Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Posts tagged “Mt. Batulao

Random Photo: Mordor!

Fuji X10 (Processed in Lightroom 4)

This picture is the same one as the one on the left (dramatic skies over Mt. Batulao) but I reprocessed it in Lightroom.  I used a graduated filter on the top portion (decrease exposure, increase temperature and contrast, tint red, increase saturation).

Since the picture was shot in JPEG (in X10’s EXR mode) there was a loss in quality in post-processing and tinting, seen as the pink color on the top middle portion (looks like watercolor).

The picture is supposed to be Mordor as seen from the Shire.


The New Love of My Life, Fjona – the Fuji X10

My Fuji X10 (with a bowl of coffee) shot by Jason with Wynona (his Canon 1100D) before Wynona took a dive in the sea.

When I created this blog, I didn’t plan on writing extensive reviews of photographic gears (a little note here and there perhaps).  However, I sort of changed my mind because I’m very very impressed with my Fuji X10.  It’s not perfect but it still amazes me a month after I’ve been using it most of the time.

I’ve been wanting to get a Fuji X10 since late last year, after I’ve read many reviewers praising it (and X100).  However, at the time, I find that it was expensive and is not yet available here in the Philippines at the time.  It was on my Christmas list.

In January, my Canon 60D got broken by waves splashing all over it so I decided to buy a Fuji X10 (already available here at the time).  It was a decision I don’t regret, even if the price is quite high (more expensive than Canon 1100D or some m4/3 cameras).

Bad things first, well, there’s the most talked about white orbs.  I’ve managed to get it only once in Tondol.  It’s probably present in some of my other pictures but I didn’t notice it or it was not very bothersome.

White orbs on the sun (in Tondol Beach).

I usually use EXR (most of the time), C1 (I’ve set macro on C1), Adv. and Aperture priority most of the time and I find that they are rather far apart in the exposure mode dial but no biggie.

I’ve also knocked the exposure compensation dial several times (ok not while handling but while putting it or pulling it out of the drybag that I use to carry it).

Manual focus is a bitch (I’ve used it only once and later just tried and tried with the autofocus).  Autofocus is not as fast as a DSLR (to be expected).  Probably my biggest complaint (though not a dealbreaker) is that I can’t set white balance and Velvia film simulation while in EXR mode.  RAW is also not available in EXR and Adv. modes but this is not a big problem since the JPEGs can take quite an abuse from post-processing without losing much image quality.

Now on to the positives:

It takes beautiful pictures!!!  The colors (esp. in Velvia mode) are amazing!!!  High ISO pictures are good (for a small sensor camera, but for web purposes are quite sufficient)!  Yes, the extra exclamations are necessary.

Previously, on climbs or other trips, I’d take my DSLR (Canon 60D at the time) with the kit lens (for climbs) or with the kit lens, macro lens and ultrawide lens for beach trips.  Lately, I just take the X10 and Panasonic waterproof camera with me on trips.  So much smaller and I find that I don’t miss opportunities for good photos and my pack is so much lighter.  I also find that its colors are better than Canon (ok shooting raw creates countless color adjustment possibilities but it’s faster with the base colors of Fuji).

I think the biggest thing that I like with the Fuji X10 (other than it’s relatively small size compared to a DSLR) is it’s very simple to use.  Just set to EXR (for almost all scenarios) and just focus on composition and timing and press the shutter button.  Less time spent on fiddling with buttons, dials and adjustments, more time spent on focusing on the scene.  As a result, I think I’ve come out with better pictures than I did when using a DSLR (esp. the DSLR with a kit lens attached).

Now on to the pictures (click the picture for a larger file that opens in a new tab).  All pictures are post-processed (which is what I now do whether shot from the X10, 7D or with the waterproof cam).


Diamond (My Officemate) * Me

Group Shots:

Group shot in Tondol Beach







Office Merienda Break







 Macro and Close Ups:

Orange Flower * Seeds/Flower * Barbwire

Landscapes and Seascapes:

Blue Skies Over Emerald Sea (Tondol Beach)







A View of Mordor from the Shire (Mt. Batulao seen from Mt. Talamitam)






Cory Island * Talipanan Beach


Bamboo * Hot Air Balloon Festival

Low-Light (No Flash):

Choosing a Meal (Ella) * Tanggero (Tem)

From the above pics, I’m sure you get the idea of what the camera can do.  It would be great for street and documentary photography but it is not in my line so no samples for that.

Fuji X10 is not perfect (far from it) but it has good image quality and combine this with the small size, retro good looks (yeah I dig that) and relatively simplicity in using (if left to EXR most of the time), it is a good value for the price.  I always carry it with me and I hope to take more beautiful photos with it.

Random Photo: Dramatic Skies Over Mt. Batulao

Fuji X10.

This shot was taken from Mt. Talamitam last Sunday.  It just finished raining on Mt. Talamitam and the rain clouds breaking over Mt. Batulao provides dramatic skies over one of my favorite mountains.  The clouds are darker (more grayish in color) but I changed its color (through graduated filter) to a slighter warmer tone since the gray color shows some unattractive colors (random rainbow-like) on different parts of the clouds.

