Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mt. Cabuyao, Benguet: Into the Clouds

Not quite Mt. Pulag. But like other mountains in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines, Mt. Cabuyao at 2,025 meters above sea level, is almost constantly engulfed in a sea of clouds even on a clear summer day. Its renowned two discs called 'radar' by locals perched atop the peak, though gargantuan, could easily hide out of sight.

Approaching Mt. Cabuyao's peak.

It was the last week of January this year, I shivered as I walked up and down Session Road at six in the morn. Baguio was experiencing one of its coldest months of all time. The lowest temperature recorded that month was a freezing 9.6 degrees centigrade.

Amidst the darkness of dawn, I caught a glimpse of three figures strolling my way. It didn't take long for me to recognize who they were. Hearing one woman's boisterous laughter was enough for me to know.

I met up with my old mountaineering buddies. There's Christine of the Jovial Wanderer, Tristan, and his girlfriend Morena who I met for the first time. The previous night, the three just arrived in Baguio from Sagada. My family have been living in the city for almost three months already, but have not been outdoors much. So when I received their invite for a climb, even with a toe nail that completely chipped off which left me limping, I blurted a resounding yes.

Climbing Pinays rock! Me, Christine, and Morena. Somewhere off the paved trail.

We were soon on our way to the jump off point after a quick brekkie at Pizza Volante, one of the few food joints that's open early in the morn. It only took us one jeep ride to get to Green Valley from the city proper. The driver dropped us off at the end of his route.

I tied the knot of my handicapped toe's makeshift cast made of mesh ribbon tighter in preparation for the hike. It sure is a minor climb, but even walking on flat ground was burdensome for me. I was armed with a liter of water and an expectation that I could bum off trail food from the person who's got a stockpile of it, *cough* Christine *cough*. And so, we began our hike.

Bird's eye view of Marcos Highway.

Our pace was snail speed. No one was in a rush. It's been almost a year and a month since my last gruesome trek. I was then two months pregnant, and with the encouragement of my bacpacking-partner-slash-hubby I braved the seven falls of Mambukal in Murcia, Bacolod City.

So it's been a while. A very long while since I conquered a mountain. A very long while since I had that empowering feeling that can only be attained through summiting peaks. I relished every step. For every step represented a temporal freedom from the insane abyss of motherhood. And every step symbolized the courage to hold on to my individual self. Yes I am a mom, but I am also a mountaineer.

Benguet, into the clouds.

Though these random, abstruse thoughts were running in my head, I was merrily catching up with the group. And eating Christine's food. Being with them always makes me feel alive. Our hike (about 5 kilometers) lasted for almost two hours, snail speed remember? We intended to reach Mt. Sto. Tomas, the highest point in Baguio. But because of laziness a misunderstanding with locals (they told us we're already in Sto. Tomas, referring to the baranggay not the mountain) and dark clouds approaching, we all agreed to hike back once we have reached the two radio transmitters. We couldn't risk getting stuck up there in the rain for they were heading to Manila in the afternoon.

Plus, my hubby and then 4-month old infant (who was low on milk!) were locked out of the house and I had the keys. They waited for almost five hours for me to come home. The hubby's first words when I arrived, "Did you enjoy your climb?".

The backpacker mum savoring an infant-free morning.

Trip's Nitty Gritty:

1. How to get to Mt. Cabuyao/Mt. Sto. Tomas jump off: Jeeps to Green Valley at the time of our trip were parked along Shagem Street, between the streets of Abanao and Otek. Fare was about P15. Takes a while for the jeep to get packed.

2. Drive from Baguio City proper to Green Valley's about half an hour. Driver will drop you off at the end part of the jeep's route. Just follow the ascending paved road.

3. There's no admission fee collected.

4. If you feel like hitching a ride going down, there are few vehicles that do pass, mostly trucks or jeeps transporting newly harvested veggies.

5. Jeeps heading back to the city proper from the jump off point are rare. Ask for the schedule. Cabs are a few as well.


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44 comments:

AJ said...
July 27, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Wow, parang nagpunta ka lang sa Quiapo. Na-lock out pa fam mo. Asteeeg!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM

AJ, I sooo loved living in Baguio!

renevic | mamumundok said...
July 27, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Hi MOMtaineer =) Congrats to your first mom climb =) Ang lamig ah, naka-sando? lang ikaw :p

*mOmOt KuYiT* said...
July 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM

in fairness hindi halatang bagong panganak ha, bongga! :)

Mel said...
July 28, 2011 at 3:15 AM

I agree, mahirap sagutin ang tanong na "Bakit ka umaakyat?" sa mga taong hindi namumundok. At pag nayaya ka ng akyat, hindi ka nagka-counter question ng "Bakit?" kundi "Saan at kelan?" ;D

I met Janet Belarmino in one of my climbs, who's also a go-getter mountaineer mom like you! :) I shared the experience here: http://jumpintomyflipside.blogspot.com/2011/05/kwentong-kaladkarin-12-batulao-beer-and.html

Markyramone said...
July 28, 2011 at 5:03 AM

the radio transmitters, they use it for communicating with UFO's hehe...ask Roy Alvarez he'll say the same thing haha

supertikoy said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:35 AM

wow ang ganda ng view!!!

