Third time in Calaguas. Though the beauty of the island and the beach seemed to remain the same, I felt not inspired to shoot pictures. In fact, I shot only about 145 photos and a good number of those are bursts shots so that brings the total to about a hundred or so – very small number considering that on some location I could take about 500 (even more than a thousand frames in Batanes).
Strewn straw hat.
A straw beach hat strewn in the beach. To achieve this look (contrast between hat and the sand), I used a Lightroom B&W filter (blue high contrast filter) as the sand is really white (but slightly orangey) and doesn’t contrast much to the white hat in terms of plain luminance.
Mahabang Buhangin (Long Sand) Beach in Calaguas is a beach for camping. In fact, until less than a year ago, there wasn’t a resort or room located here. Today, despite the presence of a resort, most people who go to the island still camp (partly because the hotel is expensive).
One of the very few boat pictures I took in Calaguas. It’s not that the scene isn’t beautiful. It’s just that over the course of more than a year of travelling to different beaches, I’ve taken hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of boats on the sea that I don’t find it exciting anymore (the rough boat ride is another level of excitement/anxiety though).
These are the new resort cottages in the island. They are located on the left side of the beach (if approaching from the sea). They look nice but somehow spoils the whole pristine beach thing that Calaguas has. Also, they are expensive (someone told me the room costs Php6000 per night for a room for 6 people and Php4000 per night for a room for 4 people).
I’m sure other resorts will follow in Calaguas and I’m really glad that I was able to visit the island (twice!) before development started.
A sand sculpture I found while walking on the beach (with torn styrofoam cup for eyes, nose and mouth). While most people would think of Olaf (that lovable snowman from Frozen), the first thing that came to my mind was the Venus figurines from prehistoric times, particularly the Venus of Willendorf, with their more than ample bosoms and prominent hips.
One of those pictures that is full of negative space. This one was part of a much larger picture involving an out of focus sea, beach and sky. The horizon was much too tilted for correction (the leaf would have been cut) so I just removed everything from the picture except for the leaf and the sand. A good picture to be used for one of those inspiration quotes.
One of the few pictures of strangers I took in the beach, this picture was shot with a 28mm equivalent lens and I had to get closer to the kids (cropped most of the empty sand below the pic).
That’s most of my pics in Calaguas. As I said, I wasn’t much inspired to shoot. Perhaps it’s the ennui of having seen it before, the not so great light (either sun too strong or sky too monotonously gray during our first day). I brought my new fisheye lens but took less than 15 pics with it. Maybe next time I’ll just bring a phone (Samsung Note 3) so I’ll be more inspired to take pictures (limitations of the camera and lens is really something).
Gaspar Island is one of the three islands collectively known as “Tres Reyes” (Three Kings), the other two being Melchor and Baltazar (three kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem). Of the three islands, Gaspar is the biggest and the only one with a community. All three islands are rocky (rock cliffs) and the community in the island lives in the only beach wide enough to accommodate houses.
As I said in my previous post, the island is beautiful – very clear waters and very good for snorkeling but not very good for taking pictures (unless underwater). The beach is fine but no particular foreground item to anchor a landscape photo. Here are the very few “good” pictures I took in the island.
A boatman. The photo was auto-exposed for the sea but in editing, I found that the clouds are more interesting, so I pulled back the highlights through a graduated filter and used Nik’s Color Efex for detail extraction. The result is one where visible vertical banding is obvious but a more interest photo without the clouds.
Three Kids Playing. These are kids from the community who are living in the island. Shot with the Canon 15-85 and not very very sharp. I had to dial up both clarity and contrast to make it better.
This is a stretch of sand jutting out to sea. The community living there are mostly fisherfolk, hence, the boats.
This is the beach where we camped. I’m not particularly fond of the picture as it has that almost-garish HDR look (through detail extractor, pull back of highlights, graduated filter) but I think it was a necessity considering that the clouds are the most interest part of the pictures.
