“I look up to the mountains: does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
Vast verdant fields and a Pulag look-alike are descriptions of Talamitam. It’s on the other side of Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas and can be climbed in less than two hours. It’s a beautiful sight, though not as famous as the mountains surrounding it, and not as breezy. To get there, you would take the same bus that leads to the jump off in Batulao, Evercrest. From the MRT Taft Station along EDSA, take the bus en route Nasugbu and go down 83 KM in Brg. Aga. Actually, even if you tell the conductor you’re going to Talamitam, they would know where to drop you off. The trip takes about 3 hours from Manila and costs Php 124.00 as of November 2011.
Talamitam is usually done on a day hike. You can choose to leave very early so that it won’t be that hot when you start climbing. However, the trail leading to the summit really has very little shade to offer. Just think of open fields in the province and you get Talamitam. There was a time, according to Concerned Citizen and Environment Movement (CCEM) Chairman Sir Ted, when Talamitam had lush vegetation. Today, there are on-going efforts to rehabilitate the mountain by means of tree planting. Upon registration at the jump off, we were asked if we could bring seedlings on our way up. The opportunity to help the environment was something we could not pass up. Halfway to the summit, we met with Sir Ted and the other locals who were planting trees. Every Saturday, this Bayanihan takes place and what’s commendable about it is that they are really encouraging mountaineers to take part in rebuilding the lost beauty of Talamitam. “Sino ba namang mountaineer ang hindi gugustuhing maging maganda yung bundok?”
I found Sir Ted to be very genuine in his efforts to rehabilitate Talamitam. I for one think that every mountaineer should have an innate desire to take care of the mountains. Mountains, after all, are the object of our passions and if we do not take care of them, what else are we to enjoy? A month or so ago, I underwent a Leave No Trace Training with my group, Climbing for Christ. There was so much I didn’t know about the principle and in the end, I learned that by observing the LNT principle, one comes out not only a better mountaineer, but a better person.
The climb took us less than two hours. It would help to bring 1L of water or more, since there are no water sources. But would you believe that there’s a vendor who sells ice cream at the summit, san ka pa?! :D
A word of caution: Do not wear red; I am serious. Kuya Joel, our Team Leader, had to evade the hungry, menacing looks of the carabaos. And they were plenty in Talamitam, grazing freely on the grass. They don’t mind a game of chase, and in fact, we were almost chased by one. Relieving that memory in Kanlaon is painful for me; I never want to be chased again by a carabao. Also, if like me you are very sensitive to cogon grass, wear leg warmers or convertible pants. I wanted to use my newly-brought Columbia Silver Ridge Capri trekking pants but I knew I was risking it. True enough, I had allergies.
The summit gives you a view of Cavite and of the more popular mountains, Batulao and Pico De Loro. It’s big enough to fit maybe five groups of people. We had lunch at the summit and had a short devotions on Psalm 121, a song of ascents.I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
By 1:30, we were on our way down, and by 3:00 pm, we were ready to take a cool bath. I had been craving for a cold C2 Apple, and I was praying we would find a store that sells one. Just before Mang Nick’s house was a store. The owner, who I’m sorry I had forgotten the name, had C2 apple, and she even offered us their very clean bathroom. Was I so excited to drink C2 Apple that I finished it in what probably was 15 seconds. And I asked for a second one! Nothing refreshes a sweaty mountaineer like cold apple drink! :)