Respect The Aetas, Afterall, They Own Pinatubo
Please do not look down on the Aetas. Acknowledge their presence with respect, and if you can, please give them some nutritional and/medicinal aid.
Do you know that Mt. Pinatubo is now owned by Aetas? An area of at least 15,998 hectares including Mt. Pinatubo has been registered at the Registry of Deeds in Zambales as a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title. The application originally covered 20,567.89 hectares but the size was reduced to 15,998.4748 hectares after some private titles within ancestral domains were recognized and segregated by the government agencies. It is said that the Aetas of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales have reached an understanding that Pinatubo is on the Botolan, Zambales side and the lands there belong to Botolan Aetas. After about five years from the eruption, the Aetas returned to the volcano to live and cultivate lands there.
- Road Trip
Majestic Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano at the intersection of the borders of the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga in Luzon, the biggest island of the Philippines. Before the volcano's eruption in June 1991, ancestral Pinatubo looked just like an ordinary mountain covered with dense forest. It served as home to several thousand indigenous people known as the Aetas. They sought refuge in the mountains from the lowlands when the Spanish conquestadores came in 1565.
After causing what volcanologists and scientists consider the largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, an extraordinarily beautiful crater lake was formed in the caldera. A pioneering group of mountaineers discovered it and soon, word spread around, until the local government and Department of tourism thought of promoting it as another site for eco-tourism. Soon, a Korean company initiated the development of a route other than that approved and endorsed by Phivolcs. Despite the controversy, many local and foreign tourists have come to "conquer" Mt. Pinatubo and bask in its beautiful surroundings.
Let the pictures speak for the place.
Swimming At Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake
Swimming at the Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake is not recommended, BUT NOT PROHIBITED. Although there are warning signs that the crater lake has undetermined depth, and so swimming is not recommended, I saw many tourists taking a dip as soon as they arrived at the shore. Perhaps, after a long, dusty ride and tiring walk, it was most tempting to take a dip at the cool, blue waters. I was so envious, I wanted to just wade on the shallow water, but I remembered my sensitivity to sulphur so I just watched the tourists as they enjoyed swimming. I noticed some people even brought tents to serve as their "dressing room".
Picnic At Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake Park
There used to be open cottages made of indigenous materials for picnics at the Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake Park. Now, there are more stable and beautiful picnic cottages at the Park Grounds and at the Crater lake shore. We had our lunch at the cottage near the shore where the sight was breathtaking and the wind was so refreshing.
- Family Travel
Crater Boating is an exciting experience. You have to make arrangements and payments at the Pinatubo Spa Town beforehand if you'd like to go crater boating. (If you're joining a tour group, you have to inform your tour operator ahead, as crater boating is usually not part of the tour package.)
The boat can accommodate up to 7persons. It is manually operated by a skilled boatman who will bring tourists around the aquamarine-colored crater lake to see the four majestic mountain walls (the Zambales, Pampanga, Bamban and Capas walls) surrounding Mt. Pinatubo. (Note: Our guide said only the Capas wall is considered a safe entry point to Mount Pinatubo crater, while Zambales, Pampanga, and Bamban were considered risky because of their dangerous, steep terrain.)
The leisurely boat ride on the still waters takes a little more than 30 minutes. I didn't join the group that went crater boating, but those who did confirmed that the current was still (at least the path they took), the sights were awesome, and the wind was refreshingly cool.
When we went to Mt. Pinatubo, the boats were all new. The old ones were reportedly destroyed by the recent typhoon Ondoy. Our guide told us that the ones who made the new boats are the same ones who make the boats for Burnham Park of Baguio City.
- Sailing and Boating
Shoot From The Photo Den & Elevated Platform
Upon arrival at the Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake Park, head for the Photo Den if you'd like to take good shots... Well, it's not really a den as you would normally associate with the word; it's more like a view deck where it's best to set up your tripod, or even have your own souvenir pictures with the crater lake as background.
There are two Photo Dens, and one elevated platform put up precisely to guide tourists on where the good angles of the crater lake can be shot. The elevated platform is the best position for the photographer taking group shots. See the difference in the photos.
Trek To Mount Pinatubo
With the extension of the Skyway, trekking time was cut short. A wooden sign at the start of the trek trail has this inscription:
"Welcome to Mount Pinatubo
Your trek starts here
For: Young Age 15 Minutes
Middle Age 18 Minutes
Senior Citizen 20 Minutes
Where do you belong?"
The sign seemed to put undue pressure on us...but I tell you, if you intend to go up, don't feel pressured. To be realistic about it, not even a young trekker can truly finish the trail in 15 minutes, considering the terrain. Though it is not a steep climb, you have to cross streams with slippery stones, and there are also one-way paths... Besides,you can't help but stop to take pictures.
I reached the top in about 25 minutes, and I don't mind. I was ahead of the young ones despite my stopping many times to take pictures.
Your trail guide usually goes ahead of you, but even if you lose sight of him and your companions, you'll easily find and follow the course.
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
A lake was formed in the volcano's crater. Although some people dare to swim along the shore, swimming is generally discouraged for safety and health reasons. While it may look calm and inviting, the blue-green water has high sulfur content and strong current.
As an alternative activity, there is a paddle boat available at P250/pax (max of 3 pax) for a short boat trip on the lake. Again for safety, the boat ride covers only 25% of the lake as, according to the boatmen, the current towards the center of the lake is very strong.
- Sailing and Boating
Trek to Mt. Pinatubo
Mt. Pinatubo's crater is a sight to behold! And the scenery along the trek is awesome! These are just 2 reasons why a trek to Mt. Pinatubo should not be missed.
There are 2 routes on reaching the summit: (1) The long way which involves an hour 4x4 jeep ride on a desert-like valley and a trek of at least 2 hours on big rocks, streams, and vegetation; (2) The Skyway which also involves an hour ride on a 4x4 passing through dusty (or muddy) road and a shorter trek of at least 40 minutes on big rocks, streams, and vegetation.
Based on experience, I suggest a combination of the 2 routes. Take advantage of your enthusiasm and high level of energy/adrenaline, so take the long route going up. Upon reaching the summit, the long hike will most likely take its toll on you, so take the Skyway coming back.
Aside from the crater, the canyon-like formations that we passed during our "long" trek made the trip doubly special. Seeing them was like being transported to another country. Who would thought that such beautiful landscape lies beneath a dormant volcano?
- Hiking and Walking
Panan beach is the first beach resort of Botolan coming from the south.
Nice black sand beach for the family.
Buy fresh fish from the fishermen nearby.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel