Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Location: Palauig, Zambales, Philippines
Major jump-off: Sitio Dampay, Brgy. Dampay-Salaza, Palauig, Zambales
Coordinates: 15.4833 N, 120.1166 E
Elevation: 2037 MASL/6,682 feet above sea level
Days required / Hours to summit:1-2 days / 6-12 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail Class 1-3

Blogger's notes: The name "tapulao" is a dialect name which means pine trees where these pine trees can be seen from Bukot Baboy Hill to the bunkhouse and it also has a mossy forest. Its trail which consist of more than 85% which is once a chromite mining site gives the mountain a distinctive characteristic not to mention its semi-temperate climate. It is also very rewarding to see the majestic views of the West Philippine Sea while on its summit.

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While on the "World Tree" at Mount Tapulao's summit

This is so far my second climb where my first climb was dated December 25 – 28, 2011. Despite having difficulties in climbing it for the first time due to its rocky trail, I still preferred to climb this due to its rewarding views grown with pine trees just like that of Mount Pulag and Mount Ugo. During my first climb here, I was then with the company of Gani Dionela (fellow PNB Mountaineering Club member); Jun Ilao and Genrose C. Encarnacion. In my recent climb, I was with Jenbelle Richard Macasero. The pictures here is a mixed of my two climbs. The whole climb is a 34-kilometer trek/assault which is broken down as follows: Jump-off point/Registration House to Summit is 17 kilometers and the Summit back to the Registration Office is another 17 kilometers.

It is highly recommended that trekkers should start early even before dawn, as it can be quite hot trekking through the rocky road in long open fields with rolling and gradual terrain. By doing this, when the sun is already high, trekkers should have passed already the two water sources and reached the dipterocarp forest with cooler temperature. But in our own experience, we started almost 8 o’clock in the morning that we ended up spending overnight in Kilometer 10 where the second water source is located.

This is a part of a long open and gradual trail from the registration site

Trekking Mount Tapulao even for the first timers do not need a guide since the trail is wide passable by a 4 x 4 truck since this long road that connects to the chromite mining site near the bunker house is wide though filled with loose rocks which causes an exhausting trek since you keep on balancing every step you make.

The trail to the top of Mount Tapulao is on rolling and gradual terrain that takes hikers through a number of distinct ecosystems from lowland grass and scrubland dominated by talahib (cogon grass) to its flanks of secondary to primary dipterocarp forest, mossy montane forest and pine forest above 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) that extends to the adjacent mountains (extracted from Wikipedia).

This is how the rocky trail looks like

With the kind of trail the mountain has, one has to have patience to continuously do the exhausting rock scrambling. Combined with the heat of the sun, heavy backpack and endless battle of the loose rocks applying the highly conscious footwork, the trek could really be challenging.

After four hours of trek almost near to the first water source

Though, we brought enough water with us, we still had refilled in the first water station with the assumption that we still have a long, long way to go.

As the elevation increases, cardiac assaults were more evident. Thus, we need to have frequent rests to breathe out fatigue. At this point, the trail was still open where we are exposed to the direct heat coming from the sun.

Overlooking the clouds below

Climbing higher is very rewarding as the sea of clouds is visible to our naked eyes. The effort we exert in the endless cardiac assaults is worth it.

Camping at Kilometer 10 during our first night

We actually passed through Kilometer 10 for more than a kilometer where the second water source is located and refilled some water. However, it was already getting dark and we were then so tired and so we headed back to Kilometer 10 to stay for an overnight.

The nightscape while at Kilometer 10 Campsite for an overnight

We realized, it was a right decision to stay overnight at Kilometer 10 as its ground can accommodate a space for our tents. Unlike in some other parts that the grounds are tilted and no better space can accommodate our tents. As a bonus, we enjoyed amazing nightscape shots after our sumptuous dinner.

Breakfast in abundance at Kilometer 10

Indeed, staying an overnight at Kilometer 10 had given us a number of benefits since as we near the second water source, we can clean-up of bodies after having our breakfast as well as we were able to clean all our utensils not by usual wiping of tissue papers but with clean water. Breakfast then was cooked just like when we are in our house abundant with water supply.

