Some time in March of 2011, our close friends from Manila invited us to join them to an Outreach Program & Mt. Pinatubo trekking trip, after our Puerto Princesa Trip (please see this link: EXPLORING PUERTO PRINCESA PALAWAN). Since I got an approval from the office for a 1 week vacation leave I gave her an affirmative answer. After arrangements was made for us to join the group of Dong Ho (Dong Ho Escapo) was set and confirmed, she then sent us the itinerary.
4:30am - 5:00am - Assembly (Shell Mckinley Makati)
5:00am - Leave Makati
5:15am - 6:45m - Estimated travel time to Dau
6:45am - 7:10am - Quick breakfast/Buy lunch pack
7:10am - 8:00am - 4x4 Travel from Dau terminal to Sta Juliana
8:00am - 9:30am - 4x4 ride via skyway route to trekking jump-off (outreach)
9:30am - 10:30am - Trek to the crater
10:30am - 11:30 - Explore crater/swim/take photos
11:30am - 12:30nn - Lunch
12:30nn - 1:30pm - Explore crater/swim/take photos
1:30pm - 2:00pm - Trek down to jump-off point
3:00pm - 4:00pm - Descend back to Sta Juliana
4:00pm - 5:00pm - Bath/Break time
5:00pm - 6:30pm - Drive back to Dau
6:30pm - 7:30pm - Dinner
7:30pm - 9:00pm - Travel time back to Makati
As scheduled we went to Shell Mckinley Makati to meet the organizer Dong Ho and the rest of the group. Except my friends, it was my first time to meet the rest of the group. I guess some of them are also the same. The group was formed because of one purpose and that is the outreach program for the Aetas. When 31 members of the group was already complete we were led to a van who will bring us to Dau. There are 2 vans for the whole group. Everyone was silent as we drive along the Expressway. We were still tired from our Puerto Princesa Trip the previous days and so I slept throughout the trip until we reach Dau for a quick breakfast and buy our packed lunch.
In Dau there are already four 4x4 vehicles waiting for us. After breakfast Dong Ho assigned us to our vehicle. Excitement was all over us though we are a bit shy with each other yet :). It was going to be an hour drive from Dau to Sta Juliana where we will register and hire a mountain climber guide before proceeding with the trek.
After the registration the group drive via skyway route to reach a group of Aeta families for the outreach. Each member prepared books, clothes, toys & some food to be given to these families. The way to Mt. Pinatubo was a vast area of lahar, there are also streams along the way. The ride was bumpy & rough, clouds of hard dust covering us. At long last my dream to experience an off-road ride finally came true. It may be not the same as when you are in a competition but somehow it was quite a thrill :) We made several stops for group photo-shoot.
When we finally reached the outreach site, it didn't take very long for the Aeta families to congregate. Dong Ho (our trip organizer) talk to their leader and requested him to have his constituent fall in line so we can smoothly distribute our gifts. Spirit of generosity can be felt while we go about distributing the goods. We talked to the leader and learned that what they need most are the items that are hard for them to get like salt, rice & medicines. The experience have made me realized how blessed I am.
After we finished distributing the gifts we continued our journey to Mt. Pinatubo. When we finally reached the jump off point, we found out that there are other groups ahead of us. With our things on our backs a steep plunge began ... It took a few hours of hiking, climbing, stream crossing before we reached the camp site.
The campsite was a welcome stop over. There's a toilet where trekkers can relieve themselves after a long tiring walk. The campsite is also the place where one will know that the summit is just a few more minutes away. It was the starting point of the trek to Mt. Pinatubo peak (please see the photo below). I think I belong to the Senior Citizen group already since it took me 45 minutes to reach the crater ha ha ha ha ha. You try it so you'll know its not that easy :)
At last I reached the landmark that says your finally reached the crater. It was a long climb almost 45 minutes going up. If ever you forgot to bring water or soda, there's a small canteen in the place where you can buy these items but at a much higher price. But I suggest you bring them yourselves just in case they are closed or out of stock already.
The view at the Crater was breathtaking. This is the volcano that destroyed a vast area in the Philippines back in 1991. Todate, the status of the Volcano is still active.
The place was packed with too many trekkers, most of the shades are already occupied. We found a tree which was a little bit taller than me. Just to be able to be in the shade we have to sit on the ground and squeeze ourselves in. It was still fun thou. We didn't wait for others to arrive and took our lunch on the ground, the packed lunch we bought at Dau.
When the other group arrived we were already on a boat crossing the crater lake on our way to a shore in the crater. The water in the middle of the lake was cold but when we reached the shoreline and tried to walk in the water it was warm with some parts that was too hot and can burn your skin.
It was said that these mountains were formed from the lava and ashes when the volcano erupted in 1991. Its form was never permanent. It constantly changes as the weather changes. You will be amazed and awed by just looking at it as it changes its silhouette's when the sun shines on it or clouds covers the rays of the sun. We stayed at the crater site for a few minutes before went back to the camp site for fellowship.
It was past 3:00 pm already and we were still having our fellowship, our guide was telling us to packed and start our descent. They don't want us to stay late because it will be hard to find our way back if darkness will catch us along the way. After everyone has already introduced themselves we picked our packs and headed back to the jump off area.
After hours of walking back to the jump off site Dave & I reached the place while our friends and group mates still behind. It was a good thing because at least I had a few minutes rest before we took the road back home : )
|Team Three One (Pinatubo)|