Random Photo: Fern Leaves

Canon 60D with 18-135mm kit lens (heavily cropped).

During climbs, I generally take only the 18-135mm kit lens due to weight consideration and the fact that I can’t change lenses most of the time while climbing.  In these instances, I just zoom in to the longest focal length and take close up photos.  Most of the time, this needs heavy cropping both to improve composition and to get a closer view.  This photo was taken during one of my Batulao climbs.

Calaruega Photowalk

January 28, 2012

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to Calaruega when I spotted the shooting of Bourne Legacy in Pasay Rotonda.  This was one of the weekends that I had no scheduled climb to a mountain or trip to a beach.  I invited Felix to join me in a photowalk in Calaruega.

The face of hamburger and bulalo.

Calaruega is a retreat place (of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans) which was opened to the public after being previously used exclusively by Dominicans.  It is located in Brgy. Kaylaway, Nasugbu, Batangas.  To get there, you must ride a bus to Nasugbu, Tuy or Balayan and get off at Evercrest Golf and Country Club (same place as jump off for Mt. Batulao).  You can then ride a tricycle or walk to the location.

From the highway, you’ll pass by the Evercrest golf course and facilities and see Mt. Batulao from afar.  There are also farms (for plants and animals) along the road) and your photowalk can start right there and then.

Mt. Batulao as seen from the road to Calaruega. 

There is an entrance fee of Php20-Php40 (forgot how much exactly) and smoking is not allowed inside the premises (sigh!).

An indiginized depiction of the last supper.

Upon entering the premises, you’ll know immediately that it is a religious place.  There are statues of saints and indiginized depiction of stages in the life of Jesus.

There is also a church-looking building on the left side of the main entrance.  This is not actually a church but a reception hall/conference area.  Before we went inside, we decided to go past it first and visit the other areas of the park.

Me inside the park.

The labyrinthine pathways.

There is an area of somewhat labyrinthine walks in and around some plants, fountains, and fishponds (with koi).  (It’s not really confusing but I can’t think of a more appropriate term).

The hanging bridge.

This then leads either to a hanging bridge on the left side or the picnic grounds and ampitheater on the right side.  The bridge leads to an open space on the side where you can see Mt. Batulao and the adjacent farmlands.On this part of the park, you need to hike some few meters to get to a higher ground where an open chapel.

The chapel features stained glass of Jesus’s Transfiguration (with Moses and Elijah at the sides).  I since learned that St. Dominic (founder of the order) considers Jesus’ transfiguration to be a very important part of Christian doctrine, hence, its prominence in a retreat house run by the OP.

The open chapel (above and below) and stained glass details (below) showing Elijah, Jesus and Moses (click on the picture to open a larger file in a new tab).

After taking pictures and a few minutes rest, we decided to go back to the other side of the hanging bridge and see the picnic area and the ampitheater.

The ampitheater is just that, a semi-circular place of concrete with a bonfire in the middle and a stage at the other side.  I guess this is used mainly for night activities by those conducting their retreats.  (On a side note, I wonder why the activity is called a “retreat”, sounds cowardly).

The picnic grounds is also just a picnic ground with umbrella and tables where kids can run around while the grownups chat or meditate or just watch the kids.



There flowering plants with some insects all around the area and of course, I just had to take a few snaps of them.

After the flowers, we went back near the main entrance to see what’s inside the reception hall.  It is indeed a nice reception hall/conference area and wedding reception inside would be nice.

There is a grand staircase where any newly married couple or debutante can make a grand entrance.

The reception itself is plain (with monobloc chairs) but you can bring in the cloth they use to cover the chairs for a more grand or dreamy setting.

After taking our share of photos inside the reception hall, we now went to the highlight of the park, the Chapel of Transfiguration.

The Chapel of Transfiguration is a small chapel that is very popular for weddings.  Based on what I saw inside, I think it can fit around 150 persons or utmost 200.  It contains three big stained glass windows showing Jesus, Elijah and Moses (similar to the open chapel).  At the time, we were not able to explore the interior of the church as there was a wedding going on inside (I think one of the several weddings that day).

It was then time for us to go (Calaruega closes at 530 pm) but before we go, I snapped a picture of a beloved mountain as the sun’s rays are slanting down.

After a tiring trip, we decided to eat bulalo in Tagaytay on one of the restaurants with a viewdeck overlooking the Taal Lake and volcano.  The sun was about to set and it was magical indeed.

All in all, it was a beautiful day.  I didn’t find Calaruega that relaxing or peaceful as there were many people there at the time (both for the wedding or just picnicking at the place).  However, I must say that it is a good place for weddings and other special occasions.

C6 Mt. Batulao Traverse Revisited (Old-New Trail) Nasugbu, Batangas

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.

C5 Mt. Batulao Traverse (Old-New Trails) Nasugbu, Batangas

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.