Monday, September 19, 2011

The Climb: Mt. Pico de Loro

Ternate, Cavite
Major jump-off: Magnetic Hill, Ternate
664+ Meters above sea level (MASL)
Sept. 15, 2011

I'm not a fan of Miley Cyrus, but I like her song 'The Climb'.  It embodies a message that sometimes what really matters most is how you make things happen.

And if have to describe the great experience I had during our climb last Thursday, let me go it through with you, through the poignant meaning of the song.

    I can almost see it.
    That dream I'm dreaming...

Mt. Pico de Loro. A unique name fit for a unique mountain. It is said to be the highest point within Cavite-Batangas boundary. Its summit offers a very unique standpoint that will allow you to view this part of the world in 360 degrees angle.

The first time I learned about her existence, I couldn't take her off my mind, as if every night I'd imagine myself  rock-climbing or rappelling the famous Parrot's beak.

credits to the owner

We had this dream to climb the magnificent Pico since June. Her outstanding view and genuine beauty - made us all excited to experience her greatness.

There's a voice inside my head saying
You'll never reach it
Every step I'm takin'
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin'

The ultimate plan to topple down Mt. Pico de Loro has been long overdue. Thanks to some weather disturbances, to our less-unified schedule at work and other no-nonsense excuses.

Part of the group even tried climbing a different mountain last month, in exchange for Pico's shaky schedule just not to miss a month without a climb.

But for Pico's sake, one can't just go without the other, so we have to consider each others' not-so-busy-not-so-stressful-lives. No wonder it took us months to finally realize this not-so-impossible dream.

But I gotta keep tryin'
Gotta keep my head held high

We are a group of amateur climbers. No training, no gears, no name. But you cannot underestimate the mighty hearts and minds of the newbies. We're much willing to vanquish any mountain. No matter what it takes.

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,

Yes, there are more than a hundred of mountains in the country. Each of which has its own distinct beauty. And Mt. Pico de Loro is undeniably an exceptional one.

And when I say we're willing to face any consequencies just to make a climb, it also meant filling a VL for JC, unpaid leave (UL) for me and Abi, unpaid time-off for Almae, off-swap for Inch and Paris. Never mind about little sacrifices, because we know in our hearts that we'll be rewarded with something priceless.

Except for those who have their day-offs on the 15th, each of us has only one thing in mind -  to make this date a free one to see something very very special.

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

We were able to pull the days, and September 15 came. We waited long enough and we can no longer afford any single delay for this much awaited event 

Final count for the climb is seventeen. That many! Three of which were fresh recruits - Gia, Zane and he-who-claims-to-be-my-other-brother-Inch.

The two-hour travel time from Manila to Ternate, Cavite seemed like travelling the road forever. But no gruellling traffic nor any road construction can hinder us now. We made this far, and waiting will be over.

Registraion at the DENR office is 20 pesos each.

Traversing Mt. Pico wasn't as easy as our previous climbs. It is part of Mt. Palaypalay-Mataas na Gulod national Park, which is a protected forest reserve. Having said this, we definitely needed a pro-guide. We're used to hire kids as our guide, for cheaper price. Besides, we can't reserve a room for errors in the trek as three of us needs to go to work after the climb.

But DENR charges 1,500 Php fee for a guide. WhaT?! We are an advocate of  budget climbs, and 1,500 fee for a guide is waaaaay out of our pockets.

Thanks to Mommy Earls leadership and financial skills, we were able to come up with 600 peso-budget for the guide, but DENR officers vehemently denied our bargain.

But this events cannot hold us back in fulfilling our dream. Thanks to our tricycle drivers who offered their services to lead us to the top - kuya Charlie and Kuya Jun.

Nine-oclock in the morning, we had a short prayer, then we started the climb.

let the climb begin..

 The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I'm not breaking

If there was someone I wished to join our special climb, he would be the sun. But he showed no visual signs at all. Roads were wet. Trail was muddy. It was like it rained quiet hard the other night. Perfect timing huh. But we took the perfect chance.

I really thought it was an advantage, our well-reserved energy won't be drained by the heat of the sun, unlike our previous climbs. But the best has yet to come.

First hour of the trek to the base camp 1 was never like a walk-in-the-park, nor was it like walk-in-the-dark either. What made it a little struggle  for us was the fact that most of us were hungry and our trekking-mood-and-strength were slightly affected.

It took us an hour and a half to reach the camp base 1. Everyone was starving, so we immediately settled for our brunch.
i think it's about time for us to make one of this

I see no valid reason why we need to pay another 20 peso each for another registration fee at the base camp, but we paid it anyway.

We're used to fast break meals at work. And this lunch was nothing but like a 15-minute break to us.

It was a breeze eating outdoors. We're sorrounded with big beautiful trees and fresh cool air carresing our tired souls. I thought it was such a relaxing day.

