Pushing Through: Overcoming Mt. Baloy’s Challenges and Completing the Panay Trilogy | rich'nritch.com

Pushing Through: Overcoming Mt. Baloy’s Challenges and Completing the Panay Trilogy

The Kinulitan trail of Mt. Baloy is a narrow path cut through the thick wild plants called ‘lagiwriws’ or ‘ragiwriws,’ which cover the entire area. The leaves are like of pandan plant but the branches are long, entangled, and crawling like vines. It offers a tremendously thrilling experience! The Kinulitan trail was established by AMSI (Antique Mountaineering Society Inc.) with Talahib Eco Trekeers and guides from Barangay Busog, Valderrama, Antique in 2015.
The Kinulitan trail of Mt. Baloy is a narrow path cut through the thick wild plants called ‘lagiwriws’ or ‘ragiwriws,’ which cover the entire area. The leaves are like of pandan plant but the branches are long, entangled, and crawling like vines. It offers a tremendously thrilling experience! The Kinulitan trail was established by AMSI (Antique Mountaineering Society Inc.) with Talahib Eco Trekeers and guides from Barangay Busog, Valderrama, Antique in 2015.

"The Saga of Mt Baloy"

Mt Baloy (7,049ft) or Baloy-Daku (the Greater) straddles over three provinces in Panay Island - Iloilo, Capiz and Antique. Two major factors - isolation and dense forest cover - contribute to make up for its moderate elevation to gain the status of a very difficult peak in the Philippines. The two attempts (the second was in 1994) by the Antique Mountaineering Society (then led by an old-timer and stalwart, Baby Gallego) in the west or Antique side failed due to the depletion of water supply, a very scarce commodity in that side. Struggling in Karatagan in the east or Iloilo side, the Iloilo Mountaineering Club led by Fred Tayo (another stalwart and old-timer) had to make also two attempts to be able to finally scale its summit which is reputed to have a tiny lagoon. Likely done in the early 1990's, one of these attempts lasted for seven days. On the same side, according to a Karatagan villager, a four-man American party climbed Baloy for a week to no avail. With the knowledge of route at hand, the IMC's later climbs are successful, most are traverses from Iloilo to Antique. Brgy. Karatagan is accessible solely by means of foot from Supanga, the last point accessible to transportation. The Calinog-Supanga road is in bad condition. In the rainy season, it deteriorates further and becomes impassable.

-Based on Interviews Conducted by Dennis S. Ella

Day 0: Warnings and Immersion

“We advise you not to go,“ said PSI Jose Nemias P. Pamplona, OIC of the Calinog Municipal Police Station. Exactly 3:00 in the afternoon of April 16, 2018 when we arrived at the station for log in. We were entertained first by an officer who asked for our IDs and recorded our personal information in a sheet of paper. Afterward, he brought us to the room of PSI Pamplona who was still out for an official business that time. With the use of a topographic map hanging on the wall of the office, he oriented us about the geographical location of the trail we will take to reach Mt. Baloy from Calinog side. He told us of the dangers ahead which at some point, made me think of backing out. The whole area is considered as a ‘hotspot’. While deciding to proceed or not, Sir Pamplona suddenly arrived. We shook hands and introduced ourselves as friends of the 20 hikers of Higher Grounds Mountaineers-Iloilo who did the same traverse two weeks ago headed by Sir Jay Plantinos. We showed to him the photo of the map provided to us by Sir Jay and explained to him our goals for the hike. He then continued the orientation and upon hearing his negative advise, I turned my head to Richard and consulted him. Richard said he wants to proceed and convinced me to drop the negativity. After a while, we told Sir Pamplona that it is unethical for us to abandon the hike prior to meeting our host in Karatagan and we wanted to assess the situation personally when we reach the jump-off point. He then wished us good luck and even joked to send his office a copy of the trail photos after our descent. That lightened up our mood.

Outside the station, we were approached by the two habal-habal drivers whom Richard contacted ahead. They brought us to the nearby public market where we bought all the supplies we needed for the hike. After more or less an hour of a roller-coaster ride, we were dropped at Brgy. Supanga where we met Tay Radnie who then brought us to our next stop. We headed to the community of Karatagan where we stayed for a night before our hike proper traversing Calinog, Iloilo and Valderrama, Antique and summiting Mt. Baloy, the toughest mountain in Panay. 

