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A Family Trek to Buruwisan Falls

A Family Trek to Buruwisan Falls
by Danny Tariman

It was another long weekend. Our family had planned few weeks before, to go and “discover” Buruwisan Falls.

We have heard of this falls, we passed by the drop-off point many times in the past, but we really have not planned to go out and see this falls which is very near the Metro. But this particular weekend, we intend to trek.

The towering and enchanting Buruwisan Falls with my family in the foreground

It had been raining in the city for the past couple of days due a tropical typhoon in the northern tip of the country. But this has not dampened our spirits to go and trek that Saturday.

And so, we left the city at about 5:30 in the morning, did a 100-km drive to Macatad, in Famy, Laguna. We had a brief stop-over in Pagsanjan where we had a quick breakfast, and arrived at the drop-off point at about 8:00.

The road to the drop-off point lined by trees.

After the usual registration process and payment of fees, we got our trek guide “Kuya Dondon”. We were quite fortunate to have him for our tour guide: he was very helpful, and cheerful, and knows the place and the various trails quite well.

We started our trek at about 8:30am, passing a hanging bridge. Oh! We forgot to have our usual stretching exercise before the start.

The weather was good that morning. But the night before, we were told that there were rains. Because of this, the trail was wet, muddy, and slippery. It was a long trek. After almost an hour, we reached the summit of the first mountain. Yes, first mountain. Because we have to pass another mountain before the descending trail to the falls.

The summit of the first mountain along the trek. A good view of Rizal province, you can see the windmills of Pililia.

We passed a number of pit-stops which sells fresh young coconuts. I like these young coconuts – as it refreshes my thirst plus it is a good source of electrolytes. My family had a good drink of its juice and take its white meat!

It was quite a difficult trek mainly because the trail was wet. And because it was wet, it was muddy and slippery. It took us 3-1/2 hours to reach Buruwisan Falls! It would have been an easy 2-hour trek if the trail was dry.

This part of the trek is near the summit of the second mountain we passed.

The final descent to the falls was even trickier. The trail was very steep and rocky! But all the weariness due to the long trek were gone when we were greeted by the towering and enchanting Buruwisan falls. According to Wikipedia, the drop height of this falls is about 50 meters!

The final stretch: a steep descent to the falls.

Beneath the falls is a relatively shallow basin of water. According to our trek guide, the inner part of the basin could be 10 to 15 feet deep. We did not try. Hehe! My son & I had a good swim in the icy cold water in the periphery.

We had some good photo shoots here. While relaxing at the beautiful scenery and refreshing river, we had our lunch right at the riverbank beside the falls.

Our soiled, muddy shoes after the wet, muddy and slippery trek.

We were so tired by this time, and we wanted to just go back to the drop-off point. But our trek guide tells us that a nearby falls is just about a 5 minute walk. And so we went.

It was a 10-minute walk actually, really short distance from Buruwisan. This is called Lanzones Falls. It was a remarkably smaller falls, but the view is just as wonderful: gushing waters cascading from the rocks and splashing to small basin below.

The Lanzones Falls: so refreshingly cool with wild anthoriums lining the “walls” of the falls.

Our return trek was much faster! It took us only 2 hours with a couple of stops! Thanks to our guide Kuya Dondon (phone 0912-961-3105) who led us to another trail which was much shorter but quite steep. The deep descent was okay, since we were going down. It would have been a difficult one if we passed this trail going up.

We thank the LORD for this another wonderful family adventure experience!

My family in front of Lanzones Falls
My family at the summit of the first mountain
We finally reached the marker of Buruwisan Falls after 3-1/2 hours of trek.

Mt Daraitan: Making It To The Top

Mt Daraitan: Making It To The Top
by Danny Tariman

Mt Daraitan in the ranges of the Sierra Madre Mountains is one of trekkers’ favorites. Maybe because its location is very near the city. Or perhaps because it offers a different kind of challenge.

This mountain is located in Tanay, Rizal, Philippines. Coming from south of Metro Manila, it took me and my family just about 2 hours to drive to the drop-off point. Our vehicle’s odometer trip reading registered 77km.

