Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mt. Daguldol, Its Pinnacle is So Cool

Fantastic and mystic mist shrouds the surroundings of our campsite in the morning of our tryst at Mt. Daguldol, February 15-16, 2014
Daguldol in Bicol dialect means the rustling and rushing sound of an upcoming strong rain.  In Tagalog, though it is not a common jargon, it simply means heavy rain.
Mt. Daguldol (LLA: 13°40.380N 121°19.160E, 672 MASL (+ 672 m)) located in San Juan, Batangas, Philippines is known as one of the mountains near Manila which according to some locales, got its name because of the usual raining on its summit. Magkaugnay and Friends, a group of greenhorn mountaineers visited the mountain as post Valentine fun climb last February 15 and 16, 2014. With different personal objectives, 24 young professionals from different walks of life, joined in to witness the charm of the mountain and discover whatever experiences are in store for them in that place. The group should have been there last November 2013, but due to some entanglements in schedule, the climb was postponed and pushed through during the Heart Month of the next year.
The members of the group, mostly Cavitenos, headed by the two Magkaugnay and Friends founders Mr. Jeshryl Aranzaso and Mr. Geoffrey Pangilinan assembled at Jollibee Lumina Malls in Imus, Cavite. Lucky me for I have requested them to just pick me up in Carmona, where I came from, before going to the South Luzon Expressway which is the main and most accessible route going to San Juan, Batangas. They were able to have me at 7:30 of that morning.

The 24 cast of Mt. Daguldol Saga before the ascendBack row, from left: Bernalyn Basilio, Darryl Garcia,Edhel Pangilinan, Geoffrey Pangilinan, Henson Casalem, Daphne Pagaddu, Rafael Nite, Dexter aka Trekker Dust, Jhio Aranzaso, Jeshryl Aranzaso, Ellalaine Melo, Ralph Vincent Regalado, Emman Buitre, Jeli-Ann's boyfriend, Jeyz Sosa, Jena Baltazar  and ME. Front row, from left: Madel Aquino Dispo, Erica Sauler, Roxanne Cidro Reyes, MR Topacio Aplaon, Jeli Ann Alcayde ; Seated: Jentz Laguerta.
More than four hours have passed and we arrived at the jump off point Barrio Hugom at about 11:30 of the same morning. The tranquil place was proud of its array of beach resorts which entice everyone to discontinue the climb but instead soak their body in the inviting and crystal clear water. But everyone was still focused on their main agendum to the place, so right after registering at the administrative center, hiring two trek guides, and attending to their personal necessities and call of nature, the group started to hike.

Part of the uncemented road going to Sitio Biga that we traversed
before having our lunch.
A construction equipment used for the ongoing improvements of the roads. In the future,
the trail of going up to the mountain will become shorter for sure.
Scorching heat of violent sun and dusts from the ongoing road constructions greeted everyone. But along the way the topography, the plant forms and the wide blue sea in the backdrop of more than three-kilometer rough (and some cemented) road, told everyone to keep going. We also met Hernan, a ‘pakumbo’ peddler. 'Pakumbo' is called ‘bukayo’ in other places. It is a sweet delicacy made from shredded matured coconut meat soaked and cooked with brown sugar and other ingredients. The odd to this Batangas ‘pakumbo’ is that it is wrapped in dried bark of banana which is formed like an upside rectangular container.

Hernan, the 'pakumbo' peddler, became an instant celebrity because of the presentation of his products,
the 'bukayo' are arranged inside a box-liked container made of dried banana bark and hanged together during the peddling.

Later on, we arrived to a line of eateries by the shore at Sitio Biga for our lunch. That was already past 1:00 o’clock.  After putting down our heavy backpacks, we set up our ready-to-eat lunch we have bought from the stop-shop along the way to satisfy our grumbling stomach. After the lunch, some banters and picture takings, the group decided to start for the real thing. But a hearty prayer was uttered first by MR, one of the female trekkers.

