August 27, 2020

Ashes of Pinatubo - Timeless Thursdays 14

Off-Road to Mount Pinatubo

It was a day after my Grad School orientation which was 4 hours of commute to and from my hometown. My High School friends have been bugging me all day and night to join them on their trek to the famous volcano, but how will I ever make it without much sleep? I arrived home at around 8 in the evening feeling sick and if I was about to join them, I have to get up at 1 in the morning - Yes, just barely 4 hours of sleep, to climb a volcano! But hey, I said, let's do this!

We left Cavite at around 2 in the morning and waited for other joiners in Quezon City by 4. We left when we were complete. By the way, our group joined an organized tour, TakeFive Outdoors, complete with guides and 4x4 rides that will take us to the jump off point of the trek. the mountain range where Pinatubo is part of stretches to multiple provinces so we arrived at the province of Tarlac to make our way by wheels and by foot to the province of Zambales where the crater is located.

Unusual Landscapes - Am I still in the Philippines?

We rode on our 4x4 vehicles about half an hour before day break. It was amazing because it really feels like a literal "adventure" because we are on the back of these huge jeeps! When the sun started to rise, we were at awe to be on a totally different world! Everything around us is like pictures of the moon! There's lahar in just everywhere! Our guide told us that just three decades ago, everything there were covered with lush greens and sadly, large communities of people who were buried alive by the massive eruption.

Four hours of sleep and a volcano to climb. Wore my 21K Finisher shirt as a driving force.

We crossed a lot of streams and huge rocky drifts but our energies and excitement are sky high due to the beauty of the unusual landscape that surrounded us. I have been to more than 40 of the Philippines' 81 provinces including amazing spots like Palawan and Boracay but personally, this is the most beautiful place in my country I have ever been to so far. But that's not yet it.

Strike a pose! (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

What we love about the tour group that we joined, TakeFive Outdoors, is that we also have a Photographer with us. One thing Filipinos love are pictures not just of landscapes but yes, of ourselves. Well I for one but especially my friends! It's not about being conceited or vanity, we just really treasure moments that much, especially me who admittedly is a very sentimental person.

Moving on, we stopped by this large patch of lahar and sand to take more pictures and interact with the locals that were there. It was a very heart-warming moment to be able to bond even for about a half-hour with the Aeta kids. The Aetas are one (and actually the first) of the three original tribes (Aetas or Aborigines, Indonesians, and Malay) that first came to the Philippines during the prehistoric times. With their interactions to travelers passing by, they speak good Tagalog and English aside from their native Kapampangan. They are very sweet kids and I really felt blessed at the beginning of this journey because of them.

Found new friends! God bless these sweet kids

I bid goodbye to my friends and we went back to the jeeps to bring us further into the jump off point. We had to go down and leave the jeeps behind because the streams are starting to get deeper, rocks much bigger, and entries become narrower.

Welcome to Mount Pinatubo

These might look like a welcome point but we already walked a good half an hour to reach this part. Imagine how far it would have taken the earlier travelers since the volcanic eruption of 1991 that displaced tons of lava and rocks around the area and even as far as 34 kilometres in the air and 480 kilometres across reaching our neighboring countries despite us being an archipelago. 

After 500 years and more of being dormant, it killed a lot of families and burried cities and towns that were around it, including the US Military bases in Subic and Olongapo which was then left by the Americans after the eruption. Until now, when heavy rains and typhoons pass by Central Luzon, the lahar that was left still posts as a big danger to the nearby areas.

Who's excited to see the Crater? (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

From this signage that you see, it says that at my age, it will take us about 18 minutes more. But behold, me and my friends reached it after more than 30 minutes! HAHA We are even worse than the Senior Citizen rate that was posted on the signage! Well maybe if you are a triathlete and people like those, then really, it might be possible to reach it on the listed duration.

Path from the terrace park to the Crater Lake

Truly, the views will fill up all the efforts and sweat that one would take. It was a bit sad though because one of our friends twisted her ankle and she decided to just stay at a hut where people rest at along the way to the crater. The aeta family there were very nice and even gave her pain medicines. Look at that view! That very lake you see is the gateway to all the destructive materials from the earth's inside that killed and displaces families across our islands.

The gang! Me, my High School Friends, and their three nieces (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

It was a beautiful moment to be there in such an amazing spot on earth. I kept thanking the Lord every time I look at the crater lake not just for the beautiful view but for reminding us that His power through nature should never be underestimated. And of course, I thank my dear friends who I shared this amazing journey with! Always an amazing memory with these people. Cheers to 26 years of friendship, that's 85% of my life!

