Thursday, March 31, 2011

KAILANGAN MO BANG MAG-BMC?

ANG SABI NG ANGHEL

PART ONE: HUWAG BAGUHIN ANG PISIKAL NA ASPETO NG IYONG SARILI
Sisimulan ko ang sagot sa pamamagitan ng isang munting anekdota! Linggo po nung sinamahan ko ang grupong Sabiterz Tribe sa Mt Makiling. Sumabak kami sa isang ekspedisyong kung tawagin ay MakTrav noong ika-13 ng Marso ng taong kasalakuyan. Nagsimula kami sa Sto Tomas, Batangas at lumabas sa  UP Los Baños sa Laguna. Nung paakyat na kami sa bahaging kinatatayuan ng Haring Bato, may naabutan kaming isang magkakamag-anak na hirap na hirap sa pag-akyat. Ang mag-anak ay binubuo ng tatlong kalalakihang edad kwarenta hanggang singkwenta, isang ina, isang dalagita at isang binatilyo. Halatang physically fit ang lahat ngunit sa kanilang mga maong, at sa mga tatak na Adidas, Nike at Jansport sa kanilang mga kagamitan, hindi maipagkakailang baguhan sila sa kabundukan. Nang amin silang alalayan, napag-alaman naming kumuha pala sila ng local guide sa Sto Tomas. Pagdating sa Melkas Ridge, sinabi sa kanila ng guide na malapit na lang daw ang kabila (Los Baños) at madali na lang daw ang trail. Kabalintuan ang pahayag na ito ng guide sapagkat ang pinakamahirap na bahagi ng paglalakbay sa Bundok Makiling ay yung banda pagkalampas ng Melkas Ridge hanggang sa Peak sa Los Baños. Ngunit pagdating nila sa Los Baños Peak, wala na silang tubig. Maswerte ang pamilya at maraming mountaineers ang nagtungo noon sa Bundok Makiling. Inalalayan sila hanggang sa pagbaba sa Los Baños. Sa kabila ng hirap at pagod na kanilang dinanas, may mga nakilala silang bagong kaibigan. Sa katunayan, naging bahagi na ng Sabiterz Tribe ang dalagita pagkatapos ng akyat nilang yun sa Bundok Makiling.
photo courtesy of Mtr Edwin Gatia
Ngayon, ano ang papel na ginagampanan ng BMC sa ganitong pangyayari. Ang LAGATAW-BMC ay nagsisimula sa pagsasaliksik o RESEARCH. Sa pamamagitan ng research, nalalaman mo ang  transportasyon at ang topograpiya sa pupuntahang lugar. Matatantya mo kung anong uri ng kasuotan ang nababagay sa lugar na pupuntahan at kung gaano kadaming tubig at pagkain ang sapat sa paglalakbay sa partikular na lugar.  Sa pamamagitan din ng RESEARCH malalaman kung anong paghahanda o training ang naangkop sa paglalakbay. Pagkatapos ng RESEARCH, pwede mo nang ibalangkas ang iyong ITINERARY. Hindi ko muna ilalahad ang kabuuan ng LAGATAW-BMC. Ang punto ko lang ay, kung nagsagawa sana ng wastong pagsasaliksik ang pamilya, hindi sana sila mapapaniwala ng guide na marahil ay naiinip at tinatamad lang sa bagal ng kanilang pacing. Malalaman sana nila na hindi pang-beginners ang MakTrav. Malalaman sana nila ang angkop na paghahanda at kagamitan na dadalhin sa kagubatan. Kapag  binalewala mo ang pagsasaliksik, maaring mabago ang iyong pisikal na anyo. Maaring maputulan ka ng daliri, paa o di kaya’y mawalan ng mata o mamatay! Napakahalagang bahagi ng paglalakbay ang pagsasaliksik. Ito ang pundasyon ng mainam na pagtungo sa destinayon at pagbalik sa pinanggalingan!

PART TWO: HUWAG BAGUHIN ANG PISIKAL NA ASPETO NG PUPUNTAHANG LUGAR
the lead pack waiting for the tail
Pag dating namin sa Los Baños Peak, may nadatnan kaming isang grupo ng mga kalalakihang nasa kanilang early 20’s. Kasalukuyan silang nagluluto ng kanilang pananghalian gamit ang panggatong na  nakasilid pa sa isang sakong inakala kong naglalaman ng baboy na kakatayin. Pabulong na sinabi sa akin ni Sir Eduardo Bedural “Sana walang maiwang kalat!”. Pagkalipas ng isang oras, nasa Station 17 na ako kasama ang lead pack ng grupong Sabiterz. Sa kagustuhan kong hanapin ang short cut papuntang Arts Center habang may liwanag pa, pahapyaw na ipinaramdam ko ang aking pagmamadali sa tumatayong lider ng Sabiterz na si Sir Bhenjo Bernardo. Niradyohan ni Sir Bhenjo ang tail pack at sinabihang magmadali. Sa pagmamadali ko, napagpasyahan naming hindi na lang sila hitayin at mag-iwan na lng ng palatandaan sa nakakalitong bahagi ng trail. Gumamit ng mga bato, dahon at sanga upang masigurong mapansin ng tail pack ang palatandaan kung saan ang tamang trail. Hindi pa ako nakontento at ikiniskis ko ang aking sapatos sa lupa upang mag-iwan ng skid-mark na nakaturo sa tamang trail!
Ano naman ang kinalaman ng BMC sa mga insidenteng nabanggit? Malaki! Ang BMC ay naglalayong mapangalagaan ang kalikasan at anumang lugar na tutunguhin ng isang manlalakbay. Ang mumunting wrapper ng kendi na iniwan ng isang iresponsableng manlalakbay ay nagiging isang dosenang plastik na retaso kapag tinularan ng iba ang masamang Gawain! Ang problema sa basura ay hindi lang kaugnay ng pagkasira sa pisikal na anyo ng bundok o lugar. Malaki ang nagiging epekto nito sa buhay ng mga halaman at hayop sa habitat na pinag-iwanan ng basura! Ang pagkiskis ng sapatos naman sa lupa ay nag-iiwan ng isang malalim na sugat sa lupa na hindi basta basta lang natatanggal sa pamamagitan ng mekanikal na pagbura nito. Kabilang din sa kamaliang ito ang paggawa ng mga trench sa gilid ng tent para ilihis ang daloy ng tubig-ulan. Ang kagandahan ng kalikasang tinatamasa sa kasalukuyan ay maaring biyaya ng mga nagdaan nang responsableng mountaineers. Maari ding biyaya ito ng kalikasan dahil hindi pa ito nagagambala ng sinumang mortal! Huwag sana nating hayaan na ang maibabahagi lang natin sa mga susunod na henerasyon ay pangungulila sa  minsa’y napakagandang tanawin!