The road going to Barangay Karatagan in Calinog, Iloilo. We walked for more than an hour from Supanga to the house of Kagawad Elsie in Karatagan. The road is not accessible by motorcycle due to muddy terrains caused by frequent landslides.
The road going to Barangay Karatagan in Calinog, Iloilo. We walked for more than an hour from Supanga to the house of Kagawad Elsie in Karatagan. The road is not accessible by motorcycle due to muddy terrains caused by frequent landslides.

In Karatagan, we met Kagawad Elsie and her family who shared to us their values of simplicity, hardwork, and perseverance. That night, I listened to Nay Elsie’s story about her and her husband's sacrifices to be able to send all their five children to the university. She proudly pointed their graduation portraits posted in their wall. She introduced to me her youngest son who recently earned a criminology degree and just waiting for a call from the headquarters. She showed to me those ratan hammocks and mats she's been selling for decades as a source of income. It was heart-warming. And the talk goes on as the night deepens that her words even echoed in my sleep.

Duyan or native hammocks made of ratan handcrafted by Kagawad Elsie and her family. It’s one of the sources of livelihood in Karatagan.
Duyan or native hammocks made of ratan handcrafted by Kagawad Elsie and her family. It’s one of the sources of livelihood in Karatagan.

Day 1: Turn-overs and Excruciating Walk

It was a beautiful morning the next day that I've wanted to extend but Tay Radnie was already waiting to bring us to the next barangay. We left at past 7AM. Along the way, we met kids playing with small chickens, hunting birds with their improvised lighter fluid-powered guns and slings, and those playing indoors. At Sitio Agtuhay in Brgy. Aglonok, we met Nong Rodel whom we expected to be our guide to Mt. Baloy via Tarzan trail (connecting Mt. Hinagdung and Mt. Baloy). Unfortunately, he wasn't available and instead, he offered to bring us to a village close to  DENR-Nursery where he knows someone who can bring us to Brgy. Busog in Valderrama, Antique. As we make several stops from houses to houses, we enjoyed greeting everyone and giving kids gummy bears and candies. It is always touching to see their smiles and hear them greet back using their own dialect with their unique accent. At one of the houses, we took our lunch and offered the elders our packs of instant coffee. Their laughter and unending stories about hunting and fiestas indulged us as we join them. There we met Jan-Jan, a resident of Busog who was just visiting Aglonok and whom Nong Rodel recommended to be our guide.

