Monday, September 26, 2011

Attimonan, Quezon: Mt. Pinagbanderahan Forest Canopy

Mt. Pinagbanderhan
Attimonan, Quezon 

May 22-23, 2011

A journey to the mountain and sea done in tribute to [a lost and terribly missed] friend… 

 Wild Wonder: The Virgin Forest of Quezon National Park 

What more fitting tribute to friend who loved high mountains and exotic seas than to journey on the same special path where her feet once traversed. 

She would have been with us on this trip (which was planned a month before) if everything just went according to plan… 

But I guess, no one can really plan ahead of LIFE. Afterall, Life really is a borrowed gift from Above and He, who looks upon us, has mightier and grander plans for us all. 

We made this trip happen [against the odds of travelling without your usual set of buddies], because we believe (well, I mostly) that if May 9 didn’t come to pass, she surely would have loved to make this journey worth fulfilling.

 From the supposed 8 participants, we were down to just two, me and Angel (plus the other Angel hovering around, hehehe). 

I was so desolate going to San Pablo, Laguna (where I was supposed to met Angel) because this would be the first time I would be travelling (and be staying in a place overnight) with only a friend. 

 And she is Angel: The Lady in Red... 
I’m so used to going to places with my usual crowd. I somehow equate happiness to quantity. And definitely security to quantity… 

Backing out, crossed my mind a hundred times, and I even wished for heavy rains and strong winds so I would have a valid reason to cancel. I believe I only have to say it, and Angel would agree, for she is also hesitant, even though she didn’t voice out anything similar. 

Come Saturday, the cheerful sun blazed its morning rays without hint of a gloomy weather. And that was the sign I was silently yearning for. And I have to accept it. Perhaps, we really need to have this trip. 

It was almost 9 am when I arrived at the Old Cathedral Church of San Pablo. The place has not lost its provincial touch. The scene before me is like a crude version of an oil in canvass by some modern day Amorsolo. I looked at my cellphone. Angel has bombarded me with text messages telling me how late I was.

“Anung petsa na?” she growled.

Fact is, I really was... LATE. Hahahah. 2 hours? I hope I didn’t eventually give her the reason to cancel.

Silently, I was scratching my memory of our last trip together? For a while I can’t remember. It has been months, or a year, or years, since we last saw each other… As I was gazing at the crowd, I saw a distinctly familiar figure. Angel, finally!

  Almost in Bloom: The great carbon sink...  

She is changed. Same face. Same smile. But different… So much different. Was it her slimmer figure? Her unusual hairstyle… I was silently assessing her, when I finally remembered our last trip together. Oh yes, It was almost 2 years ago, in the exotic Mount Tagapo at the heart of Talim Island…amidst the wild Cogon grasses, thriving bamboo forest, strong winds, heavy rain-shower, and raging water of Laguna de Bay. 

 Standing Tall: One of the Many trees in the Area 
I smiled at the memory. Silent shivers run my veins as I reminisced some of the less-appealing things we encountered there… 

Then I recalled the other Angel I was with that time, Angelie Mae. Ahhh… How I wish I saw her again before May 9 happened. How I wish I accepted her invitation to Tagaytay, if only to know if something in her has also changed. Change… Now I know what that word means.

After renting a tricycle, we boarded an air-conditioned bus going to Lucena (fare=Php82). The ride along the countryside seemed so fast, as we filled our time catching up. 

It was after 2 hours when we arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal. There was a heavy downpour of rain when we got there. I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. 

We had a quick lunch at the nearby fastfood and got into a van headed for Attimonan, Quezon (fare=Php 70). Good thing the van did not wait for passengers to occupy every seat. 

  En route to Attimonan, we passed through the sleepy rural areas of Pagbilao, Quezon and the very treacherous Bitukang Manok or the zig-zag road extending to the almost forgotten Quezon National Park. Finally, after a few more minutes, the driver dropped us at the jump-off of Mt. Pinagbanderhan. If you don’t know beforehand, you’d certainly missed the area as it is just along the road, and barely noticeable. 

