Monday, April 22, 2013

Taytay Falls Itinerary

Taytay Falls
Majayjay, Laguna


0430 Meet up in Buendia LRT
0530 Board bus to Sta. Cruz, Laguna
0830 ETA Sta Cruz, Laguna; Board jeepney to Majayjay Town
0930 ETA Majayjay, Ride jeepney to Taytay Falls
1020 ETA Taytay Falls
1030 Swimming Time
1200 Lunch
1400 Tidy up
1530 Ride Jeepney back to Majayjay
1630 Ride jeepney to Sta. Cruz, Laguna
1800 Ride bus back to Manila
2100 ETA Manila


Bus to Sta. Cruz: 140.00
Jeepney to Sta. Cruz Market: 8.00
Jeepney to Majayjay: 34.00
Jeepney to Taytay Falls: 16.00
Registration Fee: 20.00
Jeepney to Majayjay: 16.00
Jeepney to Sta Cruz: 34.00
Bus to Pioneer EDSA: 132.00

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Victor Joel "Biki" Ayson: The Kind of Guy You Meet In The Mountains

♫♫There are places I remember♫♫
♫♫All my life, though some have changed♫♫
♫♫Some forever not for better♫♫
♫♫Some have gone and some remain♫♫

♫♫All these places had their moments♫♫
♫♫With lovers and friends♫♫
♫♫I still can recall♫♫
♫♫Some are dead and some are living♫♫
♫♫In my life I've loved them all♫♫

(excerpt from the song In My Life by The Beatles)

It was on the ship bound to Batangas Port when I was asked by a kid if how many times did I have climb with the guy talking with his mom. I replied a couple of times. But those two times namely Luzon 3-2-1 hike and Mt. Guiting Guiting were the two most difficult climbs I ever had. Technically, it covers four mountains so in a way we had four climbs together. By the way, the mom was Elma Muros-Posadas, a well known athlete, and the guy she was talking with is Victor Joel Ayson or Biki as fondly called by his peers. Biki is recently on the news as the hiker missing in Mt. Maculot. 

The aforementioned anecdote happened just hours before he was reported missing. He was with me and three others, Tootz, Mick and Marlon for five grueling days in Sibuyan Island, Romblon. He organized the said sojourn. Basically, he almost did everything the whole trip from event organizer to doing the errands to communicating with us as well as to the guides up to cooking for us and lastly taking photos. The last was his hobby if not passion. Before the trip, I kinda labeled him as "the photographer" due to his expertise on that endeavour. In fact, when he joined the Luzon 3-2-1 hike, I asked Dada who he was, and his reply was that he takes good pictures and that answer was good enough for me. Indeed, the whole trek even in the limatik infested Tawangan trail, he took pictures of us along the said path to Mt. Pulag's summit. And fortunate to me, my first ever sunrise in Pulag was the most special because his pictures was amazing that made some of my friends drooled.
Luzon 3-2-1 Group (Sir Biki on the outer right)

I do not know him really well as we only had interactions during climbs so the Victor Ayson I only know is the Mountaineer/Photographer Biki. His stat sheets is very impressive, he conquered Pulag, Apo and Kanlaon in one year. Those are the highest peaks in the country's three major islands. He also conquered Pulag via Ambangeg (executive trail), Akiki (killer trail), and Tawangan (Bloody trail). He even made Snapshot Adventours in which he organizes climbs for beginners and enthusiasts as well. Probably, the mountain he most loved is Pulag because he went there 10 times in a span of a year. According to him; he has a 6-4 record of successful Pulag Sunrise (a feat I am envy of and hoping to surpass; I currently boast a 2-2 record). I also noticed that he prefers climbing during a full moon. I think its intended for his photography skills.

The Great Pulag Sunrise (courtesy of Sir Victor Joel Ayson)

During our Romblon Invasion, I still remember a lot of things about him like making the ferry boat as a refugee camp wherein he laid out his clothes and other belongings that were wet so it can absorbed the warmness of the sun. In addition, he also had a lot of cup noodles as in a lot as he might tasted all the flavors available on our RoRo trip. Aside from those unusual antics, I observed when we were at Dagubdob Falls, he was a good swimmer as he was the only one able to go to the deepest part of the falls. Also, When he cooks, he always add a curry on the food. According to him, he really prefers having it in his meal. He also respects nature as well as those supposed "inhabitants" in the mountain. When a blue butterfly greeted us in the camp site and quite positioned it self in the cooking area, Biki decided to cook inside his tent so he will not bothered the butterfly as the local said that it was a spirit overseeing us.

