Trek to Mount Pulag

One of the places I’ve wanted to see since my youth is Mount Pulag, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. This is the highest mountain peak in Luzon, with an elevation of 2,922 meters above sea level. Mount Pulag is located in the municipality of Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines.

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The quest to climb Mount Pulag would have been easily fulfilled, because this mountain is nestled between Kabayan and Bokod, which is the place I was born and raised. I realized that it is not expected and it is not true that one is able to visit and see every place no matter how close the proximity is to where you live.

It took me almost two scores since my youth before I was able to set foot on the pristine mountain of the Cordillera, because my dream to migrate to America came first. Life here in the United States had ups and downs, sometimes in circles. I stumbled several times, but these setbacks gave me the strength to get back up to my knees and face what life brings. There is no regret being an immigrant in this foreign land. In fact, me and my kids are very grateful and fortunate that we live in the “Land of the Free”. Albeit citizens of this country, we still look back to our Filipino roots and culture.

Back in January of 2015, we visited the Philippines to reunite with my family, and our itinerary included climbing Mount Pulag.

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Altogether with my kids, my older brother and sister, nephews, and nieces, we ventured to climb the mountain. The trek started at the Ambangeg trail early one morning. As we moved forward through the meandering trails of the hills and mountains, there were a few spurs of moments in which I felt being one with nature. All I heard was peace and quiet. I engrossed myself listening to the melodious songs of birds and the trickling of rivulets. We absorbed the coldness of the atmosphere as we walked through the trails under the canopies that various kinds of trees provided. We enjoyed feeling the breeze brushing against our faces, and at the same time, sniffing the sweet perfumed blossoms of wild flowers wafted by frolicsome breeze.

Out into the glade and into the grassland is the panoramic view of the beautiful Cordillara mountains under the lofty January sky.

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What an amazing sight! It is here where we first caught sight of the seemingly unreachable summit. From here, we saw trekkers, perhaps excited and wandering how it feels to be at the very top of Mount Pulag.

We halted to rest at this point, and while resting, one of us asked how much more steps before we reach our destiny. Another muttered, ” I will never do this again!” But, nobody gave up. We all got up, and with heads all bowed down, we trudged up and down the mountains, when finally, the lead guide said that we have reached the campground.

Each one dropped their body on the cold ground . We were informed that the  best view from the summit is at sunrise, meaning we had to ascend to the summit starting dawn the next day.  After we took a nap and after we set up our tents, we noticed thick blankets of clouds. It was almost 5 o’clock in the afternoon when the clouds started to disperse allowing the setting sun to cast its rays over the hills and the mountains. On the other side was a brush of rainbow that painted the sky and beneath was a sea of clouds. Before it went dark, we took the chance to walk through the surface carpeted with thick shrubs and dwarf bamboos as well. Before our eyes was a beautiful place decorated with trees and wild flowers. We were engulfed in nature’s beauty where love, peace, hope, and joy dominate. An ethereal experience!

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As the cloak of darkness began to set in, countless starts started gleaming in the skies. Everyone was amazed gazing above the skies until our eyes got heavy and called it good night. We were lulled to sleep on a tranquil night inside our tents illumined by silver moonlight.

At early dawn, we all got up  and it was freezing cold. We packed all our things and everyone was ready to climb the mountain in the dark. With the aid of flashlights, we managed our way up. We reached the summit long before the sun was ready to appear. It was still dark, and many of trekkers were already awaiting for the sunrise. Listening to them, I was amazed that many were conversing in different dialects, and that meant these trekkers came from far places to see what nature offers in one of the Cordillera mountains. There were several of them stretching their arms with their selfie sticks taking pictures. One of my niece took “groupie”, nice one!

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Then there was silence, followed by sounds of  oh’s and ah’s  as the sun started to unfold its colorful garments, with its golden rays kissing the hills and mountains and spreading throughout the vast expanse.

We were all amazed with the beautiful sceneries and the wonders of nature. It was an incomparable experience!

 There were good thoughts and wisdom caught throughout the journey that I would like to share, and these are as follows:

       In faith, hope, patience, and endurance, dreams are realized.

       In unity, love, and peace, there is no fear.

       To love beauty is to love nature.

       A day ends when the sun sets, and a new day begins when the sun rises.

As trekkers and visitors, let us keep Mount Pulag beautiful as ever, and keep respect of the inhabitants of the nearby villages, the  Cordillerans!

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