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Bulakan, Bulacan - An Hour Decision

Last quarter of 2012, I had a solo-backpacking done in the province of Bulacan. Read Here: 30 Hours Historical Adventure in Bulacan. So from the municipality of San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Baliuag, Pulilan, Plaridel, Malolos, Guiguinto, Balagtas, Bocaue, Marilao and now Bulakan, Bulacan. (Click the yellow links for more info)  -  March 28, 2013 is our regular shift, ordinary day, no other special occasion aside from having a double pay.  Early in the morning, since it's holy week, all of us were talking about religious beliefs.  After that topic, we brought different stories that holy week is connected.  Like penitensya, pagpapapako sa krus and other things were brought up.  All of us were open to different topics so everything was okay with religion.

We were four sitting on our station and everyone shared different stories on how the residents of our provinces are celebrating the holy week.  Every stories were quite familiar, unlike what Cindy's shared: Dakip and  the Sta. Inez stories.  Those were both unfamiliar to us and it was my first time hearing that stories.

Sombrero Island, Batangas

I didn't knew that this island was a part of our Mt. Gulugod Baboy Adventure.  All I knew was a beach for our side trip and that's it, but when they offered to visit this islet, we said YES.  I've been hearing different stories about this island, so no worries in terms of budget, we just in need of ATM.

After our Mt. Gulugod Baboy and Pinagbaderahan adventure, this is our sidetrip.  A sidetrip that wasn't planned, but everything just rolled accordingly.  Sombrero Island is located Mabini, Batangas, almost 30 minutes boat travel from the shore.  This islet has a shape which is almost the same with a baseball hat.  The beach on the side of the islet is a pearly white which has a clear and clean waters.  On the sea bed, round white and black pebbles can be found that added a great scene.  There are also sea animals around the island, so it's really perfect for snorkeling (good thing that I brought my goggles, underwater camera and swimming cap.)

This island is like a small hill surrounded by sea water.  As what you can the picture above, the brown grasses added a unique colors which looks like chocolate hills in Bohol.  The pearly white beach facing the shore of Anilao is noticeable as it reflects at sun rays.  The blue sky and the cumulus seemed to be playing with the islet. 

Since Anilao is well known for being the diving spot capital of the Philippines, expect for a great scenery underwater, even snorkeling will do.  Different kind of fish, sea corals and many more can be seen using your goggles.  Your underwater camera will be a great asset to capture the moments on how the living creatures underwater do their choirs and how they build their own community. 

 We were not prepared to visit that islet, so the scene while we were there was like a Survivor.  Our tents, since they were wet because of the fog, we put this on the bamboo that was connected to two huge boulders on both sides.  Then we used ropes and tied each of the corners of the tents to stones, creating a roof like structure that covered us from the harmful sun UV Rays.  Our food were the left over we had last night.  It was a unique experience because we were able to survive to that kind of environment and we're proud of it!

Since the whole islet was surrounded by sand, pebbles, stones and boulders, I enjoyed a lot doing my Buwis Buhay Poses like the photo above - that's my signature pose. The entrance was 150 pesos then the boat rental was 2,500 pesos.  We all learned a lot while we were there and doing the camping. I just want to share, there were two crows living in that islet, and they were flying back and fort.  I don't know what's the story about that birds, maybe they were creating their own family, which I don't care! hahaha.

WHERE TO STAY in Batangas:
If you have business like Restaurant, Hotel, Pension House, and other travel related establishments and want to be included in this list, e-mail here: dharzie@travellingcup.info

Mt. Marami + ng Concerns

March 16-17, 2013 - together with Batang Hamog Mountaineers, we had a chance to visit Mt. Marami.  This climb wasn't planned enough because the original plan was Mt. Makiling-Traverse, but due to some issues, it wasn't pushed through.  So two days before our plotted dates, we changed it to Mt. Marami in Magallanes, Cavite.  Thanks to online blogs and websites that served as our basis for our over night itinerary.  Our group already reached a lot of summits around luzon, and aside from the trail garbage in Mt. Maculot, the other mountains were fine and we were thankful that the management of each mountains maintains the richness of the ecosystem.

Our Mt. Marami journey was actually a different experience.  We encountered a lot problems that everyone in our group are still debating about it, even it's two days ago, that's why I am writing this post.  I decided to post it "not against" the management or other people around the area of the mountain, but this post will serve as an open letter to both management, locals, and mountaineers as well.  This post is for the benefit of the people who are planning to enjoy the gorgeous Mt. Marami.

Here are some small things that I've noticed:
1.  The Guide and the Guide Fee - it was Saturday, March 16, 2013 at around 11:30AM when our group arrived in the local hall of baranggay Ramirez.  One brgy. councilor was there, maybe he was in-charge that day, when we asked him if how much is the guide fee, he answered "100 pesos per head at bawal ang walang guide dahil maraming liko-liko."  That was the second highest guide fee we encountered in our climb (second from Mt. Pulag) Take note: we were 12 people times 100, it's equal to 1,200 pesos for our group.

