Mt. Manabu – February 28 2009

I was invited by a former office mate and friend to climb one of the most beautiful mountains in the northern Luzon region – Mt. Pulag. It was set for February 26 to March 1, 2009.

I was really very excited that I filed my vacation Leave early – 4 weeks early.

The plan was to climb Pulag, then be back in time for the flower festival in Bagiuo City. A week before the event, I was hardly getting any sleep (due to excitement, perhaps) and was like a kid waiting for his Christmas present.

No one expected it, but sadly, the other group we were to join in the climb backed out.

A few days before the climb, Vic (the friend who invited me) had to back out too. He was forced to do so because he had to take the slack and all the work load that his officemate left when s/he resigned.

But Mother Nature has a way of communing with you. It’s like she knows that you have a date with her and must not cancel.

Right before my team cancelled, another outdoors buddy invited me to a minor climb down south. I declined because of the Mt. Pulag trip.

But when I sent him a message stating my interest in joining the Mt. Manabu climb, he eagerly counted me in and even asked if I was to take a few more friends with me.

I invited Will and he in turn, invited Vic.

And so it was set; Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9AM, we meet outside a convenience store along Senator Gil Puyat Avenue to take a bus to Lipa, Batangas.

Will and I met early and had breakfast prior to meeting the others.

My pack was heavy and was full to the gills. I made sure I brought everything I would need (or so I thought), left those that I didn’t, ran through my checklist (which I’ve had with me since my early years in the outdoors scene) twice and had iced water in my hydration pack ready to quench my thirst during the long walk to camp.

We boarded the bus at 9:30 AM and left Manila at 9:45 AM.

I wanted to make a detailed log of the trip… but being that I had only very little sleep the night before, I sort’a “forgot” that I wanted to make that detailed log.

Anyway, what happened the night before is a totally different story.

Back to the trip…

So we got to Lipa, Batangas. We then got off the bus and were following the bus conductor as he made his way to open the compartment area that held our packs. My backpack and another’s fell on the dirt as he opened the compartment door. I thought I saw myself hurting the poor bus conductor in my head. *snicker*

We then found ourselves at a tricycle terminal and were deciding if we should go by fours or by threes. I forgot to mention, there were eight of us in the group. Will, Vic and I took one tricycle. Aaron, Joms and Ivy took another, while Bokbok and Mau went to the local grocery/supermarket/mini-mall there.

Just before we were ready to go, I accidentally stepped on a gum on the hot asphalt (talk about luck). And like that was not enough, my backpack fell off the tricycle and hit the same gum I stepped on. Now my pack has “gummy webs”, because I forgot to put on the rain cover. I then decided, its time I put it on the roof of the side car. I hope no more accidents happen to my pack.

Well, so much for signs of good luck and a good climb. At least the weather was beautiful – sunny and windy at the same time, a burn waiting to happen.

And so off we went. I thought I was going to pass out when the wind hit my face the very second the tricycle started moving. I wanted to say to the driver, “kuya, happy new year!”

I thought I was the only one getting a dose of the driver’s acrid scent. Will and Vic confirmed that they too were feeling like they were being gassed to extinction.

I think the government should require drivers to wear deodorant…

Anyway, we then stopped halfway outside a barangay outpost to register. We were asked a small registration fee of PHP10.00 – to help the local community.

We had a few minutes to light up a cigarette and take a few pictures before we started driving towards the jump off point (its New Year’s all over again, Yahoo!).

At the jump off point, we met two groups of hikers (or was that three? I’m sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention). They left a few minutes ahead of us and while one group stayed a little while and chatted with us.

There was the routine stretching, and a prayer was said for thanks and guidance. We were last to leave the jump-off point and we took it easy hiking up the mountain.

We were going on a moderate pace and were stopping for a minute or two to catch our breaths. We took the non-traditional route; some call it the “grotto trail” because you will pass by a grotto where you may also stop to freshen up. Cool, clear, mountain water flows in a stream right next to the grotto.

