Monday, December 29, 2014

My 2014 in Review

I'm back! Well, I'm soooooo back! It's been a while and it's been hard being away from my pen, from my blog, and from my thoughts hindered to be expressed for quite a long time.

Where is bluishtrekker now?

I am thinking now if I should be sad that I barely had a good amount of time this year to hike mountains, or it should be a satisfying one for me since I got to climb my real target mountains for this year plus the fact that I fulfilled my promise not to hike during rainy season. I am really thinking because having not hiked or gone to backpacking since June doesn't feel that good to me. Oh yeah, I was able to do a dayhike in Pico de Loro in August to accompany my office friends but still, I cant' consider it a climb that requires a certain level of preparation for a backpacking trip/travel.

Here's my list for 2014:

- Mt. Batulao via New Trail (Nasugbu, Batangas)

- Kibungan Circuit (Kibungan, Benguet)

- Mt. Purgatory Traverse  (Bokod/Ekip, Benguet)

- Mt. Mantalingajan Traverse via Ransang to Malis (Rizal/Brooke's Point, Southern Palawan)

- Maranat Falls (Rodriguez, Rizal)

- Pico de Loro Backtrail Dayhike (Ternate, Cavite) / Basic Mountaineering Course (Mt. Manalmon JOP, San Miguel, Bulacan)

-Mt. Pulag Via Ambangeg Trail (Bokod/Kabayan, Benguet)

See? I didn't even go beyond the number of my fingers. For those who have already embraced a travel and outdoor life and have already been established with a regular hiking system in their bodies like me, you wouldn't imagine myself being okay without any frequent outdoor activities -- now I'm a bit emotional. There was even one time when bitterness and the feeling of being a loser struck me for being stucked in the office one weekend overtime. I happened to glance at a window of our office building as sunset reflection on a neighbor building caught my attention in the middle of my desk work. And then a song, "Learning to Breathe" by Switchfoot started to play which brought back the memories of my first ever major climb, Tarak Ridge. Haha, how pity was that moment for a poor climber like me.

But still not that bad, right? I mean, the list --- a good amount of time to share the beauty of Mt. Batulao with the newbies, a great back to back with the two climbs in Cordillera, the fullfilment of my Knife Edge Trilogy dream by climbing the last leg, Mt. Mantalingajan in Palawan, the attainment and completion of a BMC, being a guide to my newbie office friends who successfully had a real taste of hiking experience in Pico de Loro, and lastly, I got to organize my fourth annual visit to Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg trail with the help and support of my climb  buddy, Dennis. (A Beautiful Letdown: My Fourth Annual Climb to Mt. Pulag).

Looking back, I realized there is really something powerful about listing down in a bucketlist. Yeah, when 2014 started and I jotted down all my targets and goals, it was few and I can say, dreams, in their simplest form, they all do come true. 

Okay, I'm quite satisfied now because I got to attain what has been originally planned.

This 2014, it's my decision to lessen the climbs, cut down my costs for travel and instead allocate more for my family in renovating our home in the province. Sometime in the middle of the year, I was moved to serve Him more and spare more time for Him. I thank God this year have been a more lively "me" in my faith and action.

I had a fair share of tears, sadness, confused mind as well as good laughs with family and friends. 

2014 might be a sort of really challenging that sometimes I tell myself, yeah I may not be able to reach many summits this year and yet all the expriences I had are tantamount to climbing mountains. It's like an intangible experience of climbing a huge mountain --- tough, hard on the knees, and messy. And here I am, standing strong, remaining resilient and continuing to move on no matter what life throws on me.

Getting used to and getting to be more deeper in understanding what life is all about... Oh, with all of these that I gained in 2014, I am ready to face tomorrow and am excited what's in store for me in 2015.

I still have fears and doubts but I believe, that's where another page of exciting journey starts!

May we receive more blessings in the coming year! :)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

First LUCP Basic Mountaineering Course Seminar

Until this time, it has been a continuous issue and argument whether Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) should never be missed out by every outdoor man. Some say that you are not really a mountaineer if you haven't undergone such training. Honestly, I've been to more than fifty mountains, both major and minor ones, before I was able to take this chance of attending one. My claim before was that, having no BMC shouldn't be an issue to me since I get to learn gradually the essentials of outdoors through actual participation and exposure in the climb.  Besides, I can always surf the internet if   I want to do some research. Yet after attending this seminar sponsored by Let's Unite All The Climbers in the Philippines (LUCP), I've realized many things and was more enlightened about the outdoors.