A photo op with Kagawad Elsie and Tay Radnie before we left Karatagan going to Sitio Agtuhay in Aglonok, the border between Iloilo and Antique.
A photo op with Kagawad Elsie and Tay Radnie before we left Karatagan going to Sitio Agtuhay in Aglonok, the border between Iloilo and Antique.
The beautiful landscape of Barangay Karatagan located near Iloilo-Capiz border. Farming is the primary source of livelihood and rice is the common crop grown in this community either in rice fields or kaingin area. Houses are far from each other and some of them have carabaos in their backyards they used in the farm. Apart from being the jump-off point of mountaineers hiking to Mt. Baloy, teachers from Aklan who are assigned in Sitio Maytaraw, Brgy. Dalagsaan, Libacao, Aklan pass by this barangay every week. It is said that it’s easier to go to Maytaraw from here than from Libacao.
The beautiful landscape of Barangay Karatagan located near Iloilo-Capiz border. Farming is the primary source of livelihood and rice is the common crop grown in this community either in rice fields or kaingin area. Houses are far from each other and some of them have carabaos in their backyards they used in the farm. Apart from being the jump-off point of mountaineers hiking to Mt. Baloy, teachers from Aklan who are assigned in Sitio Maytaraw, Brgy. Dalagsaan, Libacao, Aklan pass by this barangay every week. It is said that it’s easier to go to Maytaraw from here than from Libacao.
Members of the family begin their day by taking the carabao to feed into the grassland before going to the farm.
Members of the family begin their day by taking the carabao to feed into the grassland before going to the farm.
A boy holding a small chicken. We saw him while on our way to Sitio Agtuhay in Barangay Aglonok.
A boy holding a small chicken. We saw him while on our way to Sitio Agtuhay in Barangay Aglonok.
Although uncommon for this time of the year, the trail is very slippery and muddy because of last night’s rain. There are also landslides on the trail.
Although uncommon for this time of the year, the trail is very slippery and muddy because of last night’s rain. There are also landslides on the trail.
We stopped by this river for a quick rest and to refill our empty water bottles.
We stopped by this river for a quick rest and to refill our empty water bottles.
The kids from Sitio Agtuhay greeted us with shy smiles while carrying an improvised gun powered by lighter fluid. They use the guns for hunting birds.
The kids from Sitio Agtuhay greeted us with shy smiles while carrying an improvised gun powered by lighter fluid. They use the guns for hunting birds.
As we are approaching the village of our supposed to be guide, Rodel or his father, in Sitio Agtuhay in Aglonok, we were welcomed by this beautiful view of mountains and rice fields.
As we are approaching the village of our supposed to be guide, Rodel or his father, in Sitio Agtuhay in Aglonok, we were welcomed by this beautiful view of mountains and rice fields.
Barangay Aglonok is the farthest barangay of Iloilo located in Iloilo-Antique border. There are numerous sitios and villages scattered around this barangay. The village of Rodel is a small farming village with few residents, mostly relatives. He and his father are the only experienced guides in the area.
Barangay Aglonok is the farthest barangay of Iloilo located in Iloilo-Antique border. There are numerous sitios and villages scattered around this barangay. The village of Rodel is a small farming village with few residents, mostly relatives. He and his father are the only experienced guides in the area.
Rich shows the maps of our hike to Rodel.
Rich shows the maps of our hike to Rodel.
Crossing the river to the next village.
Crossing the river to the next village.
It took us 20 minutes of walking and few river crossings to reach the next village to find a guide to take us to Barangay Busog in Valderrama.
It took us 20 minutes of walking and few river crossings to reach the next village to find a guide to take us to Barangay Busog in Valderrama.
Posing for a photograph with one of the families we passed by.
Posing for a photograph with one of the families we passed by.

 

Rich posed for a photograph with the family.
Rich posed for a photograph with the family.

 

This is the last residential village in Barangay Aglonok and beyond this point is hours of trek to thick jungles, wild rivers and steep mountains before you reach Barangay Busog in Valderrama, Antique.
This is the last residential village in Barangay Aglonok and beyond this point is hours of trek to thick jungles, wild rivers and steep mountains before you reach Barangay Busog in Valderrama, Antique.
Posing for a photograph with the relatives of our guide, Jan-Jan, whom he temporarily lives with.
Posing for a photograph with the relatives of our guide, Jan-Jan, whom he temporarily lives with.

Posing for a photograph with the relatives of our guide, Jan-Jan, whom he temporarily lives with.

A group photo with Rodel before we set out to Barangay Busog.
A group photo with Rodel before we set out to Barangay Busog.

Without any idea about the trail, we took the challenge out of curiosity and thirst for adventure. Besides, we both didn't have plans of backing out despite of all the warnings. We believe, we're there to prove it is safe after all (we trusted the locals). What we were not prepared for was the tormenting walk with our self-contained backpacks good for four days. The backpain, muscle cramps, and exhaustion take turn as we keep on following the river for more than 10 hours. We had to deal with big logs, thick vegetation, and an almost unending river. Looking at Richard’s face, I could tell he’s in agony as he already stumbled many times due to his heavy pack. Around this time, I wished I have brought a trek pole. I told our guide to find a water source along the trail so we can cook and camp. But there was none. After another raging five hours, we survived the night and reached the community of Busog few minutes before midnight where we met Tay Rogelio (our next guide). It was one of the longest and arduous dayhikes we experienced in Panay. Along the trail and in between pains, we agreed to switch to lighter gears on our next hike. 

