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mt. pinatubo / zambales
november 27, 2005

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the places

The crater lake during sunrise
Just pretend we're not in the picture
Crossing this river has become very much a part of our lives
Back to Mordor?
Are we lost?
Nature's finest
Greet "hi" to the people we meet along the way
Volcanic ashes and debris
Smoke belchers on the loose!
Capas National Shrine

the phases

PART 3 - The rush

None of us really had a good sleep. Let’s face it, we’re all accustomed to city life. Concrete beds, sleeping bags, tents and a signal number 4 were not our idea of a good night sleep. So, by 5AM, we were all up and busy chitchatting through breakfast.

Before leaving the campsite, we also took time out for more picture-taking near the crater. A group picture here and there, a solo picture by that side, a new pose for somebody else’s camera – it seems we never ran out of reasons to shoot, shoot and shoot photos. But seriously, the sunrise had cast a totally different glow to the crater making it look different from the pictures we took the previous day. The crater seemed bluer and more peaceful. So, by the time we were done, it was already 7AM, an hour delayed from our scheduled departure.

The trek back to Dapili, the jump-off point, didn’t seem to be difficult anymore. Surprisingly, we were all rushing during the trek. There were hardly any rest periods, and if there were, it would only take us a maximum of 5 minutes per stop. Was it

A.) because we were excited to finally put an end to this mountaineering trip and leave Mt. Pinatubo?
B.) because all of us were now stinky and the idea of being able to take a shower in the barangay hall motivates us?
C.) because all of us had upset stomachs and needed to give in to the call of nature?
D.) all of the above?

Definitely, D, all of the above. As a matter of fact, compared to the trek we did yesterday, we arrived one hour earlier at the jump-off point. Yes, from campsite to Dapili, we only trekked for about two hours!!! Boy, are we in such a hurry?

Finally, we could see our 4x4 jeeps waiting for us from a distance. But instead of hurrying, we rested for a while at the last river-crossing and dipped our tired feet in the cool and soothing water. The rest must have lasted longer that it should have been, ‘cause when we tried to get back on the trail to reach the 4x4 jeeps, our feet were so heavy. Every step on the volcanic sand required all of our strengths. The whole scenario was like a depiction of the famous cliché, “so near, yet so far.”

But we reached it anyway. The 4x4 jeeps felt like home. Finally, our trekking ordeal has come to an end.


PART 4 - From top to bottom

The town of Capas isn’t just known for simply being the gateway to Mt. Pinatubo. Its greater significance lies 65 years earlier when it became the last destination of the Death March and 32,285 soldiers died in a Japanese concentration camp located here. The concentration camp, then known as Camp O’Donnel, had been converted into a World War II pilgrimage site, the Capas National Shrine.

We made a quick stop to take pictures of the 100-foot obelisk that shoot gloriously in the middle of the shrine. For lack of time, we didn’t go inside the shrine anymore and instead, admired the view from outside the gates. We still had to get to Zambales and we’re running out of time.

Yes, Zambales. After conquering Mt. Pinatubo, we’re about to conquer Camara Islands and Capones Island in Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales. From the mountain to the beach, isn’t that a good way to spend a long weekend?

However, we’ve underestimated the distance from Tarlac to San Antonio, Zambales. It was already late in the afternoon, about 4 to 5 hours of travel time, when we arrived at Pundaquit, San Antonio. We went straight to Megan’s Resort where we made an earlier reservation for the night. After choosing from all their available rooms, we settled for an air-conditioned one that can accommodate all of us… meaning, we had to squeeze ourselves in it.

For dinner and some night swimming, we went to the adjacent Canoe Beach Resort. We spent our entire evening there since we wouldn’t be doing anything at all back in our resort, except for some karaoke-singing later on. We finally called it a night by 12 midnight.

the faces