PART THREE. HUWAG BAGUHIN ANG PISIKAL NA ASPETO NG MGA NILALANG NA MADADATNAN AT MAKAKAHALUBILO SA PUPUNTAHANG LUGAR
Sabiterz Tribe
Sa aking pagmamadali, nakalimutan ko nang hindi ko pala nabigyan ng sapat na pahinga ang aking mga kasama. Isang mahalagang parte ng paglalakbay ang pagpapahinga. Sa halip ay lalo ko pa silang pinagod at pinagmadali. Ang pagod ay nakakaapekto sa balance ng isang naglalakbay. Ang pagod ay nagsisilbi ding mitsa sa isang mainit na argumento! Ang pagmamadali ay maaring magresulta sa injury sa mga kasamang hindi kasingbilis ng lead pack.
Pagkalampas ng lead pack sa Agila Base, nagsimula nang mag-trail running ang tatlong kalalakihan at iniwang mag-isang naglalakad sa trail si Mam Loida. Lingid sa aking kaalaman ang panganib na kinahaharap ng isang babaeng mag-isang naglalakad sa trail habang padilim nang padilim. Hindi ko na inisip na may posibilidad pala siyang pagsamantalahan ng mga taong maaaring nakamasid lang sa tabi at naghihintay ng kanyang biktima!
Ang BMC ay gumagabay sa isang expedition leader upang siya’y maging responsible at nang walang masamang mangyari hindi lang sa sarili niya kundi pati na rin sa mga kasamahan niya!
Ang isang responsableng expedition leader ay iniisip muna ang kapakanan ng kanyang mga kasapi bago ang mga shortcut at unahan sa liguan at pahabaan ng pahinga! Ikaw na ang mabilis, malupit at mabangis! Wag mo naman sana ipahamak at pahirapan ang mga isinama mo! Kaya’t idadaan ko na lang sa lathalaing ito ang paghingi ko ng paumanhin kina Ser Nathan, Sir Rain at Mam Loids!

Batay sa mga nabanggit na kaganapan sa taas. Hindi maitatangging mainam kung may BMC ang isang taong sasabak sa paglalakbay sa kabundukan. Ang kabundukan ay hindi kagaya ng beach kung saan madaling makahingi ng tulong sa oras ng sakuna. Hindi rin ito kagaya ng beach na may mga taong na ninirahan na pwedeng mag-alaga at agarang tumugon sa anumang problema sa basura at pagkasira ng kapaligiran. Nakasalalay sa nilalalang na naglalakbay sa kabundukan hindi lang ang katiwasayan at kaligtasan ng sarili niya at ng mga kasama niya kundi pati na rin ang pagpapanatili o di kaya’y ang pagkasira ng kabundukan

Sa sususnod na post, malalaman  niyo ang sasabihin ng isang Devil’s Advocate!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Second Lagataw Invitational Climb (UPDATE)

Mt Tenglawan Camp Site
I have decided to reduce the climb size for the Second Lagataw Invitational Climb to 10pax or less. The fewer the better! This Bakun Trio is not the traditional Lobo-Kabunian-Tenglawan sequence and will not involve any chartering of transport vehicle. Instead we will use public transportation and will walk the trails from Mt Tenglawan in Sinacbat up to Mts Kabunian and Lobo in Bakun Central. As of now, only two have proven qualified for the trek!
     1.   Dennis Hisanan
     2.   Eduardo Bedural

This time, I’ll be stricter with the following rules:
1.    NO TRAINING CLIMB: NO CLIMB
2.     NO PRE-CLIMB: NO CLIMB
The two rules may be waived only under EXCEPTIONAL circumstances!

I don’t want this expedition to end up like the rather bitter conflict between Ms B.E. and a mountaineering group during their Mt Pulag climb. I don’t wish to include on the list any nuisance participants! If you think you will be liability to the group, you may join other open climbs during the Holy Week! Being a BEGINNER DOESN’T DISCQUALIFY you from being a part of the climb. Being a veteran and/or being a friend of mine DON’T GUARANTEE YOU ANY SLOT on the list. Let the training climbs decide for you!

For the Overview Click HERE!


ITINERARY


Day 0
April 20 (Wednesday)

2300hrs: Assembly @ Victory Liner Terminal (Pasay). We’ll book our tickets a week in advance.
2355hrs: ETD to Baguio. Latecomers get left behind!

