Gain Perspective – Mt. Batulao (811+)

Jumpoff: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault Features: Open trails, rolling slopes, scenic views of Batangas
( http://www.pinoymountaineer.com)

Only two hours away from Manila, this mountain has been drawing crowds from different parts of the country due to its scenic landscape, open trails and steep slopes.

image

Bato Sa Ilao
It is said that there are times when the sun will be seen peeking from in between the rock summits of the mountain. Thus, bato sa Ilao, and as generations passed, came the word Batulao.

image

As part of our Nasugbu twin day hike, Mt. Batulao was our second summit that day. We started the trek after taking our lunch at the Km. 83 registration area of Mt. Talamitam. We headed to the Evercrest Golf Course (15min jeepney ride from Brgy. Sampaloc) where a tricycle took us to the jump off point to secure permits and log in at the tourism office.

image

image

Into the Ups and Downs of Batulao

image

Even at the start of the trail, the twin peaks are still visible. You will be passing into cogon grasslands and narrow trails with steep slopes. The trek can be exhausting since no cover from trees are available, but the open trails together with the cool breeze from the highlands of Tagaytay will surely give you a boost. The new trail and its 10 camps will give you a remarkable scenic view of the surrounding areas of Batangas and its mountain ranges. There are huts along the trail that sells fresh buko juice and halo-halo. The ascent equals the descent, and is quite a challenge.

image

image

Right in the Moment
After passing several camps, the trek from camp 8 to 10 is the deal breaker. Narrow trails and ravines from both sides are present and safety will always be the priority. The Dinosaur spine is also the highlight of the trek, wherein the daunting trail is narrower and steeper, one wrong move and game over.

image

Finally, after an hour and thirty minutes, we reached camp 10, or the highest point in the mountain at 811 meters.

image

image

The uphills and downhills of the trail really teaches you something about life, no matter how fear inducing it can be, just keep on keeping on and once you look back, you couldn’t be anymore proud of yourself.

image

image

Itinerary & Expenses
Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Batulao
Twin Day Hike

0500 Take bus to Nasugbu via Cavitex at Buendia Station (150php/pax)
0700 – ETA Brgy. Aga, get off at KM. 83, then register (Fee: 20php/Guide: 300php/group of 5)
0715 – Start of first climb
0915 – Arrival at summit. Rest.
1015 – Start descent
1100 – Sidetrip at Layong Bilog
1145 – Back at trailhead. Eat Lunch.
1245 – Tidy up, secure guide, then take jeep to Evercrest (Guide fee: 400php/per group)
1300 – ETA Evercrest, take tricycle to jump-off (70php/pax)
1315 – Arrival at Tourism Office, register, no fees to be collected
1330 – Start of second climb to Mt. Batulao
1500 – Arrival at summit, take pictures, rest
1630 – Back at jumpoff. Tidy up (Bath: 25php/pail)
1645 – take outbound trike to Evercrest
1700 – Take bus back to Manila
2000 – ETA Manila

Estimated Budget:

Transportation: 447.50php
Guides and Fees: 700php/4pax + 20php – 195php
Food: 150php
Total Damage: 812.50php, 1000php safe budget.

Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.” – Irving Wallace

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Advertisements

Another Atmosphere- Mt. Talamitam (630+)

Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off point: Sitio Bayabasan, Brgy. Aga, Nasugbu (KM. 83)
LLA: 14.1158° N; 120.7577° N; 630 MASL
Days required/ Hours to summit: 1 day / 1.5-2.2 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3 with steep assault (100m)
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

With our bags packed, we planned a Nasugbu twin day hike and the first to cross from the two is Mt. Batulao’s younger sibling, Mt. Talamitam. We reached Brgy. Aga by 6:30am where we are greeted by friendly locals. Upon securing our guide and permit, and finishing a bowl of Goto Batangas, we started the trek.

Rolling Hills
The first part of the trail started by passing through the Aga River, then into forest teeming with towering coconut trees and lush vegetations. After several minutes you will be greeted by the second part of the trail which is a grassland extending up to the summit.

image
The summit from the grass filled plateau.

