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Flight chronicles of the backpacker Tutubi, with travelogues, pictures/photos/videos, travel guides, independent and honest reviews, affordable, recommended resorts and hotels (including inns, guesthouses, pension houses, lodges, hostels, condotels, bed and breakfast and other cheap accommodations), commuting guides, routes (sometimes street maps and GPS coordinates/waypoints) and driving directions to answer "how to get there" questions, information and tips on tourism, budget travel and living in Philippines, Exotic Asia and beyond!

Backpacking, independent travel, and flashpacking are cheaper than the "cheapest package tours" and promotional offers around but you can also use travel information for family vacations, even romantic honeymoon destinations.

More than the usual tourist spots and "places to see," this blog advocates heritage conservation, environmental protection, and history awareness for Filipinos, foreigners, and ex-pats wishing to explore Paradise Philippines and Exotic Asia!
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    5 Philippine Mountain Trails for Newbie Hikers

    Beaches and tropical islands aren’t the only great things about the Philippines. It also has numerous hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging. Fortunately, some of the best ones are just a road trip away from Manila. They’re also great places to start out if you just got into hiking.

    So if you’re looking to book affordable hotels in the Philippines and enjoy some scenic views, you’ve come to the right country. Let’s take a look at some of the beginner-friendly mountain trails for any aspiring hiker:

    1. Mt. Makiling

    One of the easiest mountain trails around, Mt. Makiling is a manageable 3-4 hour trek for any newbie hiker. The trail also boasts a lush forest, shielding you from most of the day’s heat while providing a variety of plants and animals to see on the way.

    The mountain itself is a dormant volcano that rises to an elevation of 3,580 feet above mean sea level, making it the highest feature of the Laguna Volcanic Field. The forests surrounding the mountain is also part of a natural preserve that’s administered by the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. The mountain was also the first national park of the Philippines.

    The summit is also forested, though some parts of it offer views of Laguna de Bay and some of the lakeshore towns of Laguna. Nature lovers are sure to enjoy this place for its rich scenery.

    2. Pico de Loro

    Rising at 2,178 feet above mean sea level. Pico de Loro is aptly named for its summit that resembles a parrot’s beak. This mountain in Cavite features well-established trails, beautiful forests and breathtaking views at the peak. Its signature feature is the unique formation known as the ‘Monolith,’— a great place to take great pictures and selfies.

    The trail begins at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office, where trekkers need to register prior to climbing. While the trail can get rather steep and rocky, the traverse is one of the quieter areas of the mountain. The bamboo groves and woodlands along the trail also offer great sights for nature enthusiasts.

    3. Taal Volcano

    One of the most unique features of the Philippines, Taal Volcano is a small volcanic island that rests on a caldera lake – a former crater of an older and bigger volcano. It’s located in the province of Batangas and boasts year-round mild weather, making it ideal for beginning hikers.

    Its hiking trail is a relatively easy path, though it’s recommended to start the trek early in the morning to avoid the heat. The 1.7 km-long trail features rocks that have a volcanic quality, and steam vents can be seen along the path. Once you reach the summit, the entire panoramic view of the Crater Lake can be enjoyed, along with other notable mountain ranges near the province.

    4. Mt. Batulao

    Like Taal, Batulao is also located in Batangas. It’s also one of the most accessible trails from Manila, which is little more than a few hours away. One signature features of this trail is the way the sun touches the rocks, making them appear to glow – this is said to be one of the origins of the trail’s name. It’s a preferred choice for beginning hikers not only for the ease of the hike but also because it makes for a decent training climb.

    The jumpoff point starts from the Evercrest Golf Course. From there you can choose between the old and new trails - two options on which route to start from. It’s recommended to visit this place during the months of November to February and start early in the morning when temperatures are still pleasant. The trail is straightforward and easy enough to climb, with about 10 stations to pass through and catch a breather if needed. Upon reaching the summit, you get to see the full expanse of the forests and mountains surrounding Tagaytay and Nasugbu – all of which make for great memorable photos.

    5. Mt. Manabu

    Manabu is one of the mountains located in Sto. Tomas, Batangas and a distinct part of Malarayat mountain ranges. This place can be easily reached from Manila either by a private or public vehicle, while the trail itself can be completed within two hours when hiking at a normal pace.

    Hikers are treated to a combination of rolling slopes and a gradual ascent, both of which are manageable for beginners. Along the way, you can stop by a wide, garden-like campsite which is perfect for overnight campers. At its summit is a big white cross, where more religious trekkers can stop to pray and pay respects. The best part of the trail is the free brewed coffee that the mountain’s caretakers offer all hikers.

