Dagway Mt. Pulag – a journey to a Holy Place

June 30, 2014

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DAGWAY MT. PULAG

“MT. PULAG, a journey to a holy place
An Spiritual, Pilgrimage and Cultural of Sensitivity Place”

Mt. Pulag offers an experience the beauty clear view of nature from its Soaring, two thousand nine hundred twenty two (2,922) meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is the highest mountain in Luzon and the second highest in the Island Philippines next to Mt. Apo in Davao City (3,142m). Embrace the fresh glimmering sunrise on an early morning while experiencing a chilling temperature that penetrates to the bones. Mt. Pulag became a National Park on February 20, 1987 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation. (source from City Information Officer of Baguio City Mr Ramon S. Dacawi, DILG Supervising Administrative Officer of Cordillera Administrative Region Ms. Shirley V. Mon and DENR Superintendent Mt. Pulag National Park Ms. Emerita B. Albas)

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……………The Mt. Pulag – DARE TO DISCOVER – Via Ambangeg Trail, Kabayan, Provinces of Benguet

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Mt. Pulag is home to a wide variety of flora (which I was so amazed much on photography) and fauna, among which are the widespread dwarf bamboos (you can witness from the start to end point) and the 4 species of cloud rats (as mentioned by the DENR In-charge). Considered sacred by the indigenous people of Benguet, it is also inhabited by the tribes of Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Ifugao and Ilocano (as mentioned by the City Information Officer of Baguio City)

Mt. Pulag spans to the towns of Bokod, Kabayan and Buguias in Benguet, Tinoc in Ifugao and Kayapa in Nueva Viscaya. The biggest part of it though is claimed by Bokod, Benguet.

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……………The Road to Mt. Pulag – DARE TO DEPTHS – Second highest Peak Mountain in the Island Philippines

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July 8@6:30am

I reached in Baguio (Friday at around 6:30 in the morning), ahead of the group schedule which will be on July 9, Saturday. The air was breezy, rainfall is falling coz it rainy, even a bit cool when the wind propels, a welcome respite from the months of very hot heat in Manila.

Mt. Pulag is considered the easiest of all mountains in the Philippines for climbers, as mentioned by City Information of Baguio City Ramon Dacawi, whom I met during my courtesy call in the City Hall of Baguio (July 8 11:30am). With mostly rolling landscape and well established trails, requiring no specialized equipment, it is the choice among first time trekkers and beginners, as he added.

July 9@7:30am

The jump-off point for Mt. Pulag is Baguio, 6 hours by bus from Manila. Together with me in a group of 46 persons (14 from Cebu, 1 from Pangasinan, 1 from Manila, 2 from Tagum City and 28 from Davao City) we met at the Victory bus station on Baguio with departure set at (7:30am, Saturday) going to DENR Field Office

Now whenever I travel, whether it’s by land, sea, or air, I just couldn’t get a wink. Maybe it’s the excitement, the anxiousness, or the constant motion of the vehicle I’m in that prevented my brain from resting. This has sort of become “bother”, that zombie-like state of mind, neither fully awake nor in deep slumber; and I always envy those people who can easily fall asleep.

The group toke a two chartered passenger jeep on a 3 hour ride to the DENR field office. In the middle of our trip we stopped at the Ambuklao Dam in Benguet, the country’s first hydroelectric power plant for a picture perfect moments captured.

Upon reaching the DENR office (11:15am), a short briefing was conducted by DENR Superintendent Emerita Albas of Mt. Pulag National Park on the dos and don’ts while trekking Mt. Pulag. Trash, whether organic or non-biodegradable should all be brought down and disposed of properly. Staying on the established trails to minimize damage to vegetations and prevent further destruction of the mountain slopes. Noise must be keep to a minimum and no intimacy at the campsite. Respect the Mountain, Anitos, Landscape, Flora, Fauna and other Environment Aspects.

After a heavy breakfast was done outside the DENR Office.

From the DENR, it was another 2 hours ride, this time on mostly unpaved roads, stony passageway to the ranger station. Roads that provided breathtaking outlooks of the valleys and the terraces below while side openings and narrow valley enveloped you in a solemn silence lack of self-confidence.

The ranger station at Babadak, Kabayan, Benguet (we arrived at 2:15pm) is not some military structure in the middle of nowhere; it sits near a small village at the base of the trail and offer mountaineers a place for final preparation, cooking, rest, and last supply acquisition before the trek. This is also the site where you meet your guides and hire porters to help carry your bags to the designated camping grounds.

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……………The Trek to Mt. Pulag – DARE TO EXPLORE – With a sign of 7.5km to Mt. Pulag’s Summit

 A trek to Mt. Pulag is a strong challenge even to determined mountain climbers. Mt. Pulag is not the kind of common rain forests with trees. Grasses and dwarf bamboos sturdy enough to withstand chilling temperature is the prevalent flora. From a vivid wheat color on dry periods, Mt. Pulag would transform to a grassy savanna on rainy season, as mentioned by the DENR personnel. A common practice of climbers is to split the journey into two stages. Start on the first day to a stopover called Campsite 1 and 2

We started our climb (almost 2:45pm.) From the ranger station, the sign says 7.5km to Mt. Pulag’s summit, and there were worrying gray clouds ahead.

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I carry my backpack and camera bag while some of my other companions chose to one of the porters carry their belongings. The porters, farmers from the nearby communities actually, are out to supplement their daily income by assisting trekkers. They charge a standard fee of 250 pesos/day to carry your baggage up to the camp.