Slashing our way through the thick vegetation of the forest of Aglonok, Calinog, Iloilo.
Slashing our way through the thick vegetation of the forest of Aglonok, Calinog, Iloilo.
The forest is so dense and the trail is concealed by the thick vegetation, much like Madjaas-Panipiason trail.
The forest is so dense and the trail is concealed by the thick vegetation, much like Madjaas-Panipiason trail.
After hours of walking through a dense jungle, we took a quick rest on a makeshift camp called Hinawanan Camp near Mt. Hinagdung. The camp was made by Higher Grounds Mountaineers - Iloilo during their Holy Week climb to Mt. Baloy more than two weeks ago.
After hours of walking through a dense jungle, we took a quick rest on a makeshift camp called Hinawanan Camp near Mt. Hinagdung. The camp was made by Higher Grounds Mountaineers - Iloilo during their Holy Week climb to Mt. Baloy more than two weeks ago.

After hours of walking through a dense jungle, we took a quick rest on a makeshift camp called Hinawanan Camp near Mt. Hinagdung. The camp was made by Higher Grounds Mountaineers - Iloilo during their Holy Week climb to Mt. Baloy more than two weeks ago.

A quick photo op before we set out to hike Mt. Hinagdung and trek all the way to Barangay Busog.
A quick photo op before we set out to hike Mt. Hinagdung and trek all the way to Barangay Busog.
Hiking to Mt. Hinugdang
Hiking to Mt. Hinugdang
The trail going to Mt. Hinagdung
The trail going to Mt. Hinagdung

The trail going to Mt. Hinagdung

The steep ascend to the summit of Mt. Hinagdung
The steep ascend to the summit of Mt. Hinagdung
We crawled over and under trees that had fallen across the trail.
We crawled over and under trees that had fallen across the trail.
The river junction that divides Iloilo and Antique.
The river junction that divides Iloilo and Antique.
Our guide Jan-Jan poses for a picture in the river junction.
Our guide Jan-Jan poses for a picture in the river junction.
After a quick rest and water refill, we continue our hike further upstream to Barangay Busog.
After a quick rest and water refill, we continue our hike further upstream to Barangay Busog.

 Day 2: Recuperation 

We set the next day as a chill-hike to regain our lost energy and strength. We left Busog at 12 noon and arrived at the river junction around 3PM where we set up camp as suggested by our guide. We also dipped in the ice-cold river with a view of cascading water nearby. Beside the waterfall is an intriguing cave, which according to Tay Rogelio, is mainly used by hunters and guides. A quick flashback of our cave experience in the jungle of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan last year brought meaningful smiles to our faces. We slept early but the hush of passing locals from either Busog or San Agustin doing night fishing woke me up. I heard them setting a fire by the river. In the morning, our guide told us that shrimps and fish are abundant in the river and those people might have caught a bounty last night. That was interesting to know.

Exhausted of our just-concluded hike. Our energy was completely drained that we just want to lie down all day and do nothing but sleep.
Exhausted of our just-concluded hike. Our energy was completely drained that we just want to lie down all day and do nothing but sleep.
Preparing our breakfast and packed lunch before we continue our hike to Mt. Baloy from Barangay Busog.
Preparing our breakfast and packed lunch before we continue our hike to Mt. Baloy from Barangay Busog.
The sun is scorching hot when we start our trek to Mt. Baloy.
The sun is scorching hot when we start our trek to Mt. Baloy.
A scenic view of rice terraces along the trail.
A scenic view of rice terraces along the trail.
Another scenic view from along the trail
Another scenic view from along the trail
A boy with slingshot locally called ‘tirador’ we met along the trail accompanied by his mother and siblings. Seeing him reminded us of our childhood. His mother permitted us to snap a photo of him.
A boy with slingshot locally called ‘tirador’ we met along the trail accompanied by his mother and siblings. Seeing him reminded us of our childhood. His mother permitted us to snap a photo of him.
Huge boulders around the river as we are nearing the camp at the foot of Mt. Baloy.
Huge boulders around the river as we are nearing the camp at the foot of Mt. Baloy.
The inviting water of the river near our camp where we stayed for a night before continuing our hike to the summit of Mt. Baloy.
The inviting water of the river near our camp where we stayed for a night before continuing our hike to the summit of Mt. Baloy.
Sitting on top of one of the big boulders by the river. We stayed here for a while right after we fixed our tarp, tent and hammock then we took a quick dip. The water is crystal clear and chilling cold.
Sitting on top of one of the big boulders by the river. We stayed here for a while right after we fixed our tarp, tent and hammock then we took a quick dip. The water is crystal clear and chilling cold.
With our guide, Tay Rogelio, the father of Jan-Jan
With our guide, Tay Rogelio, the father of Jan-Jan
Our camp near the river
Our camp near the river