As for the beach, it was made of mostly dead corals and seashells and a little painful to walk on barefooted.
For this trip, I brought the 7D and 15-85, 10-22 and 50mm 1.4. I did not bother changing lenses as I was not inspired by the landscape. Also, the Canon 15-85mm seems to be not as sharp as before. Pictures don’t seem to have the same amount of details as before. I’m not sure if the lens elements moved or the camera’s AF has misaligned or I’m seeing better pictures with the Olympus OM-D.
Anyway, Eman had better luck using his Nikon D5200 and Samyang 8mm fisheye (wonderful wonderful lens).
Our beach camp at night * The clear waters around the island.
DPM in Tarak Ridge Boulders.
June 11-12, 2011
The Freedom Climb is an annual event organized by the Federation of Filipino Mountaineers (FIMO) wherein various mountaineering groups climb different mountains on the weekend closest to the Philippine Independence Day (June 12). For 2011, this fell on the weekend of June 11-12.
For 2011, DPM chose Tarak Ridge as its destination for the Freedom Climb. Tarak Ridge is a part of Mt. Mariveles and is known for its beautiful grassy ridge and view of Manila Bay, Corregidor and Pico de Loro.
At Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan (Tarak Ridge Jumpoff).
We met up in a bus station in Cubao and rode the bus all the way to Brgy. Alas-Asin, Mariveles, Bataan. Since the organizers of the Freedom supposedly made a bid to have the climb recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the climb event with the most number of participants, there were a lot of other mountaineers going to various mountains, including Tarak Ridge.
When we arrived in Brgy. Alas-Asin, we had to register with the Brgy. Hall (Php40) and at the official Freedom Climb booth before we could start climbing. It was late in the morning 1 when we started climbing. The trail up Tarak Ridge is not that difficult but due to the large and heavy backpack I was carrying, it was a laborious climb.
We bought packed lunch and ate on the trail. Some of our companions in the group did not bring packed lunch so they passed us in the trail so they can get in the Papaya River campsite earlier to cook food.
After a few hours of climbing, we finally passed Noy and his group cooking near a stream. Since we already ate, we just stopped by and rested while we waited for them to finish cooking and eating.
When we started climbing again (not really a climb anymore since the trail was almost flat from that point), we arrived at the Papaya River campsite just after 10-15 minutes of walking! When we arrived there, there was hardly any place to pitch our tents. And to think that we stopped at the stream for more than half an hour and several groups passed us by! We could have gotten a better place to put up our tents. The group had to split into with one group camping on the other side of the river and us camping near the trail.
Papaya River is nowhere near the ridge and there is another campsite on the ridge but we chose to camp in the river because we thought that the campsite on the ridge will already be full, plus there is a water source on the river whereas we had to lug water for cooking and drinking if we camp in the ridge.
We climb to the ridge early the following morning. The trail to the ridge is steeper and continuous ascent (compared to the relatively easier climb to Papaya River). It is reminiscent of Pico de Loro (from Alibangbang to the summit camp). We arrived early for the flag-raising ceremony so we took pictures, lots of it.
Fuji S4000 panorama (stitched panorama).
The two love team of the group then: Lirio and Ochock, James and Blezh. * DPM posing on rocks
It was still early for the ceremony so we decided to climb some more to reach the El Saco Peak (the Mariveles peak nearest the ridge). When we came to a group of boulders (just half a kilometer from the peak), we just took more pictures and no longer went for the peak.
By the time we descended back to the ridge, the flag-ceremony is already over and most of the other groups have already gone back to the river camp.
(Above)Admiring the view of the mountain.
(Right) Dan fixing his bandana * Noy and Dan on the dead white tree (most identifiable landmark on the ridge) * Felix, half-smiling, half looking glum.
(Left) Jingerx waving her flaglet
There were a couple of non-people pics I took at the ridge. At the time, I was amazed and very proud of these pictures. I found them very sharp and clear (of course, I didn’t know any better and came from cellphone and point-and-shoot cameras). A DSLR is still a month away.
