Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Toast To 4 Years

Time flies so fast. It’s been 4 years since I had set my foot on my first mountain. Ever since, the simple curiosity had turned into addiction and found myself climbing one mountain after the other almost every weekend.  Then, I had made new goals for myself – to try out the highest and toughest mountains that most claimed to be. This was a result of the interaction that I had with my fellow mountaineers. I  want to share the experience that they too had and somehow pass it on to other mountaineers as well and influence my friends to try out something new. Thereafter, I had made PINOYMOUNTAINEER as my homepage both in my personal laptop and work computer.  I find the articles written to be very inspirational and educational most especially when making preparations for the climb. Subsequently, North Face, Columbia and ROX Stores had been added to my personal favorites and I ensure that I never miss a visit when I find myself in the mall or near the area. Also, photos of myself in the summit are posted in my room or workstation. While most hang their medals or plaques of recognition, my photos on the other hand are testimonies to my personal achievements. Mountaineering had greatly influenced me. I never thought I would become a mountaineer someday.

Mt Pulag - Highest in Luzon

Way back in college, I used to see my schoolmates that belong to a mountaineering group carrying  huge backpacks and look very rugged. While I admire their passion, I never expressed intention of joining then as I don’t want to leave the comforts of home and avoid the hassles that the wilderness might bring. I love to travel,  to explore new places and to immerse in preserved culture but maybe way back then I wasn’t as adventurous and risk taker as I am today.

Mt Kanlaon - Highest in Visayas

Most of my friends would ask me why climb? I would often tell them that it gives you a different high. It will test your endurance, strength and even character but once you’re at the top, it is paid off with a different sense of fulfillment – some peace and serenity that you wouldn’t get when you are at the city. It is the same fulfillment that will keep you wanting for more. Also, with mountaineering you get health and social benefits – you get to exercise and expand your chain of friends. Lastly, mountain photos are always the best for me. It gives a touch of heaven on earth.

Mt. Apo - Highest in Mindanao and in the Philippines

44 climbs, 35 mountains, 8 out of the Top 10 Highest in the Philippines – these are my statistics if one would ask how many. Some are awed and impressed with the numbers but I feel more humbled because not everyone had the chance to do this. The unparalleled happiness, excitement and tranquility is something that I would not trade for anything else in this world.

I raise my glass to 4 years and for more years to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My mantra when I was fairly new to the world of mountaineering was to climb almost every week but not to revisit any of the mountains. It played well to my advantage as when my group, the OLAYS planned a climb, they would consider my special needs so that I would not have a reason to say NO to any scheduled climb.

I remained faithful to my mantra for almost two years until I have to revisit Mt. Arayat. Why? The first climb was supposed to be a traverse from Magalang to Arayat trail but due to constraints of time, weather and familiarity of the trail, we had to reschedule it and hope that the second time would prove to be a better time for everyone. The second time proved to be successful and I was able to stand on it’s summit the second time but this time with picturesque views and exhilarating challenges that the trail imposed most especially the traverse trail to Arayat. With that, I defied my mantra. But it made me realized that even though you might climb a mountain twice, the experience will always be different. Further, as time moved on, I almost climbed the mountains in the Southern Tagalog area and if I need to have quick escape, I don’t have a choice but to do a revisit.

Aside from Arayat, I was able to climb Mt Batulao four times already and Mt. Talamitam and Pico De Loro twice. Batulao and Talamitan are just near Manila so even an impromptu climb would be very possible.

Among my revisits, my favorite is Mt. Batulao.

Summit of Mt. Batulao - First Visit
I first ascended Mt. Batulao way back in November 2007. It was my fourth mountain and my first night trek. I climbed it with my two closest pals in OLAY, Ivy and Macky. We trekked via the OLD TRAIL which was the only trail then. A lot of things were running in my mind then as we are doing the night trek. Safety was one and the other would be mythical creatures that we might see along the way. Luckily, we arrived at the campsite safely. After just almost three hours of sleep, we woke up to ascend the summit. I was amazed of the views that Batulao has to offer. It may not be at par with the ten highest in terms of elevation but knowing that there is this type of paradise which is just few hours away from Manila made me captivated. My most favorite part of the view is jagged peaks which makes one think that one is in a different country. After spending ample time on the summit, we descended back to the campsite to have breakfast, pack up and head back home.

