Sunday, April 13, 2014

Revisiting Mt. Maculot

Revisiting Mt. Maculot 13 years after was like seeing it as it was 13 years before. The natural features of the mountain which made it the Philippines’ most popular hiking destination are much the same: the rockies (706M ASL), the legendary mountaineers’ store (in more concrete structure), the short tunnel, steep ascent, rest stops with bamboo benches, open space with a view of the Taal Lake and the towns, campsite and the splendid view of Taal Lake and the surrounding towns of Batangas. Every rest stop still has the bench, canvas tarp, buco juice and drinks to offer (at higher prices though.)  Surprisingly, with the support of the local barangay, the trail is well maintained, there is minimal litter, there is no stench and garbage at the campsite.

What has changed are the establishments at the market leading to the jump-off. There are concrete structures like the multi-purpose gym, resorts, 7-11 and bigger commercial units. But the most concrete change are the people who trek, understandably they are much younger, more females than males, a lot of exclusive all-female groups, better equipped and dressed trekkers. Guides (like Yolly) are now available who delight newbies on what the Maculot means to them with anecdotes about personalities and activities at the campsite.  Striking a pose though is not for posterity but for Facebook and to comply with a selfie. But as in before, trekkers you meet in the trail are genuine and not phoney. The customary greetings of “Good Morning,” “malayo pa ba?” “nakayanan niyo Daddy?” fun and kulitan along the trail and respect for other groups are still the same behavior and language practiced before. People that you meet are true to themselves and nice to be with even for a short moment. You know that interaction is genuine rather than phoney because it is easy to strike a casual and relaxed conversation with anyone in the mountain whose conversation can extend on and on and on. That to me is one liberating moment that will not change because climbing mountain is experiencing the freedom of the hills. Maculot remains to be the climbing entry level to enjoy that freedom.
-Chito 12 April 2014

Mt. Maculot is All Geared Up For The Holidays
Dec 1 1997, 4:00 pm
Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino,
Date: 1997/12/01
Subject: Mt. Maculot is All Geared Up For The Holidays

Climbing Mt. Maculot last 29-30 November, you can say Christmas has come upon this place. At night, you'll drive through several kilometers of Christmas lights in San Jose lined up against darkness in the main road. The lights are punctuated with Christmas decors, sometimes giant wreath, at times bells. It's like entering a tunnel of lined lights continuously for about 10 minutes.

Upon registering at Barangay Siete, the new registration desk that is just meters away from the Mountaineers Store, you'll immediately sense the cold strong breeze coming from the mountain.

When you reach the shoulder, prepare your windbreaker. Support your tadpole or geo-dome type tents with guyline and complete sets of pegs. It's as if there's a storm coming. Temperature without the wind factor was surprisingly just below 20 degrees.

I have never seen that many campers in the peak, counted at about 380 plus by the Barangay volunteers. Bulk was composed of the Mapuan climbers celebrating their anniversary. The group I was with at the trail (Cebu Pacific and the Greenmeadows group) had to contend with the flat ground between the shoulder and the water source.

With all the dining, the drinking and the socials that night complemented by the cold weather and the strong winds, you can say Christmas has really come upon this mountain. The smell of latrine though brings you back to your reality that there is still the descend and work that awaits you this Monday.

Mt. Maculot is in Cuenca Batangas Philippines, a small town 2 hours from South Expressway. It is considered as a minor, weekend climb and a favorite among novice trekkers. The campsite at the shoulder is about 706 meters ASL. Trek time from the foot to the shoulder is about 1 1/2 hours. Add another hour to the summit.

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