Nature-ral High

Nature-ral High
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

November 9, 2009

Mt. Manabu : Gianne's First Mountain

After the several cancellations, our climb to Mt. Manabu was finally put to reality. It was still raining for several days last week but the sun came out on thursday prompting us to proceed with our hike. Five of us were originally scheduled to climb, but at the last minute two back-out which left the three of us (Gian, Cris and Me) proceeding with the trek. This is Giannes first climb and it was organized for her.
This is not may first time to climb Mt. Manabu, but since this is the mountains first entry to my blog, I'm also adding the some details on our Itinerary. From Buendia bus station we took the bus going to Lipa, Batangas. From Lipa we hired a trike that took us to the jump-off. There is a 'kubo' bath/rest place at the jump-off, but I was surprise to see a new man managing the place. I later learned he was the husband of Ate ___, who died last march due to breast cancer (may she RIP). The last time I was here she was just diagnosed with the diseased, cancer is really a fast-silent killer.
Going back to the climb. We arrived at the jumpoff around 12PM, the weather was good. We immediately started to our hike. Starting from the jumpoff up to the 1st river crossing, the trail was also being use by locals for their livestocks path (cows, horses etc) hence eventhough the soil was not that wet its very beaten. This mountain is really for beginners, the trail is very easy after the river. It only got steep after Mang Pirings place, but was immediately compensated by the ropes stationed along the way. we arrived at the campsite at around 4:00pm and we were so surprised that we were the first climber to arrived. After a bit of rest we set camp, cook our dinner and enjoy the surroundings. According to my watch the summit measures 750++ masl, but I was really amazed how cold it was. Fog was everywhere when it started to get dark. At around 2:00am the next day I woke up chilling.Good thing I brought my jacket.

Start of trek

Nice river

 At the trail

Cold while cooking?

So whats for dinner?

The next day we woke up to a good weather again. We were able to view sunrise from our campsite. After taking our breakfast we broke camp and headed for the summit. We took several pictures then decided to go down. And then it started to drizzle, o-oh the trail is gonna be muddy - plus the fact that several climbers went ahead of us. But Gianne was able to manage her balance well, I was really amazed. To think that she grew up in the city (I grew up on the country side). I'm not sure if this is due to genes or that I brought her to jogging 1x a week or maybe a little bit of both? After several hours of trekking we arrived safely to the jumpoff. We cleaned up, went back to Lipa bus station and headed back home. But of course not before taking a hearty lunch in Lipa with their famous Goto Batangas.

Theres a Mountaineering saying that the first climb is always the deciding factor if a newbie will climb again. So whats the verdict for Gianne? Very positive. She really enjoy our climb and even asked me when are we gonna be climbing again. She's very curious with critters and we saw several fauna on our climb. 


Group shot

At the summit.

Gianne's First Mountain Jump Shot

Cross at the summit

October 5, 2009

Mt. Nagsasa traverse to Nagsasa Cove - After the long Hiatus

Evening of September 25, there is a lot of first with this climb I'm posting. This is my first climb since a long hiatus due to an injury. This is my first climb with a typhoon signal #2 (Zambales was initially forecasted not to be hit). And this is the first time I was uncertain as to wheter pushing through with the climb was a good idea- something I also expressed to the EL.... but ended up deciding to go anyway.

If you are familiar with Anawangin cove (hopefully not from the ABS-CBN movie), Nagsasa Cove is very much similar. But Nagsasa cove being recently discovered its more pristine and untouched. This climb is the second climb via trail. Thanks YABAGMG for exploring this trail.
Nagsasa is also on the outskirts of Zambales bay so even the transportation is the same as Anawangin.  From the jumpoff onwards, the trail is very similar to Mt. Pundaquit (of Anawangin) but has better scenery. For starters four rivers were on the trail, my guess is that two of them does'nt dries up even on summer. And once you reached the summit of Mt. Nagsasa, you will have a grand view of Mt. Balingkilat. The trek is 5-6 hours for a fit hiker.
Typhoon Connection : It was drizzling throughout our hike. But still very minimal, no signs of storm... yet.

Mt. Balingkilat in the Background

Mt. Nagsasa with Nagsasa cove from afar.

Arriving at the cove, Its indeed very similar to anawangin but the shoreline smaller. (not so sure though coz I was not able to fully explore the beach). The place is not yet developed, except for the Local Tribes huts, there is no human structure. There is a small river beside the beach, afar you can see a waterfall. This waterfall can be reached on a good weather. The cove is deeply cut that it protects the beach from big waves. So the water is calmer than Anawangin.