We went down and had a wonderful time taking a bath in the clean and clear waters of the river. We cooked our lunch and packed for the descent to the jumpoff point. The descent of course is much much easier than the ascent. We took a shower in one the nearby houses and rode a bus back home.
It was a tiring climb and I saw the bad effects of mass climbing (trampled vegetation, etc.). It was also the first and only time I’ve climbed Tarak Ridge – such a wonderful mountain with a beautiful view of Manila Bay). I hope to climb back there again and shoot a picture of the sunrise and sunset and of course to enjoy the waters of Papaya River.
Tingloy is one of the islands I found using wikimapia. It is an island-town in Batangas, formerly called Maricaban Island. After finding Tingloy, I searched online for a place to visit and camp in the island and read about Masasa Beach, a public beach. People who’ve been to Tingloy (through reading blogs) were fascinated by its beauty so I resolved to go there.
It was more than a month since I found the island online before we were finally able to go there.
For this trip, there only four of us (Oyet, Jason, Felix and myself) and we dubbed ourselves the “Fantastic Four”.
Going to Tingloy
Going to Tingloy involves riding a bus from Manila (in our case, Buendia) to the terminal in Balagtas. From there, a long jeepney ride to either Anilao Port or Talaga Port (Php35). We initially wanted to ride a boat from Anilao Port but the locals said that the waves maybe too strong so the boats docked in Talaga Port. Fortunately for us, the jeepney is going to Talaga Port so we did not have to ride another vehicle.
The last boat trip to Tingloy leaves the port at 1030am and we arrived there around 930am so that gave us enough time to buy food from the nearby market.
The boat trip from Talaga Port to the port in Tingloy (Php70 each) takes about 45 minutes (in good sunny weather). We arrived in Tingloy and rode a tricycle from the port to Masasa Beach (which is on the other side of the island, Php60). From the point where we had to alight the tricycle it is around 10 minutes walk down to the beach through a ricefield.
There are several plots of ricefield between the road the beach itself. When we visited Tingloy, it was planting season and the rice seedlings are either ready for replanting or being replanted.
There were some birds on the area (I think mostly crows) and one would have been a perfect picture -a blackbird carrying food (I think a frog) in its mouth while flying low. Unfortunately, both of my hands were occupied by water containers – a missed opportunity.
If I am to summarize what I think of Masasa Beach, it would be “very nice water, not-so-good beach.”
The water on the beach is very very clear (like the one in Calaguas). The sand on the sea is white and fine. In fact, it is a very good beach for swimming.
But for me, being a photography enthusiast, the beach is as or more important than the sea (for swimming). Eversince I’ve gotten a DSLR and looked at various landscape photos and studied composition techniques and obtained an ultrawide lens, I’m always looking for a good foreground. Alas, the beach offers none (or very limited).
Masasa Beach is a public beach. There are no entrance fees, no caretakers. A large part of the beach is taken over (probably had the land titled) by a family who erected and semi-abandoned a resort (thus, ruining the view). Beside this wall is where we erected our tents (four of us, four tents).
Our campsite with our tents.
The whitish sand beach is littered with corals, small rocks and shells but these are overwhelmed by the large quantity of garbage and coconut shells and husks. There are some nipa huts near the beach, houses of fishermen and their boats are docked on the beach. Three boats (ferrying passengers from Tingloy to mainland Luzon) also docks near Masasa Beach as the waves here are not as strong as on the other side of the island where the port is located.
Despite this, we’ve had a nice time swimming in the beach (the weather was nice and hot and the water temperature, even at night, is just right). However, I spent most of my time sleeping (having had no sleep the previous night).
Lunch was the caldereta cooked and brought by Oyet (delicious by the way). It was really nice sleeping there because of the wind coming in from the sea (though the weather was really hot).
A fishing boat docked near one of the houses (shot late afternoon).
