Respect Pulag

12:44 AM

Mount Pulag
Located at Kabayan, Benguet, Mount Pulag is known to be the Highest mountain in Luzon and Third Highest All-over the Philippines, standing proud at 2,992 Meters above Sea Level. Its beautiful Rolling hills and the world-famous Sea-of-Clouds are the most common reasons why people visit this place but only two out of the many attractions and life-enlightening experiences Pulag has to offer.
With a budget of 2,500 PHP per person, our group head our way to the enthralling mountain. Thanks to Sir Yunan Reyes (you may search him on facebook) and his team we were able to pursue Pulag with this budget in an all-in package deal for 15 pax. Although, one may always do-it-yourself (DIY) Pulag and save some, the difference on cost is barely significant as compared to the convenience in transportation and food that we had.

Climbing Pulag is not a joke. If you're a first timer like us, one should do his/her research about the mountain and which trail he/she is capable of taking. If not prepared, you might gamble your life battling the freezing temperature and lengthy treks up to the summit. 
Here's a checklist for you to consider before going:
  • Winter Gear (Thermal Jacket and Wind-breaker Jacket) - It is really cold up there and temperature can go down to -3 degrees Celsius. It normally rains at night so it is wise to water-proof everything. You don't wanna wear your WET jackets, pants, or clothes through the cold nights would you? Trust me, I had a panic attack coming not prepared for the rain.
  • Gloves, Bonnets, Scarves - Bring anything that can keep you warm. Heat Pads are great too!
  • Flash Lights/Head-lamps - Ideal for those who would like to see the sunrise were you will start your assault to the summit around 1am or 3am depending on which camp you stay (This is for Babadak Trail). The trail could be really dark and some are at the edge of the mountain so better be careful and light up your path.
  • Trekking Shoes/Boots - Your going up the mountains! Don't wear your sports shoes, tennis, or worst slippers. The trail can be very muddy and slippery especially inside the rain forest where it's full of moss (lumot). You don't wanna have an injury on your way up or back.
  • Tent and sleeping bag - Make sure it's water-proof.
  • Practical food - In our case, we only brought with us breakfast like cup-noodles, bread, and coffee. Our package includes 2 lunch and 1 dinner, this made it more convenient because we don't have to bring any cooking gadgets or burners for cooking and food is being prepared for us by our guide. If you wanna DIY, make sure to bring cooking gadgets or you might consider easy-open canned goods. They have no tolerance for liters up in the mountain so make sure you clean as you go.

Getting there

In order to get to Pulag. One may take a bus from Manila to Baguio city via Victory Liner or hire a van. This is another inclusion on our package but as what I've learned bus fare would cost more or less 900 PHP back-and-forth per person.
Our bus departed from manila by 1am Saturday, this gave us a chance to sleep the road away and arrive at Baguio around 7am. Outside the Victory liner bus terminal, there waits our jeepney ride. Transportation would cost you about 2,000 PHP per jeep so you might wanna share the expense with other groups at the terminal.
We departed Baguio around 8am and had our first stop an hour after at Banao Stop-over for breakfast. 
Here I started to feel the excitement as I look towards the view from the balcony with beautiful Mountains, rich forest, vast bodies of lands and water - What more if we reach Pulag!? It is a beautiful scenery to start the day right.
After breakfast we head towards DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) for registration since it is the government body that protects Pulag. It took us another 2 hours of ride to reach this point. 
There you will be oriented about the do's and don'ts in the mountain and will learn a little about the history and legends of the mighty mountain. We also learned how Important Pulag is to the local community and its role to the eco-system. They have the campaign RESPECT PULAG
Pulag is the source of natural spring water for the community. You'll see numerous pipes attached to the mountain that brings water directly to each houses in the community. Well, as a concerned citizen/visitor you must value this and avoid any pollution or littering at the mountain because it will have a direct effect to the people living around the area. The beauty in climbing Pulag is that it is rich with water. You may even drink directly from its springs and refill your water bottles. And as I taste the water, it was the best water I've ever tasted! Even better than those purchased on grocery stores.
Mount Pulag consist of three parts. At the Base you'll find hectares of Pine Tree Forest. Then as you go further you will reach the Mossy Forest - A beautiful scenery from a distance as the trees resembles a cauliflower-shape. Lastly, at the top is the Grass Lands, there are no trees but only dwarf bamboo grass. Hence it was termed Pulag that came from a local word "Pul-Ag" that means bald (kalbo).

There are Three Trails to choose in assaulting the summit. The Babadak or Ambangeg Trail as the easiest. Followed by Tabeyo Trail. Last, is the Akiki Trail as the hardest and known as cardiac/killer trail. For our group we chose Babadak Trail.
After the DENR our next stop is the ranger station for our lunch and starting point of our trek. We traveled for another hour until we reach the ranger station. After having our lunch, we started our assault at 2:15pm Saturday. From the ranger station, if you go straight ahead to the summit it will take you about 4-5hours of trek.
In our case, we decided to camp at campsite 2 and spend the night there. It took us about 3 hours to reach camp 2 in a slow phase. Appreciating the scenery and taking pictures of interesting things along the way. The challenge we encounter however is that it rained around 3pm, not heavy but continuously until evening. Fog started to come our way and the cold started to bite. My pants all wet, my bad, it is not water-proof! Socks all wet and soak in mud too. Panting and had a number of stop-overs, none of us gave up but rather we laughed and enjoyed our pity situations. 
High in spirit, we reached the campsite around 5:30pm. Catching our breath for a while and started assembling our tents. Soon after, we all went in to have shelter and warmth. Stayed in all afternoon until dinner is served. By that time I've changed into my dry jeans and socks but still freezing with a temperature about 4 degrees Celsius. Keeping up with hygiene is a struggle with the ice-cold water. Just a heads-up on the toilet you'll be using up there, it's like a dug up toilet on the ground for you to pee and poo. Just prepare your nose for unwanted scents. In any case, nature has its bad side we all have to embrace.
3:00am Sunday, call time for us to pursue the summit. It didn't stopped raining until then, seems like we passed a challenge and granted access to continue of journey. The moisture on the ground all went up to my sleeping bag, found its way up to my clothes and socks making it harder to sleep away the freezing night. That was the coldest night of my life! Dragging myself towards the warm water boiled by our guide, we had a light breakfast and commenced our trek at 3:45am. 
The trail was dark and cold. I was following our local tour guide, Ate Elsi, leading the way. Amazed and inspired by how she can tolerate such temperature and the exhausting trek.
Finally, the moment we've all been looking foward to, We've reached the top of Mount Pulag! 5:20am Sunday, just in time for the break of dawn. We saw few clouds beneath the mountain, not as much as we expect, as we've seen on pictures because of the rain. Even so, it was a great satisfaction and achievement to reach this point. After the long trail and shivering night, a small warmth on my face can be felt as the sun rises with the cold wind embracing us with congratulations.

Rain or Shine, Pulag didn't put us down. The way it speaks to your soul and make you push your limitations are enough reasons for me to visit and come back to Mount Pulag. 

Nature at its finest and satisfaction beyond comprehension...

Happy Travels!

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