Typhoon connection : When we arrived the beach seems OK. After a while winds start to pound us. Several tents were uprooted, resulting for the occupants deciding just to take them down and find shelter on the tribal chiefs hut. Early at night I guess the typhoon already passed by Manila and is completely upon us. Our tents are still being battered that I decided to relocate. I relocated beside a small hut which protected us througout the night. Early in the morning only four tents were left standing, I also learned that the occupants of the hut had a hard time sleeping. At around 2:00 am the wind was so strong the hut almost collapsed, since the hut is partly open, they were hit by winds, sand and rain. We are still lucky because we had a good night sleep (though always on alert). My relocation worked!

The Beach

Broken tree

The surviving tents (mine beside the hut
, one is not visible)

Raging Waves

There are two ways to go back to subic, either via trek or boat. Boating is out of the picture since on a normal calm day it would take 1.5 to 2 hours. Imagine how dangerous it is during this time. And besides, our itinerary is to trek back.
Typhoon connection : We woke to a better weather, it seems that the typhoon is now at sea basing from the raging waves at the beach.
It was raining the whole night as expected the rivers expanded. The tribal chief advise us that we cannot pass through given the circumstances. Fortunately it stopped raining and the river subsided a bit. Our EL and tribe chief do a recon and they were able to station the rope that our EL brought. Its time to go home earlier than planned. The rope was 60 meters long, the river around 40 meters. All of the river expanded with the last one the biggest. During our trek it rained some more and the last river was now chest high. I have nothing against rain, I love to trek eventhough its raining. My real concern is crossing a huge river. It was also dark and this made this last crossing the most difficult.

At around 8:00pm Sunday we arrived in Olongapo, change to dry clothes in one of climb buddies place. Eat a hearty dinner then took the bus back to Manila. Its just now we learned that Manila was badly hit by flooding. I felt a bit of guilt of being on a climb while the rest of my countrymen is reeling from the storm. But at least we all arrived home safely and thank God for it. =)

July 9, 2009

Launching of the Balangay

I was all set to attend the Balangay launching last June 27. Unfortunately, I encountered some sort of back problems and needed to visit my doctor on that same day. But since my daughter was very much keen on seeing the boat unloaded to the sea, I just told them to go ahead without me. So basically, the accounts I'm going to discuss here is not from my experience but from my representatives. I was expecting the event to be very simple and not so extravagant. But Lo and behold, the place was jampack with journalist. The sponsors even hired PR firm to organize the event. Lots of prominent personalities was also present. Environment Sec. Lito Atienza was there, Oscar Lopez (an avid adventurer himself), former Senator Nina RAsul and former DILG Rafael ALunan among others. The boat was also christened by a priest before being set unto the Manila bay. She was given the name "Diwata nang Lahi" (goddess of Race). Of course a boat will not run without a crew. Present are the Philippine Everest Team, they were given the task to complete this great feat. Leading the Team is former DOTC Usec. Art Valdez.

It took the builders (Badjaos from Mindanao) a while to take the boat to sea. They used the old way of carrying a boat, much like how the egyptians carried the building blocks of the pyramid. I also forgot to mention on my previous post that the boat was replicated very much from the ancient one. Everything was made of wood and no metal was used, even the nails.

Gianne with Leo Oracion

The Crew



All set

Gianne and her paper Balangay.

June 18, 2009

A Tribute to Jay Lorenzo

June 13,2009. News came to me that until this moment I'm unable to grasp. Jay Lorenzo ongoing Vice President of PALMC died from a vehicular accident. Loving husband and a father of three young kids. He just turned 38.

Up to this moment Im still on denial stage. Just three weeks ago we have concluded a very successfull Mt. Tabayok outreach program. Last holyweek we climb Mt. Guiting-guiting and had a very good time together. It was also through him that we were able to go to carabao island for our sidetrip. I will always remember him wearing sunglasses that I always joke as 'everest goggles'. A guy who is very strict to Itineraries and have a very good negotations skills.

He's supposed to lead a climb in Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon at the end of June. They are even planning to comeback to Mt. Guiting-guiting next year and do a traverse. Heck, hes supposed to celebrate his birthday on the 14th!

Jay, you surely are gonna be missed. The void you left in this world can never be filled. The memories you provided in PALMC and in our hearts are going to last forever.

We'll see you in the morning Jay.

Those Everest Goggles

One of my stolen shots of Jay

June 16, 2009

Mt. Tabayok

I was allowed to only have a day of leave during my group's outreach program in the area of Mt. Tabayok. The actual outreach program was scheduled on a Saturday (May 23), but the whole trip will last for 4 days given the distance of the place. Mt. Tabayok is located near Brgy. Ballay (pronounced Bal-lay) in Kabayan, Benguet. The land travel will take about 15-20 hours, almost two days is allocated just for the trip.