As I said, I slept most of the time, due to lack of sleep and probably due to frustration at the lack of good foreground element (my ultrawide lens was not used for the whole trip). However, I did manage to get some relatively ok landscape pictures, mostly around sunset and sunrise.
I took a few shots at sunset and used a tripod, mirror lockup, low ISO (200 I think) and shutter delay, all to ensure good and sharp pictures (not satisfied much with the outcome though.
Dinner was the leftover caldereta and Bagnet (which I bought from Vigan the previous week), and pinakbet. Of course, liquor will always be present (Emperador Light this time). It was also nice swimming at night though it is dark since the moon is not bright.
In the morning, I opened the door of my tent and looked out to see the sunrise. Since I didn’t find the sunrise spectacular, I just shot some pictures while lying on my belly inside the tent.
See also Random Photo: Three Boats of Tingloy.
The boats leave Masasa Beach early in the morning (taking some passengers), go to the main port (where most of the passengers board) and then off to Batangas. We decided not to go back on these trips (last regular trip to Batangas leaves at 9am) and instead hire a small boat for Php700 and will leave at 3pm.
We spent most of Sunday swimming, sleeping (me), taking pictures (the three of them) and preparing to go back. We cleaned ourselves in the irrigation well in the ricefield and then it was time to leave Tingloy.
We asked the tricycle driver (the one that brought us from the port to Masasa) to fetch us in the waiting but he forgot. We waited for more than 30 minutes before deciding to hire another tricycle. The tricycle driver brought us to the person we talked with the previous day regarding the boat. He brought us to the house near the sea of the boat owner but the boat owner told us to go to the port because he’s buying gasoline. Hence, exercise walking under the intense heat of the sun.
We waited on the port for our boat and when it arrived, we got anxious, it’s a small boat with no cover for a roof.
Clothes drying * Our ride back to mainland Batangas.
It docked (or rather was held by someone) near the port and we had to go down a slippery stone stair. Oyet broke the board on the front of the boat and my bag almost fell to the sea while boarding it.
On the way back: Me (left), Oyet (Jason behind her) (center) and Felix (right).
The waves were not that strong but since the boat was small, we could not go fast. A relatively big wave came, drenched Oyet, made it inside the boat (the boatman had to scoop water out). The ride back was ok though it was very hot and I had no covering.
We reached Talaga Port safely, rode a jeepney to Balagtas (diversion road), a jeepney to the bus station and finally a bus home.
It was quite an adventure. When we returned to Manila (and until Monday), my face was very red; Tuesday, my face began exfoliating and now, the skin on my left forearm (the one facing the sun on our way back) is flaking. A nice adventure but until such time that the beach is cleaned, I probably won’t go back to Tingloy yet.
Just a picture of our camp at sunrise. It was a pleasant surprise after the rain in the previous day. Didn’t know that the 10-22mm lens produces such flare but this could be some mist or waterdrops on the lens.
Tiny and Oyet on the beach.
February 25-26, 2012
This is my long overdue post on the wonderful time we had in Tondol Beach Pangasinan.
Tondol Beach is in Anda, Pangasinan. Anda is called the mother of the Hundred Islands in Alaminos since it is an big island separated from mainland Luzon by a River and is only a few kilometers west of the famed islets. It is probably bigger than all the hundred islands combined.
I’ve read in some blogs that Anda offers the best beach that the province of Pangasinan has to offer. I’ve initially set on a trip to Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan but after seeing how Tondol Beach looks in google maps (kilometers of exposed white sand), I decided to plan the trip to Anda instead.
With my trusty and ever kaladkarin companions, we set out to Anda, Pangasinan. Joining us for this trip is Ellidel (Eman’s friend) and her companions. We did several research on how to get to Anda as it is not a famous town and information on the web is rather paltry.
Another sunset shot.
