a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First Sunburn for the Rainy Season – The Pinagbanderahan Peak Experience

Though summer had officially ended weeks ago, this did not stop me from getting a smooching  kiss from the sun.

Now my skin is all toasty and a bit itchy. Most of my limbs are aching from my weekend getaway of hiking and swimming with my other mountaineer friends, plus Tom, Milmar’s friend who is now getting acquainted to the amusing world of the great outdoors.

On a very humid Saturday afternoon, our group of six convened at the Lucena Grand Terminal. From there, we rode an ordinary AB Liner bus bound for Ginangan-Calauag which took us to the main highway going to the Quezon National Park. The windy hot ride lasted for less than 45 minutes and while on the way, I was able to have a little chat with a local shrimp vendor who was coming home from a morning of selling shrimps.

We trekked for about 15 minutes down the cemented highway before we decided to stop and just hitch a ride from total strangers. The main jump-off to Pinagbanderahan peak is about two hours away on foot and only a couple of minutes via private transportation. I think there’s also a public transportation which will take you directly to the main reception.

Me and Rhovee were able to get a ride from this nice couple while the guys, waited for another vehicle to transport them.

A few minutes later, the rest of the group reunited and we registered at the reception area of the Atimonan Tourist Information Center.There isn’t any fee to pay. We just signed our names on a logbook.

We decided to trek the following morning and just relax for the rest of the day. We set our camps on the concrete floors at the second floor of the Tourist center.


There’s a cafeteria downstairs and that’s where we spent a great deal of time eating and listening to the members of our group who can sing. I didn’t get to sing with the mic. Thank God for friends who can carry a tune so I just needed to listen.

After dinner, the guys did their male bonding while me and Rhovee did our girl talk inside the comforts of Milmar’s tent while sitting on top of Tom’s soft, fluffy sleeping bag.

I brought a tent but it was too rough for our ultra feminine, skinny bodies (bwahaha) so I connived with Rhovee to switch tents with Milmar. I figured he’d probably be either too sleepy or too drunk when he comes back from the male bonding session so he probably won’t notice that we were inside his tent. Hehehe!

With our evil plan in place, we proceeded with our bonding session then several minutes later, JZ came upstairs and joined us. About an hour later, the rest of the guys came back with Milmar and Tom who just scratched their heads when they noticed us lying comfortably inside their well-made up tent.

Can’t say I slept peacefully as I heard vehicles whizzing around the highway even at midnight. We woke up at about 5:00AM with JZ cursing from his tent. There was a group that had just arrived in the park and were quite rowdy. In a way, it served as our wake up call to prepare for our light trek.


Breakfast was almost uneventful had it not been for the poor little insect that dived straight into JZ’s “lugaw”. It was quite unbelievable that there six of us and that insect chose JZ’s soup. Hehehe! He’s a pretty lucky guy. With all his misadventures, I can actually create an entire blog post and have succeeding chapters to be uploaded on a monthly basis. (Peace kapatid..belated Happy Birthday!)

After fixing our stuffs, we set off for Pinagbanderahan peak which was an hour or less from the Atimonan Tourist Information Center.

Trail here is 95% cemented and is a great hiking trail. Though a bit slippery, some parts have handle bars to support you. The foliage is amazingly rich and along the way, you will marvel at the different species of trees around you.


It’s really quite an easy trail – cool and not a lot of steep parts. It’s quite perfect for contemplating.

In 45 minutes, with only minimal stops for taking pictures, we finally reach the Pinagbanderahan Peak which is located 477 MASL.

I was amazed at the 360 degree view of the world below me. From here you can see Pagbilao and Lopez bay, as well as the municipalities of Atimonan, Pagbilao, Padre Burgos and Lucena. I learned from a website that the Pinagbanderahan Peak used to be an outpost during the Japanese invasion. Thus it’s an even more interesting destination for people who are into history.

We went down after 30 minutes of chatting taking pictures. On our way down, we passed by the Cueva Santa for a little caving. This was where Manny’s friend got married. Hehe, now that’s an idea. The cave is pretty small and you can pass it in less than 10 minutes or more, depending on the number of people who went ahead of you. It was a bit challenging though because we had to cling to the boulders from a ten feet crevice to get through to the other side.


We got back to the information center in about 30 minutes. After breaking camp, we hitched a ride from a buko vendor. It was quite fun riding at the back of his small truck. We went down a series of zigzags and saw some great views along the way.

Adventure #2 – Swimming in Kwebang Lampas

We decided to hit the beach after our hike. We rode another bus from Atimonan, then got down at a junction going to Ibabang Polo. Then hired a 350 peso trike ride going to the main jump-off. Whew!

