Trail Chronicles #16: New Converts To Trail Running

There must be something magical about running in trails that this couple, Leo and Sylvia are now drawn to it after testing the waters for the first time on a long trail run 3 weeks ago. This time, me and my regular training bud, Jun Santiago brought these two budding trail runners to the trails of San Andres, Tanay– parts of which was the route of the recent Pimco NDTR Trail Run.

Leo and Sylvia are no newbies to road running though, both having completed several marathons and an ultra marathon under their sleeves. Leo, at 67 is still running strong, having a best of 4:30 in the San Francisco Marathon last 2012 while Sylvia who is in her early 50’s clocks  a sub-50 min. 10k and was 1st runner-up (female division) of the Tagaytay to Nasugbu (T2N) 50k  in 5:29 also in 2012.

Both seem to enjoy the adventure, escape and the lure of the wilderness and it’s apparent when both recently shopped for trail shoes, pole sticks, dri-fit apparels, hydration back-packs, whistles and even a walkie-talkie that has a speaking range of 28 miles! Speaking of being gung ho!

Montrail Rogue Racer

We hied off to Tanay last Sunday and arrived at 5:00am at the Pimco Clubhouse For Trail Runners along the national road in San Andres. The clubhouse has been serving as the jump off point of trail runners wanting to run the myriad of trails in Tanay. Although the club house doesn’t open until 7am, it’s relatively safe to park your cars in front or just across it so we started from there and jogged the 1.8 kilometer main highway to the trail head.

Once you get to the trail head, there is a small white sign board at the entrance that leads to the Kay Ibon and Maypatag Plateau trails. As i mentioned earlier, the trails were part of Pimco’s NDTR Leg 1 trail run held last May 25. Once you step  on the stoney paths leading to the falls, the fun begins!

The trails leads to a cluster of trees and small rocks dot the path that goes downwards for the first kilometer or two. The orange trail ribbon marks from the last race are still evident and these served us well not to get lost in the maize of trails ahead. The Kay Ibon Waterfalls was a nice first stop into our long journey.

Leo, Sylvia and i were also able to test run our new Montrail Rogue Racer Trail shoes and in my own assessment, this particular model was able to manage to cram in a great amount of soft and responsive cushioning into a light 8 oz shoe. It was great on all types of terrain including the muddy portions  that we had to cross upon.

Anyways, a review will be in order later so now, i’ll be leaving you with our experiences running is this enchanting wilderness. Enjoy!

(Our next trail race: The Soleus-Nuvali Trail Race Challenge on June 29, 2014 at Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna)


With couple Leo and Sylvia at the trail head

The Kay Ibon Falls

Jun with the couple

Bumping into a local who told us of an accident that happened recently on these trails

The mountains of Sierra Madre as our backdrop

Climbing up a mountain ridge

The Maypatag Plateau


The vast expanse of the trails

At the foothills of the Sierra Madre

Passing through an isolated shack

Spring water emanating from the mountains

This spot is memorable for Jun

Remnants from the last PIMCO Trail run

Trails at the valley

With Salomon X-Trail Run, PIMCO NDTR and Brooks X-Country Challenge champion Lito Divina at the trails

Trail Chronicles #12: Mt. Batolusong and Maypatag Plateau (Last of 2 Parts)

Last of 2 parts of our familiarization run on PIMCO’s forthcoming trail race route for its May 25, 2014 Natures Trail Discovery Run in Tanay Rizal.

There are still about 6 weeks before PIMCO’s Nature Trail Discovery Run (Leg 1) kicks off on May 25 and i’ve been getting a lot of inquiries already on how to register since i posted Part 1 of our familiarization run of the route the other day (you can read it HERE).

The first part was a glimpse of the Kay Ibon Trails/Falls and the Duhatan Trails which form part of the 10k, 21k and the 50k race routes and this is a course which have never been used by Pimco on its past races before. And like the first part, Mt. Batolusong and the Maypatag Plateau are very panoramic.

