The Other Side of Cagbalete Island

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MT. BATULAO

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MT. BATULAO
Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault

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BACKGROUND
The cool and arid clime of Mt. Batulao is a pleasant escape from the tropics. The moment you alight from the Crow bus at Evercrest Golf Course – the jumpoff – you will feel the same coolness felt by the visitors of Tagaytay. And this temperature will be with you all the way. Batulao is the only mountain in the region where you can wear jackets at high noon. You have to. There is no tree cover throughout the climb. On sunny days, this paradoxical blending of heat and cold, on dramatic, sometimes steep landscapes, with forceful winds that make the cogon grass dance, forming beautiful waveforms across the slopes, earns for Batulao the distinction of being the most spectacular of the mountains in Batangas.

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Even its name draws from a spectacular origin. Every yearend, the sun sets right between Batulao’s two peaks, creating an image of rocks surrounding a disc of red light. In Tagalog, this phenomenon of “Bato sa Ilao” (Illuminated Rocks) became abbreviated to “Batulao”. Although this happens only in the last week of December, Batulao’s charms throughout the year are more than enough to make it among the favored mountaineering destinations. Access to the mountain is easy; just take the Nasugbu-bound buses from EDSA cor. Taft.

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The trails are initially rough roads, then transition to paths that are well-maintained, taking you up and down, up and down, at first gently, and then the slopes will be more pronounced later. After around forty minutes of trekking, you will encounter a hut, fondly called ‘Mini Stop’ where buco juice is sold for P20 each. 500 meters beyond this hut is the fork between the two trails to Mt. Batulao’s summit.

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SPECIAL CONCERNS
During the cool months of December-February, jackets or long-sleeved shirts have a dual purpose in Batulao: they protect you from the chilly morning temperature, and shield you from the sun’s UV rays. Avoid garments that easily stain with dust, for Batulao is arid. During the rainy season, however, Batulao also gets humid, so wear clothes according to your comfort. Also, during rainy days, the portions of the trails could be severely muddy — preparing accordingly. In all seasons, however, long-sleeved clothing is still advised.

For the old trail, some would advice wearing gloves during the final ascent to Batulao’s peak, but it would depend on the hiker’s grip and convenience. For the new trail, gloves are not needed nor recommended.

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Boy guides, aged 8-17, wait for mountaineers by the highway; you can secure their services for a range of prices but PinoyMountaineer.com recommends P300/day. Don’t worry much about the ‘child labor’ aspect as these kids are able to go to school on weekdays; they do the guiding on weekends as their part-time job.

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You can save time by taking a tricycle from the highway to the end of the road – about a 20-minute trip that costs P100/tricycle ride. You can also get their cellphone number to fetch you on your way back. At the small village that you will pass by foot or trike, you can buy food and water. A local ice cream is also sold.

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At Camp 1, P20 fee is collected; a similar fee is collected at the New Trail campsite. Take note: If you want to two different trails up and down, you must pay P20 on both sides.

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There are no immediately accessible water sources throughout the Batulao trail but guides can access further sources, 30 minutes away for you on either trails. For dayhikes, 1.5-2 L water is advised. Cellphone signal is present throughout the climb.

(Thanks for this Article Gideon Lasco)

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Sombrero Island, Batangas

Sombrero Island (named because the island looked like a big hat sticking out of the water) is about 15 minute boat ride from Mabini Batangas (My start point going to the island).

Sombrero Island is a small patch of land known only to local fishermen. The changing tides and rainy season make it less known to tourists, but also unsurprisingly more pristine.


The east side of the island, you’ll find the beach but it does not offer much for the snorkeler but the white pristine sand makes the island more attractive. However, on the western side, you’ll find a spectacular coral reef garden. The only problem is that the snorkeler is limited only to about 50ft from the island. The farther you go out the stronger the current. To better enjoy this reef, scuba gear is needed.