After about an hour of appreciating the views and taking pictures, we started our descent. It was a lot faster than the hike up of course but it's an amazing feel because even if we just used the same trail back, we discovered new things on the opposite direction of things, also because we passed it by on different times of the day.

At the lakeshore. (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

The eruption of the Mount Pinatubo has been devastating to millions of Filipinos at the beginning of the 90's. I just turned one year old and a few days that day when noontime turned into night. For me as a Filipino, it is a timeless memory of sadness and grief but also a timeless story of nature, of reality, and of hope. And for me as a citizen of this life, it is a living memorial of something so scary and something very beautiful at the same time, which makes me respect nature a million times more.

Watch the First Part of my Pinatubo VLOG

Pinatubo is a living memorial of what used to be and of what is now, and at the same time, a reminder that one that is dead can be given a new life again - a new beginning for a devoured society and also a wake-up to a sleeping, deadly volcano.

Never Stop Climbing!
Stevenson

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61 comments:

  1. ...don't mess with Mother Nature!!!

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  2. Thanks ka, materinya sangat bermanfaat sekali buat aku. Aku suka banget ^^ Beginilah IDN Poker Terbaik yang harus kamu mainkan

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  3. That was a nice walk and so good to meet those kids, your new friends. Hey, how come it's tomorrow in Philippines?

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    1. Thank you so much my friend Phil and I am happy that you enjoyed the trek with me and my friends. Yes Sir! We are ahead by 8 hours to GMT :) When you visit us here, you'll be a third of a day older, 8 hours older to be exact :)

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    1. Thank you very much dear Anita! Glad you enjoyed is as I enjoyed your scenes of Bergen!

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  5. Boa noite meu querido amigo. Parabéns pelas imagens maravilhosas. Deu aula vontade de conhecer também.

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    1. Hello my dear friend Luiz! I am very happy that you enjoyed the photos that I shared from this amazing journey to the Pinatubo Volcano. Greetings and hugs all the way to Brazil!

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  6. Dearest Stevenson,
    WOW, that was quite an experience.
    Had to first look up what you meant with a lahar and found it is the violent type of mudflow composed of slurry of pyroclastic materials, rocky debris and water. The material that flows down from a volcano.
    Indeed it resembles a moon landscape. We did trek on foot the East Java Mount Bromo. There is not such a pretty lake but still, quite an experience. We both felt sorry for the skinny horses they also used and instead used our own legs!
    One day I will post about that adventure too. Did you also get all dusty, blackish from that lava?
    Your writing with it is excellent, except the missing info about the mudflow...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Oh dearest Mariette, than kyou very very much for defining what lahar is not just for the readers but also for me because I always just thought that it's something like a mud.

      Dearest Mariette, Mount Bromo is such a dream! I always see pictures of it especially aerial shots that very much amazes me and leds me to praying that hopefully someday, I can visit that beautiful place as well.

      You are so right! Ours were not blacking but very gray especially on our 4x4 ride on the dirt for about half an hour back to our starting point. even our eyebrows has all the dust and ashes it can store up.

      Thank you so much dearest Mariette, you are always so kind and generous with beautiful words, I am grateful! Please have a blessed weekend coming!

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  7. That was worth not getting a lot of sleep. Wow. I would find that fascinating-well I found it fascinating just reading your post. Very cool!

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    1. Thank you so much dear Erika! I am so happy you like these memories I shared and if I will be given a chance, I'll do it again to climb Pinatubo :)

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  8. What an awesome journey. I remember when Pinatubo erupted and how concerned we all were for the people involved, it was such a tragedy and yet now it is a place where beauty can be found. Thanks for sharing these photos :)

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    1. There's a part of me that is happy to hear that you do know about Pinatubo dear Margaret and how it affected a lot of people. But also sad because it's really a big tragedy. All my pleasure Margaret and I hope you enjoyed the virtual journey :)

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  9. Dear Stevenson! One, you threw me back to the Moon Desert in Australia with that, thank you so much, I´ll join your meme with this, great memories.
    Two.... LOL, you really look tired! I know that feeling. You made me laugh, sorry!
    Wow, this is very beautiful indeed - with the sun coming up you look much happier, too!
    I absolutely love the pic with you and the kids!
    Volcanoes are scary. But that sign sure is funny, and the lake, awwww, sooo beautiful! Reckon your friend in the aftermath was a bit thankful for twisting the ankle and being able to get to know that family a bit better?
    Beautiful words you found for the eruption. I very much love that you all are open for having your picture taken.
    Fun video! No seatbelts in the car! We did this once, too, and I really was afraid to fall out!
    Sweetest kids, thank you for sharing this, dear Stevenson! You made me awww and smile a lot!

