Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hopping Around: "March to Crater Heights... the Mt. Pinatubo Anthology"

Para sa mga kababayan nating Tarlaqueno...Mayap a bak... Lubak-lubak!

Mt. Pinatubo....

Once a bringer of doom...

Once a symbol of destruction...

Once an agony not to remember...

But now a grandeur to conquer...

May 21, 2011...It was the end of the world, according to Harold Camping and his followers atleast.
(which we already know as false unless we are just virtual entities living in a physically non-existent world???)

Rumors were spreading like wild fire on dried indian mango leaves that the Judgement Day is coming...(again)
But, like bees programmed to do as planned, some of my office friends and I still pushed for our short-planned trip to explore the sulfuric view of Mt. Pinatubo...

Almost 20 years after its world-defining explosion, we were set to experience Mt. Pinatubo but not relive history... (we hoped and granted)

From the humble abode of the Caagbay's in Tarlac, where we had our much needed pre-trekking sleep, we went to our early morning rendezvous at the Pinay Key Point headquarters.

We had a hefty breakfast to suffice our rumbling stomachs and filled-out necessary documents while we listen to few mindful reminders from trekking experts.

As we finished taking down mental notes and safety tips on mountaineering, we all rode a local jeepney to the dispatch area before we start our actual tour. Some of us rode the jeepney in an more (lets say...) adventurous way... maybe to enjoy the view or just pure excitement.

Shortly after, we arrived at the dispatch area- which is like a semi-spa-semi-restaurant kinda place. While our  head tour guide (Kuya Eric for our group) is processing necessary permits and payment before we could proceed to our trip-proper, we had a chance to explore the place with a few shots here and there.

A few moments after, we all had heads up to find our own 4-Wheeler's. This beast of an automobile will be our first line of transportation to the foot of Mt. Pinatubo. This would the first time for most of us to ride this kinda thing... just imagine our delight when we started rolling.

Seeing the view (for the first time) as we drove to our next destination, brings nostalgia of how this would have been before the eruption. Maybe this what we call the silver lining in every cloud... That after such destructive event, this magnificent landscapes emerge.

What our eyes were appreciating is so cinematic, we could help ourselves but to experience history first-hand. (and by experience... I mean taking pictures. Right?)

When we reached the part where the farthest our 4-Wheeler can go, we got off, paused for a while and smiled before we gun-srtarted our 3-hour (approximately) trek to the crater. Fully-geared and adrenaline-packed, we were able to take on the few miles unchallenged.

But as exhaustion, heat, thirst, animosity, and temper slowly creeps in, our faces could not hide it anymore. Not even the cool running water down our feet nor the edifice of sulfuric walls towering on both sides can quench the tiredness we felt.

Good thing, they have this kubo where we can recharged and rejuvenate ourselves. We shared few biscuits and drank spring water under the shadowed shelter for a while.

Our tour guide said that before Bagyong Ondoy battered Philippines in 2009, the 4-Wheeler could reach up to that point. And to reach the crater from there, it was just a 20-minute trek for youngsters, 25-minute walk for slightly old and a 30-minute progression for senior citizen card holders.

Fighting against time to overcome the 20-minute mark (para youngster pa daw...), we exhausted all our remaining energy to reach the crater in the least possible time. But this time, the slope is much steeper and slippier.

Finally... after almost 3 hours of storming the decade-old sulfuric remains of Mt. Pinatubo, we've reached the its heart- The Crater...

We were at lost for words... it was like love at first sight and falling in love again at second glance.

It's as if all that we've been through was all out window... and the grandeur that was infront of is all that matters.

Magnificent and breath-taking were merely  understatements to describe it. Its like we were humbled at its presence... and a privilege only for the chosen...

If we could only capture the overwhelming feelings we had... we would gladly do it on a blink of an eye...

If you think the view from the deck was majestic... experiencing the crater at a closer distance is unimaginable.

We have to go down in an almost 60 degree staired slope just the reach the crater-shore (crater version of a seashore) where our tents and lunch was waiting.

After a well-prepared cretaceous lunch, we decided to try the crater boat ride. The boat will take us to the other side of the crater... the active side. We brought along few chicken eggs just to test how hot the volcanic surface on that part (we did not eat it though... or did we?... will not tell).





A little after 2 in the afternoon, we decided to pack our things up and head back to civilization. This time the trek down was relatively easier to pursue.

We rode our 4-wheel drive back to the dispatch area for a quick bath (just to brush off unwanted sulfuric debris from our body...). And, enjoyed our sumptuous dinner at the restaurant.

We then headed back to the humble abode of Caagbay's in Tarlac to give our petty humane bodies the rest it surely need. That was after few drinks, ofcourse.

J's Mt. Pinatubo Tips:
1. Wear slippers... the rough terrain and wet tracks might damage your shoes.
2. Bring travel water... dehydration is always lurking behind your back.
3. Wear your most comfortable trekking attire.
4. Sunglasses... the sun sometimes gets really harsh.
5. Caps or Bandana... added sun protection.
6. Sun block... you do not want all those whitening stuff to go down the drain, right?
7. Bring travel food...for extra energy boost.

Total damaged on my bank account (all-in): Php 2000+
...the Hospitality of the Caagbay's did help a lot in optimizing our expenses... They took charge of our board and lodging for free including chocolates!!! Thanks!!!

Pictures courstey of : Sherwin Lazo, Aiza Coronado and Pinay Keypoint.

Sige po... Poo-poo


  1. I super enjoyed this post! Hope we could do something like this again next time. :DDDDD

  2. I vote for palawan... adam mag-avail k n ng promo sa ensogo... 5 gives

    gusto ko rin pumunta... samahan mo kami. hehehe.