PART ONE

Coming from Cubao, we took a bus headed to Sta. Cruz and a jeepney ride to Panguil. For some confusion, the jeepney driver accidentally dropped us at Pakil Church instead of Panguil Church. So we asked around. They said we were dropped a few kilometers too early. So we rode another jeepney going to that Panguil Church and took a tricycle to Panguil Eco Park (or as the locals say, Piit).

Panguil Eco Park is a now well developed resort. It has pools, hanging bridge, gazebos and function halls that you can rent for special events. But hidden inside Piit Resort is Ambon-Ambon Falls— just 1 kilometer away from the resort.

THE HIKE & THE HORSE RIDE

The jump off trail was a few meters from Panguil Eco Park. We passed by the registration on the way to Piit. The hike was a relatively easy, although after a few months of not hiking, I was having a hard time climbing up. I know my muscles can do it, but then i got the feeling that I take in too much oxygen and it immediately flow straight to my head. I was gasping for air every five minutes as if my lungs were about to give up on me. And we haven’t reach the first station yet.

So i climbed once more.



We came across a man riding his horse who was accompanied by two dogs. Our guide offer me the horse and pay just 200php up to the last part of the ascend. I thought it would be unfair to Cheloi so i reluctantly said no.

But after 5 minutes..



I gave up. (Sad) So i rode the horse going up. I've never imagine myself riding a horse going up the mountains— feels weird and uncomfortable. At some point i was thinking, “Pano kung ayaw sakin ng kabayo, Hala, baka itapon niya ako sa bangin.” (What if the horse doesn't like me, it might drop me off a cliff or something)Well the unexpected horse ride to the mountains was crossed off my bucketlist. Sorry Cheloi.

CAMPSITE

We reached the campsite for just 30 minutes, well of course i was riding a horse. (Imagine if i continue walking and we had to stop every five minutes for me to recover my breathing, that would take longer time.) We drank fresh coconut juice. The sweetest I’ve ever tasted!

We continued the hike. From the campsite, its just a series of descent heading to the falls.




We headed back the same way we came. It took us roughly 40 mins with only three or four stops. We were running short on money so we needed to rush to the nearest Cebuana Lhuillier to get the rest of it. Too bad we weren‘t able to do the original plan of Buntot-Palos and Ambon-Ambon Falls. So we just changed into our clothes, took a tricycle to Siniloan (the nearest town to Pangil), and went to a Cebuana branch. There were two Cebuana braches located in Siniloan. We took the advice of one Pangil local that these branches both closes at 7pm. With that in mind, we arrived at one branch at exactly 4:56pm— the roll-up was halfway down the door. They weren’t accepting anymore costumers, so we run to the other branch which was just a block away, but still, there was no luck. We only have 100 pesos in our pocket. What now?


THE STRUGGLE OF AN UNPREPARED TRAVELER

We were both thinking, “we could stay here for the night, wait for 10am until a branch opens,“ and it hit us, we have our final exams the next day— we really need to get home. We thought of ways to get some money. We considered pawning my phone and/or the go pro and just get it back the next day. So we ran around the area looking for any open pawnshop willing to accept gadgets. Still no luck.


We tried our luck in Sta. Cruz. We used our last money to ride a jeepney. We only have 14 pesos left. Kaya yan, tiwala lang. (We can still do this) We sat near the driver‘s seat. First, we made small talks and eventually, we told him what happened to us. We asked him to drop us off a mall or any available Cebuana branch. The driver happily agreed.

Our conversation between the driver went on. Looking at the distance between Siniloan and Sta. Cruz, we might not arrive on time. So we told Kuya Jose, the driver, to drop us to any pawnshop willing to accept gadgets for money. For some glorious (!!!) reason, he offered us his help. He was willing to lend us money for the phone or camera we were planning to pawn, just for us to get home. We were thrilled to hear that! But of course, there can be pros and cons to that situation. So we stayed calm and just considered that for Plan B.



We arrived in Sta Cruz around 7pm. And as expected, no Cebuana Lhuillier was open. It was risky to give the camera to a random stranger, but we agreed to it. Maybe because of desperation and exhaustion, but the fear was overthrown with trust and faith in humanity. 