Day 1 (Mt Tenglawan)
April 21 (Thursday)

0530hrs: ETA Baguio. Breakfast
0630hrs: ETD for KM 5 Trading Post (La Trinidad). The mini bus going to Sinacbat is beside Petron gas station (across from Jollibee). Final buys for city stuff. Board the bus.
0800hrs: ETD for Sinacbat. I recommend buying our socials stuff here.
1400hrs: ETA Sinacbat. Courtesy call and registration. Change costume. Verify with the Brgy Capt. If the water at the brook in the middle of the uphill trek is safe for drinking. If not, we carry our own water supply for the trek, dinner and breakfast!
1500hrs: Start Trek.
1800hrs: ETA camp site. Pitch tents. Dinner. Socials.
Before 2400hrs: Lights Out

Day 2 (Mt Kabunian)
April 22 (Good Friday)

0600hrs: Wake up call. Break camp/Breakfast/Picture2x. time limit = 2 hours
0800hrs: Start Descent to Bakun dam. Treacherous trail! Trekking poles are recommended!
1200hrs: ETA Bakun Dam. Lunch.
1300hrs: Resume trek. Water source is halfway to the summit.
1700hrs: ETA camp site. Pitch tents. Dinner. Socials.
Before 2400hrs: Lights Out

Day 3 (Mt Lobo)
April 23 (Black Saturday). Bloody Day

0600hrs: Wake up call. Break camp/Breakfast/Picture2x.
0700hrs: Trek to summit
0800hrs: ETA Summit. Picture2x
0830hrs: Start Descent
1130hrs: ETA Bakun Central. Lunch. Courtesy Call. Registration. Leave stuff at the Municipal Hall.
1330hrs: Start trek to jump-off of Mt Lobo (bring headlamps)
1530hrs: ETA jump-off to Mt Lobo.
1730 hrs: ETA summit Mt Lobo. Picture2x
1800hrs: Start descent
2100hrs: ETA Bakun Central. Dinner. Socials na MALUFEEET! Pero minimize noise kasi kabayanan na po to. Pasensya na. Party-pooper lang po talaga ako. Pero konsintedor!hehe
Before 2400hrs: Sleep at the municipal hall. Shower. Pack up. Lights out!

Day 4 (Homeward bound)
April 24 (Easter Sunday)

0530hrs: Wake-up call. Breakfast. Wash up (optional)
0700hrs: ETD for Baguio. This is the only trip to Baguio so time is precious! No slugs please!
1200hrs: Lunch @ stop over
1400hrs: ETA Baguio City. There is an option for a hot side trip. We’ll discuss this on the pre-climb meeting!

I DON’T REQUIRE FEES! I JUST REQUIRE SPEED, ENDURANCE AND GOOD MANNERS!


Projected Expenses

Unlike the First Lagataw Invitational Climb, Bakun Trio is technically not a repeat climb for me. The participants don’t need to cover my expenses! But I would really appreciate it if somebody could organize the creation of an Event Tarp, Shirt and ID! Chip in na lang lahat!

Description
Amount in PhP
Victory Liner Bus Ticket P455 x 2 (to and from)
900
Taxi fare to KM 5 (P100/4pax) or we could rent a jeepney
25
Bus fare (KM 5 to Sinacbat)
160
Registration @ Sinacbat for Mt Tenglawan. I have already negotiated with the Brgy Captain. P100/pax is the best price I could pull down the hefty P200/pax
100
Registration @ Bakun Central for Mts Kabunian and Lobo
50
Overnight lodging at the municipal hall. I’ll try to haggle! I don’t recommend camping outdoors. I’ll discuss the reason on the pre-climb meeting
150
Bus fare (Bakun Central to Baguio City)
170
Total
P1555
Safe Amount
P2500

Training Climbs and Pre-climb meeting

April 3 (Sunday): Mt Marami day hike.
April 9 (Saturady): Pre-climb Meeting @ Robinson’s Pioneer. (beside Conquer outdoors shop)
April 10 (Sunday): ArayaTrav day hike
April 16-17: Tarak Ridge


Unofficial List of Participants (Open pa po. Pasensya na sa hindi papasa sa training climbs.)
1.       Adonis Lloren
2.       Eduardo Bedural
3.       Dennis Hisanan
4.       Teresita Fernandez
5.       Jovi Balinoyos
6.       Jenny Balinoyos
7.       Christian Kalaw
8.       Jay Z Jorge
9.       Ryme Bristol
10.   Andy Starkid
11-13.  Joper Balbuena + 2 friends
14-16. RC Ocampo + friends
17…still open. Message me if I have forgotten to include your name. Thanks


BMC (Overview)


Pasensya na at nawala si Lagataw sa ere nang apat na araw! Pero salamat sa mga sumubaybay. Bago mag tatlong buwang gulang ang page na ito, lumampas na sa anim na libo ang page views at labindalawa na ang mga followers! Bayaan niyo, ang first twenty followers na nasa Pilipinas ay gagantimpalaan ni Lagataw ng isang espesyal na likha niya sa oras na makapasok ang lagataw.com sa top 50 ng kategorya nito sa topblogs.com. Kayo ang nagiging inspirasyon ni Lagataw na maglathala ng mga makabuluhang artikulo sa pamumundok!

Bago tayo magpatuloy, hayaan niyong haranahin muna kayo ni Cynthia Alexander sa kanyang awiting 'Owner of the Sky'. Ang kantang ito ang himig sa likod ng aking pagpanhik-panaog sa kabundukan!

video

At itutuloy na natin ang usapin tungkol sa BMC. Ipinangako ko sa inyo na tutulungan ko kayong sagutin ang katanungang Kailangan mo bang mag-BMC?. Subalit, bibitinin ko muna kayo pansamantala para ilahad at ipakilala sa inyo ang BMC…Tatalakayin ko sa lathalaing ito ang buod ng kurso!
Ano nga ba ang BMC? Mahirap sagutin at mahabang paliwanagan yan mga parekoy! Pero kung ako ang tatanungin, isang linya lang ang aking sasambitin!
Ang BMC ay ISANG KOLEKSIYON ng mga ALITUNTUNIN na GUMAGABAY sa isang MOUNTAINEER sa Pilipinas upang WALANG MAGBAGO sa pisikal na aspeto ng SARILI niya, ng BUNDOK at ng mga NILALANG na madadatnan at makakasama niya sa kabundukan pagkatapos ng kanyang paglalakbay!