Day 3: Search for the Summit

It was still early when we started our third day. The narrow, winding, and wild trail added thrill to a steep and long ascend to the peaks of Mt. Baloy. When we reached Enzo Peak, Tay Rogelio told us that we have already reached the summit. In disbelief, we checked our GPS and found out it wasn't. With our combined enthusiasm, we convinced our guide to explore the area further. Stepping on and crawling over 'lagiwriw’ or ‘ragiwriw' for around 15 minutes was the highlight of our 'search for the summit'. After an hour, our GPS led us to a mossy forest where we found a tree with a yellow nylon rope wrapped around its branch. Our guide told us that it’s the tree we were looking for. We checked our GPS again and it showed we're already around the summit area. We later found out that it was the second summit of Mt. Baloy. The first summit is just a few meters away from the second.

The view of Mt. Baloy Gamay as seen from Cogon Junction on the steep slopes of Mt. Baloy. We stayed here for a while to enjoy the beautiful scenery of surrounding mountain ranges.
The view of Mt. Baloy Gamay as seen from Cogon Junction on the steep slopes of Mt. Baloy. We stayed here for a while to enjoy the beautiful scenery of surrounding mountain ranges.
Breathtaking view of Valderrama mountain ranges
Breathtaking view of Valderrama mountain ranges
Looking back at the dense forest trail of Mt. Baloy from Cogon Junction.
Looking back at the dense forest trail of Mt. Baloy from Cogon Junction.
Breathtaking view of Calinog mountain ranges with Mt. Hinagdung’s summit covered with clouds where we traversed from Aglonok to Busog.
Breathtaking view of Calinog mountain ranges with Mt. Hinagdung’s summit covered with clouds where we traversed from Aglonok to Busog.
As the time goes by, the clouds start to build-up in Mt. Baloy. While we were trekking in Aglonok the day before yesterday, we saw that Mt. Baloy’s summit and it’s surrounding mountains are always covered with clouds from late morning all throughout the day. We hike as early as possible to see the views while hiking.
As the time goes by, the clouds start to build-up in Mt. Baloy. While we were trekking in Aglonok the day before yesterday, we saw that Mt. Baloy’s summit and it’s surrounding mountains are always covered with clouds from late morning all throughout the day. We hike as early as possible to see the views while hiking.
As we are sitting down and enjoying the scenery, we got a chance to see a spectacular view of ‘sea of clouds.’
As we are sitting down and enjoying the scenery, we got a chance to see a spectacular view of ‘sea of clouds'.
Enjoying the view of ‘sea of clouds’ high up on the Cogon Junction.
Enjoying the view of ‘sea of clouds’ high up on the Cogon Junction.

Enjoying the view of ‘sea of clouds’ high up on the Cogon Junction.

After the steep and exposed Cogon Junction trail, it was followed by the thick mossy forest trail. The trail climbs upward through the mossy forest.
After the steep and exposed Cogon Junction trail, it was followed by the thick mossy forest trail. The trail climbs upward through the mossy forest.
A pitcher plant we saw along the trail
A pitcher plant we saw along the trail
The Kinulitan trail of Mt. Baloy. As we go further up nearing the summit, the trail changed from walking to crawling under and over these plants called lagiwriw. It took us more or less 15 minutes to cross completely.
The Kinulitan trail of Mt. Baloy. As we go further up nearing the summit, the trail changed from walking to crawling under and over these plants called lagiwriw. It took us more or less 15 minutes to cross completely.

Watch: Mt. Baloy's Kinulitan Trail

Watch: Mt. Baloy's Kinulitan Trail
Watch: Mt. Baloy's Kinulitan Trail

 Watch: Crawling through the seemingly endless ‘ragiwriws’ in Kinulitan trail.