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    1. Dear Iris, thank you soooo much for sharing about your adventure at Moon Desert! To be driving in such a place is both memorable and a bit scary.

      OMG you make me laugh so much as well Iris! I showed this post to one of my friends who were with me on that trip and she laughed so much on one of the photos of my close up face and told me I look angry because she remembers how they forced me to join the trip HAHA.

      Thank you also so much for watching the video dear Iris! It was an amazing experience that I will never forget and you are right, I was so afraid to fall out but it was a beautiful rush! And what you said about my friend socializing with the family is such a beautiful thing. I am sure she was moved by their kindness too but you are right, I would have chatted all those times with the family too :)

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    2. You look a tad angry indeed in that pic, LOL!
      Loved your video, I always fail with that...
      See, we brave up and get but wonderful experiences!!! In my case it was two drunk fisherman on Fraser Island, booooy, I was scared! But I live to tell, right :-)

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    3. HAHAHAHA I still can;t stop laughing whenever I pass by my face Iris! Aww thank you so much for watching the video, I am super happy! I feel a bit sad that I cant do subtitles for it though.

      Waaaa you got that right, it's a memory of yours worth telling!

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  10. What an awesome walk that must have been - I enjoyed the VLOG too, thanks Stevenson. God is surely powerful, when you think He is way bigger than that volcano!
    Stay safe
    Blessings
    Maxine

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    1. Amen to that dear Maxine! He never fails to amaze us no matter how long we have already been on earth. Thank you very much for watching Maxine :)

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  11. Mother nature can be very destructive indeed, and it's sad when people lose their lives because of it.
    The landscape that was left is certainly very strange but the lake area is beautiful.

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    1. Truly strange Sami, that is a very good word to describe it. But yes, that Lake area is a big surprise in the middle of all the whites and grays.

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  12. Gosh that was quite a trip SQ, both exhilarating and poignant at the same time. You did so well to make the effort especially after so little sleep and not feeling well. You really got right into things, well done. I'm not so much a morning person these days but every time I do make the effort I really really enjoy it 💙 Really enjoyed finding out a bit more about you in your last post, you are and always have been a high achiever, so much awaiting you in the future. Take care of yourself and dream of all the places still to explore ✨

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    1. Thank you so much dear Grace for the heads up about doing it with less sleep. It was indeed a challenge but does prove that adrenaline rushes through weak spots when you are so excited and happy. Oh yes! We are the same! Whenever I get to have my normal sleeps and wake up early (I work during night shift) i really make sure to make most of the experience (of waking up early during weekends) because its a good day usually when it happens.

      Oh dear Grace that is super kind of you to say, I am truly grateful! Will never stop dremaing of visiting more places soon when the pandemic has had a stop.

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  13. This has made me recall the devastation caused by the last eruption of Pinatubo and the extensive damage it caused. The ash was carried around the world and darkened the skies in other parts of the globe. Nature is a powerful force, and we are tampering with so much of it to our peril. Enjoy the weekend coming up.

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    1. Hello my friend David, you are very much correct in your statements. Just imagine how hard it was when it happened three decades ago and the fact that the environment has been deteriorating as fast as ever just in the past decade. It's very scary and it surely posts a big threat to the next generations. Please have a great weekend too David!

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  14. Now this kind of site is something I would never imagine to see in my lifetime. What a fascinating place and beautiful views. I had to laugh (I think with relief) and the sign with the times. First of all -- I would put you in the young category. Second, that it took longer to get there than you planned. Who writes those signs, anyway. I'd probably still be near the sign! And then you have to get back. But oh, it looks like it was well worth it!

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    1. Hahaha now I am with you in laughter dear Jeanie! It was totally not correct, the signage! I can still remember us walking back and passing by it again and we walked by it and said, this sign is fake! Hahahahahaha but you got that right, totally worth it!!!

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  15. An exciting visit to the crater and lake. I lived in Dallas, Texas when Mt Pinatubo erupted. It caused dimming of the sun and also very colorful sunrises and sunsets. How did you get the overhead shots of riding in the jeep? I assume it was a drone and not some kind of high-tech selfie. I have trekked to tops of two volcanoes, in Costa Rica (Vocanes Irazu and Poas). Both have been very active. In the early 1960s eruption the Irazu crater lake drained out all at once and the mud landslides stopped just short of burying the beautiful cathedral in Cartago. I visited about 5 years afterward and the devastation looked as it had just occurred.

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    1. Oh Kenneth! Thank you so much for sharing about your experience with Pinatubo eruption even if you are half a world away. I never really imagined that it would have effects that are visible as far as TX.

