Aside from the majestic Mt. Mayon in Albay, the next popular active volcano in the region is Mt Bulusan. The 1,565 meters high active volcano has cracked and rugged peaks. Locals often refer to Mt Bulusan as the male counterpart of the “female”, Mt. Mayon. Bulusan Volcano may not have that picturesque cone-shape form but the volcano and its surrounding area of rainforest and lakes is declared a national park. And recently, I had the fortune of visiting the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park twice. Seeing for myself and experiencing what this rainforest natural park has to offer.
It’s hard not to go up the Cordillera region without taking a trail or 2 (or more). We had a wonderful gathering with friends in Baguio and decided on extending my stay to enjoy more of the mountains. I’m glad my fellow mountain-lover, Christine of JovialWanderer, broached the idea of taking a leisurely hike at Mt Yangbew and Mt Kalugong in La Trinidad. I welcomed the idea of seeing more summits and trails just an hour away from Baguio proper.
“I’ll climb this mountain as long as I still can” Bing exclaims as she gleefully trod the trail on the pasture lands of Ivana, Batanes, as we head to the summit of Mt Matarem. Carlotta Borromeo-Charbonney, or Bing, for short, is a native adventure-loving Ivatan who has learned to be independent from her family early in her life as she studied in Manila during college. Much more when she married her foreign husband who took her around the world and eventually settled in Switzerland. She makes it a point to go home every year in Batanes for family and be rooted to her home. We sure am glad Bing was there to join us for this climb.
They say the third time is a charm. For Camiguin, my third visit on this island province found me on one of the summits of Mt Hibok-hibok. A mountain I used to just marvel from afar when I roamed around Camiguin from my last two visits. Whether from white island or driving on the coastal road, I’ve always imagined how it’s like to climb this stratovolcano that helped shaped the landscape of this island. Standing at 1,332 meters above sea level, Mt Hibok-hibok is one of the 24 active volcanoes in the country.
I was supposed to go to Itbayat but the weather have other plans. Boat trips to the island was suspended for the next few days due to inclement weather and erratic waves. Since I had a flexible itinerary, I decided to take a detour to Sabtang Island instead. The smallest island of Batanes municipality is popular to day trippers from Batan Island. Personally, I would rather spend a night here. No matter how familiar I am with this island, I know I can find something new to do. For one, I haven’t stayed in Chavayan village yet. Or better, try the Old Procession Trail from Chavayan to Sumnanga. I have always been fascinated with that trail. I guess it’s about time I explore it.
The summer solstice extended the days in the country. But here in Batanes, the days felt a lot longer. 4:11 AM the sky was already showing shades of blue. The milky way slowly dissolves into the sky over at Mt Riposed. The purple glow brightens and unveils the landscape. We were at the sunrise point of Rapang Cliffs. I climbed on some sharp limestone rocks to get a better view near the cliffs. As soon as I saw the view behind the high rocks, my jaw dropped in amazement. I never thought Batanes could mesmerize me anew, but the landscape near the northern edge of the country just did.
Clouds have always been a thing of fascination. People climb mountains often to see the play of clouds billow across mountain peaks like waves. Dissipating in a dance from nebulous to nothingness. When I heard about the Mt Ulap Eco-Trail which recently opened last October 2015, I was intrigued. The Eco-trail is also known as the Philex Ridge, named after the huge mining company operating in the area. The highest peak, was named Mt Ulap by an engineer named “Lagman” who marked the summit in February 1, 1939. He described that the mountain is perennially a magnet for clouds (which is “ulap” in tagalog). The trail has long been a playground for trail runners from Baguio and Benguet. Now the local government, particularly the Ampucao Tourism Council opened the trail to the public.