Watch: Crawling through the seemingly endless ‘ragiwriws’ in Kinulitan trail.
Watch: Crawling through the seemingly endless ‘ragiwriws’ in Kinulitan trail.
The mossy forest close the summit of Mt. Baloy.
The mossy forest close the summit of Mt. Baloy.
A moss-covered tree near the summit.
A moss-covered tree near the summit.
The moist vegetation on the summit left our pants soaked. A little chilly up here and more windy but the view of the mossy forest is bedazzling.
The moist vegetation on the summit left our pants soaked. A little chilly up here and more windy but the view of the mossy forest is bedazzling.
Taking a pose with Tay Rogelio at the second summit.
Taking a pose with Tay Rogelio at the second summit.

 

Rich and Tay Rogelio at the second summit.
Rich and Tay Rogelio at the second summit.

 

As the temperature gets colder, we posed for a photo on the summit and left for lunch on an e-camp just below the Kinulitan trail.
As the temperature gets colder, we posed for a photo on the summit and left for lunch on an e-camp just below the Kinulitan trail.

Going up and down that day was no easy feat. We thanked our years of experience in hiking that we were able to enjoy the trail despite of the difficulty. We clung to exposed tree roots as we scrambled over loose soil in a ninety-degree slope. We staggered over ragiwriws as we hung and swung around their branches. We both experienced sliding down, our legs hanging in hollow spaces underneath while our arms are trying to lift our body up over those thorny branches of ragiwriws again. We dealt with it separately and on our own because we frequently didn’t go together on trail and our guide was way advance to our pace. Those moments were a combination of danger and thrill. My favorite part during our descent was the timberland area because I found myself running confidently on trail. Richard never failed to warn me to slow down in steep downhills. He always got my back. We reunited with our guide when we were close to the river junction where we left our packs. It was around 7PM when we reached Brgy. Busog and decided to spend a night there though originally, we planned to do a night trek going to Poblacion of Valderrama because we have a flight the next two days for our Mindanao Madness trip. We walked for more than 12 hours that day.

We posed for a photo on the scenic view along the trail while descending.
We posed for a photo on the scenic view along the trail while descending.

We posed for a photo on the scenic view along the trail while descending.

 

We posed for a photo on the scenic view along the trail while descending.

 

After having our lunch, we continued our descend.
After having our lunch, we continued our descend.
Descending on the very steep slope of Cogon Junction. We grab whatever we could get a hold of to keep going downward.
Descending on the very steep slope of Cogon Junction. We grab whatever we could get a hold of to keep going downward.
Some kind of green flying stick insect. It flies like a butterfly with beautiful pink wings.
Some kind of green flying stick insect. It flies like a butterfly with beautiful pink wings.
A cave made out of huge boulders by the river used by residents of Barangay Busog and San Agustin when they go out here for night fishing.
A cave made out of huge boulders by the river used by residents of Barangay Busog and San Agustin when they go out here for night fishing.

Day 4: Endless River Trekking

Last night’s sleep brought our shapes back. After getting up from bed, Jan-Jan volunteered to cook breakfast for us as we still have plenty of food supplies left. We took the opportunity to visit the barangay captain’s house to inform that we have descended safe last night and to ask for help to contact a habal2x driver for us via a two-way radio because there’s no mobile signal in the area. There we met Sir Reymark and Sir Noe who work for ANTECO and Sir Ryan who work for NEA. We mentioned that we are also looking for a guide to bring us to Brgy. Cansilayan. They told us that after breakfast they are leaving the village and that we could follow them. It was a great timing for us. We went back to Tay Rogelio’s house for breakfast and then quickly packed our things. We gave them our remaining supplies as a sign of gratitude and to lessen our loads as well. After saying our goodbyes to our host family, we began our journey. Because the three men went ahead down the river, Tay Rogelio’s daughter guided us until we reached the road. Without any idea how far we still have to go, we slacked off a bit and took time enjoying the view of the ranges side by side. We traced the mountain that we have traversed and recounted the difficulties we have faced head on the past three days.

Tay Rogelio's daughter guiding us to the road near the river.
Tay Rogelio's daughter guiding us to the road that leads to the river.

