Monthly Archives: September 2010

September pic(k) of the month


Dear Ina of Penafrancia:

In Naga City, September is always your month of celebration. In solidarity with my fellow Bicolanos and your devotees, we celebrated our 300 years of devotion to your guidance and healing power this year.

As millions troop to your home in the Basilica, the city comes alive and pulses with the fiesta spirit.



A mountaineer’s verse


I tread the soil of the earth,
And sway with the trees.

I smile at the bright sun,
And watch the rolling clouds.

I savor the moonlit night,
And lie under a blanket of stars.

I whisper with the cold wind,
And welcome the dance of raindrops.

I am one with all the elements.

I am a mountaineer.

Tapulao’s rocky trail and pine trees


Rising to 2,037 MASL, Mt. Tapulao’s cardiac trail, albeit wide, straightforward and clear, is covered with rocks over a 16-km steep path. The cool temperature, especially at night, affirms its being dubbed as the poor man’s Pulag.

Boring at first with the seemingly endless long and winding road to the campsite, Tapulao’s bareness transforms with the beauty of pine trees and low-lying clouds greeting mountaineers at the last quarter of the climb. The absence of Mr. Sun was welcomed as the trail has no cover. Intermittent rainshowers made the eleven-hour trek bearable and actually fun.

The trek to the summit is even better upon entering the so-called forest line. The view is your typical mossy forest with damp paths, overhanging branches and interesting flora dotting the trail. Blessed with a clearing, the view of neighboring Zambales mountains is clear at the summit.

Mt. Tapulao is located at Palauig in Zambales. Registration is required at the jump-off point in Barangay Dampay. If traveling via private vehicle, parking is available near the center. To get here by public transportation, take an Iba-bound Victory Liner bus from their Cubao or Pasay terminal. Tricycles can be arranged for Php150.00 per person to take you from the highway to the jump-off point (based on a conversation with a local at the welcome center).

Another major climb with a difficulty rating of 6/9, here’s our group’s actual schedule.

continue wandering here…

Traversing the enchanted mountain


For one, I was not confident my right knee will be able to hold up. Number two, I am not a fan of spirits and bloodsuckers, both of which fairly occupy the mountain. With a big bag of salt and my ever go-go mood when it comes to trips, my eight friends and I set forth to conquer Maria Makiling on the first day of August.

The summit at Peak 2 is 1,090 meters above mean sea level. Since we did the main UPLB trail the previous year, this time we took the more scenic and challenging Sto. Tomas trail. The trail begins at San Bartolome in Sto. Tomas, Batangas and ends at the friendlier UP College of Forestry area in Los Baños, Laguna.

My first major climb for the year, I suited up and prepared to say hello to not just the limatiks, but also to the expected half day climb and to lots of bending, going over and roping through trails.

The MakTrav starts on wide rural or farm roads that eventually become a maze of cogon grasslands. The exciting portion commences at the roped segments of Melkas Ridge and culminates at the deep forest of the Wild Boar Trail. From the summit, descending becomes easy albeit hard on the knees as the toll of the Wild Boar Trail rubs on you.

continue wandering here…