Published: May 5th 2009May 2nd 2009
The 1991 eruption
In our search for something exciting to do during the long weekend, we ended signing up for a trek to Mt. Pinatubo. It’s this time again that I had to wake up very early (1.30 A.M. for this one)
and do the 10 stages of getting out of the bed. Stage 1 to 9 -
the clock alarms and I snooze for 5 more minutes Stage 10 -
the clock alarms for the 10th time and finally, I got up.
The group met up at one of those McDonalds branches and left Metro Manila at around 4 A.M.
We arrived at Capas, Tarlac after 1 ½ hrs. and after eating our breakfast, we headed to Brgy. Sta. Juliana to finalize prior arrangements and to start the adventure!
The large group was divided into 5’s for the 4x4 drive to the base. We had our driver, Kuya Roman and our guide, Kuya Augusto. Our way to the camp was through rough dry riverbeds and rocks (imagine shaken baby syndrome)
. We reached the base of the mountain one hour after and began the next part of the trip - the 10 km. walk to the crater. The hike will take more
Kuya Roman & Kuya Augusto
Our 4x4 driver and our guide
or less 3 hours walking through brooks, rocks and ashes. The cool unpolluted air someway made me forget once in a while that I was enduring a bad back, a backpack that seems to get heavier as the hike progresses, toes constantly hitting stones and the fact that we are being toasted under a very hot tropical sun. It actually had been raining most of the week and if it rained that day, we probably have frozen our butts off - so thanks Mother Nature for not raining.
We also had a little chit chat with Kuya Augusto where I learned that somehow there’s always someone or a group that climbs the mountain everyday and that they just had a large number of climbers the previous day since it was a public holiday. That is how most of the locals earn; by serving as tour guides and driving 4x4s. I also learned that he never brings lunch every time he climbs Pinatubo, he’d just bring biscuits and eat brunch (Late Breakfast and early lunch)
so he can save money for food (not to worry, we made sure he’ll eat a proper meal)
Somehow along the way, I finally
realized that someone forgot to tell us how hard the trekking part will be or maybe I was just too focused on the part where people tell the story of how beautiful Pinatubo is! I really can’t complain because we chose not to take the skyway a.ka. the short cut. And then FINALLY! We reached the crater! Turquoise blue lake, crater slope, fresh air, and the mere beauty of nature ~ to me, it was all worth it!
Pinatubo is located at the boundary of the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales. It was an unknown volcano until it made headlines back in 1991. It has become one of the most violent and largest eruptions of the century. Millions worth of properties were destroyed, hundreds of people were killed, and thousands evacuated; including our guide Kuya Augusto and his family. The indigenous people called Aeta who have been living by the Mountain for centuries were also displaced from their homes. The disaster was even made worst as a storm joined the already furious volcano, pouring rain mixed with ashes. It is said that the eruption have affected the rest if the Philippine islands and the ash-fall even reached other
countries in Asia. I was just 7 years old back in 1991 and I don’t have any memory of how it was. I guess cartoons and toys were definitely way much important to me back then than a raging volcano.
We hired a boat to take us to the less crowded side of the crater where we spent swimming for two hours. The water was both hot and cold. One spot it’s cold then if you swim just a few inches further - it’s warm. The sulfur rich lake turned my white tank top to yellowish and my hair very sticky - it’s something you can use instead of an extra hold gel.
Jing, Janet and I later on decided that we don’t want to ride the boat back; we want it to drag us back (to our boatman’s great refusal)
. So we had this brilliant idea of swimming further away to make them follow us and eventually just held unto the boat while 3 men struggle to paddle. Haha, I know that was a bit stubborn (and mean)
but we wanted to make the most of it.
One hour bumpy 4x4 ride, 3 hours trek, and
2 hours swimming - you should understand why we paid extra money so we can take the skyway going back. We saw a tiny Aeta village on the way down, I would have loved to hang out a little bit but I just couldn’t entertain the idea of walking back for another 3 hours with very tired legs that’s likely to have cramps anytime.
So the next day, I woke up sore all over, with a slight fever, burning skin, very bad runny nose, and very very dry throat. That was something!!!
Looking forward to climbing more mountains …
There are more photos below