Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flooding with Firsts - Mt. Pico de Loro

After throwing ourselves into to a last minute road trip last September 30 to October 1, 2011 as our alternative get away from our postponed Mt. Napuluaun Traverse I was not really intense in doing another hike a week thereafter. But I wanted to climb as many as I could before audit season hits so I signed myself in for Pico de Loro list inevitably.

To give me a better idea of the mountain that I am going to face, I checked it out the web before the  climb. Pico de Loro or Parrot’s Peak is considered as the highest point within the boundary of Cavite and Batangas. It got its name from its contour that is similar to a giant parrot perched on the mountain.It is also perfect for first timers since it is considered minor with an  elevation  around 664 meters above sea level.

Considered as an easy trek and though it is doable for a dayhike our group opted to make it for two days, just perfect forpetiks mode. We were divided into two groups since some of the berks have their work related concerns. First group was composed of Takumi, JR, JM, Lanie,Billy, Rex and me while the second group who did the night trek were Nhan, Albert,Jann, Mes, Odhie and Riz.

Day 1

First group meet up at 7-Eleven adjacent to SM Bacoor. Originally, we were set to be around 5:00am but it was really raining badly and so expect a massive latecomers like me ( hihihi ). We took a bus ride for P55.00 and after an hour we disembarked along to Ternate Highway.While JR took the lead in fare negotiations since drivers were really scouting it for P75.00, unreasonably high than that of P50.00 we know, we indulged ourselves into a quick breakfast in a nearbycarinderia, getting ready for the trek ahead.

We then took a 15-20 minutes tricycle ride for P65.00 per head and disembarked again at DENR outpost. We then registered for P20.00 per head and after a quick picture taking and few last minute checks we started our ascent.It was a good a start, the weather’s not too hot and is not raining, just almost humid. Thankfully Pico do not shelter ground leeches, as rain and limatiks don’t make a great combo, I’ll tell you.

 It was less than an hour trek before we reach camp 1 wherein we then pay another P20.00 registration fee inclusive of free use of toilets, benches w/ cottage that we accommodate during our lunch and running water for refills and cooking. After more than an hour rest, refreshed and energized we went back to the trail.

The contour of the trail and the steep incline as we go along was new to me but it spells the adventure I’d never expected for a minor climb like Pico. We were also welcomed by mud-covered trail and almost always drizzling weather.  And mind you, it rained hard the day before and that morning so the trail gets muddier, steeper and unfriendly. I can’t remember how many times I was about to slipped and have to endure the mud all the way through.

Nonetheless, it was a fun-filled climb even though we got lost at the last leg of our ascent. Getting lost was inevitable because of some changes evident from previous storms.  We backtracked and found the right trail and it was past 3:00 pm when we finally reached Camp 2. It was foggy and no good views for cameras to take. The weather also suggested an incoming downpour so we readily pitched our tents. Some of the group took a nap after, while me and others huddled ourselves in a circle. It was a soiree of sorts, and as usual we made fun by simply talking about anything, from S’ Takumi’s creepy experience in Mt. Tarak Ridge to just something that cracked out of the moment while waiting for the second group.

Few hours passed and darkness has enveloped the whole camp and intermittent rain showers were already evident when we decided to have our dinner. Good thing we have packed rice pre-cooked at camp 1. Thanks for the great minds of Sir Takumi and Sir JR, we were just relieved from the idea of waiting until past 9:00 pm for dinner ( wala kameng stove, hehehe ).

 Yes, it was 9:30 pm when the second group arrived, bringing along with them their own story of being lost on the trail. I couldn’t help but smile for having shared the same experience. And what’s even truly special that night except that everyone made it safe plus two first met SMBerks namely Dean and Tong ( aka aintnomountainhighenough in the forum ), was of course everyone got a fill of Mes’ spaghetti. First time, I have eaten a good meal at the top of the mountain and I couldn’t agree more when everyone said it’s delicious. Because it was!

We capped off the night with GSM Blue and never ending tales to tell during socials that have been extra fun with Jann and Mes as they share their phenomenal story. I didn’t know what time the rest called it a night, the cold has already taken its toll on my skinny frame so I went ahead. It was a raining socials. Nevertheless, it was as FUN.

Day 2

After our breakfast we made the last leg of the climb, which is going to the summit.  We started as JR took the lead and the rest followed seemingly forming a line.

The assault wasn’t that difficult, but need to be more cautious since only low-leveled grass are the ones one could hang on to when going up. And after 15-20 minutes, we were welcomed with another beauty of God’s masterpiece.


Truly, Pico promised a spectacular 360 degree view of adjoining mountains, indented coves and beaches and mountain ranges.

And who will not be fascinated by famous rocky outcrop (tower for some)? This formation calls my human quest for total adventure yet the team agreed beforehand that it isn’t part of our itinerary. We are not yet braced with proper equipment and it might be too risky if pursued.


