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On Chasing Crater and New Friends: Conquering Mount Pinatubo with the Pinoy Travel Bloggers

I have been dying to go to Mount Pinatubo ever since it has been opened to the public and was tagged as the newest tourist spot in our country. With my determination to settle this long-time craving, plans and itineraries have been laid out; I even tried to organize a trek to this crater last January among my friends and colleagues at work (yeah, that’s how I wanted it so badly!!!). While trying to squeeze my brain and pocket for even daring to organize a major trip for the first time, an unexpected invite from my fellow travel blogger Robx of surprised me and made me do some cartwheels and a little dancing.

Hmmm… Tell me who’s not gonna be happy? It was an invite for a Mount Pinatubo Experience together with the other Pinoy Travel Bloggers! Whoohoo! I tell you, That’s worth dancing for. 🙂 Not to mention, one of my idol in travel blogging and photography, Dong Ho was one of the organizers. Then that’s another thing to celebrate on.

POINKS! What was that again??? I’ll be with the Pinoy Travel Bloggers
As in seriously???!
My non-stop dance for joy and excitement toned down a bit when details started to sink in. It will be my first time to go on a trip with these famous people in travel blogging. I got really scared. What if I don’t have enough english words in my backpack? What if they’re too famous, they’re not gonna like me? What if they’re too bigtimes, they only use The North Face backpacks? Yeah, that was the time I realized, I’m doomed.

30 bloggers, 1 goal, 1 crater

Hey! Pinatubo Crater, We’re coming!!!
After a bunch of hi’s and hellos, endless chatter continued as we headed to Sta. Juliana, Capas Tarlac. For about almost 3 hours, while everybody was busy catching up some sleep, tweeting, updating Facebook statuses, and sharing of Philippine whereabouts, we reached the Tourism Office at around 6:00am. I thought it was just an ordinary Saturday but the huge number of crowd at the registration was really surprising. (Ganun pala kasikat ang Mount Pinatubo, super dami ng tao).

We have been divided into 6 groups with 5 members each. Everybody was obviously excited to ride the 4×4’s. The open type land cruisers are limited; good thing, we were one of the lucky people who were able to get an open type 4×4.

My 4×4 Buddies

It’s not Your Ordinary Ride!
It’s a bumpy ride, period. Hehe

4×4’s come in different colors. They look cute, be amazed how powerful they are.

It’s very dusty, just after 5 mins, I assure you, everyone in an open type 4×4 will look like an espasol. But the view? Oh! It’s very astounding. Me and Ivan tried to stand up, hoping to take some good pictures. But oh, the road was too rough, we almost got thrown. And I think I had some intimate relationships with any steel that I could hold on to during that time, I hugged them as in very very tight to survive. Well, we’re all adventure-seekers so expect that all of us were still smiling and laughing after the countless ‘boom!-boogoosh-ouch-haha’ moments.

This bumpy ride kept us shouting like kids! hahaha

The ride itself is already an adventure!

We stopped for a while and had some photo ops. OMG! Nakalimutan kong magbaon ng espada, dito nagshu-shoot ang Panday, gayahin ko sana!

My Dora-WannaBe Peg
Columbia Women Titanium – Php350.00 (bought in ukay-ukay in Baguio)
Sandugo Strapped Sandals – P470.00
Scarf-scarfan – Php54.00 (bought in Landmark)
Fake Headware – Php150.00 (bought in Camp John Hay)

Sunglasses for this hike? Don’t fret, they’re not Prada sunglasses – Php199.00
Okay, let’s go ahead and continue the adventure…

To the Crater and Beyond!!!!
The sun began to shine

when we started trekking, the sky became bluer too. Nice atmosphere! Whew! but the trek to the crater was tiring, actually, I cant compare it with my Mount Pulag Hike. This one was different, I cant see anything but endless path of rocks, lahar walls, and series of wild rivers.
Everytime I see a river, I stopped for a while and dipped my foot. Tinignan ko lang kung gaano kalakas yung agos ng tubig 🙂

photo by Jerome Baluyut
Feel na Feel ko ang pagtulay, ang saya-saya kasi!

After 2 hours and so, there’s a semi-constructed shaded area where you can take a rest and have some weewee galore. I want to use the comfort room however the line was long so I just decided to continue heading up.
From that point, there will be a signboard that welcomes you to Mt Pinatubo.

So, where do I belong? 😛

Meeting the Majestic Crater for the First Time!
Weeheehooo! Happiness!!!

All I can say is… …”Wow!”
I don’t know how to explain it. But the feeling of seeing the Pinatubo Crater just right in front of you is like letting yourself witness how a miracle transpired. Mount Pinatubo is like a big painting. I can’t even take my eyes off it. I remembered my Tita, I want her to see this. We both love to paint. And I know she’ll be amazed. I know she’ll appreciate this undeniably beautiful God and Nature’s work of art. Beautiful, sooo beautiful…

I was too overwhelmed with the crater’s beauty when yells started to bring me back on Earth; the bloggers needed to call and remind me that they’re about to take their lunch. So I rushed under one of the mango trees and grabbed my packed lunch. Wootwoot! Eating Time!

And life can be as simple as this: sitting under a mango tree, enjoying God’s work of art while eating. Ang sarap! This is life!

