Mount Batulao: The Barren Wonder

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Yes, I am into Mountain Climbing this past few days. 5 mountains in two months. We’ll not bad for a beginner.

Okay. School days is fast approaching and I want to make adventure on the remaining days of my school vacation. I just focused in my work and enjoyed the summer. So together with my officemates, we geared up for climbing Mt. batulao.

Giving you some info, Mt. Batulao is a mountain standing in Nasugbu and Balayan, Batangas. Well known for its unique mountain contours and ridges.

5:30 in the morning we departed in Metro Manila and been asleep till we reach Evercrest. The entry point to the barren wonder of Batulao.

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(rolling terrain and unique edges)

The summer heat was at its peak, even the rainy season is fast approaching. The mountain was dry and almost dusty. Thirsty, dry land was covered with black ashes of burnt cogon grasses. If the grasses, the trees and all life forms could speak, they would probably cry for the rain to fall from the heavens.

Image(in my cool outfit)

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(easy trail!!)

Throughout the trail, the soil was loose and the dust could flow as the warm air blows. I don’t know if it was beholding in the sight to see mirage and the illusions of wave they make. Fortunately, the blowing of wind and the clouds soothed the perspired body of the climbers. Amidst the warmest season of the year, none can stop us from our journey towards the peak of Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas.

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(the view as you’re traversing up)

Actually, the climb is easy and we took the new trail. Along the trail we met many first time and professional climbers. The sun is piercing our skin even we were well-equipped with garments that can protect our skin. But we don’t mind. Our chat and  laughter filled the air as we one by one reached Batulao’s minor peak.

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(with other climbers)

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(remarkable ridges and terrains!)

Batulao offered us remarkable ridges and rolling terrain. As the wind blows, grasses billow and dance like they have their own rhythm. But every steps you should be careful, the path is quite treacherous. One wrong step or your end up rolling in the terrain. It might be the hotness of the weather that we stop on some shades that we passed to take a rest and cool our body. Glad that every shades that we stopped, someone was selling water or soda.

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Few more hours we are reaching the summit, the trail is getting tougher. The assault is almost 70 degrees that you need to rappel or hold on the rope just to climb. You must double check the step you make or you’ll end fallin in rocky bottom of cliff.

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Few minutes more, the 360 degrees view greeted you. Finally, the summit. Spectacular view on above, the beautiful minor peaks, unique curves and outlines of the mountain are much more beautiful on the summit.

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(on the summit!)

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(Walls of rocks)

We took pictures of us and we decided to climb down. Climbing down is much tougher than the ascend. Even it is not muddy, the trail is slippery and dusty. As we descend many more climbers are assaulting the summit. Of course, plenty of rapeling is needed to descend.

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We ate our lunch in camp 7 and we appreciate the mighty wall of rocks and soil covered with cogon grass right in front of our eyes. We traverse the old trail to reach EverCrest again. Traversing back was hotter than expected but again we don’t mind.

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(looking at the top as we’re going down)

 

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We reached the Evercrest again at 4pm. We paid Php20 for a shower and put on new clothes again. And then that’s it… back to Manila again 🙂

Pulag: Into the Playgrounds of the Gods

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(Blanket of clouds)

If Greece has Mount Olympus to be the haven of their immortals, the Philippine lower mythology has Mount Pulag to be the playgrounds of the gods.

Listening to the stories and tales of Mt. Pulag when I am still a kid leave wonder and fascination in my young mind. Plus, numerous feature stories I watched on television about this mountain made me dream of climbing it one day. Okay. Before continuing my adventure, let me give you an overview about Mt.Pulag. Dubbed as the Playground of the Gods and Sea of Clouds, the mountain stand 2922 meters in the province of Benguet. It is the coldest point of the Philippines that reach below zero degrees in the month of December to February.

Then came the perfect time I was able to climb this dream mountain of mine. A package of 2,800 including fare and fee was laid upon my table! I am very excited, that the day before my trip I was not able to sleep well 🙂

10 o’ clock of Friday evening I met up with my fellow tourist (my professor, long-time friend and other new faces I’ve never met before) in Cubao Victory Station. With some lively chats and pulling of jokes, the trip was not boring. 6 o’ clock we arrived at Baguio City, ate our breakfast and prepared our things in the jeep that will escort us to Mt. Pulag.

I do love adventure! I have done so many adventures and daredevil adventures that I always charge to experience. But the ride on jeep (topload baby!) off to Pulag had given a lot of experiences that I enjoy!

