Monday, March 26, 2012

Unang Hirit Sa Tag Init - BATAAN

It is the start of summer and The BACKPACKERS targeted 
the beautiful and historical town of Bataan for our 
first of three Summer Escapades.

The BACKPACKERS in Abucay, Bataan

Our beloved guests. Thank you so much for travelling with us - April, Des and Tin!

The BACKPACKERS' Unang Hirit Sa Tag Init: BATAAN!



The group met at Genesis Bus terminal in Cubao and left at around 9:30AM. It was a long 3-hour trip but the excitement on what to expect in the trip, the convenience offered by the bus and the friendly bus driver killed the boredom. Since we were the first ones who boarded the bus, we occupied the first few rows. By the time that we entered the first town of Bataan: (Dinalupihan) Manong Driver and Mon were already exchanging heart to heart conversation. 

A lesson from Manong Driver: 
" Kapag nagsisinungaling ka sa isang tao, ibig sabihin nagmamahal ka.."

Well, you be the judge if this saying is true or not.

For backpackers and travelers who are planning to visit Bataan, the two major bus lines that ply the Manila - Bataan route are Bataan Transit and Genesis Bus Lines. These bus lines have terminals in Cubao. We opted to board Genesis that day and Bataan Transit on our way back to Manila. 

BP Clue and guest Tin Santos -- the first ones who boarded the bus

Raven Resort signboard

inside Room 12 of Raven Resort

The itinerary for that day was to drop our packs at Raven Resort in Abucay, Bataan before heading to the nearby town of Pilar for a visit at one of the historical spots in our country: Mt. Samat. 

We arrived at the resort at around 12PM. The sun was already scorching hot. After registration, we headed to the room that we booked: Room 12. It was located at the second level of the White House. The room was spacious and big enough to house our group; with two bedrooms, a living room, a dining area and a comfort room. The resort is a wide park itself. It has several cozy log cabins and houses, a basketball court, four swimming pools and enough space and attractions for you to enjoy. It even has cages where you can view and see birds and monkeys inside. (for more info, check their site at dropped our things in our respective rooms and relaxed for an hour. Then we put lotion on our skin, readied our anti-heat apparels and clothes, and went at the highway where we waited for a transportation that will carry us from Abucay, Bataan to Pilar, Bataan where Mt. Samat is located.

TIP to other backpackers and travelers: If you are on a tight budget and you are following the same itinerary: (Raven Resort + a sidetrip to Mt. Samat), we recommend you board a bus or a jeepney from Abucay to Balanga, Bataan. And from Balanga, board a jeepney or a mini bus going to Bagac, Bataan. Ask the jeepney or bus driver to drop you at Mt. Samat jumpoff point in Brgy. Diwa, Pilar, Bataan. This will just cost you 30 - 40Php per head.

A more expensive route would be boarding Mariveles bound buses, and alight at Ala-Uli in Pilar, Bataan. The short bus ride will cost you 75Php. Regardless of the distance, these airconditioned buses will charge a minimum fare of 75Php. We learned this painful fact that day. There are tricycles in Ala-Uli that can take you to the jumpoff point. 

We ate a quick late lunch in Ala Uli. After that, we arrived at the jumpoff point at around 3PM. We planned on climbing (more of walking) the cemented path up to the park on top of the mountain. But the locals were discouraging us. They told us that we might not reach the park on time as it will be closing by 5PM. But we were keen on taking the path on foot so we immediately started the trek. 

Mon and Percy at the jumpoff point
Posing under the Dambana ng Kagitingan arch!

After walking for about thirty minutes, we found a miracle in the form of a group of religious  excursionists who were also on their way up the park. The locals' warnings dawned on me that regardless of the fact that Mt. Samat is just a level 1 climb, we might not make it on time. So the excursionists' buses were like a sign that we might not enjoy the park if we push through with our plan of ascending the mountain on foot. We hitched a ride and the driver was kind enough to let us in. It was a blessing in disguise as it carried us all the way up the mountain! But wait, it did not carry us ALL! As the bus started zigzagging, we passed by BP couple Liz and Ralph! They were ahead of the pack and did not make it on the bus! The bus driver advised us to contact the two and tell them to board the next bus. They decided to take a tricycle up the park instead... just in time when I took a tricycle in the park to fetch them! Yikes!