      Oh about the overhead shots, my brother from the states got me this telescopic selfie stick that I was able to attach to my GoPro. it was so amazing but then the wind from the moving jeep makes it a bit unsteady thus the dizzy finish of the video HAHA.

      Woooow! That must have been an amazing trip you had in Costa Rica my friend Kenneth! i would love to see central america too someday and what you said about the cathedral is so sad. I searched on google how it looks now and also the ruins. It sure was a strong one.

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  16. That was some adventure, Stevenson, and it may not be one I will ever experience in my lifetime. However, I have worked on glaciers years ago on a visit to Montana so while not quite the same, nevertheless and adventure. What a great shot of you and your new friends and your high school friends as well.

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    1. Beatrice, I have always wanted to see a glacier! It's something that is amazing as a concept to my mind on how it remains frozen after thousands of years. It is very sad though that a lot has been melting now, I may never see one, I still hope though. Thank you so much and I am so happy you liked my photos with my old and new friends :)

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  17. What a grand adventure you and your friends experienced. Interesting landscape, I never seen a volcano up close and probably never will. Nice video too, I enjoyed it. Take care, stay safe and have a wonderful upcoming weekend.

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    1. It really was my friend Bill! Being up close with a volcano is a different feeling and even if it hasn't been active for three decades already there is still a hint of fear that it would just wake up any minute while we were there. Have an amazing weekend coming too Bill!

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  18. I think so much effort when walking had its reward with that beauty of the landscape. And how incredible that it is also a sad place for the tragedy that occurred.

    The surprise is that these children know three languages! Awesome.

    Right now I'm going to see your youtube to experience the blog entry in another way. Greetings from Argentina!

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    1. It really was JLO, but it was very much worth the efforts, the views were mindblowing!

      Yes they do brother and they speak very fluently :)

      Thank you so so much and I hope you enjoyed the video episode JLO :)

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  19. Wow that's amazing views!.
    It's so cool the natural scenery in Pinatubo my friend Stevenson ..., the caldera and the rows of hills that surround it remind me of the view on the Menjer lake.

    I was also impressed with the procurement of photographers at tour service providers, it made it easier to document memories.
    Your picture with the kids ... looks happy.

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    1. Himawan, I searched for Menjer lake and you are so right, it look s alot identical with the crater lake! Such a bueatiful place!

      You are right Himawan, I really was amazed as well because that is not a very common thing to have tour services with pro photographers. It's a great feature plus the mountaineer guides can also practice their photography skills :)

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing this trek. I am fascinated by volcanos.

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. We are the same Mae :) I really hope to climb more volcanoes in the future (it is kind of scary) but it was so beautiful!

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  21. Hi -- I thought I had commented, but I don't see it here. I really enjoyed your pictures, and appreciate that you shared this great adventure with us.

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. That is so nice of you dear Mae, you are right, it's just a very beautiful place not to be shared with you my dear friends :)

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    1. Truly! As they call it here, a beautiful disaster

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  23. Wow, what a wonderful journey - and nice photos!

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  24. An interesting experience for sure was worth the early start and the effort, the reward, watching the sunrise, enjoying the scenery, the friendships that will remain Stevenson friend for a long time.
    Regards.

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    1. You said it perfectly my friend José Antonio, it was truly unforgettable despite the tight schedule i was in that time.

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  25. A rugges expedition - but the end result looks like it was definitely worth it. I love the photo of all of you from behind - that view is spectacular!

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    1. That is a very cute photo, thank you so much Susie :)

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  26. Amazing place! I haven't heard of him. That volcanic eruption must have been terrible. The story of Pompeii comes back to me. Something terrible! This is truly a destructive force!

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    1. That is very true! It affected the whole world with it's eruption, probably one of the strongest eruptions in the modern world.

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  27. Oh wow what amazing photos, brilliant :-D

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    1. Dearest Ananka welcome Back! Thank you so much :)

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  28. Friends - Friends Are The Best - Creating Memories, That Is Living Brother Man - Stay Strong & Thanx For Sharing

    Cheers

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    1. And thank you my dearest brother Padre for being one of my friends!

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  29. I remember seeing this on the news - I was still living in Germany at that time where you get much better coverage of international news than here in the States. That climb must have been quite the adventure and certainly very worthwhile for that awesome view. Mother Nature is so powerful and you don't want to mess with her.

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    1. Dear Carola I very much agree with you, When I was a kid, we were fortunate to have DW TV which is where I watch Global news even when I was in High School. It really was a great climb both for the body and the eye :)

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  30. Muchas gracias por su bonita palabras mi amiga! Dios te bendite!

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