Sunday, April 5, 2015


Tingloy Island & Twin Climbs:
The BACKPACKERS' Unang Hirit sa Tag-Init
By Heinz Henry Lopez Alvarez

Aside from Christmas, as I am a child at heart, I always look forward to summertime, as I am fond of going out of town for some nature adventure plus the beach. So join me in thanking Nickson, BP PRO, for coming up with a great itinerary for The BACKPACKERS' 2015 Unang Hirit sa Tag-Init! 32 individuals, composed of 12 BPs and 20 Guests, had a great start and an excellent way of welcoming the summer - hitting the beach in an island and climbing two minor mountains in Batangas.

The BP and Guests Campsite

Tingloy Island

Assembly was agreed to be at Chowking in Southgate Mall, Magallanes. I went with Nick and BP Chons, who dropped by the BPHQ (The BACKPACKERS Headquarters) to help me transport everything that we needed for this trip - tents, cooking sets, utensils, and our food. There were early birds and I was glad to see familiar faces of Guests who have been joining us almost regularly. Then, one by one, BPs arrived. It was refreshing to see them again, and I could not hide the fact that I missed most of them, especially those BPs who were on "LOA" for quite some time but were able to manage to join and support this activity.

We rented two service vans. Both vans and the drivers were also familiar to us. One of them was our service when we "discovered" Quirino. When already complete, we started the trip to Anilao Port in Mabini, Batangas. I checked the time registered on my wristwatch - 10:00 AM.

This Trip's Complete Headcount

One can actually get to Anilao in two and a half to three hours. But because of some traffic situation in Lipa City that day, we arrived at Anilao Port already behind the schedule. It took us four hours; so it was already 02:00 PM.

It was a Saturday and it seemed like fellow traveling and mountaineering groups had the same plan like ours. Anilao Port that day was busy, which was a good thing - a boat would go back to get all of us, including fellow adventure seekers and local businessmen with cargoes, and would bring us to Tingloy Island! During regular days, boat trips are limited. That wait time from 02:00 to 04:00 PM gave us time to have lunch and to do last minute buys - drinking water, charcoal, and liquor.

Speaking of liquor, we bought 6 bottles, 1L each bottle, of Empi. I thought... just enough must-have during socials... to help warm our bodies against the cold as well. But here come Guests Rhenn, Maine, Ann and Bev carrying additional 4 bottles of the same hard brand! (Those four plus Emma and Ramon call themselves as "Team Talamitam" as their friendship started during our Mt. Talamitam Climb.) Whew! Hard socials, huh!?!

"Team Talamitam" - A Friendship

Two hours wait time is actually long. But in our case that day, it provided everyone the chance to mingle with each other. Small chitchats, laughter, groupies were everywhere.

BPs April, Mau, Ghei, Marion and Chons
BPs Ralph and King Frank

"Group of 32!" called the barker and it signaled us to load the boat. Thanks again to Nickson for his fast moves - we were the first ones to load that huge motor boat which brought us to our destination! A boat ride is always exciting thus the selfies and groupies and poses and camera clicks seemed unlimited.

On Board an MV

BPs Gino and Ghei
Guest Jeng with BPs Leah, April, and Heinz

BP Nick with lady guests.
The lady guests.
Guests sweethearts on board

I was sitting right beside a businesswoman in that 30-minute boat ride to Tingloy Island. "It's four thousand pesos to rent this boat for an exclusive transfer," she shared. I and BP April noticed that she actually owned most of the cargoes that day. "We buy huge volume of necessities in Lipa City to resell in Tingloy. Transporting goods is not easy at all. We need to rent a jeepney so we are sure nothing is being left behind... and nothing is stolen. It is not cheap as well as we have to pay for the cargoes... one sack of rice is almost equivalent to one passenger as we need to pay PhP 30 for each sack," she continued. It was an informative chitchat for me until I noticed that the boat had kissed Tingloy Port. "Welcome to Tingloy, Batangas" said the arch and my fellow BPs joked that I was finally home as the arch showed Mayor Lauro ALVAREZ. "Must be my uncle," I responded laughing. One by one we stood up, lifted our stuff, and crossed the short bridge that connected the boat to the edge of the port.

The Welcome Arch

From the port, we rented eight tricycles for PhP 60 each, and one carried four. All of us were brought to the jump off point for Masasa Beach. It's a small community that is very lucky to wake up every morning overlooking the beach.

The trail going down to the beach is cemented that can accommodate two persons walking side by side. We trekked as fast as we could as it was already getting darker and darker. We preferred to pitch our tents and to assemble our camp right in front of that discontinued beach resort in Masasa.