Pinoy Adventurista said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:38 AM

wow! i would love to climb this! thanks Gay for sharing! di ko alam 'to ah! hehehe!!!

lakwatsera de primera said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:40 AM

Grabe Gay you married a saint hehehe, even though he waited outside for hours with Luna, you still didn't hear "What took you so long?"

C.W. Bush said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:53 AM

Some stunning photos there. I've not really thought of the Philippines as a hiking destination (more scuba/cocktails on the beach), but I think it'd be a nice change of pace.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Renevic, I love your term 'momtaineer'! Hahaha! I was wearing a jacket while climbing, then I got sweaty and all (kakapagod din pala) that's why I ended up in my sleeveless top na lang.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Momotski, awww... really? *kilig*

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 7:59 AM

"I agree, mahirap sagutin ang tanong na "Bakit ka umaakyat?" sa mga taong hindi namumundok. At pag nayaya ka ng akyat, hindi ka nagka-counter question ng "Bakit?" kundi "Saan at kelan?" - Oh my gosh, Mel. This is sooo true!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Marky, hahaha! He's probably right you know.

Jules said...
July 28, 2011 at 8:35 AM

sayang talaga i missed this. hindi na tayo naka-climb before you left. =(

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 9:12 AM

Mervz, try to go on your next Baguio visit.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Claire, yeah! He's the most patient person evarrr!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Chris, we got heaps of mountains, hence heaps of mountaineers. Hope you could visit our country soon.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Jules, miss you! Let's climb when we're back in Pinas.

Tripper10 said...
July 28, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Astig ka ma'am... nanganak kaba talaga? hehe!
Ang Bait po ng asawa nyo... :)

Malditang "Kura"cha said...
July 28, 2011 at 12:27 PM

At inggit mode na naman ako. Never tried climbing. Medical issues.. kaya I envy those who are physically fit. Mountains are Cordillera's charm no? Kung hindi rice terraces, ganyan kagandang view from the top. Isama mo pa ang malamig na klima. Nice find. Hindi ko rin alam yan before.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Tripper, I used to always do walking while I was preggy and after giving birth. It helped me lose the excess weight!

docgelo said...
July 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM

looking at your last photo here, parang hindi maginaw?!

the pictures with clouds are the best! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Doc, must be the hike. Blood circulation's pretty intense with such activities. Haha!

Seair said...
July 28, 2011 at 4:13 PM

thanks for posting so many blogs about baguio. I always wondered why people took the long drive there..i always thought it was just for the weather. very informative, as always :)

Mel said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:01 PM

@Gay - Batulao's my first too! Something we share in common then. :) Ma'am Janet was very warm and down-to-earth, one kick-ass chick! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Haha! Awesome, Mel!

Marcos said...
July 28, 2011 at 8:28 PM

Thanks for posting this Gay, I wanted to do this trek too when I was in Baguio but I didn't know how.

Ang sweet naman ng ending, such a perfect greeting after a well deserved break. Hope I can find a partner like that in my lifetime.

Aleah said...
July 29, 2011 at 2:58 AM

I've never been there, but I heard it's a hard climb. Judging from your pics, though, it doesn't seem to be so. hehe. Or was it?

♥ joei said...
July 29, 2011 at 4:49 AM

Wooooow. Hehe. I want to climb but baka di ko kayanin :p

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 29, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Marcos, now you know where to go the next time you're in Baguio.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 29, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Aleah, like a 'walk in the park'.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 29, 2011 at 8:43 AM

♥ joei, I'm pretty sure you can do it :)

Batang Lakwatsero said...
July 29, 2011 at 2:38 PM

kakatuwa naman.. go pa rin kahit injured ang daliri.. ang ganda nag cloudy mountain!

RM Bulseco said...
July 30, 2011 at 1:26 AM

Spectacular view of Benguet and Marcos Highway! Teka, sino bang nagmamay-ari ng mga giant radars diyan?

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 30, 2011 at 8:15 AM

Ivan, yeah! I did not let the opportunity pass.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 30, 2011 at 8:18 AM

RM, I think uhm, the government (?).

EDMARATION said...
July 31, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Hello P.T.J.

What a nice place. I wanna try this too sana. This is in Baguio mismo right?

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Actually it's in Tuba, Benguet. But can be reached in 30 minutes from Baguio city proper.

Ding said...
July 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I have lived in baguio for 6 years and has never done mountaineering. sounds weird 'no?...and pathetic, too! LOL! Sto. Tomas climb was the in-thing back in the day...but with a daily commune with mountains and going up and down the hills everyday, my friends and I preferred the beaches of La union back then...hehe.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 31, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Maybe you weren't into mountaineering then, Ding? We did a couple of trips to La Union from Baguio as well.

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...
August 6, 2011 at 4:19 PM

wow nagpunta kayo sa mickey mouse! been wondering how to get there ever since i've stepped foot in bagiuo

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
August 6, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Haha! Yeah Christian, we saw Mickey Mouse's ears up close.

Pinoy Adventurista said...
March 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

was there 2 weeks ago... akala ko Mt. Sto Tomas yung inakyat namin, Mt. Cabuyao pala... mas malayo pa pala ang Mt. Sto Tomas... na confused din ako.. hehehe! anyway, on my next visit to Baguio, will climb Sto Tomas.. Hehehe! :)

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