Entrance to the island is 200Php cottage rent is 800Php

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Cagbalete Island

Cagbalete is an island in the town of Mauban Quezon, about three hours east of Metro Manila. It is situated on Lamon Bay together with Balesin, Alabat and Polilio Islands. Its proximity to Manila and its uncrowded beaches is a plus point for Cagbalete Island. Cagbalete Island is a 1,640.4874-hectare property in Quezon Province. Although all areas of the island are privately-owned, the southwestern part of it is populated by a number of Visayan fisherfolks who have settled in the idle lands. Known as “Sabang”, this fishing village can be estimated to be populated by over a thousand people. These people have learned to live through by earning money from fishing, farming (there are ricefields in certain areas), woodcutting, getting lumber and copra, and drying/ processing seaweeds..


Cagbalete or “Cabalete” in some maps, is truly a rare jewel. It is home to a number of species of land animals and sea creatures. Kingfishers, parrots, eagles, and other uncommon birds can usually be seen flying over the area of the island. It is also the habitat of the coconut crab or “kuray” (the Cagbalete favorite), starfishes, “alimasag”, “umang”, etc., and a long time ago, the “pawikan” (giant sea turtle). For divers and snorkeling-fanatics, underwater exploration is a treat with the diverse and colorful marine life that can be discovered beneath the rocks and corals.


The changing of tides is very evident in Cagbalete. During low tide, the waters can move as far back as 1 kilometer, leaving the shore dry and exposing all the rocks and corals that may be underneath. The low tide-high tide cycle occurs twice in a day, so if there is low tide during lunch time, high tide will come late in the afternoon, and the next low tide will occur at midnight, depending on the season.

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Marine Sanctuary, Anilao Batangas

A marine sanctuary is located near the shore which is considered as the best known feeding station in Anilao.

Most diving consists of coral slopes, steeps, drop-offs and shallow coral gardens inter-twined with sandy patches. Fish and coral life is quite abundant. Macrophotography is highly suggested, as it can be very rewarding. Anilao has some of the highest concentration of diverse marine life on the planet, including over 90% of the coral species on the planet and a staggering number of different species of nudibranch. The diving conditions in Anilao are ideal for beginner to advanced divers. The water temperatures are very comfortable year-round, ranging from about 26-28C during summer to 22-26C during the winter, allowing for diving in skin suits or 3mm wetsuits. The visibility is very good, about 60ft. on average, and underwater currents can vary from virtually non-existent to strong, although the surface tends to remain relatively calm.

Under water pictures from Aldwin Manaig,

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Mt. Gulugod Baboy

Jump-off point: Philpan Dive Resort, Anilao, Mabini
LLA: 13°42’55″N; 120°53’43″E; 525 MASL
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-2

Gulugod-Baboy is the general term that describes the hills that traverse Calumpan Peninsula. Located in Southern Batangas, the peninsula is more known for the diving resorts of Anilao – the birthplace of Philippine scuba diving. Since dive enthusiasts are also enthusiasts for anything ‘outdoor’, they began exploring the hills, and soon, Gulugod Baboy became a hiking destination on its right, although today it remains a popular sidetrip to a diving escapade to Anilao, or to the nearby Sombrero or Maricaban islands.
There is confusion regarding where the real “Gulugod-Baboy” is. From SE to NW (from Brgy. San Teodoro to Brgy. Laurel), there are three peaks in the range. The first is 470 MASL, the second is 485 MASL, and the third is 525 MASL. This third has a large, ancient tree as its landmark, and is known to mountaineers as the real Gulugod Baboy. However, locals say that this third peak is actually Mt. Pinagbanderahan, and the first peak is the Gulugod Baboy.
Gulugod-Baboy is a playground for adventure: you can refer to the map and ascend/descend to any point in the peninsula using the compass. Most directions have trails; indeed there are many trails in the mountain which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. At its peaks, you can see, from east to west: Janao Bay, Maricaban strait which bears Sombrero and Maricaban islands, a distant, faint blue Mindoro, Verde Island (SW) and Batangas Bay. The city and port of Batangas is visible on the west, following a farther Mt. Daguldul. To the north is Mt. Maculot, and even Mt. Batulao and the Tagaytay highlands.

