Mt. Cabuyao/Kabuyao [ka-BU-ya-w], usually mistaken for Mt. Sto. Tomas, is at approximately 2,025 meters above sea level (MASL), which makes it a great vantage point for those who want a bird’s eye-view of Baguio City and her surrounding mountains. On a clear day, major mountains can be seen: Pulag, Ugo, Singakalsa, Tabayoc, and Panotoan. Even better: if you go camping in Mt. Cabuyao and you get there early, you can watch the sun set and moon rise from the big rock at the Mt. Cabuyao campsite; if you wake up early, you get to witness a spectacular sunrise as well. A nearby burial cave for the local community’s ancestors may also be visited.
The UP Baguio Mountaineers (UPBM), a nonprofit campus-based environmental organization, held a Mt. Cabuyao open climb in 2013. The UPBM often holds open climbs to encourage interested individuals to participate in mountaineering activities and adapt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Open climbs are also part of the UPBM’s advocacy to promote the outdoors as an alternative venue for recreation. Camping in Mt. Cabuyao is one of the usual activities of the UPBM.
Below, you will find our itinerary, route, expenses, and photos, as well as some news updates. A lot has changed since then, so the way to Mt. Cabuyao and neighboring mountains may not be the same.
Important: Before anything else, you might want to read the Leave No Trace Principles to familiarize yourself with the best practices of a responsible mountaineer.
Map & Routes
Route: Baguio City > Sitio Digdigwayan, Benguet > Mt. Cabuyao > Radar Station, Benguet > Baguio City
There are three routes that climbers usually take to reach Mt. Cabuyao from Baguio City:
- Baguio City town proper > Mt. Sto. Tomas Radar Station > Mt. Cabuyao
- Baguio City town proper > Sitio Digidigwayan, Tuba, Benguet > Mt. Cabuyao
- Baguio City town proper > Camp 6, Baguio City > Mt. Sto. Tomas > Mt. Cabuyao
We took the second route, as seen above. The roads to the jump-off sites are paved, but the mountain trails can be slippery during the rainy season, so make the necessary preparations before going camping in Mt. Cabuyao.
Where: Mt. Cabuyao, Tuba, Benguet, PHL
When: 7-8 December 2013
Duration: 2 days; 1 night
Category: Minor climb
13:12 – departure from UP Baguio via jeepney
13:35 – arrival at Sitio Digdigwayan jump-off
14:07 – start trek
15:10 – arrival at campsite
18:00 – dinner
19:00 – socials
22:00 – lights off
05:30 – sunrise
06:00 – breakfast
08:20 – burial cave tour
08:40 – start ascent to Mt. Sto. Tomas Radar Station
09:05 – arrival at viewdeck by the radar station
09:20 – start descent on paved road
11:15 – arrival at jeepney stop beside Esteban’s Store
11:45 – departure from jeepney stop
12:30 – arrival in Baguio City proper
UPBM open climbs are guideship and clean-up climbs wherein everyone is welcome to join for a small fee. The ₱250 registration fee is inclusive of dinner, breakfast, transportation, and a Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) 1 lecture before the climb.
The jeepney fare to and from Mt. Cabuyao should not exceed ₱50. The average emergency and food budget for an overnight climb is ₱150. If you go as a group, it’s even cheaper. As of December 2013, there are no external fees. So overall, the budget for a DIY climb is at least ₱200.
It’s been a while since I visited Mt. Cabuyao. I hope it has remained the beautiful sanctuary it was in 2013.
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In 2014, Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. illegally bulldozed over 2.5 kilometers or 2.5 hectares of forestland for a road and “eco-resort” project. Both Mt. Cabuyao and Mt. Sto. Tomas and their residents were and still are greatly affected by this seemingly mindless act. Read more about the economic cost of the said destruction here.
From 2014-15, the local TV series Forevermore was shot in Mt. Cabuyao’s Sitio Pungayan, now known as Sitio La Presa. This resulted in extreme and unregulated commercialization of the place due to busloads of tourists and fans who want to personally relive the magic of Forevermore. Fortunately, a Permanent Environment Protection Order (PEPO) was issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) last July 2015 to protect the forest reservation from total destruction. Read more about the impact of the said event here and the PEPO issuance here.