As part of the 'Habol'group, we left Manila taking the Victory bus bound for Baguio . We left on Friday night and arrived on Baguio early morning of the next day (the first group left thursday). From here, the idea is take the bus bound to Kabayan, this is the same bus that is normally taken by climbers going to Mt. Pulag via Akiki trail. The problem here is that there are only two bus trips per day, and they are scheduled to leave Baguio by 10:00am and the other one is 04:00pm. Its is still very early when we arrived at the bus station (8:00am) and being on a time constraint, we don't want to waste any moment. So, we decided to hire an FX taxi and maybe we could still be able to catch the actual turn-over of Donations. Its the drivers first time going to Kabayan, my guess is that if he knew the place (and the roads) he might not have agreed on being hired since half of the road is not yet cemented and its an eight hour trip.

When we arrived at Brgy. Ballay, the actual gift giving was completed. We missed it by an hour or two. The school supplies had been distributed to the students and the computers had been installed in the Faculty rooms. There are also several boxes of vitamins that had been distributed to the kids of the community (thanks to Unilab). A bit disappointing but were still OK, we'll planned to be the support group anyways. And the community was already very happy whenever urban citizens visits their place. Our companions had been camping out in the schools rooms. This is the reason they told us not to bring tents. We also lodged hourselves in the vacant rooms.

The next day is the actual climb day to Mt. Tabayok. The first batch hired a jeepney going here and this was also the one that took us to Mt. Tabayok. Mt. Tabayok is the 5th highest mountain in Philippines with height estimated at 2,870 MASL. There is a lake situated beside the mountain (Lake Tabeyo), this lake was voted for cleanest lake in the PI way back in 2003, but now I guess it has lost its glory. The lake is not crystal clear anymore and looks more like Taal lake. The jumpoff starts at 2,200 MASL, since we started climbing at a high altitude there were only 600 meters left to gain. According to my friend who was one of the pioneers in climbing this mountain there were only 2 houses around the foot of the mountain during their exploration climb. But now there are a lot, and a big part of the mountain slope is now being converted to farmlands. I also noticed that there are a lot of cut mountain trees which are near the farmlands, my hunched is that the farmers are planning to expand their farms. I could rate the climb easy as there is a well established trail and there are lots of portruding branches and roots to hang-on to. The forrest is very mossy and the weather is cold. The summit has no clearing, but what the locals did was they created an elevated viewing deck that lets you peek at the top of the trees. You can see Mt. Pulag from summit. We stayed here for a few hours and then we decided to head back down. The trek back down was also relatively easy and we managed to get back on the jumpoff with only minor hitches.

We left early the next day and the same jeepney took us to Baguio. The locals were so happy of our visit that the Baranggay Captain keep on texting while were on our way. Special thanks to Raymond for giving us extra entertainment during this trip.

Lake Tebayo with Mt. Tabayok on the background

First Summit

At the Flatform


June 11, 2009

Mt. Pinatubo

I read an article in the net that if you want to experience Mt. Pinatubo to its post eruption beauty, the time to climb it is now. So when an officemate invited me to a planned trip to Mt. Pinatubo I decided to join (of course I also like to have a little bonding with my co-workers).

The Jump-off starts from Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Tarlac, a Korean company had established/monopolized a resort in this place. I guess all the travelers to Pinatubo needs to pass by them, they are handling the tours in coordination with the locals who are serving as the guide and drivers. After registering, we took a ride in a 4x4 pickup truck that took us to the foot of Mt. Pinatubo crater. As expected the 4x4 ride is very rough, but the uncomfort is overcomed by the scenery along the way. We saw rivers, lroads covered by lahar, Aeta community and some domesticated animals roaming freely. From all of these, the most grand is seeing lahar pillars that I guess were created when mudflows flowed along this area. I also saw from not so far away mountains that maybe are still unexplored. Rightfully speaking, the internet article is correct. Most, if not all the surroundings are now covered in green. From what I've read and saw in pictures, this area use to be like a desert after the volcanoe's explosion and the lahar mudflows. After almost an hour of traveling you will reach the foot of the crater. Its all walk from here. According to our guide, the trek part is now cut in half. Before, you have to walk for about 30-45 minutes to get to the foot of the crater, now this place can also be reach by vehicles. Well, I guess they really want to have a lot of tourist here and develop (commercialize?) the place. From the foot of the crater its about another 45 minutes leisure walk to the crater. The path is passing by a shallow river with rocks and sand. Then you will reach a short stairs climb (about 30 steps) and then its the crater. There is water on the crater that is normally colored green (but they say sometimes it turns blue). You can swim inside the crater lake but mind you its not like a beach that you can walk far into the water and still very shallow. Here after three steps, theres already a chance for you to drown. Looking around there are about two cottages already built around the area, and they are still building more. O well, signs of commercialization (so whats next, Hotels?) .But in fairness the place is well kept clean. I just hope they could keep it this way. After spending a few hours looking, dipping and feeling the place we decided to head back home. Mt. Pinatubo adventure is a good experience specially for those who like to see good nature beauty with minor sweat. But if you are looking for a complete outdoor experience I suggest you try another trail going to this mountain (currently there are three existing Mt. Pinatubo trails).

