Mt. Pulag, Benguet – Luzon’s Highest Peak: My First Major Climb

i never considered myself as a mountaineer, but being surrounded with the lot of them, i was influenced to try it out. my last climb was last 2004 in Albay. Back then it was only a day climb to camp1 of mt. mayon. That was all the climbing experience i had so i was really hesitant to join the mt. pulag climb.

Mt. Pulag (or Pulog) is considered as the 2nd highest peak in the Philippines, next to Mt. Apo. It is said to be one of the most beautiful national parks in the Cordillera. Pulag is different from other rain forest mountains because of it’s open area (Pulag is a local term for Bald). Mt. Pulag turns brown during dry seasons and light green or rich dark green during rainy season. Locals believed this mountain to be a playground of the gods.

How to get there:
Going to Pulag usually starts with a trip from Manila to Baguio. It is advisable to have an overnight trip for you to have some rest. Take 10pm-12am departure from Manila.
Victory Liner (Cubao or Pasay)
Genesis (D. Jose)
Philippine Rabbit (D. Jose)

Then you can arrange your transportation by hiring one of the jeepneys along Caltex Station or Session Road. You may also opt to take the Bus going to Kabayan Benguet.

Established Trails:
Ambangeg (the trail we took)
Akiki or the Killer Trail

You will have to register at the DENR before proceeding to any of the trail jump-offs. You will have to pay registration fees (P275) and environmental fees.

At the ranger station or the jump-off,you will be assigned a guide (P100 per person per guide) and you have the option to hire a porter (P250 one way) to carry your things.

Ambangeg trail leads to camping ground 2 and 3. The guides will help you get water from the water source.

Summit assault usually starts at 4 am for you to get the best view of the sunrise and the sea of clouds.

The best months to climb Mt. Pulag is during the cold months of November to February. Some of the things you should not forget to bring are: fleece jacket, waterproof jacket, mittens, socks, leggings. Dome type-tents are not advisable in here unless you have a tarp to cover it to avoid getting wet inside.

Travel Diaries: Coron, Palawan Trip, IT and Budgets

Coron Trip 3 Days and 2 Nights June 25-27, 2009
PAX: 5
Budget: 9000 Per pax 
Accommodations (Board, Lodging, Fees and Transfers) & Tours – 
Coron Village Lodge Tour Package III 6400
RT Tickets (Cebu Pacific Promo) 950
RT Terminal Fees 220
Pocket Money 1500
  1. 2 Days room accommodation (aircon, TV, hot & cold shower, T&B)
  2. 6 Meals & 2 snacks
  3. 1 Day island hopping for swimming, snorkeling, nature tour and adventure plus hot spring
  4. 1 Day Calauit Animal Sanctuary tour
  5. Entrance fees to tribal and private islands
  6. Services of a guide/ staff during tours
  7. Free- flowing coffee
  8. Airport transfers
  9. Tricycle transfers within the town
  10. Welcome drink.

Day 1
9:00 am
Off to the islands – Cayangan Lake , Lake Barracuda , Twin
Lagoon, Banol or Caliwantay Beach , Siete Pecados, Makinit Hot
5:30 pm
Back in town / free time
Day 2
4:30 am
Off to Calauit
7:30 am
Arrive at Calauit Animal Sanctuary after a 2 hour jeep or
van ride and a 10 minute banca ride across the channel.
8:30 am
Tour of the sanctuary by safari truck.
11:00 am
Early lunch
12:00 nn
1:00 pm
Travel back through Salvacion town. stopover for snacks.
4:00 pm
Back in town / free time
Day 3
6:30 am
7:00 am
Off to airport for trip back to Manila.

Reminders! (A series of Unfortunate events)
Check your Air tickets! LOL!! We missed the 9:05 flight to Busuanga and therefore had to buy another for the 2pm flight to Busuanga and shell off another P900. Instead of just having a light morning meal before the flight, we were forced to partake a ridiculously pricey lunch at Chaikofi while we pass the time and wait for the next flight to Busuanga.

