Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) is located at the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range, along the Wawa River, which means some 10 to 30 minutes of trekking is required (depending on location) before you can get to your desired climbing destination. But once you've found your crag, get ready for some limestone-pulling to test your technical climbing skills – surely not for the gym rat.
Brgy. Wawa is the most developed sport climbing area in the country. It started as early as the 1980’s through the efforts of mountaineers from the University of Sto. Tomas and University of the Philippines. From a few traditional routes, it has grown into more than 20 crags with over 100 routes in total.
Aside from boasting of the largest number of routes in any area in Philippines, Wawa also offers a good variety of grades (from 5.2 to hard 5.12’s), disciplines (traditional and bolted), styles (face, slab, cracks, overhangs), and challenges (not all crags are maintained, so be ready for surprises!)
In the span of 30 years, it has also seen many access issues, with some crags situated in privately-owned lands. As of 2009, Rodriguez has been opened up to climbers, bikers and vacationers through payment of minimal fees. Hopefully, this arrangement will be here to stay.
By private vehicle
There are two ways to get to Wawa – one which goes from Cubao, Quezon City and goes through Marikina City – this route tends to have very heavy traffic though. It is recommended to take the route through Commonwealth Avenue.
From Commonwealth, turn right to the road going to Batasang Pambansa, following the curving road until it you see Payatas Avenue to your right (marked by bottleneck traffic and market vendors all over the sidewalk). Go through Payatas, down the mountain, and right once you come across a junction. Follow this tricycle-infested highway to the end, and turn left. Then just follow this last road until you hit Wawa. You would have finally reached it once you get to the end of the road (because it turns into narrow walkway un-passable by vehicles), with a wide empty/parking lot on your left
By public transport
There are now three ways to reach Wawa:
1. Take Cubao-Montalban jeepney / FX to the end of its route (P25)
2. From Philcoa, take the jeepney marked “Philcoa-San Rafael via San Mateo” all the way to its end (P12)
3. You can take any jeepney heading Fairview and go down at Litex. Take the jeep to San Jose Market (P6). Take one more jeep to San Rafael (P3).
All routes lead to San Rafael where you take one last ride into the dead-end road of Wawa.
Permits / Fees / Registration
Aling Norma’s is a food stall (or carinderia in Filipino) where practically every Wawa visitor –climbers, mountaineers, bikers – has eaten in. If it’s your first time in Montalban, introduce yourself to Aling Norma. A friend and mother-figure to many climbers, she is very accommodating.
Before heading out to the crag, please register your name & intended climbing destination in the logbook kept with Aling Norma. If you are affiliated with a club, group, or organization, you may write that down too. Settle the climbing fee of P10/person with her as well. She handles disbursements to the local government, which goes into maintenance and security of the area.
If you bring your own vehicle, there is a P20 fee for parking. This you settle with a parking attendant. Just remember to remember the name of whoever receives the money, so you don’t end up paying more than once.
Food & Shelter
Meals are usually taken at Aling Norma’s, where the typical morning fare include lugaw (Filipino congee) with hard-boiled egg and mami (egg noodle soup), while lunch/dinner favorites are the fried chicken and pinoy-style spaghetti (noodles + ketchup).
You can take sari-sari store snacks (banana, bread, or junk food) with you to the crags, but what most climbers do is eat a full breakfast and just finish the day with a late lunch/early dinner. Bring lots of water with you, especially when there’s no sign of cloud cover – the tropical sun will drain you pretty fast.
After a day’s climbing, one can also spend the night at Aling Norma’s, which is furnished with one bathroom and 2-3 sleeping quarters. This is just fitting, so that you won’t have to crawl far after the post-climb session overflowing with chitchat, videoke, San Miguel, and Red Horse.
Tips from the Locals
Be ready for river-crossing. Wear shorts or fold-able pants and bring sandals or rubber slippers.
Watch out for the weather. When rainy and wet, some trails would merit a pair of tractioned shoes, where rubber slippers can be perfectly fine on dry days.