Its trails, green views, rolling pastures, ridges and deep ravines is a running hot spot, a perfect back drop for pictures, hiking and of course trail running. Mt. Batolusong is one of its attractions – a bit difficult in the beginning (until you reach the Maypatag Plateau), but plenty of places to stop for a breather and to catch a view.

It’s not a tall mountain, but it will definitely give you great views of the nearby Susong Dalaga peaks, Banahaw, Cristobal, Laguna, Rizal and as far as Quezon. It does have a couple of spots where elevation can cause you to huff or puff a bit.

Littered throughout this mountain trail were cannons, wild birds and a nice 360 view of the Sierra Madre Mountains.  Head up just another quarter mile or so to the peak for an even better view of the Susong Dalaga Peaks and you can see why it’s called such.

Here are pictures we took along the trails and these only represent part of the route for PIMCO’s upcoming NTDR Trail Race on May 25…

Duhat trees abound the area

That’s not a monkey..that’s Jackie!

Start of our assault of Mt. Batolusong

 The view on your left with cliffs and ravines at the edges


Approaching some mountaineers at the Maypatag Plateau

At the Maypatag Plateau

The ‘Susong Dalaga’ Peak is at the background

The UP Mountaineers Club packs up and starts to make their way down

Our turn to scale our way down

It’s back to the trails

Photo by Rhett Del Rosario

Trail Chronicles #11: Kay Ibon and Duhatan Trails (Part 1)

Just when you thought you’ve covered all trail routes worth running in Tanay, another rave scenery was just waiting for us to discover, tucked in an inconspicuous entrance along Tanay’s main highway.

Alvin of PIMCO was leading all 14 of us trail runners to test run this new route for the 1st Leg of their NTDR Trail Race for May 25 and we were running along the main highway wondering where he would lead us, when we suddenly swerved right into a single track trail and found these sceneries. The views were pretty amazing!

I had ran through great waterfalls, mountain ridges, river trails, shaded single track trails, all in Tanay but this is something else.

I’ll be showing you first the first part of our run which are the Kay Ibon and Duhatan trails while the Maypatag Plateau and Mt. Batolusong trails for Part 2 will be coming up in the next few days.



Before the run. Taken in front of the newly built PIMCO Trail Runner Clubhouse in San Andres, Tanay

Arriving at the Kay Ibon Waterfalls

The indefatigable Jackie Gutierrez climbs up that wall unmindful of the steep drop below her


The guys doing their thing while Jackie waits for her turn

Trail Chronicles #3: A Look At Laiban Trails

Third in my continuing chronicles of our week-end trail runs for 2014 features the trails of Laiban in Tanay, Rizal.

Laiban was in the news early last year concerning a billion dollar hydro-power dam project that had been planned to be erected in the area by the MWSS and this has outraged more than 5,000 families, many from indigenous Sierra Madre communities.

There has been no update yet about the planned dam construction but i can just imagine the destruction it would have on trees and other ecological life that relies on the nature of Tanay and Quezon, not to mention the displacements of these families from their ancestral homes.

Laiban offers amazing views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and its clean, pristine rivers. There are whole branches of trails you can take if you’re feeling adventurous though i suggest to thread on the main trails first if you’re running here for the first time.

Running buddy Jun and i came back here the other week-end and explored further the vast labyrinth of trails and rivers. Laiban has been one of the “showcase” trails that PIMCO, organizers of the Nature’s Trail Discovery Run series of trail races in Tanay have been presenting to runners and it’s easy to see why.

The trails are quite moderate to difficult, with long uphills and downhills and you have to cross mild streams and small rivers many times over. We counted six (6) river crossings (one way) and the uphills on the way back is really heart thumping!

It may only be a quick one-hour trip from Marikina but when you’re up there in the cool mountains and flowing, pristine rivers right in the middle of nature, it just takes you away from the concrete haze of the metro, the noise and air pollution and the constant hustle and bustle of city living.

