The #BeautiPulag Experience4:44 PM
After numerous counts of the "hindi natuloy na lakad", the Mt. Pulag trip was a welcome break from such 'events'. We actually 'almost' surrendered and given up our hope to climb one of the highest mountain in the Philippines after we failed to secure our slots from both Barefoot Travels and Travel Factor, but then as they say, if it's meant to be it's meant to be. So yeah, serendipitously we were able to brave the cold weather and strenuous trail to experience one of the best life events that every one should have.
Arcobaleno Tours was our saviour, I told two of my friends that if the climb won't happen in March, then it will definitely not happen this year. But a message popped up and the rest was history. Just a week after law school break and cramming for one last school requirement, I agreed to join one of the most epic and hilarious trip I had. Epic because the result was unexpected. I was a bit worried that I will not be able to pull-off and carry the activity since I lacked exercise and it has been years since I had trek. So what did happen?
I ditched my work trip to Guimaras to save some energy by not travelling that week. It was friday and I was still cramming, both from my school requirement and the preparations for the climb. I'm so thankful to my ever reliable friend that she bought all the necessary things such as sleeping bags, headlight, and of courseeeeee food! So speaking of things to bring, here are some of the needed things to prep for the climb.
So what were the non-negotiable items? You really need to bring a lot of clothes, well unless your Elsa and the cold will not bother you anyway. But seriously, I had four layers of clothing. I had my sando, t-shirt, longsleeves (fleece) and my jacket. The jacket need not be thermal as long as it is enough to protect you from cold, in any case you'll slowly remove it during the climb.
Another non-negotiable was the foooood. I was so shocked myself that I can still be "hangrier" than ever. Upon ascent to the peak, my mind went blank, I was really hungry to death, I did not care anymore whether we saw the sea of clouds, I really need to fill my gas to move forward. I got a bit angry when I was told that we were not able to bring the breaaaad, demmit, but the oreo did suffice. Thanks again to my friendsss who tolerated my spur of the moment lunacy.
The sleeping bag is also important, whether you go homestay or camping, it is an added comfort to the cold weather. Don't worry there are available cheap sleeping bags in Ace Hardware, we bought ours for only 350Php. It's reliable and it's not disposable, I believe it is durable and I am planning to use it to our future YOLO moments in different mountains in the Philippines.
Aside from the food I was talking about earlier, bringing trail food is also important. I suggest you buy cholocolates and jellyace, those that you can just sip like a straw.
The trip was two days and two nights. We left Manila Friday night, or should I say Saturday 12 Midnight. We were supposed to ride in Victory Liner bus but since it was a peak season as Holy week was also approaching, Arcobaleno decided to rent a bus for us. There was annoyingly funny moment when the audio of the bus was at the top of its lungs playing disco songs in the wee hours of the night (cue the remix of It must have been love). Sleeping was a bit of a challenge but I think I was able to doze off for two hours. Baguio at 6am then proceed to the "Monster Jeep". Not literally a monster jeep, Monster in a sense that it can endure the steep road going to Benguet. Three (3) hours then we are at the DENR Office for an orientation. Proceeded to the jump off point of Ambangeg Trail, ate with friends, told my friends that I will just took a power nap that lasted for 6 hours before we finally woke up and prepared for our climb at 1am. Trekked for 3 hours, became hungry, appreciate the surroundings, picture taking, descent for 2.5 hours, starved, ate the five hotdogs simultaneously and surreptitiously from the organizers, changed into clean clothes. Waited for almost 3 hours before finally taking a bath, made friends from "shit", braved the cold water and ate again before we finally rode the monster jeep. Visited the hanging bridge, ambuklao dam then we proceeded to Baguio. Ate dinner, rode a bus, four hours later then we are at Manila at exactly 1 am of Monday. Then go to work with high spirits but sleepy thoughts!
One of the best moments of the trip was the orientation with "Tita Mering". She is a local of Benguet and she is a proud member of Indigineous Community. She had this quirky and animated way of explaining the importance of preserving the environment, particulalry Mount Pulag. I can no longer recall her jokes and what she said, but I will not forget how passionate she is in doing her work and advocacy! Go Tita Mering!
The climb was relatively easy considering that it is considered as a major climb. To be honest, I think I was not physically fit to do the activity as I did not come prepare for the climb, but luckily I was able to surpass it. Surprisingly too that I was at the lead team of our group and was really able to follow the pace of our tour guide. Well, not until I felt the "Hangriness" but all in all it was a pleasant and remarkable experience.