Going to Tondol entails riding a bus to Alaminos, Pangasinan (which took us about 4 hours due to traffic), a jeepney ride to the town of Anda (about an hour) and hiring a tricycle to Anda Beach (30 minutes or so). On our arrival in Alaminos, we had lunch and bought food and other supplies in CSI Warehouse Supermarket.
Instead of riding the public jeepney to Anda, we just hired one to take us to the town of Anda and bring us directly to Tondol Beach. (There were tricycle drivers asking us to hire them to bring us to Tondol but it is too far for a tricycle).
Our color coordinated tents.
On arriving in Tondol Beach, there is a minimal entrance fee (P10 or P20 per person). Ellidel and her companions looked for a room to rent while the six of us pitched our tents (we like roughing it). Oyet and I have the same model of tent (Apexus tadpole) while Jem and Badz have just bought an Apexus Halcon tent of the same but darker hue.
My first intentionally skewed landscape shot (sunset).
Similar to previous trips, Jem and Badz are our cooks with Jason, Oyet and Tiny helping out while I bum around. They cooked afritada and some other dish I can’t remember.
Mardi Gras vodka schnapps (left) and our shot glass (right).
Jason and I are supposed to share a tent but since it was hot and humid, he decided to sleep on the cottage while I snore my way into the morning inside the tent.
While they are cooking breakfast, I decided to go to the other side of the beach (the side opposite the rising sun) and take my photos there.
What wonderful light!
Early Morning Calm.
My picture taken by Tiny. I won’t let her forget this since the horizon is not level!
Breakfast includes fried rice, scrambled eggs (one with tomato and another without), tinapa (smoked fish), Mah-Ling (chinese meat loaf) and salted eggs.
After our breakfast, we decided to hire a boat to go to Tanduyong Island and Cory Island.
June 4-5, 2011
After my previous experience of getting lost in Pico de Loro, I could not get it out of my mind and couldn’t believe that we got lost. Well, technically we did not get lost, we just took the longer way out of the mountain to Nasugbu. Felix and I planned return with a vengeance to Pico.
Me and Adam on our way to the summit (photo by Felix).
After running out of water in our previous dayhike, I decided to bring more water up the mountain. I brought 6 liters of water (3 liters in my hydration bladder, plus 3 liters in PET bottles). This with the tent, cookset, stove, butane, etc. packed in my 85 liters backpack totalled about 26 kilos. Very heavy!
Me, resting on a tree (photo by Felix).
It seems that I overestimated my strength and endurance and forgot the difficulty of climbing Pico from Alibangbang to summit. I was very very slow in my ascent due to my heavy pack. Adam was fast (he’s younger and carried a lighter pack) so I told him to go ahead (no getting lost on the way to the summit) and we’ll just catch up with him.
The climb up was hot, I took a rest every 5 or 10 minutes (will eventually learn to carry a smaller overnight pack) but eventually, Felix and I reached the campsite, where Adam was waiting for us.
We camped in the bamboo grove area and Felix cooked our dinner (canned goods). Adam brought a small Gilbey’s gin but since he isn’t a strong drinker, Felix doesn’t want to drink and I didn’t want to drink on my own, we didn’t finish the whole bottle (probably just a quarter of it). We decided to give the rest to our noisy camp neighbors (whom I’ll eventually know as Alex and his group).
A group of mountaineers appreciating the view (above), the summit (below left) and a close up view of the steep side of the summit (below right – photo by Felix).
We woke up early the following morning, cooked and ate breakfast and broke camp since we were doing a traverse and wanted to go to the beach. Adam and Felix decided to scale the Parrot’s beak while I stayed on the summit to take their pictures (since I’ve been there in my previous climb).
The campsite as viewed from the summit (we camped on the tree-covered part on the left) and a self-portrait on the summit (right).
Felix and Adam at the beak. The small figure at the background is me on the summit (left – photo of Felix). A zoomed view of the two from the summit (right).
The way up or down the beak (left) and Felix and Adam resting after scaling the beak (right).