I like that these trails are seldom used by bikers, hikers, runners and other 2-wheeled motor vehicles, there is much more breathing space when you’re running and can fully enjoy the quietness around you.

Here’s a glimpse of Laiban’s trails. Enjoy!

With Manny Santos and Alvin Balderama of PIMCO, after the run

Trail Chronicles: The Lost Garden of Tanay

In the mountains of Tanay, one place holds a special allure to those who have ran its trails and crossed its rivers…the rugged scenery of Sitio Maysawa. If you have ran any of PIMCO’s Natures Trail Discovery Run (NTDR) trail series in Tanay, you just might have passed some of its rocky terrain, steep uphills and an abundance of streams and rivers that greets you endlessly along its course.

A few days ago, running buddy Jun and i decided to re-visit the trails as we last did during the Pimco Buddy Run2Run 21k held last year. The Maysawa trails are beautiful but jagged, rocky on some parts, wooded on the inner portions  following shallow but crystal clear rivers plus a couple of different ridges through the woods. It throws in a couple of relentless uphills and descents. The terrain on the end part, after reaching Brgy Laiban is a mix of woodlands, creeks, open space and the occasional cultivated field.

We felt like little kids running on a playground again as we  made a recon of the route, starting at the back of the Sierra Madre Hotel and made our way down to Sitio Laiban, another scenic backdrop suffuse with gorgeous trails and rough roads which leads to Maysawa.

This time however, Jun and i went off the beaten path and instead explored the inner sanctum of its wooded area, a path not used on any of Pimco’s trail races before. We managed to run and walk endlessly for about 2 hours and discovered three falls from rushing streams, white rocks and a garden-like deep pond where we had to cling on rocks to get over the other side of the stream.

It was as surreal as it can get, the deep green-colored water was hollow on its surface but you can just see the deepness when you get near its core where the rushing water was like waterfalls pouring into a garden of rocks.

Probably Tanay’s version of the lost Garden of Eden, if ever there was one.

The three falls leading to the site were not too high and the rocks took on a whitish limestone-like texture but were not too large, unlike the ones found at Daraitan, also in Tanay.

We tried to venture further inside this enclave but found it too deep for comfort and found no way out so we headed back to the falls on our way back.

Sharing with you the pictures that we took…

Laiban Trails on the way to Sitio Maysawa

The trails at Laiban traverses along clean rivers

The entrance to the falls and rock gardens

A stranger was kind enough to brief us on what to expect inside. Note the white rocks

A dormant waterwheel near the falls

Jun poses on the small waterfalls

There’s a pond just in front of it where you can take a dip

Venturing past the falls on top

You can wade into the shallow stream or step on those rocks as you wish

The trails lead into wild fauna

The entrance to the eternal place

Jun ventures into the deep green pond

Climbing up past the rock formations. Notice the deep sink hole of the pond on the left

Slippery here. Trail shoes is a must!

It’s either we found the Lost Garden or we were the ones who got lost!

A stair-like rock formation on an imagined Roman garden

A closer look

Endless river trail which seems to go nowhere

We venture back to Sitio Laiban for the 10k uphill run back to base

We will be back here

Anyway, the place is amazing as anyone with a good grip on his trail shoe can climb the rock formations and you’re not afraid to wade on strong streams to wallow in the beauty of this far-off jungle and surrounding landscape.

Definitely a fun discovery trail run and will come back here once again! Bring your cameras with you!

PIMCO’s Run2Run Trail Run in Tanay: May 5, 2013

The Run2Run Trail Run Adventure will be held on May 5, 2013 at the Ten Cents To Heaven Resort in Sitio. Mayagay II, Brgy. Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal, just a kilometer away from the Sierra Madre Resorts. This trail run comes a week after the Merrell Adventure Trail Run this coming Saturday which i will also be running.

I was able to document part of the 21k route during a test run i did with other trail runners a few weeks ago (you can read it HERE) and i would say that this is one nice route, a combination of single track trails, rough roads and the main uphill highway.