Overlooking the Bukot Baboy Hill

Entering the forest in Bukot Baboy is the start where one can see pine trees. At least, the shade of the pine trees gave us a refreshing breath.

A close up photo with Bukot Baboy at the background

At this point, the photographers can feast on the 360 degrees scenery which is visible to them. We stopped there then to have more pictures.

Approaching the narrow plateau after the Bukot Baboy

At this point, the air was so cool and we can't resist but to stay longer. It was like, you are trekking the trail of Mount Ugo and Mount Pulag grown with fresh smelling pine trees. With me in the picture above are Gani Dionela and Genrose Encarnacion.

More cool trail with the presence of pine trees

The trail is more friendlier as the dry brown mud serves as the host of our tired soles making our trek relaxing and better compared to the previous ones.

A friendlier and shady trail

As the picture above shows, the trail becomes better where one can have an executive and relaxing walk without thinking that stones might hurt one in every step he does.

An absolutely amazing tree with the sky as its backdrop

This point here is almost near the bunkhouse as one climber told us when we asked him. The trail here was back to rugged but the air was becoming colder.

Uncollected mined deposits of chromite stones are evident here

Looking around, one will be reminded that once this mountain was a chromite mining site but deposits of it were not collected as its operation was already closed.

The road leading to the bunkhouses

This part is more refreshing as the trail is no longer rocky and the cool breeze of the pine trees give the trekkers a relaxing walk.

A scenery of Sumatran Pine trees taken from the Bunkhouse

The abundance of Sumatran Pine trees of this mountain, known in the local Zambal dialect as tapulao is where its name was derived.These countless pine tress can be viewed best from the bunkhouse.

An entry before approaching the bunkhouses where the comfort room is located

The sight of the bunkhouses is a absolutely a relief. We had rested the whole windy afternoon. We cleaned up in the nearby water source just 10 meters away. Preparing dinner was next to what we did. As the evening is getting late, the wind was becoming strong. The extreme coldness which penetrates to my bones kept me almost awake the whole night.

An abandoned payloader used in the closed chromite mining operation.

We had much time to enjoy the place the rest of the afternoon. We had the chance to chat with some other climbers who decided to stay overnight in the bunkhouse. Most of the climbers when they reach the bunkhouse in the afternoon would not push for the summit and they do it early the following day.

A steep ascent via the pine forests to the mini-campsite

This is just in front of the bunkhouse leading to the mini-campsite. From this campsite, is another forest line which leads to the summit for more than 30 minutes. Based on what we did, we left our backpacks in the bunkhouse where we camped overnight when we ascended to the summit and just took with us a bottle of water and digicam. We did not pitch our tents since we stayed in the bunkhouse but used thick sleeping bags instead. But mind you, it was really very, very cold at night and going out from the bunkhouse at night may not be comfortable as one may experience the strong cold winds. By the way, the bunkhouse which was used to be a place for the miners has been abandoned already but occasionally, some guides or locals can be seen spending their night there.

A chromite mine pit in the mountain’s summit with my travel buddies in the picture: Gani, Genrose and Jun Ilao

Lucky that Gani Dionela was with me in this climb. Few of the pictures posted here was taken by him through his camera. Thank you, Gani.

The summit offers a 360-degree scenery where other Zambales mountains can be viewed on the eastern side, Lingayen Gulf to the north, and on the western side, the Zambales lowlands and the South China Sea stretching to as far as Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales.

A background of thick varicolored flowers and exotic plants at the summit


The Registration site can provide a shower of P20 per person and an electric power where gadgets can be charged. Climb registration fee is P30 per person. There is an ample space for a maximum of 15 persons who wish to take a rest or sleep in the registration site for free. Certificate of climb completion is also available for P50. “Manang”, a volunteer, the one manning the registration just lives near the Registration site and she can be hired to cook food for a minimal fee. You can also order from her a whole chicken for “tinola” which you can eat after the climb.