May 21, 2009

Balangay Project

Last night I went to the pre-climb meeting of PALMC's Tabayoc outreach program held at the CCP Manila vacant lot housing the Balangay (Bangka/Boat) Project. I never thought that my attention would be diverted out of my real purpose here.

So whats the Balangay Project?

The building/construction of the Balangay (ancient boat) is on-going at the CCP Complex. It started in March 2009 (I guess. But the conceptualization was planned long before (after the 2 Everest climb expeditions) c/o former Usec. Arturo Valdez, the Bajaos, and the Everest Group. It is set to sail to the seas (Philippine coasts/ straits/ shorelines) on June 12, 2009 during the celebration of our Philippine Independence Day.

This year the voyage will be done in the Philippines first but in the succeeding months or years to come, consequently, it would go international (to Africa, etc etc). The first voyage of the Balangay is divided into 7 legs (and these 7 legs are divided into 75 stops/ports).

"We Filipinos are known to be land people (as what Art says). But based on our roots, we are also marine (sea people). We must take pride of our origins and let the whole world know once again that we are proud of our heritage."

There you go, I was very excited and happy to be able to see the boat in construction. I was also amazed on how much they have accomplished with so litte time. After the meeting I inspected the boat and then took some pictures. Hopefully I can join the voyage and be able to see and feel how our ancestors travel.

more info here:

Artist Concept of the Balangay

April 29, 2009

Mt. Guiting-Guiting (Side Trips)

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After a very challenging yet enjoyable climb, we badly needed some relaxation. So to put additional good use for the time and effort we spent going here, We planned to do a side trip in Carabao island. Carabao island is a part of the Romblon group of islands. Our initial plan is to travel via land and sea going to carabao island. But according to the locals here in sibuyan, it is also possible to do it with just one boatride. It's supposed to be faster and more convenient with the only drawback is that the only boat available is a fishing and not a passenger boat. To make it short, we hire a boat and scheduled a trip very early next morning.
We were scheduled to leave Sibuyan at exactly 7:00am (April 09), with another group that we met here in G2 that is going to Boracay. But due to the other groups undecisiveness(long story to tell), we left one and a half hour late. Being a fishing boat it doesnt have any life vest and we were all cramped to the small space alloted for the boats crew and their fish hauls, adding to the uncomfort is that the trip takes about 5-6 hours. We saw some dolphins and lots of flying fish along the way temporarily cleansing our boredom. Our boat even encountered engine problems with about thirty minutes away from the shore, worst we broke down on a place that is known to be the local version of the "bermuda triangle". I really practiced my prayers here.
Arriving in Carabao island, we were greeted by one my companion's relatives, who are also our host. We set camp at their backyard, this is our home for the next two days. So what did we do on our two days of stay here? Plenty. Ate native chicken dishes and goat meat, drank "Tuba" and buko juice fresh from the cocounut tree, played the local version of pool, ate fresh fish newly netted by fishermen, bum around and of course enjoyed the islands beautiful beaches.
BTW, I guess your now wondering how the island gotten its name. Well according to the locals, during the mid 1900's there were lots of wild carabaos here. A lot, that a trail was created on one of the islands rivers due the carabaos habit of drinking there every afternoon. During those days, the supply of Carabaos on the Visayan region are mostly coming from this place. But during my stay here there is no trace of the islands former carabao glory albeit I saw two domesticated carabaos with cows outnumbering them.

Lazy aft

We left the island on Saturday (April 11). Our route was to go by Caticlan then take the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) transportation going back to Manila. But since Caticlan is very much near Boracay (that we even passed by it coming carabao island) half of the group decided to spend an extra night on the island. I guess sometime things doesn't go the way you planned it, at least for the better. =)

Strong man (a passengers baggage)
Club Panoli

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