Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The May 4-5, 2002 Mt. Pinatubo Climb was my last climb with PNB Mountaineering Club before leaving for my Uganda volunteering placement but one of the most memorable mountain scaling I ever had. It was absolutely a wonderful experience due to the magnificent sceneries from start to finish where there was no boring and dull moment for my feasting eyes salivating in awesome appreciation. I was actually hesitant to join then since a lot of those who visited this mountain told us how they suffered their climb due to the extremely hot sun that almost lead them to retreat and surrender. But our climb offered such a perfect weather where the sun was playful enough to give us a not-so-hot trekking sessions for us to enjoy an endless picture taking. There were a lot of rampaging creeks that offer such cool waters every time we soak our bodies Except for the creeks, everything seemed to be dry but gentle blows of cool breeze give us a refreshing feeling. I could say that Mt. Pinatubo is perfect for photography enthusiasts both amateurs and professionals.

On the other hand, it is with pride to include Mt. Pinatubo in my mountaineering profile of activities since it is so famous throughout the world. As per record, the most destructive volcano in the Philippines is Mount Mayon of Albay with 46 eruptions. However, most of the foreigners knew it more than any other mountains in the Philippines with its very devastating eruption way back June 15, 1991 has completely invaded the international media mileage, after 450 years of peaceful slumber blowing off a 300 meter cap. A lot of stories and media footages were published. I learned that its volcanic eruption shot 35 kilometers into the sky, showering an area of 200 square kilometers with millions of tons of ash and rock and creating a crater jewel-blue lake 2.5 kilometers wide. Consequently, its force of explosion blew off its summit reducing its height from 1,700 to 1,400 meters (5,577 to 4,593 feet. Its legend tells us that Mt. Pinatubo is home to Apo Malyarik, “The Great Provider”and the spirits of the ancestors of some 30,000 nomadic Aeta Negritos found in the higher elevation settlements in Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales Provinces. Mount Pinatubo is 90 kilometers or 55 miles north-west of the capital city of Manila.

Our group was actually manageable in the sense that we were only a total of eight persons, namely: (1) Jenny Ferrer, (2) Enrique “Ïke”Abad, (3) Eduard “Jun“ Mangyao and (4) Johanssen “Jojo” B. Capsa of USAID Manila Office, (5) Mary Jeanne Bejar Santiago of CITEM, (6) Eileen V. De Gala of PNB Balayan Branch, (7) Renee “Dee” Molina of Allied Bank – Head Office, and (8) me. We left Manila boarding an airconditioned Philippine Rabbit bus on the eve of May 3, 2002 at 9:00 P.M. It was Ike who actually organized the climb since he was in that place and he has a lot of relatives who assisted him to make our climb a successful one. We arrived in Ike’s residence in Brgy. Sto. Rosario, Capas, Tarlac at almost 1:00 dawn of May 4 and had our bedrest along Lake Tambo which is just 30-minute drive away from the jump-off point.

We had an amazing morning as we woke up and had our breakfast along the tranquil Tambo Lake. We started our trek at around 8:00 A.M. The trail that we followed was the former Crow Valley Gunnery Range along the O’Donnell streambed in which we used the entry point in Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. It is actually a flat, long valley that leads right up to the crater. We had regrouping in the campsite located in the foolhill before a 20-minute assault to the crater at 1:00 P.M. It was really therapeutic to see the volcano’s lake crater which I can summed up as an enchanting reward for a fearless explorer like me. Though swimming in the crater is prohibited, our group disregarded the guideline and enjoyed the very cool waters of the lake instead. The following day, May 5, was purely a downhill trekking which started at almost 8:00 A.M. and was in the jump-off point at almost 12:00 noon. We had an hour drive boarding a 4 x 4 all-weather all-terrain truck owned and drove by Charlie M. De Jesus who is the husband of Ike’s sister-in-law back to Sta. Juliana where a lunch was served for us. Another hour of drive going back to Ike’s residence in Capas. We left in Capas at 5:00 P.M. and was home at almost 8:00 P.M.

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