Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Posts tagged “Felix

Green Fields

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.



Felix in Batulao

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.


After our trip to Mt. Pinatubo, we went to a famous restaurant in the north, Isdaan.  Isdaan (Floating Resto and Funpark) is a located in Gerona, Tarlac (two towns north of Capas).  We were only able to board a full bus so we had to stand inside the bus for quite sometime.

Lucky for us, our Pinatubo trip finished earlier than expected and we were able to arrive in Isdaan while there is still light enough to take pictures.

Isdaan is more famous for its giant sculptures than for its food.  The attraction of the place is that you can rest and take pictures while waiting for your food.  And this is not a place to eat when you’re in a hurry.  During peak season and peak hours, you may have to wait for 30 minutes or more just to get a table and probably an hour more for your food to be served.

The Buddhas were one of the first sculptures inside the place.  Giant buddhas in various poses reflecting serenity (several holding fish).  Take a picture in one of the giant Buddhas and you brag to your friends that you’ve been to Thailand.  🙂

Just some photo ops.

Isdaan seems to be always in a state of repair and expansion.  I first visited this place sometime in 2008 when I first worked for Thunderbird.  Since then, several sculptures, floating huts and tables have been added.  Right now, several more are being added.  It’s a good thing that the place is located just outside of town and surrounded by ricefields (which can be bought at much lower prices compared to commercial land).

The earlier sculptures were huge and made of cement. Now, glass fiber and smaller ones are being added (and for me personally, some doesn’t add much to the place and distract from the other good ones).  These are made in Pampanga I think and can be had cheaper compared to the huge cement sculptures.

We had a good time eating the food – different kinds of fried fish, tinupig na manok (barbequed chicken in coconut milk), sinigang na baboy (pork in tamarind soup), and some others.  We were all full for Php305 each.

All shots were taken using Olympus OM-D and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 lens.

My take on Eggleston’s Tricycle. Except this is not a tricycle but a pullcart AND more importantly, probably no one would pay me big bucks to have a print of this.

C9 – 2011 Freedom Climb in Tarak Ridge (Mt. Mariveles)

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.

Ochock, Lirio, Edel and Bonie at the bus station.

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.

At the Freedom Climb registration booth with Dyumar and Edel.

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.

DPM on its way to the campsite.

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.

C22 – Talamitam Birthday Climb (Cholesterol-Rich Climb)

March 25, 2012

On my 31st birthday, I decided to celebrate it on a mountain (the first time I’ll be celebrating it this way).  We climbed Mt. Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas.

For this climb, several of my mountaineering friends were able to join me – Ella, Oyet, Mumai, Marc, Jem, Badz, Eman, Erickson, Felix and Ni Hao (aka Jann Cris).

Me and my cake.

Most of us met in Baclaran and rode a bus bound for Nasugbu.  Ni Hao joined us in Cavite while Felix, Marc and Mumai joined us in the jumpoff.

Felix arrived first in the jumpoff, then most of us.  We waited in the baranggay waiting area for Mumai and Marc.





Felix while waiting (one of the few instances he is smiling for a photo) * The rest of the gang in the waiting area.

Erickson, Oyet and Ni Hao – waiting.

While waiting, we ate the chocolate Oyet brought.  When Mumai and Marc arrived, we started on our way up the mountain.  I was playing my “Sunday Special” playlist (old Tagalog songs) and one of the locals commented that the song doesn’t suit us (us, being young or young-looking).  We were stopped by someone who introduced himself as the leader of the caretaker of the mountain and he said we are required to have a guide, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.

We secured a guide and commenced climbing.  It was hot, very hot.  And since this was my first time climbing after quite sometime (my last climb before this was February), I was not in a very good condition for climbing.  Same thing with my companions, lots of rest and a slow pace in an otherwise easy mountain.

Ella, resting her body and her lungs.

Cows grazing, waiting for their time before becoming beef.

We came to an open area that is part farm (and grazing area for cows) and part reforestation area.  There, dark clouds ominously formed but the didn’t dissipate the heat.  Several minutes rest before pushing forward.

Clouds forming (of course this was edited to bring out the clouds’ details).

The mountain (especially near the top) has no tree cover and the vegetation are mostly grass, shrubs, some bamboo and a few young trees.

