Playing Tourist at Balungao Hilltop

We were invited by co-workers to accompany them for a day tour in the province of Pangasinan where 600 meters and 1.4-kilometer zip-line can be found. In the town of Balungao, the booming tourist attraction of "Balungao Hilltop Adventure" offers not only zip lines but also ATV rides, Hiking, and Hot and Cold Springs. Bungee Trampoline is not yet available though on their website and flyer it is being advertised. 

Balungao Hilltop and Zip-line Adventure is approximately a couple of hours away from Olongapo City. Travel experience is great because of its accessibility if you take the expressways of Subic Clark Tarlac (SCTEx) and the Tarlac-Pangasinan La-Union (TPLex). We exited at Carmen Toll Plaza which is the end of TPLEx as of the time of writing. We then turned right and took Rosales-Balungao-Umingan Road and eventually turned right again for Napudot Road - a barangay road that leads to Balungao Hilltop. No wonder why they named this road "Napudot" because "Napudot" is an Ilocano word for "Hot".  

Balungao Hot Spring
The fun starts here...

The Zip-lines of Balungao


Considered as the longest zip-line in Region 1, its 1.4-kilometer span will give you a total adrenaline, fun, and excitement. This is longer than the boasted zip-line in Pagudpud! The only difference is that Balungao Zip-line is not on an open water. To those who are not brave enough to brace the 1.4-kilometer line, you can try the shorter one which is 600 meters long.

Mt. Balungao Zip Line
The 600-meter zip-line
Pangasinan Zipline
Try the upside down style

The Swimming Pool of Balungao Hilltop


There are five pools to plunge in at Balungao Hilltop; three kiddie pools and two adult pools. Three swimming pools have cold water and two pools for the hot spring.  One of the adult pools is about 8 feet deep, then a shallower one 6 feet deep. Be careful not to submerge immediately in the hot spring but rather let your body adjust to the temperature.

Swimmign Pool Balungao Hot Spring
The group enjoying the 8-feet deep pool.
Balungao Hot Spring
The 600-meter zip line stretches above, across these pools



Trekking / Hiking


We didn't try hiking at Mt. Balungao, instead, we trekked on a creek at the foot of the hill to the source of hot spring. We found candle wax along the way, probably lit by local believers of "bantay" or "guardian" of the area - a typical Filipino myth.

Mt. Balungao
A few meters from the resort, these candle wax on the rocks gave us the goosebumps.

All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is available but nobody in the group tried it. We found it a bit expensive for a 15-minute ride.

The restaurant is lacking, only Sari-Sari stores that sell snacks, soda, and such.  Be sure to bring your food when visiting this place. Further improvements like restaurants and additional rooms should be constructed.  Cleanliness of the pool area is also an issue; courtesy of employee needs improvement as well.

Below are the rates acquired from their flyer:
  1. Entrance Fee - P50 for Adult; P25 for Kids (up to 4 feet)
  2. Cottage - P200 (Kubo); P100 (U583-8421mbrella)
  3. Zipline - P300 (600 meters); we are not certain about the price of their 1.4 km zip line.
  4. ATV - P200 for 15 minutes
  5. Bungee Trampoline - P100 
Other Adventure Amenities:
  1. Hot & Cold Swimming Pools
  2.  Hiking/Trail Walking - P300 (guide)
  3. Mountain Biking
  4. Trust Fall
Cabana - P800/room 12 hours only; good for 4 persons.

Sulit Package - P500 includes:
  1. Zipline
  2. Bungee Trampoline
  3. ATV Driving
They have FIVE Contact numbers which is quite funny in my opinion.
  • 075-583-8421
  • 075-583-8412
  • 0921-598-8081
  • 0932-535-8687
  • 0939-448-4799                      


President Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral Home - Castillejos, Zambales


About 100 meters away from our home is the Ancestral House of the late President Ramon Magsaysay. For almost 15 years since it was renovated and reconstructed by the local government, with the effort and support of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the memories of our beloved President Ramon Magsaysay was re-lived. Every day I pass here, had played with friends hide and seek when I was a kid. Yes, this place was once my playground and I can still remember how it looks like before its restoration - almost dilapidated and neglected.

I finally had an idea to be a tourist in my own town. Funny but true, Sunday afternoon August 24, 2014 when some of my friends from the City (Olongapo City) decided to take a trip and take a glance at what’s inside this historical house. Ironically, I myself didn’t even know what’s inside of it now. When we arrived,  the curator approached us with a smile and told us to sign in on the visitor's logbook. Then the group started looking around.

Ramon Magsaysay Museum
The ground floor

Capistrano Falls - The Twin Waterfalls of Olongapo City

It was a good yet special Sunday when my friends and I decided to do something aggressive, vigorous and fun, then all of a sudden we talked about Christian's hike at Talisayin Cove and Larry’s’ trip to some various waterfalls around our locale. Of course, I have had my own journey but not as exciting as they have had. Then we finally decided to go to one of the most hidden waterfalls in the city, probably five to seven kilometers away from the city proper.

