Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mt. Pinatubo

Solo-Backpacking in Mt. Pinatubo 
by Marion Erika Macapagal

Mt. Pinatubo has become one of the most famous volcanoes in the country after its eruption in 1991. It might have brought massive destruction of infrastructures and resources, natural or man-made, but its beauty nowadays is incomparable that tourists, local or foreigners, would be wowed seeing its summit and the crater lake.

BP King's nice capture!

My shot! :)

It was an unplanned solo-backpacking trip since BP Clue booked the trip for two dated November 3rd. But Clue was still in Samar two days before the trip and was enjoying her time there.  She notified me that she needed to rebook the trip for Nov 10 and she was asking me if I’ll take the original sched or join her. I was busy at work too and for our Halloween party so I was not able to decide right away. When I woke up the following day, I got an email from Tripinas with the voucher and my tour dated Nov 3rd. From there, I knew that I’ll be going solo. I had been planning to try solo-backpacking and I was not expecting this too soon. But I got thrilled for the new experience this will bring. And with this trip, I just needed my backpack, my food, my things and my happy self ت. Everything has been organized for me, so I had nothing to worry about.

I left home at 2 in the morning and arrived in McDo Panay Ave around 2:15am of Nov 3rd. The call time was 2:30am. I ate my breakfast and while eating, I received a text message that a staff from Tripinas is there waiting for us. He’s a foreigner and can be easily identified, so I went ahead and talked to him, paid the remaining balance for the tour and he gave me a short briefing on what to expect from the trip. While waiting for the 3am departure, I was busy looking around, observing people and figuring out whom I’ll be joining (there were two groups for the two van). It seems that all the people with backpacks have their own group and I suddenly felt sad because I’m missing my Backpacker family at that moment ☹. But “this is the beginning of the challenge”, I told myself. And my gosh! I’m 20ish and I should be ready by now! Haha. The challenge of being alone and getting out of your comfort zone is not easy but this will give me a sense of accomplishment.When you enjoy being with yourself, other people will also enjoy your company when you are with them. Spending “me time” is healthy too. Learning to be independent when you travel is a must-trait of a backpacker and I should adhere to that challenge.

After eating my breakfast, I left my seat and headed to the van parked outside. The plate number was given and is also written on my copy of the itinerary. The driver was waiting outside. I was the first to enter the van. I chit-chatted with Manong Driver while we were waiting for the others. A group, well it seems they are couples, two couples, maybe my age, entered the van. Then the Tripinas staff gave a signal to the driver that we’re complete, and so we left Manila at exactly 3am.

My group :)

We arrived in Capas Tarlac at around 5:30am. While waiting for further instruction from our guide, I introduced myself to the group, got their names and that started the unending conversation. That same group was the same people I joined in riding the 4x4 from Capas to Mt. Pinatubo.

The Sunrise

This 4x4 looks cute isn't it?

Disadvantage of solo-backpacking?- few pictures of yourself with the nice view

Cool ride!


Define ROUGH?


The trek started at around 8am after an hour and a half 4x4 ride. The supposed 2 hour trekking became 3 hours not just because I have a group who were first timers in climbing a mountain but because the sun was so happy that day and it almost burn us like hell ☀. Since it’s a wide & open area due to the lahar, there were no trees but only big rocks which we used as sun shield and resting area, take 5s were frequent.

Starting Point

Children & SCs love hiking too

 ♥ Daughter-Mom bonding in the mountain ♥

Aaawww sweet! Daddy and his angel ♥

Aren't we there yet Kuya Reyno?

Though it was very exhausting, seeing the kids and the elderly still moving forward, and imagining the crater & the summit drives me to go on. Some tourists, most of which were foreigners, were shirtless already due to the so warm temperature, and some would walk fast to get there ASAP.

Senior Citizen: 20 minutes? okay!

