Friday, June 21, 2013

Mt. Cristobal, Quezon Province: Demystified - Forests and the Seven's Peak

I have first heard of this mountain when I was a kid, they call it "Devil's Mountain". Very mysterious. One of the guardians of Dolores, Quezon together with his sister mountain, Mt. Banahaw. Towering at 1470 meters one of the highest in Southern Luzon. I never thought that this will be my second climb. This big hill with creepy stories which scares off some mountaineers while others just love to be with nature.
The landmark at Brgy. San Vicente leading to Mt. Cristobal.
The team and Mt. Cristobal in the background.

We are seven young mountaineers which I am a stranger in the group. My first climb is at Mt. Gulugod Baboy in Batangas, less than 500 meters tall almost triple of this second attempt. We started trekking by 8:30am then we came to the Bulwagan saddle at 1:30pm. Too many Take 5's that is why it takes us 5 hours to the campsite. Lucky that only rainshowers and foggy forests greeted us on our way. 

Under that big tree! One of the many take 5's.

Cloud-kissed. Where are the white walkers?

The Crater.
Setting up at the Bulwagan Saddle.
Camp life.

Mossy forests on a clear sky.

I guess its unfair to tag him as the "devil's mountain". All mountains are holy. Mountaineers are here to witness nature - the panorama of the nearby towns, freshest air, tall trees, mineral waters, flora and fauna, the clouds and the sky, befriend with the stars, the sun, and the moon. Cheers to the cold bed and those creatures' lullaby by night!

View at the Seven's Summit - the highest accessible to climbers. Lucky to have a clearing! Thanks to the good weather.
No one has ever climb the real summit of Cristobal. Up until today, no trail has been made to the peak. I agree to call this point as the "Seven's Summit" at 1,445 meters - because of the seven lakes of San Pablo which can be seen here. It is in very rare occasion where you can see all the seven lakes. I only saw five, so better luck next time!
photos by: Ruth Berdensen


0500 to 0730 - Buendia via Jacliner (Lucena Bound) to Brgy. San Vicente, San Pablo City (dropping point at Bato Springs signage along the highway)
0730 to 0800 - Tricycle from San Vicente to Our Lady of Sorrows Church/Dolores Public Market
0800 to 0815 - Tricycle transfer to the Jump-off point
0815 onwards - Start trekking (summit is from 2 to 4 hours)

Water source at Montelibano's House where you will also pay Php 20 and register. Comfort room is available. There are two campsites here: at the crater and at the Bulwagan Saddle. The Seven's Peak is 15 to 20 minutes away the saddle.

Sidetrips: Bato Springs near Mt. Banahaw, The Seven Lakes of San Pablo

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coron, Palawan: The Paradise and the Sunken Ships

Palawan is known for its well preserved natural resources. It is the part of the Philippine archipelago where I can say most of disciplined Filipinos reside. No surprise when I finally set foot to this enchanting island; Coron - came from Palawenyo word for "palayok" or pot. A municipality in Busuanga Island, Northern Palawan.

Forty-five minutes from Manila, you can get in Busuanga Airport via propeller type plane (AirPhilExpress, CebuPacific and ZestAir). Then, van ride for less than 30 minutes going to Coron town. Enjoy the Safari like view from your seat.

The world famous view of Coron.

Kayangan Lake, turquoise blue.

Fine and white Malcapuya beach.

We stayed at Princess of Coron, an Austrian inspired hotel with a pool and nicely designed bathroom. I do not know exactly he rate of the hotel, we came here with a package for 6200 per person; inclusive of 4 days 3 nights stay, lunch and merienda per day, tour and island hopping activities.

Princess of Coron, an Austrian inspired hotel.

This place is a home for 9 Japanese warships sunked during World War 2. Thanks to the ghost ships. It made the island more interseting to thrill seekers and divers. Unfortunately for the team, we are not divers so we just enjoy the finest beaches, awesome limestone formation, and getting tanned!

Fish feeding at Siete Pecados.

Giant clams at Malcapuya Island.

There you are Nemo!