We just satisfy our hunger from postponed Napulauan Traverse by staying at more than thirty minutes at the top, pictures after pictures, plank after plank, and pose after pose. We were all like models wannabe trying to get our angle for a good bragging pose. As we went down I gave a last hungry look at the daring outcrop. Looking back at it, I know I got an unfinished business here, enough reason to go back. And definitely, I will.

Going down was one heck of giving in to child-like whims and caprices. Why? Singing along the trail and reaching for Mariah’s Through the Rain and  Regine’s Tuwing Umuulan, we were like shooting a music video with real rain as background ( NaLSS tuloy si Dean at Tong ). We did some more of a kiddo when Rex and I played habulan along the trail ( san ka pa, feeling lang namen nasa patag kame ), reminiscent of kids who didn’t mind of any, just playing.  And I can’t help laughing when he partly bullied those guys we met along for the purpose of finding our soulmates, hahaha.I remember the guy named Darwin, what a cutie!

We also have good times in the falls. The continuous water from above was definitely a sight and seems inviting. The sporadic miniscule amount of fallen water that slightly slaps my face was hard to resist and so with the team who hadn’t planned of taking a dip but gave in. And who wouldn’t give an infectious grin when Rex did a temptation island pose ( Gardo, ikaw ba yan? ) at the rock. Everyone really enjoyed which was evident with the pleasure seen on each faces. Another first I got, this was my first taste of a real falls ever. Hey, haven’t I just enumerated lots of firsts? We were flooding with firsts. Two-thumbs up!

It rained totally just as exactly when we were back at the trail like it congratulates us for such a great climb. And what a great climb indeed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roadtrip: Seven Lakes of Laguna and Beach Camping at Sariaya Quezon

These days, I prefer taking my time and immersing myself on the great outdoors, so imagine the agony I felt when Pedring takes its toll on our supposedly major climb set in Mt. Napuluaun in Benguet, making the roads not passable, breaking the bridge in Lagawe to name a few. The team was absolutely down but good enough to understand that it was all for safety reasons.

I actually have apprehensions of going even when the cancellation was not yet posted since there is another storm to pass through. I’m not that ready to be stranded and left in the open thinking of how to brave such whenever we will be caught in the middle by this. The feeling was a mixture of distress and relief, though the former was  stronger than the latter.

That same day, I ran random calls on my former audit buddies in Puregold. I was thinking of how to spend the weekends, a drinks or something or simply meet up and talk for anything that would quench the thirst of our postponed climb. I was in the middle of a busy tone when I received an invite from Sir Jim for a road trip. Literally, I could hear angels singing. Yay!

So road trip it is, we settled ourselves to run around the famous seven lakes in San Pablo Laguna. Prior to the big day, I spent an overnight at Sir Jim’s since I was the only one coming from the metro. Well, I got the bonus of having a smart conversation with him, talking randomly about life, school, diploma etc, name it .Indeed, an appetizer for the road trip.

The next morning we started off as early as 4:00am to prepare and around 5:00am we were already in the streets to meet the team at a certain gasoline station somewhere in Bacoor, Cavite. We were actually expecting a group of five since JR mentioned that he can’t so Sir Jim contacted his old friend Arvin. Last minute JR says if he can still catch up so we ended up as a group of six jolly road trippers namely : Sir Jim ,Takumi, JR, Connie, Arvin and of course me.

After a hefty breakfast shared through petty talks and laughter around 8:30am at Jollibee we passed through along Batangas, we headed for our first lake. We got few lost rounds finding the lake though, but hey...we just laugh it all out on our way through, after all this is a road trip. What’s even funny was that we even had a running chant that goes like this- Isa, dalawa kaliwa…Isa,dalawa kaliwa…- a direction actually given by a local whom we ask  along the way. And Arvin who knew Sir Jim better than us was good enough to let us have a sneak peek of the latter’s childhood sweethearts. Hahahahaha , who was that again Sir Jim? ( Peace!)

By 9:12am we were able to set foot on our first at last!

Lake Bunot

Lake Bunot is located in Brgy. Conception and has a convenient site for picnic or overnight camping with a good view of the entire lake few steps away. Just don’t forget to ask permission from nearby locals.After almost thirty minutes of embracing ourselves with the view and picture taking ( of course, mawawala ba ito? ) we braced down for our second, Lake Calibato.

Lake Calibato

The lake is in Brgy Sto. Angel and stays as my close second ( Yambo and Pandin are my favorites) out the seven lakes we had been into. It’s a perfect trip for mountaineers like us because one should do a minor trekking down to the lake. It also has a rewarding view of Mt. Banahaw plus a spot for e-camping, perfect for emo or solitary moments.

Around 10:30 we made ourselves ready for the next two: Lake Pandin and Lake Yambo. These two were neighbors located at Brgy San Lorenzo and turned out to be my favorites and so with the team I suppose.