The original plan was to have lunch in the summit but due to our slow pace, we were much delayed and decided to have lunch on an open space before the final push for the summit.  I brought three crispy pata (fried pork legs) and everyone had a hearty meal.  We also ate the cake that my good friend Felix brought for me.



While waiting for lunch * Reheating our lunch.


Me and mini- me (shot by Felix)* Our food

The cake before being eaten (left) * After (right) where mini-me was decapitated, arms torn, and foot cut off.

After lunch and rest, we continued our push for the summit.  And if began to rain!  Having lunch before pushing for the summit was a good and fortunate call for us.  Otherwise, we would be reheating the food in the rain.

The rain continued pouring down but we have to continue going up.  Seems like all birthday climbs I’ve been to are rained upon.  I just look on this as blessings from above.

We were all very very wet but we all manage to get to the summit.  The rain was still pouring but we were still smiling.  The feeling of being drenched in the rain is refreshing, a feeling I haven’t felt for a very long time.  I think the last time it happened was when I was still in school, probably elementary school.

Mac and Mumai on our final push for the summit.

Our group at the summit – wet and cold but all smiles.

Badz and Jem, after the rain.

When the rain let up a little, we decided to start descending and the sky opened up.  The wind blew the clouds away and the summit became free from clouds and fog.  We could see the mountain, farmlands and the nearby Mt. Batulao, such a sight!






.Our ascent was very very hot and humid but the trail was good.  On our descent, the temperature was quite good but trail became very muddy.  On reaching the end of the farm/reforestation area, some of us (including me) got a little lost and descended via different trail which still led to the jumpoff but on a longer route.

Descent from the summit.

A water spillway connected to the river.

On reaching the jumpoff, we looked for a place to clean ourselves.  We also had some buko (young coconut) while resting.  While waiting for everyone to finish (there was only two area for showering and the water had to be brought in from another house), Ella had a conversation with a storekeeper she just met where here marriage life was the topic.  As a result of such openness to the storekeeper, she was able to have her dress (yes a dress!) ironed for free.

Eman, fresh and clean after all the dust and mud of the mountain.

Resting while Bro. Something (forgot his name) was talking.


It was dark when we left the area to go to Tagaytay for dinner.  Tagaytay is famous for bulalo so we went to a place overlooking the Taal lake to have dinner (the overlooking place of course is wasted since it was already dark and what can be seen is just darkness).

We had bulalo in three forms – original, sinigang and bulalo steak plus crispy tawilis and perhaps other food.  Everyone was full with the food and with the cholesterol from lunch and dinner.

Dinner time (Me, Eman and Jem). * Dinner conversation.

We were all supposed to wear something formal for dinner but only Ella, Mumai and Oyet brought their dress while the rest of us had casual clothes on.

Lovely ladies (Oyet, Ella and Mumai).

All of us were tired and sleepy after a full day and we also needed time to digest the cholesterol from the crispy pata and bulalo.

It was around 8 or so when we finally rode a bus home (with Eman immediately falling asleep and snoring loudly on sitting in the bus).

Such a wonderful birthday celebration but probably next year, I’ll have my celebration on the beach for a change.

Me and mini-me (shot by Felix).

Photowalk: Fort Santiago (After Paco Park)

April 22, 2012

After our visit to Paco Park, we got hungry and went to Binondo (Chinatown) for lunch.  We ate at a Chinese fastfood Wai Ying (didn’t know that they have more than one location).

After that we went to Divisoria and bought some folding spoon, fork and knife (for outdoors).  It was really really hot.  We decided to go to Fort Santiago (in Intramuros).

On the Fort Santiago tram (shot by Felix).

I’ve been to Fort Santiago before (on my first photowalk with Felix).  I think I’ve shot most of the details in Fort Santiago so this time, I shot fewer of them.













Jose Rizal in prison, the gate and detail of the cornerstone.

The Pasig River as seen from side of the wall.

One of my favorite subjects – plants and flowers.  The lilies are below the bridge on the way to the gate.  The wild grass flowers are located on the wall and they are backlit by the low-angled sun.

This is also the first time that I was able to go inside the museum dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal which was closed the last time I visited Fort Santiago.  In display are some of his works and things.