Smile is wider when the stomach is full.
Happiness is contagious but hunger is not.
Choose happiness, it is the secret to stay young. But climbing mountain can make you even younger.
The mostly ascending trail is man-made by the locals and was worked out to be really a trekking destination. The site has been a favorite trekking location of many groups of mountaineers. Although quite new to other hikers, it was discovered by the University of the Philippines Mountaineers in the 1990’s.
The first few kilometers of the Daguldol trail is composed of winding and ascending rocky paths with  shades from various plants and trees like bamboos, ipil ipil, and others which make the travail a lot more easier.
An open trail like this reminds every mountaineer that the sky is watching them.
Mount Daguldol hike is considered as an easy climb or a level one scale for those professional mountaineers. Most of the trails you will encounter are forest path where abundant array of plants and trees give enough shades during your hike. There are only a few hard trails or slippery footpath especially during rainy season.
Wooden with galvanized roof hut was built by the locale
 to accommodate trekkers who want to rest for a while.
A good view of the seascape is noticeable at the early part of the trail, which is a nice place to have your picture taken.
The vast and serene body of water in the horizon
is part of the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.
Aling Tessie's place becomes a hodge-podge to many
mountaineers who take time to stop and try her special halo-halo,
cold water and soft drinks.
Some houses along the way, which became sub-stations of the mountaineers to rest, offer refreshments like halo-halo, soft drinks, cold-water and fresh buko (young coconut) for everyone. For 25 pesos, I tried the halo-halo of Aling Tessie. Also, her house has a toilet for five pesos per usage with unstoppable flow of water from the locally generated water source on the mountaintop.
















At Aling Tessie's place, Magkaugnay takes some minutes to regroup and then proceed the climb to the campsite.
I lost count of how many times the group ‘took five’ every after five minutes especially during the last kilometers of the trail. At a snail-phase, the happy group arrived at a grassland area of the mountain where they spent some minutes to witness the crimson sun behind the silhouette of the mountain ranges in the west which is bidding goodbye for that day. This time, not the sunrise, but the dramatic sunset on Mt. Daguldol became the background for some photos of Magkaugnay and Friends.