And just after we filled our hollow stomachs, someone we hoped not to join us in our own amazing race suddenly came and we were all terrified. His name was... rain.

all set and ready

I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
I've just gotta keep goin', and
I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, 

Cliche it may seem but there's always a first for everything and first experiences are seldom hard to forget. So this marks our  first trek through the rain.

I sensed fear started to haunt inside me. I saw instant change of  mood from everyones face. An uninvited guest was trying to devastate the frame of our minds and the state of our emotions. It was very unfavorable, we're not even halfway-through the whole trail yet.

The rain stopped for a while to make way for the resumption of our arduous journey. Little did we know, that five-minute-rain will turn our precious lives upside-down, not to mention the lives of our beloved snickers, Sandugos, Tribus and my prized Havaiana flip flops. Haha.

The more the rain, the harder the trail, the more hassle trekking up. This I think was the simplest way to  describe the very complicated climb we had.

It did rain again.. and again... and  again!

I wore no jacket, I wore no shoes, I brought no umbrella. How hassle could that be?

Suprisingly, no one gave up. Oh well, if there was even a small chance, maybe one or two would have been. Haha. We were a bit dog-tired that we kept on asking our guides if we're there yet, because it appeared to us that we were hiking for the longest time, yet we're still trekking the enclosed fuzzy forest.

Adding to my discomfort was my camera, so I decided to hid it inside my bag and focused my attention to climbing those gigantic roots and rocky-uphill roads. Before doing so, I took the last photo (below) before assaulting the real summit. See the fog? It was all over the place.

This I think was the climax of our climb. At first, I had pleasure in it, though I was a bit anxious about myself unceasingly slipping the muddy trail. I can feel the agony of my feet while taking grip to the slippery grounds. Tried my best to be prudent not to make any stupid move that may cause my life to any danger. But things were just too much to handle. My knees knocked down, half of my body glided to the swampy  part of the trail while my arms painstakingly trying to hold on to something to save my dearest life from further jeopardy.

I had three major, major plakda sa putikan  moments. Good thing, there were a lot of bamboo trees in the area for me to take refuge to. I was only taking clutch through my poor flip flops. But after three-in-a-row slips in the sloppy forest, I decided to go barefoot.

The higher the trail, the harder it gets. More bamboo trees were covering the way and the next we knew, we were lost (for a moment)!

We kept on shouting the names of our friends ahead of us, trying to relocate our lost way but it seemed like no one can hear us anymore. 

We were accidentally subdivided into three groups. The first group, the fastest climbers, I suppose, led by our other guide Kuya Charlie. The second group, which I'd rather call the-taking-one-step-at-a-time-group with the other guide, Kuya Jun, at the tail end.

Then, us - me, echo, jc and tsichen. Funny thing as we were trying to figure out which way to take through the footprints and slide-prints of  those who were ahead of us. You can also rely those tiny ribbons tied on some trees which you can barely notice unless you still have 20-20 vision, or you can take heed of a tree that bears an arrow signage -  it will lead you to the right directions.

The last stretch of the climb to the summit was even more challenging and breathtaking. Trusting my sweet life to some talahib grass, while fighting the vigorous blow of the strong-iced-cold-wind and crawling the below-zero-visiblity trail. Yes, gapang-galore.

Thanks to the human-sized talahiban, I had this chance for a quick shot.

Mt. Pico de Loro is not as high as Mt. Batulao which we hiked smoothly while typhoon Chedeng stormed the metro and its nearby towns.

It doesn't even have the hill view of  Mt. Gulugod Baboy where you can act like Julie Andrews and sing 'the hills are alive with the sound of music..'

But what convinced us to keep our faith and endure all the hardships?

It was our belief  that something magnificent is in store for us at the peak of the mountain. It was too late when we realized  that  life is but full of surprises, and most of the time, it knocks you off when you least expect it.

There's always gonna be another mountain
I know. Mt Pico de Loro definitely won't be my  last climb.
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
I love mountains and the joy it brings when I conquer them.
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Be it an uphill or downhill fight, bring it on!
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Sometimes I gonna have to win!
Ain't about how fast I get there
I can take one step at a time. 
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
Noted. Lesson learned. 
It's the climb
I couldn't agree more!

next: Pico-peak-a-Booo!


  1. nice one dovie.... love the pics specially that person with an umbrella... we will climb pico again and the next time we do, parrot's beak is our next mission to reach... mommy earl

  2. this is a good one! maybe we should warm up with rock climbing so the next time we can conquer the Parrot's Beak also! so excited already! ---tsichen

  3. sa mga pupunta dito ng mainit na panahon siguraduhing magdala ng sobra sobrang tubig. Naubos ko yung 2litrong tubig ko dito kahit maulan nung inakyat namin 'to. TOMO!- landu