Mount Halcon is the fourth highest mountain in the Philippines. It is found in the municipality of Baco in the province of Oriental Mindoro, the eastern half of Mindoro Island which is part of the region known as Mimaropa. Running from north to south, the mountain creates a natural boundary between the province and Occidental Mindoro. With a height of 2,586 meters above sea level, it experiences frequent rains and occasional flash floods. Because of this hazard, it is generally considered by mountaineers to be the most difficult mountain to climb in the Philippines.
A wonderful view of the entire Mindoro Island and the surrounding area can be seen from the mountain's peak. On the slopes can be found numerous rivers and waterfalls. With its varied terrain ranging from rainforest to mossy forest, from bonsai forest to highland forest, the mountain is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The slopes are also inhabited by ethnic groups with an interesting traditional culture.
The slopes of Mt. Halcon are home to eight groups of indigenous people who maintain their traditional culture and way of life, collectively known as the Mangyans. Living as they do on the slopes of the mountain, the Mangyans have many traditional stories about it. Their name for Mount Halcon is “Lagpas Ulap” (over the clouds). They call the summit “Sheldang” and believe that climbing to the peak actually entails scaling seven mountains. The Mangyans not only have colorful tales to share about the mountain, they have intimate knowledge of the environment which makes them good climbing guides.
To get to Mt. Halcon, start by getting to Calapan from Batangas Pier. From the Calapan pier, there are jeepneys to the Baco Municipal Hall, where it is necessary to stop in order to get a permit to climb the mountain. From the municipal hall, go to Lantuyan, where one of the two commonly used trails up the mountain begins. Another trail may be found in Mayapi, a barrio near Lantuyan. It is also possible to approach the mountain from Puerto Galera.
- The mountain has been rated as Level III in difficulty, meaning it should only be climbed by experienced mountaineers.
- Because of its height, the mountain has its own unique climate. It rains on its slopes nearly every day, and rains are especially strong during the wet months. Heavy rains can cause dangerous flash floods. Therefore it is best to attempt a climb during the summer months, March until May, when rains are less frequent.
- All those who intend to climb the mountain are required to secure an official permit at the Baco Municipal Hall. This requirement was instituted after the death of a novice mountain climber in 1994. The Mangyan guides all comply with this requirement, refusing to join a party that cannot display an official permit.
- Leeches, locally known as limatik, are plentiful on the slopes of Mt. Halcon. They attach themselves to the skin of a hiker and suck blood. Although not a serious health hazard, they can be very irritating. Betel nut juice, tobacco, alcohol, and insect repellent are some of the substances that have been used by locals and climbers to prevent leeches from latching on.
- Finding water on Mt. Halcon is not a problem, but one must have a means of purifying it.
- Metropolitan Mountaineering Society. “Destination: Mt. Halcon.” http://www.metropolitanms.org/IT/Mount%20Halcon.pdf
- “Oriental Mindoro.”