Monday, July 8, 2013

Mount Balagbag, A Tale of Toothache, Falling Cellphones, Empi Light and Red Horse

The Cast: Alex, Elmer, Maning, Bertuz, Ferdie, Arnel, Princess, Ujin, Frankie, Aileen, Kelly, Abe, Alvin, Me, Leon, Ruth, Jay Pee, Jonard, Fil and Robb taking the pic!
Checked in at 6:09AM
The weekend started early for me, 5AM to be exact.  I need to be at our meeting place at Mcdonalds in PHILCOA before 7AM.

Another interesting story is what happened the days prior.  I only worked for 2 days with Tuesday being Pasig Day and was in a bad shape Thursday-Friday.  Thursday is my coding day and I usually spend the night in one of our branch so that I don't have to drive to work anymore.  That Thursday morning, I woke up with a swollen face due to a tooth infection.  Nothing was painful, although I looked like a victim of Manny Pacquio in one of his successful boxing match.  I decided not to report for work anymore.  I self medicated with antibiotics and pain reliever.  On Friday, I was expecting that it had somehow subsided, but it was even bigger and now my right eye is slightly squinting from my swollen cheeks.  I decided to see my dentist that day, but all she could do was prescribe me with a stronger antibiotic and a cheaper pain reliever.  I was given options also on how to go about with my tooth extraction.  I did not think much about that, what I'm worried about is my climb the next day.

Its been 7 months since I last joined an activity with the group Guys4Mountains, and the first one does not even count since its on a beach and more of a leisure gathering.  My last climb for the year was Mt. Pulag in April with another group but still, that was two months ago.

Fortunately, the swelling subsided as the night progresses.  Before going to bed, I decided to pack my camping equipment.  I was able to check days before that my tadpole tent is still in good condition, although the cord in the pole were not as elastic as it used to be.  I set aside what I'll be wearing for the climb and just packed a change of clothes for the evening and the trek down.  I included my mess kit, my toiletry and first aid/medicine kit and I was good to go.  According to the itinerary, there are stores along the trail, so I figured, food will not be a problem.

Saturday morning came and my partner obliged to bring me to PHILCOA.  There I was surprised to see new faces, but was comforted to see the regulars especially Robb and Papi Elf who served as our Expedition Leaders.  We were 19, all in all.

I forgot to mention that Robb arrived at the meeting place 30 minutes late, the reason why most of the group went to Tungko ahead of us.  It was 7:30 AM when the remaining 5 including me left PHILCOA for Tungko.  There I decided to buy my lunch.  I got a 2 piece chicken and extra rice which is enough to last me until dinner.  After buying a few items, we boarded the jeep that would take us to Sitio Karahume in San Jose Del Monte Bulacan.

We did not waste time at the jump off and proceeded with the trek.  The trail was passable by tricycle and was required to register at the Tribal Hall and make donations.  Sitio Karahume is dominated by the Dumagat Tribe.  We made a turn to smaller trail until we reached the river.  We followed the river upstream until we reached the 1st and 2nd level waterfalls.

We continued to the 3rd level waterfall and took the opportunity to swim in its cool water.

Enjoying the waters!

After a few minutes and pictures later, we are on our way to the 4th level waterfall where we had lunch.  This is also where my phone literally took a fall at the falls.  While having lunch, I left my pack open resting on a tree trunk where it slipped.  The topmost content fell to the water that included my phone and wallet wrapped in plastic.  When a friend grabbed it, there was a small amount of water inside.  Fortunately, other than the watermarks on the screen, it still functions.  Globe has a strong signal throughout the trail except near the summit.  I checked-in at the falls at 12:23PM.

The last photo taken by my phone before it decided to jump into the water!

It was a steep climb to reach Aling Nene's house where some of us freshened up and heed the call of nature. After resting for a few minutes, we then walked to the nearby market to replenish water and buy the items needed to get through the rest of the day and for breakfast.  I just got myself cup noodles because of the toothache.

Aling Nene in her Pink and Red ensamble!

It was another two hour uphill climb to reach the helipad summit of Mt. Balagbag.  We registered at the Sitio Balagbag checkpoint, and another at the gate near the summit.  I was able to get a porter at the checkpoint, and since they were guiding us, and with my back free of the load, we decided to went ahead with the group so we can pitch our tent at the campsite and rest until everyone arrives.  The mountain has a sad history. The Dumagat, it's original settlers were overthrown by a Brick Company and the mountain left barren due to logging.

The Helipad Camp Site
Sunset at the Summit

In spite of its harsh past, at the summit, we were rewarded with the view of the surrounding mountains and the city in the distance.  It was even more spectacular at night.  Some started preparing dinner while I ate what was left of my lunch so I can drink my medicine.  There were short periods of rain, but not enough to stop us from doing our socials over 4 bottles of Emperador Light.  It got colder as the night progresses. Of all the climbs I've joined with the group, this was the first time that I actually introduced myself after the newbies made their introduction.  The conversations went from work, love-life, to previous themed climbs, but ultimately, it was all about how we miss the group and the friendship established.

After the Emperador Light, some retired for the night while others stayed for the Kalinga Coffee prepared by Bertuz.  For an experienced mountaineer like him, I love how he actually treat each climb as his first.  Come to think of it, that's actually true, and it does not only applies to mountains but to every destination as well.  I will remember him for that.

Before the descent, minus the bugs!

We woke up early the next morning so we can start our decent at 8AM to avoid the scorching heat of the sun.  After breakfast, we cleared the camp, pack our bags and started the descent.  Of course we did not leave without having our photos taken at the camp which was cut short due to the bugs that suddenly appeared that morning.  We took a shorter route down to the registration area.  After a few pictures on the boulders, we continued our trek down, passing by Aling Nene again to rest for a few minutes.  It took us 2 hours from the top to the Jeepney station at Licao Licao.  The eatery at the station became our "Tambayan" as we wait for the others.  We had lunch and took turns to wash-up.  Since there were 19 of us against the 2 bathrooms available and with the other 1 without a door and toilet, we were able to consume 5 Red Horse Grande mixed with Tanduay Ice while waiting.  Once everybody's done, we were off to Tungko again to ride the bus that would take us home.

It was a great climb, and as how we say it in the group "THE BEST CLIMB EVERRRR"!

My First Climb!

I miss dressing up for a climb!
Salamat Ujin, Kelly, Princess, Ruth and Ferdie for the Pics... Robb, i upload mo na yung sayo!


  1. Very nice blog! I love it =D cheers! Up next our most awaited climb.. thematic climb =) more pictures to follow it would add more spice to this! Loving it more!


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