Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pico De Loro and Marine Base Beach Resort

Whenever I plan to climb a mountain, I always tell myself that the climb must be different from the previous. The first time I went to Pico De Loro, the hike was merely a day trip for a hopeful sightseer that’s me. I even brought a binocular hoping to see birds in the forest but none was seen. My second time in Pico De Loro was dimtrekking and then was my first time to climb up the rock monolith. On my third time to Pico De Loro, what made the difference is my attempt to quicken my hike to summit – trying to make my previous hike of 4 hours to a faster ascent of 2 hours and so we made it. Also, we had a sidetrip to a cove called Katungkulan Beach Resort inside a military school called Marine Base. I have never heard of this beach before in Cavite. All I knew then were Puerto Azul and Caylabne as the nearest possible side-trip. So there, I am thankful to be invited in this Pico De Loro – Marine Base weekend trip.
It all started with me being invited by my co-G2 climber, Marge, to join her gang in climbing Pico De Loro. They will be camping overnight up on the mountain of Mt. Palay-palay and she requested me to accompany Romeo, another co-G2 climber, in his ascent to Pico De Loro on the following day which is Sunday. Like I always tell my contacts, I am totally free to climb mountains on a Sunday day hike and so I expressed my interest knowing there’ll be a side trip after descent.

On how to get there, we assembled at McDonald’s below MRT EDSA station at 2AM of Sunday. We crossed the foot bridge to get to the other side of the road where Cavite-bound buses were loading passengers. The buses were not directly heading Naic or Ternate so we decided to just get off at SM Bacoor where we can wait for another passenger vehicle that can bring us to Naic. That time, there’s a jeepney waiting beside the road and so we got on it. After long minutes of jeep ride, we reached Naic. It was too early for me to recognize the place. Last time, I did commute to get there and I didn’t find the 7 Eleven store and the clock landmark and so I can tell the place was new to me. There was a bunch of tricycles at that place in Naic where a ride to the DENR outstation will cost us 120 pesos each so it was like 360 pesos per ride (one way) for the three of us. Later that day, we found out from a Caviteno climber that the fare was overpriced. Well then that’s a monkey business I should not be surprised of. Proud to be Pinoy right?

Arriving at the DENR outpost, we were welcomed by the sight of PicoTODA – a made up name for the long line of Tricycles waiting for commuting climbers at the vicinity of the DENR outpost. We logged our names, paid 20 pesos, browsed the almost-2-pages-back-to-back list of logged climbers that weekend, took a leak and then proceeded to the jump off. Afterwards, I was back at the same trail I dim-trekked more than a year ago, we were fast and reached the second base camp where we must pay another 20 pesos. I don’t know what the second 20 pesos fee is for. If it’s for the free use of the wooden tables, the public restroom and the supply of the potable drinking water, then I’m fine with the second registration fee. What is not fine is the emergence of the “7 Eleven” store at the summit of the mountain and the presence of dogs that disarray the well-kept trash of climbers. That weekend, as described by some folks from the climbing community, was a blockbuster. You’d see from the pictures I took the numerous tents and the countless people who went up the monolith to take photos.
at Pico De Loro, summit of Mt. Palay-palay

I believe this mountain is heavily trudged on. That should not be a surprise. Pico De Loro or Mt. Palay-palay is a budget-hike destination, it has relatively easy trail, very accessible either by private transportation or commute from the metro, there are no reported safety concerns like thievery, flashflood or landslide. Recently, a clean-up climb was held at this mountain and I’m glad because the difference is noticeable. During the first two hikes I did in Mt. Palay-palay, the trash were all around, from pieces of candy wrappers to PET bottles and even shoe sole can be found. I don’t want to be the know-it-all person to suggest what’s best for the mountain and the people who are earning from climbers who are frequenting this destination but what I can tell is my personal desire – and that is to close the mountain like how authorities closed Banahaw and Halcon. I was thinking maybe closing Mt. Palay-palay for several years will make Pico De Loro become a mystery for soon-to-be climbers and just like how the authorities want Banahaw to regenerate its nature, I like that to happen in Palay-palay too. I hope that isn’t a bad idea.

After the climb, we went further into the winding road amidst the forest of Cavite. That’s when I got to realize how thickly forested the landscape of Cavite is. I even spotted a monkey on the left side of the road that’s not even bothered by the passing vehicles. Then we reached the so-called Marine Base – a military school fenced by a thick forest and a beach cove. I was told the beach is open to the public; just tell the strict-looking security personnel that you are heading to the beach. There is an entrance fee, I’m sure; but because I’m lucky to be climbing with some of the alumni, I guess, we were able to enter for free. There is a store inside there; I think alcoholic drinks are allowed because I saw some bottles there; there are cottages and tables; there is karaoke; and what is more interesting for me is the view of Corregidor island and the blurry image of the Mariveles mountain range where I saw the rounded peak of Pantingan.

Blurry Pantingan Peak seen from the beach cove

View from the beach cove at Katungkulan Beach Resort, Marine Base
Notes to myself:
I consider this day hike as part of my training for the Mega-Traverse Talomo to Apo

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