Mount Tagapo And The Famous “Balaw-Balaw” Restaurant


“At the heart of Laguna de Bay lies Mt. Tagapo. Its unique geography makes it a worthwhile hiking destination. You will have to board a pumpboat from the towns of Rizal to reach the island; this boat ride will take you to the scenic lake and its fishing villages. You will realize that Laguna de Bay is so huge it’s almost like a sea. Then, on Talim Island, as you start hiking, you will be surrounded with bamboo; the whole island is like a grove, and people live on the bamboo, which islanders use to produce furniture, toothpicks, and even charcoal (hence the name Tagapo, from ‘taga’ which means ‘to chop’). The trails are easy and in 1.5 hours you will be at the peak; There you can behold the entire Laguna Lake and its coastal towns; the skylines of Makati and Ortigas; as well as nearby Mt. Sembrano. This is not a popular hiking site, but it is highly recommended” (


1. Unlike the last climb in Mount Cristobal where subjects are sprouting like the hairs on my legs as far as common subjects are concerned, Mount Tagapo offered less. So I expected that this climb will give me just a few photos to share. I was right. There were indeed little pictures in my memory card but after reviewing what I captured from this climb at home, I realized that there’s something beautiful that came out of it: I was able to capture the four elements unknowingly through the first four photos below.

I am actually most inclined to capturing the verdancy that goes with the mountains that’s why.

2. Whenever I go on a climb, what I am after for are the adventures and the sceneries particularly the “green” thing attached to it. I don’t really prowl for local delicacies or specialties nor take into consideration stopping by famous restaurants for the lower or middle classes. Mount Tagapo somehow modified that perspective through the unforgettable food and service I and my hiking friends had at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant in Angono, Rizal. With the sumptuous array of foods from exotic to specialties, paintings, sculptures, and other forms of artwork like the Higantes and masks made of papier mache, the place will sure be a wonder for the eyes and stomach. It’s obvious that the people of Angono radiate that desire to promote their culture. Kudos to them for that!

3. Because of this climb, I learned that I am not the heaviest in the group but I am confident to say that I have the biggest stomach for I consumed a total of SEVEN staggering plates of one of Balaw-Balaw’s coveted Gourmet foods, minaluto – the magic “sarap” of the restaurant.

4. The scorching heat of the sun was almost unbearable that all of us have suffered from sunburn after the climb. The sun is supposed to be 93 million miles away from earth but it seemed like it was just three miles away that day. The sun’s torrid kisses on our epidermises made me realize that summer was officially starting which I definitely love because it is favorable for alfresco adventures. Blame it on the weatherman why summer this year started late.

5. This is the first time I sort of rewarded myself with food through Balaw-Balaw’s and I liked it. I owe it to my friends/hiking buddies who made that side trip happen. Sir Bart, Ma’am Amy, Jay&Matet, and Ron, thanks!

-Mount Tagapo is my twelfth conquered mountain (03 April 2011).

For more information (how to get to the place, climbing notes, special concerns, trivia, more stories, etc.), read this: Mount Tagapo (MASL 438+).

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. ramoncito17 says:

    Hi Sony! Great entry as always! I have a house in one of the subdivisions in San Pedro, Laguna and one time I decided to explore Laguna de Bay from that end. Was disheartened with how dirty the place was with rubbish of people living near laguna de Bay floating in the water. I wonder if the people living there do not realize that the dirt they are throwing into the Lake also ends up in the bellies of the fish that they are tending in the lake?
    However based on the pictures you are posting here, approaching the lake from Rizal seem to tell a different story. It looks picturesque! Now I wish I had gone there as well. It is almost lunchtime here too and your description and picture of minaluto is making me very hungry.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      With regard those people who don’t seem to care about the planet’s battle against global warming or, in this case, pollution, it’s really saddening that they’re still uninformed in that place. The kind of discipline instilled to them speaks for their pestering acts. I wish the government will intensify their efforts in educating the people through enacting more of what I call earth-saving laws like the prohibition of plastic usage, throwing of garbage in the rivers, etc. I think lectures on global warming, especially to the people who are less educated, should be taken into consideration too. At home, I am really teaching my young boy to carry my little efforts on safeguarding the environment. I also included some lectures on global warming in my course syllabi since I started teaching.

      Enjoy your lunch, sir, and thank you for your time as always!


      I guarantee you that Balaw-Balaw’s minaluto is toothsome. Try it when your busy schedule permits you to revisit the Philippines.


  2. aRVee says:

    Hi Sony, nice blog… You must have enjoyed up there… 🙂


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thanks Arvee! You’re right, I really had a great time up there and down the Balaw-Balaw Restaurant.


  3. Hi! Awesome pictures! When I visited the Philippines a few years ago I visited Laguna and some of it’s sites. The Philippines is such a beautiful country. I always tell people that it is Asia’s best kept secret.

    Thanks for sharing!



    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I’m glad to know that eventhough you’re miles away from the Philippines, you still promote the beauty of our country. That’s really nice of you. I read your comment on my blog post, Tirad Pass Historical Trails and I’d like you to know there’s almost a thousand beautiful mountains in the country – for hiking. I guarantee you that mountain climbing here is as awesome as mountaineering in the arctic.

      Keep beating the drum for the pulchritude of the Philippines.

      Thank you!


  4. jakesprinter says:

    I Scrolling in your page while this balaw magic sarap hit my Atention ,
    And wow Great activity with a great food (nakakagutom) 🙂


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thank you, Sir Jake! Tama kayo, nakakagutom talaga lalo na kung makita mo ng aktwal ang mga hinahain nilang pagkain dun mismo sa Balaw Balaw Restaurant 🙂


  5. Mt. Tagapo has it’s own charms. In my opinion you captured them in all its elements . The greens of the land, the sky, the serene lake, the glowing sunset, all and more gave us the wonders and beauty of the place. You and your friends showed what adventure , discovery and friendship is all about down to the delicious “minaluto.” A fun and enjoyable post, Bro. Thank you for sharing your part of the world . Best wishes to you and your family.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thanks, bro, for like saying “Amen” to my first note!


  6. Speaking of the “minaluto, ” is that like a sea food medley similar to “Paella?” “Salamat,” your posts always remind me of the things I missed back home and of the the ones I need to try when fate leads me back to the land of my roots. And yes, “mabuhay ang Pinoy!” always proud to be one, anywhere, anytime! “Ingat.” Regards to your wife and son.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I will look forward to that day you will set foot again here in the tropics. Take care always, my friend.


  7. rommel says:

    Sarap naman. Nice serving style.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      You should try it one time. 😉 Garantisado, Rom, masarap ang pagkain nila doon sa Balaw Balaw Restaurant.


  8. freeclimbers says:

    nice post! we climb here on April 28, 2011 as a graduation gift to ourselves. The view above was truly great. Its just so sad that lots of garbage were dumped right at the peak. You can visit my blog about our climb there if you like: thanks and kudos!


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