Over a month ago, buddy Dennis told me about joining the said BMC. I couldn't refuse as it was actually our plan to attend such kind of seminar even before but just happened that it did not match our schedule. This time, I knew we'd make it.

This BMC seminar was initiated and was made possible by Sir Bong Magana, one of the administrators of LUCP along with the help and support of his team and other mountaineering friends. Held in Mt. Manalmon last August 16-17 2014, it was volunteered and facilitated by those people with good names and great experiences in mountaineering.  LUCP is a mountaineering community/page in facebook where various climb-related matters are discussed by its members.

By the way, because of some concerns, Buddy and I were not able to come early so we missed the first session which I think is about planning and preparation (sadly, the very basic). The seminar had some other courses which I would be sharing with you in this post. We also did not attended the ropemanship session as we need to go back home the next day as early as possible.

But what really is BMC? From the word itself, it's about learning the basic -- planning, preparation, budgeting, knowing what you climb, organizing and do's and don'ts of the outdoors. If you depart from the basic, something, if not totally, could possibly go wrong. It's like SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) of every climb. Since I have missed out the basic, I will instead turned you to the internet and found this UPM's file: UPM BASIC MOUNTAINEERING COURSE No. 1

Without any further defensive explanation, let me now share with you some learnings I got from the speakers who were eager and generous to share their knowledge.
  • Navigation (Speaker: Jong Narciso)

A compass is an essential tool in the wilderness survival. In this session, we were taught how to check and gather one's bearings. We were given some exercises. I have also learned that a map won't be useful without  the accompaniment of compass. Yeah, I guess I need more exercises on this.

Well, I don't know what I've been doing during my "Girl Scout" days that it's like it was my first time to hold and learn how to use the compass. Hehehe. The more insulting part was that I have a digital compass in my phone and yet I've never attempted to use it nor give time to be curious on how it operates.

  • First Aid (Speaker: Filmann Mapalad)

A -ask for help
I - intervene
D- do no further harm

The objectives of first aid:
"To minimize the pain and injury and save lives."

Similar to any company or institution, a group of climbers doing a particular trek should always have a designated first aider. I believe knowing how to apply first aid is one of the knowledge and skills that a mountaineer should possess since injuries can always happen during the climb. It is necessary and advantageous to be aware of helpful responsive actions in case of ailment and injuries.Two important things before rendering first aid are to introduce oneself first and then take responsibility. Sir Filmann also discussed about the barriers, equipments/tools, hindrances and emergency fundamentals of applying first aid as well as the essentials of a first aider.
  • High Altitude Mountaineering (Speaker: Regie Pablo)

The topic was quite interesting especially for those participants who aim to bring themselves into the next level of mountaineering. The speaker was no other than a successful Filipino Everest climber (who took the northern trail and the hardest route possible to the summit). And I'm one of those who dream bigger. But it pays to achieve those big dreams because of  the challenge of raising money for the climb and the climbing equipments. Apart from this, it apparently requires a far greater level of endurance. High altitude mountaineering is not for everyone. Sir Regie mentioned about assessing one's self first through Mt. Kinabalu climb, it's a 4,000MASL mountain and if you got no problem climbing it, then you have a chance in alpine mountaineering.

High altitude mountaineering involves a conditions of glacier problem and the mountain should be above 4,000MASL. Part of his discussion is the records/history of humankind in discovering the highest of the highest mountains in the world. He provided some tips on the best time to hike Mt. Everest and other Himalayan mountains. Mountains in Taiwan, New Zealand and India are among those that he recommended to give out a try because organizing climbs in this countries are at least cheaper than any other.  I was inspired by his stories and he even got a frostbite in one of his thumbs. What a passionate climber!

