Sunrise Chasing in Mt. Pulag | DIY COMPLETE GUIDE - PART 2

dwarf bamboos mt pulag

The next morning our guide woke us up for the summit hike and eased ourselves with warm cup of hot choco drink. Ten minutes later, we started our hike and donned our head lights to see in the darkness. Frigid winds easily penetrated my hands making my knitted gloves useless and my lips were quite numb as we make our way to the summit. As we go nearer, the trail gets steeper and was about to quit but through positive encouragement from my hubby,  I continue and remove the context of quitting or derailing the summit climb.

THE SUMMIT
We finally reach the summit of Mt. Pulag just before sunrise. I was almost out of breath and simply exhausted but I'm glad because we made it to the top. The sun was not yet up, but the sky was slowly growing brighter. It was very cold, so we tuck ourselves into a group of endemic dwarf bamboo plants to cover us from the wind. Few minutes later, the sun peeked through the horizon and gradually lit the summit with yellow and orange rays. Immensely breathtaking!

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

THE SEA OF CLOUDS
It's our first time to witness the sea of clouds and the view didn't disappoint us. With a sea of clouds below us, you really feel like you're on top of the world. The "sea of clouds" phenomenon is not a permanent feature and you need luck to be in your side when you visit Mt. Pulag.

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

STUNNING LANDSCAPE
Such an awe to see Mt. Pulag's  breathtaking views . The gentle yellow glow of the sun painted the hills like a highway.

Mt. Pulag Summit


Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

FROST PATCHES
I picked up a stick to help my way through the steep portions of the summit during our descent. We encounter some frost patches and some ice crystals that is formed in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight. I think the temperature drops near zero the night before we summit. We trekked back to our camp, uninstall our tents and had a quick breakfast before we trek back to the Ranger Station which is 3 to 4 hours away. By the way bring your trash with you and don't leave anything behind that can disrupt the growth of vegetation.


 Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

We arrived in  DENR office in Kabayan for check out around 1:00 pm and walked for 10 minutes from DENR office to the van terminal bound for Baguio City. It's a small terminal and I'm pretty sure the habal-habal drivers, locals and DENR staff can point you to the right direction of the terminal.

Trekking Mt. Pulag is one of the best experience I had for the year 2016. It's a utopia for adventure seekers, outdoor lovers and landscape fanatics.We have been dreaming to climb this mountain and finally we did. I'm not use to hiking because my feet sore easily but I'm glad I was able to survive Mt. Pulag and I'm sure everybody can. You can click here if you missed our first part of the post.

The next morning our guide woke us up for the summit hike and eased ourselves with warm cup of ho...

Sunrise Chasing in Mt. Pulag | DIY COMPLETE GUIDE - PART 1


Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag is probably Philippine's most visited mountain and the 3rd highest mountain. It sits between the borders of  Benget, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya in the northern part of Luzon. The mountain is famous for its "sea of clouds" and the Milky Way Galaxy at dawn, which has attracted hundreds of tourist monthly. Because of my eagerness and desire to witness Pulag's raw natural beauty, we decided to pay it a visit last February at its coldest. As you know, I'm one of the many people who suffers from Migraine and I rather hike in a cold environment than hiking under the heat of the sun that could trigger an attack and will surely ruin our trip. It's our first climbing trip so we have few rounds of  sit-ups and exercises for a week before climbing Mt. Pulag.

Mount Pulag, also known as Mount Pulog, takes its name from the Ibaloi word “pulag,” which means “to roll” or “moving down,”

Mt. Pulag Tips

• Be sure to make reservation/s for your hike because climbing without prior notice with DENR is discouraged. Text her or him the requested schedule and the number of people coming with you. There is now a limit to the number of climbers, or a maximum of 150, who can go to the summit to watch the spectacular sunrise. Contact: Ms. Emerita Albas (+639196315402) or Mr. Roy Tello ( +639291668864)
• Jeepney from Baguio- Badabak - Baguio. Contact Gina Epe (+639198169234)
• Park no longer grant permits to groups exceeding 20.
• Camping (if trekking via the Ambangeg Trail) is not allowed from Friday to Sunday.
• Mt. Pulag will be closed to tourists on Saturdays starting 2017.
• The coldest month of Mt. Pulag are from December to February.