We were approaching the riverbank when we found Ryan, Noe, and Reymark taking a rest. We asked them how long we still need to walk and we were surprised when they said, "4-5 hours." We thought that the remaining distance is good for a couple of hours only to find out that we still need to cross multiple rivers under a scorching sun. To take away our attention from the burnt-out feeling encapsulating us, we shared personal information with our companions. The instant rapport between us led to meaningful conversations and urged us to share contact numbers. During one of our take-fives, a dozen of residents riding on horses with their loads passed by us. To me, it was like a scene in the Wild Wild West movie. Literally, it left me speechless! I never expected to observe such way of life in Valderrama. Enthralled by the sight, we called one of the horse-riders to stop. Seeing the bedazzlement in our eyes, he offered us to take a ride in his horse. And like a child, I excitedly tried it followed by Richard. That was superb! 

The start of the longer river trek from Barangay Busog to Brgy. Cansilayan where we can ride a motorcycle to the town of Valderrama, Antique.
The start of the longer river trek from Barangay Busog to Brgy. Cansilayan where we can ride a motorcycle to the town of Valderrama, Antique.
Nice scenery along the river trail.
Nice scenery along the river trail.
With our friends from ANTECO and NEA Manila.
With our friends from ANTECO and NEA Manila.

With our friends from ANTECO and NEA Manila.

While resting on a shade by the river, some locals appeared with their horses on the horizon. They came from the  town market to buy groceries and supplies.
While resting on a shade by the river, some locals appeared with their horses on the horizon. They came from the  town market to buy groceries and supplies.
A horseback riding by the river.
A horseback riding by the river.

Fast forward, we reached Brgy. Cansilayan at 10:30 AM where our new friends parked their two motorbikes. They offered us to hitch in one of their bikes. Initially, we refused because we knew it would be hard for the driver to balance the load. We have two big packs with us. But they insisted. They told us that only during summer when people can drive as far as Brgy. Cansilayan because the water level is low. During rainy months, people travel through bamboo rafts together with their loads and transport vehicles. After few minutes of struggling over gravels and crossing multiple rivers, we met a habal-habal driver. Richard immediately transfered to the other vehicle with our two backpacks. Despite of that, we still went almost off balance crossing numerous knee-deep rivers for around 30 minutes. From the road, our attention shifted to the sound of the running horses getting close. We slowed down and totally stopped when both sides, tens of horses passed by like in a movie that horsemen encircle intruders to defend their village except they went straight ahead. We didn’t miss taking videos of course! That moment, I felt like I was a star in a cowboy movie. Hiiyah! Another few minutes, we met locals carrying loads and kids in horses. It seemed to me that the movie is never-ending and I wanted to stay longer. How I wish!

Our friends from ANTECO tied our bags in their motorcycles. 
Our friends from ANTECO tied our bags in their motorcycles. 

Our friends from ANTECO tied our bags in their motorcycles.

Our extreme motorcycle ride under the scorching heat of the sun and over the very rocky terrain of the river. The ride also includes multiple river crossings and there were a couple of times when the motorcycle was half underwater in a fast-flowing current. It was a bit scary but the drivers were very experienced though.
Our extreme motorcycle ride under the scorching heat of the sun and over the very rocky terrain of the river. The ride also includes multiple river crossings and there were a couple of times when the motorcycle was half underwater in a fast-flowing current. It was a bit scary but the drivers were very experienced though.

Watch: Extreme motorcycle ride under the scorching heat of the sun and over the very rocky terrain

Watch: Extreme motorcycle ride under the scorching heat of the sun and over the very rocky terrain
Watch: Extreme motorcycle ride under the scorching heat of the sun and over the very rocky terrain

We arrived in Valderrama Police Station 30 minutes before noon where we separated from our companions. After logging out, we took a quick lunch and traveled back to Kalibo - back to reality.

The map of our entire hike to Mt. Baloy
The map of our entire hike to Mt. Baloy.

Daily Maps are here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4

Truly, we have conquered Mt. Baloy and successfully completed the Panay Trilogy with full of twists and thrills. It's a version of our Aklan-Antique traverse last year and for the record, we consistently finished them with a bang. Mt. Baloy marked to my hiking life maybe because it was a dance between life and death. It was worth all the risks! 

Watch: Traversing Iloilo and Antique, climbing the elusive Mt. Baloy, and completing the Panay Trilogy

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