Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mt. Batulao

There's something special about hiking and trekking. It's not just spending time outdoors, but getting so far from civilization that you can't hear any cars or see any kotong cops. It's about finding a place to be entirely alone with nature, a special connection that you only get after splurging your visions with the wonders of nature and the miracles of heaven.

I am in.

Sunday will be our reunion with Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas. The majestic view of its twin peaks resembles that of European Alps, though a much smaller version.

Even its name draws from a spectacular origin. Every yearend, the sun sets right between Batulao’s two peaks, creating an image of rocks surrounding a disc of red light. In Tagalog, this phenomenon of “Bato sa Ilao” (Illuminated Rocks) became abbreviated to “Batulao”. Although this happens only in the last week of December, Batulao’s charms throughout the year are more than enough to make it among the favored mountaineering destinations. (

I have been to Mt. Batulao twice. The first in November 2002 with the OSA Servi group. When Sir Jovi told the group that we would be climbing our way to the top of Mt. Batulao, we were all excited. Little did we know that the trek would exhaust all our stamina. (yes, we weren't prepared)
The OSA Servi group before the trek

We thought that it would be just an ordinary walk in the park, as we brought our umbrellas and eyeglasses while wearing our kinkiest slippers out in the wilderness. We were laughing aloud while slowly noticing the scrapes on our skin brought by the swathe of talahib in the path. Later did we realize that we were in for a real adventure, and unprepared we were against the intense heat (not a single tree on some trails) The winds that make the cogon grasses dance to its beautiful waveforms accompanied us as we get sunburned in the trails that become more and more steep, our energy were almost drained even before reaching some higher grounds. Sir Jovi was telling us back then that those who were tired and wanted to get back may do so, but who, in their right minds, would resist the majestic view of Mt. Batulao. It was as if the mountain was speaking to us, telling us to come close near him, embrace the wondrous gift from the heaven, and extol to high heavens the beauty that the mountain has to offer.

As the group progressed peak by peak, we were slowly diminishing in numbers, some of them deciding to just rest under the shades of Talisay trees to recover energy. After gripping harder to climb an almost 90-degree ascent, we were able to reach peak8, and God twas so wonderful up there.. seeing God's bountiful creations, our eyes feasting on the superb gift God had showered us, the lush greens, fresh air, clear blue skies. Up there on Peak8, the group solemly prayed, offered thankfulness for my board exam passing, and for each of our personal concerns. What a blissful reward!

blissful reward at peak 8

My second time in Mt. Batulao was in April 2005. Summer had the grass all dried up, getting us even more scorched under the intense heat. The stones of the peak were fully exposed, small kaingin activities taking place here and there. I was left at Peak8 because i've no more energy for a higher and more steep ascent to peak9 and 10. I was with a group of friends, mountain climbing enthusiasts, who taught me a lot of things about mountain climbing, and shared their experiences. It was them who reminded me that in mountain climbing, one should "take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints."

True enough, there's something special about hiking and trekking. Come 3rd Sunday of August, i will be reunited with the majestic Batulao mountain, and with my dearest friends who always make my life worth living.