DO IF YOURSELF:

For Non-Budget Conscious ( Hassle-free)

A plenitude of  tour operators to Mt. Pulag can be found online. Rate is around Php 3,000 to Php 4,500 / person and may vary if you're coming from Manila or Baguio City. The  package includes just about everything Bus fares  (Manila-Baguio-Manila), Jeepney (Baguio-Bokod-Ranger-Bokod-Baguio), DENR fees, GUIDE fees, Tents, Food ( they do the cooking), Travel Insurance and a souvenir shirt. Hassle-free but expensive.

 For  Semi- Budget Conscious ( DIY 1-20 PERSONS)

One can take a Victory Liner bus in Cubao and Pasay to Baguio City. First trip is at 1:00 am and last trip us at 11:55 pm for regular aircon buses. Fare is pegged at  Php 445. Victory First Class buses leave as early as 12:15 am and as late as 11:00 pm via SCTEX. Fare is Php 715.00. From  Baguio, you can rent a monster jeepney to and from Mt. Pulag. It cost around Php 12,000 that can accommodate for 19 people ( Php 631 / pax) . However, rental rates are generally based on the full seating capacity of the vehicle which may range from 20 to 30 passengers.

Jeepney from Baguio- Badabak - Baguio. Contact Gina Epe (+639198169234)

The Visitor Center is open from 8:00 am. All climbers are required to attend the briefing conducted by the park superintendent. Climbers are required to pay P225 each for registration and green fees. Guide fee is P500 for a maximum of five persons plus P100 for each additional climber. Porter fee is P300 one way for a maximum weight of 15 kilos, plus P20 per additional kilo. The guides and porters belong to the Kankaney and Kalanguya tribes and they also help find suitable camping sites, fetch water and pitch tents. A P30 cultural fee is collected in Babadak.

CLIMB FEES

• Registration Fee - Php 225.00
• Camping Fee - Php 80.00
• Cultural and Heritage fee - Php 80.00 ( Collected in Bababak Ranger Station)
• Guide Fee - Php 500.00 ( Good for five persons plus Php 100.00 for each additional climber)
• Porter Fee - Php 300.00 (One way for a maximum weight of 15 kilos, plus P20 per additional kilo)

 For  Budget Conscious ( 1-5 persons)

One can take a Victory Liner bus in Cubao and Pasay to Baguio City. First trip is at 1:00 am and last trip us at 11:55 pm for regular aircon buses. Fare is   Php 445. Victory First Class buses leave as early as 12:15 am and as late as 11:00 pm via SCTEX. Fare is Php 715.00. From  Baguio, take a metered taxi to the Old Slaughterhouse and take a regular passenger van from Baguio to Kabayan, Benguet. It passes by Ambangeg.  First trip usually leaves at 7:00AM or until the van to gets full of passengers. Succeeding trips depend on the number of commuters/passengers. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction in Ambangeg (Bokod, Benguet) near the DENR Station. Travel time is 3-4 hours. Once in Ambangeg (Bokod, Benguet), walk in the direction of the DENR Office for registration and orientation.

ARE YOU PHYSICALLY FIT?
The management of the Mt. Pulag National Park in Cordillera is now requiring health clearances from authorized physicians before climbing Mt. Pulag. The advisory was issued after a 51- year old tourist died of cardiac arrest at Camp 2. We went there with no health clearances but we got a tip from habal-habal drivers that there's a hospital nearby that issues health clearances prior to climb. Dennis Molintas Memorial Hospital in Bokod is just 5 min away from DENR Office.

Once we arrived we fill out a form that they provided and paid Php 20.00 to have our heart rate and blood pressure checked. Both test came out normal and waited 10 min before our names we're called by the doctor on duty. You should fully declare pre-existing medical conditions such as allergies, asthma, heart ailments or a recent injury if you do have one. You will received your medical certificate after paying a nominal fee for check-up.
 
