Mount Puting Bato Samal Island.

Puting Bato is the highest peak on Samal Island and trekking to the summit makes for a good day out on Samal Island. Puting means white and Bato means stone in the local language, the name Puting Bato was no doubt given because of the towering white limestone cliffs you will glimpse on your left through the forest vegetation during the first stage of your ascent.

Mount Puting Bato is located in Barangay Guilon, this is in fact a fascinating area of Samal Island for me which I often visit, I am drawn there because of the evidence I frequently see all about me which hints at the dark violent forces in the distant past which moulded Samal Island into what it is today.

What am I talking about ? Well look on your right on the road before Guilon Elementary School and you will see a large deep almost perfectly round indentation in the earth which I take to be a giant sink hole, it's now covered in vegetation and banana trees so look twice or will miss it. Go on from there for a few minutes and you will come to the area of The Bito Depression, { Read more about it HERE } many people take this for a sink hole thinking it to be perfectly round but it when you look at in Google Earth it is in fact the circular end of a canyon in which the river Hagamit flows and then disappears into the depths of the earth at the base of a towering limestone cliff.

By the way if you walk up river from the tourist attraction Hagamit Falls which is not so far away as the crow flies you will see The Hagimit River re-emerge underground from the base of what is again a towering limestone cliff. What the course of the river is between these two point I have no idea but perhaps one day I will find out.

Finally even close to the very summit of Mount Puting Apo you will find plenty of evidence of ancient corals embedded in the limestone rock, so clearly where you will be standing at the top admiring the view was at one time seabed. I will make it clear that I have no great knowledge of geology but as far as I am aware there is no evidence of past volcanic activity on Samal Island so I have to assume that the island was raised from the seabed in ancient times and re-sculptured through the movement of tectonic plates the fault lines of which are known to run through this area of Mindanao.

But I digress, this article is about the climb itself which I made in December 2105. The summit of Puting Bato can be reached via two trails. The easier one, is that of the Sitio Tayapoc Trail which is the one I am covering today, I found it not too arduous, just a trek really. The other trail the Guilon Trail is said to be more suitable for experienced climbers. I will be giving fuller directions how to get there below but basically get yourself to Sitio Tayapoc, there you will see a barangay centre on your right with a basketball court and sari sari store etc. Ten metres after that on your left is the opening to the trail to the mountain, it is only a small opening and could easily be missed.
{ Both Sitio Tayapoc and the opening of trail path are in my photos : See bottom of the page. }

Once on the path you just keep going up, past some small houses and into the forest, there you will find your way well marked by ribbons tied to trees. I enjoyed the trek through the tranquillity of the forest with it's trees and plants, I saw coffee and cocoa beans on the branch, and if you are very lucky you might get a glimpse of the elusive wild cat. The path through the forest is not hard but there is one point where there is a sheer drop on your right, the path is still good and it is only for twenty metres or so but take care.

Once through the forest the path is still obvious but you are now walking over open grassland, you will soon come to a small house where you will be asked to sign a log book and pay 20 peso. You then carry on until you reach a narrow rocky path where you will come to a short wooden bridge over a deep ravine, the bridge is safe enough but again take care, you will first encounter another deep ravine which is only about three feet across but very deep, you will jump across this, Great fun!

Past this point you will encounter another house where you will be asked to pay another 20 peso, you then make a short descent over open grassland which then rises to the summit and the spectacular views you have come here for. You may find some very friendly but clever dogs have come up with you, they know you will having a snack at the top and may share it with them! The descent is easy, just the reverse, but again take care.

The whole trek from Sitio Tayapoc to the summit of Puting Bato took me around two hours, but hey I am 65 years old. Maybe you can do it quicker!

Directions by regular car or motor bike.

This is in the other trips category because to to go there by mountain bike, climb the mountain and then to bike back to Davao would be too much for me although a younger fitter man may well be able to manage it. It is however perfectly accessible using a normal car, the road surfaces from Babak to Sitio Tayapoc are not too bad.

1. Leave the roll on roll off ferry terminal and turn left towards Babak.

2. At the first roundabout take the first exit marked Pena Plata, climb the hill and then go straight until you pick up the T- junction at the main road, proceed towards Pena Plata.

3. At Pena Plata look for the sign on your left for The Town Hall, take that and proceed up the hill.

4. After the hill climb the road forks at the top, take the right fork and proceed for about two miles until you see a sign which says " Welcome Guilon Elementary School " turn left at this point and take this road past the school for a further two miles until you come to a T junction, turn right at that point and carry on for a mile or so and you will come to Sitio Tayapoc, you will see the basketball area and some small building on your right. Some ten metres beyond that is the entrance to the trail to Mount Puting Bato on your left.

5. Alternatively if you do not have access to a car or motor bike you could do this by public transport. From Davao City take the Island City Express Bus to Penaplata on Samal Island. At Penaplata, just take a "habal-habal" bike to Sitio Tayapoc and take it from there.

You can see the photos I took on the trek HERE