Beautiful Disaster

Finally ticked off one out of hundreds of things listed on my bucketlist! I finally climbed and reached the grandeur of Mt. Pinatubo.

I woke up around 2AM in the morning and I only slept for almost 2 hours. Despite the lack of sleep, I was still stoked about our DIY adventure that’s about to happen.

I picked up my friend at McDonald’s near our place and I ordered a breakfast meal that I could eat in the bus. My friend and I arrived at the bus terminal around 4:15AM and we waited for our 2 other friends to arrive. Around 5AM, we left the terminal and we road a bus to Tarlac.

We stopped by Dau Palengke and I remembered the scene in “That Thing Called Tadhana” where Angelica and JM had a stopover to eat before the bus would go straight to Baguio.

After the stopover at Dau, we alighted at Capas, Tarlac which was a couple of minutes away from Dau. We paid P170 each from Cubao terminal to Capas, Tarlac. There were a few tricycles near the gas station where we the bus dropped us off then my friends and I rode a tricycle from Capas, Tarlac to Mt. Pinatubo Tourism Office in Sta. Juliana. 

It was a killer ride because it’s (almost) a 30km-ride and my friend and I just rode at the back of the tricycle while the other two were, obviously, sitting inside the tricycle since we all decided to be just in one ride. I lost count on how many minutes did it take until we reached Sta. Juliana but everything went smoothly after it. We paid P350 pesos good for 4 people already. Wish I could take photos while I was riding the tricycle though; the landscape was just so perfect. 

There were these kids selling sticks for P20 and I didn’t even know what those sticks were for but they said we need it for the trek. But we didn’t buy those sticks anymore because we just thought that we didn’t need it that much.

My friend already talked to one of the people who’s in charge of renting a 4x4 ride to take us at Mt. Pinatubo so when we reached the office, we were asked to sign a waiver before we head off to Mt. Pinatubo. We paid P6,100 pesos (P1,220 each) for our 4x4 ride good for 5 people. We actually lacked one friend but, luckily, a woman also needed a ride to Mt. Pinatubo since she said that there was a miscommunication with their organizer so she was able to fill in the 5th spot in our 4x4 ride.

It’s was an hour and a half journey to reach the part of the mountain where in you will start to climb up to see the crater lake but I didn’t mind and noticed that it’s going to be a long ride because the ride was filled with astounding views that all I wanted to do was to take photos in every angle of the view that I see and take a lot of panoramic shots. 

Who would have thought that the aftermath of a disaster 14 years ago would result to an art-like landscape?

I wasn’t able to take a photo where there’s a road uphill to see the way up to the village of the Aetas because I would like to tell you that it’s where Kathryn Bernando and Daniel Padilla filmed their movie, “Crazy Beautiful You” (Do I watch a lot of Filipino movies now? Blame my Lola, she’s a fan of KathNiel. Haha!)

And right on cue when I saw these kids smiling, my heart melted that I definitely told myself that I would go back for them. They sure know how to enjoy life in simplest ways.  Look at that smile – so real and honest.

It was one hell of a bumpy ride during that one and a half trip to the crater that we passed by streams and rugged roads. You’ll see different sizes of stones and you wouldn’t think that a 4x4 could actually pass through that narrow road with all those enormous stones scattered and blocking the road. Good thing we got the youngest driver but I was so amazed on his skills because I don’t think someone who just know how to drive a manual transmission can pull that off. Kudos, to Aren for bringing us back alive! (He’s younger than all of us so I can’t call him kuya. Teehee!)

After all those bumpy roads and crossing streams, you’ll reach the location where in you will start to trek to reach the crater. So can you guess what category do you think you’ll belong when you get there?

For us, it took us 20 mins or so! My friend kept on asking the tour guide, “Kuya, ilang minutes pa?” and Kuya said 10 more mins. Then after 10 mins, my friend asked again the same question and he said another 10 mins. But after that 20 mins, my friend finally said, “Kuya, yung totoo na. Ilang minutes pa talaga?” 

And Kuya just laughed at us and just said that we’re almost there at the top. True enough, five more minutes or so, we finally reached Pinatubo Crater Lake!

SORRY, I sit like a boy.. ✌

So that’s the view when you’re at the top. You have to take 200 more steps down to finally reach the crater. And that 200 steps was the death of me. Just kidding! But some steps on the stairs were so high that one trip and you’d fall and be dead since it’s made of rocks. I swear. So that’s why those kids were selling those sticks! It’s going to be very useful especially when you’re having a hard time balancing yourself as you go down the crater lake. It will help you not to fall off or trip yourself.

And I guess, some things are really remarkable and breathtaking when you’re looking at it really close.

And that’s the crater lake. You were, as my friend had said, a heart-pounding and lung-inflating hike but everything was worth it. We ate our lunch in front of the lake and stayed their for about 30 mins or so, regained our energy, took some photos then finally decided to go up again and face the battle of going upstairs with all those high steps.

My friends were craving for a coke but, unfortunately, a 500mL Coke (or any drink) costs about P100 already. My friends decided not to buy it anymore but then it looked like they were really craving for a cold Coke because of the heat so I just bought that Coke for them and paid for it. I love my friends that much.

As we were facing that 200 steps to go up the crater lake, I realized that this was where we need those sticks so that we have something to lean our weight on. My legs were shaking but I kept on pushing myself and I kept on telling myself in my mind not to give up or else I’d call myself weak. 

We made a few stopovers while we were climbing the top because our knees couldn’t handle a continuous climb on those steep stairs.

Finally after regaining our strength once again to go down the mountain and go back to our 4x4 ride, we need another 20 minutes but this time, it didn’t take as much more than 20 minutes. Probably, we did it less. Another trek going down – passing by the streams and puny rocks.

On our way back to Sta. Juliana/Tourism office, I saw another group of Aeta kids and was able to take a couple of photos and see their faces light up the sky again.

When we’re back to Sta. Juliana, we expressed our gratitude to Aren (but I said “Thanks, Kuya!” as a sign of respect hehe) for driving us and being an awesome driver! He studies in Italy by the way!

I was contemplating whether to take a bath or just change my clothes but I opted to just changing my clothes. I wasn’t comfortable to take a bath around the place and you have to pay P50 if you’re going to take a shower so I just paid P5 since I just changed my clothes. Yup, every move has a price. Haha, I’m kidding.

We bought halo-halo for P25 and it’s my first halo-halo this summer and got disappointed because it didn’t even taste like halo-halo. Oh well, I still enjoyed the ice and the milk from it. Just those!

We rode the same tricycle since the tricycle driver offered to wait for us so we had a ride going back to Capas, Tarlac. (how kind!) About 20 minutes during our ride, it suddenly rained so hard that a part of my shirt got soaked even though I was riding inside the tricycle this time. It was fun even though it rained because sometimes the struggles are fun when you’re with your friends, right?

Still smiling even though we’re all wet and haggard! Excuse our faces, please.

The tricycle driver dropped us off at the gas station so we could have some shed since it was raining really hard and the wind was very strong. 

Fortunately, a bus stopped at the gas station and we were able to ride a bus to Cubao after 5 minutes! 

And that’s the end of our trip! 


Some students at the University of Minnesota put this video together as a final project for a Natural Disasters class a few years ago. Really fun!

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