Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Trekking Mount Pinatubo

Written by: Renante Arcillas

Mount Pinatubo was once declared as a dormant volcano, meaning dead, inactive and something that is not to be feared of because it can be considered harmless.

Crater of Mount Pinatubo
Preluded by numerous Luzon earthquakes in the previous year, Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 like a pretty woman experiencing a mood swing.  

The surrounding provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga were devastated when mixture of water and pyroclastic materials furiously flowed towards towns and villages that led to millions worth of damages and loss of lives.  

In spite of our heroes' effort to recover and put the surroundings to normalcy, two U.S. military bases moved out of the country due to its close proximity to the volcano.  Mount Pinatubo is approximately 14 kilometres west of the former Clark Air Base, and 37 kilometres north of the former US Naval Base Subic Bay.

Mount Pinatubo largely became part of the earth's meteorological history for it changed its rapidly warming weather.  Because of the tons of volcanic ashes it threw into the atmosphere, it blocked the sun's heat from entering our planet and eventually cooled it down.  It is nice to know that after this 'suddenly awakened giant' did something horrible to most Filipinos, it still did something good.

Taking Photos in Mount Pinatubo

In May 2010, I had the opportunity to experience the new Mount Pinatubo. 

After almost two hours travelling by bus from Manila to the province of Tarlac, the 45-minute 4x4 vehicle ride and the 20-minute (or maybe it was 30 minutes for me) trek, we finally reached the mouth of the famous volcano. 

There were plenty of private 4x4 vehicles already parked when we arrived at the starting point of the trek. These vehicles are powerful enough to go up the mountain. The drivers are group of experts and they deal with this almost everyday. Let them drive you up. 

It is absolutely not advisable to use your own vehicle.

Swimming in Mount Pinatubo

I was amazed with the lake's wondrous beauty. 

The water was just perfect, a mixture of blue and green-turquoise-coloured crater lake that made me speechless and gave me the shivers witnessing it at closer view. Our tour guide told us that it could be murky shade of brown at times though. My photos won't lie.  

The view was breathtaking!

You can compare the majestic scenery to the landscape background used in the "Lord of the Rings" movie which was entirely shot in New Zealand, but instead of snow, it was lahar and other volcanic residue covered the mountain.

Carabaos in Mount Pinatubo
The crater-lake is now called Lake Pinatubo and a hot spot in Zambales. Subsequent rainfall cooled and diluted the lake, lowering the temperature and making it safe to dive in the water. We were made aware of its unimaginable depth but did not stop us as we jumped out with our life vests.  

The boats were designed like the ones in Burnham Park in Baguio City but these boats in Mount Pinatubo seem unsinkable.  With the combination of good boats, the best guides and smiling-faced paddlers, truly, the enjoyment of crossing Lake Pinatubo from end to end was on its highest level.  Parts of the landscape can give you the feeling that you are in another planet. It's really worth the trip. This adventure is worth remembering.

Just some piece of advice. 

Wear safe footwear when you go trekking here as there are plenty of sharp rocks and uneven path before you reach your destination.  Other necessities are bottles of drinking water, some energy food, flash light, trekking gear, hike shoes, sunglasses, extra clothes and swim wear.

Please keep in mind that this is not a beach.  It is a lake on the crater of a volcano.  Take precautions. 

 Swim at your own risk.

Author Bio: 
Renante is a writer, director, blogger, municipal councilor and a TV show host based in Santo Tomas, Batangas. He writes and directs events and travel coverages to most part of the Philippine islands. Ante as he is fondly called is the creator of a character "Super Talipa" shown to the public of his hometown.