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(Coaster ride? hell of a ride. Feels like Im about to throw up! With Sir Norman in the front)

We arrived at the DENR center for a quick orientation about this mystic mountain. The orientation was informative, we were told that Pulag is a sacred place for the natives and we must respect the sanctity of the place. After the orientation we traveled for 30 minutes to reach the ranger station. Oh well, the ride from DENR to the ranger station was really bumpy. Prepare your butts to get hurt. Don’t worry, the beautiful surroundings and ravines will greet you (just don’t think negative things like falling down)

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(Register and attend the orientation. Best tasting banana chips!)

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(With the gang!)

As we reach the ranger station we prepared, ate our lunch and hired some porter guys that will carry our stuff to the base camp. As we were preparing, suddenly the hail pellets began to fall! First time experience of rain of hail in this tropical country! After the rain, fogs began to envelope the whole place. Feels like we’re in heaven!

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(could you ask for more?)

We started the hike to the base camp on exactly 2pm. Of course, as our team walk we couldn’t resist to do camera whoringJ. We want to enjoy the moment that finally we are touching down this beautiful mountain. Every curves and steeps of the mountain offer great variety of paronama from the billowing moving clouds down to the luscious flora of the mountain. I couldn’t help but to say “thank you Lord!” as we traverse the trail.

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(in luscious green I found pax)

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(pine trees all over)

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 (fill your lungs with the fresh fog covering the place)

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 (terraces? We’re not in Banaue!)

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(wow!)

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 (pitcher plant? I don’t have any idea.)

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(some wild flowers)

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(reaching the base camp 2)

The mountain is simply fantastic, it host several plants I am not familiar with and easy trails that I never expected. It was 6 o’clock when we reach the camp 2. Tents scattered everywhere. Our porter told us there are 500 people that were registered to assault the summit at 3 am. Together with my group we settled to spend the night. We changed our clothes, ate our supper and had a little chit chat.

It’s time to sleep then suddenly, it was raining! It was non-stop! Unexpected turn of events, the water went inside our tent! Soaking wet all our belongings and sleeping bags! Flood inside our tent? Yes! We’re panicking and we decided to go to the tent of our organizer.

Our group organizer let us in and told us they were about to go in our tent to stay coz the water also drench the thermal sheets of their tent. Then that’s it, seven people crammed inside the tent with wet thermal sheets and with capacity of 3 person only. Charge to experience.

We couldn’t sleep, no good sleeping position is good for us to rest. We stayed so close that our body heat serve as protection from the deadly cold outside. We tried to get rest but its futile, for us to entertain ourselves we made fun of our condition. Then a brilliant idea was made, we will sleep in soldier position. That ladies and gentlemen is the best one hour of my night in that mountain. I was able to sleep for one hour before 3 a.m.

At 3 a.m, people who camped were awake. It’s time to assault the summit. With nothing but strong conviction to reach the top and beat the cold we join the hundreds of people on climbing the top. It’s almost a 3 hour walk and the trail is illuminated by flashlights. It is like a dawn procession, only this is no Catholic tradition.

Then as we are reaching the top tadahhh!!!

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 (sunrise!)

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(supreme sun in the vast sky)

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(playing the light)

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(uncovering the place!)

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(side 1)

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(the ascend to the top)

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(closer look on dwarf bamboos)

Finally, 2922 above sea level. We have not seen the sea of clouds but the view was really amazing and breath taking!

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More camera whoring moments.

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More bonding with my groups.

Appreciating Mother nature more and more and more!

As the sun perch and melt the mist clear view of the mountain greeted us. Dwarf bamboos carpeted the whole summit and its small peak below mossy forest and pine forest are in their liveliest green.

Truly, jaw dropping.

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After that we climbed down to the base camp. As we traverse the same trail, the beauty of Pulag slowly uncovered.  Unlike the climb ascending in the dark dawn which I couldn’t see the view, I like the descend more.

The view? Wonderful and so exquisite! I’m speechless!

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After reaching the camping area we ate our breakfast and packed our bags and tent. Time to leave the mountain.

Hiking down, I feel that I don’t want to leave the place. I feel in love with the serenity, peace and sacredness of the mountain. But, my life below the mountain is waiting for me.

I will definitely go back to climb this mountain. Other part of my adventurous soul was left in its summit. I may not have seen the sea of clouds, but every cold wind that blew in my body, every hail that rained in my coat and the priceless bonding with new found friends, that what I call “a must experience”.