Once already set-up, I asked some help from BPs Chons and Isabel and Guest Jeng in carrying our cooking set to a nearby residence. Nanay Estrella and Tatay Elegio (Alvarez-Flores) was very kind to let us use their cooking area, including their charcoal, stove, pan... everything. BP Ralph came in to help with grilling pork liempo, then Guests Sheryl and Chino joined the group and sparked up conversation with the old couple. Chino did not fail to make Nanay Estrella and Tatay Elegio laughing with his jokes and Vice Ganda-ish commands. Back in the camp, BPs and Guests were having a relaxed time waiting for dinner and looking forward to the Socials.

Dinner was served at 08:30 PM where steamed rice, grilled pork, salted egg mix, and warm corn soup with egg were huge blockbusters!

Dinner is Served!

Socials followed immediately right after the dinner. Energetic buddies BP Secretary Ghei and BP PRO Nick facilitated as usual. With their expertise in making Socials enjoyable, everybody went excited and child-like spirited! Oh, by the way, thanks to BP Gino for leading the creation of a bonfire! That was very nice!

BP Gino's Bonfire
Guests Behind Fire

We played Ghei's "I Am with a Twist". It was a game where everyone gave his/her name and followed it up with an action (ex: dance steps) that had to be unique. One needed to do his/her best to remember each name and the person's action for it. Because girls to boys ratio was 2:1, the boys had to memorize two names plus the actions during each switch! Sounds unfair for the boys, right? Hahaha! Moving on, when the switching was completed and everyone had shared his/her name plus the action for it, boys were separated from the girls and parallel lines were formed. We were asked to turn our backs from the girls and the girls were asked to do the same thing. Then, Ghei and Nick would pick... say three boys... to face the girls only to find out that only one was actually facing them. Ultimately, whoever was picked solo would say the name and do the action to earn a point for each correct recall. Girls won! D*mn it! Hahaha! That was an absolute fun while getting to know each other.

Girl Power
Mixed gentleman guests and BPs
Defeated gentlemen danced Otso-otso.

We were already playing the second game where "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran was given to us to sing while the rest of the group would have to create musical sounds out beat boxing or using parts of their bodies. But a barangay official suddenly came to our sight and interrupted the fun. He told us to tone the noise down. We were not actually creating annoying and disturbing noise, in my humble opinion. But we had to give in. We apologized and preferred to respect the local the way they wanted, no matter to what extent at both ends.

BP Mau - The Clockwise Tanggero

So we proceeded with the formal introduction. Each one had to tell his or her name, how he or she found out about this trip and the Group, and his or her impression of the Group. After his or her introduction, his or her first shot followed immediately. Significantly, it was Ghei who had the most number of Guests. She invited a friend, who invited a friend, who invited a couple who are sweethearts, who invited a friend... and so and so forth. Sounds like "Are you an open minded-person and open to business opportunity?" Very familiar, huh? Hahaha!

Guest Jeng - The Counter Clockwise Tanggero

As usual, it was an awesome socials. Those who felt they needed to sleep earlier went ahead to their tents, and the rest maximized the time. They were drinking until dawn! Guess how many bottles of Empis were left out of 10? You guess. Hahaha!

Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato

Leah woke me up as it was already time to climb Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato. I checked the time and learned that it's 5:30 AM. Our tent was facing the beach... I meant the sea... so I got to appreciate the beauty of an early morning on a beach once again... then, took some deep breath. "Good morning..." I whispered in the air.

Me pointing the two giant rocks, thus Mag-Asawang Bato.
Nick led the group going up to the starting point of the trail to the mountain. We had a guide all the way to the top. And, everyone enjoyed the great view around Tingloy Island and even climbed the two huge monoliths that looked like a couple leaning against each other - thus the name Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato.

I descended alone and ahead of the rest as I needed to prepare for the Group's brunch. Guests Sheryl and Chino and BP Gino looked like having a nice conversation, BP Mau was taking selfies by the beach, and sweethearts BP King Frank and Guest Red were having a romantic time with the waves when I came back at the camp. Those were quality moments that should not be interrupted.

Please click on the subtitle "Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato" for the complete climb story written by yours truly. - In progress

I picked up our cooking set and the groceries and headed to Nanay Estrella and Tatay Elegio's place once again to cook. It's nice to remember that Guest Ann and BPs Isabel, Chons, and Gino come towards me to help. We came up with sauted corned beef with potato cubes, egd with hotdog omelet and steamed rice for breakfast, plus bread and spread. While we were cooking, the rest enjoyed swimming and capturing moments on their cameras.