Here are the places to visit in Coron:

1. Siete Pecados
2. Banul Beach
3. Banana Island
4. Malcapuya Island
5. Barracuda Lake
6. Kayangan Lake
7. Sunken Ships (scattered around the island)
8. Twin Lagoon
9. Mt. Tapiyas
10. The famous cashew nuts or kasuy factory in Coron town proper (the best in PH)
11. Maquinit Hot Springs

Coron is a crime-free area in the Philippines, so do not worry about losing your personal belongings here. People are so friendly, hospitable, and honest. Living here is truly like a paradise!

After all, chill!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Boracay Island: Sun, Sand, and Fun

Wow! I got my roundtrip ticket for only Php1200 via Cebu Pacific and a room for 1500 good for four pax. Caticlan Airport is just an hour away from Manila.

What else can I say, Boracay is awesome! October is the perfect month to be here; if you want lesser people, cheaper hotel rates, and good weather maybe. During summer, the beach front is crowded according to locals.

Boracay Island is a complete package!

Lot of activities are waiting for you here:
Helmet diving
Cliff diving
Flying fish/Banana boat ride
Wind surfing
Island Hopping

Of course, Boracay is known for its night life. Try to go bar hopping and mingle with foreign and local peeps around. Fire dancers lights up the beach front by night. Sandcastles and the grotto are the famous marks of the beach at daytime. Definitely the place that I will go back even for hundred times. Without a doubt, the most beautiful island in the Philippines. If you have not been here, include this in your bucket list.

I borrowed my friends camera and tried my photography skills. So check this out.

Boracay at Sunset.
Between the rocks.

A hottie in a one fine sunny day.
The newly weds stolen shot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cavite - The Cradle of Revolution Today (Filipino)

Tutunog ang alarm. Maliligo. Maghahanda papasok sa trabaho. Bantay oras. Tantsa. Lakad patungong kanto. Earphone sa tenga na parang walang paki sa mundo. Nakakita ka boy, hindi ka lang nakakarinig. Wow ang daming tao, may artista bang dadaan? Kung bakit ba sa kahabaan ng kalye ay may iba't ibang klase ng tao na lahat ay malamang na hinihintay. Mapapailing na lang. Anu na nga lang ba ang kaya kong gawin?

Ganito ang buhay ng tipikal na komyuter sa Bacoor. City na pala kami. Hindi na bago sa akin ang mga bagay na to. Simula pa noong nalaman ko na malapit lang pala ang lungsod ng Maynila sa amin. Sa pagkakaalam ko grade 3 pa ako nun. 30 minutes lang maaring nandun ka na. Maaari. Dapat pala sanay na ako. Parte na ng katawan at isip ko. Pero tila ata lumalala. Hindi ba nasosolusyunan. Malamang. Hanggang ngayon. Maski mga ka-trabaho ko todo iwas sa Aguinaldo hi-way. Hi. High volume ng mga sasakyan ang naiipon dito. Ganito ba ang kaakibat ng pag-unlad? Bago ang mga kalsada. Pero hindi mo pa matatawag na kalsada kasi hindi pa tapos. Hindi pa gawa. Tawagin na lang natin na "tiwangwang na sementadong lupa". Ang tagal gawin mga kapatid. Ke-paluwas at pauwi ka sa makasaysayang lalawigan ng Cavite, dumaan ka muna sa butas ng karayom. Naiisip ko rin na siguro kulang ang mga bus na magluluwas at mag-uuwi ng tao dito. Para kasi kaming mga zombie sa umaga, zombie din pala sa gabi. Kung babasahin mo ang mukha ng mga nag-aabang, makukuha mo. "Kuya parang awa mo na buksan mo na ang pinto ng bus". At kung nabasa ni manong driver at naawa sayo. Swerte. Bukas pinto. Dadagsain naman ng mga zombies. Araw-araw sardinas pala agahan at hapunan ko.

