Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kwentong Kaladkarin #10: Blue Roses and Bubblegum Saved My Sanity in Mt. Balagbag

Da Where: Mt. Balagbag, Sitio Balagbag, Norzagaray, Bulacan
Da When: March 14, 2011
Da Who: Jamboree Mountaineers (Team C’s Sir Bidz, Repa, Lia, Hazel, Johann and Kriezl) plus the Team A folks who did the overnight climb
Da Trivia: Little did I know, this was Budz’ marriage proposal climb!
Da Words for the Day: “Ang cake!!!!!” :D

Nothing between me and the big, blue sky. :) @ Mt. Balagbag's summit

My mind was already set in not having any climbs scheduled for the months of March and April. That’s because I just enrolled in a continuing education course in College of St. Benilde which will require me to come in for classes for six Saturdays, hitting all the climb schedules usually slated on weekends.

So I surprised myself when I decided to join a dayhike with the Jamboree Mountaineers scheduled for Sunday, 14-March. Repa, together with her friend, Lia, also expressed interest in joining me. Getting home Saturday night after my class, I started packing my stuff with my eyes half-closed from drowsiness. I slept for about 3 hours before being rudely woken up by my cellphone’s alarm. ;P
I started cursing the bus driver in my mind (a lanky guy who looked like he was a minor and should not be granted a driver’s license yet) as he stopped at every possible stop along EDSA in hopes of filling the bus with passengers at freakin’ 0430 in the morning! Mind you, I had to make it to Jollibee Philcoa in Quezon City from Guadalupe, Makati by 0500. And unfortunately, I did not. I was 30 minutes late. Tsk tsk. :( My apologies, teammates.

We left at about 0600 to ride a jeep that will take us to Tungko where we then got to the jeep terminal for a ride to Licao-Licao. Even the ride going to Sitio Karahume, the jump-off point was already an adventure. The first jeep we rode was so fast, we missed our stop so we took another one to take us back and this one was the opposite. We were goin’ so slow, a snail would have outcrawled us. Haha!

We finally found the waiting shed where we were supposed to get off and started doing our warm-ups and a quick run-through of the hand signals and whistle patterns we may use/hear during the hike. The first part of the trails was mostly narrow, scraggy path with areas inhabited by the locals. We walked on ‘til we reached the river and started trekking along its banks, mostly stepping on flat rocks and small boulders. Bidz was recounting how the water was higher a couple years ago when he last climbed Balagbag. And it’s not even summer yet. Hmm, and people say global warming is just a myth.

Good thing I got entertained by the flora and fauna along the way - saw several centipedes, rainbow-colored dragonflies and even pine trees!

A pink dragonfly

And a blue one!

We were expected to traverse 5 falls to get to the trail going to the summit. After some time, we reached Falls #1 and started scaling the boulders which is actually the falls already. Sad to see it’s already dried up that most areas don’t have water, only trickles cascading. We also saw several laundry detergent wrappers along the river, knowing the locals do their washing there. It's also disheartening to know that the locals don't realize a gem of a place they've got. If only the mountain is maintained, it would have been more beautiful. It was fun clambering up one rock to the next, just don’t turn around and see how high up you already are. :D

Climb! Climb! Climb!

One of our stops at one of the falls.

With Lia, at one of our photo breaks. :)

We finally reached the 5th falls after about 2 hours of hiking and settled down to start setting up the area for the big surprise. Sorry forgot to mention, the team has been cooking up a marriage proposal from Budz for his fresh-from-New York girlfriend, Dominga. The 7 of us in the Sunday team brought up bouquets of pink and blue/white roses and chocolate cake. These were what we used to spruce up the 5th falls by scattering rose petals and strategically placed the flowers along the trail and the pool.

The pink roses

I'm not a 'roses' kind of girl but these blue/white ones are just beautiful.
The Great Roses Rescue! :D

And the flower bearers... Haha!

We waited for a little bit for Team A to arrive and just decided to eat lunch. Krie brought some yummy bagnet from Ilocos and I all forgot the canned spicy tuna I brought for lunch. :D I kept going down the pool from time to time to rearrange the petals and the roses.