Napakasimple kung tutuusin ngunit hindi madaling sundin! Kaya naman karamihan sa mga bersyon ng BMC ay hinati-hati sa tatlong bahagi upang mas madali itong maipaliwanag ayon sa mga layunin nito! Ang part one ay nakatuon sa kung papano aakyat ang isang mountaineer! Nandiyan ang proper backpacking, planning at climb proper. Layunin ng part one na maging Smooth and Comfortable ang iyong paglalakbay! Ang part two naman ay nakafocus sa Camp Management. Sinasaklaw ng part two ang pagiging responsableng manlalakbay! Tinatalakay sa kursong ito ang mga bagay-bagay na kailangang malaman kapag ikaw ay nasa camp site na…simula sa pagpili ng paglalatagan ng tent at mga basic knots hanggang sa pagtugon sa tawag ng kalikasan! Ang part three naman ay nakasentro sa Contingency Planning. Ang kalakhang bahagi ng part three ay tungkol sa Land Navigation. Kasama dito ang Map at Compass reading pati na rin ang GPS.
Marahil sa ngayon may ideya ka na kung ano ang papel na ginagampanan ng BMC sa isang mountaineer. Ngunit maaring hindi pa ito sapat para masagot ang katanungang “Kailangan mo bang mag-BMC?” Sa susunod na post, sasagutin ko na talaga. Pramis!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BMC (Introduction 1)



So gusto mong umakyat?…Tanong!…Nag-BMC ka na ba? Hindi pa ba? OK!  Yan ang pag-uusapan natin ngayon. Ang BMC o Basic Mountaineering Course. Ito ang una mong dapat matutunan bago ka sumabak sa pamumundok. Mamaya na ang apparel, tsaka gadgets, tsaka IT. BMC muna tayo.

Ang katagang BMC ay karaniwang maririnig sa mga linyang…Nag-BMC ka na ba? Hindi ka kasi nag-BMCParang di ka nag-BMC a! o di kaya'y Malamang di nag-BMC yan!
Samakatwid hindi maipagkakailang plus-factor ata ang BMC sa isang bundukero! Pogi-points kumbaga! Subalit, ano nga ba ang BMC?…Bago ko sagutin ‘yan…commercial muna tayo!
Ito ang Nong Shim SHIN RAMYUN...isang Korean ramen. Madalas ko itong binabaon sa mga climbs na lumalapit sa freezing point ang temperatura! Sa sobrang anghang nito, swak na swak sa Pulag at sa sangka-Benguetan! Mabibili ito sa pinakamalapit na supermarket sa inyo! Wala pa niyan si Aling Iska! Punta kayo ng SM, madami niyan dun!
Mabalik tayo…Ano nga ba ang BMC? Pano ba ito nagsimula? Sa pagkakaalam ko, ang BMC ay unang binalangkas ng UP Mountaineers noong early 80’s. Hinango nila ito sa mga libro sa mountaineering lalo na yung kay Alan Blackshaw at sa sarili nilang karanasan sa mga tropikal na kabundukan sa Pilipians. Kinalaunan, inampon na ng MFPI ang konsepto at sinimulan nang iparating sa mga miyembrong oraganisasyon ng Fed! Habang ang UP Mountaineers ay, gumagawa ng sarili nilang paghahasa sa BMC, ang ibang organisasyon na nabahagian ng kaalamang ito ay nagkanya-kanya din sa kanilang pag-rerebisa sa kurso! Samakatwid, sa ngayon iba iba ang bersyon ng BMC. At walang masama dun! Karapatan ng bawat organisasyon yun!…Gaya ng pagkabalangkas ng UPM sa kurso, ibinatay din nila sa kani-kanilang pansariling kaalaman at karanasan ang mga idinagdag at binawas nila sa orihinal na bersyon ng kurso. Bakit? UPM lang ba ang pwede magsaliksik at matuto? Bukod pa diyan, gaya ng nabanggit ko na, nagbabago ang BMC sa pagdaan ng panahon. Ang teknolohiya ay hindi mo mapipigilan. Kung sa dekada setenta, ang main priority ay durability, ang Columbia ay mas nakatutok ngayon sa lightness at comfort ng kanilang mga produkto. At kung dati simpleng lubid lang para sa kalabaw pwede nang pang-akyat ng boulders, ngayon meron na tayong tinatawag na dynamic at static ropes at kung anu-ano pa diyan. Nagbabago ang BMC, at hindi ibig sabihin na ang mga ginagawa mong makaluma ay labag na sa BMC. Bakit, pag umakyat kaba sa monolith ng Pico de Loro sasabihin mong, Uy…wag kayo aakyat diyan…hindi prescribed ng BMC ang lubid na nakatali diyan sa batong yan! Ewan ko lang kung may making sa yo!

So Tanong uli?...Nag BMC ka na ba? Kung hindi pa…eto yung pangalawa kong tanong…Sa tingin mo kailangan mo bang mag-BMC? Tutulungan kitang sagutin yan sa susunod kong post…Malapit na mag alas-dos …matutulog muna ako!

Monday, March 21, 2011

MINDANAO 1-2-3 (2008)

Mt Kitanglad as seen from Mt Dulang-Dulang
Blogger's note: This is a recollection of my Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition in October 2008.

Part One: Mt APO
My whole Mindanao experience began on Oct 27, 2008 when I set foot on Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Lungsod ng Davao (Davao Int’l Airport). I took the bus for Kidapawan and spent the night at an OK economy inn (P200 for a shared bathroom)! I was planning to take the Kidapawan trail for Mount Apo only to know, at the last minute, that my guide hails from Kapatagan in Digos. That's the thrill with no-plans plan--you get to be in a place where you're not supposed to be and you have fun, and you learn…yes you learn. And this is basically how BMC is modified and polished—through constant learning. So i headed back to Digos Cty (about an hour away from Kidapawan) on the 28th--my big day!


securing my medical certificate in Digos City
At 9 am, I went to the city hall to get a medical certificate which took me a long time to secure on account of my high blood pressure. Well, you could always tell the medical practitioners that it's your first time in Mindanao and it's your birthday and their hearts melt. So I got the permit (paid P550 all-inclusive). I was so lucky I was alone cuz i got to hitch a motorcycle ride from my guide (Onel). I arrived at the guide's place at 1100hrs and had adobong kabayo for lunch. We started the trek around noon time and got past Godigodi campsite around 1500hrs.




emergency camp amidst the boulders
When we got to the boulders, my legs failed me so I called for an emergency camp. Luckily (before sundown) we were just about 20 meters away from a flat area that was just enough to accommodate one Coleman Pioneer2. It was a grotesquely fascinating view of a blue tent amidst a vast area of sharp-edged igneous boulders which reminded me of Lex Luthor's idea of Newfoundland. We supped on beef noodles and daing na tilapia--the best I could serve on my 28th birthday! At 0600hrs the following day (29th), after a quick painit, we headed for the summit. The summit was less than an hour away from my e-camp.



I was so unlucky that my memory card got corrupted when I connected it to a computer in an internet café in Cagayan de Oro. The virus ate all my summit pictures but I was able to salvage a photo of me on the crater lake!
We headed back down and got back at 0900hrs and I was at the Kapatagan transport terminal around 1300hrs. Fast eh?! When you’re alone, the journey is really quick! And Kapatagan trail is a very easy trail. Once you get past the boulders, you can prance your way down to the jump-off. At Digos City, I got my certificate of climb and then I took the bus bound for Davao where I immediately took the night bus for Malaybalay City. I Spent the night at an economy inn (for P180 you get a room with a private bathroom at Maila’s Lodge).


Part Two: Dulang-Dulang—Kitanglad (D2K)
My initial plan for my birthday trip was just Mt APO and Camiguin. But I had always dreamed of conquering the three highest peaks of Mindanao in one single journey. So, on a dare, while on top of Mt. Apo (on the 28th) I texted Michael Jan ‘Mijan’ Pizarro (the authorized D2K guide) about the possibility of doing a D2K. Just my luck, he said there was a group of mountaineers from Davao scheduled to do a D2K on the 30th. He gave me the contact number of the expedition leader (Orson of DCMEC) but Orson told me "Puno na man mi bai!" (There are no more slots!). At first, I didn't understand what he meant ‘cuz I just wanted to do a ‘sabit’...there's always room for one more sabiteer. Later Mijan told me that the authorities in Dulang-Dulang and Kitanglad only allow a maximum of 15 climbers (including the guide) at a time. Mijan said "Akong bahala sayo!" (I got your back!). Then he told me to get to Malaybalay as soon as I get back down from Apo. On the 30th, Mijan picked me up at Maila's Lodge. Again, luck was with me ‘cuz when we got to Panahik Outdoors shop (the assembly place), I was told that 2 climbers from Davao had backed out. There's enough room for one more. So I was in. The group was composed of 9 climbers from Davao, 3 from Cagayan de Oro, Mijan the guide and me.
atop Mt Dulang-Dulang
The trek started at Sitio Lantapan (Malaybalay, Bukidnon). We spent one night by a river (Alanib River if my memory serves me right). Then we spent another night at Manny's Garden…so named in honor of the late Manny Serina who introduced Dulangdulang and Kitanglad as mountaineering destinations to mountaineers across the country. I want to write a separate article about this great man. I talked with some mountaineers who are lucky enough to have shared moments with the pillar of mountaineering in Mindanao. The following morning the Davao contingents, along with the porter and Gena from CDO, had to trail back to Lantapan. They had to be with their families during the "Undas". So there was only me, Mijan, Francis (CDO) and Karl (CDO) left to do the traverse to Kitanglad. The trail down D2 was really steep and treacherous. You have to be there to understand what I'm trying to say. We had lunch at the ridge between D2 and Kitanglad. The trail up Kitanglad was even steeper. At one point, there was a rope laid along the trail as the trail was already vertical. I don't trust ropes so I had one hand on it and another one negotiating with the thick cogon grass. We reached the summit of Kitanglad at around 4:30pm.

