It was as far back as 2011 when I first planned of climbing this mountain. I started that year with a very memorable climb in Mt. Maculot in Cuenca Batangas and immediately set my eyes on Batulao. But news came of somebody rolling down the mountain and died. We cancelled the climb and never pushed through until late last year.
It was more of a coincidence than careful planning. I joined this charity group and they planned to have an outreach in Alfonso Cavite in December so along with another member of the group, Jake, we decided to camp in Batulao the night before the outreach.
We left Manila past 2:00 pm. Quite late so it was already dark when we arrived by the highway in Nasugbu which is the set-off point to Batulao. We happen to meet a group there who were about to join their peeps already in the mountain. So friendly they first approached us to join them in the hike.
Good riddance because even Jake who has hiked twice got perplexed by the trail at night. We could have wandered up and down blindly if not for them. The old trail although easier , until campsite, is confusing at night as it goes through grassy areas and at times small forests. We decided to follow the lead of the other team and they wanted to hike from the highway to the base of the mountain and then up.
The first part of the hiked proved very challenging as it has been raining for days prior to our visit. Although the sky was clear and the stars were out that night, the road leading to Batulao's base was so muddy and slippery and sticky. In short, papasok palang kami sobrang challenging. So we were very slow. We started climbing 7:00 pm and arrived at the camp site past 11:00 pm. Starved and exhausted.
We were.greeted by friendly faces. Half of the members of the group we hiked with going up. This is no ordinary group, they are members of Riptide, a dragon boat group which joins competitions across the Philippines. Still you but I could sense that they are very passionate about paddling. They even keep inviting us to join them. It was already December and very busy so I told one of the members I will give it a try comes January even if I am not sure I am fit for such physically demanding sport. Yeah, even if the practice venue is the super polluted waters of Manila Bay, I think I will give it a try one of these days.
Quickly pitched our tents and ate late dinner. Joined the rest of the group for socials. Lots of drinking and lots of laughter. Newcomers subjected to daring questions mostly about sexuality. Tense. But so much fub. Already past 4:00 am when we called it a night. We were not able to sleep anymore despite being physically drained. Siguro bitin sa alak or was it because gising na gising ang ulirat dahil sa matinding tanungan. It was already bright and still tossing and turning inside the tent. We gave up. Had a quick breakfast. Small chats here and there and we bid the rest of the group goodbye. My team , three of us, decided to hike to the summit earlier. We wanted to finish the traverse as early as possible as we had to join another group for outreach by lunchtime.
Though it looks near, the ascent to the summit from camp 3 was tortuous. I was ok with it but my buddies really found it challenging. My case, I find it a bit scary because the slope is really steep and one foolish mistake could mean your life.
Pero yung tipong hingal na hingal ka na sa pag akyat tas in the middle of the hike me nagtitinda ng Mountain Dew. Heaven! This is when you really appreciate life's simple pleasures. And sa summit me nagtitinda pa ng halo-halo! ftw
Halo-halo at the summit..di ganun kasarapan, pero s peak ng Batulao?
at 30 pesos lang, it could be the most delicious halo-halo in the world! Ahahaha
1. There are two (2) trails in Batulao --Old and New. The Old trail is more steep and challenging. The new trail is easier and more photogenic but it doesn't mean no more challenge. What seasoned hikers usually do os go up the old trail and go down the new trail. That's what we did. If you are planning such traverse, better have it in that order. I find it really dangerous if you do it the other way around since going down the old trail is quite dangerous because of the steep slope.
2. Bangin kung bangin sa summit so I suggest safety first before photos.
Even if you take the new trail, there are areas where you drop few meters if you take a wrong step so better secure your footing all the time. There are portions with ropes to help you go up or down, be familiar using them, they could be of great help. Be ready to use both hands and feet. Kung kailangang gumapang gumapang. Huwag pabebe. Get dirty and enjoy.
3. Be prepared if you go on a rainy day. The way to the jump off between the new trail from the community is long and draggy and could get really muddy. Better go on a sunny day. If not, hire a tricycle from the highway to the farthest point to the jump-off, di kailangan magpasikat navigating the muddy road. I tell you, nakaka-boring. I think we only paid 100n pesos on our way back, that is for the three of us. Not bad given the very challenging road condition.
4. There are many rest stops along the way, and many stores too usually in those stops. Get much needed relief from the sun. It's a long trek up. 3 hrs on normal pace. So wag magpasikat, walang medal sa summit. Take your time, pace yourself so that you can enjoy the hike.
5. Fees, Fees, Fees. Annoying! It was night when we hiked and we had to pay four (4) times at certain stops. Registration fees? 20 pesos per head, at one pint 30 pesos so something like 90 pesos because one of the stops got its watcher already retired for the night. So expect something like 5 stops and 5 different payments on a regular day hike. If you do back trail, then it would be free going back but if you traverse from one trail to another that's another payment. I think we paid another 20 pesos on the new trails. Some said they sometimes collect 50 pesos.
There is actually a campaign on Facebook recently to boycott Batulao because of these fees. Mountains are supposed to be free gadamit, they are public properties. But one cannot blame locals if they collect a small amount to maintain the place, that is if they really do, and also to have a small income for the local government because the central government couldn't do its job. Anyways, not a biggie if I pay a hundred pesos or so, it's just annoying because they cannot unify the payments. And the explanation given to us is that Mt. Batulao is divided in different Barangays so if one barangay collects then the others would also like to do the same.
Anyways, Di ako.masyadong mabundok na tao but #WowBatulao ! You are so lovely. Nahirapan ako kaunti pero naenjoy ko ng sobra.