Damu di gwapa sa Bacolod! The Mt.Kanlaon YearEnd Climb Part 1

It was never my intention to fall inlove with you but my heart did. And just like with Bacolod lasses, it’s a no-brainer to fall for Mt.Kanlaon.
An active volcano, Mt.Kanlaon stands 2485metres above sea level and is the highest in Visayaz (27th in the Philippines). It is located among sugarcane fields in the heart of Negros bordering La Carlota, Murcia, and Canlaon City.
After Freedom Climb 2011 in Mt.Pulag, a strong itch suddenly crept in between my toes. I considered taking things up into another level.
“Why not Mt.Apo?”, I asked myself atop the jeep with Joseph.
He agreed. He was an addict himself. He was my designated court general in the hardwood and he’s my climb buddy in the boondocks.
We thought of it the whole time while I scouted for information upon getting back to Manila. He botched the idea of going home by Christmas and that’s when it hit me. Two birds with one stone. All is well!
And the protagonists after five months were (from left to right) Larry Marcelino, Joseph Bergano, Edwin Cuartero, myself, Johnny Gonzales, Danlee Mangao, and Rene Estelloso.
We were supposed to be six in the group but Mike Bacali got stuck somewhere in the lines at the airport and found himself in Davao for Mt.Apo.

With less than three hours of sleep, I found myself at Manila Domestic Airport. Mom, dad and I had breakfast first in Jollibee just across the road. Sweet!
I boarded Zest Air flight Z2 338 and truth to be told, we were delayed by almost an hour (what do you expect in a no-frills type of airline?!). But nonetheless, the sun was up, the storm had passed and this is just a sign of things to come. Thank you dear Lord.
Good thing, I was not on an MA-60 aircraft (the one on the right with propellers) Zest has in their fleet. Its gonna be one hell of a ride for sure.
Morning flights are the best! The sun is just so warm to the skin. Though I was alone on my row the view from the window were just fantastic.
This was along the coast of Laguna de bay with a view of Mt.Banahaw.
An hour of flight ain’t boring at all while fighting cabin pressure popping ears. We passed-by Boracay island and Panay which has some wonderful mountain ranges. One of them, Mt.Madjaas.
After cruising at an altitude of 30,000ft I found myself landing at the New Bacolod-Silay Airport.
If going to places backpacking-style, then this could be it. I’m alone, doesn’t even know a word in Ilonggo yet brave and curious enough to discover the City of Smiles.
The group met me at SM Bacolod. I’ve been to different parts of the Philippines and SM just cant be missed. We went last-minute supplies shopping like butane, trail snacks and camp food. Everyone was ogling at me for walking around with a big pack. The security and a few SM staff even inquired about my plans in Bacolod.
30minutes from the city, we drove to Joseph’s place. We had our stuff sorted out after having sumptuous nilagang baka which his very-accommodating mother prepared for us.
Passing-by Guimaras Island, home to world-renowned sweet Philippine mangoes.

We drove to Guintubdan, a two-hour drive from Bacolod. This quaint little town is home to various gamefarms.
Joseph saddled with sadness after losing a bet to Edwin in Philippine sabong or cockfighting.
We reached Mang Larry’s place just in time for the evening. He gave us a briefing of what’s to expect during the ascent after a day’s trek like water sources, slopes and difficulty and expected time to burn during at each camp interval.
Meanwhile, Mang Rene or Mang Bern, as he is known, collected our food ration for the duration of the trek. He gladly even took our cooksets and stoves as he assured us that cooking matters and water collection won’t be a problem. He had it all planned just like his previous climbs. We trust him. Any food prepared in camp is expected to be a blockbuster for a tired body.
After dinner and a round of brandy, we called it a day as Mang Larry offered a room for us to sleep in. The chilly December wind swiftly blowing lulling us to dreamland.
All got up by five in the morning, just an hour after the master chicken crowed. But Edwin enjoyed it so much, he took another nap.
We started at eight in the morning crossing a small stream and before we knew it, it was uphill from there. And by half past nine we reached Buslugan Falls, one of the main attractions along the trail. Beside this magnificent creation is Camp1.
Another hour would see us at the Dead River. Before this, limatik’s or tiny leeches would welcome every hiker but they aren’t abundant like in Makiling and Tawangan in Pulag. But limatik’s are limatik’s and they would zap the energy in you.
We were in time for lunch at Camp Two. And as Mang Burn would promise, he would take care of everything at camp. He didn’t fail us. He cooked and gathered water for the team. They were just wonderful for every Kanlaon visitors.
After grabbing our generous share of bites, we had siesta just to regain energy after passing-by the woods.
Camp3 would be an hour after Camp2. This is just an e-camp though.
A little over Camp3 is a gulley which features an 80degree downslope while climbing your way up will be almost 90degrees. This is where a Canadian fell 20feet from Camp3. He was dead-drunk and wanting to pee in the middle of the night, walked near the gulley and lost his balance. He survived.
A 20minute 45degree assault would get you pass a tree with a tire cut in half. Or was it blown?!
This is the site of an airplane crash back in 1940’s. The forefathers of our guide discovered the site and found bone fragments and a briefcase-full of disintegrating bills. Not only the site, but we also have to thank them for leading the way into opening a trail leading to the summit crater.
Going back, past four in the afternoon we were greeted with howling winds and a big tree in the middle of the camp. We just have reached Pagatpat at 2200masl. Pagatpat is a crossroad where Wasay and Guintubdan trails would meet. From here, it will be another 20minutes or so to saddle campsite which is just a gradual hike into intertwined trees albeit really slippery.
Reaching the campsite was a relief, we just had a day’s trek. Every corner was just foggy. To the north would be Wasay via Makawiwili, the east features Mananawin and the south would be a 30minute assault to the summit crater.
The camp isn’t even behind the treeline, it was damp as well but it’s better than being exposed to Margaja and it’s gusty winds. Margaja tends to catch the winds from the seas of Negros Occidental. The winds would swirl around Margaja. The guide wasn’t kidding afterall, that upon reaching the camp for the night, expect everything to be different. I was even wishing to reach Margaja but sometimes, things are better seen from afar.
Joseph and Mang Burn just had an early morning misunderstanding. Just kidding.
We were greeted with fellow hikers from Holland after breakfast. They were on a holiday tour and was bound for Boracay come turn of the year. They have read about Mt.Kanlaon in Lonely Planet and made sure they pay a visit. They sure enjoyed the Philippines.
I was with Danlee on the phone, a good two months from the hike proper. He told me that we should never get excited or else the mountain would cover itself beneath the clouds.
I couldn’t help but get excited, I found myself wide-eyed by five. I had to calm down amidst the hovering tazmanian devil-like chaos outside my tent. I just whispered to myself that we will extend things just to see it’s majestic beauty.
When everything is covered, summit attempt won’t be possible.
But have faith in Him and there will be light as the fog started to dissipate to give us a better view of the creation.
Also, don’t forget the kiss the stone.
This stone has a counterpart exactly at the other side. They said that it is Laon and his wife Anina.
We waited patiently for everything to clear. And in a game-changing decision by our guide, he told us to lead now to the summit crater and expect from there the wonders.
And we would pass-by wild berries. These berries can quench your thirst during the hike.
Barren landscape would soon follow leading to…
the summit crater.

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