View of Mt Batulao from OLD TRAIL

With Ivy and Macky - First Visit


Umbrella for Skin Protection

Almost Summit, New Trail
The second time was in January 2010 and I shared it with my officemates from PeopleSupport who shared the same passion as I am and officemates who would want to try something new and satisfy their curiosity as to how it feels to be on top. The experience of climbing Mt Batulao the second time was completely opposite of how it was during my first visit. We started to trek at around 12 noon and it was really scorching hot as we were doing our hike. Good thing I have my umbrella with me – one thing I have learned from Ivy. I was lucky to have Jill in the group as she knew the directions as opposed to me. Otherwise, we will be lost and would do a lot of back tracks. We took the NEW TRAIL this time as most claimed it to be better than the OLD TRAIL. It was nice to reminisce good old memories from the first climb while doing the hike and fulfilling to see how the newbies in our group are enjoying the experience we share with them. Jill brought her DSLR with her so this climb was also a photoshoot. I made it a point that I always stay close to her so all my guarded and candid moments will be captured in the camera. It was already 5 PM when we were back at the jump off and everyone boarded the bus back to Manila with all smiles.

Summit of Mt Batulao - Second Visit

With PeopleSupport Colleagues and Friends 

Group Pic At the Summit With Intelenet Friends

Summit of Mt Batulao, Third Time

If 2010 proved to be a noteworthy year in my mountaineering life, 2011 was a bit slow paced for me. I have to set aside climbing first during the first half of the year due to my review in the board exam. And when I was about to make climbing and travel plans after the board exam, I met a vehicular accident that required me to rest for more than two months and avoid any major climbs that would impair my recovery in my right arm. The doctor strictly prohibits me to restrain climbing for the mean time until next year but since the itch for climbing is uncontrollable, I made plans to climb even just a minor one. The weather was uncooperative sometimes so I had to find a perfect weather where the risk factor in climbing would be lesser since I have an injury. Finally, I was able to climb Mt Batulao for the third time on the last Saturday of August this year. This time, I shared it with my officemates from Intelenet who were neophytes in climbing. We hired a guide because I want to be sure we will be on the right track on the way to the summit. The weather was perfect and it was a smooth climb. Bea and Roland proved to be promising in terms of their endurance during the climb and they would want to pursue more adventures on the mountains in the future. With Frix and Bea around , the climb would not be complete without pictorials. This is the first time that I have seen someone took a picture of oneself from peak one to peak ten on Mt. Batulao and a photoshoot always happen every five minutes. I must say that this is a fully documented climb in terms of photos that I have been with. We were able to complete the climb at 12 noon having started at 730 AM. To reward ourselves after the climb, we ate lunch in Tagaytay , stroll around the city and bought some pasalubongs before we headed back home. I was thankful to GOD for allowing me to complete this climb without any difficulty and accidents considering that I am not using my right hand so as to avoid further injury.

With Ivy and Macky at The Summit

Taking a Rest with Macky and Ivy, 4th Visit

I miss my OLAY family. I have not shared a climb with a member of the group since my Mt. Timbak – Tabayoc climb last February 2010. Right after my arm sling was removed, I have been bugging Ivy to climb but it lead to numerous cancellations due to weather, unavailability of time and budget constraint. Luckily, I was able to convince her to climb with me during last 2nd Saturday of September. The condition was that I have to spend the night prior to the climb on her house so that it would be sure that she will climb with me on that day. We met up on SM Bacoor on a Friday night to buy our food for the climb, had some dinner and proceeded to her house to finally take a rest. The plan was to climb Mt Maculot the next day and we have to wake up early the next day. We woke up on time but as we were having our breakfast , she suggested that we should just climb Mt Batulao so it would just be near and less expensive. I agreed and we suddenly thought that Macky might also be on his rest day so we called him up and asked him to join us on the climb. Once again, I was reunited with my two best pals from OLAY. The climb was more of a catching up on things that happened to use for the past months, reminiscing on our previous climbs and making plans for possible future major climbs where OLAYS might have a reunion. Ivy and Macky scaled Mt Batulao for several times already but it was first time for Macky to use the NEW TRAIL as his last visit was during my first ascend in Mt Batulao last November 2007. We met a lot of mountaineers along the way, both veterans and newbies. We cant help but make a comment that you would be able to identify which one is a newbie or not from the bag that one is using. We laughed as we were once like them years ago. We completed the climb during noon and just when the rain poured heavily on the area, we were already aboard the bus on the way to Imus where I would spend another night in Ivy’s humble abode.