Kwebang Lampas is a pristine cove in Pagbilao with a beach located inside a private property owned by the Lukangs. To get here, one must either trek for 30-45 minutes from the Lukang property or rent a boat that can originate from several jump-offs. Of course, our group decided to trek again.

We spent several hours relaxing on the sand, mingling with each other and JZ’s teammates who incidentally were having their team building there. Me and Rhovee swam at the left and right side of the cove. It felt great. I haven’t swam in a while and I missed it.


Though this place has no fresh water – just restrooms and huts for rent, it’s a favorite destination for non-squimish nature lovers because of the serenity of this island.
We boarded a bus back to Lucena at around 6:30PM and spent some time over at Manny’s place.

We took the 2am bus back to Manila and two hours after we arrived in Pasay, I had to report to work. Tiring, but worth it.

By the way, here’s some travel information to share:

How to Get to Pinagbanderahan Peak Via Private Transpo

Notes:
You can take a bath at the reception area of the Atimonan tourist Info. Center
If you’re not bringing private transportation to Kwebang Lampas, be mindful of the last trip going back to Grand Terminal. I think it’s around 3PM (just recheck with the locals).

If you’re bringing private transpo – in both Pinagbanderahan and Kwebang Lampas, there’s a pretty safe area where you can leave your car. In Pinagbanderahan, you can leave it near the reception. In kwebang Lampas, you can leave in inside the property of the Lukangs (you need to pa a parking fee).

Overnight is not allowed within the beach property of the Lukangs. The property is the subject of a land dispute between the Lukangs and a government official so to protect the safety of its visitors, the caretakers do not allow overnight stays.

In Kwebang Lampas, you can take a fresh water bath from the main-jump-off. Just coordinate with the caretakers of the Lukangs before you set off for Kwebang Lampas so they can order it for you in advance since they don't have regular water supply.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back from Batanes

Just got home this afternoon from my very brief but adventure-filled stay in Beautiful Batanes. I'm still catching up on another blog post so I'll probably write about in the next few days or so. Hehehe! Can't resist telling you about it though.

Me and a friend stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights and during that short stay, we were able to tour a bit of Batan and Sabtang island. These are two of the three major islands of Batanes. We missed Itbayat which is 4 hours away from Batan by a hellish boat ride (according to a local I spoke with), so a return trip is in order. Hehehe!

Basco, the capital of Batanes located in Batan island is quite different from what I've read due to the developments in the area. There's cellphone signal, several computer shops and 24 hours electricity, which is actually for the good of people living there. What's particularly charming about it are the landscape and the people. Here, you won't see huge signboards or stone markers boasting projects of a certain local governmanet official or so (saw several national government billboards though) . We were told that everyone here is equal. That no one is above anyone else. Everyone just treats you as you are which is quite a change from the city that we are used to and I think it's something that we can learn from them. We even met some big shots vacationing in Batanes - a business magnate and a guy from a prominent political clan but they acted just like everybody else which was quite refreshing. I'm just fed up with people acting as if they're the most important thing. Those people should go to Batanes and have themselves trained in morals and good conduct. I fell inlove with Batanes and now, I'm wondering if something else can top this experience. But then, it's only June. I still have 6 other months to go.

We came to Batanes with no bookings for any hostels. Our budget was also very limited. For two days, we slept inside the homes of local people who are so accomodating and trusting. We spent most parts just trekking the towns and speaking to a lot of people - travelers and Ivatans. We met a lot of cool people which includes Lola Florestida, the owner of the oldest stone house located in the town of Ivana, the owner of Honesty Cafe (that cafe which no one mans, you just buy and leave your payment inside a drop box), the owners of Casa Napoli, the yummiest pizza place in Batanes and a whole lot more.

How I wish I can go back to Batanes frequently and just stare at its landscapes. I was truly blinded by its awesomeness (pahiram ng catchphrase Milmar ah..hehehe) - so surreal from anything I've seen. Going around the country, I've seen a lot of beautiful places, but nothing has topped what I've seen in Batanes. And if you ask me about the most amazing landscape I've seen in my three day stay, it has to be the cliff in Chamantad-Tinyan sitio in Sabtang Island. Here you can see a jaw-dropping view of the Pacific Ocean. I'll post a picture once I downloaded it.

By the way, here's a favorite shot of mine. There's more great pictures but this one's a favorite because I had to balance myself from falling off a ravine just to get a shot of it.


This one's called the Basco Lighthouse. To get there, we had to hike up the Naidi hills with a terrain similar to the summit of Gulugod Baboy in Batangas, only this one has better views.

Anyway, gottta go for now. I'll share more stories next time I go online. :)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Doing Anything This June 25?

Too bad I am out of town on this date....

A Backpacking Movie

Found this interesting movie while surfing the net:

http://laststopforpaul.com/

It's about this guy who goes backpacking around the world. According to its website, it is the most awarded winning independent film for 2007.

