Mt. Romelo Travelogue

written by: Dennis Gacutan

My friends and I embarked on an exhilarating adventure as we decided to climb the precious and majestic Mt. Romelo situated in Siniloan, Laguna. It was a short 2-3 hour travel from Manila to Famy, Laguna by an Fx/UV ride. From there, we hopped on a tricycle on our way straight to the mountain's jump off. We registered at the barangay patrol quarters for security purposes and paid 50php for the environmental fee. We started to stretch our catnapping muscles and prayed for our safe exploration and overnight stay.

Prior to our ascend, we had a short briefing on how and what to expect on our climb considering that Me and my travel buddy John has been there once every year since 2010. John was the Head of the group while me taking the Tail/Sweeper role.

Then we started the trek. We crossed an ankle to leg deep river before the ascend. We passed by a wake and John decided to give some offerings to the mourning family.

It was a grueling first 30 minutes climb hence the jump-start was an assault. With insufficient pacing and warm-ups, we had a hard time catching up our breath until we have reached the first bamboo chair indicating a stop over.

From there, we found our momentum and continued the trek. After sometime, we've reached a kubo selling Mountain Dew and fresh buko. We decided to take a break and obeyed our thirst. I bought fresh buko since it's my favorite and it I know I need it to replenish my depleting electrolytes. We then continue trekking the trail until we've reached the 3rd and final hill before reaching the campsite.

I cannot believe how fast we were able to reach the top considering that we have 5 first timers in the group. It only took us 2 hour and a half to reach the top. (My longest trek time on that mountain was 4 hours!).

Upon arriving on the campsite, some members of the group searched for a place where we could pitch our tents, while the others were preparing our dinner. It was a challenge to find a good spot to setup our tents for the campsite is very rocky. Good thing that we were able to finish setting them up before it gets dark. After a short while, we consumed our simple dinner. Immediately after a short rest, we then started to share liquors we brought for our socials.

We had a non-stop sharing of stories and ideas. It was a kind of 'limitless' type of discussion until our liquor bottles reached its bottom. We ended the socials and dozed off at around 1:00 in the morning.

The sun came up and everyone in the group was already awake. We prepared our breakfast and our things for the 'falls exploration'. We started hiking to Buruwisan Falls at around 9:00 AM. It was just a short and steep descend until the group was in awe, gashed in the beauty of the astounding 100 feet water falls. Everyone in the group headed straight to the waters while I just sat down on a big boulder and stared on the falling waters of Buruwisan. It just lasted a few minutes before I manage to face the almost "Ice bucket challenge" coldness of the waters to where I finally swam.

After an hour of enjoying the waters and taking unlimited selfies, we decided to head back to camp and prepare our meals for lunch. After lunch, we then proceeded to Batya-Batya falls. We hiked, crossed and swam onto the river before reaching the serene place of Batya-Batya falls. I and John decided to explore and head up to another falls located upstream. In doing so, we have to swim across the waterfalls and climb its rocky trail up. Everyone in the group was able to complete the perilous task to climb up the first falls and we waited for John to navigate the succeeding falls if its passable.

Due to the raging waters, John was not able to cross our way leading to the next falls and told us that we can no longer continue. Mission failed indeed. But a silver lining came and we saw the opportunity to enjoy ourselves on what's already there. Hence we were atop the waterfalls, everyone in the group bravely jumped on the unmeasured depth of water basin of Batya Batya falls.

Everyone did their YOLO moment! Yells echoed on that rock-formation-secluded-area, shouting the excitement inside our bellies.

After we enjoyed the ice cold water of Batya Batya falls, we headed back to camp, ate our lunch and packed up. We were about to bid goodbye to the majestic forest until a boy asked us if we want to rent his horse and carry our bags with it for a low price. Majority of the group said yes and then we started to trek.

John, still the head of the group walked fast as he has lighter pack on his back, we finished the descend in just 1 hour and 30 minutes. (That is my fastest in my 4 climbs in that same mountain.)

The group bathed and cleaned our filthy body in the dam located near at the jump off point. After which, we decided to eat in a carinderia nearby before heading back home.

It was a great escape from the buzz of the Metro. Sharing, trading laughter and stories while challenging ourselves with an adventure is really worth remembering.

Where would be our next escapade, Team Freelance?

Eat more. Travel often!


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