As I write this essay and published on the day he turns 27, I will keep on praying for his safety and hoping for his safe return. He still has a lot to accomplish in mountaineering per se. He intends to staged a Mindanao Invasion next year (Talomo-Apo Mega Traverse then a D2K Traverse). I also suggested to climb Pulag days after that so called Invasion so we could have done an epic Pilipinas 1-2-3 (The country's three highest peaks in a few days span; for I the one stupid enough to think of it and he gladly accepted the challenge). Lastly, there's the dream team climb in G2 where as previous conquerors of the mountain and a few fellow hardcore hikers will be assembled for a time attack on the said mountain. (Spoiler Alert: I also remembered Biki telling me that he is planning to pop the question on the country's highest ceiling i.e. Apo this year.)

There are still a lot of mountains, that Victor still need to conquer and take pictures of it so I and a legion of mountaineers and friends are expecting for his safe return. Happy Birthday, Sir Biki!

'Til our next climb, Biki!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mt. Guiting-Guiting Itinerary and Expenses

Mt. Guiting-Guiting Traverse
Sibuyan Island
Entry point: Sitio Olango, Brgy. España, San Fernando, Romblon
Exit point: DENR, Magdiwang, Romblon

Actual Itinerary

Day 0

1700 Board ferry boat to Odiongan, Romblon

Day 1

0300 Arrive at Port of Poctoy; Board bus or Jeep to San Agustin Port
0530 ETA San Agustin Port; board ferry to Ambulong Port
1000 Arrive at Ambulong Port; board trike to San Fernando
1200 Lunch; last minute shopping at the market
1300 Courtesy call to the Mayor's office
1400 Side trip at Dagubdub falls
1700 ETA at Sitio, Olango (Mountaineer's Resthouse)
1800 Prepare Dinner
2100 Lights off

Day 2

0200 Wake up
0300 Commence trek
0340 ETA Olango River; Water source
0500 ETA Camp 1; Breakfast
0630 ETA Camp 2; Enter Outdoor Pilipinas Trail
0647 ETA Bobbits Peak
0900 ETA Camp 3; Lunch; Water source
1100 ETA Crash Site
1230 ETA Remvaldys Peak
1500 ETA Summit
1600 Set up camp in secret garden
1900 Dinner
2200 Lights off

Day 3

0530 Wake up; Breakfast
0630 Break camp
0730 Start Descent
0745 ETA 90 degrees wall
0830 ETA Peak of Deception
0945 ETA Mabel's Spring
1030 ETA Kiss the Wall
1300 ETA Knife Edge
1400 ETA Mayo's Peak
1430 ETA Bulod Spring; Lunch
1530 ETA Camp 3
1620 ETA Camp 2
1640 ETA Camp 1
1710 ETA River
1800 ETA DENR, Magdiwang
1900 ETA Bagumbayan Resort; Dinner
2300 Lights off

Day 4

1000 Board ferry direct to Batangas port
2330 ETA Batangas Port

Day 5

0000 Board bus to Cubao
0200 ETA Manila


Bus to Batangas Port: 161.00
Ferry to Poctoy Port: 991.00
Terminal Fee: 30.00
Jeep to San Agustin Port: 150.00
Ferry to Ambulong Port: 324.00
Terminal Fee: 10.00
Trike to San Fernando: 250.00
Dagubdub falls Entrance fee: 30.00
Guide and Porters: 6000/5: 1,200.00
Trike to Bagumbayan Resort: 75.00
Guide and Porters Trike to San Fernando: 800/5: 130.00
DENR Registration Fee: 300.00
Ferry direct to Batangas Port: 1468.00
Terminal Fee: 12.00
Bus to Alabang: 112.00

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mt. Maculot's New Trail: A Different Perspective

March 3, 2013

Mt. Maculot
Cuenca, Batangas

(Disclaimer: If you are a local authority of Cuenca, Batangas; you are not allowed to read this. :)

Upon knowing there was a new trail in Mt. Maculot, I was easily anxious to try it. It was supposed to happen a week before but  I have to wait another seven days to do so. I invited a few fellow hikers but only one dared to accompany me, i.e. Jonathan, who had only one mountain on his belt (Mt. Balagbag). I told him that this was just an easy trek. With his brand new trekking shoes, we embarked to a milestone event in the said mountain.

Fourth hike on this mountain

My day was started with a rain so I was a little bit lazy of doing the hike but Jonathan was already on his way and so I had no choice but go as planned. When we arrived at he town proper of Cuenca, the weather was gloomy. Upon registration, I asked one of the barangay official about the new trail; out of nowhere he told me that we can also use the old trail. When we were about to commence our trek, rain fell down. Armed with my umbrella while Jonathan wore his raincoat, we pushed through on the cemented road. We rested for awhile in a hut selling halo-halo. When the rain halted, we resumed our trek.