Where Are The Talamitams?
It was said that long ago, this mountain was covered by Talamitam trees, to which it was named after. But today it is nothing but a long stretch of open grassland, with some parts cultivated to grow crops. Cows grazing the fields are present. It is still early in the morning but the trek is starting to be exhausting due to the stifling heat and lack of tree cover.

image
Mt. Batulao from afar.

Another Story
Never underestimate any mountain at all costs. Since we are fairly new into climbing mountains, Talamitam was another story. It was hot indeed and upon the 100 meter assault to the summit, sweltering heat is really omnipresent. The ascend to the top is mostly gradual. But that is only until you reach the final assault. With slopes up to sixty degrees, it is the most challenging part of the climb.

image
Cogon grasslands.

After an hour, summit!.
image
image

Reaching a new summit and standing on top of it is really a humbling experience.

image
Through high altitude gusts, it keeps us grounded.

Into the Cool Waters of Layong Bilog

image
The Cascades

The descent from the summit took a good 45mins from our time, and we did a sidetrip into the cascades of Aga River, commonly called by the locals as the Layong Bato/Layong Bilog. We scrambled at some rocks at the side of the river to reach the pool.

image

After a quick dip, we had our lunch at the registration area near the highway and prepared for the second summit that day, Mt. Batulao.

image
Up in the air

Itinerary & Expenses
Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Batulao
Twin Day Hike

0500 Take bus to Nasugbu via Cavitex at Buendia Station (150php/pax)
0700 – ETA Brgy. Aga, get off at KM. 83, then register (Fee: 20php/Guide: 300php/group of 5)
0715 – Start of first climb
0915 – Arrival at summit. Rest.
1015 – Start descent
1100 – Sidetrip at Layong Bilog
1145 – Back at trailhead. Eat Lunch.
1245 – Tidy up, secure guide, then take jeep to Evercrest (Guide fee: 400php/per group)
1300 – ETA Evercrest, take tricycle to jump-off (70php/pax)
1315 – Arrival at Tourism Office, register, no fees to be collected
1330 – Start of second climb to Mt. Batulao
1500 – Arrival at summit, take pictures, rest
1630 – Back at jumpoff. Tidy up (Bath: 25php/pail)
1645 – take outbound trike to Evercrest
1700 – Take bus back to Manila
2000 – ETA Manila

Estimated Budget:

Transportation: 447.50php
Guides and Fees: 700php/4pax + 20php – 195php
Food: 150php
Total Damage: 812.50php, 1000php safe budget.

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Inside the Guerilla’s Hideout – Bayukbok Cave, San Miguel, Bulacan

Back in the days of the revolutionary era, Bayukbok Cave was said to be one of the hideouts of Filipino Guerillas, taking shelter inside the dark and narrow chambers of the cave. Located inside the Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel Bulacan, the cave is composed of 8 interconnected chambers wherein you have to squeeze yourself in, to pass through each one of it.

image

image

image

From hiking the foot of a hill, rappeling into narrow openings, climbing boulders, squeezing yourself into ravines, crawling on tight spaces. Bayukbok has it all, making your experience a one of a kind.

image

image

You will be rewarded with a great satisfaction upon seeing stalactites and stalagmites protruding from the cave, some of different shapes and sizes, while some of different sounds.

image

image

image

image

The cave can be finished in an hour and thirty minutes depending on your pace since the trail is established.

image

Itinerary and Expenses
Mt. Manalmon + Bayukbok Cave
Dayhike

0600 – ETD Baliwag Transit, take Cabanatuan-bound bus (115php/pax)
0745 – ETA Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel, take tricycle to jump-off (80php/pax)
0815 – Arrive at jump-off, register and secure guide ( Reg. Fee: 5php/pax, Guide Fee: 300php/Manalmon + 300php/Bayukbok) 205php/pax (group of 3pax)
0900 – Start trek
1030 – ETA summit of Mt. Manalmon, take pictures
1100 – Start descent
1130 – Rest at Madlum River
1230 – ETA Jump-off
1330 – Explore Bayukbok Caves
1530 – Back at the Jump-off, Tidy up (Bathroom: 15php/pax)
1620 – Take tricycle back to the highway (80php/pax)
1700 – ETA Highway
1715 – Take bus back to Manila (115php/pax)