We exchanged information and set a meet up at the police station in Siniloan. Kuya Jose was once a police officer. Maybe that’s one reason why we had so much trust in him. We told him our thanks and goodbyes.

We had more than enough money for the bus ride. We headed home. 

PART TWO



After the exams, we headed back to Siniloan. We took the alternative route, this time, we rode the bus going to Famy via Rizal. We took the Raymond Bus in Legarda bound for Famy that will pass by Siniloan and around 6pm, we reached our destination.

We took a tricycle to the police station. We had to reroute and head to Kuya Jose‘s house. He was very popular there and even tricycle drivers know his house. Their family was a family of policemen. We first exchanged the money for the camera. They welcomed us in their home even invited us for dinner, but we had to get home. Our stay in Siniloan was just 30 minutes compare to our 8 hours of travel back and forth. 



This is one hell of an experience. Were thankful to God for guiding us to the right people, and to Kuya Jose for trusting and  us. It was great of him to help us. It was a two way trust. Kuya Jose trusted us too. He gave us his day‘s worth of work to help us get home. We know the risk, but we know trust better. There are still people willing to help.

Three things I‘ve learned from this hike: Eat breakfast before a hike. Bring extra money— and have it all on your pocket. Trust in people.

ITINERARY:

Via Sta. Cruz and Panguil River Eco Park
Buendia to Sta. Cruz: 2-3 hours via Bus | 140PHP | Take a DLTB/Jac Liner Bus headed to Sta. Cruz. You can catch one at their Buendia or Cubao Terminal. A bus leave every 30 minutes.
Sta. Cruz to Sinoloan: Roughly 1 hour via Jeepney | 37PHP | Tell the bus conductor to drop you off the jeepney terminal of Sinoloan. From there, tell the driver to dropped you off at Paguil Church. *Take not, Paguil Church, not Pakil Church.
Paguil Church to Paguil River EcoPark: 10-15 minutes via tricycle | 30PHP | There is a tricycle terminal right outside the Church. Tell the dirver to drop you at Panguil River Eco Park but it is more known as Piit (Resort)
Guide fee: 500PHP | This is good for 5 people



Piit to Paguil Church: 10-15 minutes via tricycle | 30PHP | Hail one near the registration hall.
Paguil Church to Sta. Cruz: Roughly 1 hour via Jeepney | 37PHP | Tell the driver to drive you off any bus terminal headed to Manila.
Sta. Cruz to Manila: 2-3 hours via bus | 140PHP

EXPENSES w/o GUIDE FEE: P414
TOTAL EXPENSES per person: P664

*Prices may change and travel time may vary.


More of our day trip here:

FOOTNOTES: 
Photos taken with Canon EOS 1100D DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm Lens, Sony Xperia M2, Go Pro. Some shot by Cheloi Marasigan | Pangil, Laguna | December 2015 Updated March 2018


RAESCAPE contains affiliate links in the website. By clicking and purchasing through this links, I get to earn a small commission to help me run this website without extra cost to you. Thank you for helping a fellow traveler and say yes to adventures!

Read about the Disclosure here.

A BUMPY RIDE

6AM - A 4X4 RIDE

It was roughly ten kilometers from the jump-off to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. The familiar fresh “province” air greeted our faces for a while as we traverse to the sand and ash trail. It was bumpy ride, i won’t be surprised if some 4x4 vehicles broke down or tore a tire because of sharp rocks scattered around the area.

As the road gets rough, a more detailed view of mountain ranges appeared. My heart was filled with adrenaline and excitement. It felt different, I know that I’ve made the right decision to go on this adventure.




A WALK-- TO REMEMBER

AND THERE IT IS.

With a view of 4x4 vehicles parked near a stream, we assumed that it’s time to get up and trek the mountain. 



It was definitely an all-ash trek so far. But alongside these rocky trail were greens growing on the sides of these gigantic mountains, a true example of “there’s always a rainbow after the rain.”







So far, the trek, (or should I call it a walk?), was easy. It has little to no vertical difference or assault, the only enemies were heat and sand inside my shoes, making it uncomfortable to walk.

Five kilometers in and I’m a little impatient.It was just a horizontal trek— ash, rocks and soil. 