Mt. Pulag Summit

WILD RIDE
Mt. Pulag has four major trails – the Ambangeg or easy trail, the challenging Akiki trail, Tawangan trails from Benguet and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya. We took the easy trail Ambangeg and decided to pitch our tent at Camp 2. We were advise that the temperature up there drops down to 2-3 degrees Celsius at night or even lower. Because of that advisory I bought a pair of extra gloves for Php 100.00 sold at DENR Office. We then took a 30 minute motorcycle ride to Babadak Ranger Station. The road was mostly unpaved dusty and scary - hairpin turns, steep cliffs, dizzying heights. Fare is Php 250.00 - one way / person.


BABADAK RANGER STATION
Cultural and Heritage fee is collected here as well as Guide and Porter fees. The place is a one stop shop for camping supplies - tents, sleeping bags, butane, portable stove, food. We hired one guide and one porter to carry our bags to Camp 2 and back. I requested a male lad to be our porter but a woman in her 50's showed up and volunteered. I was quite hesitant at first but our guide - Ate Wella told us that she can carry more than 15 kilos and been doing it for over a year now. She put our things in a sack-like bag consisting of a broad strap that passes across the forehead and lashed around the heavy bag.
Mt. Pulag Summit

THE LONG HIKE UP
We were hiking at a normal pace but our porter easily overtake us with 15 kilos on her back. The trail was mostly flat for first hour but the trail gets more difficult as we gradually ascend towards Camp 2. The best part was walking into the mossy forest full of ferns, lichens and moss and had a few bites of wild blue berries abundantly growing in Mt. Pulag.
Distance from Badabak Ranger Station to Camp 2 is 10 kilometers
Mt. Pulag Summit

Mt. Pulag Summit

MT. PULAG CAMPSITES
It was around 3:00 pm when we arrived at Camp 1. The campsite is still in the Mossy forest and can only accommodate to 4- 7 tents only. Camp 2 can accommodate more and Camp 3 is fore hikers who will be taking the Akiki trail. After a brief rest and hydration, we continued our way to Camp 2 which is an hour away according to Ate Wella.

Mt. Pulag Summit

They are the  persons who made our Mt. Pulag trip possible. Ate Wella was always making sure that we're fine and ok. Our porter have to go back  down to the Badabak after delivering our things at Camp 2 and comeback the following morning to haul our things again back to  Badabak. They belong to the Kankaney and Kalanguya tribes of  the Cordillera Region in Northern Philippines.

Mt. Pulag Summit

CAMP 2 GRASSLANDS
Yes, we made it! We pitch our tent and have a quick snack before drinking my pain pill. Got a mild headache maybe because of the sudden increase in altitude but not worse. We hike a few meters up and saw thick fog rolling in from the valley. It almost blanketed the whole camp site.

Mt. Pulag Summit
Mt. Pulag Summit
Mt. Pulag Summit


A NIGHT OF COLD AND DARKNESS
We layered some clothes on because the temperature starts to drop and losing daylight fast. We set up our rented portable stove and  had rice, a can of beans, some tuna, corned beef and hot choco to go with it. I was quite amazed how my hot choco turn into a cold one in just a matter of minutes.

After having our dinner we went to bed early as we were exhausted from our hike. Few hours have past and suddenly woke up from a howling noise. I check my watch and it was already dawn.Went outside to investigate but only to find out  that the noise was from a snore by fellow hikers near out tent. It was really loud and I think even the tiniest bug can hear it lolz. Before stepping back into the tent, I looked up in the sky and saw the Milky Way Galaxy. Amazing sight to behold!

Mt. Pulag

SOME TRAVEL TIPS TO PONDER
• Bring enough food and water
• Flashlight, Torch and headlamp is a must
• Bring your own sleeping bag for hygiene reason.
• Thermal wear ( Jacket, gloves and bonnet)
• Good Hiking shoes
• Bring your trash with you

 The post is quite long so I have to split it into two parts. You can accessed part 2 here by clicking this link.

