Hibok Hibok: Hike price hike
Since January we’ve been hearing that the guys at Mt. Hibok-Hibok have been demanding extraordinarly steep prices. At P1,500/guide/day, a Camiguin sidetrip can become more expensive than the main destination. Why is this? Maybe the locals realized that their volcano can be a lucrative source of income. Still, what they are asking visitors (whether local or foreign) is too much. In the end, however, we can let the laws of supply and demand take charge, and maybe these people will realize meaning of “reasonable”. In the whole Philippines, the current acceptable rate is anywhere between P350-P500/day, depending on the mountain. In fact when I climbed Mt. Hibok-Hibok last year, I simply walked out of Ardent Hot Spring, followed the trail, and asked two locals to guide me. In the end I just paid them P400 plus a flashlight. And they even got fresh buco for me after the climb! Hopefully the authorities will rectify this problem. Inasmuch as we mountaineers are more than willing to contribute to ecotourism, the locals must also realize that our funds are limited!
Oops, wrong mountain!
My roommate Julian, G2 teammate Jan Pambid, and I set out to do an impromptu climb up Mt. Malipunyo in Brgy. Talisay, Lipa, Batangas. The locals told us of a shortcut to the jumpoff, which we followed. After an hour, however, we realized that we were on the wrong mountain! Since the trail was there and we’ve already gone thus far, we decided to just go ahead with trek to Mt. Unknown. The forest got denser; thorny vines appeared; fortunately we made it to the summit, recorded in my GPS as 904 MASL. The sad part is, there were no views at all! The tree cover was too thick. So much for photo ops. Later we found out that the mountain is called Mt. Palamigan, and it is not climbed because there’s nothing to see there. And I agree! The old itineraries on Mt. Malipunyo say there’s a big chance of following the wrong trail. They didn’t mention anything though about following the wrong mountain! But its okay, the climb was still a great experience.
The lesson? Don’t just double check with the locals for direction, do a triple check! And don’t ask vague questions such as “Saan po yung paakyat ng bundok”! It ought to be more like “Saan po yung pangkaraniwang inaakyatan ng mga mountaineers?” and “Ano pong dapat naming makita. Sino pong mas. If the local is in doubt, don’t pry him for more information. Rather, ask him to refer you to a more reliable source. These are my realizations. Serendipitously, we became the first outsiders (according to Mang Baldo) to climb Mt. Palamigan.
As it turns out, there are four peaks, not three, in the Malipunyo range. And there are several trail possibilies. The four peaks are the three peaks of Lipa: Susong Dalaga (N; left) Malipunyo summit (NE; center) and Palamigan (E). NW lies Manabu Peak in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Trail possibilies include the Malipunyo traverse to San Pablo; the Malipunyo-Manabu Peak traverse; and the least known of all, the Malipunyo traverse to Tiaong, Quezon! Then there is also the two hour trip to Susong Dalaga (also known as Bagwis Peak). Guide fee, according to Mang Baldo, is P500/day. I told him we’ll just come back to climb Malipunyo.
Since it’s now vacation time I can focus on organizing PinoyMountaineer.com. We’ve completely abolished the final remnants of the old “Level 1,2,3” system of classifying mountains; everything now is under the relative difficulty scale. Soon I’ll post a summary table describing each difficulty rating. Moreover, we’ve also increased the number of mountains with accompanying weather forecasts. As of today, we now have 57 different mountains up in the blog covering a significant of the mountaineering scene. Take note that the mountains are now classified by difficulty and by region.
We’re aiming for the 100 mountains by the first year of PinoyMountaineer.com (August 2008). Upcoming features include Mt. Sto. Tomas in Baguio, Mt. Balingkilat, the mountains of Aurora, and yes at last, Mt. Mayon. We’re also awaiting fresh information from mountaineers in Cebu, Mindanao, and Palawan to establish/fortify our coverage of these areas. If you have any other mountain that you feel should be part of the core 100, don’t hesitate to make the suggestion!