UPDATE JULY 14, 2020: Due to the current pandemic brought about by COVID-19 and other environmental issues, the Ave Maria Shrine which necessarily includes Mt. Bidawan and the Tubob Falls is closed for tourism purposes.
Some people say that climbing is a misplaced attempt to find pleasure while others say that it is a waste of time and energy with the possibility of opening up yourself to injuries. Those may be true to some non-adventurous people but there are many more reasons why you should climb. It may include having fun to meeting new friends, celebrating birthdays and holidays to finding your inner peace. As for me, I climbed the same mountain for more than four (4) times with different causes and it always felt great.
June 12, 2012. At the very heart of my hometown in Poblacion, Itogon, Benguet, there lays a mountain called Bidawan. On this day, we decided to celebrate the Independence Day by planting trees in the mountain. It rained when we began our trekking somewhere at Sitio Mambolo. The downpour of rainwater was adding weight to the seedlings we were carrying. The pathway was very steep not to mention the big flies, mosquitoes and blood sucking insects bothering my already bothered skin. When we reached the area where we should plant, the sun slowly revealed itself and the skies turned blue. I saw many young mahogany and pine trees in the area. I was told that those trees were planted by other climbers three (3) or five (5) years ago. I was delighted as I prayed that the trees I planted will also grow huge, splendid and green. And that was my first climb in the mountain at my neighborhood. It was simple yet very meaningful.
September 10, 2012. Today’s climb was in celebration of my old friend’s birthday. Unlike my first climb in this mountain, there was no rain. The sun was shining brightly that it gave me sun burns. But it was fine because I met new friends and got myself a reunion with Mother Nature.
October 17, 2012. Near Mt. Bidawan is a pilgrimage area where folks take time to rest and pray. My grandmother told me that it was built way back June 20, 1959 through the initiative of one Fr. Leon Dapiawen. This historical shrine is already part of the people’s faith and history. That is why the community of Poblacion, Itogon wanted to rebuild and renew the pilgrimage site by building a huge statue of Mother Mary and fourteen (14) Stations of the Cross starting from St. Charles Borromeo up to Mt. Bidawan. Today, we visited Mt. Bidawan to check on the progress of the construction. The trails were fixed and rebuilt through bamboos but the area still needs more plants and some landscaping.
April 25, 2018. After almost six (6) years, I went back to this mountain to clear my mind, find peace and pray. The past few months were horrible that I thought I needed to log out of Facebook and go catch some fresh air. I dragged my brother to come with me. We started around six in the morning which was already late. The weather was nice. We took our time hiking and taking photos. I was a bit sad that the construction of the fourteen (14) Stations of the Cross did not actually materialize. But thankfully, it was wonderful to see that the Statue of Mother Mary was already in place. I took my time to pray and thank God for all the blessings He has given me and my family. And that whatever happens tomorrow will be in accordance to His plan.
Scroll down to see Mt. Bidawan’s Suggested Itinerary. Watch the video below to see how to go to Ave Maria Shrine.
MT. BIDAWAN SUGGESTED ITINERARY
6:00 AM: If you choose to commute, ride a PUV at the jeepney terminal located at Lakandula St., in front of Shopper’s Lane, near Jollibee Magsaysay, beside Tiongsan Magsaysay. You’ll see designations in the jeepneys which should bear “Sangilo”, or “Poblacion, Itogon”. The regular fare is P32.50 and P26.00 for students, Senior Citizens and PWDs. First trip will be available at around 6-7 AM but you have to wait until the jeepney is full. Ask the driver to drop you off at Sitio Supang. However, since you are supporting local tourism, it would be nice to drop by the Barangay Hall for proper registration and briefing. A minimal fee should be paid. It will take one (1) hour to reach the drop-off point.
7:00 AM: When you are already in Sitio Supang, you will see the Waiting Shed. Beside it is a pathway going down. Follow that pathway until you reach a bridge. If you are unsure, ask around. There are also a lot of stores in Sitio Supang where you can buy refreshments. Cross the bridge then just follow the pathway going up. You will pass by Sitios Ma-nit and Tokok. You might meet residents there so please don’t forget to say hi.
10:00 AM: You will now reach the historical shrine known as Ave Maria Shrine. You can see here the Statue of Mother Mary. If you continue to go up left, you will reach the summit of Mt. Bidawan. The summit is a bummer because it will not give you a 360° view below. But you will be seeing a lot more of trees. So that should fine. Hehe.
10:00 AM-12:00NN: Have your lunch at the Ave Maria Shrine. Rest well and have some photos taken.
12:30 PM: Start going down the mountain through the same path. Take it slowly because some pathways are slippery. This will take you maybe two (2) to three (3) hours.
3:00 PM: Sitio Supang. Wait for the jeepney and you will be back to Baguio around 4:00 PM.
If you want more adventure, wait for a tricycle and tell the driver to bring you to Trese Swimming Pools where you can swim or wash up. You can take the jeepney from there.
See you in my hometown then!
The Backpacking Lawyer is a practicing lawyer and a nurse by profession in the Philippines. While she enjoys her day job, she loves traveling and sharing her adventures and misadventures with you.