Capistrano Falls Hiker
Ron and Larry

The Long Walk to Angeles Falls (Capalngan Falls)

This outdoor fun was planned during the onset of typhoon Henry, insisted by Kathrine that we should go to a waterfall somewhere in the mountains of San Antonio to be able to add it in our list of visited waterfalls in the province of Zambales. She was eager to explore and contacted her friends, including me, to make this trekking happen.  I expressed a different opinion on this and suggested to try Dunsulan Falls in Pilar Bataan because when the group visited the Shrine of Valor we didn't have the time to see it.  This time I lost the group's vote and somewhat realized that we should be focusing on visiting the province' less visited waterfalls of Zambales. Now, we will take the chance to impart the experience we had and some tips on how to get to this hidden waterfalls.

As accustomed, playing tourist members started the trip in Olongapo City Victory Liner terminal. By 8 o'clock in the morning, we were ready, and this time we have a new recruit from the nearby town of Dinalupihan in Bataan province. We boarded an ordinary bus bound to Iba, Zambales at 8:10AM. From Olongapo City we passed the towns of Subic, Castillejos, and San Marcelino. Along the highway in Castillejos to San Marcelino, the mountain of San Antonio is visible to the left when traveling north - this is where we are bound to.

At 9 o'clock in the morning we arrived in San Antonio, roamed around the market, looked for a grocery store for drinking water and food for lunch.  We dropped-by at Paul's house in Barangay Angeles which is also our jump-off to the waterfalls. By 9:30 in the morning we were off to see the waterfalls.

The trails were intricate whoever attempts to see the waterfall will have to scratch his head and think like answering a puzzle. We spend half an hour before reaching Old Pamatawan River.  Crossing it was a surprise to some of us because its wideness and the water was almost waist high not to mention the strong current often pushes us to unbalance. We overcome this obstacle, keeping our gadgets safe from getting wet though we had our zip lock plastics for our gadgets.  Buddy system also helped us on crossing the river.

Capalngan Falls Trekking Pictures
The Pamatawan River
We then traversed a swampy area and some puddles of mud with fishes trapped in it. Gradually, there were trees and grasses that made us relieved, the sticky and loathsome part of the journey has ended but we still have to cross it on our way back. After more than an hour of walking, we finally reached a dry riverbed close to Mount Capalngan.  We followed the dry river that connects to another river but this time it has flowing water. Then we reached the waterfalls and it was great.

A waterfall close to Pundaquit Falls
The three-basin Capalngan Falls
Since it was almost twelve noon when we reached the S-curved waterfalls with three basins, we decided to have our lunch first before swimming. Like most waterfalls, the water is cold that we even submerged our drinking water for quite sometime to make it cold.  After finishing our lunch we took the plunge.

Angeles Falls
Enjoying the cold water of Capalngan Falls

It's about six feet deep on the first and second basin.  At the top it has four feet depth of water but climbing is an issue, the rock wall is almost vertical.  Be extra careful when exploring the topmost waterfall because it was slippery. At the top, i think what we saw was Lake Mapanuepe (sadly we didn't take pictures).

Pundaquit Falls vs. Capalngan Falls
The Second Tier of Capalngan Falls

We spent three and a half hours at the waterfalls swimming and taking pictures.  A day before the trekking, I browsed the internet for pictures and instructions on how to get here but I didn't find any.  Quite surprising because this mountain range of San Antonio is one of the favorite place for mountaineers as seen from numerous local websites.

Angeles Falls Third Tier
The topmost waterfall of Capalngan

If you're planning to visit this place, I suggest you contact a local guide from San Antonio or someone who lives close to the area.  You can check the link below or contact Paul on this number: 09394685707.

Name of Waterfalls - Capalngan Falls
Location - Mt. Capalngan in Brgy Angeles San Antonio, Zambales
Jumpoff - Brgy Angeles
  
Travel Time 
Olongapo to San Antonio - Victory or Mini Bus (50 - 60 minutes)
San Antonio Town to Brgy Angeles - Tricycle (15 minutes)
Brgy Angeles to Capalngan Falls - Trekking proper (2 hours | 4 hours to and from jumpoff)


More waterfalls in Zambales - Olongapo - Subic area:



Dambana ng Kagitingan - Shrine of Valor

With the strong suggestion from a friend, we visited the Shrine of Valor at Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan. We started our journey in the morning hoping to arrive at the site early.  From Olongapo City, we took a mini-bus bound to Balanga City.  One of the group suggested to stop at Layac Junction and take Genesis or Five Star bus since their route is Roman Highways where it intersects with Linao National Road going to Mt. Samat.

We stopped at the junction of Roman and Linao Highway -the landmark is the Petron Gasoline Station. There we took a tricycle for four hundred fifty pesos to and from the summit of Mt. Samat.

While the noise of the tricycle's engine made us silent during our trip, one of us exclaimed: "there's the big cross!" Then all of us were thrilled and got so excited we didn't realize we were talking with each other on top of our voices. We were four in the group.