One main attraction we weren’t  shown is a hidden trail en-route to Tuntong Falls, part of the 21k course. The race will start at an elevation of about 600-700 meters above sea level so the first kilometer or two will be an all downhill trail. Over-all, the trail run will be an awesome combination of two of the most scenic mountain trails, the May Sawa mountain scenery and the Laiban River trails

Along the main highway

Remember that this is a buddy run where you have to be a pair to register, start together at the starting line and arrive together at the finish line.

Remember that each runner should bring his/her own hydration bottle, hydration back pack or hydration belts as the organizers are not going to provide paper cups as this is an eco-friendly race. Organizers will only be providing re-filling stations along the race route.

View at the starting line

Here are some details of the race:


Date:  May 5, 2013, Sunday
Venue:  Ten Cents To Heaven Resort, Mayagay II, Tanay, Rizal

DISTANCES:  5k/10k/21k


GUN START:  21k  —  5:00am/  10k — 5:15am/  6k — 5:30am


5K  :    P550.00

10k  :  P750.00

21k   :  P950.00

REGISTRATION VENUE:  ROX at the Bonifacio High Street (3:00PM to 8:00pm)

Shuttle Services for Metro-Manila Runners:

Additional fee of P300.00 per runner will be charged for the shuttle bus to the race venue and going back to the same pick up points as follows:

Pick up Details:
Date: May 5, 2013

Pick up points:
Shell Station, Makati Edsa
Mandaluyong, City Hall Circle
Quezon City Circle
Masinag, Marikina in front of Mercury Drug
2:00 am Shell Station Makati Edsa
2:15 am Mandaluyong City Hall Circle
2:40 am Quezon City Circle
3:10 am Masinag

The Bus will passed-by and will not be standing by please be at the pick-up point at the time to avoid inconvenience and present your Service Stub. The Time of Pick-up are estimated arrivals at the pick up locations given.

If you miss one pick up place, you can still catch up by proceeding immediately at any of the pick up points ahead. The Shuttle Bus will not wait.

Time of Return Trip: All Runners must be at the shuttle bus for the return trip to Metro-Manila from the race venue after the race event not later than 2:00 pm

For more information about the race, just visit their website at or check-out their Facebook page at

Ten Cents To Heaven Trail Run in Tanay: A Sneak Peek

This view up above Tanay is the reason why i like to run on these mountains and the trails that spring up and down below its crest and inside its forests.

One of the grandest views atop the Ten Cents to Heaven Resort in Tanay, Rizal

The pic was taken atop the Ten Cents to Heaven Resort in Sitio. Mayagay II, Brgy. Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal just as we arrived at about 6:30am. The clouds had bridged several of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The breeze wasn’t as cool as i had expected but it was still far from the warm and humid temperatures in Manila even in the early morning.

Pimco Sports has cracked another winning trail combination and for its May 5 trail outing called Run2Run, with its longest distance, a 21k trail run, the race will start inside this resort, replete with garden trails, pineapple plantations, cement roads, rough roads and single track trails many trail enthusiasts will truly enjoy.

Yesterday, i had the privilege of joining a test run of this route together with about 22 other trail runners, the biggest group who had joined a Tanay test run so far. We didn’t run too far although the 7-8 km scheduled run we were given was a great sneak peek of what we were “partly” to expect for the May 5 race.

Photo credits to Maribel Patañag

We set off at about 7am and were made to run inside the resort as we snaked in around the gardens, open spaces, climbed up stairs…still not sure if this would be part of the route. When we were led at the rear-end of the resort, only then that we knew we were heading outside for the trails already.

The trails starts on a fairly manageable downhill run and we were apparently going down to the base of the mountain since we were situated on one of the highest part of that area. The latter descent parts were slippery, as we held on to small bamboo trunks to keep us from sliding down our butts as many did! We were all very careful as the surface was covered with dried bamboo leaves which didn’t offer much for us to step on the brakes.