Estimated Budget
Transportation: 390php/pax
Guides and Fees: 205php/pax + 15php/pax (Bath Fee)
Food: 200php

Total Damage: 810php – 1000php safe budget

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Leave No Trace – Mt. Daraitan (739+)

Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon
Major jumpoff: Brgy. Daraitan (village centre), Tanay
Minor jumpoff: Sitio Cablao Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar
LLA: 14°36′48.5′′N 121°26′19.5′′ E, 739 MASL (+600)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2.5-4 hours 
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Tropical forest, limestone formations, river trek
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

Located at the heart of the relatively unexplored Sierra Madre mountain range in between Tanay, Rizal and Dolores, Quezon. Mt. Daraitan has a difficulty of 4/9 and a moderately steep climb that is enough to keep your heart pumping. After two hours of travel from manila and another two hours into the rough roads of Tanay, a quaint municipality will welcome you. Secure a guide and permits from the barangay hall.

Nature’s Rendezvous
Ancestors from ages ago called this Daraitan which when translated to the local tongue means rendezvous point, “kitaan” or “tagpuan”, since aborigines who inhabited this part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range often used this as their meet up points for different purposes which we don’t know. A rendezvous point of people and also of nature where mountains, river and caves meet.
image

image
Don't you think its time we also grow up.

The trail is relatively covered by dense foliage of floras and will keep you from the heat of the sun and thus a really cool hike up.

image

image

image

After an hour and a half, finally summit!. Limestone viewpoints are one of the attractions of Daraitan and a view of the meandering Tinipak River snaking around several hills.

image

image

image

image

Do not be deceived by trees around this limestone formations, one wrong move and you’ll be plummeting straight down.

image

image

image

From Cataclysm to Life
And after the summit, the group head straight down to Tinipak River, traverse took two hours to reach the river. Tinipak means crumbled, fragmented, etc. It might have been due to an eartquake that led into a rockslide, the cataclysm then brought this white limestones from the cliffs into the river.

image

image

image

This is the cleanest inland body of water in the region, caving and camping are the activities that can be done here aside from swimming around the lunaresque river.

image

image

image

Itinerary & Expenses
Mt. Daraitan Traverse to Tinipak River 
Dayhike

0430 – Take UV Express FX from EDSA-Shaw to Tanay, Rizal (75php/pax)
0645 – ETA Public Market Tanay, Rizal (150php/pax + 30php for bridge crossing)
0700 – Breakfast
0830 – ETA Barangay Hall, Brgy. Daraitan, Tanay. Register and secure guide (Registration Fee: 20php, Guide Fee: 600php/group)
0845 – Start trek up Mt. Daraitan
1130 – ETA summit then take pictures at viewpoints / Lunch
1300 – Descent to Tinipak River
1500 – ETA Tinipak River, swim, rest
1630 – Proceed to Brgy. Daritan via riverside trail 
1800 – ETD to Tanay, Rizal, Take a jeep (100php/pax)
1900 – ETA Tanay, Rizal, take FX to Edsa (75php/pax)
2015 – ETA Manila

Estimated Budget:
Transportation: 415php/pax
Guides and Fees: 20php (Reg. Fee) + 120php/pax (guide fee)
Food: 250php

Total Damage: 805php – 1000php safe budget

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Harvest Colors – Pahiyas Festival, Lucban, Quezon