After their conquest of the beak, we rested for a while then pushed on with the traverse trail down. The descent is ok (having experienced it in the previous climb) but is a little harder since we were carrying bigger and heavier pack. From the descent, we reached a portion where there is the start of level trekking. We were walking for more than 2 hours when we realized that this is the same trail we’ve walked the previous climb. We were lost again!
As with the previous climb, we turned left instead of right (I thought we got lost after this point) but later realized that we should have turned right. The right turn doesn’t seem to make sense since it appears to go back to the mountain but it is the correct turn if you want the shorter trail.
We’ve walked too long and far to go back (plus backtracking would mean ascent which would be harder) so we just continued. We stopped by the mango tree and had some of its fruit (more ripe and less delicious than before).
Solo and group pictures in Sitio Kumbento (with the Pico peak and beak at the background).
The residents in Sitio Kumbento told us that the nearest and best beach is in Calayo, Nasugbu. We rented a jeepney (the same jeepney we used the previous climb) for Php500 to take us to Calayo. We rested, cooked and ate a late lunch and swam in one of the resorts for a discounted fee (since it was almost 2pm when we arrived there).
Swimming and resting in Sitio Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas.
At about 5 or 530 pm, we packed our bags and rented a tricycle to poblacion Nasugbu for the bus home. This time we were able to catch the second to the last bus trip and home we go.
This was my second attempt to do the traverse trying to follow the common traverse trail. We ended up the same “wrong” trail but I have peace of mind since I already know the correct trail for the next climb. This is the last time I’ve passed through Sitio Kumbento in Nasugbu and I’m missing it. With the beautiful farmlands, lots of goats, chickens and cows, it will be an ideal location for a photowalk or photoclimb but that still has to wait ’til I can schedule a climb.
May 14-15, 2011
A week after I first climbed Mt. Batulao with Felix, I went back there with my officemates Jay, Tin and Hero (below).
This time, the purpose of the climb is more about fun and less about reaching a place for the first time. I also wanted to see the views from the summit as it was foggy the previous week.
Jay and I would meet in Pasay Rotonda and Hero and Tin would join us in Evercrest since they will be coming from Bacoor. For some reason, Jay confused Pasay Rotonda with Buendia-Taft intersection and arrived later. Furthermore, there was a long line at the bus station and it took more than an hour before we were able to board a bus for Evercrest.
Since this climb would mostly about having fun, I decided to set up camp in Camp 1 due to the availability of water and toilet and the bigger camp space.
The trek is pleasant though it was very hot. We stopped at each rest stop and had buko juice at all these places. Upon arrival at the campsite, we had our lunch (bought from the carinderia at the highway) and proceeded to pitch the tents. I brought both my tents (the dome and the tadpole) as none of them has their own tents.
After setting up the tents, we chatted had some naughty fun with shadow play (right) and played some card games.
There were other people in the campsite and some people passing through from their dayhikes (as I said, Batulao is a very popular hiking destination both for overnights and for dayhikes).
Me with a group of dayhikers wearing the same NatGeo Fun Run singlet.
The card game and chatter was then joined by drinking and drink we did! We had several bottles of liquor and we were drinking well before the night fell.
Tin with our liquor.
Tin did not drink as she’s in charge when the three of us (Jay, Hero and I) are drunk. Hero was complaining of a toothache earlier but it seemed to vanish due to the effects of alcohol.
By the time the sun set, we were pretty tipsy that the dinner Tin cooked went mostly uneaten (I think Jay and Hero ate but I was too drunk to touch the food). I had too much to drink that I vomitted and spent the better part of the night sleeping outside the tent (near a steep incline where I can just wake up, puke or take a piss).
I only went inside the tent past midnight since it was getting cold outside. My sleep was not peaceful as I was consistently woken up by the need to do #1 and I was very hungry. I had not eaten dinner and the remaining contents of my stomach were already vomited.
Morning and time to climb the summit then go down. Break camp after breakfast then on to higher ground.