Shrine of Valor
The 302 feet Cross.
At the gate of the park, we paid twenty pesos each for the entrance and another 10 pesos for elevator fee. The latter is optional when you don't intend to go to the arms of the cross to see the view of the park from above but I suggest everyone visiting the shrine should.

Dambana ng Kagitingan Interior
Inside the big cross
Luckily the place was not so crowded we had the chance to take a picture of the interior of the cross' arm. After some time, visitors keep on coming until both arms of the cross were filled with amazed people while looking down the park from above.  Then everyone got busy taking pictures - selfies and usies. 

Dambana ng Kagitingan Round Window
Geraline - through the looking glass
Museum Dambana ng Kagitingan Bataan
Bird's eye view of the museum
After spending an hour at the cross, we decided to go down and stroll the rest of the park.  At the base of the cross, we scrutinize the sculptured slabs of Rizal, Lapu Lapu, and Luna, to name a few.  There are kiosks where you can buy food in the vicinity as well as souvenir items.
Shrine of Valor Pictures
My crazy picture in the middle
It was fun visiting this historical place so visit now if you haven't.


Pamalingkingen Falls: A Victim of Mining in Cabangan

While most of us hang around beaches, water parks, and malls this summer, Playin' Tourist decided to go out for another adventure far from the city.  In Cabangan town province of Zambales, we trekked and hiked to see Pamalingkingen Falls.  We were guided by Mang Danny Atanacio together with his two young kids, neighbors, and friends.

With a smile, Mang Danny said it will be a two-hour hike to Pamalingkingen Falls and asked if we have pain relievers.  We took it as a challenge, a four-hour hike to and from the site.  This will be our longest trekking so far.

Cabangan Market
Katya and Anton at the Market
Cabangan Market Zambales
Where to eat...
Cabangan Town
There were only two open carinderias when we arrived in town.  Zeny's Eatery got our attention because she was smiling at us from afar.
From Cabangan Public Market a took a tricycle to Barangay New San Juan.  We then crossed a river going to Sitio Maporac, an Aeta Community recently declared as Indigenous Community Conserved Area (ICCA).

When we arrived at Mang Danny's nipa hut, they were having breakfast and our group was invited to try their food.  I am a farm boy from Tarlac but I haven't seen snails they were eating.  Paul, one of our group member who lives in San Marcelino Zambales boasted the taste of these snails.  Since  we already ate, we tried the offered food "without" rice just to taste.  Paul was right, it was delicious!  Mang Danny told us that these snails are best gathered during night time when they come out under the sand.  He even said the exact time - 10 o'clock!

Cooked Snails
Snails - rich in protein.
The trekking started at 7:40 in the morning.  The road led us to a private property owned by Don Juan.  According to our guide, Don Juan lives in San Marcelino in Zambales and his caretakers look after his property named Manggahan.  We were not surprised it is called Manggahan because there were mango trees along the way.  Mang Danny said he was a security guard of Don' Juan's property for years. 

Trek Pamalingkingen Falls
Resting after a long walk.
Road to Pamalingkingen River
Don Juan's Property
I was surprised on this trekking because I was expecting a trail but didn't.  Instead, we walked a rough road that seems endless.  The group asked our guide why there's a road, he said it was constructed for the mining a few years back. Our guide said the mountain range of Cabangan has been slowly deforested by illegal loggers and mining. 

Coffee Seedlings Cabangan Zambales
Coffee seedlings
Our strides were getting slow on our first hour so we decided to stop, we had our snack.  Paul complained of charley horse and Katherine on her blister.

We didn't see the waterfalls.  Disappointed, all of us asked Mang Danny why there was no waterfalls.  His face was sad when he said its because of the mining, that he didn't know it was already dry.  His nephew exclaimed, "This waterfalls has never been dried out even during summer!"

Cabangan Wild Orchids
Paul got flowering yellow orchids along the road.
The group is still lucky there was a deep part of the river we passed-by going to Pamalingkingen Falls, it is halfway back.  It has huge rocks where we can jump.  Because of the heat, we hurriedly went swimming and had our lunch there.  Mang Danny brought a pot where we cooked our food.  We used banana leaves as plates.

Pamalingkingen River rock boulders
Kids having fun.
Levitation at Pamalingkingen River
Anton doing his trick.
We left at 3 pm when we observed the sky was getting cloudy.  On our way back to Mang Danny's house, rain fell.  The rain is in favor of our trek going home, we didn't have to complain about the heat though our legs hurt.  Still, we couldn't believe how disappointed we were not to see Pamalingkingen Falls - a victim of mining. 


How to Get to Anghalo Falls - San Felipe, Zambales

Cliff Jumping Anghalo Falls Zambales
Cliff Jumping at Anghalo Falls
After several months of not posting on my blog, I finally had the time to share my tours and outings with my friends.  This post should have been published October last year but for some reason, my laptop stopped working and had to delay my posts until I get a new one.  My friends are happy to learn that my blogging will continue and they also told me to contribute on this blog.