Lake Pandin

We were just being blessed for this trip as this again requires trekking from the jump off point. Lake Pandin has also a majestic view from afar and do have a floating balsa/bamboo raft with a cottage that seems to invite you for a tour towards the beauty of the lake. Perfect for lovers ( ehem… ) , truth be told, I have imagined myself  riding in that balsa with my prince charming.Lol!

Lake Yambo

Our next stop was Lake Yambo which is adjacent to Pandin. This one was my topmost pick among the seven. Aside from the upward trekking we made for almost thirty minutes, the lake has extra bragging rights for its picturesque view from atop. It reminds me of post cards way back in my primary years and you know those days when calendars were boasting of beautiful places? I think I’ve seen this lake in there.

On our way back, we took a rest at the house of Ms. Lilibeth. She then welcomed us and answers whenever the group drops queries occasionally. But what really caught my attention was the sight of her six children with ages ranging from 2months to seven. I always melt at the sight of young children uncared even if they’re not in any way related to me. I really hope those kids could go to school through college and even silently praying their parents could take responsibility in capital letters (excuse me for being mushy). They actually gave Sir Jim an idea that they could be the next SMILE beneficiaries which we practically agreed upon.

So much for the melodrama, we descend back to Pandin around 12:00 noon. Four down! By this time, we’re hungry so after we help ourselves withthree liters of freezing soft drinks we headed back to take lunch somewhere and ended up in a mami marathon. T’was was really good, we can’t be satisfied with just a single mami soup serving, each of us got two!

Our next stop in line was Lake Mohicap and Lake Palakpakin.

Lake Mohicap

Lake Mojicap (or Mohikap) is in Barangay Sta. Catalina that also requires trekking down. Another recommended site for emo and soul searching for the view is also captivating and serene that we stayed there for almost an hour just by having a random talk on anything.

Lake Palakpakin

From there, we drove to Lake Palakpakin In Brgy. San Buenaventura. The lake has a bridge view between Brgy. San Lorenzo and Brgy. San Buenaventura. We were in time to catch the sight of children taking a dip in the lake and having fun jumping from the bridge down to the water. Awesome!

After Lake Palakpakin, we were deciding where to spend the night. After series of inquiries and unanswered phone calls to one of Sir Jim’s researched place to stay with we’re down to beach camping at Sariaya Quezon. Yay! The travel itself with each other was pandemonium! Having Arvin as the master in kalokohan, fun was really overflowing.I really enjoyed every second of trip, the welcoming presence of the beach, the taste of a new dish- Capiz,  much more with our socials that night that simply outdo those I have in the mountains. This was the BEST, so far.

The next day we headed back in San Pablo for our final lake to complete the seven, the Lake Sampaloc.

Lake Sampaloc

Lake Sampaloc is the largest among the lakes. There's a view deck near the city hospital yet we opted to trek down to the lakeside to get a much clearer view.

There you go, we’ve just completed the famous seven lakes and now it’s time to let our taste buds get acquainted with what Kusina Salud has to offer.For a heads up, this resto got good reviews in some blogger’s account and so the trip won’t be a hit without having to dine there.

However, Kusina Salud was now named Patistito which get us little confused along the way. The restaurant was more like of a garden with its different plants and a mini zoo at the back. The settings also are somewhat Spanish inspired, something like in old days that is evident in every corner from the design and through its interior. One of the staff disclosed that Kusina Salud was formerly managed by the children of Patis and Tito Tesoro and acquired by the parents sometime in April 2011. Hence, Patistito was born.

I'm usually not a fan of restaurant or any dining places around but the menus there were throbbing me with excitement over the thought of trying it so I had to see it for myself. First served was their free appetizer, the Pako Salad.
Picture of Pako Salad

Though I have not eaten pako for almost nine years yet it still was a comforting familiar dish to me but this time with a twist. I used to eat this one as gulay.Sir Jim wanted it with vinegrette but I wanted it that way, definitely a way to start off a HUGE meal.

( Place the picture of foodies here Sir Jim )

We ordered Bulalo,Fried Lumpiang Ubod, Inasal Diablo ( chicken that was soooooooo diablo in spice). Though I have nothing to compare with ( Im a Jollibee and McDo babe), I can say that the food and service are great. Highly recommended and definitely a must-try!

Looking at the team, I could sense content in their faces same as mine even though we were welcomed by always almost drizzling weather on our way home.Thankfully, we deposited ourselves safely in our homes, just the way wanted it to be.

The road trip in general remains special in my heart because that occupies some of the firsts I have now in my list. Again, I cannot end this without saying my deepest gratitude to the organizer. Thank you so much Sir Jim, for being such a person with a big heart, big enough to accommodate a near to stranger category me in your list too…:D

Photo credit: Jimmar D. Lagazo