Last March 12, 2015, I took an overnight weekday trip with two of my friends, Charlie and Niko, and it was nothing short of spontaneous. The start of our journey quickly set the tone for our entire adventure. If anyone saw three clueless bros on an early Monday morning looking for bus schedules in Cubao, then that may have been us. We eventually chanced upon one bound for Batangas. With the help from our bus conductor and a couple of locals, we finally arrived at Vistamar Beach Resort located in Anilao, Mabini.
It was way past noon and we were in need of a filling lunch. Since we had no knowledge of the local food joints, we asked a tricycle driver to take us somewhere good to eat. Fortunately enough, he knew just the place and took us to Frido’s Grill, an exceptional restaurant in the main city which served traditional Filipino cuisine. Having ordered more than enough food, we carried our take-out and got some refreshments from a nearby convenience store.
After dropping off our grocery back at the resort, we began our poorly thought-out plan: to run along the main road in search of the best sunset view.
After more than three brutal kilometers later, we found ourselves on a beautiful empty shore by El Sombrero resort.
Panting yet with a big smile on our faces, we watched the slowly changing colors of the sky as the sun hid behind the unobstructed horizon of the sea.
Nightfall ensued, and we rode a tricycle going back to our place. Upon having our fill of the food and drinks we bought, the three of us eventually succumbed to sleep. The morning after, we decided to go snorkeling with the help of Kuya Jun-Jun, our friendly boat driver and guide.
The weather was perfect for a dip in the sea — refreshing crystal clear salt water, an abundance of coral reefs accompanied by schools of colorful fish in all directions, as well as a balance of warm sunlight and cool breeze.
It was all thoroughly enjoyable and I thought that our adventures would come to an abrupt halt. But, I was wrong. On our way to the shore, one of the mountains from a distance caught our attention and we knew right away that we had to climb it.
We gathered all of our things from our room and left our bags in a house at the foot of what we came to know as Mt. Gulugod Baboy. At around three in the afternoon, with only a bottle of water at hand and my camera gear on my back, the three of us took our first steps on the scorching path going up.
Joseph, one of the local guides, accompanied us with his inhumane trekking pace. Our lungs cried for help but somehow, we made our way up to the summit. However, as if we didn’t run out of ingenious ideas, we decided to wait until dusk before going down. The sun emitted a soft warm glow that hugged the various landscapes visible from our 360 degree view of Batangas.
For a while, we were the only ones occupying the peak of the mountain until around 30 minutes later, a family of three came up with barely a trace of sweat on their faces. Apparently, one could opt to drive up the mountain since there was a parking lot five minutes away from where we stood. I looked at my friends in disbelief.
The parents were avid climbers, and they’ve been up the mountain multiple times already. For their daughter, it was her first time to be at a summit and her joy could not be masked.
Dusk fell upon us and we knew, it was time to head down–without a flashlight. Needless to say, we earned ourselves a bunch of scratches and bruises along the way. As we eagerly ate our dinner at a tiny canteen, we were undeniably exhausted but immensely proud altogether.
Upon realizing that we only had about half an hour left to spare before the last bus ride home, we anxiously hurried to the terminal. After a few lucky encounters and a little push from what was left of our depleting strength, we arrived roughly in time for the 9:30 PM bus bound for Manila. We hastily went inside and occupied the last row. With a heavy sigh of relief, sleep fell on us almost instantaneously. Our unconditioned bodies were worn-out, yet we collectively shared a joy that was incomparable to any trip that we have done up to that point.
The constant feeling of uncertainty paved a path detouring from our comfort zone. We struggled–an understatement–for magnificent views, interacted with the locals, ate some amazing food, and made every step more and more exciting. Spontaneity isn’t the most comfortable ride, but it sure makes up for it with the feeling of having your subconsciously low expectations repeatedly surpassed.