He showed to us the alpine climbing equipments and I found it exciting though I realized, "sa dami at bigat pa lang ng gears, ubos na agad ang lakas ko." LOL! Numerous pieces of advice were given in terms of organizing climbs, finding sponsors and finding the right climbing companions. He said, "mountaineering is a shared responsibiliy, so choose your companions in forming the team.

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Rule (Speaker: Mister LNT)

The topic was facilitated by Sir Lito, a.k.a. MisterLNT. I admire his advocacy to practice the responsible mountaineering. You may find him at facebook but here is his official website:

The session was made active and creative. We were divided into groups and each group should do a presentation related to the assigned  LNT rule.  Some performed a drama skit to portray a particular LNT rule, other made something like a Q&A presentation. Others in the room were allowed to raise questions and clarifications.

  • Introduction to Jungle Survival (Speaker: Jay-Z Jorge)

According to Sir Jay-Z, the talk is only an introduction as learning survival skills entails spending 2 or 3 days. The magic word for survival is S.T.O.P (Stop, Think, Organize, Plan). The highlight of his discussion was about the 10 C's of survivability which are as follows:

1. Cutting Tool
2. Combustion
3. Cover
4. Container
5. Cordage
6. Candle
7. Cotton
9. Cargo Tape
10. Canvass Needle

The crucial point about survival is the combined application of knowledge, skills and attitude. Having a presence of mind and avoiding panic can save lives and go a long way in times of survival.

If I could turn back time and redo everything, I wish I have attended the BMC seminar like this in the early days of my mountaineering activities before I got to climb a lot of peaks. Being well-oriented of the basic and other outdoor matters before encountering the actual scenarios in the wilderness has its real advantage than having nothing at all. 

Yes, I got you, there is always an internet to which you can get a lot of information. Just like this, I'm sharing some information and it's actually available right there at your fingertips through your phones or laptops. But I am telling you, being in the actual learning and workshop is better than mere reading a file from the internet or a book. Besides, you can also have a chance to mingle with fellow outdoor people who can give you actual sharing of his/her experiences. You can even know how first aid is actually applied, how a bandage is prepared, how you operate a compass and many more. You can raise questions and get instant clarifications from the resource speaker or instructor in case a resource material failed to discuss a certain matter. Taking the BMC, you have the "actual feel" of everything.

I thank LUCP for this initiative and I would like to give compliments on all the efforts to make this event possible. I take pride being part of its first ever batch with a great hope that what we've learned will be properly applied and all wrongdoings in the past will be changed and corrected going forward.

Mountaineering is a risky hobby and a dangerous activity. Accidents can happen but if you know and follow the proper ways of doing it, well, you are on the right track and you can enjoy the most out of all the good experiences that mountaineering can offer.

Guys, allow yourself to be trained! Be well-oriented about your chosen hobby. Yeah, there's a part 2!  LUCP BMC Batch 2 is coming up this September 6-7 at the jump off point of Manabu Peak in Batangas. You may contact Bong Magana or find the LUCP facebook group.


This BMC had exciting raffle draw portions from some mountaineer sponsors. Items that were given away include hammock, head lamp and a lot of coin purse. Thanks Tingguian Tribe for this awesome coin purse! Surely it's gonna be useful.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Announcing My 4th Annual Mt. Pulag Climb: Climb with Me! :)

Dearest Viewers,

Add another adventurous stuff to your bucket list! See for yourself the famous beauty of Luzon's highest peak! Meet new friends! And whether you are a newbie or a regular climber of Mt. Pulag for the "nth" time --- Hurry! secure your slot this early, invite your friends, grab your backpack and climb with me!
"Sea of Clouds" (Photo taken from Dennis Hisanan)

How much?

Php2,950 only!!!!
(inclusive of all required climbing fees, event shirt and 2 meals - Dinner and Breakfast, bus fare from Manila to Baguio and V.V.)

Required Down payment: Php1,000 (for ticket reservations and shirt) on or before 24Oct14)
BPI Account (Net Quad, BGC Branch): Ma. Stella Sophia Rivera 2663-0060-72


December 20 - 21, 2014 (Date of Departure from Manila: 10pm of December 19)
Pre-climb Meeting: Nov. 25, 2014



Kabayan, Benguet (Bus Ride through Victory Liner to Baguio City and Jeepney Ride to Bokod, Benguet)


Features of the Climb? What to Expect?