Part Three: Behind the Scenes
traverse trek to Kitanglad
What I haven't told you is that that D2K traverse almost never materialized. At Manny's Garden, the group was discussing the matter over. They were actually looking forward to doing a D2K thinking that the first night would be spent at Manny's Garden at once and the second on top of Kitanglad, which was/is actually doable. They were really pushing for a night trek during the first day but the guide advised that the group camp at Alanib River. The group finally decided to call the traverse trek off. They would be heading back to Lantapan the following day. Apparently there was some miscommunication. Ronan (Panahik Outdoors Shop proprietor) the middleman between the guide and the group had purportedly initially told Orson that the expedition would only take 3 days and 2 nights, which was not the idea of the guide. So I talked with Mijan and told him that I would really love to do a traverse to Kitanglad. He said, Walang problema jan! Sasamahan kita. (No problem buddy! I’ll accompany you!). He was really determined too to do the D2K. But in the end, Mam Gena and I were able to dissuade him, saying that he has to take care of his name as an authorized guide. It would have been very unfair if he accompanied me instead of the group who contacted him. His biggest market is Davao mountaineers.

a view from Mt Kitanglad overlooking Bukidnon
I then considered, taking the porter as my guide. Later at night, I talked with the two other guys (Francis and Karl) from CDO, expressing my interest in the traverse trek. I needed them as source of courage because the porter didn’t know the traverse trail very well. To my surprise, Karl and Francis were also feeling the same...they'd do the traverse come what may. So I found my companions.
An even bigger surprise awaited me that night. In the middle of our socials, the Davao climbers insisted on taking the porter as their guide on the trail back...we just had to cover the third day extension fee. Deal! So the following morning, at around 9:30 am, the group descended back to Lantapan while I, Mijan, Karl and Francis, took the traverse route.

All things considered, that Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition could never have been more fulfilling and rewarding! It was a clear testimony of how Whim and Luck play their tricks.



hanging out at Chaibodia
But there's more to my Mindanao experience than this Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition! And this one's what I cherish the most—my Palanay (lazy) days in Cagayan de Oro City. After my Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition, I lingered in CDO before my flight back to Manila. I was planning to go to Camiguin but I was told I’d spend a lot of money there. So, I decided to just spend the rest of my Mindanao vacation in CDO. During the day I hung out at two outdoors shops—Viajero and Camping Hut, and at night I would be boozing up in Divisoria or Chaibodia with the movers and shakers of the mountaineering in Mindanao. If you know the names Johnmurs, Nolibaks, Dalvec, Falsis, Jackie (Lou), Mijan, I know you’ve climbed in Mindanao! The City of Golden Friendship didn't fail to live up to its title. And I fulfilled my promise when I returned in 2010. Although Camping Hut had already closed down and Chaibodia had turned into a hip-hop bar, some things remained the same—the cool company of the city’s warm and friendly people!


LUZON 321 (Three Peaks and One Goodbye)

digitization by my good friend Tanya G. Solis

I first summited Mt Pulag in January, 2006 with All-Terrain Mountaineering Club (ATMC). At that time, Pulag was just a dream for me—a five-month-old mountaineer. It was then when I found two of my best climb buddies—Nixon Olbes and Chuck Miralles. Then in April, 2006, with scant information in hand, I scaled Mt Timbak (aka Mt Singacalsa) via KM 54 with my college friend Eric Colipano. And in August, 2006 what should have been a Bakun Trio first anniversary climb for me and the Kuligligs became a whimsical Mt Tabayoc attempt. Without a guide, we tried to penetrate the rain forest in the morning. But the dark, misty, mossy forest of Mt Tabayoc didn’t let us get through its labyrinth of trails and creeks embedded in the moist rain forest trees.

me and Nixon on our first Luzon 321 attempt in December, 2006
After that failed Tabayoc mission the idea of the Luzon 3-2-1 expedition was born. I did a lot of research, planning and correspondences with other climbers notably Sir Erick Bautista. Then in December 26, 2006, my best climb buddy Nixon Olbes and I set out on this unforgettable journey. It was my second time in Mt Timbak and this time, we took the KM55 entry point. It was during this climb that I met Ate Josie. She provided us with lodgings in her cozy cabin! The following day, we took the traverse route and for the first time, set our eyes on the famous Timbak mummies! Then we resumed our trek to Kabayan Barrio. It was during this downhill descent when I got my right knee sprained. We spent our second night at Kabayan Barrio. It was the place which Nixon told me he would want to rest forever. We were there in time for the Scouts Jamboree. And that night, the organizers joined us in our socials and I heard a joke uniquely Bengueteño.
Waking up at Kabayan Barrio on a fair day is like seeing yourself in a place reserved only for postcards. The surrounding mountains slowly getting illuminated by the rising sun makes you feel like you’re witnessing a theatrical surprise of nature in slow motion! We left Kabayan Barrio in the afternoon and went to Ballay by bus. We rested for the night at the solar-powered house beside Tabeo Lake with our guide Santiago. We planned to climb Mt Tabayoc the following day but my knee hurt even more so we just settled for the Four Lakes and Jr Pulag. After arriving at Lake Incolos (the last lake in the itinerary), my left knee also got sprained. It was an ordeal for me to take a single step. And we were soaked in ice-cold rain water! The day passed and we decided to abort our plan to climb Mt Pulag. We went home separately with our hearts defeated but filled with a resolute promise to return for another shot at the expedition. At the same time, we were overwhelmed by the joy over the wonderful experience we had with the place and the people!

with Jessie Laurel and Joshua Calimba in April, 2008
In April 2008, we were ready again to take on the Luzon 3-2-1 challenge. This time, we included two Kuligligs, Jessie Laurel and Joshua Calimag in the team. A week before the proposed climb date, Nixon called me up for a topak climb in Mt Cristobal. Thursday, after the climb, I got a call from his girlfriend telling me that he passed away the day after our climb in Mt Cristobal! I was still in great disbelief and very depressed that I almost gave up the thought of still pushing on with the journey. But in the end I just prayed that he accompany us on our journey. And that became my strength and determination.
During my treks with him, Nixon was the path-finder. His instincts were very strong. When he felt that one trail is a shortcut, he would take it without scruple and we would always end up saving time and effort. We climbed Mt Marami, Mt Timbak and Mt Cristobal without any guide….just the two of us!
And during that second Luzon 321 attempt, I tripped, on the traverse to Kabayang Barrio, at the points where I had to enter the shortcuts we discovered in 2006. It was obviously him leading the trail! And while I was meditating at the river in Kabayan where we had found a rock embedded with silvery mineral on our previous attempt, there was a black-brown bird that kept hopping (not flying) and led me to that same rock! And at last that week, Jessie, Joshua and I accomplished Luzon 321!