About to reached through the trek on campsite 1, and sure enough, it begun to rain. Apart from making the trail wet, dirty, and therefore slippery; raincoats was in, adding another un-breathable layer to our already hot and sweaty discomfort. At this altitude, whenever you stop to catch your breath, you can already see clouds of condensations, this and hearing the rapid beats of your own heart amidst the weird silence; you’ll then begin to question yourself and your sanity in being there.

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It was still raining when we reached the campsite 2 at (about 4:45pm.) My companion from Tagum, Leo is the one who brought the tent, medium size which good for two heads. The tents had been set-up and evening meal was being prepared by the group. While we both inside the tent suddenly Ms. Caroline from Davao City dropped up her body inside due to immediate transfer coz of fully occupied from other tents for whom she’s on dripping wet due to rain outside.

I can felt my body warmed up after had happened. The environment was now more tolerable but you also realize that temperature will surely drop as the night progresses. Sleep again eluded me as I can only lay on my back with three layers of pack bag, uneasy to move due to overcrowded inside, hehehehe plus uneven ground and silent companions, how I prayed it will be morning soon!

It took a lot of effort to get myself out of the tent. But the moment I look overhead and saw the sky very dim with falling water, it gave me renew spirit and will power. I did manage to get an hour or so of sleep. Our call time was at 4am (July 10), but I was up and ready before then. Imagining myself of what had happened previously, but it only adds to my
vision; and the bent of questioning myself plan… yet again.

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……………The Race to Mt. Pulag – DARE TO CLIMB – My goal to set foot atop Mt. Pulag 2,922 meters remained me overwhelming

July 10@ 5:00am

With only one sky flake biscuit and cup of Milo for sustenance and a cup of boiled water for warmth, the final trek to the summit begin. In near darkness, armed only with individual flashlights, we walked single file in a bid to reach the summit before the sun rises.

The trails are slight, oftentimes you find yourself on one side of the mountain and the sharp slope below. You can see the pathway alright, but to determine clearly whether it was a gap or slippery mud was another question all together. I trip up several times during the course due to I wear trek slippers and the path was so muddy because of the rain. The summit race for the sunrise was no longer within reach I realized, but on the other hand, my goal to set foot atop Mt. Pulag remained me overwhelming.

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(6:15am)

So with slow steps, pausing often to relieve the stress on my foot, I trekked on, I trekked on. Mountaineers passed me by, a gentle wind blew, the sky brightened, dawn was breaking, I trekked on. Sunrise caught me a few hundred meters below the summit; I paused and break, the cherry varieties were just glorious! It took me a while longer before I actually reached the summit of Mt. Pulag, but the feeling (more of relieve) was truly about.

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(7:35am)

Never in my life have I saw the heavens with such clarity and majesty, and for the very first time, that white band of light known as the Milky Way, the twist arm of our galaxy, I at last, behold. The sun was still rising through several layers of clouds, casting long shadows, rendering the landscape in orange and gold. One can see the sketches of other mountain peaks, ‘lakes’ of clouds in luminous white a distance below moving around and backward on me, the huge fulfilling and winding trails we took, the unlimited feeling of freedom, the sense of accomplishment, of fellowship, and the pride in all our hearts that says “yes, it was all significance, WOW I MADE IT!”

10:30am Back at Camp 2, Breakfast
12:30pm at the Ranger Station
05:30pm Victory Liners Terminal, Baguio City
06:30pm Travel from Baguio to Manila

July 11, 2011
01:20am NIA Terminal, Manila
04:50am Flight Manila to Davao City
06:25am Davao International Airport
07:20am Tagum City

The dialects I learned during my stayed in Mt. Pulag (IBALOI & KALANGUYA TRIBE)

MAGANDANG UMAGA / MAGANDANG HAPON / MAGANDANG GABI
– IBALOI (mayat ja agsapa) / (mayat ja mashem) / (mapteng ja dabim)
– KALANGUYA (mayat ni agsapa) / (mayat ni madem) / (mayat ne malabim)

LALAKI / BABAE
– IBALOI (daki) / (bee)
– KALANGUYA (laki) / (bee)

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How to get there

The trip to Pulag usually starts from the 6-hour bus trip from Manila to Baguio. This can be best done overnight so that you can rest throughout the entire trip. The bus that leaves Manila by 10-12 PM is the best trip to take. Arrange your transportation by hiring a jeepney parked along the Caltex station near Burnham park and Session road or by taking the Norton buses (Northern Transit Terminal Station at the top of Magsaysay Avenue) bound for Kabayan Benguet. There are three established trail for Mt. Pulag namely the Ambangeg (Babadac), Ellet (Eddet) and Kabayan (Akiki or Killer Trail). Another trail goes directly to Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya which is known as the Lusod trail.

“The temperature must’ve been below 10°C when I woke up with chills move stealthily from my feet; even with two layers of socks, sweat shirt, two jackets, two bonnets, arm warmer, gloves, two pants, shawl and shoes that I didn’t bother to take off (dressed fat like a penguin), I can still felt the cold coming from outside of our tent. It’s almost 3am, Sunday, not much sleep for nearly eight hours, trembling inside an “accommodation tent”, at almost two thousand meter up in the mountains, the only question on my mind was “what am I doing here!!?”…experience by Benjie Bonete from Davao City