Also, consider the weather, because of the apparent climate change I was confident that the rainy month of June will still grant us fair and travel friendly weather. Unfortunately, a typhoon came up early in the week made the flight to Busuanga a little shaky. When we were just about to land, the pilot’s voice started talking about coordinates and told us to look at the build up cumulo-nimbus clouds that is visible from where we are and goes all the way to Busuanga. After which, he announced that the plane has enough fuel to stay in our position for 30-40 minutes and wait for the “clouds” to disperse. So the plane just circled over the islands, islets and seas for what seemed like endless minutes until finally God heard our prayers and allowed us to land safely.
Busuanga Airport served the towns of Busuanga, Coron, Culion and Linapacan or the Calamianes Group of islands in the Northern part of Palawan. The town proper of Coron is on Busuanga mainland while there is also the Coron Island facing the town and can be reached by boat within 15 minutes.

Coron is still an hour away from Busuanga Airport; a van we shared with 6 or 7 other people that will stay in the lodge next to ours.  Coron Village Lodge was quite a surprise for us. When we were still searching for accommodations and tour in Coron, the Lodge’s website offered the best tours and prices, however we were a little unsure of what to expect about the rooms and the place because of the limited photos displayed. Feedback on the packages was also scarce, though I got a really positive feedback at one time.

I was looking at the starfish decoration with so much wonder! @ the Coron Village Lodge

The staff were nice, we had welcome drinks (uber sweet ice tea!) brought to our lovely rooms. The whole of the Lodge had a real nice and cozy atmosphere with framed collections displayed on rooms and on the resto’s wall. We got two rooms, both with a double bed and a single bed, dressers, TV, cabinets. Our room had a terrace where a hanger stand and a table with chairs are conveniently placed.
We were served the lunch we missed even if it was already 4PM. One of the best things about the Lodge aside from the staff and the ambiance is the FOOD!

the lights looks even more inviting at night

We were not able to have our island hopping on the first day but we were able to relax and have a dip at the Maquinit hot springs which is only 15 minute tricycle ride away from the town. The Lodge staff also advise us no to go on with our Calauit Safari Tour the next day because of the possible landslides caused by the heavy rains the past few days. We then decided to have a whole day island hopping tour the next day instead.
Maquinit Hot Spring have a max temp of 40 degrees celcius  (yup sooo hot!)
Island hopping in Coron simply is one of the best experiences you can have. Our tour guide, Kuya Gary was very informative on the history and fact and trivias of the island and places we visited.

docking site  to cayangan lake

they call this the Blue Lagoon

descent to Cayangan Lake
the Philippine’s cleanest lake so far – Cayangan
Cayangan Lake and Blue Lagoon are sites to behold though going around Coron Island would really give you a restful and serene feeling. We had lunch of yummy adobo, grilled fish (huge!) and ensaladang talong at what seem like our very own private beach before moving on Twin Lagoons. I can’t say much about this place except that it is also one of the must sees. Towering limestone and surround a peaceful but really deep lagoon which you can access by diving into a hole during high-tide or if it is low tide, you can easy pass through it.
waiting for low-tide to get through the Twin Lagoon
I experienced snorkeling in Bohol, but snorkeling in Siete Pecados is way more exciting! Here fishes are like trained to eat from your hands though the larger ones really freaked us out! And please don’t step at the lovely corals when you get tired, just go get back on your banca.
tired after a day of island hopping
On our third day, we tried climbing Mt. Tapyas (rumored to be more than 700 steps high) but we only reached the middle part because of the sudden heavy rains. When the rain stopped, we decided not to continue the climb and just take pictures of the amazing site we have where we were stranded – two rainbows appeared in the island of Coron, one end on an island, and the other end on another island!
After breakfast, Nina, Arvin and me went to Coron Gifts and Souvenirs to buy trinkets and handicrafts. The Lodge also displays beautiful crafts in their resto and garden. We had an early lunch and left for Busuanga airport at 12noon.
And because of the cancelled Calauit Safari, we had as much as P2000 savings each on our bill!
Must see for a 2nd Coron Trip is Cagban Beach and diving on some of the WWII Japanese Shipwrecks as well as the Banana and Macalapuya(?) Islands.

