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Pronounced as Mt. Pul-ag meaning Bald (or Kalbo) because of non-existence of trees from the grassland to the summit. Dubbed as the “playgrounds of the Gods” because of the majestic presence of sea of clouds (you are very blessed if you witnessed one).

If I remember it right, I really wanted to climb this mountain way back 2012 or 2013 because it was dubbed as the highest peak of Luzon and everyone was crazy over this mountain. That time, I have second thoughts if I could pull off Pul-ag with flying colors, based on what I have seen in social media;  people need to undergone extensive training before climbing, there were seminars and clinics for climbers ( my wild guess, this going to be tough and I didn’t know if I can survive).

Fast forward to 2017, I don’t have plans to go climb, but when my cousin (who was eager since we planned this for I think four years) told me that we should climb, without second thoughts, I said yes and coordinated Tripinas. Well, Tripinas is a travel agency that I trusted because of my experience at Mt. Pinatubo and Sagada. I booked on November 18-19 but need to cancel because of Quezon training so we pushed through with December 9-10 instead.

We are excited as everything was packed and prepared however, Tripinas cancelled because other joiners re-scheduled their tour. So, it’s back to zero, anxious tensed and agigated. We need to push through so Rina looked for travel and tours that offered trip. Until she found Ma’am Jo’s group (as referred by Edelweiss). Gosh! We were saved.

The adventure starts on the night of December 8, I just came from Tagaytay and I was super per-occupied with things and exhausted – I’m stressed for what might happen (panic attack mode on). We were 13, I guess – strangers who have one goal which is to finish the hike and experience God’s wonder through the sea of clouds.

We reached Baguio at 4 in the morning and transferred to Monster Jeep that would transport us to the Ranger Station. 6 AM we had our breakfast at JangJang – if I’m not mistaken it was located at Bokod, Benguet. Rina and I shared tinolang manok and two rice which cost Php. 70.00 only (ang mura).

Past seven when we reached the DENR office for the orientation, log-in and other things.  We waited for a while until the office was open. I enjoyed the orientation a lot, because I got to know the mountain more.

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Going to Ranger station, I decided to ride the topload, ang hirap mag-picture but the experience is good. Medyo kinakabahan lang dahil sa zigzag ang up-down road.

What we just did in the homestay was to sleep and recuperate strength since we supposed to climb at one in the morning. Ma’am Jo, prepared sumptuous meals for us – grabe! Sulit talaga. But we also got a chance to explore Ranger Station since signal was difficult.

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THE CLIMB (This is it!)

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Wake up call at 12 midnight, we need to prepare for the midnight hike. Had breakfast and some rituals. At one in the morning, we headed to the jump-off. After a short prayer, we started the trail. To be honest, I had difficulty in this hike, I don’t know why (my body was not in proper condition, so I opted to go behind the group), we haven’t reach Camp 1 and Ma’am Jo, brought my things, she also told me to remove my jackets because of the humid air. I really wanted to throw away my things that time (di na keri, hahaha). It took us, two hours going to Camp 2 from Camp 1. Camp 2 going to the summit was more tougher, imagine the slippery mud along the way, it’s never easy. Ma’am Jo kept on pushing me, bawal huminto kasi ang worry nya ay maka-hyporthemia ako, yung drizzle kasi sobrang lakas na dahil nasa kabundukan na kami. To be honest, I really want to give up, ayoko na, uwi na ako but within me said go lang. Kaya mo yan!

We reached the summit past six and almost seven in the morning, walang sea of clouds but it’s okay. Worth it naman ang hirap (super, mega, duper na hirap because of the muddy trail). Congested ang tao sa taas, alam mo yon, pila ang pa-picture sa Mt. Pulag sign. Sa dami ng tao parang hirap umanggulo at maghanap ng tamang spot for IG worthy.

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If ascending was struggle same with descending, imagine the muddy trail downhill. I decided to be the last along with the guide Deborah (17 y/o kiddo who never left me all along, actually nag-bonding kami). I’m really tired and starving, all my food was with Rina. Grabe, nanghihina na talaga ako at hindi ko alam kung matatapos ko ba yung trail. I opted to stop from time to time- paano naman 10 hours ago pa yung last meal ko. I thought of good things and stopped to appreciate the world around me, the brown grassland, the mountain, the mossy forest, the flora and faunas, the sky and everything the God created.

I reached the homestay at 11:30 I think and everyone was prepared to go home. We ate yummy lunch c/o Ma’am Jo.

Log –out at Ranger Station and some souveniers.

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We were at Baguio before five in the afternoon and go back to Manila. Reached Manila at 11 evening. Baon ang makabuluhang karanasan at masarap sa puso. Salamat sa mga estranghero na nakasama namin sa paglalakbay na ito.

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Lessons:

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Mt. Pulag as a major hike, “MAHIRAP” well kung tutuusin parang Talamitam ng 3x pero ang struggle talaga yung putik, ilang beses ako nag slide pero bumangon ako. I am thankful kay Ma’am Jo, kasi ngayon lang ako umakyat na may nag-push sa kin to the limits. Paano naman kasi sa lahat ng hikes ko, pare-pareho kami ng mga kasama ko ng pacing, pwedeng magpahinga anytime, but here,  kailangan ko i-push sarili ko. Kailangan ko yata ng ganyang mentor, yung hindi nag-settle sa pwede na kasi kaya mo pa. I need that kind of motivation para mas lumakas pa ako.

It doesn’t matter kung may sea of clouds, tulad nga ng sinabi ko maraming ganyan sa Rizal (lol!) pero yung experience lang. Biruin mo, Pulag na ‘to, sa picture ko lang nakikita pero ngayon napasok ko ang puso nya at pagkatao nya. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam, alam ko yung journey ko na yon kasama ko si Lord. At dinededicate ko ang hike na ‘to kay Joy.

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I hope to climb more mountains (major climb) naman next year

Expenses:

Tour Fee (includes round trip transfer, homestay, dinner, breakfast, lunch) – Php. 2050.00

Head lamp: 100

Breakfast: Php 140.00 ( 2 rice, 1 viand – tinolang manok, 500 ml of mineral water and 1L mineral water)

Lunch: Php. 100.00 (2 rice, 1 viand – sinigang na baboy)

Diner Last Day: Php. 75.00

Pasalubongs: Php. 200.00

T-shirt: Php. 260.00

Total:   2,925.00

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