Puerto Galera is many things to many people. It offers so many attractions and activities that coming here is considered by some to be a richer experience than going to other Philippine destinations. Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro boasts of white beaches, lush forests, ancient Spanish ruins, waterfalls and mountains-not to mention the interesting culture of its people. Although not really in Puerto Galera, Mount Halcon adds a special spice to the tourism in Mindoro. Located in the municipality of Baco between Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro, Mount Halcon is considered virtually impossible to climb, which makes it even more appealing to mountaineers and mountain-climbing enthusiasts.
Getting to the foot of Mount Halcon is already a challenge because it is far from the nearest paved road. If you wish to face the most amazing nature-trek challenge of your life, you chose the right summit. It’s has been declared officially closed several times for the reason that it is too difficult to climb. So far, only three groups of expert mountaineers have claimed to have scaled it by 2009. Yet, officially, this elusive summit is declared closed until 2012. The office of the Mayor suggests Mount Baco as an equally challenging alternative. Yet the curious and unquenchable spirit of expert mountaineers still point to Mount Halcon. It seems that the more impossible the climb, the more people want to scale it.
The long and difficult road to Mount Halcon begins in Calapan, Mindoro, not Puerto Galera. From Batangas Pier, take a boat ride to Calapan, which is itself also a tourist destination and the capital city of Mindoro. From there, rent a jeepney going to the municipality of Baco and ask to be taken to a tribal community of the Mangyans. This is not a regular route for jeepneys, so you have to rent one.
Mindoro is divided into two: Oriental Mindoro, facing Batangas, and Occidental Mindoro, facing Palawan. In the middle are Mount Halcon and a small island where you can dive to see the spectacular Apo Reef.
Before attempting to scale the summit, you should know about the Mangyans. The Mangyans are indigenous tribal people known to live only in Mindoro. Their settlement has not been touched by modern developments and continues to follow an ancient kind of living. If you wish to reach at least the foot of Mount Halcon and come back in one piece, you should hire a Mangyan or two as guides. They know the way and they scale it barefooted. Just to reach Mount Halcon, you would need a day to climb a smaller mountain between it and the Mangyan settlement.
The difficult climb to the summit could take two days across a dense forest of very tall trees, swarming leeches, cool rivers and waterfalls, strange noises from unidentifiable animals, loud calls from exotic birds, and through another Mangyan community but from a different tribe that is even more backward than the one in Baco. The Mangyans living near the summit of Mount Halcon do not speak Filipino and are still wearing G-strings.
Once at the peak, you get an exhilarating feeling that you have done what most people fail to even begin. The mountaintop view of mountain ranges and the sea from the highest peak of Mindoro is simply amazing. But keep in mind that to reach the peak, you have to belong to a team of equally experienced mountaineers and should be fully equipped with all the gear that might be needed. If you do have the fortune to belong to such a group and make it to the top of the mountain, be sure to enjoy the view and feeling of accomplishment before walking back to Baco for another two days. The challenging allure of Mount Halcon is another reason why Puerto Galera is a popular tourist destination, although the summit is not actually in it. Many daring Puerto Galera tourists make the trip to it, all the same, as part of a train of activities depending on encounters with nature at its finest and most challenging in the Philippines.