Mt. Pulag is probably Philippine's most visited mountain and the 3rd highest mountain. ...

Inside Baguio's Famous Haunted House: The Laperal White House



This Victorian inspired quaint house was originally owned by Laperal family along Leonard Wood in Baguio City. The Laperal Guesthouse or popularly known as Laperal White House was built in 1920's and during the World War II, it was used as a temporary garrison by the Japanese. Beheading and torture of men accused of being spies to the Americans are killed inside the house. Though Don Roberto, the Laperal family’s patriarch, survived the war, Doña Victorina died. One unfortunate day, Don Roberto slipped at the front yard and bumped his head that caused his death. A granddaughter of Don Roberto and Doña Victorina is also said to have died after being hit by a car upon crossing Leonard Wood road in front of the Laperal White House. The house’s longtime caretakers have reported seeing apparitions coming to and from the house — specifically, of a woman in white and a little girl.  It gained  notoriety for being one of the most haunted places in the Philippines and earn a descent amount of visitors during Halloween.

THE GARAGE


After a quick snack at Grumpy Joe - a cozy restaurant that serves delectable food along Leonard wood. We decided to visit the White House before going back to our hotel. It took merely just 15 min to reach it by foot. Hubby was about to pay the Php 50.00 entrance fee for the both of us but I drop the idea of getting inside. I had a queer mixture of feelings when I first look at it. I told  him that I'll just wait for him outside near the main gate of the house. The garage was used as interrogation and torture chamber during World War II. Today, It was converted into a gallery showcasing bamboo art by Philippine Bamboo Association and Tan Yee Kee foundation headed by business tycoon Lucio Tan.









 



INSIDE

According to my hubby: The house caretaker was doing some landscaping as I walk towards the entrance of the house. The interior  is blessed with beguiling combination of gloom, ornamentation, and extreme rustic. In the fireplace , I hold the camera firmly, jabbed the shutter slowly and bump the iso to 1000+ and the shutter speed is at 1/80 but still blurry. Finally after 5 retakes,  I finally got one. A little bit strange  and move on to the upper level of the house.



LOOKING THROUGH THE WINDOW


According to my hubby: The squeaky wooden stair gives you more of a spooky feel while ascending to the second floor. As I was taking shots of the stairs my cellphone vibrates, my wife texted me that a shadowy figure of a woman is looking through the window on the 2nd floor. I texted her back that I haven't reach the 2nd floor yet and there's no one inside except me because the caretaker is outside doing some landscaping and the other woman is at the ticket entrance. She encourage me to end the tour and as I walked to the exit, I ask the caretaker if  " Is there a guest, visitor or caretaker  inside? She said no and answered that she and the woman manning the tickets are the only ones here during that time. 








I'm not a paranormal fan but I think something eerie going on inside the house. I heard a story of a visitor who happened to have a third eye opened and she saw a woman and a child staring at her. Jay Taruc of IWitness documented his stay at the white house last 2012 and captured a short paranormal experience at the end of the video. A photo went viral when a ghost is seen looking out of the window in the house http://www.viral4real.com/caught-on-cam-ghost-seen-looking-out-the-window-in-baguios-laperal-white-house/. You can click the video link here.

GETTING TO THE WHITE HOUSE


The Laperal White House is just short taxi away from Sm City Baguio and Victory Liner Bus. You can also take one of the jeepneys that plys Mines View Park and Good Sheperd Convent at Bakakeng Terminal at Mabini Street. Just tell the driver that you're heading to the Laperal White House in Leonard Wood.

This Victorian inspired quaint house was originally owned by Laperal family along Leonard Wood ...

DISCOVER OSLOB AND SOUTH




Old churches, Island Paradise, Ocean's gentle giant and pristine waterfalls are all found in Cebu's South. We had been invited by Bluewater Sumilon located southeast of Cebu so we finally decided to hit the road and go south. Travel time from Cebu to Oslob is 3.5 hours. It's a pretty long ride so we used this opportunity to catch some sleep.