Old Trail is now closed

As mentioned earlier, the traditional trail of Mt. Maculot was closed down four weeks ago due to erosion causing landslides that might endanger the hikers. Thus, a new trail was introduced to the mountaineering community. The said trail is steeper as it had no rocks nor pebbles to cover the trail like in the traditional trail. Due to the rain, the trail was now muddier and made it more harder. Moreover, the trail is less covered by trees unlike in the other trail.

The muddy new trail
Even though the trail was a little bit longer than the old one, in less than a couple of hours, we able to arrive at the Rockies. There were a lot of hikers on that day. A bunch of students were on the Rockies already when we came there. We had our lunch there and on cue after we finish eating, what was once a sunny day, the clouds returned to give a gloomy weather. Then rain drizzled and winds were making their strong presence felt. Ironically, one female hiker sang, "Heto ako ngayon, Basang-Basa sa ulan, Walang masisilungan, ...", which was fitting for that exact moment.

Jonathan flexing his muscles on the mountain's tongue
We rested at the campsite area observing the campers who were still drinking as well as other hikers minding their own businesses. Then right before 1 pm. we decided to make our descend. It was much more muddier than before and it was more difficult to descend such trail. I was having second thoughts of using the old trail but I was a little bit concerned of witnesses (a buko juice owner  and her two sons were there) and so we went on the difficult route.

This is what I get on doing the right thing
After a difficult descend and a couple of slides, I reached the next bukohan station.Right before I came there,  a few people were there resting before they returned their ascend. Then the silver lining came. As I was waiting for Jonathan, who was letting the hikers pass him by, a familiar scenery caught my eyes. When Jonathan arrived, I asked him to go there just across the tree near to us. He obliged and made it to the old trail in a sec. To cut the long story short, we crossed that border and used the old but reliable trail.

Tired of the muddy trail, I found a way on going to the old trail
And so even I know that the trail is closed due to various concerns, I, together with Jonathan, decided to use it because it is much easier. Hence, a traverse was made. Though it was such a feat of doing a new to old trail, just perhaps we were the first one to do this, as a sports fan, this would be ruled as an unofficial record because it was illegal per se. I knew what I did was a show of irresponsible mountaineering but at the end of the day  I chose what was the best interest for me. And the enticing achievement of doing both trails was too much to passed on. Besides, no harm no foul as basketball players always remark. As we crossed the trail, I noticed it was much cleaner than before and so we left no trace behind. As we crossed the closed entrance, we were almost caught by two boys who were just about to make their ascend along with their father. I able to misled them that we did not use the old trail and just taking pictures on that area.

Ssssh, Don't tell anyone!
As predicted we were able to get down faster than those who were ahead of us due to the comfort of using the traditional trail. Though it was unfair to them because we cheated but I still convince myself that it was much safer to use as I used it thrice already. Still, I apologize for doing it and I am not promoting anyone to do that crazy thing. But if you arrived at the same conclusion my mind did, I have one simple advise to you; "Don't be caught".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mt. Banoi Itinerary and Expenses

Mt. Banoi
Lobo, Batangas

Actual Itinerary

0500 Meet up in Buendia, Pasay
0545 Board Bus to Batangas City Grand terminal
0700 Arrive at Grand Terminal; Ride Jeepney to Balagtas
0730 Ride Trike to Lobo bound jeepney terminal
0800 Board jeepney bound to Lobo Town
0900 ETA Lobo, Register at police station; Ride Trike to sitio Malibnog
0930 ETA Sitio Malibnog jump-off
1100 ETA Malibnog Village
1230 ETA Two Towers Peak; Lunch
1330 Start Descent
1410 ETA Village
1530 Back at Malabnig chapel; Ride trike back to town proper
1600 Tidy up; Ride jeepney bound to Batangas city
1700 ETA Batangas City, ride bus at grand terminal
1930 ETA Manila

Actual Expenses

Bus to Tambo Exit: 125.00
Bus to Grand Terminal: 27.00
Jeep to Balagtas: 12.00
Trike to Jeepney terminal: 10.00
Jeep to Lobo: 53.00
Trike to Sitio. Malibnog: 10.00
Trike to Town Proper: 10.00
Jeep to Batangas City: 53.00
Jeep to Grand Terminal: 10.00
Bus to Alabang: 113.00

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mt. Banoi: Conquering the Two Towers

Feb. 10, 2013

Mt. Banoi
Sitio Malabnig, Lobo, Batangas

On this day, Chinese New Year was celebrated. Apparently it is now the Year of the Snake but here I was running like a horse in a trail towards to Mt. Banoi. Three hikers joined me on this hike namely, Noli, Dennis (Finally, my two hiking buddies met in a mountain with me) and sir Richard.

