Two weeks after climbing Mt. Batulao, my itchy feet couldn't wait to climb again. I helped K's parents in building a business which had a grand opening that week, and after all the pressure of finishing everything up in time, I decided to unwind a little.
And what best way to unwind than to go out of town and climb a mountain? Well, at least for me. So I texted K two days after the opening day and invited him for a climb. Cool enough, he also has an itchy feet. So off we traveled to Sto. Tomas, Batangas for a Manabu Peak climb that morning of April 14th.
It was both our first time to climb Mt. Malipunyo (where Manabu Peak is part of), and we both agreed that we wouldn't get a guide. Mountain climbing is an adventure in itself, but figuring out the trail on your own provides more thrill to the adventure. It's just a minor climb, anyway, and internet articles say the trail is pretty well-established so we figured it would be the best mountain of choice for those who wanted to go on their own for the first time.
True enough, it was an easy trail. But something happened before we got the the jump-off. Internet how-tos say that if you're from Manila, you can hop on either a Lucena or a Lipa-bound bus and asked to be dropped off at Brgy. San Pedro in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. But these how-tos don't tell you that if you chose to use the Lucena route, you'd be shelling more money for the tricycle ride to the jump-off than if you used the Lipa route.
Since we used the former, we shelled out P250.00 to get to Sulok. Had we rode a Lipa-bound bus, we could have dropped at the Fiesta Mall and chose to just walk to Sulok as warm-up.
Anyway, the trail to the summit was very established even a first-time climber could have done it alone. A few meters into, you would pass by a hut (with caged monkeys, guinea pigs, etc.) with a map of the trail. The trail splits at one point but you can choose either way and end up at the summit.
We chose to go right first and passed by Mang Pirying's hut. He's quite famous for treating climbers to cups of coffee but since the hut was already full of mountaineers that time, K and I decided to just go on with the trek (and I regret passing on a photo op with Mang Pirying and having a taste of his famed homemade kapeng barako).
It was a pleasant climb; no hurrying. At 760+ MASL and a minor climb, we knew there's no reason to hurry to catch the last bus trip to Manila. But even with a slow pace, we were able to reach the peak in 1 hour and 45 minutes. 15 minutes less than the internet's maximum of 2 hours.
A group of high school students together with two male teachers were at the camp site when we got there. They said they were from a nearby school and it was part of their summer scouting training. All were friendly and K, blessed with good looks like that, was an instant crush among the girls.
It was scorching hot at the peak it was hard to take pictures with the white cross. More than that, the mountaineers at Mang Pirying's hut caught up with us while we were at the peak. It was hard to take pics especially that the sole girl in their group would insist on joining us in pictures. She wouldn't leave the cross, really. So we decided to just go back to the camp site first to have lunch.
Manabu Peak camp site:
The peak was already clear after we had lunch so we packed up to have our photo op with the white cross. About that time, the kids were also about to leave.
We used the other trail to go down. It was much steeper than the other trail. The grotto was also along that part where there's a water source.
The grotto area was a cool place to hang out with water and shade and benches and a big table. It was so cool that a lot of empty wine bottles were left in the area by, obviously, "mountaineers" who had so much fun they forgot to bring their trash. I couldn't have brought all those bottles with me, I would need a bigger bag than the one I was using if I wanted to.
It took us exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes to descend. That included a long stay at the grotto area. It's a really nice place for people to hang out and talk, that is, when you have the place all to yourselves.
The store owner at the jump-off kinda talked to us a little which ended with us buying Coke. She also (kinda) talked us into hiring a tricycle to take us to the bus station. It cost P150.00 and when I asked for an alternative ride, she said it was too far.
A freelance mountaineer named Jay (who's climbing that afternoon with his girlfriend) befriended us. He told us that it'd be better to just walk a few meters to the main road and ride a passenger jeep that would take us to the bus station. But when we told the store owner we changed our minds about the tricycle, she told us she has already texted the driver and already on its way. Talking about being fooled.
Anyway, Sir Jay, upon learning that I also climb freelance, got my number. He told me he'd invite me when he got an invitation to climb (networking, is that you?). We also had a story exchange on the mountains we've already climbed and one mountain he talked about with much interest was Mt. Talamitam in Nasugbu. And it immediately got my fancy.
After we washed up, the tricycle arrived. The ride was not that long for P150.00 really. We passed by the Fiesta Mall and the driver dropped us off at a familiar place near the Tanza Municipal Hall. Familiar cuz that was also where the van from Alabang dropped us off when we went to Pico de Loro.
The bus left the station at 4 PM and it was almost completely dark when we reached Alabang.
At that moment, I remembered the first time I climbed a mountain. I don't know why but I especially remembered how my legs were so aching at that time that I literally clung on the bus door's handlebar when I was going down.
The memory gave me a nostalgic feeling – that happy feeling of being on my own; of traveling alone. And I knew I had to climb solo again.
How to get to Manabu Peak (our way :D):
- ride an ordinary Lucena-bound bus and ask to be dropped off at Brgy. San Pedro in Sto. Tomas, Batangas (P57.00)
- hire a tricycle to take you to 'Sulok' in Brgy. Sta. Cruz (P250.00)
The best way to get to Manabu Peak:
- ride a Lipa-bound bus and drop off at Fiesta Mall along the Sto. Tomas-Lipa Road
- hire a tricycle to get to the jump-off in 'Sulok' in Brgy. Sta. Cruz