I’ve not posted in quite a while and I’ve also not climbed in almost a year. Luckily, two weekends ago, I got to exercise my legs and climbed a relatively benign mountain trail of Gulugod Baboy (Pig’s Spine) to see this beautiful scenery.
Tiñan Viewpoint is a hill near the Sabtang Road overlooking the sea. For me, it is the best viewpoint in the whole of Batanes. It is located very near the village of Chavayan and is marked by an arch (probably as a boundary between Chavayan and Savidug).
Batulao is one of my favorite mountains. It is readily accessible by public transpo, only a few hours away from Manila, and can be climbed within a day.
Here is Felix in one of the up and down trail of Batulao. To get this shot, I walked a little bit faster than the group while Felix walked normal pace and the rest of the group are behind the peak taking pictures, thus giving the impression of Felix’s solitude in the mountains.
Batanes, northernmost province of the Philippines, is a group of several islands that are immediately south of Taiwan. Batan (second largest island and home to four of the six towns of the province) is dominated by Mt. Iraya. The rest is full of hills and is perfect for raising cows.
In fact, the quintessential image in most Filipino’s mind when Batanes is uttered is of a land full of rolling green hills surrounded by sea full of dangerous waves.
Here are some images of the hills (and cows) in Batanes.
Before I go to sleep, I’d like to share this infrared picture of Tukon Church (Mt. Carmel Church) in Basco Batanes. The church is located on a high place and is constructed of stones following the architecture of the old houses of Batanes (an area frequently buffeted by strong wind and rains from typhoon). The church is relatively new and inside are six wonderful painting of saints up on the ceiling.
Last Saturday, my parents celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary and the family went on a trip to Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines.
Here they are posing in one of the many rolling hills of Basco, Batanes.
This photo was taken on our day 1 in Coron. After a tiring climb through the stairs of Tapyas Hill, we finally came to its top and there were these two Italians paragliding in the hill (they would would sail around and go down a few meters and climb up again).
What I like about this photo is the simplicity, only the paraglider, hill and sky (with some clouds) can be seen and for me evokes freedom – to do whatever you want to do. Tapyas Hill is not that high (we were tired from climbing as we’re probably out of shape and have not climbed a mountain for quite a long time) but these two guys seem to be having a blast.
This weekend, our wandering feet brought us to Mt. Pinatubo. Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano (almost dormant now) that erupted sometime in 1990s and whose ashes circled the world. It spewed out mostly water and rocks (lahar) and devastated several surrounding towns. The eruption was enormous that its crater collapsed and formed a lake. Now, it is largely inactive (with periodic mild activity).
Our itinerary is supposed to start at 2am Saturday for us to be able to leave on a bus at 230am. Several things forced us to leave at a later hour of 330am, which is a blessing in disguise as I’ll tell why later.
Access to the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo is through Capas, Tarlac. Capas is not very far from Manila (around 2 to 2.5 hours) and we arrived there at 530am. Buying packed lunch (at McDo) and a tricycle trip later (Php300 per tricycle), we arrived at the satellite tourism office where we’ll be riding a 4×4 jeep towards the crater.
The 4×4 trip takes about 45 minutes to an hour until the start of the trek. The road passes through a military camp (Camp O’Donell) that is being used by the military for Balikatan Exercises (a military exercise of the Philippine and US military). The Balikatan exercise forced us to delay this trip by about two weeks.
The path travelled by the 4×4 is very very wide, with most areas full of small rocks and sand, other areas by grasslands (where cows and goats graze) and there are small streams of water that becomes fast-current rivers when the heavy rains pour.
We arrived at a place where a marker indicates a 7km trek going to the crater. We alighted and started to trek, getting our shoes wet in some stream crossing. After a few minutes trekking, the 4×4 vehicles started coming on and told us that we could ride all the way to the foot of the summit-crater. Since we arrived later (than most other visitors), we were able to ride first and pass several trekkers already halfway or almost near the foot of the summit. (Had we arrived earlier, we would have trekked the full 7km. A benefit of arriving later than usual).
One tourist (who trekked all the way to the crater) was furious since they had to trek all the way and most of us rode the jeeps. He was telling one of the vehicle drivers to radio the other drivers and complain about this. The drivers said that they did not enter earlier as they thought that the vehicle would not be able to pass some of the streams.
The crater is beautiful but it did not show its full beauty to us. Clouds occupy the farther side of the crater and several drops of rain fell (good thing it did not rain while we were there). Swimming is not permitted as (the warnings say) the depth of the lake is not determined and there is already a foreign visitor who died (though people say this is because he swam towards the center of the lake then had a heart attack).
The crater itself is probably only half of the thrill or reason for this adventure. The bigger part is on the 4×4 ride and the trek. The area itself is mostly grey (rocks and sand) which lends itself well to black and white pictures but not so much for color pictures.
There were 9 of us for this trip: Tiny, Oyet, Eman, Dahlia, Jem, Badz, Ellidel, Felix and I. After the Pinatubo adventure (where we initially thought that we’d be burning calories through trekking), we went to Gerona, Tarlac to eat at Isdaan Floating Restaurant.
These are black and white landscape photos taken in Mt. Maculot. After reading some articles online, I finally have a better understanding on editing black and white pics – I now know how to edit black and white pictures by adjusting the color channels (e.g., darkening the blue skies by changing the luminance of the blue color channel). Previously, I only use colored filters (red, green, blue, orange, yellow).
The first and fourth images were shot using the Samyang 8mm fisheye and the second and third ones were shot using the 15-85 lens.