At the foot of Mt Daraitan -- a still & quiet river
At the foot of Mt Daraitan — a still & quiet river

The drive was smooth, passing through C5, Antipolo City, Teresa, and finally reaching the town of Tanay. From the town-proper, it took us about an hour to Daraitan Village (baranggay). It was a good paved road until we reached the turning point from Marcos Highway, where we drove on dirt-and-rock road for about 10kms.

At the drop-off area, we were greeted by a scenic view of a quiet river, with green mountain ranges in the background. It was a good morning to commune with nature once again.

We crossed the river by a raft. It was just a 3 minute ride to the other bank of the river. We headed to the Village (baranggay) Hall for the registration and payment of environmental fees. We also engaged a trek guide from this office, as required. No group is allowed to climb without a local trek guide.

The trail to the top: soil & rocks on a very steep ascend
The trail to the top: soil & rocks on a very steep ascend

We left the village hall at about 8:30 in the morning with “Mang Mulong” as our guide. He is a 60-year-old man with strong knees. The road quickly ascended. We felt the pressure on our legs immediately that we asked to pause to do some stretching exercises for a few minutes.

The trail started with about 30º ascent slowly graduating to 45º. After about one hour of trekking through a 1-lane trail of rocks and mud with shrubs and rocks to hold to, we reached the mid-point. Wow, with wind blowing towards us, it was a refreshing 5-minute rest. The marker says “Station 1”.

This mid-point station has a few make-shift benches made of tree branches. The view of the river below was fantastic. There is also a cave at this point. We had some photo-shoots at the cave’s opening, but never thought of going inside. Other groups ahead of us didn’t go inside too.

Station 1: a refreshing rest at the mid-point to the top.
Station 1: a refreshing rest at the mid-point to the top.

Few steps to the climb, we saw this marker “This way to summit 2300 ft, and ready to Assault Trail”. I have no idea what the “assault trail” mean, until we realized that the slope is now about 60-70º! And this was all the way up to the summit.

It was really challenging ascent. While our climb of Mt Pulag (2900+masl) challenged our “perseverance”, this climb challenged our “strength”. This is really not for weak bodies! No offense meant, but it was really so challenging. The trail was very, very steep. We passed through the narrow trail of rocks and mud holding on to rocks, vines, small trees, and some cut branches to keep our balance.

"Assault trail" marker before the 60-to-70-degree uphill climb
“Assault trail” marker before the 60-to-70-degree uphill climb

Finally, we reached the summit at about 11:15am, after about 2 hours of difficult climb. It is an “achievement” I thought. Indeed it is, for me and my wife in our mid-fifties! We explored the summit, took photographs, and had our packed lunch.

The view from the top was just awesome! Simply breathtaking! Looking down, you can see the river making an “M” path at the foot of the mountain. The stunning sight re-energized my body, ready once again for the descending trek.

We left the summit at 12:30pm, passing a different trail going to Tinipak river. This river is noted for its enchanting lime rock formations and its emerald-color river.

Passing thru the difficult uphill climb.
Passing thru the difficult uphill climb.

The downhill trek was just as challenging as the climb. We still passed through steep slopes, passing through single-trail. At times, we had to squeeze our bodies to pass between 2 big boulders, and at times, we had to duck to pass under a rock formation.

I finally made it to the peak!
I finally made it to the peak!

After a longer trekking time than our ascent, we finally reached the river at 3:30pm. This is about 3 hours hike from the summit. At this time, our legs are tired, almost to the point of surrender. But no! Quitting is not an option! We can make it. And indeed, we made it.

I and my children had a swim at the cool waters of the river. It was a refreshing experience. It was like we were doused with cold water after many hours of hiking.

The view was truly enchanting. White limestone as walls on both side of the river, big boulders of cream colored stones on the river, and in the middle is a strong stream of emerald-colored water, gushing through the lime stones. Really captivating!

The enchanting Tinipak river and rock formation.
The enchanting Tinipak river and rock formation.

We left the Tinipak River at about 4:30pm and started our trek back to the village. We passed through the riverside. It took us about 30 minutes trek to the point where tricycles (motor bikes with a side car) were waiting. Yeah, we took the ride. We were so tired.

Tiring as it maybe, we had a very wonderful experience in this trek. Another day of family bonding time!