Everyone is excited to have his/her picture on the grassland area of Mt. Daguldol while the sun is setting in the west.
The golden sun before being totally devoured by the mountain. Mt. Gulugod Baboy is seen in the west when you are at the top of Mt. Daguldol.
Wacky shot of Magkaugnay on the grassland of Mt. Daguldol.
After that, our guide directed us for a nice campsite spot on the lower area. As a usual trek guide, Jayson, showed also to us his simple hut as his comfort zone during the cold night while in the campsite. Also nearby was a continuous water source where we can get some for the food preparation necessities and personal needs. The dusk darkened the area quickly, so after choosing for the best place, everyone started to fix their tent at the same time. The chilly atmosphere also started to consume our senses. In haste, every sub-group also started to prepare their dinner. While cooking, two to three fireflies showed up their light for our delight. At almost eight o’clock, everybody has finished cooking, put them together at the center ground of the campsite then we gathered around and started dining after the short prayer.
Mr. Henson Casalem while fixing his all-seasoned tadpole tent worth a fortune :)
Cooking is always a challenge to me.
Every blend needs a smile to add the best taste of pork 'giniling' for dinner.
Fiesta time!!!!
A short socialization program followed after dinner. With the sharp lights coming from each head lamp, everybody reconvened at the center and one by one spoke up to get-to-know each other. After some short gaieties, everybody seemed to be engulfed by the inviting wintry for a sound sleep under each tent.
The next morning was freezing. We were awakened and surprised by the shroud of thick fog which made the zero visibility of the surroundings. The cold humidity hindered us to wake up and comply for the five o’clock call time for the start of the traverse going to the summit in anticipation of the much awaited sunrise. One of my tent buddies, Shobe, who felt unwell because of terrible head ache during the past night risen up at about 4:00 AM and with her personal mini stove and cook set, motherly prepared the hot chocolate for us.
Early bird catches the best worm. Shobe amid the thick fog
bravely prepares our breakfast for the day.
Lazily and comfortably, the three of us stayed inside our big tent and continued our sleep with pleasure of the combined warmth expelled by our own bodies. After a while, the cups of hot chocolate were handed to us through the triangular flappy slot of our tent. We delightfully sipped them up which invigorated and awakened our senses. Later on, I asked Jentz, my other tent companion for us to prep up. But Raf, our other companion, continued his deep undisturbed furlough.
Residues of the past night's socials
We heard that some of our group members from the other tents have also woken up. One voice announced that the climb to the summit will be delayed because of the thick fog still embracing the forest. Our guide informed and assured us that the fog will clear up and disappear only by 7:30 later. I regret it for not seeing the much-awaited sunrise on the summit. But who am I to defer and question the forces of  Mother Nature?
Good morning!!!!!
Prepping to meet the summit
Since the unforgiving fog did not want to dissipate yet when the clock ticked at 7:30 of that cold morning, our group did not wait for more but decided to start the ascension going to the summit. The soil of the path was quiet slippery due to the abundant mist of the morning. After some ups and downs of about 200 meters travails under the thick dipterocarp forest, the grandeur of the summit without the golden sun greeted everyone.
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have left.
Whatever you are, be a good one.
At first, the sight seemed heavenly since the backdrop of the peak area was only a blank space of white stupor consuming all the areas around. While satisfying ourselves with the view of the mountain top with our ‘wacky’, look-up, jump shot and model-liked poses for the cameras, God is really gracious and kind when the fog started to disperse. Slowly, a clear panorama of the vast and verdant land started to show itself before us. It was just like a slow motion special effect in a movie. It was really a fascinating and magnificent sight from the summit; a combined grandeur of the landscape and the seascape, a romantic horizon between the greenery and the azure.
Always be on the look out for the presence of wonder.
Only you can make you happy
If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.
It was indeed an experience every mountaineer wished to experience, in the pinnacle of Mt, Daguldol.
After gratifying ourselves with the fresh air of the mountain top, the priceless view it only could offer and posing playfully for the cameras, we decided to say good bye to the invisible gods and goddesses of the summit.
Clinging to the rocks: Beauty untouched and needs not to be touched.
After the fog disappeared...
 Satisfaction was obvious in everyone’s face while they were breaking camp. Cold and fresh buko for 20 pesos each, was also offered by the guide. Some quickly and delightfully accept the offer. After fixing everything, everyone was ready to descend. A group photo was set once more before our farewell to the campsite.
My tent buddies:(from left)  Jentz Laguerta, Bernalyn Shobe Basilio, and Rafael Nite.
Some said that to descend is better than to ascend. But for me, it’s harder. Allegorically, I don’t like to fall down in life and nobody wants that idea for sure. Literally, during the descend, my knees hurt a little due to continuous stepping of the feet with legs unbend plus the body weight is triggered heavier by the backpack loads. Going down the path is more prone to stumbles and falls. On our way, some of our companions including me, tripped and slammed our bottom to the ground. Thanks to my backpack which touched first the hard soil before my dear buttocks.
After securing the campsite is already clean for the next campers, the gallant Magkaugnay
 takes a pose for posterity before their descent from the mountain.
 The morning sun promised for a hot day.  We just trekked for less than an hour before we came to the picturesque Naambon Falls. It was another fascinating sight. The waters cascading gracefully from the top, create triumvirate stairs of dramatic waterfalls. The highest, about 20 feet high, is located on top and the two other shorter falls below. Its black and gray walls with abundance of thick moss and fungi and gigantic boulder of rocks tell its tale only time could truly share. Some small butterflies flutter cheerfully and damselflies drift freely around the habitat. We stayed there for about 20 minutes. Some took the courage to climb up to the highest part of the steep walls. Picture taking is never to be forgotten during that moment.
Hikers try to measure the three giant stairs of the Naambon Falls.
The gargantuan boulders beckon everyone and extend her warm welcome.
From afar, the thin flow of the waterfalls looks like grandmother's long hair flowing down.
With the excitement for the next venue on the list, in haste, we proceeded our trek going down to Hugom Beach Resort.   It is one of the cleanest bays in the Philippines. The resort has more than a kilometer of pristine white sand beach. Its waters are pure, serene and crystal-clear. The majestic mountain ranges including Mt. Daguldol serve as a tranquil backdrop to its beautiful beachfront.
Roxanne Cidro Reyes prancing happily in the water
Ellalaine Melo amusing herself on the sand
Staying in the scorching sun to get tanned while sipping some beer and making good cheers.
Everyone frolicked in the sand and immersed in the water. After more than three hours, the sun in the west was hiding once more, and it signaled everyone to pause and prepare to call it a day.
The sun, the sand and the sons of God full of gratitude for the Daguldol climb filled with fun, felicity, feat, fervor and friendship.
Mt. Daguldol never gave us heavy rains as its name connotes. Even the grumbling thunderous sound it also means. It is a silent mountain after all, with pulchritude of nature every mountaineer would love to witness and memories to reminisce. Mt. Daguldol is so cool.

2 comments:

Absolute Zero said...

Two thumbs up! :-D

Absolute Zero said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.