We took our brunch at past 10:00 AM. Nick was already able to make arrangement with the boat so we were just basically waiting for it while using our remaining time in appreciating Tingloy Island.

The BACKPACKERS - April, Ralph, Marion, Chons, Heinz, Nick, King Frank, Leah, Ghei, Mau, Isabel, Gino
Simply Masasa
Guests - Jodel, Alvin, Hao, Jeng, Emma, Josh, Caitlin, Sydney, Red, Chino, Sheryl, Bevs, Cleo, Tracy, Emma, Ann, Rhenn, Ramon, Maine, Joan

How we got to the boat was an adventure! A small boat fetched us from the shore to the huge MV Salazar. And, tell you what... the small boat had "katig" only on one side! And we did not have a "bangkero" with us on the small boat at all... two boatmen were just pulling the boat, while we were on it, towards MV Salazar. Hahaha!

It was already 12:00 NN when we found ourselves complete and boarded MV Salazar. Other groups who also spent overnight were there as well. Then, the voyage back to Anilao Port began.

That an hour boat ride from Tingloy back to Anilao was generally safe and we all had peace of mind when we finally docked at the port. It's just that some of us got scared, particularly Ghei, because of the strong waves that tossed the boat and us inside it up and down. Me and Ghei, because we were seated on mono-blocks along the aisle, even fell off our seats when a huge wave hit the boat! Yes, that was how strong that wave was.

Mt. Gulugod Baboy

Because I had climbed Mt. Gulugod Baboy twice in the past, I felt very excited. After two long years of traveling to distant places and climbing other mountains, I would be on top of this relatively easy but nice mountain once again, i thought.

It was already past 1:00 PM when we left Anilao Port for the jump-off point to Mt. Gulugod Baboy. Most bought some light snacks first before that short travel.

I can still clearly remember how i struggled climbing Mt. Gulugod Baboy for the first time. Back then, I was with our so-called Team Unstoppable - my team when i was still working in Accenture. That time, we started the trek from PhilPan (Dive Resort), which was not a joke at all! The reason and what made my first Mt. Gulugod Baboy experience exhausting (?) - the cemented ascending pathway from PhilPan up to that sari-sari store fronting the actual start of the trail that's already off the road, while the sun was up and was scorching hot! Hahaha!

The good thing was, we needed not to experience the same exhaustion climbing this minor mountain this year. Our service vans hiked up straight up to that small community where we could easily park them both. Yes, we were able to lessen the amount of time to invest and the potential exhaustion climbing Mt. Gulugod Baboy. As we preferred to let the sun go down a little bit, we started the climb at 2:30 PM.

A Trail to Mt. GB

Looking at our members and guests' faces after playing along the mountain's spine, i could tell that they enjoyed Mt. Gulugod Baboy.

Please click on the subtitle "Mt. Gulugod Baboy" for the complete climb story written by Nickson Garcia. - In progress

Swimming and an overnight in Tingloy Island, hiking to hug and step on the couple gigantic rocks atop Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato, and climbing to play at the spiny Mt. Gulugod Baboy - we hit three birds in one stone! 

That was a nice way of starting our summer! Thus, this story is entitled with The BACKPACKERS' Unang Hirit Sa Tag-Init.

Photo Credits: BP King Aguilar, BP Leah, Caitlin Anne Lim 


INCLUSION: Van transfers (Manila - Batangas - Manila), Day 1 (Dinner) & Day 2 (Breakfast), Guide and Registration Fees.


Day 1
9:30am Meet up Jollibee Alpha Land (Magallanes-MRT)
10:00am ETD to Anilao Port
12:00nn ETA Anilao Port
12:30pm ETD to Tingloy Port
1:30pm ETA Tingloy Port
2:00pm ETA to Masasa Beach
4:00pm Start Trek going to Mag-asawang Bato
4:30pm ETA Summit of Mag-asawang Bato
5:00pm Descent to Masasa Beach
5:30pm ETA Jump-off
6:00pm onwards - CHILLIN/ BP Socials

5:30am Wake up, sunrise viewing
6:00am Breakfast / Breakcamp
8:00am ETD Tingloy port to Mabini Multi-purpose Port
9:00am ETA Mabini Multi-purpose Port
9:30am ETA Philpan resort (Register)
10:00am Start trek (gulugod Baboy)
11:00am ETA summit (lunch)
2:00pm Start Descent
3:00pm ETA Jump-off Tidy-up
4:00pm ETD Anilao to Manila
6:00pm ETA Manila
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