We praise God for graces and protection throughout this adventure.

My family at the start of the trek at Daraitan river.
My family at the start of the trek at Daraitan river.
My wife & me at the peak of Mt. Daraitan: enjoying the climb at past 50.
My wife & me at the peak of Mt. Daraitan: enjoying the climb at past 50.
My family upon reaching the summit.
My family upon reaching the summit.
My family at Tinipak river and rock formation.
My family at Tinipak river and rock formation.
The river we passed from Tinipak going back to the village.
The river we passed from Tinipak going back to the village: gorgeous natural beauty.

Pinatubo Expedition

by Danny Tariman

It was an experience of a lifetime.

The trip was rough, in fact very rough. Riding a 4×4 wheel Toyota, we had a one-and-a-half hour cruise through vast fields of volcanic debris – rocks, sand, lahar – on an almost dry riverbed.

It was worth the trip, the view is awesome and fantastic!

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My family joined a group of backpackers who were to explore the crater of Mt Pinatubo – the volcano which erupted in the mid-90’s. It was actually my son who organized this backpackers’ trip.

We all prepared for the trip. We searched blogs in the internet to know the dos-and-the-donts. We read all the groups’ announcements. And so we were ready – we made sure we have light baggage, enough water, long-sleeved tees to cover our skin and caps to cover our heads from sun and dusts.

With about 50 persons in the tourist bus, we left left Makati at about 2 o’clock in the morning. We had a brief stop-over at a fast-food shop in gas station along North Luzon Expressway where we had quick breakfast. We arrived at the drop-off point in Capas, Tarlac at about 630am. This is the starting point of our expedition.

My son, as the lead-coordinator for this trip, stepped out of the bus to register the group with the local tourism office which was managing all groups going to Mt Pinatubo. After the registration procedures, we hopped into our 4×4 Toyota which took us to the jump-off point to the crater of Mt Pinatubo.

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The ride was exciting. It was my first time to see the lahar-covered valleys of Tarlac. We passed though winding ways – not roads really! It was very dusty, and bumpy; with rocks and lahar, it couldn’t be better. But the view was awesome! The used-to-be mountains that are now very steep gorges. It was like the earth was scooped out of the big mountains!

We zigzagged to avoid big boulders and rocks. We passed shallow streams of water. I wonder if a 2×4 will be able to cross that rough and rugged ways. And after 1 ½ hours, we reached the jump-off point to the crater.

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It was another 30-minute trek to the crater of the volcano. We passed through trails and at some point crossed shallow streams of water. The big part of the trek was uphill. For people my age (early 50’s), it was a bit of a challenge. But it was worth the walk. Upon reaching the crater we were greeted by this awesome lake created when the volcano erupted. It was really an experience that will linger in my mind.

The lake was awesome and very enticing to get near. The still and quiet, emerald green water is enclosed by ravines left behind by the most recent volcanic eruption. We went down to the lake shore. How I wish we could have took a short swim but it was prohibited! While enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze, we took out our lunch packs and had picnic on the grounds of the crater. About half-an-hour later, we packed up and prepared for our return trip.

The decent from the Mt Pinatubo was a bit easy. We reached the base camp is no time. Once again, we jumped into our 4×4, and drove back to Capas, Tarlac. Because these was really no “road”, our driver took us on a different route. I can see other off-roaders doing the same. We can over-take without the limitations of a narrow road as we can use any trail as long as it is hard enough to carry our car. At times, our driver had to engage the 4 wheels especially when we are crossing or passing along a river.

Things to bring during this trip: plenty of water, bottles of Gatorade or Powerade (whichever brand you prefer) to provide better body hydration, disposable mask which you should wear during the lahar off-road trip – because it is very dusty, and sun block lotion. Wear light-material shirt –preferably cotton. You can also bring cap or shawl to cover your head during the dusty drive. Oh, don’t forget your packed food. In our case, we bought home-made big sandwiches – big for more energy.

By the way, I didnt’ tell you yet about my expedition team – my family. I was with my wife (about 50 years old), and our 2 children, in their early 20’s. Why am I telling you about our age? Because even at 50, you can still enjoy trips like this.

Shouldn’t you try this awesome, one-of-a-kind experience?