The Ten Cents to Heaven Resort has the longest zipline in Luzon covering a total length of 1.1 kms. Since the zipline from the resort extends that distance to another mountain, our objective was to reach the end of this zipline so we had to practically go down from Ten Cents then trek our way up to the next mountain where the zipline ends.  And the 1.1km distance is no walk in the park!

The run up the 2nd mountain reminded me of the recent Salomon X-Trail run where we had to literally crawl up. Only here, its just pure trails, no steps to propel us up and it wasn’t very easy. We all had reached the end of the zipline and that 1.1k distance was like a 5k effort race!

It’s a challenging climb from the bottom of Sitio Mayagay to the top of the 2nd zipline but you’ll be rewarded with one of the most amazing vistas in Tanay. After the zipline, we exited into a concrete road leading to a residential area of Brgy. Cuyambay and from there, it was trails galore.

The trails here offer moderately challenging paths, dirt roads, single tracks and takes in some light streams and the rural scenery of Tanay. As always, we were only offered a sneak peek of the route, a mere 7-8 kms of trekking and running some of the easiest parts. Expect something colossal on race day as Race Director Alvin Balderama will once again unleash his poisonous fangs once we get inside his private territory!

I’m leaving you with the pictures i took on our run. Enjoy!

The air is usually cool here every morning but not to much today in this hot summer

From the patio from where the zip line begins

A closer view of what runners will see during the start of the race

Flower gardens that surround the resort

Our run started with a tour inside the compound

At the courtyard before climbing up a series of stairs

We wiggle our way at the resort’s back exit

Nearing the start of the trails

The trail run begins and starts with steep descents going towards pineapple plantations.

In blue is RD Alvin Balderama waiting for all runners to descend

After this descent, we climb up the other mountain (foreground) where the other zipline is located

Part of a bamboo forested area

This is the steepest downhill part where it’s easier to slide down from your behind

A 12 feet ravine. According to Alvin, ropes will be attached to poles on race day itself for runners’ safety

What goes down must come up!

A couple takes up the rear of the group with Alvin giving support at their back

Maribel taking it easy atop the end of the zip-line

That mountain on the other side is where we came from

A cemented road as part of the route

Taking a break at Brgy Cuyambay while waiting for the others

Elite running couple, Ems and Ron Nills (left and middle) with their equally fast Ilocano-“Kenyan” friend, Hadji from Tuguegarao

At Baranggay Cuyambay, Tanay

The terrain here is rolling with single tracks and rough roads ahead

These rocks are to be delivered to Metro Manila for landscaping businesses

A short rough road that leads to another set of trails

This is part of the 21k route

The road thins out to a trail

Crossing out a small stream

The group follows

Looking for something, Jun?

Alternating between shaded and open part trails

Back to an open space

The trails in this part is generally flat so we just took our time to survey the course

Trails go in and out of secluded areas. Here, we approach another stream

There’s this feeling of peace and serenity just running on these trails

We sort of miss the gushing rivers but nice to have our feet dry this time.

It was a long hike-run on the trails

Coming out of the woods

More of these bamboo trees lined-up in between trails

Entering a small village

A short uphill climb

Taking another pit stop with the group

Last of the trails before heading back to the highway

One last pit-stop

They call this the stairway to heaven, a short cut to the resort

A stair-trail path suffused with flowers

A dizzying climb to the top

More steps to climb, but i didn’t mind

Almost there…

A light brunch was waiting

Teacher Ella Mae was glad to make it back the top

At the cabana

A Chapel inside the resort

For more info of the Run2Run Trail Run on May 5, 2013, please check out PIMCO’s website which you can find here:

Tanay Trail Run: Familiarization Run, Part 2

I’m still nursing a nagging dull pain on my right hamstrings that has again returned after last Sunday’s trail run at Tanay, the 2nd and probably the last familiarization run before the Love A Tree 50k Ultra on February 10.  The pain has stuck after finishing the 4th QC International Marathon last month and it has been on and off my leg since then.

