I fell in love with mountains ever since I climbed Osmena Peak three years ago. Since then, I’ve been dreaming non-stop to climb the majestic mountains in the Philippines. One of them is Mt. Palay Palay or more commonly known as Pico de Loro.

It was our last destination during our week-long trip to Luzon with friends. We were almost not able to climb it because of the long and uncomfortable bus rides we had to go through before we reached Cavite. The cut off time was 11:45 AM, and we arrived at 11:43!

I was physically and mentally tired when we arrived, and a part of me almost did not want to climb. But I had to because I traveled that far to reach the place. It would be such a waste of time and energy if I would back out the last minute.

Pico de Loro relatively has an ‘easy’ trail, with a graded difficulty of 3/9. But one thing I learned about climbing mountains is that, one should never rely on a mountain’s difficulty grade. No matter what people tell you how easy it is to climb a certain mountain, it is always the mountain’s decision in the end if you are worthy to climb it.

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This realization echoes back to my favorite quote from the 2015 Everest movie said by Anatoli Boukreev, one of the climbers on that fateful 1996 Mt. Everest tragedy. He said,“We don’t need competition between people. There is competition between every person and this mountain. The last word always belongs to the mountain.”

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With those words in mind, I climbed Pico de Loro with the hopes of reaching the summit intact in mind and body and spirit. It only took us less than two hours to reach the summit because we were adamant to reach the summit before sunset. We have our local guide, Kuya Roger, to thank for his amazing guiding skills.

A few months before this trip, I was hoping I could also climb the famous Monolith, but I also wanted to make sure I was following the rules. Sadly, the Monolith is no longer available, although some people still break the rules and climb it.

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I strongly decided not to, out of respect to this mountain. I stayed at the summit, stopped taking pictures for a while, and savored every moment of it. My two friends and I were the last climbers to register, so we were able to enjoy the summit with no distractions from others.

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Excited ra kaayo si Kuya Guide, wala pa gani ko naka pose. 😭

A post shared by hanna (@beanintransit) on


As cliché as it sounds, I consider all my travels a spiritual experience. I would say climbing Pico de Loro is by far one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life.

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Off to the next mountain!

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  • Marica Pidor

    I remember my boyfriend told me not to take too much pictures during travel or wherever we go because we came not to consume almost 100% of the time for selfies and personal pictures. We came to appreciate the beauty of the nature and experience the effort and hardships we take during a climb or travel.

    I guess, your worth depends on your intention and attitude during the journey and on how you advocate nature in your life.

    • hannafrej

      Yes, you’re right. That’s why I get annoyed to some people who can’t seem to stop taking pictures, most especially when trekking in groups. Thirty selfies in one spot! Hahaha. It can slow down the group’s pace.

  • Nasuya ko sa Pico de Loro T.T Pico is actually in my list of mountains that I wanted to go. Maybe next year? Or sooner!

    Moreover, I agree with you. I started climbing mountains for my Instagram but I gradually realize as the year goes by the meaning and essence of being with the nature. That taking picture should not be the purpose, but savoring and being thankful for the amazing creation of God.

  • Amazing. I love mountains and the idea of climbing although it isn’t really my goal to climb famous mountains in Cebu or the country. If and when the situation presents, I’ll go for it. I agree, traveling can be spiritual experiences.

  • I always get jealous like this when someone climbs to the peak of a mountain when I could no longer achieve for now 🙁 I could no longer do trekking maybe for now since my knee or patella was broken last two years. lol HAHA and I am just into pictures 🙁 imagining only with the photos seen. How I wish I could do pics like yours someday 🙁 I like your photos so much! huhu -Jay

  • Ariel Samangka

    Wow, I love how the words captured me deeply. It is always the mountain who own the last word in the end. I like how it was written. I wish to climb this mountain as well if I get the opportunity. I’ve been hearing around this mountain and would love to go there as well.

  • So true about the mountains deciding whether you are worthy of the climb or not. I’ve climbed Sirao a handful times but there was once when I was crying after a really hard climb; my knees keep giving in and I fell three times on the way down. Which reminds me, I should really go back to exercising if I want to climb more mountains next year.

  • Wow, someday I want to visit that place. Looks fantastic and nasuya sad ko sa akong mga friends nga nakaanha. But for now, mag-reserve sa kog energy para dili dali ma-drained.

  • Louiela

    Reaching the summit is one of the best feeling when you are of to somewhere that requires a lot of effort. And it seems to be addicting. You’ll be too tired the next day, but once you recovered, you can’t wait of your next hike again..
    And you even crossed a river,, always check if the rocks are mossy, I am always a victim 🙂

  • Pico de Loro was my first climb. Though ’twas a minor one, I learned a lot from the experience.

    Never tried to climb the monolith as well. The fog was so thick that visit. Though a lot of climbers broke a leg to top it kahit zero visibility.

    You can also add Palay-palay Falls to your itinerary.

  • Victoria Hawkins

    My country Trinidad, has a similar landscape. I’ll have to take the time to climb some local peaks!

  • Jullian Robin Sibi

    Ooooh. Pico de Loro looks like an interesting climb. Good thing too that you had climbing buddies. Maybe a #HIBsters hike someday? Hehe

    • hannafrej

      yes, i would love that. let’s organize a hike for #HIBsters soon.

  • Rady James Bagnol

    Pico de Loro is part of my unofficial and mental bucketlist. haha Hopefully I can climb that sooner. =)

  • Wandering Soul Scamper

    I have heard that the monolith in Pico de Loro was closed as of the moment.
    But Pico de Loro was always sitting there on my trekking destination bucket list in Luzon. Hopefully I can visit the place before it will be totally closed. Crossing fingers 🙂

  • Kriswanders

    Oooh..I didn’t know that the monolith was closed at the moment. Was it mentioned why they’re temporarily closing it? Nevertheless, the view is still great. Another bucketlist checked for you! 🙂

  • Ramzy Magbitang

    What a breathtaking view! Reading along through your narrative of the trek and looking at the pictures felt like I was vicariously climbing the peak through you!

  • JD

    I’m getting curious how that monolith got there. Hahah. I’m definitely suspecting earthquake or water corrosion from when it was still underwater. 😀

  • Channel Imperial

    Oh my God. To hell with those people who break the rules to climb the monolith. They might ruin it! Is there somebody guarding the place Bata? Hehe!

  • Niadto pod ta mo! Joooke! Bitaw, medyo terrifying siya i-climb bisag tan-awon pa lang daan sa layo kay murag wala man kay kapadulngan in case mahug ka kundi downwards since steep drop ra daun siya ba. It really looks magnificent though! 🙂

  • CAOLANO

    You looked different in this climb. Did you have too much water?

    This climb is perfect for lovers by the way.

    • hannafrej

      God I almost forgot about this comment. Haha! But yeah, I really look a bit different here. Too much water! HAHAHA

      • or too much clothes or clothes were of the wrong color.

        • hannafrej

          Next time, I will wear purple hiking clothes. HAHAHAHA

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