The clouds were low and the sun was slipping in and out from behind them. It was a typical humid day and our group of five had just forged our way through thick, tall cogon grasses. It took me and my four beginner friends two and a half hours to reach the summit of Mount Tagapo – not that bad considering this was their very first mountain.
Mount Tagapo is also known as “Susong Dalaga” or Maiden’s Breast
“Sulit ba?” (Is it worth it?) I teased, spreading my arms with a grin on my flushed face.
My companions took in the scenery. The expanse of Laguna de Bay laid before us. Rectangular patterns – fish pens – decorated its glittery surface. The rest of Talim Island stretched below. Mounts Arayat, Sembrano, Maculot, Makiling, and the Sierra Madre loomed in the distance.
Mount Sembrano in the distance as viewed from Mount Tagapo’s summit
The rest of Talim Island stretched on
“Great view,” agreed Christopher. “Pagkain please!” (Food, please!)
On cue, we sat on the ground with our backs turned to the sun. We settled for a view of the dancing cogon grasses that surrounded the inclined path towards the summit. A lone tent was set up in the campsite below. We began rummaging through our packs for some trail food.
I looked on as they took out the usual junk food and jelly ace. The packs of tigpipisong chichirya brought by Cherly briefly sparked a sari-sari-store-in-the-mountains idea. I passed around a plastic full of hard-boiled eggs, reminding my friends not to litter. Moments later, I produced three pouches and waved them over my companions’ faces.
The pouches were deep brown, glossy and re-sealable. The label was outlined in gold and it said “Bake Lab Gourmet Banana Chips”.
My choice of trail food for this hike
Bake Lab is an entrepreneurial endeavor made by students of De La Salle University. It aims to “become one of the leading snack options of the Filipinos by providing quality products.” It took the classic and well-loved concept of the banana chips and put a modern and healthier spin on it. Their Gourmet Banana Chips are baked not fried – perfect for those who have taken on the No Junk Food Challenge. Bake Lab offers four variants of the baked gourmet banana chips: plain, dark chocolate, matcha (green tea powder), and cookies and cream.
Gourmet Banana Chips in the Mountains
“Let’s try these,” I said, handing a pouch to Diane. I handed another one to Nestine and we unsealed them all almost at the same time. Since we wanted a communal vibe but lacked the appropriate containers, we poured the chips onto a folded pink dri-fit shirt.
Please pass the banana chips!
Improvisation is necessary in the mountains.
Cherly said she liked the dark chocolate ones best. So did Nestine and Diane. Christopher preferred the cookies and cream. I loved the matcha-flavored ones, probably because I was once a tea junkie. While we had our favorites, though, we happily munched on all three flavours, which were actually all really tasty. Since they’re baked, the workout we just had had not been for naught.
Dark Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Matcha, and a GoPro
The Gourmet Banana Chips are as crispy as their fried counterparts, and despite the added flavors, the fruity taste of the banana is still discernable. According to Bake Lab, if sealed properly, the chips can last for up to one and a half months. However, it is recommended to consume them immediately because, come on, how could you not? We shared our healthy and delicious snack with some fellow hikers, and they enjoyed it as much as we did. Like us, they have their “bests”, but also liked all of the flavors.
Sharing your food is recommended.
“Let me have another one.”
“Aren’t there any more?” I asked, a little surprised that the two pouches were already empty. Christopher extended his arm toward me. He was holding on to the last of the cookies and cream ones.
I took a couple of pieces, thinking how perfect the Gourmet Banana Chips were as a trail food. Of course, they’re just as perfect for when you’re in your sweatpants and having a Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit marathon, as well!
“Got to have me more of those,” I said to myself as we cleaned up our trash and started the mandatory photo op at the summit.
Group shot with a stunning background
These Gourmet Banana Chips can be ordered by leaving a message on Bake Lab’s Facebook page, or sending them an SMS. Bake Lab also has a physical store in the Decision Sciences and Innovation (DSI) Incubation Laboratory of De La Salle University. The chips come in approx. 50-gram pouches. The plain ones cost Php50.00/pouch and the flavored ones cost Php55.00/pouch.
It’s time to ditch that chichirya and go for a healthier snack! If you ever decide to bring these yummy gourmet banana chips with you to the mountains, remember the Leave No Trace policy, though!
Decision Sciences and Innovation (DSI) Incubation Laboratory, De La Salle University, 2401 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila