Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bigote and Friends Go to Mt. Manunggal

Two months ago today, Bigote and some friends went on an adventure. To a historic place in Cebu: Mt. Manunggal, 1003 meters above sea level (MASL), where the presidential plane "Mt. Pinatubo" crashed on March 17, 1957, killing the Philippines' 7th President, Ramon Magsaysay, and 25 other passengers, and leaving only one survivor.

To start off the adventure, Bigote and friends met at the Ayala Center Cebu Terminal where they piled into a van (V-hire, Php 120) headed for the municipality of Balamban. An hour of snaking through the mountains of central Cebu via the transcentral highway, the driver dropped them off at a dirt road which the driver knew to be the easiest and shortest way to Mt. Manunggal.

The winding transcentral highway

These pot heads were seen chilling somewhere along the highway

Bigote and friends tumbled out of the van and were greeted by a blast of cold air and a view of Balamban and TaƱon strait. Before starting the hike, the band of adventurers quickly zipped open their bags to fish out their jackets.

They followed the (5 or 6 km) road made up of segments of dirt and concrete to Mt Manunggal, with numerous stops for breath and for photographs. Somewhere along the way, a brown dog decided to be their guide. Whenever the group stopped, the dog would stop and wait too.

The guide dog

Several motorcycles and a truck passed but none offered a ride. No matter. The walk was sprinkled with beautiful scenery, cool greens of grass and trees, some houses, hanging laundry and rubber boots, lots of grey clouds, and welcome gusts of wind.

A segment of dirt road


Green to soothe the eyes

Boots!

In the course of almost two hours, the group encountered two Ys. Ys in the road. On the first fork, the group took the left one. On the second, they took the half concrete road on the right.

In those two hours, the group also encountered many whys. Why did they go for a hike when they could be at home sleeping? Why did they even plan this hiking trip? Why? All those whys were asked with tones of regret while trudging up slopes. And then forgotten about when they reached flat land with the sign "Mt. Manunggal."

Flat land! Almost there!

The group paused for breath and water and when they decided to continue on, the guide dog had disappeared. The dog had probably gotten tired of waiting for these slowpokes. The group continued to follow the road, found some steps in between tall agoho trees, and finally reached the campsite: a wide grassy area with a stage, concrete bleachers, open cottages, and President Magsaysay's monument.

Steps in between tall agoho trees

At the campsite: Ramon Magsaysay's monument and concrete bleachers


But where was the plane's engine that marked the crash site? They looked around the fringes of the campsite and found a girl who pointed them to a small path off to the side of the monument. They followed the path until they found the engine and a list of the passengers.

Mt. Pinatubo's engine

After some mandatory pictures, they pushed on, still following the path, but not knowing where it would lead. Through fog and rain, they eventually reached a row of pine trees...the same pine trees on the flat land with the sign "Mt Manunggal." They chuckled to themselves and, with the wind blowing leaves around, settled on the grass to refuel with snacks and water.

Hitchin' a ride

Note: The same route Bigote and friends took can be accessed by motorcycles or any vehicle. After all, Bigote and friends just followed the road. But if you, like them, take the v-hire and walk, it might be difficult to find a v-hire going back to Cebu City. There is a slightly higher chance of finding a seat on a v-hire going to Balamban, and from Balamban just ride another v-hire back to the city. Or you can stick out your thumb and hitch a ride. Bigote and friends were lucky to have hitched a ride on a truck that was headed to Balamban.

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