In different parts of the trail, we saw groups of Aeta kids playing around and running. We tried talking to them, they only caught a few words when we spoke in Tagalog, but they somewhat understood.



Mount Pinatubo is a home to the Aetas. They are indigenous people who would willingly interact to tourists and even pose in front of your camera. Maybe they were so used to tourists visiting their area.

A good assumption hit my mind about the Aetas: We may not share the same language, but when you smile at them, they smile back— there’s a little connection, yet for a traveler, it means, “You’re in my land, and you’re welcome here.”


From afar, we saw two concrete pavilions and a signage saying,

“WELCOME TO MT. PINATUBO. YOUR TREK STARTS HERE.”

“So the thing we did for roughly three hours wasn’t trekking?” I said an ironic joke inside my head. After a short break, we headed back to trek. A thinner path appeared and the ash trail was replaced with rocks, soil and stream. Because of the excitement, we forgot to wait for the group we shared a guide with and just followed the trail.

And the vertical assault begun.







THE CRATER





I can’t put into words how beautiful the view was.

All hunger and tiredness seemed to disappear and were replaced with excitement and adrenaline as we walk down towards the crater. Pictures aren't enough to define its sublime details.






It may be a short stay in Mount Pinatubo, but every sweat was worth the take. Sore feet and body pains to get a view like this? I’ll do it all over again.

And now we go back.

REALITY CHECK.





ITINERARY:

We booked a day tour worth P2100. Check out Mt. Pinatubo Adventure on Facebook.

A video compilation of our day trip made by: Dan Fugrad




FOOTNOTES:
Photos taken with Sony Xperia M2 and GoPro Hero 4. Some shot by Luis Zulueta and Julius Caballero| October 2015 | Capas, Tarlac | Updated March 2018

RAESCAPE contains affiliate links in the website. By clicking and purchasing through this links, I get to earn a small commission to help me run this website without extra cost to you. Thank you for helping a fellow traveler and say yes to adventures! 


Read about the Disclosure here.

BACKGROUND STORY:

JULY 25, 2015 7:00PM

I accidentally detailed our Trip to Baler. After our Cebu-Bohol trip, Justin and I were already in the check-in line for our 8:05pm flight from Cebu to Manila. We heard some commotions in the counter. I already expected that our flight would be delayed— maybe for 30 minutes to 1 hour.



DAY 3: JULY 23, 2015

We arrived at the Cebu Port Terminal at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The only flaw from our itinerary was the ferry tickets. We cannot book ferry tickets beforehand, so we hoped our target ferry would still have available slots for all of us. Our target ferry was the 3:30pm ferry ride of MV Starcraft from Cebu to Tubigon worth 170 Php. The only available ride was the 5pm slot, so we still pushed through and waited in line, but unfortunately, there were only limited slots and the remaining few would cost 350Php. All for one and one for all, right?


WHALE SHARK ENCOUNTER

DAY 2: JULY 22, 2015

After the 3-hour trip from Badian, Cebu, we arrived at the BCD’s Place in Oslob around 9pm. Although it felt like a 15 minute ride— we all fell asleep through the whole trip. We booked BCD’s Place beforehand and I swear it was one of the great deals we took in this trip. We bought a ticket for the whale shark encounter for only 500 Php instead of 1000 Php. So we took a shower, ate our dinner and hang out near the beach.


CEBU & CATMON

DAY 1: JULY 21, 2015
We arrived in Mactan International Airport a little delayed at around 11 in the morning. We hired a van to take us on a city tour. It was convenient enough to lessen our luggage and backpack problems. It was a chill outing— perfect for a “barkada” or group outing. Now we’re all set!




JUNE 30, 2015 - DAY 7

Davao is the largest city in the Philippines. It was also ranked as one of the most livable cities in Asia. We arrived at Davao International Airport around 8am and booked a very lucky tour just outside of the airport. The tour guide was just waiting outside of the airport, waiting for some tourists to hire him. For a sweet deal and a comfy van, we took his offer.

JUNE 29, 2015 - DAY 6

We took the 7am ferry to Misamis Oriental from Camiguin. It was roughly an hour and a half minutes. From the port, we hired a van to take us to Cagayan De Oro (1 hour travel time) and tour us around the city.