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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Overdose of Sunshine at Mt. Marami

View at the summit of Mt. Marami
It was a little past 9:00 AM when we started our hike towards the base of Mt. Marami in Magallanes, Cavite. The soil was so dry that specks of dust flew as our feet hit the ground. The  heat was just  beginning to intensify, but still manageable with our hats and other protective gears on. 
Our happy trio - still fresh-looking before the start of our hike
The clear and dry weather revealed captivating blue skies, a nice contrast to the massive greenery  that surrounded us. There was just a faint mountain breeze and in less than 30 minutes of trekking, we were all heavily perspiring.  Our 16 year old guide however, appeared to be effortlessly   moving his feet in quick playful strides.

An even terrain marks the start of the hike.   
Mt. Marami is 405 MASL tall, significantly smaller than the mountains around it like Pico de Loro, which is at 664 MASL, but its long exposed trail, which starts at Barangay Ramirez, can either be very dusty or very muddy, depending on the season which makes it a challenging day hike.  

We took the Talahib Trail where the  terrain is gradually ascending, but still quite long as we approached the peak from the south. In fact, we didn't see its distinguished jagged peaks until we were  halfway to the summit. 

Photo from Arisse. My favorite part of the entire hike was when we approached this
almost dried up river where butterflies, imitating the color of leaves flew around us. :)
The trail is established with thick vegetation on the side, but your head's pretty much exposed to the sun.  It's very entertaining though, especially for  fellow tree-huggers. We saw giant mango trees, other species of trees I'm unable to identify and wooden bridges built over several sections of a river. 

One of gorgeous trees we saw along the trail 

With minimal rest stops and 30 minute lunch, we were able to reach the peak in four hours. It was 1:05 PM, the sun was blasting away but winds comforted us. Occasionally, it blows strongly, enough to knock off our bags.  

The enormous boulder summit features the landscape of Maragondon. Here you can see peaks as far as Quezon and Bataan.  

My friend Gabby posing for a mandatory shot across Mt. Marami's summit.
After staying for 30 minutes, we went down and tried go as fast as we could to catch the last jeepney back to Naic which was at 5:00 PM. Heat from the sun was intense. 

The water from the rivers we passed didn't look potable (at least by quick judgement) so we just washed to relieve ourselves. Unfortunately, we dried off only after a few minutes under the sun.  It felt like we were being fried alive! 

We trekked at a snail's pace in the last two hours. The heat really drained us and I moved on "auto-pilot mode".  I didn't have enough energy to smile, chat or sing to myself like I  usually do on long, exhausting hikes. 

At 4:30 PM, we arrived very much drained at Barangay Ramirez. A nearby store served us cold Coke with lots of ice, our little reward after a long, hot hike.  

We managed to catch the last jeep back to Naic where we capped off our hike with a fulfilling dinner at Sunny's,  a 24/7 eatery by the highway that serves delicious Filipino dishes at less than 50 Pesos/meal. 

How to get to Mt. Marami + Expenses :
We left Manila at 4:30 AM, via an Aircon Bus from Baclaran to Naic - 66 Pesos; Travel Time : 2 hours. From Petron station in Naic, we walked a few meters on the right side of the highway to the jeepney terminal to Magallanes. It's right before BPI. Jeep from Naic to Magallanes – 36 Pesos/head; Travel Time: 1 hour
*Take note that last jeep from Magallanes back to Naic is at 5:00 PM. 
At Magallanes, register at the Police outpost. No fees have to be paid. Just sign at the logbook and get their contact numbers in case of emergency. Take a tricycle to the Barangay Hall at Ramirez - 20/head (60-70 Pesos/tricycle) ; Travel Time: 30 minutes
Registration Fee is at 20 Pesos/head. Here, you can secure guides  at 300 Pesos/day per group and change your clothes or bathe after the hike.

Travel Notes : 
Bring ample water supply and protection from the sun. I brought 3 liters which almost run out on our way back. On rainy days, water on the river swells up. Check on the weather before planning a hike here. From barangay Ramirez, guides can be secured at 300 Pesos/day + food. 

As always, don't leave any trash behind friends. :) 

To read more about hiking Mt. Marami, check out the blogs of hiking friends, Ivan Lakwatsero and Pinoy Mountaineer.

Arisse, Gabby, til our next adventure! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hairy Popper and the Backpackers

Our room at the resort where most action happened a few steps from its door.  
Five years ago, my need to interact flirtatiously with the male species has not fully manifested itself.  It was stifled by a greater need  to explore the provinces around the Philippines which required a lot of planning, energy and financial resources. 

As news spread about the presence of whale sharks in a remote town of Donsol in Sorsogon, a female friend and I traveled 14 hours from Manila for a chance to swim alongside the gentle giants of the sea.  

After a full day in the water, we came back to our room at the resort with wrinkled skin and no elated encounters.  The sky was too cloudy and the whale sharks failed to surface close enough for us to see.  

Just when we had concluded that we were unlucky that day, a heavily tanned stranger, with a presence as daunting as the whale sharks with his 5'10 frame, appeared a few steps from our room. We were both surprised as it seemed like he just popped out from the bushes. Had it not been for his amiable approach and boy next-door look, we would have run off as it was just starting to grow dark. The lights at the resort have not been turned on yet and he looked like he can toss us around effortlessly. 

"What are you doing here?!", we exclaimed in small voices as though our ages were reduced to half. "

"I wuz waiting phuuuur you." his thick French accent oozed with sex appeal and promise.  Confident but charming. Assertive but not offensive, that was the vibe he exuded. 

Small talk transpired after that line.  He was hoping to find a room in the resort which, was fully booked when he arrived. Now it was getting dark, he’s roaming the streets, there’s us two single girls and our double bed. Unfortunately, the awkward and undeveloped side of our womanhood conquered us. Instead of offering him to room with us, we just wished him good luck, got inside and giggled like we were rolling over a bed of feathers.

We then continued the rest of the night with our usual girl talk and bouts of raucous laughter,  completely forgetting that our room was adjoined to another,  separated by thin, cogon walls. A few minutes later, we heard someone rambling from the other side of the wall. Our mouths froze, fearful that our noise had disturbed our neighbor.  We prepared to hear some ranting. 

"Girls, I can hear you!". Our heads ignited with recognition. It was the French guy!

As luck would have it, he managed to meet and convinced the guy staying next door, a solo traveler to let him spend a night at his room. Oh wow,this guy's charm extends to his own specie.  

He then asked if we wanted to go out and check out the fireflies tour. We refused.  Fireflies with a hot guy in a small town?! That's just too much heat for a night!  

The following morning, we found him at the breakfast table, sitting directly across us -shirtless. The sun was out and so were his muscles which seemed to be a life form on its own. Man hair grew abundantly on his chest. My senses roared but shyness besieged my ability at a decent verbal interaction. After a congenial wave, we ignored him,  devoured our breakfast and never saw him again after that. 

'Til this day, my friend and  I still laugh about that shameful encounter. While we have outgrown that awkward stage, we find it meaningful to pay homage to that old self who struggled, felt insecure and thought the world was tough. Those silly moments are not just an additional stories to laugh at during reunions, it helped refined us.  Growing up and having strong confidence that you will be handling situations more sensibly definitely makes life more fun. 


This blog post was prepared as an entry to the April 2013 Pinoy Travel Bloggers Carnival with the theme "Funniest, silliest, dumbest travel moments", hosted by the provocative, Lakbay Diva. To read the rest of the entries, click here.

For previous blog carnival entries, check out Langyaw's blog.

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