New Friends and My Second Summit at Mount Pundaquit, Zambales

Sunday, May 18, 2014

April 25, 2014

The first time I've been to Anawangin was the first time I've seen in real life the color aquamarine. I've reached the place via pumpboat, over clear blue waters and amidst bewildering rock facades. This time, I've opted for the land route. Through a hilly formation known interchangeably as Mt. Pundaquit and Mt. Anawangin, I was able to return to the place that had inspired my 2013 Summer Song.
This adventure began when one of my closest friends, French Fries, invited me to join her on a climb to Anawangin Cove, organized by one whom she referred to as her "contact." And since I have been wanting to go on a trek to Mt. Pundaquit, French did not need to ask me twice.

But in an unfortunate (and a bit funny) turn of events, French and Julius did not join us on this adventure, leaving Dennis and I among people who were basically strangers - which was fine, for meeting great people is an adventure all in itself.

In any case, we were a company of 17 (18, if you count our little mountaineer). John was French's "contact". The two of them had been introduced through an IT project in French's previous job. Joining us as well were John's colleagues: Tin, Maui, Ms. Joyce, Jeff, Von, Sir Dan, Sir Rene, Lyndonn, Marvin, Kevin, and Ronelle. There were also Lovely, Ms. Anne, Ms. Anne's husband Odan, and their daughter Hannah (who was just a little kid!) who, from what I've gleaned, were John's climbing buddies. And of course, Dennis and I.

Our group was later on baptized as Team Anawangin. Hooray once again for no-nonsense naming!

In any event, we met up with Team Anawangin at Ortigas, and from there we waited for our van service. We left past midnight and arrived in Brgy. San Antonio, Zambales at around 5AM. Here, John and Ms. Anne made arrangements with two boatmen and two tour guides. Considering the size of our group, one of each would be lacking.

When everything was settled, we posed for a pre-climb photo:

We started our ascent around 6AM.

The trail was mostly grassy, at times rocky. There were sparse shades and thus the heat had become quite an issue (to my companions, I assumed. I didn't mind. Screw melanoma!) There were also areas where ornamental-looking plants would grace our eyes and the path would look like someone's garden.

I've also spotted suspicious-looking lumps; some were gooey, some were hard as rocks. I would later find out that these were poops of wild carabaos (that were notorious for being aggressive, apparently.) Interestingly, these carabaos are believed to be where the name Anawangin originated. Anawangin is said to come from the Ilocano word "nuang" which means carabao.

So anyway, almost three hours had passed when we reached the summit. From here, one can discern the crescent shape of Anawangin Cove. The promise of a cool dip in its pristine beach, and the undulating pink flag summit marker imbibing me with a replenishment of energy.

After a session of picture-taking, breath-catching, leg-resting, and thirst-quenching, we proceeded with our trek. An hour later, we were on the foot of the slope that led to Anawangin Cove.

Lyndonn, Marvin, and Ronelle were the first to arrive. John was the fourth and I was the fifth. Dennis arrived a little later. And because it took a while for the next person's arrival, we were able to have a nice chat, enabling us to know a little more about our new friends. We even joked that the last person to arrive may be eliminated - ala Amazing Race. You know you're in the company of great people when you can still manage a laugh despite aching feet and parched throats.

Moments later, the rest of Team Anawangin started descending from the slope. When we were all gathered, we posed for mid-climb pictures.

Afterwhich, we forged ahead. Another hour passed and a familiar yet unusual foliage greeted us. Rows of agoho trees (often mistaken for pine trees) made it known that we were, indeed, in Anawangin. They welcomed us, and we were glad, for we had a safe and successful climb, enduring no surprise attacks from wild (gasp) carabaos.

It took us five hours, more or less to reach Anawangin. 11:25AM was the time on my Nokia 1280 when we crumpled to wherever we could sit down to have our lunch.

This was a great climb, a fitting sequel to the Islandception, made even more memorable by the new friends I've met.

Many more to come and cheers to the next adventure!

P.S. Thank you to Lovely for some of the pictures. :)

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