Let’s set the facts straight this early that I am no member of any mountaineering club nor a semi-pro hiker and have the littlest knowledge about mountain climbing and stuff. But I have loved the adrenaline rush that this activity brings in to me that is why I planned this Mt. Batulao experience one hazy Sunday (January 11, 2015) morning.
We left our place around 5:30 AM and after 30-45 minutes, we already found ourselves at the jump-off point at Evercrest Golf Club and Resort, Nasugbu, Batangas. We hired a tour guide because we weren’t confident enough with the trail despite the reviews that says Batulao is an easy climb. Besides, I am with a 10 year old kid who most probably needs a “guide.”
We started to ascend by 6:30 AM and went through the old trail. We did a little stop over by the small stores before reaching the camp site. A 20 Php registration fee is required before continuing the hike. In the old trail, you have to traverse a harsher course, very much forest like. The hardest part for me was when we have to do rappelling for about 10 feet high. It wasn’t the most difficult to others but for me who’s shaking knees with heights, it was kinda trembling.
Look at the moon! It’s as if I can reach that big ball of craters. It’s like the end goal of this trail. I swear, that moment was like “I want to touch the moon.”
We reached the summit at around 9 AM which made the ascend sum up to 2-3 hours. From the top, I can see my town, Calaca, and the nearby places, pretty much the whole of 1st District of Batangas. There’s also someone selling fresh coconut water and soda on top of the mountain.
Descending, we hiked through the new trail. The new trail is relatively easier than the old trail. Whilst the old trail gives you a forest-y cousre, you have to pass over narrow and steep paths across the new trail. It only took us 1-2 hours for descend. There’s another camp site through it which you have to pay AGAIN.
This isn’t my first time hiking through a mountain because I have tried the Mt. Maculot at Cuenca, Batangas and an unnamed mountain at Gimcheon, South Korea (and Seongsan Ilchulbong at Jeju Island, if we may reconsider. Haha!). But Mt. Batulao is different because I get to experience it with other legit hikers along the way unlike my previous climbs. Although considered a minor climb by pro and semi-pro mountaineers, I must say that I had a number of difficulties along the way to which I learned and enjoyed as well. Will I go back? Definitely. And next time, maybe an overnight in the camp site with friends will push through.
Halfway through descending, we did our final stop over in the same store as we did ascending. It is owned by a lady maybe in the late thirties whom shall we call Elma. My uncle had a chitchat with her and later I already found her exclaiming her sentiments about the registration fees being collected at the new trail. She was very frantic telling her stories about the inconsistencies happening on the new trail. According to her, the fees paid in the campsite through the old trail is a part project to which the barangay also earns. Meanwhile in the new trail, fees shouldn’t be compulsory. Likewise, the money earned directly goes to the pocket of the old guy who she claims to be her cousin. There are also hearsays that the “old guy” is a bit harsh to other hikers who weren’t able to pay in exact amounts. Stories say that they’re asked to descend and come back if they have sufficed his conditions already. These are also supported by the guy tour guide we hired.
To be clear, we passed through the new trail descending but we didn’t experience what Elma has told us. That is why I want to confirm with others who experienced hiking Mt. Batulao if what she told us and other loose lips say were true.