Rizal’s sculptures on display in the museum.

Rizal is a true Renaissance man, good in many disciplines.  I realize however that good as he was, he’s not as good as those who are truly dedicated to one discipline (his sculptures are not as good as Rodin, for instance).

Rizal’s “cookset” * a representation of him writing in prison * his lantern (the one in which he slipped the copy of his “Mi Ultimo Adios”.

Other photo opportunities are provided by the people working in or visiting the place.

Jason, Oyet, Felix, Tiny and I, of course, had our snapshots.  After all, what’s the use of going somewhere if you wouldn’t have your photo taken.

Tiny reaching for the stars * Jason photographing some fallen flowers/leaves

Me kneeling before Father Stone (shot by Felix) * Jason being chummy with Father Stone.

Angry-looking Oyet * Resting after a full day.

A couple of photos that became my Facebook cover photo for a while:

And when the sun set, it was finally time to go home after a full and very hot day.

Masasa Beach in Tingloy, Batangas

June 23-24, 2012

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.




Through the Ricefields

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.

The different plots of land are in various states, some already have seedlings planted, others being replanted, others ready for planting and still others for irrigation and sowing.

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.






The Beach

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).




On the waters of Masasa Beach:  The camera pointed upwards (left) and downwards (right).

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).

Felix (top left), Oyet (above) and me (left) enjoying swimming in the water.

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.

Passengers boarding the ferries from Masasa Beach.

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.

Leaving 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.

My Birthday Cake

My birthday cake.

It was a gift from my friend Felix (thank you, thank you!) which he brought when we climbed Mt. Talamitam yesterday (yes, he brought it up the mountain).  I really love it.  It’s me on a mountain.  Reminds me of the Cristobal traverse we did wherein we had to slide down the muddy mountain (at night) because it was very very slippery.

I wish I could bring home the little Elmer but it was made of fondant so it will spoil or be eaten by ants so we just ate it piece by piece.

C8 Pico de Loro Traverse (Getting Lost… Again!)

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.

This time, I invited my mountaineer officemate Adam to join us for an overnight return to Pico de Loro.

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!

As in my previous climb, bus to Ternate from Pasay Rotonda (this time Felix just waited for our bus in Bacoor), bought cooked lunch in a carinderia, rode a tricycle to DENR and hiked to Base Camp 1.

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).

Felix and Adam on their way to the beak.

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).

The Parrot’s Beak (left) and Felix and Adam at the beak with other mountaineers (right – photo of Felix).

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).

Me at the foot of the beak.

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.

C7 Pico de Loro Dayhike Traverse (Getting Lost)

May 21, 2011

The Parrot’s Beak.  That’s me at the top.

Pico de Loro is one of the most climbed mountains in the Philippines but is almost unknown to non-mountaineers except those living in Cavite or those who have heard of Hamilo Coast development of the SM Group.  It is one of the most  beautiful mountains I’ve climbed (in addition to Pulag and Maculot) and this beauty and the fact that it’s relatively near Metro Manila makes this a popular weekend climb destination.

I’ve gotten confidence in tackling mountains without a guide (I’ve done Maculot and Batulao without guides and we were not lost).  However, this is not without preparation.  Before I did Maculot, Batulao and Pico de Loro, I’ve read and researched about these mountains and pored over the articles and comments in Pinoy Mountaineer as well as other sites I could find.

A newly shaved and very red me at the DENR station.

After Maculot, Pulag and two Batulao climbs, I was on a roll and decided on climbing Pico de Loro again with my friend Felix.

To get to Pico de Loro, I met Felix in Pasay Rotonda and we waited for a bus bound for Ternate, Maragondon.  From the bus terminal in Ternate, we hired a tricycle to take us to the DENR Office in Magnetic Hill (that is after buying our packed lunch).  The tricycle costs Php150 (for two persons) and there is a Php20 (each person) registration at the DENR office.

From the DENR office, it is a five-minute trek back (on the road) to reach the trail jump off.  From there, there is an immediate ascent, then level trekking and finally a descent until you reach Base Camp 1 in 45 minutes.

Langka (jackfruit) just a little past Base Camp 1.

