June 12, 2016

Looking For Maria Makiling (Mt. Makiling Traverse)

The day started early. I contacted all the participants to make sure they were awake. I checked my bag to make sure I forgot nothing. I reviewed the itinerary and transportation notes to make sure we stay on track. All set, and ready to go!

Or so I thought.

There were unexpected concerns early on - late participants, cancelled participant, guide fee increased, etc. Good thing that the group I was with were understanding about the whole brouhaha,

so I let it go.

Pack light. Travel light. Do not carry unnecessary baggage - whether for the body, or the mind, and especially for the heart. Let it go :)

The day went on. I asked the guide about the legend Maria Makiling, the spirit guardian of the mountain. He narrated how there were times when visitors would get lost in obscure parts of the mountains, or how a child was in the same place as the rescuers looking for him, but they couldn't see him. It seems that stories on Mariang Makiling nowadays are those of punishment and misfortune caused to visitors who are allegedly disrespecting the forest or whatnot , but let this be a different account. 

I have always fancied Makiling - the ardous trail from Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Los Banos, Laguna, the icky limatik and lipa abundant in the area, the mysteries surrounding the mountain. Even the forest alone excites me!


We started the trek, and I can hear my mind worry - all the what ifs, from my knee pains acting up to my groupmates (let alone my cousin!) getting injured. I was anxious, but I just walked - one step at a time.


As we go deeper into the forest, the quieter my mind gets - it was peaceful. Even when the trek was becoming difficult due to slippery trail, or plain exhaustion, it was still peaceful.

There was always that sense that the forest was helping us. She wanted us to 'succeed' and finish. There is that feeling that she will provide care in whatever form. When the trail was slippery, there were branches and roots to hold on to. When the sun was high and mighty, the shade was ready. When the rain threatened to fall, the wind blew it to the other side of the province. When a teammate got tired, another teammate offered help. Makiling is kind and giving - perhaps all the world is if we lose ourselves a little.


When we reached the summit, there was no clearing. Hence we just took a little rest and continued the descent to Los Banos. After reaching Agila base, we took a few photos and headed down UPLB. The road to Los Banos is mostly cemented and wide, the trees huge, and the place shaded and calm. At some point, we were bantering with each other because it felt like the road was never ending. Good thing we found the last stop before we were all tempted to reverse our shirts as the old superstition goes. Phew!


I did not see the beautiful, mysterious, and legendary Maria Makiling, but I did see all her qualities in the mountain - like I've been watching her all along. Makiling is definitely one of my favorites :)

General Tips

- There is a mudspring on the way to Los Banos - a good sidetrip if you have enough time.
- Mosquito lotions are good repellent for limatik
- Avoid carrying a full pack as the trail gets narrow after Melkas ridge.
- Wear shoes to have more support and balance especially on the slippery parts.

Expenses

Bus from Buendia to San Felix - P105 
Tryk from San Felix to Sitio Jordan - P70/3

Guide - P800/5pax (P600 is the recommended fee from Sto Tomas jumpoff until Agila base, but the guides were asking for additional. Personally I do not mind giving more, especially when I am satisfied with the service but it is a bit distasteful when the tip has to be demanded. Also I do not want to accidentally make the industry more expensive for others.)

Registration fee - P20
CR Donation - P20
Jeep from Elbi to Crossing - P7
Bus from Crossing to Alabang - P60
Bus from Alabang to Guadalupe - P45

See you around!
Arlet