We stopped there for about 10 minutes and moved on. Aaron chose this trail because it’s easier to hike up this trail than hike back down from the camp site.

The usual time it takes to reach the camp site takes about 2 hours, including breaks. We took 3 hours. We kept the itinerary open (actually there was no itinerary) and kept on an “easy groove”. When we got to the summit (I think that’s where it is marked by a cross), we stopped for a while and took some photos.

We then hiked down to the campsite and noticed that the 3 groups who went ahead up the mountain looked like they just got there.

“Hmm… The trail we took was indeed shorter” I said to myself – considering that we stopped a lot of times like we were first timers.

The camp site looked like a garden – almost like a golf course. It offered a 360-degree view of the neighboring mountains and cities. It was beautiful.

After selecting spots to pitch our tents, we then prepared to cook dinner. But it was still too early (we got there at around 4 PM). So I sat down, whipped a cup of coffee, enjoyed Mother Nature’s embrace and drank in her beauty.

The wind was rushing and offered a cool, soothing, almost balmy relief to a city slicker like myself. After a few more minutes, I realized that it was getting cold (time to get out of my wet shirt and change into something warm).

Still sipping on my coffee, I took some photos of the then setting sun. I wish I brought a better camera. You should have seen the sunset for yourself – magic was written all over it.

A mountain peak was slightly peeking above the clouds, there was still day light but the new moon has already shone her magical light. Hues of red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink and gray were weaving strands of light, a kick ass recipe for a beautiful sunset. “The magical hour” as Will had aptly put it.

As the cold night started to envelope everything around us, I fired up my lantern and prepared dinner.

I could not help but notice how big the stars were. It feels as if you are closer – closer to something powerful, something beautiful.

There were no words to describe how it felt at that time. I was awestruck.

You could see the entire constellation above you. And when you look down, you see the electric lights of the nearby cities. They seem like reflections of each other.

It made me want to lie on the soft earth.

There were ants. So I didn’t. :-p

We waited a while for the other members of the team to finish cooking their dinner, and then sat around our camp lights and talked about the climb. We even started planning about the next trip.

After dinner, was “the gathering” – fancy name for sitting around, talking and getting hammered. *Nyehehehe*

We finished 4 bottles of brandy chased with iced tea and a lot of stories. It actually helped in warming the body and I noticed that I wasn’t feeling so cold. Slightly numb and dizzy, yes, but cold no more.

12 AM: lights out.

Woke up at 6AM but I never got up and got out of my warm and comfy tent until 6:25 AM. Fired up my trusty stove and made delicious coffee (yes, I love coffee, especially when it freezing!!!). After about 30 minutes, I then made crab and corn soup (well, it was instant soup. So sue me), and shared it with my camp mates.

Reheated Left over rice from last night’s dinner was mixed with my 1 day old adobo – instant adobo rice! Plus margarine-fried dried squid and danggit = good old Pinoy breakfast. I think I finished two bowls of adobo rice. We had enough to go around and share, so I walked over to Joms and found him cooking tocino while Aaron was getting everything else ready for the day’s first meal.

After cleaning up, we then started to pack our stuff back into our back packs and got ready to descend the mountain. I was a little sad to leave all this beauty behind.

The other teams were starting to leave while we were reorganizing everything into our packs. We exchanged a few courteous greetings and watched them as they took the trail we used the day before to walk back to the jump off point. Everybody except our team took the grotto trail on the way back. According to Aaron (who has been here countless times), it is faster and easier to descend using the traditional trail.

March 1, 2009, 11 AM – the team was ready to head back home save for the pair (Daryl and Ghalle) who joined us a few hours after reaching the campsite. We stretched, took a few pictures and I led the prayer. At 11:10 AM, we started our way down. Just like Aaron said, it was indeed faster, and easier down this way.