Camp 1 is a good 30 minutes away from Camp 7 (where I last camped with Felix) and by the time we reached it, I was already panting, probably from dehydration. After some rest and rehydration, we climbed until we reached the summit. Tin had some doubts about climbing the roped segment but she pulled through without any hitch (as I knew she would).
And finally, I was able to see the beautiful view from the summit. From the top of Mt. Batulao, you can see Mt. Talamitam, Mt. Maculot, Pico de Loro and Batangas Bay.
At the top of a beautiful mountain, what else is there to do other than appreciate all the beauty that God made? Take pictures!
We also did some jumpshots but my camera’s battery died before we could get decent shots. We had some Mountain Dew, admired the vistas then went down the new trail. Luckily, no one had cramps this time.
It was indeed a beautiful weekend spent with officemates outside the confines of work.
May 7-8, 2011
Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas is one of the most climbed mountains in the country. It is highly accessible from Metro Manila and the trekking time of less than 4 hours make it a minor climb and a great dayhike destination. On two successive weekends in May 2011, I climbed this mountain for the first and second time.
On the way to the campsite, the summit and the sawtooth peaks are visible.
The first time I climbed Mt. Batulao was with my friend Felix. After researching about the mountain in Pinoy Mountaineer’s website, I planned an overnight trip. We did not hire a guide for this trip as the mountain has few forks and many mountaineers climb it (so the possibility of getting lost and not having anyone to ask for directions is small).
A view of the summit from one of the rest stops.
The get to Mt. Batulao, you would have to ride a bus bound for Nasugbu or Tuy or Balayan (all in Batangas) and get off in Evercrest Golf and Country Club (just immediately after passing the Alfonso, Cavite border). From there you can ride a tricycle or walk on the concrete road to the jumpoff.
Stores and stalls are along the way where you can get refreshments (Mountain Dew, halohalo or buko juice). The first part of the trail is through a rough dirt road then a series of ascents and descents until the fork is reached. From this point on, you can either choose to go up right (through the new trail) or down left (through the old trail).
Me resting on the tree in Camp 7.
One or two hours of trekking will get you to Camp 1 (the biggest camp) where there is a caretaker that also sells mountain dew and souvenirs. There is also a makeshift toilet and you can buy water for cooking and toilet use. After Camp 1 comes Camps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 (not in particular order). Camp 8 is near the summit while camp 9 is on the summit itself (both quite windy and surrounded by cliffs) and camp 10 is in the new trail.
We decided to camp in Camp 7 since it is the highest camp (excluding Camps 8-9 which can be dangerous).
This is the first time I will be using my new tadpole tent from Apexus (after getting wet from the rain in Arayat and Pulag, I’ve decided to choose a better tent).
Resting after a tiring day.
There aren’t many people who climbed that weekend as the following Sunday is a Pacquiao fight and many mountaineers decided to stay home and watch the fight the following day.
It rained that night and in the morning, the mountain is very foggy. From Camp 7, the lower camps and the summit are obscured by the fog.
The hike from Camp 7 to the summit is through an exposed trail of grasslands and through steep ridges (not very difficult but extra care must be exercised). There is a roped segment but it is not that difficult climbing up. The summit was still foggy when we arrived and there are no views to be seen.
Summit finally. Me resting (left) and with my friend Felix (right).
We stayed for a while in the summit hoping that the fog would lift but alas, it did not happen. The trail down the new trail is relatively easier (there are steep cliffs on both sides but no steep climb or descent).
It was a good climb but of course I would have to come back since I didn’t get to see the views from the summit.
April 17-18, 2011
Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak and the third highest in the Philippines. Probably one of the most climbed mountain in the Philippines.
When I started mountain climbing, I’ve read a lot about mountains in the Philippines (mostly through Pinoy Mountaineer website). One of the most visited page on that site is for Mt. Pulag. I decided to climb it soon.
Lucky for me, DPM (the group I joined for my first climb in Arayat) was scheduled to climb that mountain in April. I invited Felix to join me in this climb (hence, the training climb in Mt. Maculot in my previous post).