Take a Victory Liner bus from its Monumento Terminal with a sign board of Iba, Zambales for P372 preferably the last trip at 11:00 P.M. where you will arrive at 3:00 A.M. in the Iba Bus Terminal and take a tricycle going to the Registration site for P160 per head in Dampay Resettlement Area, Brgy. Salaza, Paluig, Zambales. Alternatively, you can take a Victory Liner bus from Monumento Terminal with a sign board of Sta. Cruz for P394 preferably the last trip at 11:30 P.M. and you will not drop in the Iba Bus Terminal but continue along the Zambales Regional Highway and drop at the corner of Dampay-Salaza where a tricycle for P200 will take you along 8-kilometer rough road going to the Registration site. The jump-off from the registration site starts at an altitude of 114 MASL.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Official Name: Islamic City of Marawi (capital city)
Province: Lanao del Sur
Region: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Coordinates: 08°00′N 124°18′E
Total Land Area: 87.55 km2(33.80 sq mi.)
Elevation: 700 meters (2,300 feet)
Incorporated town of Dansalan: May 24, 1097
Charter City of Dansalan: 1940
From Dansalan to Marawi City: June 16, 1956
Barangays: 96
Districts: 1st District
Time Zone: PST
Zip Code: 9700
Dialing Code: 63

Marawi City was formerly known as Dansalan when it served as the capital of the undivided Lanao province from 1907 to 1940 .

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MSU grounds' commanding rolling terrain giving a majestic view of the Lake Lanao

Marawi City is predominantly Muslim city which accounts for 95% of the population. The distribution of alcoholic products and gambling is forbidden, non-Muslims though are exempted to this rule. On the other hand, Dansalan in Maranao is a place where ships berth which means a port of entry. Marawi is located on the shores of Lake Lanao and straddles the area where the Agus River starts. Its high elevation along Lake Lanao at approximately 2,300 feet or 700 meters gives it a cool and pleasant climate. With a scenery of mountains, rolling hills, valleys and a large placid lake that dominate the city’s landscape, it makes the best place to live.

The pride of Marawi City and Mindanao - Marawi State University

According to the late well-known Maranao scholar Dr. Mamitua Saber, Marawi City got its charter in 1940. The granting of a charter to the old Dansalan municipality was jointly conceived by the Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Assemblyman, later Senator, Tomas L. Cabili. The changing of the official name from Dansalan to Marawi was through Congressional amendment of the Charter in 1956 sponsored by Sen. Domocao Alonto. This is embodied by Republic Act No. 1552 dated June 16, 1956. The renaming of the city as "Islamic City of Marawi" was proposed by Parliamentary Bill No. 261 in the defunct Batasang Pambansa, the former parliament of the Philippines during the Marcos regime, reportedly to attract funds from the Middle East.

The imposing main entrance of Mindanao State University

Honestly, it took me several years before I can set foot to this place though since 2001 I have been already frequenting to visit Mindanao. It was just for now that this realization to visit this place became a reality. Though twice I visited Iligan City, nobody would accompany me to tour around this beautiful city.

The long and winding road leading to the university campus

Since we did not have a private car, we opted to have a leisurely walk to get inside the university campus. The air was cool and it was refreshing long walk along the shady winding road. website has this to say about Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi: "MSU Marawi was created under RA 1387 as amended through authorship of Senator Domocao A. Alonto, the Mindanao State University was established in Marawi City on September 1, 1961. Dr. Antonio Isidro, former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of the Philippines, was its founder and first president."

"Formal classes opened in June 1962 with 282 students, 19 faculty members and staff, and three core colleges: Community Development, Liberal Arts and Education."

"After more than three decades of operation, the University has grown into a multi-campus University System with seventeen colleges and degree-granting units in the Marawi campus alone."