But the early mishaps did not matter as The BACKPACKERS had fun when we continued with the adventure. After all, WE HAVE REACHED THE PARK! While taking the last stroll from the registration up to the cross, jokes and laughter were everywhere. And since we did not satisfy our craving for an outdoor adventure by boarding a bus instead of hiking, a lot of us were tempted when we saw an 85 degree wall. It was supposedly for a photo ops only but the adventurous spirits of The BACKPACKERS pushed them to complete the ascent all the way to the top of this wall. 

DISCLAIMER: Scaling this wall is dangerous and we do not encourage you to climb it.

BP Angel

instant Rock climbing!

The wall gods and goddesses

"Town of Pilar, Province of Bataan. The Shrine of Valor if you can remember a historical place that we are seeing on our textbooks back in grade school. A day hike that turned into hitch-hiking coz we need to be there before 5pm but we don't have enough time, good thing some of the excursionists gave us a free bus ride all the way to Mt. Samat's entrance. It was an awesome trip together with the BP. Filled with laughter and pasaway moves like rock-climbing on the wall (way up to the Shrine) while the local people there shouting on us not to do it..hehe..pasaway talaga...Superb!!" 
 -- guest Tin Santos on her experience at Mt. Samat with The BACKPACKERS

And finally we reached the top of the park where the famous cross is situated. Because of the excursionists, the park was packed with a lot of people! So instead of squeezing ourselves in the long queue to ride the elevator to get to the top of the cross, we just strolled around first, a perfect photo ops and bonding session!

Mt. Samat conquered!

The Boys
The Girls

Mt. Samat conquered!

When half of the crowd, mostly the excursionists, left the park, we decided to line up for the famous elevator ride inside the cross! Yes, we were already on top of the historic mountain but we can still go higher by conquering the cross! The horizontal portion of the cross has a viewing deck, which is one of the main attractions of the park. After paying 10Php for the elevator ride, it was our turn to ride the elevator! As we were going up, we could actually see the surroundings thanks to the glass pane inside the elevator. When we went out, we were greeted by the cool breeze inside the viewing deck. We saw the vast plains of Central Luzon, South China Sea and the surrounding mountains of Bataan. We saw the marvelous Mt. Tarak of the Mariveles mountain range, the mountain that we conquered last year where now BPs Angel, Clue, Marion and Weng were inducted. ( a very beautiful sight!

Photo ops inside the cross

Liz, Ralph, York and Percy inside the (crowded) elevator
Ivan and Angel
The BACKPACKERS inside Mt. Samat cross

After a couple more photo ops at the base of the cross, the group descended Mt. Samat. The fun did not stop there as the real bonding continued as we trod down the cemented path and it was already dark! It was a continuous walk, there was just one take-five when we finally hit a spot with a lamp post. After an hour of descent, we finally reached the jumpoff point! We hired a jeepney that cost us 500Php ~ already a good backpacking deal, that took us from the jumpoff point back to Raven Resort in Abucay, Bataan.

The sight of the resort was uplifting considering that we just had a fun but tiring visit at Mt. Samat. We relaxed, cooked our dinner and hit the pools! BP Chons Zosa caught up with the group at the resort. She had an affair that morning and failed to catch the group's Mt. Samat visit. But nonetheless, she planned to visit the site the next day.

Hello Chons!
Chons pointing at exhausted Mon and Percy

After cleaning up, we had our socials at around 12AM which lasted until the sun peeked into the sky again! It was one of the wackiest, happiest and most memorable socials of the group to date.

Getting ready for socials

The stars of the socials are none other than the duo of Angel and Liz!

Angel and Liz' wacky pose

Let's honor our heroes - The BACKPACKERS' Mt. Samat pose

And to celebrate The BACKPACKER'S spirit and determination to conquer mountains and some of the most beautiful places in our country, here's a perfect picture of a true Backpacker: Chons Zosa who backpacked solo the next day at Mt. Samat. Congratulations Chons!

The solo backpacker: Chons

" Had a great weekend with The BACKPACKERS, superb kulitan, kainan, tawanan and a solo Mt. Samat experience. Thanks kay Kuya at sa mga kasama nya na kumuha ng pics for me at nag offer ng ride pababa. That was great! "  --BP Chons Zosa

It was an ironic - tiring but relaxing, trip of The BACKPACKERS in Bataan! The first lined up escapade of the group for this year's summer season!

credits to Liz Honrade, Tin Santos, King Aguilar and Ivan Ignacio for the pictures posted in this entry



To view our other 'Hirit' this 'tag-init':

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