Sunday, February 23, 2014

Climb: Tarak Ridge 2014

I can still remember the sound of the strong wind produced when it hampered the trees along the ridge of Tarak in 2011. The sound produced by the leaves were like big waves trying to grab the shores in a beach. That was my first experience in Tarak Ridge. We decided to proceed with the climb even though Bataan was put into storm signal number 2. This time around, the great weather gave us the best of Tarak experience.

Mount Mariveles is a dormant volcano located in the province of Bataan in the Philippines. Mt. Mariveles and the adjacent Mount Natib comprise 80.9 percent of the total land area of the province. The mountain and adjacent cones lie opposite the city of Manila across Manila Bay, providing a beautiful setting for the sunsets seen from Manila.

There are already three peaks familiar to the local mountaineering community namely: Tarak Ridge, Pantingan or Banayan Peak, and Mariveles Ridge. The rest of the peaks in the caldera are still waiting to be explored.

Tarak Ridge is the more well-known destination on Mount Mariveles with its jump-off point situated at Barangay Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan. Pantingan Peak (locally called Banayan Peak) can be accessed through Sitio Duhat, Saysain, Bagac, Bataan. Mariveles Ridge can be accessed through Sitio Parca, Mariveles, Bataan. (from Wikipedia)

Picture-Picture Before the Climb

I'm from Bataan, so my girlfriend and I left Manila a day ahead of our group. We were in charged of the food so we cooked our dinner a night before our climb and packed everything light. We met the team in the bus (since I live near the highway) and arrived on the jump-off point at around 9:00 AM. We went directly to the Baranggay Hall to register (The registration fee is 40 pesos per head). After registering, distributing the food and eating heavy breakfast, we started our climb at 9:30 in the morning.

Mariveles, Bataan
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
(see more at PinoyMountaineer)

After 2 hours of trekking, we reached the Papaya River. We waited for the rest of the group there and filled up our extra bottles with water from the river. The water in the river is very clean and safe to drink.

Papaya River

After having our lunch, we packed up and started our climb to the camping site. The second part of the trail is mainly assault and root climbing. If you have huge camping bag, you need to take extra stop to recover from the steep climb. It took us roughly 3 hours to reach the lower campsite. The best place to pitch your tent is on the upper campsite inside the tree formation. The trees will protect your tent from the strong wind. 2 groups of mountaineers arrived on the campsite ahead of us and got the best spot, so we decided to camp on the lower campsite beside the tree formation. The tree and the tall grass helped in sheltering us from the wind. There is a campsite before you ascend to the summit, but that is exposed on both sides of the ridge.
View of the Lower Camp Site

The Path to Summit and The Exposed Campsite

My Vantage Point


Early Morning View

T20 Family

Tarak Ridge is under the Major Climb Category so preparations before climb is required.
     - The mountain has its own weather system, so waterproof all your valuables and clean clothes.
     - If you don't have a tadpole tent or tent with good aerodynamic structure, bring extra pegs and peg lines to safeguard your tent from strong winds.
     - The only water source is the Papaya river. If you need  water for cooking, bring an extra bottle and fill it up when you reach the river. If you have a good balance and reflex, going down to Papaya River from the summit is less than an hour.
     - At night, the temperature drops to around 15-20 degrees. The problem, however, is the wind factor. It is essential that you bring a sweater and (if you have) a windbreaker.
     - Pack your bag properly. There are steep assaults which require good balance.
     - Last but not the least, Enjoy not just the summit but the trail and your company as well.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Taste of 1st Championship

The Philippine Marine Corps Dragon Boat Team is only more than 4 months old when they joined the 1st Cavinti Water Sports Olympics in Cavinti, Laguna. They've been training almost everyday to perfect their forms and synchronization with the beat of the drum.

They had a rocky start on the first heat of the race where the men's short boat category finished last while both the women's short boat and mix long boat finished 2nd. The second heat started with the mix long boat category where the team finished first ahead of the Philippine Navy team. The women's category finished first on their 2nd heat ahead of Philippine Navy. The tide was against the men when they finished last on the 2nd heat.
By the end of the second heat, the team points tied up with Philippine Navy and Pagsanjan Paddlers in Mix Category. While both the Men and Women categories didn't make it to the finals. The women's team, although they finished first on their second heat, didn't finish fast enough to pull their overall time.

The final heat of the Mix category was the most anticipated race of the day where in 3 teams had an equal opportunity to go home as the 1st champion of the Cavinti Water Sports Olympics Dragon Boat Team.

When the white flag at the starting point dropped the 4 long boats jumped in to action. All the 4 teams were moving almost at the same pace with the Marines taking the lead. The best part of the race was the last 100 meters to finish line. Both the Navy and Pagsanjan Paddlers worked overtime to grab the first spot but the Marine paddlers were tireless and gave more than 100% of their effort to maintain their lead against the competition. They reached the finish line ahead of the Pagsanjan Paddlers, and Philippine Navy and grab their first championship.

 Philippine Marines Headquarters. Before the team left for Cavinti

 Sunrise in Cavinti

 National Anthem

 The Champion

 Interview with Dyan Castillejo of Sports Unlimited ABS-CBN

 Team with Ma'am Lulu

At 4 months old, the team already grabbed a championship in a race organized by the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation. All the efforts, discipline and sacrifices that the team put in their craft had paid off. This is their first championship and hopefully, more will come. Go MARINES!

Follow the Philippine Marines Dragon Boat Team by liking their page in Facebook