Burp! When I’m already cleaning up my area and just savoring the last tastes of our meal. I heard 2 other girl bloggers uttered:“Pang foreigner yung servings nila noh? Ang dame and laki! Hindi ko maubos.” Then I thought, maybe, these 2 girls were on a diet. Then came the other guy bloggers started saying the same thing, they can’t even finish the food. I turned around and looked at them, obviously I had my meal empty, and asked them… “Ibig sabihin foreigner ako?” 😛
Our deliciously made all-Filipino packed lunch includes:Chicken Adobo, 1 Tilapia, Tortang Talong, Itlog na Pula, Bagoong, Kamatis, big banana, bottled water, and Binalot Rice.

After the sumptuous lunch, we took more pictures of the majestic crater.

I never knew that something as beautiful as this can be found up here. Unbelievable.
Visit Mount Pinatubo, please. Yes, it’s a must!

Taking a dip at Mount Pinatubo Lake

Oops! I know what you’re thinking. I have the same thoughts and fears before.
Is it really safe to take a dip at the crater?
Baka mainit yung tubig.
What if my skin might get irritated of the sulfur content.
Paano kung biglang sumabog?

It’s hard to think of answers to those questions, masakit sa ulo. So I decided to just dip my body and try it. Besides, we won’t know the answer if were not going to try, right? (I just made sure that I didn’t go on skinny dipping so if ever that the volcano will erupt, I can immediately run with my clothes on. Poinks! :P)
Kapag naiinitan, beach na kagad? Hindi ba pwedeng Pinatubo Lake muna? 😀
Hindi naman pala kasi mainit ang tubig, malamig siya.

photo by Ada Lajara

Important Things to Do while dipping your hot bodies in Pinatubo Lake:
*Taste the water. It’s different. Hmmm… it has a different level of bitterness as I may say.
*Sumisid vertically. 😛 Take a peek on Pinatubo’s underwater. Wear goggles if you have any.
*Swim by group. The sand is very unstable. Dipping in the lake without basic swimming skills is a big NO.

Discovering What’s on the Other Side
The guide says that no one knows how deep the Pinatubo Lake is. No one have ever checked and discovered what’s there in the deepest part of the crater. (Then I thought, is it possible to do scuba diving in Pinatubo Lake?)

Another interesting fact shared by the guide: There’s no living organism can be found in the waters of Pinatubo. Before, they tried to grow tilapia fishes in the lake. But it was a major epic fail- all the fishes died.

Scary? Yes, quite. But the locals said, there’s something worth visiting on the other side of the crater. So, without second thoughts, all aboard! Wootwoot!

Bawal makulit and magalaw. Pero PTB’s are PTB’s, Picture picture muna! 😀

photo by Kaiz Belga

To get to the other side of the lake, the vast water should be traveled by kayak/boat. Each boat can fit up to a maximum of 7 persons. The fee is Php350.00/pax.

photo by Jerome Baluyut

Getting to the other side is like going to a place unknown. At that side, the rocks, the water, the walls of the crater are all smoking. Can’t really describe it exactly – but it’s like suddenly, you are in a different world that you can only see in Hollywood movies.

You need to be extra careful here, you can’t just dip yourself in the water. Temperature is at boiling point, you can even boil an egg for a minute or 2.

And of course, I would not let this day pass without having a photo with my idol. 🙂

Pinoy Travel Bloggers going wacky

Going Home, Yeah, Maybe, Not Sure
The scene is too beautiful, it’s hard to let it out of your sight. But we have to go home, actually, our group was the last ones to leave the crater. Time check, hmmm… almost 3 pm. Realizing that we have to trek down back to the jump-off point for another 2 hrs, hmmm… no choice but to start going.
My departing shot. Bye Bye Crater! You’re so beautiful, I crush you 😀

Everyone was like in a hurry to finish the trek. This time, I changed my pace. I don’t want them to wait for me, no more. (Oops, I forgot to mention, I was the last one to reach the stopover something). I changed my pace so that I could still have moments for myself, that I could do unlimited stops without delaying the others.
I always keep in mind what I learned from my fellow hikers Paul and Jay of Sablay Bakod Mountaineering Group while we were climbing Mount Pulag. “If you’re tired, stop. If you want to stop, then stop. It’s not a race. That’s the reason why mountain climbing/trekking is not a sports, it’s a recreational activity.”

Some walk in group, I prefer walking alone. But oh, no I’m not a loner.

So, I slowed down a bit and seized the moment. Again, I made a stop, sat on a big rock and gave my eyes a wonderful treat – staring at the wild grasses on the lahar walls made me smile. It’s wonderful.
I paid a glimpse on my tired feet while I was sitting. Got 4 big blisters due to these sandal straps.
It’s super duper painful but it’s nothing compared to the beauty I saw that day.

Reminding me of what I really wanted, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the serenity of the moment. I loved how the birds were cheerfully singing, seemed like they’ve just gone from a climb too. It hit me on the head, life is more enjoyable if simple.

The road maybe rocky and difficult at times, but if we’re just going to keep on looking down, we’ll fail to see how beautiful it is up there.
*Make sure to take a heavy breakfast. Mount Pinatubo is a tough hike.
*Bring bottled water. Gatorade or any Energy Drink is also a must.
*Wear comfortable trekking shoes, or sandals. Give extra focus on the straps.
*Protect your head, bring headwear.

*Allot an extra Php70.00 if you wish to take a shower at the Tourism Office.

This Mount Pinatubo Trip cost Php1600.00/pax. It includes van transportation from Manila to Capaz, Tarlac vice versa, 4×4 rental fee, guide (1 guide per 5 pax), environmental and tourism fees, and packed lunch.

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