We stopped a while at a hut along the trail and the people who lived there offered us water. We graciously accepted and I drank a glassful. We were still talking about the next trip, but we haven’t really agreed on anything yet.

The old lady of the house was inviting us in for coffee (tempting tempting!), but we opted to decline their generous and most hospitable offer. We said thanks and bid them goodbye and resumed our trek back to civilization.

We reached a stream and Vic reminded me that this was the same hut (next to the stream) where we stopped the day before. I said, “No” but later realized that he was correct. I didn’t recognize the hut from the back side, plus the brooms (made from stems of the coconut leaf) from yesterday weren’t there anymore.

We greeted the lady of the house who was then busy hanging her laundry on the clothes line to dry as we passed and were now back on the trail we took up the mountain.

A few more minutes down the trail, we were greeted by the local who was trying to sell us coconuts yesterday. We stopped to purchase what she had prepared while I was having flash backs from the last climb here in this same province.

They were selling their just-harvested eggplants and bucayo (strips of shredded young coconut meat caramelized in a coat of brown sugar). I bought two (small) bags of the local candy.

A plastic (8oz) cup of young coconut water (with its meat) was sold for PHP5.00. A good deal I must say, considering that it was freshly made plus they added nothing to it – just ice.

I think I had 5 cups (can you blame me? It was delicious!!!) Joms, Aaron and Bokbok filled their Nalgene bottles with the concoction and paid only PHP25.00 per bottle. That was crazy! In manila, you get a coconut for PHP15.00, sometimes PHP30.00 and it comes with the husk and shell. But here, you get nothing but deliciousness, and pay only PHP25.00! Now tell me if that wasn’t insanely cool!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.

Anyway, one of the teams that left hours before us were passing by as we got ready to get back on the trail. We not only gained on them, we passed them. We saved hours and energy taking the other way back. And get this, we stopped and rested at the hut by the trail for a good 15 minutes (estimated)!

An hour after the trek down, we were back at the jump off point; enjoying halo-halo and just getting ready to hit the showers. One would have to pay PHP15.00 to take a bath, but the water was at your disposal. Shower all you want.

It started raining while I was halfway done with my halo-halo. The weather was indeed kind to us – No baking in the sun while we were in the camp site, no rain during the entire stay on the mountain.

The group was a little worried for Daryl though. He walked down the mountain with us to buy supplies and potable water from the jump off point. Now he has to trek back up in this rain to the campsite where Ghalle was waiting for him. If I had extra supplies, I would’ve given it to him to save him the trouble. But the group carried only what was enough so that we were hauling it light. Tsk.

The cubicle I used (to shower) had three big plastic drums of water. It was like saying to me, “shower all you want for 15 pesos!”

Nah. I try to save clean water as much as I can. So I only used what was enough.

The team got ready to leave for the bus terminal. We opted to take a jeep this time and paid only PHP30.00 per person since we were joined by another team on the ride back to Lipa City.

It was still raining when we got there. The driver took us directly to where the buses were parked. Good man.

We chose a bus bound for Buendia and settled in. After paying the fare, I dozed off and later woke up in Magallanes.

Will and Vic had to go ahead while the rest of the team had an early dinner at the same burger restaurant the day before.

After getting our tummies full, we bade each other goodbye and took home memories of another great weekend adventure.

Click here to see the photos.

Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but foot prints.

A mountaineer’ s creed

4 Responses to “Mt. Manabu – February 28 2009”

  1. ne-anne africa Says:

    i guess kayo ang group na nameet namin sa may grotto ng Mt. Manabu..
    are you the one na nagsabi na gusto mo sabihin sa trike driver na may bago na teknolohiya ngayon na ang tawag eh DEODORANT…:)?

  2. Yep, That’s me!🙂

  3. hey d! just dropped by to say… you’ve been tagged!!! bulaga!

    haha natawa ako sa comment sa taas. long lasting lang ang impression mo!

  4. I knerr, right?😀

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