First Time Climber, Exploring Laguna and Batangas

Coming from a conservative family, I was raised to be ladylike and refined. I remember mom would always ask us to walk from one side of the room to the other keeping our back straight, stomach in, toes pointed forward and chin up. I’m not sure if I can still do that now, though.

Except for swimming, I hardly enjoyed any sport. I don’t get much fun running after balls and shuttlecocks. Even with swimming, I was a late bloomer who couldn’t get over JAWS scenes that kept rolling over and over my head when I plunge into chest-deep water. With patience and practice at the pool in Baker, I gradually learned to be comfy in deep ends of the pool (12ft). Swimming in the open is another issue.

During college, I was introduced to this organization, The Outdoor Club. I know, it sounds too general, hardly enticing at all, but let’s not talk about branding now. As it goes in joining student organizations, Freshies were discouraged. Nevertheless, orientations were always targeted at the campus newbies. In short, I signed up and joined. I was not new to the idea of keeping a tickler since I’ve had the the habit of jotting notes, whatever activity I’m in. Through the years, I’m thankful I kept some notes safe because I enjoy reading and looking back in time. I’d know I was bored in a lecture when I see tons of doodles 🙂

Me and 2 other freshies geared for the month-long training and initiation. And because I had an enormous appetite for new things and adventure, I found myself enjoying what was taught. I was with the Outdoor Club in my first climb to Mount Makiling. I’ve heard fairy and eerie tales going up the mountain, I’d think twice going on a solo trip. Besides, its a safety precaution to always climb with a buddy. It was also my first time to carry a 60-65L pack I had borrowed from a relative. Despite the muddy, grimy and limatik-infested trail, I enjoyed the climb with other club members. My journeys in Mt Makiling never failed to stir an inner satisfaction in me.

Jade Vine in Laguna

Mt Makiling offers a mix of easy and tough terrain. A number of tree species thrive in the mountain making it all the more interesting. I remember seeing a Jade vine in my first visit, hopefully, not yet extinct as of this post. A good friend who hails from Majayjay, Laguna have been concerned about the decreasing number of plants in Majayjay.

Initially, Mt Makiling entices climbers in its slow and gradual slope. I am glad Ipods were not yet available before. They would’ve spoiled the enchanting feel of the forest. While trekking, you can hear the flow of spring water as they flow down the mountain. We used to refill our bottles at some of the designated water source. Overall aesthetics is two thumbs up, you won’t think twice about returning.

I made several return trips to Mt Makiling from 1997 to 2001. The most unforgettable were my first and last trips. The last one being a night trek to Peak2, which is a few minutes from the summit, Peak1. Now with The UP Badgers Club, me and my climb buddy, Kistna, were climbing ahead to make sure we had space for the rest of the pack. We started around 5pm after our class and headed straight to the UPLB Forestry Admin to register. I appreciate the folks advising us to take extra caution since some trees have fallen covering the path. Yeah, I had forgotten the recent typhoon. We came across 2 huge (it would probably take two to join hands around the trunk) logs piled on the path and we had to use our flashlights to see where to climb.

Kistna and I kept chatting as the darkness grew deeper. The more we talked, it seemed, the more we forgot how terrified we both were of being followed by something we couldn’t see. But of course, we weren’t followed! It’s just the eerie feeling of being alone in the dark forest. We were so relieved upon making it to Katmon (unique to the Philippine forests) area and eventually at Peak2. Though, I haven’t returned since then. I am looking forward to take my new climbing partner.

I can’t find photos of my climbs in Mt Makiling so I hope by posting these, I won’t forget how it was like. The rest are shots in Mt Maculot, Cuenca, Batangas. Digital cameras have not arrived in the Philippines back then, so bare with my scanned photos; they’re more than 10 years old.

Return From Mt Maculot Rockies

The Mt Maculot fun climb in Cuenca is short but spiced with steep slopes. Short enough for day trips but take enough for water for hydration. Its extremely hot on top as there are barely trees. I hated seeing vendors on top of the mountain. Obviously, they cater to non-backpackers and tourists who had no orientation on how natural conservation and preservation goes with eco-tourism. Stores usually add to irresponsible garbage disposal. Too bad, the mountain offered such a beautiful view without them. People should learn to practice minimalist packing and stop throwing trash in our mountains.

On the way to Mt Makulot Rockies

Ladies' Tent at Mt Maculot

One of the activities I miss is rappelling in a hurry. Yes, in a hurry. Because we had no other venue for brief, spontaneous practice but the prohibited Molawin Bridge behind the Main Library on the way to Forestry. We would set up early between 5 and 6 in the morning where many in campus still slurred in their sleep. We just wanted to make 2-3 drops before the UPF made their rounds. Not sure how they rappel in campus these days.

Rappel at the bridge

After learning how to rappel, I got into wall climbing. Climbing outdoors is very tricky and you have to be ready to take some nasty scratches along the way. Fortunate enough we have indoor walls in Manila. But as of last year, I only found Power Up in Silver City. Looking forward to try the wall in Caliraya, Lumban, Laguna.


~ by theorangehut on November 30, 2010.

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