I end the year with hope. I end the year without a plan. I end the year clinging to life as I know it now.
“Life is without meaning. You bring meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”
~ Joseph Campbell
“Live as though it were your last day on Earth. Someday you will be right.”
~ Robert Anthony
Thank you for everything – the good and especially the bad. Thank you to all who have become and will become part of my wanderings.
View from Mt. Natib
Yes. Leeches. Limatiks. They have declared war on us. As if I have not had my fill and fair share of the infamous mountain bloodsuckers of Makiling, I found myself saying yes to another climb involving such a major-major concern. This climb is popular not only for its leeches, moreso for the fact that it has been declared closed (then open, then closed, then open) by the military for insurgency-related attacks by our leftist brothers and sisters.
At 1,287+ MASL, I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday and to report that I have summitted another mountain in one piece. Of course I left out the part about the insanely aggressive limatiks and the NPAs (lest I want to cap and prematurely end my budding and flourishing hobby). I also left out the portion describing the one-and-a-half hour cardiac assault to the summit, the almost 90-degree rocky roped segments and the steep and slippery forested trails.
No, I knew better than to bother her with such trifling details. :D
Mt. Natib is currently open. Prior arrangements with the barangay are however encouraged to ensure that your group has the military’s permission to proceed with the climb. Manageable for beginners, the trail to the foot of the mountain is established. It begins with a wide sloping dirt road near a farm for fighting cocks. It then transforms to grass-covered paths that take you through Pinagbutasan (literally an opening in the mountain made by an energy company for their geothermal equipment to get through) and a lunch area called “bahay kubo” (where a water source is available). Afterwards, the paths narrow to the usual single-file trail, most portions of which are lined with tall cogon grass. The foot of the mountain is reached after about three or four hours. At the final stretch, our group’s mountain guides managed the paths and installed ropes at three different segments. The trail to the summit were mostly (if not, all the way) punishing assaults through a heavily covered and cool forest. At the summit, if blessed with a clearing, there are good views of Bataan and her neighboring mountains.
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No wonder mountaineers keep coming back to climb her.
For one, Mt. Batulao looks very pretty and cotton candy-like with her white-capped peaks. From afar, the grass-covered peaks provide a stunning view of the mountain’s slopes. Tall cogon grass and its seedheads sway to the tune of the wind. Mt. Batulao is a personal favorite because of the simplicity of its beauty.
Secondly, the established paths are by no way indicative of an easy climb. The trails are initially rough roads with houses and small village stores to your left and right. But after the last nipa house called “mini-stop” (that also marks the fork of the old and new trails), the clear paths take you up and down endlessly through gentle slopes and otherwise, through wide covered areas and narrow rocky paths. The final ascent to the highest peak is a highlight in itself as it involves a short rock or wall climb.
At 811+ MASL, Mt. Batulao’s summit, albeit small, offers a visual feast of Batangas’ landscapes and seascapes. Interestingly, enterprising locals will follow you to the summit armed with loads of Mountain Dew.
To fully appreciate Batulao, traverse the old trail going to the highest peak and the new trail on the way back. Mountaineers will have to ridiculously “register” and pay twice on both sides though. There are two registration centers and mountaineers pay Php 20.00 at each stop. There are no restrictions in climbing Batulao. It can be done any time of the year. Prepare for dense cogon growth, exposed trails and absence of tree cover. After your climb, across the entrance of Evercrest Golf Club Resort, locals offer areas for a quick wash-up.
continue wandering here…