Luzon's highest and Country's 3rd Highest. Sea of Clouds (if lucky enough). Pine trees. Cold weather of the Cordillera region. Dwarf bamboos. Via Ambangeg trail, which is considered a minor climb and advisable to newbies. For the veteran ones, it's like a "chillax" climb.


Basic Tips?

>At least jog or do some work outs few days before the climb
> Attend the pre-climb meeting
> Pay for the required downpayment
> Especially for the newbies, while it's early, start to collect/borrow the necessary gears:
(tent with fly sheet, jacket with fleece, bonnet, arm warmer,gloves, trekking shoes or sandals, raincoat)


Any Helpful Links?

mt. pulag (
3rd Annual Mt. Pulag Climb
First Step in Mt. Pulag: Astonished!
If You are Climbing for the First Time

Contact me ASAP! Send your PMs thru I'd like to hear from you soon.

Lots of Love,
bluish trekker ^_^


Like me on Facebook:

Bluish Trekker @ Facebook
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sunset Stories

It’s almost dusk and darkness is about to cover the surroundings. Yet, before it completely shuts the daylight down, a pink, yellow-orange sky is painted in the sky.

Oh I guess, I am really a sentimental person. Because if not, I would not be able to write something like this. I would not even waste my time and make a post just to detail what the heck is sunset for me. But tell me, isn’t it that you are also one of those people who can’t help but marvel over a perfect sunset moment? Witnessing a very dramatic sunset could be overwhelming and the joy it brings is unexplainable that it just makes one’s heart leap for joy.

One of my favorite shots when I climb mountain is the sunset. Being atop the mountain while seeing for myself the conquering darkness and perfect sunset battle at twilight is one of the most favored moments of my life. When you are granted with a good view of sunset, very often that it means you are also given a  favorable weather for your climb. By the way, I put more weight and preference on sunset over sunrise. Sunset is always beautiful but I think you will also agree with me that even so, sunset is better appreciated and viewed from the seashore, from the mountains or from anywhere purely nature than when you spot it from the city. I've been to different mountains and I was able to collect sunset experiences that I would like to have some flashback. I may not have the most beautiful captured sunsets but let me share them with you anyway (it was actually a compilation as the photos below were already posted and included per mountain/climb story of this blog). Well, still, they are somehow worth remembering.

  • Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia  (November 2013)

Viewing this impressive sundown made me left for a while my buffet dinner at Laban Rata Lodge because all I wanted to do was to wonder at what I see amidst very, very cold weather outside and never miss out any amazing moment. Such a romantic scene that I called Buddy to watch it with me.

  • Mt. Guiting-Guiting, Romblon (November 2012)

 I have forgotten my tiredness brought about by trekking since 3:30AM on that day because I got to witness this simple treat from the sky --- a beautiful sunset.

  • Mt. Batulao, Batangas (January 2014)

Before nightfall sweeps off the view of the fabulous mountain range of Mt. Batulao, here's what we got -- an equally fabulous sun coming down from above!

  • Mt. Simagaysay, Ilocos Norte (February 2012)

In completing the Mt. Sicapoo traverse in Ilocos back in 2012, what could be more motivating being in the third day of the trek with an average of 8-10 hours walk per day than having a plenty of water and by being rewarded by this perfect sunset from the 360-degree view trails of Mt. Simagaysay.

  • Maranat Falls, Bulacan (June 2014)

Who could have thought that just a few minutes away from the metro lies a very serene and pleasant hiking destination where sunset also appears to be so stunning. It was overwhelming while taking a snapshot of it from the campsite.

  • Balin-balin Village, Mt. Mantalingajan, Palawan (May 2014)

The peaceful living at Balin-balin is also mixed with peaceful twilight like this brought by the sweet setting of the sun from behind.