Lucban, a town at the foot of the mystical Mt.  Banahaw, thrives on agriculture and celebrates the harvest annually in honor of their patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. Each and every home transforms into a spectacle of colors, houses adorned with kiping lanterns, fruits and vegetables creatively put together, and even moving objects depicting ages old of harvest traditions.
image

image

The annual celebration kicks off at six o’clock in the morning wherein a mass is first held at the Lucban Cathedral, and followed by the blessing of each house.

image

image

It is then followed by different programs across the town, a float parade followed by models with dresses embelished in artfully put together crops.

image

image

image

Over 800 houses participated in this annual event. People from all over the country flock in here to witness the festivities.

image

image

image

image

And one must not miss the town’s specialty: Lucban Longganisa and Pancit Habhab.

image

image

image

Viva!, San Isidro!.
image

image

Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

High Atop The Rockies – Mt. Maculot (703+)

Cuenca, Batangas
Major Jumpoff: Mountaineer’s Store, Brgy. 7 “Siete”, Cuenca
Exit point (traverse): Brgy 5 (to Grotto), Cuenca
LLA: 13°55 N; 121°2 E; 706 MASL (Rockies) / 930 MASL (summit)
Days required / Hours to Rockies / summit : 1 day / 1-2 hr / 2-4 hr
Specs: Minor, Difficulty 3/9 (Rockies); 4/9 (Traverse) Trail class 1-3.
Features: Scenic views of Taal Lake, rock formations, forests
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

This mountain has been included in the 10 most wanted mountains in the country for its scenic view of the Taal Lake from the rockies up to its summit. Standing at 703+MASL (3/9) for the rockies, and 930+MASL (4/9) at the summit, it is an easy hike for beginners. At average pacing one can reach the rockies in 1.5hrs and 2hrs for the summit.

image

image

image

It came from the word Macolod/ Makulog, as locals call it ages ago. Trails are established and one will not find it hard since the ascent is gradual and not gruelling.

image

image

image

Upon reaching the camping grounds, the Rockies are at par and is only 20mins from the site. A gradual descent then ascent is required to reach the famous Rockies of Maculot.

image

image

image

And a little more effort will reward you with a breathtaking view of the Taal Lake.

image

image

image

image

On the other side of the Rockies is the Labangan Bay with its small protruding land masses.

image

image

image

image
You conquer yourself, your hopes, your fears.

Itinerary & Expenses
Mt. Maculot Rockies Day Hike

0600 – Take Lemery, Batangas bound bus from Buendia (140php/pax)
0615 – ETD Manila
0900 – ETA Cuenca Poblacion – Highway
Take tricycle to jump off (20php/pax)
Register (20php/pax)
Secure Guide (500php/group and 167php/pax)
0930 – Start trek
1115 – Arrive at campsite, head to Rockies
1130 – ETA Rockies, take pictures
1200 – ETA Campsite
1230 – Start descent
1345 – ETA Jump-off; tidy up (Bath: 20php)
1415 – Tricycle to Highway (20php/pax)
1430 – Lunch
1500 – Catch bus back to Manila (140php/pax)
1900 – ETA Manila

Estimated Budget:
Transportation: 320php/pax
Guides and Fees: 207php/pax
Food: 200php/pax

Total Damage: 727php – 900php safe budget for a group of 3pax.

If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Of Cathedrals and Phytons – Bathala Caves, Marinduque

One of the town of Sta. Cruz’s biggest draw, Bathala Cave Systems is made up of 7 explored caves with only 4 accessible ones during the time of our visit. It is teeming with life that upon entering the Church Cave, the smell of guano will fill your senses, and as you go deeper into this large cavern, only the sound of the bats will be heard, drowning any silence the cave has. image image image It is said that this cave served a greater purpose during the early times, this cave which can house hundreds of people at once, was home for the worship of extremist and religious sects who believed that the elements of the cave will keep them from utmost harm.
image

image image image The Phyton Cave on the other hand, is home to monitor lizards, roaches, bats and several rock phytons, there were three of them on our visit, one of which is sleeping in a small crevice. image image image Upon going back to the jump off point, you will be greeted with lush vegetation, a giant cross overlooking Calancan Bay. image image Other caves has underwater pools, secret passages, and some are yet to be explored.