You’ll know when you’re almost there when you see these:

Almost there! Just a few more steps :)

I was really amazed seeing this creation! I was like looking at a painting or a postcard or a picture in a billboard.

Pinatubo Crater Lake

The Magnificent Crater lake!

After eating our packed lunch, and resting for few minutes, we headed off to the crater lake and there we swam like kids.

Swimming Area

I felt like I was a journalist the whole time. Haha. I was interviewing everyone, from the van driver, my guide Kuya Reyno while we’re trekking, and any locals I came in contact with, asking them about their livelihood, their family, history of the place and so on. Kuya Ronald, the boatman, is an aeta and he had been working there for almost a decade. I felt happy for our aeta brothers and sisters, for this becomes their source of income to feed their family from the salary they get from the people who manage this place. But I also felt sad. Why? because the people I’m talking about who manage this place are not Filipinos. Locals here are like foreigners on their own land. I thought at first that this is government-owned but nah! Well, I just hope they are getting paid fairly. Anyway, people here are kind-hearted & helpful. No bad experience.:)

Cute Aeta kids ^^,

Again, this is a testimony that I am blessed, and that I should not take any blessing, any people for granted.

I wanted to go to the other side of the lake, which was said to have a better view and a hot spring but my group declined the invitation. I talked to my guide, Kuya Reyno, and I asked him if I can go there by myself. Maybe he saw the eagerness & excitement in my face and told me to wait while he was talking to the bangkero (boatman). He introduced me to Kuya Ronald (the boatman) and he advised me that I am the only passenger to go there and that there are no other tourists in the other side of the lake. I replied “Okay, tara kuya! Sayang ang oras” (Let’s go, we’re running out of time).

Kuya Ronald

Last trip for a boat ride goes to ME

The other side of the lake

When we reached the other side, Kuya Ronald warned me that the sand is sizzling hot. I attempted to remove my slippers but it can really burn my feet. He said that you can place an egg there for 10-15 mins and charaaaannn…you’ll have a boiled egg! Hehe. Cool huh? And since I can’t get into the water walking in the sand, I jumped into the water from the boat. And yeah I was swimming all by myself. After few minutes though, I remembered we need to leave because my group is waiting for me in the other side. While heading back, I was still in awe looking at these magnificent creations of God. ❤

Swimming alone

We need to go down ‘cause we’re so behind our itinerary. It was already after 1pm when my team/group got completed, so then we left the crater.

My last shot of the crater lake

I'm not gonna leave this place w/o a jump shot :)

We were the last group to leave Mt. Pinatubo 'cause one member in my group got injured. Good thing, we had first aid kit and that she had her boyfriend help her for the 3 hour trek. And I had to wait for them so I spent most of the time lying down, looking at the sky while making one of the most memorable conversation with Him. Him who was looking at me from above and keeping me company wherever I am. Though she looked okay and the cut in her foot was not that deep, I would recommend wearing closed trekking shoes rather than trekking sandals, if you plan to hike here. Tripinas recommended sandals because there were numerous river crossing.

Endless river crossing

We arrived in Capas at around 6:30pm. We took a quick shower then left Capas and arrived in Manila before 10pm.

Overall, the experience was liberating & fulfilling. I enjoyed talking to strangers and enjoyed being with myself.

Well, it seems like two other backpackers love spending some time with their happy selves! BP Clue (on Nov 10) & BP King (on Nov 24) in Mt. Pinatubo. Check out their photos!

King Aguilar Photography:

Hot spring!

Cristina Fajardo Photography:


Arnie Monacillo said...

Ganda pala pumunta dito..taz may 4x4 experience pa then pede din pala mag swimming. Akala ko may poison ung water or something. Thanks sa post, dapat yayain ko dito grupo ko. :)


Marion Erika said...

You're welcome Arnie. and Thank you for visiting our site. Yep okay magswimming lalo na sa other side ng lake (parang hotspring, sa may gilid). Enjoy your Mt. Pinatubo trip with your group SOON :)