Major Jump-off: Brgy. Macatad, Upland Siniloan
Elevation: 300 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 1 day, 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail Class 1
This land of waterfalls is a captivating retreat at the southwest border of the Sierra Madre, known to hikers as Mt. Romelo. Nestled in the bucolic town of Siniloan in Laguna, it is as tropical as mountains can get. Easy trails, taking just two hours to complete, lead to a wide campsite, and from there the awaited exploration can begin.
Just below the campsite, accessible via a brief but steep trail, Buruwisan Falls descends majestically into a wide, clear catchbasin, veiling an enclave verdant with moss and ferns. At 180 ft, it is ideal for rappelling, and photography. Long vines grow on the falls itself, enabling trekkers to do a “Tarzan jump” through the falls into the pond. Buruwisan Falls is named after a hardwood variety that used to grow on the banks of Romel.
the right is the original reason why people used to visit Romelo; it is even higher than Buruwisan, except that it is difficult to access. Rappelling is one way to reach this elusive wonder. Meanwhile, to the left is Lanzones Falls (right). At 70 ft, it has its own personality: instead of a cavern, it descends on sharp, jagged rocks, which form a wall ideal for rock climbing. Lanzones trees abound in the area, and from August-September, you may even buy Lanzones fruits at the jump-off point.
Upstream, on the other hand, are Batya-Batya and Sampaloc falls. Batya-Batya is a two-level falls. At its second level, the water is deep, around 18 feet. Here, the attraction is the interesting formation of rocks and the natural pools. Further up is Sampaloc falls. This is another grand waterfalls, with its own unique cascade and also a sizeable catchbasin.
After the exploration, you can return to the campsite and spend the night there. The space is wide, and can accommodate several groups. On weekends, sari-sari stores are open and you can buy food, beverages, and toiletries.
Throughout the climb, you may appreciate the highlands of Rizal-Laguna. To the northwest is Laguna Lake, and you can see the height of Mt. Sembrano beside it. However, the highest point (marked by a hut and some benches just before you hear the sound of Buruwisan) is only 300 MASL and it is not really for reaching new heights that you will climb this mountain (technically, not even a mountain).
Mang Rodel, who succeeded the late Aling Esther as the “manager” of Mt. Romelo, objects strongly to the place being called as “ Mt. Romelo”. Romelo, he clarifies, is a river and not a mountain. However, as in many hiking destinations where nomenclature is quite arbitrary, and he concedes that Mt. Romelo is a good choice of a name. “Just not Mt. Famy!” he adds. Indeed, Mt. Romelo is more popularly named after the nearby town of Famy, Laguna, even if in reality, it is within the vicinity of Siniloan.
0600 Assembly at EDSA Crossing jeepney terminal, arrange for jeep to Romelo (P60.00/jeep)
0630 ETD for Siniloan
0930 ETA jump-off point. Register (P20/person) and get optional guides (P200/day)
1000 Start trek
1200 ETA Campsite. Set camp. Visit Buruwisan. Lunch.
1230 Commence exploration: Batya-Batya and Sampaloc Falls
0500 Back at campsite
0600 Dinner, socials
0700 Rappel down Buruwisan Falls; try to explore Old Buruwiasn
0900 Explore Lanzones Falls
1200 Lunch at campsite; break camp
1300 Start descent
1500 ETA jump-off; tidy-up.
1600 ETD Manila
2000 ETA Manila
Born to be wild