  • An Ascent from Kabugan Campsite, Mt. Mantalingajan Traverse, Palawan (May 2014)

The whole day might be a non-stop rainy trek for us but the heavens promised a beautiful ending for our Day 1 trek to Mantalingajan -- a pinkish sunset.
  • Paray-Paray Campsite, Mt. Mantalingajan Traverse, Palawan (May 2014)

I was hoping for another pinkish sunset in our Day 2 trek in Mt. Mantalingajan. But I felt happier at what we saw. It was a glancing and hiding sun over a cloudy side of Ransang, Palawan. This was viewed from the water source (small creek) that can be found just a few minutes away from Paray-paray campsite.

  • Mt. Tagpew, Kibungan Circuit, Benguet (February 2014)

Oooops, when I say sunset photo I mean not the literal, complete view of the sundown. It could also mean a hidden sunset. I called it a "lingering sunset." It was such a fantastic reflection of the red-orange light of the sun but we could not view it because the campsite in this side of Benguet is covered by  trees. 

  • Pico De Loro, Batangas/Cavite (June 2011)

It was almost dusk but still there was a trace of sunset at these crocodile-like islets viewed from the summit of Pico de Loro.

For me, sunset is such a sweet finale.  The sun seems to bid goodbye telling me that, “hey, it might be a long, tiring day, but watch me as I spread the last strike of my light, it’s still a wonderful day anyway!” Sunset conveys a message that another page is added to my life and is brought now to memory. It seems to give a retro feeling that you may want to reflect and recall all the happenings on that particular day. Sunset makes a promise that he would hide for a while but he will definitely shine the next day. It tells that life is fantastic... that there is always something to celebrate. It portrays hope and gratefulness.

I thank God for the sunset. It is the expression of His wondrous deeds.

I'm pretty sure your captured sunset photos are far better than these. And you will always recall those moments when you got to witness it for yourself. Now, what are your sunset stories?
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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Maranat: Simply Hidden and Serene

It was only this year that I heard a lot about Maranat. I just recently saw a lot of facebook uploads about it. 'Sounds something unusual! Then I got my chance to visit it. =)

I can say Maranat is unique in different ways. It's not a typical mountain where you would expect a highest peak or a summit. Really, it is not. But of course it's still a mountain and they say it's part of Sierra Madre range (most likely Mt. Oriod). 
Maranat is also a close neighbor to Mt. Balagbag. In fact, its jump off point is in Licao-licao in Rodriguez, Rizal which is similar to Mt. Balagbag. Ting ting ting! The good news? Well, obviously it's just somewhere near Manila and it's easy to get there. What I am also amused about is that it is not a traverse-type of a climb and yet the trekking itself is passing through the boundaries of two provinces, that is, making an entry point in Rizal walking all the way to Bulacan, specifically the town of San Jose del Monte. (It is said to be almost within the area of Norzagaray town, also in Bulacan).

The Highlight 


So what is special about Maranat? Instead of looking forward to a fulfillment by reaching a summit, one would equally be satisfied by its ultimate final destination -- its beautiful falls hidden in the middle of the mountain along with serene campsite overseen by a local named Tatay Nestor who also owns a nipa hut there.

The Trail

One may not anticipate any highest peak yet an alternate ascending and descending trails are still part of the trek. Around 10-15mins after the start up from Licao-licao, there's a point where instead of straight direction (which is heading to Balagbag), getting to Maranat would mean taking the left turn. Oh I missed taking a snapshot of it, but i am 100% sure it's easy to find  and is obvious because otherwise, heading straight would mean ending up with an open trail to Mt. Balagbag trail.

The first part of the trek (more than 1 hour I guess) is fairly easy passing through various residential areas. However, during that weekend that we did the trek, the terrain made it a little more challenging for us because it was muddy and we could not trust on both rocks and muds as they are really slippery to step at. (It's June and the past days/week had been a sort of rainy).

A very relaxing nipa hut along the trail can be found after a couple of minutes. Afterwards, we encountered a steady trail with a mix of ascending and descending ones. The trails then become open and more of grassland.

But that's situated in another mountain. This means that we have to take a deep, steep, rocky downward trail to get to the river and after crossing such river, we need to ascend the next mountain.

Walking after less than an hour, we could already view the campsite and the falls beside it which both seem to encourage us more to continue with the trek. From that point, I couldn't wait to finally get there!

The trail going down is muddy and cautions must be observed as it is dangerous, steep and slippery.

