When you are in the town of Coron in Busuanga, climbing Mt. Tapyas' 718 steps is a must. At the summit, one is treated to a breathtaking view of the nearby Coron Higantes island and the rest of the islands in the Calamianes group.
I mustered what strength I have left after a day of island hopping and headed up to Mt. Tapyas late in the afternoon. The chance to see the sunset from 210 meters above sea is too good to pass up. My wife and her friends decided to come with me after some convincing: either we climb Mt. Tapyas now or we do it at 4am the next day.
The start of the climb is a short tricycle ride away from Coron's public market. At the base of the mountain, we were met by a group of children hawking bottled drinks. They have this habit of following hikers up the mountain, waiting for you finally give in to your thirst and buy drinks from them. Mt. Tapyas is practically barren and the cemented stairs going up is without any cover, save for a few rest stops along the way.
We met two interesting characters: Emil and Joaquin. These two young boys (about 10 years old) seem to know exactly how many steps one has already taken and would sometimes offer encouragement to some of the struggling hikers. "327 more steps Ma'am, you are almost there ... would you like some mineral water?", one of them would quip. They also had no trouble operating DSLRs when hikers would request them to take posterity shots.
At the summit, all sweaty and panting, one gets rewarded with the great vista. The top of Mt. Tapyas is also marked with a large metal cross lit-up with light bulbs at night. There are several small gazebos just below the summit on the western slope, perfect for viewing the sunset.
I headed to one of these gazebos and waited for the sunset. I had great luck with the light the previous day, and was hoping for another great display this afternoon. Emil and Joaquin had taken a special interest in our group and followed us around, looking after our stuff while we busied ourselves with our cameras.
We were lucky to see yet another great display of nature's colors. While most would go down after sunset, we stayed a bit more, trying to enjoy every last bit of color. It was already dark when we decided to head down.
I was hoping to see the lighted cross after dark but unfortunately there was a power outage. We made the trip down in the dark, our path illuminated by our cellphone's faint light.
Tip: After a trip up to Mt. Tapyas, go to the nearby Maquinit hot springs to soothe those tired muscles. You can rent a tricycle at the base of the mountain to take you to the hot springs.