The university logo in concrete tablet form

The Aga Khan Museum in MSU Campus

MSU's Stadium and oval tracks

This gentle greenery is a part of a 9-hole golf course laid out in MSU Campus

King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies

The Islamic Center in Brgy. Pangarungan in downtown of Marawi City

Monday, October 14, 2013


Location: Bucas Grande Island, Siargao Island Group
Province: Surigao del Norte, Philippines

As my trip to Siargao Island concluded, I realized that there's a lot of things to see and do in Bucas Grande Island than in Siargao Island just to see the famous Cloud 9 Surfing Paradise. In Bucas Grande, you can find the Sohoton Ecopark with the Jellyfish Sanctuary and the other jewels of the island are: Club Tara Resort, Hidden Island Resort, Bubon Islets and many other nameless white beaches. For me, a visit to the fishing village of Barangay Bay-ang is plus factor. Bucas Grande is one of the 48 islands of Siargao Islands group. It belongs to the municipality of Socorro, one of the six municipalities of Siargao Islands group.

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The pristine and tranquil Club Tara Resort

Going to Socorro Port from Sohoton National Ecopark, one will pass thru a state-of-the-art resort in the name of Club Tara Resort which offers every luxury a guest would wish to have.

Club Tara Resort is equipped with swimming pool with a bar along its sides

Club Tara Resort is equipped with a docking port and physical sports facilities as well as aqua sports facilities to complete the fun of guests who wanted to stay for long vacation.

Still a part of Club Tara Resort

Indeed, Club Tara Resort is a haven where guests will love to stay as they are pampered with all the luxuries they need.

Truly a hidden paradise with lots of fun to offer

Our next stop was the Hidden Island Resort where it offers a complete fun for individuals and families who wanted to enjoy their vacation in a very secluded but paradise location.

One of the islets in Bubon

Bubon group of islets are picturesque and each islet has its unique charm to entice the visitors to stay for a swim, a picnic or an overnight camping.

An entry to the fishing village of Barangay Bay-ang

We were suppose to head to Socorro Port which is still more than an hour boat ride to catch the 1:00 P.M. boat trip to Dapa of Siargao Island but we almost ran out of gasoline and so we were forced to drop by at Barangay Bay-ang to buy fuel for our boat.

A house in the middle of the sea?

This house may seem odd in terms of location but I find it picturesque and unique. After all, we can't see this in a metropolitan city.

Simple joys in simple dwellings

Kids around their simple shanties enjoy their playful moments satisfied with what they have in a completely surrounded environment by seascape.

A time for playing, a time for bonding

Unmindful of where they live, these kids still have the enthusiasm to play and bond with each other. If you live here, will you do the same?
A real picture of sadness

While we were still at a distance, I saw the girl in the picture to be too busy with something. As we approached near, she sat down and stared towards our boat with gloomy facial projection. Why the sudden change of emotion?

Resting after a tiring swim

After enjoying a round of swimming race, this kid rested at the back of their house to regain his energy.

Kids are having a swim without the presence of their parents

I can still recall when I grew up in our coastal town. We are not allowed to swim in any body of water like beach or river without the presence of our parents no matter how shallow they are. While these kids are given the liberty to do their swimming stuff unguarded.

They are not the typical camera-shy kids

As these kids saw us, they posed for posterity sake. They are not those typical kids in the remote areas where they will shy away with the click of a camera.

The kids have there ever-ready smile every click of my camera

As long as they knew that the camera is grinding, they are ever-ready to flash their smile. They even became more acrobatic on the water just get our attention.

He must have a problem since he did not join the other kids

I noticed this kid in the picture to have been sad and did not even bother to glance to other kids who were enjoying their swimming. He must be sick.

An improvised swimming pool in the middle of their houses

Maybe for safety reasons, the kids were told by their parents to swim unguarded near their house rather than at the open beach. At least, it is safe.

Part of the fishing village is grown with mangroves

Curious of what life is in that fishing village, I had a stroll there and chat with a few residents.

The coastline leading to Socorro Port

After having three picturesque stopovers, we headed to Socorro Port with a travel duration of more than one hour to catch for our trip to Dapa Port of Siargao Island.