  Green Land/ Dried Earth: This is the balance of Life. 

It was around 1 pm when we started walking. The area was covered with thick towering trees and crawling vegetation. It was high noon, but the sun’s rays barely reached the ground. There was an abundant array of ferns and wild shrubs, very typical of a tropical rainforest like what we have in Mt. Makiling. 

Along the way, you could hear distinctive sound of birds, crickets, frogs, and other animals I couldn’t even identify. You also would have to pass several jagged rock formations and rock openings. The path/trail going to the peak is actually paved, and guides are not recommended. But the ironic thing is, we got lost for a few minutes because of a dead rotten log that blocked the “supposed” paved trail.

 Onward Forward: The test of endurance is just beginning. 

“Parang wala ng daan ditto, Angel... pero hindi ganitong peak ang nakita ko sa net” I muttered.

“Careful, ang tatalim ng mga bato dito...” Angel mumbled.

It was only after 20 minutes when we realized how lost we are and decided to backtrack. 

 Stairway to HEaven: the path that never ends... 
A few more minutes to the peak is what we dubbed as “the stairway to heaven” since for a tired body, those several steps up the stairs equates to something similar to forever. We reached the campsite area with body bruised to exhaustion. I welcomed the exhaustion like a good old friend and started reminiscing the first time I felt the same exhaustion in the rugged terrain of Mt. Batulao, still with Angel and Angelie. 

Exhaustion is like a friend that reminds you how human you are no matter how much you think otherwise. I silently smiled at that thought. 

We climbed the peak at a slower pace. Atop a massive igneous rock, we gazed at the verdant plains of Quezon against the calm sea water of rural seaside. On the other side, is the lush rainforest of Attimonan, Quezon nestled along the rolling plains and jagged rocks unique to the place. 

On a distance, the tower of Pagbilao power plant stands with pride. For a while, we were silent as our eyes filled the scene before us… a few minutes of silence offered to the memory of our beloved friend... 

 Out of nowhere, two magnificent eagles glided proudly in the air with their predatory sounds piercing the silence. I looked up and was mesmerized at the shrill sight of two eagles freely roaming the wild. It was both refreshing and every bit renewing. I have seen eagles in huge cages, but never in the wild… I felt a sudden surge of strange happiness, something I never felt before. 

 Survival: One's weakness becomes the  strength of the others 

We decide to trek back at around 3:30pm. When inside a thick forest, it’s best to get out of it while the sun is still high. Otherwise, it would be very easy to get lost without a handy flashlight. Thick crawling vegetations and huge trees covered the little rays of afternoon sun. The chirping of birds grew more intense and the sounds of mating frogs seemed to burst my eardrum. 

Rain forest scene around 4pm is something similar to those found in glossy movies on prehistoric times. The sounds of wild will either inspire you or will make you mad, especially if you’re not prepared to hear it.

(to be continued...)

 Holding On: Gone but not Forgotten.

“Kalayaan bang ituturing ang pagkawala ng rehas, kung ang puso’y nananatiling nakatali sa isang alaala? Paanong ang kalayaan mula sa rehas ng mga alaala ay isang kalayaang ayaw naisin ng iilan..? 

Marahil dahil ang paglimot sa mga alaaala ay pagtalikod sa mga bagay na minsa’y naging bahagi ng iyong buhay., kung ang kapalit na kalayaan ay nangangahulgang paglimot... ng isang alaala, ng isang yugto ng buhay.”


  1. i used to come here often, solo, during my college years and even slept at the CAFGU detachment that used to hold post infront of the landscaped/rest area along the road. planning to go back there soon.

  2. nice to hear that... I never done solo. hahahha... doesn't have enough courage to do so.

  3. nice blog about Pinagbanderahan... im planning to go here this weekend..

    1. Thanks... Hope you enjoy your weekend!

  4. Hi Marvin!

    Thanks for the info, well be going there in august with my college friends!!
    Nice page...i'll be including you in my blog rolls!!!


    Billy of

    1. Thanks Billy... hope to see you in future travels! happy travelling... =)


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