San Pablo and Nagcarlan, Laguna
Major jumpoff: Purok 3 (Sandig), Brgy. Sta. Catalina, San Pablo
Alternate jumpoffs: (1) Brgy. Sulsuguin, Nagcarlan
(2) Lake Pandin, Brgy. Sto. Angel, San Pablo
LLA: 14°7’57″N, 121°21’30″E, 441 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Views of Southern Tagalog mountains and lakes
Nestled between the beautiful lakes of San Pablo City are mountainous terrains that straddle the city’s borders with nearby Nagcarlan and Calauan. Although they are dwarfed by surrounding giants, such as Mts. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal, and the more distant Mt. Makiling, these mountains and hills are worthy destinations: they offer nice views of the mountains and the lakes; and they are also a trip to the heartland of the Southern Tagalog region, much like Manabu Peak and Mt. Malipunyo.
Among these peaks is Mt. Mabilog, which sits at the border of Brgy. Sta. Catalina, San Pablo, and Brgy. Sulsuguin, Nagcarlan. At 428 MASL, it is shorter than nearby Mts. Kalisungan and Atimla, but it is closer to the lakes, being within the city limits of San Pablo. Perhaps it is the rounded plateau that serves as the summit of this mountain that gave rise to its name, which means “round”.
Getting there. Buses to Lucena are available in Cubao (MRT3: Araneta Center – Cubao; LRT2: Cubao Station) and Buendia (LRT1: Gil Puyat Stn.). To San Pablo City, the fare is P127 as of August 2012. From the highway, take a tricycle to the jeepney terminal — always ask where it is, as the parking areas for jeepneys change every so often. The fare is P11 for Sta. Catalina and Sto. Angel. It is also possible to charter a tricycle for P150, one-way. The fare is P25 from San Pablo to Nagcarlan, and P100 for a tricycle from Nagcarlan to Lake Yambo.
Registration and guides. Barangay officials are friendly and can provide guides (optional) to accompany. Trails are confusing; if you do not have enough time to explore the area, better get a local guide to accompany you (guide fees are not fixed; P300 is reasonable for a half-day hike). There are no registration fees collected as of December 2012 for any of the jumpoffs. Since some parts of the trails are private property, note that policies may change.
Hiking notes. Brace yourself for muddy trails, and mosquitoes and other insects. Insect repellent is a must.
Camping notes. The campsite of choice is the summit itself; which is very wide and spacious; however, there are no water sources. Cellphone signal is present throughout the trail.