Happy Mothers Day!

She may be strict but she makes sure that I am doing my best.

She may be protective but she wants me to have my own freedom.

She may reprimand me on my actions but I know she just want me to excel on things I love to do.

She is my Mother.

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I know she gave up a lot just to make sure we would grow in wisdom, righteousness and strong.

She sacrificed her career to supervise us everyday.

She is my personal chef, and stylist.

She sees to it I look good and clean everyday.

And even I am living in my own now, she never failed to text me everyday. 

She is my confidante and I am not ashamed to tell her and my Dad all the secrets I am keeping.

She is my first teacher. I still remember those days and nights of her teaching me ABC’s and reading word by word in my kinder book.

I may not raised in an affluent upbringing but the values, proper manners and wisdom she taught me makes me stand out.

Her love is priceless.

Her heart is pure.

Her maternal care is natural.

She is the light of our home.

She is our accountant, planner, interior decorator, teacher and engineer.

She is the wife of my Father.

She is my Mother.

Talamitam: The Teletubbies Mountain of Batangas

After our climb at Pico de Loro, we traverse the trail for us to reach the bus station that will bring us to Bayabasan. (Bayabasan is the entry point on reaching Talamitam) Since we were advised that traversing the way to Talamitam is not as hard as Pico de Loro, we have to wear comfy clothes that will block the sun rays. And so my get up is…. Image   Talamitam have a reputation of having a hot trek and sun piercing trail. And also, being compared to Teletubbyland. As we ascend upward, the beautiful view below surprises you. The locals said the mountain’s color during summer is brown due to dried grass that blanketed the mountain floor. But during rainy season, the mountains turned into beautiful green because new grass carpeted the mountain. Image

(The mountain could turn into farmland, the grass are little bit dried-up. Maybe because it’s summer here in the Philippines)

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 (Ascending. Looking in this view. Dehydrating)

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 (SO glad that more Filipinos are now becoming aware and participating in tree planting activities of private and public institutions)

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 (With the rest of the team. Getting closer to the summit!)

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 (Wild flowers scattered everywhere)

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 (Just a little more!)

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 (No. Still not the summit, but I’m looking at the vast surroundings 630 meters above.)

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 (Getting there!)

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(Summit at last! Never mind my belly! Haven’t exercise for a month. My abs are gone 😦 )

Check out more photos in my Facebook page.

Pico de Loro: Reaching the Parrot’s Beak

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(Pico De Loro or Parrot’s Beak)

I received a gift from my very close college friend. A trip/adventure of climbing three exquisite mountain for only one day. First climb is the Mt. Pico de Loro (in English Parrot’s Beak). At 1 A.M, together with the group of mountaineers we drove to Ternate, Cavite to traverse the way on reaching the Pico’s peak.

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(Big trees and heavy vegetation blanketed the forest. It’s still dark and my camera couldn’t capture the rich flora of this rain forest)

3 A.M we started the hike to reach the mountain. The trail is very dark, it is advisable to bring flashlight to see the trail. The whistle and sound of nocturnal birds and insects seemed to be the music of silent dawn.

Rocky and muddy, the trail ascend to reach the registration camp is quite hard. At 4 A.M we arrived and our tour guide paid needed fee for us to continue the climb. We continued the trek till we reached the Alibangbang Camp. The trail from Alibangbang to the Camping Site near the summit is hard. Big rocks that you need to climb, almost 70 degrees angle of ravine that you need to crawl, and dusty steepy soil that you need walk. I’m sweating like crazy and a little bit hazy. I haven’t sleep yet for 25 hours but I am determined to reach the summit. Upon reaching the thick bamboo forest and few more step the view is marvelous.

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(Fogs blanketed the air.)

The summit is very visible and the horizon is breath taking! You can actually touch the clouds and feel the cold air embracing your whole body. We ate our breakfast in the camp while viewing the “dance of the clouds”. At 7:30 AM we assaulted the summit of Pico de Loro.

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(With hundreds of meters above the sea level, here I am in deep awe. Marveling the beauty of being near the sky and watching the lowlands.)

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(Densely covered by fog and cold breeze. I could not ask for more!)

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(Careful, one careless step and you’ll be doomed!)

The Trail to the summit is harder than the other trails we passed. With nothing to hold but the rocks and our backpacks that adds gravitational pull you must find your balance. But nonetheless, on the summit… Tadah!

