An unexpected tree planting on my friend’s return climb (an unexpected twin hike too)

My friend, Jun Espiritu, told me his Conquer backpack haunted him for a wash after almost ten years so he asked me to join him on his return to the mountain. There was only the “old trail” when he last climbed Mt. Batulao so I recommended him to try the “new trail”. It was also where I had my return climb last June. ( see After a Decade of Hiatus, I Returned to Backpacking with a new buddy, My Wife.) I wore shoes this year in all four climbs but my friend had only sandals so I sympathized with him. Half the bus we boarded for Nasugbu have Evercrest their stop, it was sem-break and long weekend. When the bus was at the Tagaytay area, I chatted to a passenger whom I thought would do a Mt. Batulao. To my surprise, sir Nick Castellano of Philippine Nature Outdoor Explorers (PHINOE) would be participating into a tree planting at Mt. Talamitam, the sister mountain of our supposed destination.

With sir Nick were his 9 yrs old daughter Cholet and 8 yrs old son Cholas, fellow PHINOE sir Erich del Rosario and daughter Orange. Sirs Nick and Erich politely encouraged us to join them which we heeded. Twin hike and tree planting! big thanks to PHINOE! (my first at Mt. Talamitam).

Accordingly, the “Tree Planting Project” sponsored by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Batangas DENR and spearheaded by Bro. Ted Calimag of Talamitam has the highest output in CALABARZON CENROs.

Bro. Ted informed us that the first batch of seedlings were planted within the community to show future participants and mountaineers that the locals are willing to actively support this long-term project.

Bro. Ted, sir Erich, me, Jun, Orange, Cholet and Cholas. (This photo is from PHINOE)

Same contingent with PHINOE’s sir Nick in the middle. (This photo is from PHINOE)

Jun’s return climb detoured to Mt. Talamitam for tree planting, a great re-start!

Cholas and Cholet are frequent visitors of Mt. Talamitam so they took part on its preservation.

The multi-sectoral advocacy had participants from the Philippine Air Force, students, mountaineers, locals and NGOs. With us was sir Bert Guevarra, president of Earth Day Network Philippines (in white shirt and cap). I highly recommend you visit his site “Earthday News Everyday” for a wide array of environment protection information from blogs, tweets, videos and much more.

Step for nature, my six Mahogany seedlings.

While most kids are sweating in the playground, these two perspired on a mountain, on tree planting!

Cholet on photo-shoot atop, her reward for bringing up seedlings.

Bro. Ted took care of soaking hundreds of seedlings.

Mountaineers and locals, great combo!

I dedicate this one Mahogany for my father who passed away last year.

I hope some shades materialized here after a decade.

With its stream, I might introduce mountaineering to two of my three sons at Mt. Talamitam. (The older kuya Aaron had it at Mt. Tagapo. “My wife’s first clean-up drive and my son’s first climb.” )

After the tree planting, Jun and I headed for Mt. Batulao. Both campsite at the “old trail” and “new trail” were filled with tents but we managed to pitched ours. I wish those hundreds of mountaineers were detoured first to Mt. Talamitam for tree planting.

I also met a Facebook friend at Mt. Batulao, Charlou Ayon who lend me this one picture below.

I enjoined every mountaineers to visit Mt. Talamitam and coordinate with Bro. Ted Calimag for the tree planting. There are still thousands of seedlings there waiting for you.

[UPDATE (Nov. 27, 2011): PinoyMountaineer just released (same date) his advance Christmas gift of Twin Dayhikes Itineraries including dayhikes of Mt. Talamitam & Mt. Batulao, ours was not twin dayhikes but might give it a try following PinoyMountaineer’s itinerary, after all, I now reside a little more of an hour to Mt. Talamitam trailhead (KM. 83) and visit the status of trees planted.]

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After a Decade of Hiatus, I Returned to Backpacking with a new buddy, My Wife.

“World War III??”

“Two (2) planes crashed into the Twin Towers”

Returning to the base camp after summiting Mt. Batulao in Batangas, my Nokia 3210 cellular phone was filled of SMS informing said tragic news. “What an anti-climax to a great climb!” Instead of cherishing the beautiful views from the mountain, my friends and I headed home worried, further trembled by new information that another plane crashed into Pentagon, then that ill-fated but heroic United Airlines Flight 93. The rest is history.

Busy at work, Mt. Batulao became my last climb. Then I met Rowena early 2004, married her December 8 that year. She was a widow before, with a five years old son, now ours, Aaron, who served as our ring bearer. We were blessed by two more boys, Jonmer and Adrian. My wife always knew my favorite recreation, but work schedule wont let. Unfortunately, all my backpacking equipment perished when tropical storm “Ondoy” flooded wide areas of metropolitan Manila on 2009.

Christmas of the same year, my wife gave me a blue North Face belt-bag. Although not intended for climbing, she smiled when she saw me found out the brand is connected to mountaineering. I gave her a smile too. Valentines the following year, Rowena brought home a 20L rucksack. “Hey! that’s good for day hike!” But the nature of my work wont permit me to even file a leave. Came the good year of 2011. My new assignment now allows me to manage my work schedule. So I bought a 60L backpack, borrowed some lacking equipment from friends (who are all absent from the mountain since 2002) and trained Rowena through daily jogging. On June 2, twenty days before my birthday, I returned to backpacking with a new buddy, my wife.

Click the image below for a larger view.

Mt. Batulao taken that fateful day of 9/11 (two pictures stitched together).

Click the image below for itinerary of Mt. Batulao from “Pinoy Mountaineer” by sir Gideon Lasco.