GENTLE GIANTS OF OSLOB
Oslob is gaining a foot hold as an adventure tourism destination in Cebu. Whaleshark watching is one of them and attracts thousands of tourist every year. Feeding sessions for the whale sharks start at 6 a.m., and last until noon. After a quick briefing about do's and dont's, we were ushered to a small outrigger and headed to the feeding grounds of the Whale Sharks. We were 9 in the boat including 3 boat paddlers. The boatman opens a pale of chum of krills and throws into the water luring the Whale Sharks. As instructed by our guide I jump into the water  put my snorkeling mask on. After few seconds, I noticed a fish like shadow finning towards me. I veered to my left and saw a 20 foot mammoth beast opening its big mouth. These docile creatures are called filter feeders that feed by straining food particles from water and expels it through its gills.


The whale shark is the biggest of all shark species

Sadly, I noticed a big gash on its body. Unfortunately, I can't recommend Whale Shark watching in Oslob. The interaction prioritizes tourist experience over Whale Sharks health. According to some bloggers, they recommend Donsol Whale Shark watching as they are more concern about the Whale Sharks health than the lucrative profit they can generate from tourist. 

COST OF WHALE SHARK WATCHING
• Php 500.00 Local Tourist
• Php 1,000.00 Foreign Tourist
• Php 300.00 for those who stay only on the boats
• Snorkel Rent - Php 100.00

WHALE SHARK WATCHING TIPS
• Be sure to arrive before 9:00 am to avoid the crowd and heat. Preferably weekdays.
• Bring your own Snorkeling gear
• Don't touch the Whale Shark and stay 5 meters away
• Don't use sunblock to keep the water pollutant-free
• Non-flash underwater camera is essential

TUMALOG FALLS
A short 15 minute uphill ride will bring you to one of Cebu's newest attraction. It's huge and probably one of the best waterfalls that I had ever seen. Be sure not to miss when in Oslob. Entrance fee is Php 25.00.



BOLJOON TOWN AND CHURCH
The centuries-old Patrocinio de Maria Church, the town’s parish church, is a central structure in the parish complex. Records reveal that the present structure was started a year after slave traders destroyed the original structure, in 1782. It took more than 30 years to complete, in 1814, during the time of parish priest Fray Julian Bermejo, whom the townspeople in those days hailed as “El Padre Capitan” because of his good community leadership. One of Cebu's oldest towns and declared as National Historical Landmark in 1999. In 2001, the National Museum identified it as a National Cultural Treasure.



Escuela Catolica
Not far from Boljoon church is Escuela Catolica, which now serves as meeting place for the various religious groups of the parish, is not a typical Spanish colonial building, bearing instead American construction influences.

OSLOB CUARTEL AND RUINS
The Cuartel and Baluarte in Oslob shouldn’t be missed as well. A visit to these two structures in the town are a must because this is a part of the town’s history dating back to the Spanish era. The Cuartel, a Spanish word for “barracks” or “headquarters” was intended for the Spanish guards. It was built in 1860 but the building was unfinished even at the end of the Spanish colonization in the Philippines. The Baluarte, Spanish word for watchtower, was built in 1788 to help dispel Moro raiders. Both structures are just a few meters away from the Municipal Hall which makes them very accessible as tourist destinations.


GETTING HERE
Go to the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City, then hop on an Oslob-bound bus (~P150, 3 hours) and Alight at Brgy. Tan-awan. Take the earliest trip which is around 4:00 am to avoid traffic. You can also reach OSLOB by renting a private car or van for Php 4000 - 7000.

Our Whake Shark experience was a one time experience. Even though there are safety and briefing guidelines before the interaction, it's not enough to preserve this gentle docile creatures. They must improve the situation or might end up losing the sharks forever.

Old churches, Island Paradise, Ocean's gentle giant and pristine waterfalls are all found in ...