From Base Camp 1 it is just a few minutes walk to Alibangbang Park.  At that point, I thought to myself that Pico is an easy climb.  In Alibangbang, there are signboards showing the waterfalls (the left) and the summit (to the right).  Felix and I checked the waterfalls (about 15 minutes from that point) but since it was summer, the falls was dry and what remained of the basin below looks more like a pond where carabaos bath (small, shallow, muddy).  We went back to Alibangbang to continue our quest for the summit.

We saw Gideon Lasco (author of the Pinoy Mountaineer website) with Agot Isidro (the actress).

It was just up down level up down climb.  However, just past Alibangbang is where the challenge begins – non-stop continuous ascent.  And I mean continuous ascent, it is lucky if there is a ten-step level trek from that point on.

It was very hot despite the tree cover since there is hardly any wind blowing and the sun was high.  I was drenched in sweat (hence, the change in shirt).

At the campsite, the peak behind me is the summit and behind that, the monolith or beak.


It only got cooler (and the trail more level) as we got near the campsite.  At the campsite, we rested for a bit and climbed to the summit where we had our lunch.  It was not a pleasant lunch as there were many small insects flying around.

There were a few people on the beak at the time we were eating lunch.  By the time we finished eating lunch, they had all gone back to the campsite (or gone down the mountain) so that when I climbed the beak, I was alone.  (Felix stayed at the summit.)

On the way to the beak.

Climbing the beak is not as hard as it seems as there is a way up (on the right side of the beak).  However, it’s not easy as I had to wedge myself in the cracks of the rock.  Thankfully, at the time there was still a rope to hang on.

I’m on top of ….. well, just on top of the beak.  Forever alone.  That’s a bird on the left side of the picture.

Going down is much harder than going up as I cannot see the footholds and I just had to extend my foot and hang on for dear life.  I momentarily lost my hold on the rope!  Thank God I did not fall.

Our plan was for a traverse but I did not know where the traverse trail begins.  We went back to the campsite and rested.  Fortunately, Dan and Noy who I climbed with in Arayat during my first hike arrived (didn’t know they were going to Pico) and I was able to ask where the traverse trail is.

Felix at the foot of the beak.

We also met a group of four (Brenda and four guys – forgot their names) and they were also doing a traverse and didn’t know the trail either.

We decided to join together and make our way to Nasugbu.

Dan said that the traverse trail is on the right side of the beak.  After some searching, I finally found it and we started the steep descent that passes through trees, bamboo, grass and other plants.

The traverse trail (left).  Our on-the-spot companions (right).

Pinoy Mountaineer’s itinerary for a traverse trail indicates that from the summit, the exit in Nasugbu would be just about 2 hours of trekking.  We have been walking for more than 2 hours and it seems we are not getting any nearer any sort of settlement or sign of an exit.

We walked and walked and run out of water until we found a mango tree laden with ripe and almost ripe fruit!  Manna from heaven.

A view of Pico’s summit from the farmlands of Sitio Kumbento.

We finally saw some houses and requested for water.  We also gave the kids some of our snacks.

It was already dark when we reached the houses.  The residents said that the nearest public transport to Nasugbu is more than an hour’s walk away as the vehicles from there have rested for the night.  We were forced to rent a jeepney to take us to Nasugbu (at a total cost of Php1000) and we asked the driver to take a bath at their house (outside of their house at an artesian well).

Picture taking inside the jeepney.  Tired but happy that we can finally go home.

The jeepney ride from Sitio Kumbento to the town of Nasugbu took more than an hour (yes, it’s far) and when we arrived at the bus station, the last trip for Manila has already left.

Felix and I were ok with checking in in one of the resorts in Nasugbu but Brenda and her companions have appointments the following day so the jeepney driver brought us to a road junction to wait.  Thankfully, a van bound for Pala-Pala arrived.

Tired and sleepy, we fell asleep on the van and woke up when we’re already in Pala-Pala.

It was a new experience for me – getting lost.  According to the residents there are many hikers who do traverse that end up in their place.  I was hoping that when we get to Nasugbu, we can still go to a beach but getting lost in the trails took those hopes away.

That was several months ago and now (see next post on Pico), I’m missing the beauty of the farmlands of Sitio Kumbento.  And I miss the mangoes!  I will definitely comeback.