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!