TRIVIA

Gulugod-Baboy means “pig’s spine”, so named because of the contours of the hills. “Gulod”, however, means hill; “pig’s hill” can also depict the pastoral scene of the mountain. You would normal encounter cows, goats, and in the past, pigs, as you trek through the mountain.
For its part, Pinagbanderahan has a historical background. It can be translated, “Where the flag was hoisted”, and it commemorates the crash landing of the Japanese in early 1942. In the heat of World War II, Japanese airmen had a mishap and crash landed in the slopes of Gulugod-Baboy. To celebrate their survival, they planted a flag in the summit. Since then, locals called it “Pinagbanderahan”.

(Thanks for this Article Gideon Lasco)

SPECIAL CONCERNS
As you trek through Gulugod-Baboy you will be passing by private property; make sure you observe proper courtesy. Also, there are dogs on the loose and cows in some parts so be careful.

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Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center

A spiritual journey right at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, every pilgrim experiences inner joy, peace and warmth. Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is an ideal destination for pilgrims and tourists not only during the holy week and simbang gabi but during the whole ecclesiastical year. The Eucharist is celebrated almost daily; healing mass is part of Fr. Joey’s everyday apostolate. Even for non catholics or non believers, Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is a serene place for everybody.

At the church’s backdrop is a steep hill transformed into a picturesque Via Dolorosa Grotto of Healing and Purification, all of 292 steps, including the life-size statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross is leading to a 50-foot statue of the Ascending Christ —the third biggest in the world than can be seen miles away.
Rev. Father Joey Faller, spiritual director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Philippines and founder of the kamay ni Hesus Healing Church visualized the church to give the sick and the spiritually weak a haven where they could feel and experience the presence of God.

For inquiries,  information, mass schedules, prayer request, invitation and schedule for healing sessions, please contact:
Mobile: +63.917.853.6267
Fax: (02) 920-0910
Telephone Nos: +63.42.540.3085; +63.2.929.0333
email: fjoey36@yahoo.com, fatherjoey@kamaynihesus.com

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San Isidro Pahiyas Festival

Every year, thousands of tourist and holiday makers flock to this historic town commended as one of the cleanest and most peaceful community in the country. Its cool, fresh and invigorating climate earns her the singular distinction of being called the Summer Capital of Quezon Province. The town’s natural scenic spots and colorful lifestyles add to the charm that entices both foreign and local tourists to visit the place. The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival held every May 15 has become one of the country’s tourist attractions prompting the Department of Tourism to list down Lucban as a tourist town and a cultural heritage site.

During the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival, each household tries to outdo each other in friendly competition as they vie for honor of recognizing their creativity. As incentives to their effort, prizes were given to the winning pahiyas based on a given criteria. This accounts for some of the most curious décor that the unstoppable spirit of the festival tends to show. Decking the hall or decorating the wall with “Kiping” and agricultural harvest is what “PAYAS” or “PAHIYAS” literally means.

Farmers show their bountiful produce such as chayote, radish, pepper and grains of rice. There are miniatures locally known as “ANOK”, fruits, vegetables and longganisa (local sausage) strung together in the most original fashion. Residents engaging in other forms of livelihood display their products too in thanksgiving. The handicraft manufacturer has his house decked with colorful buri/buntal hats, bags, placemats and others while the butcher has a head of roasted suckling pig (lechon) peeking from the window.

The most traditional and certainly the most attractive décor comes of course in the form of “KIPING” which are adorn and strung together to form all sorts of shapes, from chandelier called “ARANGYA” to huge flowers. Kiping is made from ground rice flour, shaped using “cabal” leaves or other leaf forms and colored in radiant red, fuschia, yellow, green and other bright shades. When kiping catches the light of the sun it turns into a veritable cascades of color.

The celebration is a form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and in honor of the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador. A procession of the image of San Isidro is planned long before the festival and it is said that houses along the route of the procession passes will be especially favored and blessed in the coming year. It is from this belief that the lavish decoration of the home began. After all, one must welcome the saint’s blessings with rapture and gratitude.

Since the tradition started, Lucban benefits from this event through the TIYANGGE SA LUCBAN, an agro-industrial fair showcasing Lucban’s products. This fair features foods native to the town like the delicious Lucban longganisa, puto seko, broas, tikoy and other delicacies; ornamental plants like dapo and cutflowers; handricrafts such as buri/buntal hats, bags and a number of other cottage industry products.

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