
Passing through Guina-ang
We hiked through the pine forest of Maligcong. The climb was a moderate ascent. It was great that it was cold and it wasn’t much of an effort to climb. Ezra only had his phone, a small pouch and a bolo (a large cutting knife) to cut through some of the trail. We made a few zig-zag turns until we reached a wide grassy clearing overlooking the villages and rice terraces. There was also an elderly couple there seemed to be trekking to Guina-ang as well accompanied by the music on their transistor radio. They knew Ezra and spoke in their own tongue. We stopped there for a while to rest and I was just caught up taking photos of the spider webs on the grass and the dew drops caught in them. They just have a wonderful natural pattern about them.
From then on, it was a descending trail through the pathways of Lukpot Rice Terraces. We even came across a group of foreigners on their own hiking up that morning along with their huge backpacks. They said they just came from Mainit for the night. It’s just impressive how these guys could find their way without a guide. Shortly, we reached the main.
There was so much happening in Guina-ang. Speakers were blaring from their covered gym, then there seems to be a special occasion at one of the houses we passed by. Some of the elders in traditional costumes, a large pig on a stake was ready to be butchered. And I fascinatingly looked at the house-filled hill most with steel rooftops almost covering the side of the mountain. We didn’t stay long and continued on the dirt road under the heat. Ezra was quick to point some pitcher plants growing by the road. It was interesting to see them habituating this area as I see them mostly deep in the forest.
Trek to Mainit Village
It’s a 45-minute walk before we reached the heart of Mainit Village. We passed through several hot spring resorts by the road side before we entered the narrow maze like streets of the village. Ezra would occasionally ask for directions, probably on where a geyser is located. Suzette of the homestay and Ezra told me about these geysers that could go as high up 10-15 feet but it changes locations within town. There were some spots that Ezra thought the geyser would be but it seems the town closed them up. There were even houses where the hot springs would flow through their stilt houses. Since we didn’t find any geyser and the heat from the mid-day sun started to take its toll. We decided to head back. We left the hose-filled pathways of the town that also seemed to snake out of the village and pump hot spring waters to other areas.
We made it back to Maligcong past 1pm probably at least 10km in distance back and forth not counting the elevations. The trek to Mainit wasn’t really hard as I thought but it was an interesting to see what the other villages are like. That eve of the new year, I spent time with Suzette’s family and neighbours. It was a quiet new year’s eve celebration that evening with a simple bbq, fried chicken, pancit and a few beers. There were no loud noises or fireworks. I slept early that evening too for our sunrise trek tomorrow.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.