Jumpshot with Macky

Jumpshot with Ivy

Mt Batulao has become a playground for me. I can share the experience with anyone at anytime. It is also a paradise for me as I can just be at peace with myself for a period of time. Im wondering when will be my next visit and whom I would share it with. I am certain I will account my experience that time. One thing is for sure though, Mt. Batulao will always uphold to its promise of adventure and relaxation.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Bangui Windmills, Ilocandia Tour

When you heard of the word, you would think it is the soap that cleanses impurities of the skin.  An Age Defying Soap as it claims to be. I won't deny that I use such as it have been faithful to its brand promise. Though, I am talking not about the soap but the group that I belong in Mountaineering - THE OLAYS.
I love to travel. I love to immerse in new culture, to meet new folks and to just simply take a break from all the buzzes of the metro. When my former officemate Vanessa learned about my passion, she was not hesitant to invite me to their group, OLAY, who also shares the same thirst for travel as I am. Then, an ILOCANDIA TOUR was scheduled for the group. When Vanessa invited me, I never wavered and signed up immediately. It was a chance for me to visit the famed ILOCOS and explore the ancient streets and breathtaking views as they say. As the date of the trip was nearing, I was becoming uncertain. I realized then that the person I only knew on the group would be Vanessa and Kenya, an officemate whom Vanessa also invited.  This means that I might found myself in an out of place situation considering that the group is huge.  Vanessa and Kenya tried to talk me out of it. Despite the doubts, I found myself in the bus with Vanessa... and Kenya... and the OLAYS on the way to ILOCOS.
They all greeted with all smiles as I was introduced to the group. While on the bus, my keen observation told me that this group is a bunch of happy and loud souls - there was Ivy who was full of ions and who would never run out of words to say, Macky who though have a stocky figure but something tells me that there is just a soft spot within him, Anton who with his Spanish looks and humor could swept any girl that comes his way, DJ who with his physique, bimbo looks and moves can drive a gay man crazy except for me of course due to my high standards( peace DJ), May, who was the workaholic yet and the creative mind of the group,  Drew who was a good conversationalist, Cris who is always young at heart, Monique with a suplada look yet sociable and Erik who possess so much positivism and passion with travel.
The trip turned out to be a complete opposite as to my reluctances at the start. I was able to bond with group easily as we had fun hopping from one tourist spot to the other, chit chats during the trip, never ending photo sessions and of course, the socials at night where everyone had their fair share to talk and be on the hot seat. The OLAYS can testify that it is not only the exotic places that make the trip memorable and worthwhile but it is also the people whom you shared it with.

Before the River Crossing during the Kibungan Cross Country Climb

After the ILOCANDIA tour, the new found friendship never stopped – online chats, SMS and phone calls. I was then invited by Ivy to join in their training climb at Mt. Malipunyo in preparation for the Kibungan Cross Country Mid – Year Climb. I refused at the start since I initially thought that I would not be able to survive it up there. I had a lot of fears – from the snakes, to heights and even darkness. And all of these are what the mountains offer. She assured me that I will get the utmost support and guidance from the group and it would never hurt to try. What I didn’t realize is that one climb lead to another climb and eventually the growing addiction for mountain climbing had developed in me.

2008 Year End Climb in Mt. Kanlaon

2008 Mid Year Climb in Mt. Tapulao

The series of climbs introduced me to some members of the group. There was Daile who was the leader of the group and who had led me to experience the extremes in mountaineering, Mike O who was the better half of May and who I thought was a reserved person, Bearong who was the negosyante of the group, Mike Patts who climbs fast despite the love for smokes, Mau who had the outstanding performance during the Mt. Makiling Climb, Marian who was a petite and charming girl, Bing, the sister of Mike Patts and whose very chinita eyes lead me to thought if her vision is really 20/20, Sir Jo who never fails to make a pause and unusual poses during the climb when he is tired, Aaron who had a thing for the spiders and Alex who was the most well off of the group.

Mt. Picco De Loro Climb
OLAYS introduced me to the world of mountaineering and have been a witness on how I developed a deep sense of passion for the mountains. OLAYS made it easier up there despite the long walks, vertical and steep climbs, challenging terrains and the unforgiving weather sometimes. OLAYS will never fail to make you laugh. OLAYS are family in my second home up the mountains…

Summit of Mt. Kanlaon