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(Vee looming in the monolith and the 360 degrees view of Cavite, Batangas and the South China Sea)

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 (The feeling of seeing this kind of wonder? Simply priceless!)

Check out my Facebook page to see more pictures 🙂

 

Evening Jog at San Miguel District

Image(Building inside the compound of Malacanang Palace)

I’ve been a regular jogger at Malacañang Complex for 2 weeks (hihi!) The place is quiet and cool and besides it is only a 15 minutes walk to my flat. I didn’t thought that the Malacañang Complex (which is a part of San Miguel District) boast time-warping ambiance and parade of beautiful ancestral houses. With wide street, huge trees and “gloomy” yellow lights the nostalgia of the glorious past of San Miguel District invites you to dig deeper into its history. I am a lover of old buildings especially houses dated from Spanish Colonialism and San Miguel District is full of this.

 Image(Typical Bahay-na-Bato in San Miguel District. Usually Bahay-na-Bato conforms with the Spanish Architecture.)

Image(Manila’s old alta sociedad resided in San Miguel District and built palatial houses.)

Quipped with comfy clothes and running shoes, I ran and jogged for almost one and half hour. Rihanna’s voice is blasting in my earphone. When I’m exhausted with series of rounds, I strolled and had been mesmerized in the beauty of the surrounding. I could have more appreciate it if it is still brighter. The old mansions, the Malacañang palace, big trees and flowers bustling on the street side. I couldn’t help but to wonder how these houses been maintained. San Miguel District was well known before as the enclave of Old Manila’s rich and famous. No wonder beautiful mansions were erected here.

Image(Many old mansions can be seen in San Miguel District. From art-nouveau, art deco to classical designs.)

Image(Wide streets lighted with yellow lights. Enjoy your jog!)

Potipot Island: Camper’s Paradise in the Sea

Image(Pristine, virgin and exquisite. Piece of heaven for your weary soul.)

Potipot Island, the lone and pristine island in the blue waters of Candelaria, Zambales. Often called as “little boracay of the north”, its powdery white sand, clear water and beautiful greeneries has attracted hundreds of visitors to explore its hidden beauty.

Image(Perfect place to spend the summer!)

Since I want to maximize my 5 day vacation with my family, we’ve decided that we’ll have our outing in this island.

Located in Candaleria, Zambales you can reach the island five to six hours travel from Manila and four hours from Clark Freeport Zone. The  island is small where you can literally walk around it  in just an hour.  The island shore have fine white sands and multitudes of tropical fruit-bearing trees and shrubs can be seen as you stroll the island.

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(Relaxing green colors of the trees, shrubs and grass meets the blue hue of the sky and the sea)

There is an entrance fee for the island, 100php for day trippers and 300php for overnight campers.

There are two options for you in visiting the island:

  1. You can stay in one of the hotels across the mainland in Brgy. Uacon for accommodation and have the bangkero drop you off and fetch you by nightfall or whatever time you want to. (Potipot is just a 5-10 minutes ride from the mainland).

Image(View of the Mainland Candelaria and the Zambales Mountain Range.)

– or –

  1. Go camping in the island and have the bangkero fetch you the next day. In this option, you can enjoy sleeping with the blanket of silence and peace as Potipot is regarded as a virgin island—no electricity, no major infrastructures or hotels.

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(Campers are all around the island. If you wanna savor the taste of paradise in this island, go camping!)

Image(Clear water isn’t? Have a dip!)

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(Coral formation in shallow parts of the island. Snorkling anyone?)

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(Enjoying the white sand in my feet. Instant Foot-spa.)

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(Pimple-alert! Tanning time!)

How to get there?

Public Transportation

1. Ride a Victory Liner bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

2. Coordinate with the bus conductor to drop you off in Brgy. Uacon, Candelaria or in Dawal. If you haven’t bought your supplies, you can ask the conductor to drop you at Candelaria Public Market and just ride a tricycle to bring you to the resorts in the area.

3. Upon finding a resort of your choice, hire a bangka (boat) going to Potipot island.

 Private Vehicle

  1. Use the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) all the way to Dau exit then continue to the Subic-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).
  2. Travel all the SCTEx till Tip Exit, passing through the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and on to the Subic Town.
  3. Take the National Road where in you will pass the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Narciso, San Felipe, Cabangan, Botolan, Iba, Paluig and Masinloc before reaching Candelaria. You can easily ask for the directions/suggestions for accommodation.