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop

Go, Carve that Niche, Rex

The Adventure Begins – Mt. Manalmon (196+)

San Miguel, Bulacan
Major jump-off: Sitio Madlum, Brgy. Sibul, San Miguel
LLA: 15°15.11’N; 121°1.22′ E; 196 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: Half-day / 1 hour
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-2
(www.pinoymountaineer.com)

Two hours away from Manila, Mt. Manalmon partnered with its neighboring peak, Mt. Gola  is a fairly easy hike for beginners. From the word Manlalamon, this part of the Biak-na-Bato National Park still exudes the mystery it has been continually known up to these days.

The Humble Abode of the Manlalamon
The mountain’s name came from the word “Manlalamon” (devourer) because of a legend that tells of a mountain nymph who got mad at a man for trying to hunt her while she’s in the form of an animal, that she punished the man by trapping him in a rock . To appease her anger, the latter told the wife to offer her gallons of nectar. But the wife failed to collect all the nectar and hence filled the last bottle with water. The nymph, upon knowing the deed, was distraught and punished the man even more by letting him be devoured by the rocks, and hence, Manlalamon.

Adventure Awaits
You will be welcomed with a hanging bridge and the Madlum River upon reaching the jump off point.

image

image

The hike will take you inside the smaller Madlum Cave and the surrounding rocky formations along the trail.

image

image

image

After 40 minutes of hike under the scorching heat of the sun, welcome to Mt. Manalmon’s peak and have a glimpse of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

image

image

image

Appeasing Madlum River
Then take a dip and jump into the waters of the Madlum River. It is said that yearly, this river takes the lives of some of its unfortunate visitors. Recent events that transpired in this river is of students from a state college of Bulacan having their field trip, when suddenly, a flash flood occured, and the story went on.

image

image

image

Itinerary & Expenses
Mt. Manalmon + Bayukbok Cave
Dayhike

0600 – ETD Baliwag Transit, take Cabanatuan-bound bus (115php/pax)
0745 – ETA Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel, take tricycle to jump-off (80php/pax)
0815 – Arrive at jump-off, register and secure guide ( Reg. Fee: 5php/pax, Guide Fee: 300php/Manalmon + 300php/Bayukbok) 205php/pax (group of 3pax)
0900 – Start trek
1030 – ETA summit of Mt. Manalmon, take pictures
1100 – Start descent
1130 – Rest at Madlum River
1230 – ETA Jump-off
1330 – Explore Bayukbok Caves
1530 – Back at the Jump-off, Tidy up (Bathroom: 15php/pax)
1620 – Take tricycle back to the highway (80php/pax)
1700 – ETA Highway
1715 – Take bus back to Manila (115php/pax)

Estimated Budget
Transportation: 390php/pax
Guides and Fees: 205php/pax + 15php/pax (Bath Fee)
Food: 200php

Total Damage:810php – 1000php safe budget

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex

Home of the Moriones Festival – Marinduque

The geographical center of the country, since the Luzon datum line originally started here. Marinduque and its scenic mountains and calm coastlines are a feat one must discover on a trip to the home of the Morions. Upon reaching Balanacan Port, the statue of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage will welcome you into her peaceful waters.

image

The sleepy town of Boac, Marinduque’s capital will take you back into time with ancestral houses still being used as homes. This is also where the annual Moriones Festival during Holy Week is observed. This is also one of the very few provinces in the country with the lowest crime rate to date.

image

image

image

image

Atop a hill in the Municipality of Boac, is the century old Boac Cathedral.

image

image

image

An hour away from Boac, is the Municipality of Sta. Cruz and its fair share of its century old Cathedral.

image

image

The Municipality of Torrijos also an hour away from Sta. Cruz is famous for the white sands of Poctoy Beach and the highest peak in the province, Mt. Malindig.

image

image

image

And experience Marinduque’s sunset.

image

image

 “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

Go, Carve that Niche,

Rex