Last Sunday’s trail run was actually a complete repeat of the Nature’s Trail Discover Run, Leg 1 with the climb on “The Peak” its highlight and the various river crossings around Baranggay Sto. Niño, Laiban and beyond. With me this time was team mate at Team 90%, ultra-runner Chito Carreon who got his feet wet, running this course for the first time.

So we drove to Tanay early Sunday morning and arrived at about 5:15am to the barking of dogs near the entrance to Sta. Inez Road. We were the first to arrive so we took this time to catch off some more Zs. No more than 25 minutes had passed when i noticed other runners began to trickle in, among them Manny Santos of Pimco Sports wearing his usual Viking Trail Shoe and Cesar Valmadrid of Norphyl.

With its challenging trails, the PIMCO organized trail races and the hundreds of trail running enthusiasts, Tanay has become the self-style hub of the trail running community. Much to my surprise, there were more runners who attended this 2nd familiarization run, ready to hit the trails.

We re-traced the route used during Leg 1 of the Discovery Run and this would entail running up that killer mountain trail and back to those river crossings past the hanging Sto. Nino bridge. Those running the route for the first time did additional distance by hitting those river crossings while some of us familiar with the route opted to return back after reaching the hanging bridge.

The run (or crawl) to the San Andres peak is so ridiculous. And i’m sure i have never walked this slow that i had to stop and catch my breath every 10 meters of climbing! The uphill was sending a dull, thudding pain deep into my right hamstring which i’m dragging behind me like a heavy rock! Still i managed to reach the peak in one piece.

We all had a blast! Great conversations from everybody, a nice route and when we returned to base camp we had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, eat-all-you-can pandesal and hot coffee, courtesy of Mrs. Santos, Manny’s wife. By the end, i did about 15k while the others did 18k.

For those who plan to run this race on February 10, you can still register on-line at Pimco’s official website at: or check their Facebook page at Pimco Sporting Events. Distances include the 50k ultra, 24k, 12k and the 6k trail distances.

Here are some pictures i took of the trails last Sunday. You will have to excuse the quality of the pictures as these were just taken using my Blackberry phone.

Hope you enjoy them!

One of the many interesting river canals trail runners will see along the course

One of many wooden bridges that connects many of the baranggays in San Andres

Typical trail along the lowlands. It would be more challenging when you climb up the peak

This pony suddenly appears and blocks our path. We all had to stop, walk slowly and sensing that we were moving near her, decided to give way for us.

Towards a small community where a cave exists

A small river crossing that got our shoes wet (a little)

When this group crossed, one of the wooden planks broke so they had to thread this very carefully

This trail leads to the small river cave

The mouth of the cave is visible from here

Race Director Alvin Balderama plans to have runners cross under which is chest-deep. I hope not!

Posing for a group picture

On my left (sitting) is RD Alvin Balderama

The single trail tracks at Baraggay Sta. Inez

This trail leads up to the “Peak”

We had to re-group most of the time and wait for the slower ones

Weather was fine during the early part of the morning but became hot and sunny past 10am

It’s all uphill from here

Same route will be taken in by all runners

A view of the Sierra Madre Mountains

More of the mountains

This is one steep ascent

This was just half-way into the climb

Perfect training for those running on uphill races

A few hundred meters more before the peak

Taking a break before the final assault

Cesar Valmadrid wished he had puffed fewer cigarettes before the climb

A rice paddy seen below

Taking pictures with his Android phone

Maribel, the only rose among the torns

At the peak

Chito enjoying the scenery

The trail on our way down

It’s more fun in the Philippines!

One scenic rough road inside Brgy. Sto. Nino

Scenic trail going to the river

Sun was up and about making the run so hot

Trail to the hanging bridge of Sto. Nino

We turned-around after approaching the bridge

Now at the foothills of the Sierra Madres

They have one of the cleanest rivers in the country

Corrals and stones along the river’s edges

Runners will trek through these rivers