Luzon 321 will probably be my most unforgettable expedition. I was a neophyte when I took on this challenge and I succeeded. I am not sure if somebody else had done it before Nixon and me. But it’s not the record that I am after. I keep track of my own personal records! I just hope that this serves as a testimony that you too can do things that you think are impossible.

Our original itinerary was six days and seven nights. This itinerary has been condensed to four days and three nights or even shorter by new organizers like Sir Melo Sanchez! I have never organized another Luzon 321. This expedition is very fulfilling and rewarding! When someone plugs this event, have no second thoughts! Go for it!

Click HERE for our original itinerary.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MT MAKILING (Sto Tomas -- Los Baños)

MakTrav with the Sabiterz Tribe (03/13/11)
Mt Makiling is situated between Sto Tomas, Batangas and Los Baños, Laguna. Both sides provide convenient entry points to the peaks of Mt Makiling. Three peaks may be scaled in this mountain. The peaks have been assigned the names peaks 1, 2 and 3. But to avoid confusion, the blogger would much rather refer to the two popular peaks as Sto Tomas peak and Los Baños peak. This nomenclature is based on the convenient access points to these peaks and not necessarily the geographic locations of the peaks on the political map of the Philippines.

GPS TRACK LOGS
The Track Log in my Garmin 60CSx



Waypoints
(L-R)
Time
Time
(Solo Maktrav: 2009)
Elevation (ft)
Coordinates
San Bartolome
(big green dot)
07:08:49
07:05
585
N 14˚06.553’
E 121˚09.938’
End of hill
(big green dot)
07:58:49
NA
848
N 14˚07.015’
E 121˚10.471’
First Cross
(big green dot)
08:09:45
07:46
988
N 14˚07.104’
E 121˚10.514’
Reforestation
(small green dot)
08:50:55
08:15
1655
N 14˚07.393’
E 121˚10.783’
Kubo
(small green dot)
09:00:22
08:25
1774
N 14˚07.388’
E 121˚10.861’
Palanggana
(small green dot)
09:13:45
08:59
1798
N 14˚07.379’
E 121˚10.918’
Fork
(small green dot)
09:24:09
09:06
1964
N 14˚07.263’
E 121˚10.946’
End of Talahib
(small green dot)
09:49:56
09:24
2316
N 14˚07.424’
E 121˚11.046’
Melkas Ridge Campsite
(green tent)
11:27:38
10:17
2880
N 14˚07.888’
E121˚11.077’
LB Peak
(2nd blue mountain)
13:55:10
12:09
3608
N 14˚08.139’
E 121˚11.627’
To Flat Rocks
(swim icon)
18:14:07
NA
621
N 14˚08.893’
E 121˚13.921’
UPLB wash-up
(shower icon)
18:18:56
Na
511
N 14˚09.067’
E 121˚14.020’
Altitude Profile
GENERAL PHYSICAL FEATURES


The Sto Tomas Trail
Sto Tomas, Batangas offers two trails that lead to the Sto Tomas peak but included in this article is the trail that has gained more popularity among recent Maktrav challengers. The Palanggana trail that starts off at Sn Bartolome Brgy hall will lead you through the Kubo (which has already fallen in) then the ‘Palanggana River’ then the Talahib Ridge and the Melkas Ridge Campsite before you reach Haring Bato and finally Sto Tomas Peak. This side of Mt Makiling is much more challenging and technical than its parkish Los Baños counterpart in that it is steep and segmented with vertiginous ridges. But the most challenging of ‘em all are the near vertical ascents on the boulders following Melkas Ridge! Ropes have been laid on three of these ascents. But on a fair day, the climb up these boulders are rewarding. With the stunning views on both sides of the ridge, you’ll learn how to appreciate vertigo! But remember to maintain good balance as the winds could get really strong in this area. If you don’t want to abort your mission, don’t bring acrophobes up this trail. Once you get past these boulder ascents, though, the Sto Tomas peak campsite can make a good take-five spot. But don’t let your guard down. There’s more challenge in store for you!

The Wild Boar Ridge
Traversing the ridge connecting Sto Tomas peak and Los Baños peak is a two-hour-long negotiation with the thick vegetation. In 2009, it was even denser that you’d have to go through, over and under those vines and ‘teka-teka’ (a thorny sort of vine) that crisscross the ridge. On a moist day, this area teems with limatik (leech). Before you know it, one of them is already in your eye, or inside your ear, in your socks or trying to penetrate the waistline of your pants or probably already past the waistline. On a dry day, the whole route from Sto Tomas to Los Baños is all but rid of these parasites.