Only in Metro Manila: Buses and Jeeps at the Kings of the Road and the Unfair Fares

after like almost 2 years i’d be religiously taking the bus from cubao to my office again. i was inconveniently asked to add P1.50 making my fare from cubao to my office P14.50 when it should only be P13.00. I had to argue with the driver and finally let him have that P1.50 instead of ruining my day.

i started taking the jeepney from seattle st. to my office here in commonwealth ave. almost two years ago. i was close to 8 months pregnant with teloy then making the short walk from arayat market, climbing the footbridge across EDSA to Farmers Plaza where i would take a bus going to fairview very much cumbersome. I take two jeepney rides from san juan to my office and with a baby bump, it was easier taking another jeepney ride than the bus. Though it was cheaper to take a jeepney then a bus ride to the office, i was more concerned about my comfort and ease so the choice is jepneey from san juan to seattle st then another jeepney ride from seattle st in cubao to my office.

now, after that P1.50 experience this morning, i’ve decided i should take the bus ride again from cubao to my office. the short walk would do me some good as my morning exercise. the bus trip is way shorter than the jeepney route so the trip will be easier. and i’m no longer pregnant so i don’t have any excuses on comfort and ease. and finally the P3 savings (ordinary bus charge me only P10.00 from cubao to my office) is a big amount already.

Early Backpacking Days: Sta Cruz Laguna

we really needed an outing, even an out of town trip would surely do good for us. pam suggested a trip to sta. cruz laguna, we might even go and see pagsanjan falls coz the town of pagsanjan is next to sta. cruz.

may 3, said we’d leave via green star bus at 7am. woke up at 5:45 am so i’d be at boni ave. at 7. i was 15 mins late, but as usual, they are still not ready. when they’re done, we took a cab and passed by kripy kreme ayala for tita nad’s pasalubong. the trip was uneventful but the traffic at pansol was really frustrating, we arrived at sta cruz at noon, starving and tired.

we met finally get to meet pam’s tita– and felt really uncomfortable calling her tita coz she’s only 7 years older than us. tita nad’s is really very accommodating and and we loved her place. surely we’d come back her soon. loved how easy and laid back the surrounding feels. and the girls room looks like its part of a rest house or a cabin.

after a debate on our schedule, we decided to just swim at pagsanjan lodge. the infamous falls i thought could be reached by foot, well its not. it is accessible only by boating and we don’t have the budget for it (P660.00 per person). maybe next time we’d be able to go there.

we were also lucky coz pam’s officemate jackie also lives in sta cruz. he offered to take us to PTA (philippine tourism authority), where tabing ilog was said to be taped years ago. then afterwards, swimming at the pagsanjan lodge and resort where we stayed and swam til 8pm then went back to tita nad’s place. had some chikka moments before finally resigning to sleep.

we woke up late, the plans on going to mahayhay falls was again couldn’t push through. we had hotdogs, bread and bugok for breakfast prepared by tita nads. we soon left for the town of liliw,
which is almost 1 hour away by jeep from sta. cruz. the town of liliw is known for the colorful tsinelas festival, and we were lucky to be taking part of it. the town square was full of booths and tourist checking out the handmade slippers which is what the town is known for. we also dropped by the st. john parish of liliw before finally getting lunch at arabella.

the quaint little resto is well known for great food and ambiance. its been featured on newspapers and magazines along with the highlights of tsinelas festival. when we got there, the place was full, and we needed to get a reservation before we can be seated. the food was truly delicious, and very affordable. house special pasta which is good for 2 range from P125-175 only, and cold coffee drinks like frap and mocha float is unbelievably priced at P65 only! we’d surely come back here soon!

Best Summer Destinations in the Philippines

one more month and summer is already on! even this early in the year, some people are starting to plan their summer outings, vacations and escapades. i am also one of them, though not really planning yet, i am dreaming and imaging a totally stress-free and laid back summer days.

work has been hell this past few weeks and i can feel it taking toll on my back. i am somewhere near being burnt out and it is really stressing me out. thinking about lazy summer days though seems to lessen that burnt out feeling.

there is of course the beaches. i am lucky to be living in the philippines where you can find one of the greatest beach in the world. though its only within the country, i still haven’t really been there. and that’s where i wanna be this summer! i hope! haha… imagine pure powdery white sand, bluest crystal sea water, …. i think the waves are calling out to me. boracay.. one of these days, i’ll be there. =)

what else could beat this!

up next in my destination list.. well actually a second choice if i don’t make it to boracay this summer…. puerto galera. though not as good as boracay, puerto galera would be more accessible from manila and of course lesser the expenses. said to have great dive sites resorts and also great beach!

of course there are also the ones in palawan and in bohol (i have been hearing great great praises for beaches here in and great places to visit). it makes me real proud when tourist name these places paraside beaches. what it could we call it but that. thus my urge to go and visit these places any time soon! i live here but i havent seen these places yet! makes me think i’m really missing half of my life!

panglao beach, bohol…..

so they say… nothing beats philippine beaches, agree! agree!! need i say more? =)