Maunlad na nga ang bayan na kinalakihan ko. Ganito sana ang kapalaran ng lahat ng bayan sa Pinas. Siguro dadaanin ko na lang sa tawa ang trapik, stress, apakan ng paa, siksikan at tulakan, yung mga walang pakisamang pasahero na ayaw umatras sa likod - maluwag pa naman, konduktor na mamaya ka na daw susuklian tapos makakalimutan mo ang sukli mo, at tayuan ng hanggang dalawang oras. Sa loob ng bus, may kanya kanya pa rin kaming dahilan para tumawa. Iling-iling, na parang pinapagpag na lang ang masalimuot na pagluwas. Pagdating mo naman sa opisina magkakape ka na lang. Tambak na dokumento, email, request at deadline ni boss, mas-presurred. Gayunman isipin mo na lang kung saan ka nanggaling. Pag-uwi mo, natapos na naman ang isang araw.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mt. Mayon - The Perfect Volcano

The moment that I am writing this, I am just maybe hundred meters away the foot of this great volcano. I am not really sure because from the terrace of our hotel it seems so near. It is like a wallpaper in the background. Breathtaking view? Yes, it is. Like a pain/stress-reliever. I cannot take my eyes off her. She is sometimes shy, revealing, and calm. From Iriga, Camarines Sur, she can be seen even she is 30 km away air-distance. I am using my google earth right now! A 12 long hour drive from Manila to Legazpi is all worth it.  

She is calm, greeting us good morning.

She is shy this time.

She is mysterious at sunset. Silhouette shot!

I have seen her beauty 360 degrees. I have seen the curves and her dents. Maybe she got that the time she was angry. Nevertheless, she is still extraordinary. She hypnotizes everyone looking at her. She is hot. She is sexy. She is picturesque. She is perfect but she is very dangerous. Give me more adjectives to describe her.

The historic Cagsawa bell tower ruins.
Eventhough we failed to see the Butanding of Donsol and the beaches of Caramoan that time, going back to hotel always amuses me. The Mayon always welcomes us with a smile on the way to the city.

Her presence around Albay.
We are so lucky to have her here in our country. Mt. Fuji of Japan almost imitated her but no, she cannot. Indeed one of the greatest creation of nature is the Magayon. A must see in a Philippine tour. I hope to see a daraga like her.

You are really hot!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Siargao Island - The Philippines Surfing Capital

Lagoons, Beaches and Waves

Two hours travel from Surigao City via fast craft we reached port of Dapa, a town in Siargao Island. Our group did not have an idea what kind of accommodation the island has, is it affordable or not for a 5000 pesos each in our pockets? We never booked for a package or a tourist guide for this trip expecting that we can save money without them. Thanks to the tourist information staff at the Dapa port, she assisted us where we could stay at the cheapest rate and the beautiful spots we should not miss.

At last!
Me, planking.
26 kilometer joyride from General Luna to Pilar. Look what we have found!

 The Mapupungko beach resort and lagoons.

Day 1: Touchdown!
This is one of the main attractions in the island that you should go. Rent a habal-habal for convenience. Put your goggles on and swim through the pristine waters during low tide which usually starts at 2pm onwards.

Day 2: It's time for island hopping..
Naked Beach

At General Luna shore line.
Daku Island

A man offered me to buy a lot here costing 700 pesos per sq. meter. I told him: "I'll be back".
What you see, is what you get!
Simply perfect.

A jumpshot for a souvenir.

Tourists usually stay at General Luna with less than a thousand per night room rent.
Food: Cheapest are Grilled chicken, Intestine (Isaw), Liver (Atay, Balun-balunan), Grilled squid, Pork barbeque. There are also available foreign cuisines.
You can rent a motorcycle (habal-habal) for Php400 to Php500 a day to stroll the island.
Rent-a-boat: Php5000, for island hopping activity (Sohoton Cave, Guyam Island, Naked Beach, Daku Island)
Surfing: Php500 per hour with instructor
Other activities: Snorkelling, Fishing, Diving, Wake Boarding

Sadly I have not tried surfing. I found it expensive. Nevermind. I enjoyed watching the surfers and when I get back here, this is the first thing that I will do. Will someone teach me how to... surfie!

We cannot go nearer. Look at the waves.
The cam does not have a telescopic lense either.
Yes, I'll be back.