MOUNT BATULAO!

SUNDAY MORNING. I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing at 4 AM.

My friend, Margie, had been calling me for almost 8 times. I picked it up. “Jhonn, nasaan ka na? Andito na kami sa terminal!”, my friend said on the other line. I was surprised. My senses have been activated a little bit more from a deep slumber. And then I realized that we are going to Mt. Batulao that day, and that, as planned, we must be at JAC Liner terminal at 4 in the morning. But then, there I was… lurking in my comfortable blanket; my body buried with my pillows.

A sudden burst of energy from an increase of the hormone Adrenaline occurred.

I took a bath after sipping 10 milliliters of Milo; there was no bread nor whatsoever. I hurriedly put my rugged look, and packed my bag.

Yes, I’ve done it all in 9 minutes, 57 seconds, and 34.2436 milliseconds. I am Superman.

Departure

It was almost 6 AM when I got to see them at the terminal. One of the reasons why I love them is the fact that they are so considerate. Sipsip. But seriously, they are such good friends of mine!

We arrived in Batangas at around 8:30 AM. The first thing that we did after alighting the bus was to eat in a cafeteria near where we dropped off. My friends ate Papaitan, whereas I opted to eat a hearty breakfast meal — a cup of rice, a piece of hotdog and a scrambled egg.

We headed towards the jump-off point at 9:00 AM. It was a thirty to forty-minute walk. But if you’re reserving your energy for the actual hike, you may also ride a tricycle.

With us is our tour guide in the name of Eddie. Napakasakit kuya Eddie.

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READY TO HIKE. The road that leads to the jumping-off point.

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Along the way going to the jumping-off point is a church called Chapel on the Hill. We dropped by to pray for guidance and protection.

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LONG WAY TO GO. Panoramic view of Mount Batulao.

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TINDAHAN SA GILID. A few stalls have been established along the sidewalk. I just hope it won’t add up and look like a market in the future.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN. SO, TREK!

The moment we reached the jumping-off point, we then proceeded to do the footslog. Being first-timers, we were all so excited to climb up and reach the summit.

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THE SHARPSHOOTER. My friend, Lei, is all ready to capture all the beauty around us. Aside from my own, some of the photos incorporated in this post are from her and Marge.

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Wala pa sa kalahatian. Pero sabi nga, “Do not think about the distance you’re yet to take, but rather think about how far you’ve gone.”

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SAM_0038OUR FIRST STOP. A glass of fresh buko juice for only PhP 10.00.

Moving forward…

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“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)

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SUKLI. Bumili ng ice candy para ma-refresh. Php 10.00 ang isa.

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PLOW IT. A farmer with his hardworking helper.

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I fear heights. I fear the sight of the abyss, as in this case, a bottomless-ish pit. But I do know that this fear is just all in my mind.

Good thing I was reminded by the statement of Brother Arun Gogna, “I am uncontainable!”

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SAM_0069I almost backed out upon seeing this. “How in the world am I going to climb this huge boulder?”, tanong ko sa aking sarili. Dyahe. Lalim! Yun pala may trail palang daraanan. Hehe. Pero nanginig tuhod ko dito kasi ang nipis ng daan tapos bato talaga ang tatapakan din. Natakot ako ng 57.89%.

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Thee hours has passed and we’re almost near to the summit. Mt. Batulao has 12 camps; the 10th being the highest peak.

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IMMEASURABLE HAGGARDNESS LEVEL ALERT. Hahaha.

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THE NERDS HIGH UP IN THE MOUNTAINS. With me is my favorite travel buddy, Marge. When we’re together, we can laugh all day.

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One of Kuya Eddie’s roles as a tour guide is to take a photo of us. L-R: My good friend Lei, the lovers Mark and Mimay, and Marge.

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I AM A TREKKING HIPSTER. Why not? Haha. I do not have the prope attire and gears so I preferred the hipster-gangster-hiphop-jejemon-kind-of-style.

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SUMMIT CLASS PHOTO. Haha! Of course, it is quite mandatory to have a group photo when you’ve finally reached the summit. Oh come on! Yes, we were able to make it. We were complete, alive, and happy — not minding there’s still yet another challenge: that is to go down the mountain complete, alive, and happy. Hehe.

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So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

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QUALITY TIME WITH THE CREATOR. I had a quiet time with the Lord up in the mountains. Though tired, I still felt so light and unburdened. It’s a good thing that I brought my bible. It’s always in my bag anyway. Hehe. After reading the gospel for that day, I plugged my earphones in and listened to slow worship songs.

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SPIDERWOMAN. Go, pose like Spiderman’s other woman. Haha!

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DIRT IS ALMOST EQUAL TO SUCCESS. The climb was an ordeal but the moment I stepped my feet on the summit’s soil, I felt like I am the greatest man in the world– the greatest man next to Jesus. (Let me introduce you to me huge hand).

We weren’t able to take our packed lunch at the summit because of the howling wind so we just stayed there and savor the moment. We went down a little bit and looked for a place where we could eat. As far as I can remember, we decided to go down past 12 noon.

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GIVE ME A FIST! We made it! Yahoo! We were able to safely go down the mountain in 2 to 3 hours. It was a great experience!

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We dropped by Tagaytay City and had a sumptuous meal! Of course, a bowl of bulalo will never be missed out!

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The main thing that I learned from this beautiful experience is to love Mother Nature, to protect and love her in simple ways that we can. We tried our best not to leave traces of trash.

I highly encourage everyone to go and try climbing Mount Batulao. Again, it is located in Batangas. If you are coming from Manila, you may ride a bus heading to Nasugbu/Lemery, Batangas and tell the driver to drop you off at Hillcrest or Evercrest or just simply say Mount Batulao. It is a 3-4 hour trip from Manila.

Oh by the way, there is a registration fee of P20.00 in Mount Batulao. Buko juice, halo-halo, fruits, water and improvised comfort rooms can be found at the camps along the trek.

If you wish to hire a guide, the price ranges from Php 300-400. I discourage you from hiring a kid guide for it is a form of child labor.

I would also like to thank Lei and Marge for some of the photos used in this post post.

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Thank You God for this once-in-a-lifetime experience! This is really something that I would not be able to forget.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. – Luke 6:12


Jhonn Robert, 23, is a Filipino writer who wishes to travel the world with just a backpack and a camera.</

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