Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mt. Pinatubo via Sapang Uwak | The Long Way Up

Because reaching the crater of Mt. Pinatubo via the famous Capas trail is too mainstream, we decided to take the much longer, and more physically demanding route (via Sapang Uwak Trail). Para maiba lang. Who would have thought, this unpopular trail offers not only a brand new experience of Mt. Pinatubo, but also a total different perspective of the crater lake. Up to this date, that view of the Pinatubo lake from the crater rim is one of the best sceneries I ever witnessed in my life. Totoo yan, peks man! 

Being a common site for many trail running events, Sapang Uwak trail is actually more popular to trail runners than regular hikers. Its 28-km trail length has long been a challenge to all sorts of adventurers. Usually, hikers would give it one day up to Patag Campsite, spend a night there, continue to the crater the following day and descend the mountain that same day. Giving it a total of 2 days of an adventure.

But not so very long ago, I participated in an event arranged by Sabit-Sabit mountaineers, which aims to hike Mt. Pinatubo via Sapang-uwak trail in just one day. I know, that 50+ kilometer (balikan) in a day sounds a bit absurd, but the fact that a few groups have already done it in the past encourages me to bite this crazy idea. Bahala na si batman.


Sunday - April 6, 2014 

A van full of adventurous souls left Manila at around 12 midnight. The catch is, if we want to finish early, we must as well start very early. Organizers of the hike have made the necessary arrangements with the Sapang Uwak Tourism prior to our hike so getting to the jump-off point went pretty smoothly. Meron kasing check point en route to Sapang Uwak Village. No permit would mean illegal entry, thus bawal tumuloy.

It was 3 in the morning when we arrived at Sapang Uwak Village, and right away we began hiking. Accompanying us were 2 aeta guides from the village. By the way, Sapang Uwak is an aeta village. 

The trail was rather friendly during the first few hours of our hike. It was a long open dirt road with a seemingly never ending series of uphills and downhills. The sun hasn't pierced the dark sky just yet so I was kind of clueless how the environment looked like on the early parts of the trail.

Two hours into trekking, the sun finally showed up, revealing the distinct contour of Mt. Arayat.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pawikan Conservation Center | Free, turtles, free!

To live in a tropical country like the Philippines, especially during the season of summer, is like spending every hour of the day inside an oven. Super hot! And for this very reason, many wishes bum in a beach just to ease that feeling of heat. Luckily, with a coastline of more than 22 thousand miles, the Philippines is just so blessed with plenty and different kinds of beaches (white sand, black sand, grey sand, pebbles, name it, we have it!).

Oddly, Dawn and I visited a beach in Morong, Bataan last March not for the same reason others go to beach. The deal here are the turtles! Yes, we went to the beach just to see turtles.


Day 1 - March 1, 2014

Just so you know, a total of 7 species of marine turtles swim across oceans in different parts of the world. And from these seven species, five are found in the Philippines. Ang cool di ba? The 5 species that swim in this beautiful country are the Green Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Olive Ridley, the Loggerhead, and lastly and the biggest of them all, the Leatherback Turtle. Interestingly, the shores of Bataan, particularly along the coastal towns of Bagac and Morong, is a nesting hotspot for 3 of these 5 turtle species.

The itch to see these gentle creatures gave Dawn and I an idea to spend a weekend in Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan. By the way, to those who aren't familiar, Pawikan Conservation Center is a local initiative whose aim is to conserve and protect the marine turtles or pawikan who found their way to the shores of Bataan. Turtle eggs laid in the area are also under their protection.

Getting into the conservation ceneter is actually easier than I thought. From Manila, we took a bus to Balanga City. We asked the conductor to drop us anywhere we can take a ride to Morong town. When we arrived at the central terminal of Balanga City, he directed us to the lined up mini bus with "Morong" signboard. What followed was a 1-hour ride on the winding but scenic road to Morong Town. It was almost lunch time when we got in town so we ate first in a karinderya before finally taking a tricycle up to our destination in Brgy. Nagbalayong.

All in all, it took us roughly 6 hours to reach Pawikan Conservation Center from Manila via Balanga route. Sensya na sa tabingi na piktyur, marami ako hawak eh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Silanguin Cove | The Prize After A Hike

There's a prize at the end of the trail. There is Silanguin Cove at the end of Cinco Picos. Read the story of our Cinco Picos hike in this link: Mt. Cinco Picos.


Day 1 - February 8, 2014

Tired and drained from our hike, we quickly dropped our bags and lie down under a tree upon reaching the grey sand of Silanguin cove. At that moment, we wanted nothing but the comfort of a shaded area, and an ice cold drink, and an aircon room, and a halo-halo, and many more. Lahat na ng bagay na makakapagpa-refresh sa amin ay hindi ko talaga palalampasin.

But it was a secluded beach after all. So no ice cold drinks, no aircon room, and no halo-halo... there's just us, beach trees, and a kubo right there.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mt. Cinco Picos | From Mountain to Sea

Mountain and sea always make a perfect combination. I've done many hikes in the past, but those that go together with a beach destination, whether an island paradise or a crystalline cove, more often than not, are the most rewarding. A perfect example of this and probably the first to come in mind when talking about mountain-sea combo trip are the mountains of Zambales, particularly the ones located in the coastal towns of San Antonio and Subic.

A traverse hike of Mt. Cinco Picos (or literally, Five Peaks), in combination with the secluded Silanguin Cove at the end of its trail is among those popular Zambales mountain-sea destination. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mt. Maculot | Changes and Updates 2015

It's been a while since I last hiked this "infamous" mountain, it was December of 2013. Back then, guides weren't mandatory, and yeah, the summit was not bald as it is right now. So much has changed in past 1 year and 11 months.


Sunday - November 15, 2015

I've managed to hike Mt. Maculot several times before, from doing the easy day hike to Rockies to doing a traverse from Grotto. Check out my blogs in the following links:
Mt. Maculot Traverse: Grotto to Summit to Rockies 1.
Mt. Maculot Traverse: Grotto to Summit to Rockies 2.
Mt. Maculot Rockies via Old Trail
Mt. Maculot Rockies via New Trail.

But now that I'm back after almost 2 years not hiking Mt. Maculot, I've noticed changes in the mountain.


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