Of Mountains, Food, Friends and the Simplicity That Nature Brings to Us

After that melodramatic message I sent a month ago,  and after living under a rock (being at home every weekends and channelling my inner home buddy soul) – I had this opportunity to visit the Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake. 

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Ooooh, the majestic view of the crater lake is so inviting, so bewitching, enough for someone like me – who doesn’t exercise often – to endure trekking for almost two hours just to get that view. Not that I have not yet climb a mountain (I have climbed Mt. Gulugod-baboy earlier this year and I very much understand the kind of awe and accomplishment you experience whenever you reach the top), but I am not really an entirely physical person – I am “lampa”, to put it bluntly.

So where did this story started? My previous team at work (back when I was still in that team) planned an outdoor teambuilding – the other choices, as I remember, I think, was Las Casas, Ilocos, Anawangin, etc. I had already been in most of those places and so I voted for Mt. Pinatubo (not knowing the hardships that we’ll encounter). And I must admit, the 4×4 is so enticing – so that’s the planning stage.

And then, as we were working nightshift – we got out of the office at 2am on that Friday (after Thursday workshift). We met at Centris (always the meetup place in going North) and bought essentials at 7-11. We expected to sleep at the van since we have to save up our energy in the trek for the crater lake but  luck has not been with us. Not only is the ride very bumpy, and it is true – even if the road we travelled is NLEX and I cannot quite fathom how we cannot get sleep because of the bumpy ride – but sleep won’t come to us – maybe we were too much excited and staying up late (in this case, in the wee hours of the morning) is the perfect example to do when you’re much too excited. And also because the people at the back (Ate Anne, Ruby, She and Rona) had a very amusing and funny stories to share.

So, after I gathered only a 30-minute nap, we had arrived at our destination. The itinerary originally included breakfast in the morning, but I don’t know what happened – and without me realising – there we were, dividing into groups of five so we can ride the 4×4. Haha! Too much for being nightshifters – we really did not eat  breakfast. We left our other things in the van, we only carried our lunch, water (it is the cost of our life) and then some other things (towels, alcohol, candies, mess kit, etc.).

The 4×4 ride was exhilarating. And riding on it while standing up is the epitome of wild adventure. But the thrill only lasted about 15 to 30 minutes because it is dusty and the ride was very rough. We did enjoy it though, a little bit too much. We had a stopover on one of the lahar rock formation that resembles Toblerone chocolates (crunch is still my favorite, though) – of which our very kind tour guide told us.

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Another 30-minute 4×4 ride and we reached the starting point of our trek. It was long and tiring and we almost always took a stopover because of the heat.

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It was like a 5-km trek but the heat made it a little less bearable. There was a marker that told us that it will take 10 mins – child; 15 mins – adult; 20 mins – senior citizens to the crater lake. And me being a nerd, I timed our climb up to the crater lake and guess what – it took us 25 minutes to get to the crater lake. I didn’t know if the marker is not reliable or if it is us being very slow.

One of the advantages of climbing first in your group is that you get to enjoy the view without the crowd. It is like feeling your surroundings and you as one, okay I’m being poetic about now, but you’ll realise what I mean, I hope, someday. And that’s why I always desire to reach the top together with the fast hikers, to no avail. But I still did get to enjoy the view – because they were busy taking pictures of the landmark. Yey!

After delighting ourselves with the view until we got sick of it (no, we did not get sick of it!) – we waited in the shade for our other teammates. I think we were divided into three groups – me included in the middle – and we were waiting for the last group for us to enjoy our packed lunch. Some of us even lied on the grass to enjoy the nature. Oh! what nature gives us – the city people, the desk and office people – we can never get it at the city. Me, being a city girl, I took for granted all this nature, and only realised it when I am now old.

My kindest friend and our teammate, Malyn cooked Adobo for this. And Win also bought Mcdo chicken. I put both on my plate but the mcdo chicken went unnoticed because the adobo is extremely delicious! Oh my, people will really craving for that adobo. Thinking about it now makes me hungry as well. After we filled our hungry tummies, we rested. And there was a faucet where we can also wash up. The water is very cold and very good too – because it is very hot.

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But what really made me in love with Mt. Pinatubo is the way the peoplefolks took care of it. There were no litters around and that’s the most amazing part. If only all of us, will really take care of our surroundings, then I think, we can decrease the floods and fight climate change.

While some of us didnot want to go down the crater lake – maybe because they were already tired- me, Gitte and Malyn went down. 

But honestly, this is one of the highlights of my Mt. Pinatubo climb – when you got so near it you can almost taste it. I even tried to throw skipping rocks and succeeded at it once! I don’t know about the people who only enjoy the view but coming near it is delightful and the waves swaying in the water is entertaining. Haha, I really had this thing with water and waves and movement and tranquility and serenity. We sat there and just kind of talked and laughed, in no particular order.

Then when it was time – we climb atop, again. To head back. I was still in the middle group and coming back is easier. The trail is as even as ever but coming back is easier, maybe because we had eaten, or because of the thinking that I already been here makes it a lot more manageable. The trek back is also wonderful because I am like a little child, always wanting to go first, and running and skipping and making little jokes left and right. And also because I was jokingly racing with Beth. Until I am alone but not really, There were people ahead of me and at my back but not on my side.

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When we reached the 4×4, we thought that we will still wait for the others included in the last group but luckily, the other 4×4 has space and we climbed aboard it. The ride back was very dusty but it was left ignored. We were too tired to think of the rough ride – and as fast as the 4×4 went, we also drifted to sleep.

And because I already rested, I immediately took a bath and became refreshed. No other thing can make you feel refreshed than taking a bath after being exposed to the heat and dust and after trekking! And maybe that’s the time I became almost too hyper. We eat pansit but we wanted softdrinks so we walked to a nearby sari-sari store but before that we encountered someone who’s selling fishballs so we also bought that as well. Ahhh, simple joys. Unfortunately, there were no coke so we had to settle for royal. Softdrink problems, haha.

Then came maybe the second most enjoyable meal of that day. I was enjoying every bit of it while being very childish. Sometimes, I really love my childlike side. And maybe it is me lacking in attention speaking but I really like it when people around me is amused by me, not laughing in a degrading way but just laughing because of amusement. And also because I am talking and eating with Malyn – closest friend with the team.

Then the ride back home is sad and tiring and still fun. I even get to take this photo from inside the van.

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Though we were very tired and asleep on the ride home.

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And as if I was not tired and sleepy, I still got the energy to go to Cubao and meet other friends – and explore Cubao X. Honestly, one of my top five favorite places in Metro Manila, others were the fountain at the post office -Manila, CCP, Fully Booked at BGC and the last one, I’m still thinking of it.

It was very good to go to Mt. Pinatubo. One of the underrated places I’ve been to. But I guess, sometimes it’s not the place, not the people, not the activities.

Sometimes, it’s how the place, people and simple talks and activities blend together so that you’ll make a memory close to your heart.

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The Mt. Pinatubo trek is not one of those – I’ll never forget this until I die memory – but it is those – simple memory that keeps creeping up on you when you were sad and makes you happy – memories. ❤

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