Longing for a solitary climb, I searched the internet for a dayhike destination near Manila - a mountain that would be accessible, not exceeding 800 MASL, and that I haven't climbed before.
I couldn't find any other mountain that fit those classifications than Mt. Talamitan in Nasugbu, Batangas. With an elevation of 630+ MASL and with a jump-off just along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Mt. Talamitan is a friendly one for someone without a company. And although there are talks about how two parties "battle" for the "management" of the mountain, I didn't really care. I've been going around long enough to know that internet articles could be so exaggerated than the actual situation itself.
I woke up a little late that Thursday morning of April 28th. Perhaps knowing that it's fun climb made me underestimate the climb. I was at the Alabang Bus Terminal by 9:00 AM, forgetting there's no Nasugbu-bound buses there. But, of course, I knew there's always a way. A driver approached me and asked where I was headed. He told me that I should hop on his Batangas City-bound bus and he'd drop me off at the diversion road. From there I could ride another bus going to Nasugbu. I was so clueless without a map, but I asked if that was the only alternative and he said yes.
Okay, so much for being fooled but I was able to reach the diversion road, got on a Nasugbu-bound bus, dropped at Palico, and rode another jeepney headed to Nasugbu town that would pass by the jump-off in Sitio Bayabasan.
But it was almost 2 PM that time. I immediately asked around for Sir Nick or Bro. Ted's house. People looked quizzically at me since I was alone and in climbing clothes. That, or because they didn't know whose house to give me directions to. One man gave me directions to Bro. Ted's house, and while walking, I saw an old woman coming from a sari-sari store and heading towards the direction I was headed. I asked for Bro. Ted's house and to my surprise, she shook her head as if I had asked her a question she didn't wanna hear. Anyway, she walked so fast and in the distance, I saw her stopped by a fence and talked to someone. She was still there while I passed. She looked at me and the man inside the fence as if the two were talking about me.
I had a hunch it was Sir Nick inside the fence, and that hunch was confirmed when I was able to talk to Bro. Ted after my climb.
Anyway, I reached Bro. Ted's house (which was actually his mom's house). It serves as registration area, at least to those who choose him over Sir Nick. But in all honesty, I didn't choose anyone. I knew about the dispute but since I didn't really know them personally, either of them would have been okay. It's just that people seemed more willing to give directions to Bro. Ted's house.
I arrived at the place, which you wouldn't miss because of big signs, and asked for Bro. Ted. He wasn't there unfortunately and I was greeted instead by his brother Sir Paul, and his mother Ma'am Nelia. They were quite friendly and accommodating. I found out that I was the only mountaineer who arrived that day, perhaps because it's a Thursday and there's actually a Low Pressure Area threatening hard rain.
I asked for a guide and they gave me a kid named Christian. Two of Christian's cousins, though, joined us. They're from Bicol and were only in Nasugbu for vacation and they haven't been to Mt. Talamitam yet. Well and good, I had three little guides for the price of one.
The kids were all polite, but the two from Bicol were kinda shy. The first part of the climb was quite easy, but became more difficult when we reached the barren part of the mountain. And yea, barren. Really sad to see the mountain so bald.
It was already 2:05 PM when I started trekking. It was so hot and sunshiney when we started that I thought the forecast of rains arrived too early. But an hour into the trek, I was surprised when it began thunderstorm-ing and soon after that, dark clouds gathered so fast making it so gloomy. Was a good thing I brought my poncho (thanks to the forecast) cuz it rained so hard that made us stop walking. It was just sad that the three kids with me didn't have anything and they were shy to share my poncho. Anyway, I found it so hot with the poncho on so I just took it off when the hard rain turned into drizzle, and continued with the climb.
We reached the summit at 4:05 PM. The final assault to the summit was so slippery and so steep that I paused at least twice, sitting on big rocks and enjoying the view of Mt. Batulao in the distance.
The view from the summit was spectacular. Aside from Mt. Batulao, Pico de Loro was also visible on the other side. It stopped drizzling after a while and the sun peeked a little and cast a golden yellow on that part of the mountain. I was ecstatic cuz that meant good pictures. But half of me wished I had a better camera.
(That's Christian in red shorts next to me.)
I brought with me 2 instant pancit canton and since I knew two hours of climbing made the kids hungry, I gave them the noodles to cook with the camping stove I always bring along. I had no more water, though, and we actually used the rainwater the kids collected using their mineral water bottle when we stopped due to the hard rain.
I bonded with the kids. We talked about school and stuff and I mentioned the name of Sir Nick in passing. They were quite mum about the subject of Sir Nick and the mountain but somehow said that the old man wasn't really the one appointed by the town mayor to be in-charge of the mountain. They furthermore said that Sir Nick keeps the registration money from mountaineers all to his own.
We decided to leave the summit 4:18 PM. The rain had stopped completely but it left a cool breeze blowing to make our descent comfortable. I ran with the kids – cuz it is easy to run downhill. LoL! But the kid in me (which came to an abrupt stop when I entered high school) came out. I was breathless when we stopped running because we didn't wanna be chased by a couple of cows roaming freely.
It was less than an hour when we got back to the registration area/the kids' house. I was kinda pleased the Bro. Ted was already there. Anyway, he's Iglesia ni Kristo, the reason for the "Bro." We talked after I washed up. I had no spare shorts/pants with me so I just removed the legs of my convertible and acted as if I wasn't soiled. LoL!
We talked for more than an hour. He seemed to have a lot of things more to say but decided to stop when Ma'am Nelia reminded us that the last trip of buses going to Manila was 8:00 PM. Bro. Ted would have walked me to the Tagaytay-Nasugbu road but a friend of his passed by. He with his two sons would be going where I was headed so he just asked them to take me to the waiting shed.
Wasn't he so nice? He actually invited me to sleep over. I just refused because my Nanay would be so depressed if I spent the night somewhere else unplanned.
No buses arrived, though. It was a few minutes before 8:00 PM when Bro. Ted's friend (whom I forgot the name of) stopped a jeepney full of mangoes and made me ride with them up to Tagaytay. From there, I was able to ride a Baclaran-bound bus.
It was freezing cold in the bus especially that a few hours ago, I had been in a wet climb. I sat at the back cuz I was afraid I would smell. LoL! But really my shorts was so dirty I regretted not bringing an extra pair.
Got home at around 10:30 PM with a little smile on my face thinking I had successfully done it again – climbing alone (or with guides, if you'd rather).
How to get to Mt. Talamitam:
- ride a Nasugbu-bound bus and drop-off at Sitio Bayabasan in Barangay Aga
- you'll find yourself in a narrow road that is actually Sitio Bayabasan, walk until you reach the registration area/Bro. Ted's place (second pic above)
- register and ask for a guide.
View the rest of my Mt. Talamitan album by clicking here.