We were all shocked when we heard his statement, that's really expensive.  After hearing that statement, one of our member asked him "sinu ho ang makakasama namin kung sakaling kukuha kami?"  The brgy. councilor answered: "ako ang magguiguide sa inyo" - wait! and who will be the one to take care of the Barangay hall? Well - 1,200 pesos is a huge amount, no one will say NO!

Here's what we did:
After getting off the tricycle, there was a 16 years old guy who offered his service for us - as a guide.  So instead of getting the councilor as our guide and paying 1,200 pesos.  So our group and the young boy agreed to have 500 pesos for the guide fee and 50 pesos for the porter services using his horse.

Bad thing about we've did:
Since we got the service outside the barangay hall, the guide we got don't have any idea about his duties and responsibilities.  He kept telling us to hurry, "baka tayo maabutan ng gabi" according to him.  He was the first one on the trail, so we were just following him while he was riding a horse the whole time.  He didn't care if how's the other member of our group.  Take note, we have first timer on our group that time.

The Barangay Should do this:
Not all the mountaineers have work and can afford everything for a climb, so therefore I recommend to lessen the guide fee.  So, less fee more number of mountaineers can afford, so same profit for the barangay.  The barangay council should impose certain rule for all the residents in the area who want to be a guide.  The council should give each of the interested people about their individual reponsibilities to every group they might handle.

2. Unsecured place - our plan was to get into the summit on the first day, then commence to summit early in the morning of the second day, so everything was set properly.  Second day we (as in all of our members except our guide) commenced to summit.  There were some other groups who commenced to the summit earlier than us, so when we left the camp site, the other group just came back to their tents, so at least they can witness everything that can happen while we're not on out site.

When we came back from the summit and we're preparing for our breakcamp, one of our member can't find her stove.  According to her, she put the stove inside it's yellow box, then put inside the vestibule of her tent before leaving the camp site.  But when she checked her stove, it wasn't inside the box, but she's a hundred percent sure that she put it inside.  The stove wasn't there, but the box was still there, so that means, somebody was interested and took the stove while we're not on the camp site.  We all knew that it was our fault, but then because of the trust that we had to everybody, we lost something  - we can still buy a stove, but the trust was already lost to that site - AT LEAST WE LEARNED SOMETHING NEW!

All of us including the other group became close because of what happened - that's the essence of the brotherhood of mountaineering.  Honestly, we judged the other group on what happened, but we kept that issue as a joke while our senses were open to any proof.  One of our member noticed something unusual while we were descending the mountain.

I think there were four groups that time on the summit, the other group took the 2-children as guide.  According to our source, he noticed that those children keeps on checking around first before opening their backpack to get something.  We didn't knew if what's in their backpack, why they were behaving like that - it seems that they were hiding something inside it!

3. Money  Really Matters -  as what I've mentioned above, we took a tricycle going to barangay hall right?  The driver got our contact numbers if in case that we want to hire a jeepney going to Naic, Cavite.  To make the story short, he txted us so we replied!  The driver was the one we're talking about.  He said: " Gusto nyo po mam/sir maghire ng jeep? 50 pesos po per head, deretsong Naic, Cavite na"  So, since its much cheaper than doing a regular commute, so 50 pesos times 12 is equal to 600.  When we're about to leave the Barangay Hall, the driver told us that his one way is worth 700 pesos.  So, we again contributed, to get  the total of 700 pesos.  But, the driver wasn't contented on that amount, so he told us: "900 pesos isang byahe ko eh, kaya magsasakay pako kapg may pumara"  Everyone one of reacted on his statement: " e kuya magtatricycle nalang kami, pataas nang pataas singil mo eh"  then he was silent that time and begun starting the jeepney.

4. Garbage on the trail -  this mountain is really good, even the trail is open to sun light.  But I don't care about the sun's UV Rays, what I am bothering right now are those garbage on the trail, especially the part of trail near the bukal or spring.  The garbage was composed of empty cans - as in a lot were scattered there; plastics and some other things being used by the other hikers can also be found in some parts.

Entrance fee for Mt. Marami is 20 pesos per head, I don't know if where that budget is going to.  I hope that this post will serve as an awareness to every mountaineers who wants to visit this gorgeous mountain.  AGAIN: ANG BUNDOK AY KAYAMANAN at HINDI BASURAHAN!  I hope after reading this post, everyone of us well be aware about what's happening to our surroundings.

Paghalukay sa City of Payns

Baguio City is known as the City of Pines and the Summer Capital of the Philippines.  But aside from that title, this city also is the house of the gorgeous tourist spots that every Filipino wants to see. 

The last time that I visited this beautiful place was during Panagbenga 2010, where I was able to experience the cool weather.  I also visited different tourist attractions that gave a huge impact to the history of their city.  Since I already visited almost all the tourist spots there, but I was still hearing about the ukay-ukay (second handed clothes) which I didn't experience before.  So, that's our official reason why we'll be going to visit this place.

March 2, 2013 - today is really hot, so right after leaving the office, I went to the supermarket and bought what I've missed yesterday.  When I've reached my apartment, I opened the TV and my laptop and so on.  After checking my e-mails, I took a 2-hour nap that made me late reaching the terminal.  In this post, I'll star my story from the terminal, so when I reached the terminal, I proceeded to the convenient store nearby and we waited for more than an hour there while waiting for our departure time.

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