The famed Pulag grasslands.
We were supposed to climb it on April 16-17 (Saturday-Sunday) but due to the scheduled Climb Against Cancer, DPM moved the climb to Sunday-Monday as the DENR advised that the mountain will be full (200 or 300 carrying capacity).
The road to Pulag is a long one: a bus ride to Baguio (we left on the 11pm bus trip), a “monster” jeep from Baguio to the DENR office in Kabayan (which takes around 3-4 hours including some break in a resto and a stop to view Ambuklao dam), 30 minute video presentation + pep talk by Ma’am Mering (DENR officer in the Pulag National Park) and another 2 hours or more of road trip through rough roads (very dusty when we visited).
The official jumpoff is the Badabak Ranger Station. On arriving there, we saw the many (and I mean many) participants of the Climb Against Cancer (including Jeffrey Santos and Rocky Salumbides). A quick lunch at the ranger station then off we go up, up, up!
The trail through Ambangeg is not that difficult (many Luzon mountains, including Batulao, Maculot and Pico are much harder) but the combination of the cold climate, the thin air and high elevation, not to mention the time and expense it takes to get to Pulag from Manila makes this a “major climb”. The trail begins through a dirt road passing through plots of lots converted to vegetable plantations, then through a mossy forest (not that thick on the trail), then through the famed grasslands of Pulag (which contains dwarf bamboo grass). It took us a few hours (3-4 hours from the ranger station to Camp 2, grassland camp).
The grassland camp (picture above and below – right side of the picture).
When we arrived at the campsite, we rested for a while, set up our tent and rested some more. Rain (on a summer day) began to fall and I and Felix got drenched inside my cheap dome tent as water got inside and I had to poke a hole in the sack flooring so that water could go outside. Thankfully, the rain only lasted less than an hour.
The rain was soon replaced by fog and the temperature went to 14 degrees Celsius (in summer!). I was wearing a shirt, a sweater, a jacket, a bonnet, sock, pants, and still I felt cold. I did not join the socials as I had a headache or was too tired but I kept waking up due to the cold.
We woke up early the following day as we had to trek to go to the summit before sunrise (an additional 1.5 hours of walking through the grasslands). Three of our companions – Joel, Aisa (his wife) and Blezh (Aisa’s friend) – chose to stay behind in the camp to sleep.
Sunrise at the summit is beautiful and I get to see the so-called “sea of clouds”. Pictures here, pictures there, yosi here, yosi there until the sun rises and time to go down.
Mt. Pulag’s summit.
On getting back to camp, they cooked breakfast (cooking is not my thing) and after we ate, it was time to break camp and descend. We passed by the DENR office again to get the t-shirts we bought (which says “I survived Mt. Pulag”) and then finally a dinner at 50’s Diner in Baguio before we rode a bus home back to Manila.
It was on this climb that I first met Blezh (when I first saw her, I just thought that this girl is all about makeup – retouching when we arrived in Baguio, in the DENR office, in the ranger station, at the campsite, on return to the ranger station) who became a good friend of mine and a climb buddy through some memorable climbs; James (what can I say, he is fast, barely a month after he first met Blezh in Pulag, they became a couple); Edel (unforgettable line: “Gaano pa ba katagal hanggang camp” “1 hour” “Pahinga na lang tayo dito ng 30 minutes para 30 minutes na lang lalakarin natin”); and the sweethearts Ochock and Lirio (sweet but not cheesy).
James, me, Allan, Aisa, Blezh, Bong and Ochock.
Dyumar, James, Edel, Alan, Ochock, Lirio, me and Felix.
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On this climb, I get to see the beauty of Mt. Pulag. I would eventually return and face it’s harshness giving true meaning to the t-shirt print “I Survived Mt. Pulag” but that would be for another post.
(All pictures taken with my Samsung point-and-shoot camera, except as indicated).