It lies between the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal.

Three o’clock in the morning, my alarm rang so loud, it also woken up my room mate. Well, I had to make sure I would not be late on my first ever hike-experience.

We are heading to the Rhino and Lioness Rock formation (mountain?) in Bulacan. The trek is expected to be just an hour walk. That’s why I joined anyway, because it is perfect for beginner like me.

But fate might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed that day and decided to play s trick on us. As we head to the site, we are welcomed with the news that it’s not open anymore for hiking. Yeah, just like that. It is already private. No entry allowed.

Our heart sank. Then fortunately (or unfortunately), one of us knows another mountain near the area. So, should we give it a try?

Mt Maranat. Never heard it before (And so are you right?). When I was told it would be a 3-4 hr hike for one way trek, I almost choke up. But then again, looking at my companion’s eager faces, I somewhat absorb their enthusiasm. They would not be denied. Not today. So yeah, why not Maranat?

The gang getting ready for the hike
The gang getting ready for the hike

No training, no preparations (I don’t even have the appropriate shoes) and not even a single last minute stretching. By the time we arrive at the jump-off, we say a little prayer and went straight on to hiking.

River-Crossing at Mt. Maranat
River-Crossing at Mt. Maranat


Sunset at Mt Maranat - Not the best angle though.
Sunset at Mt Maranat – Not the best angle though.

After hours of walking, climbing and river-crossing, we reached the top. Not actually the summit but the highest point mountaineers were allowed. I contemplate for a good few minutes on the entire vastness of greens and browns below me. I do appreciate nature but I have to say that this is not the most breathtaking I have seen. Not even extraordinary. I had to question myself (being a first-time hiker), had we go through all that trouble to only see this? I stood for quite a few more minutes, and then the wind blows hard yet soothingly as if to clear my then subjective mind.

Mt Maranat ascend - Our eyes feast on the rich  flora that extends up until where our sight can reach.

That’s when I understand what it meant by “happiness is not the destination, it’s the journey”. It is that moment that these great words moved from my mind to my heart. That in the span of 8 hours we’re on the trail, I saw people challenging their selves. Exceeding their limits. Encouraging each other. Waiting and helping those left behind. Falling and stumbling yet laughing in the process. Aside from the eye-pleasing nature around us; I saw humility, adversity and friendship.


The experience makes me understand that going up is optional but going down is mandatory. That you can’t stay up there no matter how good and comfortable it is on top. That at some point in our life, we must go down. Transcend contentedly.

It taught me that going down requires as much time as going up. That you will meet people going up the same trail, encourage them and give them advice.

Maranat hike proves that sometimes, unexpected events turn out to be the most memorable ones. That when fate moves you to a change of plan. You just have to follow the flow. Who knows, it might just lead you to something better. And being unexpected, makes it sweeter.

Most importantly, climbing Mt. Maranat taught me how to endure. That no matter how slowly I go, I can finish off something as long as I do not stop. That stamina is sometimes more important than strength.

Into the jungle...
Into the jungle…

Wrapping-up the excruciatingly long-almost-unending hike to Maranat, I must say that yes Miley, you are right! It ain’t about how fast I get there. Nor is it about what’s waiting on the other side. Indeed, It’s the CLIMB.

How to go to Mt. Maranat:

Our team has rented an exclusive van that caters our round-trip transportation from Ayala, Makati to Maranat jump-off.

If you opt to commute:

Starting point: Ortigas/Edsa

Ortigas to Tungko: P60 (Aircon Bus)

Tungko to Sitio Licao Licao: P27-P30 Jeepney

Sitio Licao Licao – Mt. Maranat Jump off: P25 pesos/person

Guide Fee: Optional

Washed Fee: P15 – P20