Intriguing huh?! Haven't seen it but there are episodes uploaded in You Tube.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who has Into the Wild Book by Jon Krakauer?

Anybody selling their book?

I can also trade it with Into Thin Air (Mt Everest Story) also by the same author. Message me if you have this book. Thanks! :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cebu Pacific Seat Sale for June 12 Only

log on to www.cebupacificair.com for more details :)

Thanks to my Sykes Outdoor friends for this info.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

God's Message Today

Reposting from a Facebook application:

Galing! This is just what I needed...

In God We Trust

On this day of your life, Christine, we believe God wants you to know...
... that humans learn only by trial and error, and that includes you.

You've got to live life, not think about it. Step into the midst of things, try and fail and learn and stand up again. The question is not whether you will or will not make mistakes - you will. The question is do you want to learn and grow, or do you want to shrink back and be stuck? Take that step you've been avoiding. You can succeed, or you can get feedback that it didn't work, but in either case you are sure to feel alive

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hapao Rice Terraces, Ifugao - The Hiwang Huts Experience

We left Manila at 10:45PM in an attractive pink Florida bus. It was a nice shift from the antiquated Autobus we rode back in January when me and other friends from my backpacking circle did a Batad-Sagada trip. :P 

It was an arduous, butt-numbing 11 hour bus ride from Manila to Banaue made a little more  interesting with a Vodka Cruiser treat from Milmar and Jayz's Angelina Jolie lips puckering as he slept. (ahh, the simple delights of friendship!)

Upon our arrival, we bought some food from the Banaue Public market for our weekend feeding frenzy. :P

After an hour of roaming around town, a 45-minute of jeepney at the town of Hiwang, plus another 10 minute endurance testing trek up to our hut 1400++ meters above sea level, we finally arrived at our hide-out for the weekend. It was foggy when we got there and Mike swore that there amazing views of the Hapao rice terraces from where we were. At that time, we can only imagine what he was saying.



We quickly set-up our hammocks, then lunch. Rhovee, as usual, spearheaded the cooking while Mike prepared one of his specialties, rice. Well, as for myself,  Manny and Milmar, we made sure that there were clean plates and utensils for use, before and after each meal. Hehehe!

The entire Saturday, we did exactly what we came to do – nothing. After lunch, the drinking spree started and though I am not into drinking, I did try some liqour like Vodka Cruiser and Gin…Guess what?! I even came up with my own mix. I call it Gintik, that’s short for Gin as the main drink, then tikoy as the chaser. I swear, it’s really good! The tikoy was from Lucena. It’s our native version, not like the ones you find in Binondo which you fry with eggs.



That evening, we slept at a native hut which turned pitch black as soon as we switched off our headlamps. As there were no other guests around, we had the entire area to ourselves and I was just grateful for the limited space, which meant we had to squeeze against each other as we slept. 

Mid morning the following day, fog cleared off and we finally realized that Mike was telling the truth, that somewhere out there were the magnificent Hapao Rice terraces.




The sluggish activities continued until it was time to depart our hideout for the weekend. I thank God for being blessed with friends who I can just be, relax, enjoy quiet conversations and laugh about trivial things.

Travel Notes - Hiwang Huts, Hapao Rice Terraces
Lodging :
1000 Pesos – 6 persons
Location : Brgy. Hiwang, Banaue, Ifugao
Contact Info : Sir Noel -+63 9208933125, +63 9182403464 (Thanks to Sir Mike for this info.)
Location: Less than an hour away from Banaue town proper via hired vehicle.
Jeepney Rental Rates : 1,500 pesos (round trip; from Banaue town proper to Hiwang Huts)

Where to Buy cheap Pasalubong:
The good luck charm necklace costs 25 pesos. You can buy it at the stalls near the Banaue tourist information center. You can also buy wood carvings for as low as 50 pesos.

How to Get to Florida Bus station from EDSA Shaw:
Location: AH Lacson Corner España

Ride a jeep to Quiapo; go down at Vicente Cruz, at Vicente Cruz, walk straight, turn to your left when you approach a bridge (should take you about 10 minutes to get to that bridge). You should see a jeepney terminal and you will have to pay before you alight the jeep (Tayuman bound). Tell the jeepney driver to let you off near the Florida terminal which is just across where you will have to go down. Total travel time from EDSA Shaw to the Florida bus terminal is approximately less than one hour. It will cost you less than 50 if you just take the jeep.

Trips from Manile to Banaue Via Florida Bus
9:00PM, 10:00PM, 10:45PM
One Way Ticket Price : 450 pesos as of this writing
Banaue to Manila
6PM, 8PM
*You Can Reserve two days in advance

OTHER VERY HELPFUL INFORMATION SOURCES:(if you want to go to do a Banaue-Sagada trip)



































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