It was a rainy Saturday morning when we reached Brgy. Plaridel, about 15km south of downtown Baybay—the last barangay in Baybay City in the south, before Inopacan town border.
We are still beginners in trekking and my friend, Jebay hiked for the very first time in her life! We arrived in Brgy. Plaridel at 6:00AM. The weather was gloomy and it even poured when we stepped out from the vehicle—yep, you guessed it, we were already soaked in the rain!
We are all first timers in trekking to Tan-awan Peak but as a resident in Baybay City, I was pretty confident that we don’t need a tourguide at all. But not getting a local guide is a BIG MISTAKE! I’ll explain below. Tan-awan Peak is not yet officially listed by the Department of Tourism, hence you won’t find licensed tour guides and established hiking trails. Thanks to the power of social media, Tan-awan peak is now gaining popularity!
It took us 2 hours and 30 minutes before we reached the best vantage points of the site. It’s not like you’re hiking towards a summit of a mountain or plateau. Tan-awan Peak is composed of rolling hills and valleys with endless scenery of natural landcapes! My favorite part are the arresting views of Camotes Sea and the famous Cuatro Islas.
I hate to label it as “Little Batanes” because there’s only one Batanes, but I can’t blame people for giving such monicker. The windswept hills are literally surrounded by cogon grass and the view from all directions are truly surreal as far as your eyes can see. You won’t only get a glimpse of Cuatro Islas, but you can see lovely silhouettes of Camotes Islands and Leyte Cordillera.
Trekking to Tan-awan Peak was a remarkable experience. The views of the nearby Lintaon Peak’s 16,000 Blossoms Park that attracted thousands of tourist is somehow familar in Tan-awan Peak. But I’ll tell you the differences: Brgy. Plaridel’s Tan-awan Peak has a LOT of vantage points for your Instagram feed goals! It’s a vast area and it’s almost endless. As far as my memory goes, we traversed more than 3 grassy hills, all offering different views. Of course the biggest difference is, you can just drive your car uphill to Lintaon Peak while you have to trek to reach Tan-awan Peak.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Get a local guide. We are very fortunate that a group of teenage boys who resided near the area offered their help to accompany us. Trust me, you will get lost if you trek in your own. You can’t find trails in Google Map.
2. Find a sturdy wooden stick to be your trekking pole. It’s called “tungkod” or “sungkod” in Bisaya. In our case, our guides made us trekking poles made of wood. I’m not even exaggerating: you absolutely need trekking poles because many areas are steep. When we went there, it poured and everything is slippery! Opo, maraming beses po kaming nadapa at nag dive sa kaputikan! Haha!
3. In a beginner’s perspective, I am now setting your expectations that trekking to Tan-awan Peak is no “chill trek”. It’s not like a walk in the park. As mentioned, many areas are steep to climb. Personally, with a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 as the most difficult, trekking to Tan-awan Peak is a 7.5.
4. It took us 2.5 hours to trek with few rest stops and spent 3 hours going down. Yep, going back is more exhausting than we thought because it was really slippery. Our guides mentioned that trekking time might be shorter and the area isn’t slippery on a sunny day.
5. Trek shortly before sunrise. Do not go there by noontime or late afternoon, unless if you’re planning to go on overnight camping. We started hiking at around past 6:00AM and arrived back to the highway at past 12:00PM.
6. It was a gloomy day so we witnessed an incredible sea of clouds on the hilltops. On a sunny day, chances are you won’t be seeing the sea of clouds, as mentioned by our local guide.
7. Pack your breakfast and lunch. It was a bad decision not to bring food with us because we didn’t expect that we’ll be spending long hours at the top. Bring snacks too and don’t dare forget your tumbler filled with water.
8. There is no cellular reception/signal in all networks at the top.
MY PERSONAL TIPS:
⁃ Wear sunscreen and protect your skin. The sun has finally showed up on us before noontime and yes, it was hot!
⁃ Don’t wear shorts. Yep, you read it right. Apparently, Cogon grass have sharp edges. All of us who wore shorts had several small cuts on our legs. Nothing serious though but it feels uncomfortable. Mahapdi sya promise!
⁃ Wear a light long-sleeved shirt or a jacket. Same reason above!
⁃ Bring wet wipes. Bring facial tissue. I don’t recommend face towels because it’ll be soaked in sweat.
⁃ Invest on a waterproof pouch for your gadgets. We never know if it rains, unless all your gizmos are waterproof!
1. Leave no trace. Please be a responsible hiker. Pack everything back to your bag. Inspect your picnic site or rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. Always leave a place cleaner than you found it. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
2. Be physically fit. Like my friend who was a first-timer in hiking, exhausted of course, but she was totally fine. Make sure you dont have any respiratory problems!
HOW TO GET THERE:
We took a private car going to Brgy. Plaridel. The barangay is a 15-20min drive south from downtown Baybay City. Find Balan’s Store, located in the corner of a small junction. Balan’s Store is just few meters from Plaridel Elementary School. From Baybay, the store is on the right.
If you are commuting, just hail a multicab or Davao Metro Shuttle at Baybay Land Transport Terminal going to Brgy. Plaridel. The fare is ₱25-30. Just tell manong driver to drop you off at Balan Store.
The hike starts at the junction of Balan Store. It’s a concrete barangay road but has dead end that is inaccessible by any motor vehicles. From there, it’s time to coordinate with the locals and ask for assistance in tour guiding. No worries, there’s a lot of locals who are experts in the place. In the end, we gave tips for our local guides even though they didn’t ask any fees. They deserve it!
Me and my friends shared emotional moments at Tan-awan Peak. The dramatic views are truly unforgettable! After this pandemic, we encourage the adventure-seekers in Leyte to support local travel. Travel in Leyte first. Better Leyte Than Never. It’s worth it! Put this in your bucketlist for your squadgoals trips! Indeed, the best views come after the hardest climb!
ENDNOTES: Shoutout to Brgy. Plaridel’s SK Chairmen, Ms. Jade Montuya for accompanying our team. Most of our photographers were our tourguides. They were amazing. But my favorite is Lonie who took most of my shots. Thank you guys!