The Los Baños Trail
The Los Baños side of Mt Makiling is ideal for tourists and biologists (that’s a euphemism for beginners). This side has rich flora and fauna. The area is canopied by a variety of rainforest trees. The ground is almost always wet. The trail is marked with station numbers (the peak being Station 30). This side didn’t show any significant physical change which could mean it is well-protected by the authorities. Let’s keep it that way! As shown by the altitude profile above, the Los Baños trail is a gently rolling terrain and therefore, long. You’ll start losing your patience once you’ve reached the Wilderness Zone marker. The wide rocky path will tire your leg muscles that you’ll start imagining Mountain Dew or Halo-halo. Don’t despair! Three or more stores offer refreshments starting at Agila Base.
During the wet season, this area is infested with limatiks. These striped tiger limatiks are more agile compared to their sluggish brown brothers in the Sto Tomas trail. They’re everywhere—perched on bushes and cartwheeling on the ground waiting for the slightest human vibrations. But more horrifying than these tiger limatiks are the snakes (mostly cobras) that abound on this side of Mt Makiling. I had a personal encounter with a snake between stations 25 and 24 during my solo MakTrav trek in 2009. Pinoy Mountaineer Gideon Lasco has more stories to tell of these snakes in Mt Makiling.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Sto Tomas Trailhead
The Sto Tomas trailhead is the first obstacle you have to get through in doing the MakTrav. If you’re trekking without a guide remember this:
After logging in at the Brgy Hall of Sn Bartolome, follow the road that heads straight to the hill fronting Mt Makiling until you reach the second turnoff (to the left). Make a left and this should lead you to a stream which is dry in the summer. Piles of rocks will also help you find your way here. But don’t rely on these rock piles as they may disappear in a matter of months. The steam itself changes its form from time to time due to erosion. Follow this stream until you are situated between the left end of the hill (on your right) and a big tree on the left. At this point, you’ll have to take the upward trail on the left. Follow that trail until you reach the first cross. Make a right and follow the clear trail until you reach a rock that seems like a dead end. Make a right up this rock and you’ll have to cross a dry stream which is a tributary to the steam mentioned above. At this point, the ascent gradually becomes steep until you reach the huts. If not maintained, these huts could disappear in two years’ time. Go through the huts and turn left. After about five minutes, you’ll be at the Palanggana ‘river’. Cross it and the trail continues at your right. After ten to twenty minutes notice the fork—one trail veers to the left and the other straight downward. The left trail leads to the Talahib Ridge and the other leads you down to the other Sto Tomas jumpoff. When you get past the Talahib ridge, the trail is clear. After reaching the Melkas ridge campsite, take the trail on the left. This leads up. Haring Bato is already visible at your left from the campsite. Just head for it! After this, you shouldn’t lose your way anymore, as there is only one clear trail until you reach Los Baños. At Haring Bato, there’s a very clear trail on the right side of the rock, this will lead you to a dead end. Many climbers have walked on it that’s why it’s as clear as the true path on the left that goes up Haring Bato! 


Getting There
Take any bus that will go through Sto Tomas, Batangas. There are a lot in EDSA. We took the 0600hrs non-A/C bus in Alabang (P50+). Get off at Sto Tomas Public Market. You can buy packed lunch and other stuff here. Take a tricycle (P50 per trip / 3-4pax). Get off and register at Sn Bartolome Brgy. Hall (P20/pax).
Going home, you can take the jeepney in UPLB to Olivarez Mall. The last trip to Manila is around 1900hrs (less than P100). If you miss the last trip, you can take a jeepney to ‘Crossing’. There are non-A/C buses there.

Getting Lost
There are a lot of accounts of hikers getting lost or trapped in the realm of Mariang Makiling. Never underestimate this mountain. During my second ascent on this mountain, I was never able to find the entry to the Talahib ridge. Some returnees recount similar stories of aborted and foiled treks in the mountain. When this mountain doesn’t seem to allow you any entry, don’t push it! Just back down.

Get a Guide
Get a guide if you’re not very confident in your skills. But beware! Last Sunday a local guide abandoned his guests at Haring Bato telling them that the remainder of the trail was easy and clear. A responsible guide should never abandon his guests (especially in places like Mt Makiling and Mt Marami). When a guide starts telling you Kaya niyo na po yan! (You can do this on your own!) Madali na lang yan! (It’s just a piece of cake!) or Malapit na ang summit! (The summit is near.), it indicates that he is becoming impatient of your being slow or that he has to abandon you! Local guides usually think of the pay so they haughtily say “Yes I can take you there!” at the negotiation stage. When they’ve noticed that you’re slow, they’ll start showing signs. So consider these things when you get a guide. Don’t ask them how long it will take you to finish the trek! They will just boost your confidence with ‘Apat na oras lang yan!’ (It’s just gonna take four hours). Their base is always themselves—no backpacks, and with feet that have become parts of the ground. They don’t consider the fact that their guests are newbies in blue jeans, Jansport packs and Nike shoes who are not aware of how the lack of water discipline can greatly decide the course of their journey! I have trained a volunteer guide in Mt Marami. His phone is always busy now. Last Sunday, I introduced him to Mt Makiling. After one more climb in the same mountain, I can recommend him to you. A mountaineer himself, he understands the needs and weaknesses of each climber. He won’t abandon you. He may advise you to just go back down! He doesn’t charge any amount. Being able to climb a mountain is a great pleasure for him! Just cover his necessary expenses. I myself am a volunteer guide. Just hope that my weekend is free.

Limatik
There are a lot of ways to keep limatiks off your skin. The traditional way is to use detergent. In my case, I put on OFF lotion when I’m about to delve into an area known to be full of these bloodsuckers. When they have sunk their fangs into your skin, don’t pull them off. Use other means in which they would voluntarily let go. For more information on these bloodsuckers click here!
During my solo MakTrav in 2009
Day Hike
MakTrav is best done on a day’s hike. Your backpacks should be as lightweight and small as possible. Overhead backpacks will make it difficult for you to negotiate with the thick vegetation. Don’t bring unnecessary stuff. Carry enough water! There is no known reliable water source throughout the whole trek except for the one in the Kubo which is a bit difficult to locate. Get your body covered. The whip of the talahib is just as nasty as the sting of the limatiks. If you mind the rain, bring along a disposable raincoat or poncho.

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