Assisted by our guy companions, it wasn't too difficult to get to the other side of the river even if the water level is almost waist high of my height. Of course, it could be risky or not passable when there's an inclement weather where water level can drastically rise.
This area is a sort of zipline wire to get to the other side. Got no idea when it can be operated or used
As expected, the backtrail is a bit longer as this descent trail that we took was the same trail that we had to ascend on our way back. It's the total opposite of the normal climb. Going to Maranat is more of downward trail while going back home is like you just get to start climbing a mountain.

Actual number of hours during our ascent (with a lot of rest): 3.5 hours

Actual number of hours on our descent: 2.8 hours

Blissful Camping

After enduring a 10-15 minute ascent from the river, we reached the campsite. A nipa hut was the very first thing that we saw. 

Below were two of the cute and playful pets of Tatay Nestor which seem to be so homey and are used to a life in the mountain.

 Tatay Nestor gave us a warm welcome and was very accomodating to us. He even told us some trivia and stories of his past travel and adventures.   

This one reminds me of my childhood as I remember it so plentiful during summer. It's called "talutot" in our town. Oh forgive me that I forgot from which tree it came from.

We chose the camping area which is just 5 minutes away from the falls. The camping ground is not that flat making you to slightly slant when lying down but nevertheless still suitable for setting a tent. Water source is absolutely not a problem as aside from the fact that the campsite is close to the falls, Tatay Nestor has water hose/system.  We were even able to take a good bath as we can freely use their comfort room and bathroom. I have learned that many of the mountaineers there are avid campers of Maranat and are resident climbers as one of them claimed. This climber has mentioned that staying there more than the normal overnight climb is not new to her. I have heard from Tatay Nestor himself that there are a few climbers there who have stayed for more or less than one month. But it's really not that surprising. I cannot question them. Staying there is satisfying and soothing and if you are looking for serenity and simplicity -- fresh air, abundant water, refreshing nature, quiet place --- well, it appears like you can no longer ask for more. Tatay Nestor even told us that when heat strikes during lunch time, he simply goes to the falls, listens to the water flows and feels the refreshing water then he's fine and cooled down afterwards.

I have only one comment. There are plenty of mosquitoes and I find them so annoying. Until this write up or two weeks after the climb, several marks of their bites are still visible in my skin and are very itchy (Well, I don't know if that goes by the blood type because eversince I am mosquitoes' favorite).
By the way, heavy rains disturbed us during the night. Indeed, it's rainy season already.

The second day was maximizing the stay and enjoyment at the falls. We were able to reach the farthest one. Water is so abundant and free flowing. I honestly wanted to stay for one more night if only I had no work the following day.

I asked Tatay Nestor how Maranat started to become known to many climbers. He said it began when Sagip Kagubatan was formed and when a good and nature-concerned person named Oliver Solomon expressed the willingness to help him plant more trees and save the mountains. Tatay Nestor willingly told us about his life and how he got to Maranat. One thing he is advocate of is to save the nature. For him, reforestation is actually not the absolute solution nor the annual budget that government appropriates on it, it is being "hands on" and proper monitoring that can totally solve the problem.

Coaling is the primary source of livelihood in Maranat but it has also caused the mountain to lack more trees and has triggered erosions. This, according to Tatay Nestor if not replaced with new trees can cause worse flood or clean water shortage to Metro Manila and nearby areas. That's his only concern. He wants the future not to suffer and he is totally thankful to Sagip Kagubatan for the initiatives it has done already.

This bald area of the mountain has actually a portion with soil erosion. 

Such weekend may have an abnormal weather (a quick alternate of sunny and rainy), but it let us experience a great time of adventure and a good feel of nature. In the future, I am looking forward to be back to this paradise-like Maranat -- simple, hidden and serene. (I'll have my mosquito bites healed at least hehe).  

How to Get There?

1. Take a bus in EDSA going to Tungko.
2. Alight in Tungko and go to the market which has a terminal of jeepneys going to Licao-licao.
3. Drop off in Licao-Licao
4. Take a tricycle going to Barangay hall for registration.

*Getting a chartered jeepney is also advisable for convenience

Safe Budget (for an overnight Climb for a minimum of 10 pax): Php 500
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