After about an hour, finally, the proposer and the proposee arrived! :) Budz started picking up the flowers to give to Dominga and read off the poem in Post-It notes stuck to the cake. When the proposer finally popped the question, all the proposee could say was “I hate you!”. Hahaha! :D

Awwww... :)

We finally moved on to do the assault to the summit and took the longer route, taking the trail in the river system. I slipped a couple times but thankfully did not hurt any other part of my body except for a bruise on my knee. The trails seem to have been blocked by bamboo fences constructed by the locals, making it harder for us to find the direct path to the summit.

We asked a few locals and got some confusing instructions that Bidz just went ahead and find the trail himself. It was stifling hot but thankfully, a cool breeze would blow from time to time, taking the edge off. We stopped at wherever we could find shade and paced our water breaks. One miss I made was to not bring trail food. I could already feel the effects of not having some sugar in my blood or salt for my aching joints. We had to make do with the Mentos sugarless bubblegum I thankfully slipped into my pocket earlier. LOL.

The gum that saved our sanity. :D

The never-ending, hot-as-hell trail we went through. Is that forest fire or environmental arson? Hmm...

After about 10 kms of trudging on the ‘never-ending’ trail, we finally reached Mt. Balagbag’s summit and savored the 360˚ view from the top. On the other side, we can see the whole expanse of Norzagaray, Bulacan and on the other is Montalban, Rizal. Right above is a perfect, cloudless blue sky stretching into the horizon. All the cuts, bruises and aching legs were worth it. :)

777 MASL, Mt. Balagbag summit

Enjoying a 10-minute rest at the summit

Team C/Mentos!
After some photos and a 10-minute rest, we started going down the wide, bike trail back to the barangay center where we’ll wash up and get some food into our system. It took us about an hour of plodding through rough roads and I unluckily cut myself with the dried reed stalks strewn across the wide trail. My big toe was bleeding profusely but nothing a little water and band-aid could fix. I, fortunately, didn’t get any more injuries after that. :D

Getting to the barangay center was a welcome sight. I immediately hunkered down for some halo-halo (only Php 10.00!) and finished up the potato chips I had left. After a quick shower, I felt brand-new again. Hehe.

The Proposal Climb Team

The sun was setting a brilliant orange when we all piled to a rented van to get back to Tungko. We played a fun, hi-tech game of Pinoy Henyo using sir Jake’s iPhone. Only one got to guess the right word. Haha! We then boarded a jeep back to Sarah’s in Diliman for the post-climb meet, where all issues were discussed and shared a bottle of beer and a plate of sisig with the rest of the team.

Post-climb meet at Sarah's. Diliman

Sir Joey sent me an SMS last Saturday, wishing me a 5S climb (Safety, Summit, Smiles, Share and Sweetness) and indeed I did experience all five on this climb. Everyone was safe as we reached the summit and down, smiles were evident in the photos, I got to share my time and energy in making a really romantic proposal setting and the sweetness part? Well, the girl did say yes, didn't she? :)

I’d be willing to bring up bouquets of flowers and tiered cakes just to make one girl very happy. I just have one wish for Budz and Dominga, the newly-engaged pair - I hope they decide to get married somewhere in the lowlands this time. Haha! :D


  1. parang andamin nagpropropose bigla. hehe. cool way to share that story with the lovebirds!

    i also think that those climbs without further notice are more memorable ones.

    btw, mel. i can't seem to comment using Name/URL lang. i logged in to my Gmail account instead. Thanks :D


  2. Onga eh, kilig naman lahat during the proposal. :D I agree, as long as dayhike/minor climb lang, masaya din kung di masyado planned. :)

    Hmmm, sige I'll tweak something in the Comments page. Geez, I suck at this. Haha! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. sensya, parang demanding ba? hehe.
    pero i see it now! kaya, comment ako uli. hehe

    salamat a bagolbum. :D

  4. Ayun! Tumama din sa wakas! Haha! Thanks much!