Mt Cinco Picos is one of the popular mountains in the coastal province of Zambales. There are ongoing protests in the mountaineering community regarding the expensive entrance and guide fees required by the Aetas living in the area.
When we went there on April 2010, I asked one of the guides why there are sights of burnt grasses and trees. He told me that they intentionally do it to clear the area for deer and wild boar hunting. This is not environmentally-sound, but the locals do not have other source of income. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government of Zambales should tighten their grip over these areas to avoid further destruction. They can issue ordinances that allow the indigenous people in the area to continue with their rituals, traditions and other perennial activities but not at the expense of the mountain.
1. Secure permits first from the police station. Guides will take you to the jump-off point. Register and secure guides (900pesos per guide for the whole trekking; porter is also 900pesos.)
2. Getting guides is obligatory. One guide is only good for five people (fee is 900pesos). Hikers are also responsible for the food of the guides throughout the itinerary. Based on my experience, they take whatever you offer them (even jellies). And if you ask them to carry your things, you need to pay an additional 900pesos for a maximum of 15kilos.
3. Start early and climb as fast as you can. It gets really gruelling when the clock ticks 10am and you are caught walking in an oven-like surrounding. Aphyllous trees are abundant in the area because the local people burn the vegetation. Pack a lot of water.
4. Pack a lot of water and jellies as safeguard against dehydration.
5. Be generous in applying sunblock lotion. Wear scarves, long-sleeves, armbands, anything that would keep you safe from sunburn and skin cancer.
6. After reaching or exploring the surroundings through the visible 3 peaks of the mountain, you can go directly to the nearby Silanguin Cove.
4. Silanguin Cove is more serene than the popular Anawangin Cove. Lesser people go here so you can have the beach on your own. Softdrinks are sold from 55pesos to 80pesos. Ice is supplied every afternoon via the banca “Kambal.”
5. You can arrange for sidetrips to Anawangin Cove and Capones Island (for its jade water and lighthouse) before proceeding to Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales.
6. For the budget: 2,000pesos is enough for the whole trip (Mt Cinco Picos and Silanguin Cove, including Anawangin Cove and Capones Island).