The towers of Mt. Banoi

The ideal itinerary was a four in the morning meet up in Buendia but for some reasons I made it 5 am. Like the past week, I came late due to a Fun Run. Coincidentally, I was also wearing red so I was teased by my colleagues as one of the runners. We left Pasay right before six o'clock and boarded a bus en route to Lipa. Yes you read it right to Lipa, we boarded the wrong bus as we were hurriedly saw and just entered it without reading the sign. And so we boarded another bus in Tambo exit that is headed to Grand Terminal in Batangas City.  The we rode a jeepney headed to Balagtas after which we took a trike to the Lobo jeepney terminal near in SM Batangas City. After an hour of travel, we reached the town of Lobo.

We registered at the Lobo Police station
We went straight towards the police station of the town in order to register in their visitor's logbook. Afterwards, we took a tricycle that brought us to Sitio Malabnig, which serves as  the jump-off station for the hikers.
Let's commence the trek

The first path towards the mountain is a waterless stream. It was a long gradual walk before reaching the water source. Then the real battle begins as we were greeted by uphill trek to the village. Along the trail, we came across with the villagers going down to the town.

Even if it was rocky, we were fortunate it was waterless.
Even though it was exhausting, the trail was relatively easy for everybody. After awhile, we already heard music halfway of the trail. It was a sign that we are near to the village. By 11 in the morning, we reached the village.

Taking a break at the village
We rested for awhile at the Malabnig Village before resuming our trek to the peak. There are a lot of confusing fork trails but the trick is just use the right upward path. It was almost noon so the sun was at its highest stretch but luckily for some time we were covered by trees that served as shade from the heat of the sun.

The trees shaded us from the scorching heat
When the trees were gone, the sun was happy to greet us back with his scorching heat. However, the towers was closely visible. Another sign that we are closer was the electric posts were on our path now. When we reached the campsite, another group was having their lunch there. We decided to proceed to the peak so we continued our trek. This time the trail was narrow and covered by grasses as well as branches of trees. There was also a part whereas one would crawl to cross the covered trail. Afterwards, two wooden fences blocked the way and so one should crossed over it.

No problem for Noli
At last, after almost three hours of trekking, we reached the peak wherein two towers stood there. Though the view is not great like in the campsite, it was still pleasurable as I can view Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal as well as Mt. Daguldol. The sea is also in plain sight so it was fine with me. We had our lunch there and had siesta as well.

Two towers conquered
Like the past climbs, downhill is the best part of mine as I can ran the trail as much as I wanted. All of us were on a Usain Bolt pace so we basically ran most of the trail. Ironically, while I was ascending the mountain I thought when will  I have my first slide for this year. And it was answered right away as I slid down while running downwards.

Usain Bolt pose pointing Isla Verde

After almost of two hours of trekking down back to the jump-off, we were caught surprised that the tricycle was already waiting for us. He was also shocked that we were fast unlike the other mountaineers who previously went there. We alight just in front of the town church and tidy up at the public comfort room. We were ahead of the 5 pm last trip because we made it an hour earlier. 

The chapel where we were picked up by our trike
Before proceeding to the Grand Terminal, our stomachs decided to eat in a bulalo diner. For 140.00 it was a worthwhile dinner for us. After dinner, we went separate ways on our way home. Thank you Noli, Dennis and sir Richard for being my companion on this 40th climb of mine. Thank you Dennis for the photos.

Reward for an exhausting climb: a hearty bulalo

Meet the Fast Four

Sir Richard


The Author

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mt. Balagbag Itinerary and Expenses

Mt. Balagbag
Rodriguez, Rizal

Actual Itinerary

0530 Meet-up in Cubao
0600 Board Bus to Tungko
0645 ETA Tungko; Board Jeep to Licao-Licao
0730 ETA Licao-Licao
0800 Commence Trek
0830 Reach Balagbag Elementary School
0930 Reach Gate; Register
0945 ETA Helipad; Lunch
1200 Start Descent
1300 ETA Falls
1400 ETA Jump-off


Bus from Cubao to Tungko: 55.00
Jeep To Licao-Licao: 27.00
Reg. Fee: 10.00
Jeep To Tungko: 27.00
Bus to Cubao: 55.00