    Now that you’re read about these five peaks, all that’s left is to start packing for your next trip. Always remember to pack appropriate clothes, such as hiking boots and caps for ample protection. It’s also advisable to bring a sizable water jug and camping supplies if your chosen hiking trail has sites where you can stop over. Get started on your next trip by consulting with your preferred travel agent today!

    Read more after the jump!

    posted by backpacking philippines @ 11:11 PM, , links to this post

    The "Lost" Yamashita Treasure in Los Banos, Laguna

    Tourism sites often list the Homma - Yamashita Shrine in Los Banos, Laguna as a tourist spot yet you cannot really find any information about it, even asking supposedly tourism personnel at Laguna Tourism went for naught several times.

    Tutubi, in typical spur-of-the-moment fashion, en route to Paete from Makiling Onsen Hotel suddenly thought of finding Yamashita's treasure along the national highway and turned to Jamboree Road going up to Mt. Makiling and UPLB and asked several people and tricycle drivers where to find the long, lost treasure of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya, conqueror of the "impenetrable" Singaport and commander of the defense of the Philippines during the closing months of World War II in the Philippines

    After a few hits and misses, Tutubi was led to a narrow that was too narrow for Scarlett (his ride) to enter so they went on foot. Further asking around from locals led him to the caretaker of the shrine who opened the locked gates for him

    the locked gates of the execution site of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, with contact number posted on the sign

    the arch of the Memorial Monument of General Yamashita

    Yamashita came to the Philippines on October 10, 1944, a few days before Gen. MacArthur landed on the beaches of Leyte (in a scripted and heavily practiced landing actually for propaganda purposes) and surrendered to the Americans in Kiangan, Ifugao (a future destination of Tutubi) then was tried in Manila from 29 October to 7 December 1945 by an American military tribunal for war crimes relating to the Manila massacre (that Tutubi thinks really was not his fault at all)

    On 23 February 1946, at this site in Los Baños, Laguna Yamashita was hanged. His final words were “As I said in the Manila Supreme Court that I have done with my all capacity, so I don't ashame in front of the gods for what I have done when I have died. But if you say to me 'you do not have any ability to command the Japanese Army' I should say nothing for it, because it is my own nature. Now, our war criminal trial going under your kindness and right. I know that all your American and American military affairs always has tolerant and rightful judgment. When I have been investigated in Manila court I have had a good treatment, kindful attitude from your good natured officers who protected me all the time. I never forget for what they have done for me even if I had died. I don't blame my executioner. I'll pray the gods bless them. Please send my thankful word to Col. Clarke and Lt. Col. Feldhaus, Lt. Col. Hendrix, Maj. Guy, Capt. Sandburg, Capt. Reel, at Manila court, and Col. Arnard. I thank you."

    the simple, minimalist shrine for Gen. Yamashita where he was executed.

    Closing up with the tomdstone marker, it's amazing that Tutubi can stillr read basic kanji he learned in Nihongo class in college after all these years. The third kanji character means "Yama" which means mountain in Japanese and the fourth character was "Shita" which means under or below in Japanese. Yamashita in Japanese loosely means "under the mountain" or at the foot of mountain.

    How Tutubi wishes to read the whole inscription but can only read two kanji characters. Tutubi intends to also visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan to find the "Yamashita treasure" buried there based on maps used by treasure hunters

    Gen. Yamashita was buried at this ssame site but was later transferred to the (in)famous Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan where Class A war criminals of Japan are interred.

    Coming up:

    the execution site of Gen. Masaharu Homma, the man hanged for the atrocities of the Bataan Death March

    If you need a map of the shrine, Tutubi already updated OpenStreetMap for your reference. You can just set your GPS to the site and avoid the difficulty (yet fun) of finding it. It's near DOST Region 4 Office and Los Banos Community National High School and at the end of Yamashita Road

    How to get there:
    Take a DLTB or HM Transport/GreenStar Express on EDSA, Cubao or Taft Avenue, Pasay City with signboard Sta. Cruz/Calamba. Request the conductor to drop you off at Jamboree Road and new Los Banos Municipal Hall (munisipyo) then take a tricycle to the shrine.

    lastly, Tutubi thinks the Yamashita Treasure is an urban legend, a hoax. even the Golden Buddha supposedly found by Rogelio Santos and later acquired by Ferdinand Marcos. There's just no proof of its existence, only gossips. The golden Buddha too, if real, should've been reported as a lost treasure by an asian country.

    Related Post:
    The Daring Raid at UPLB in World War II

    Labels: , ,

    Read more after the jump!

    posted by backpacking philippines @ 8:34 PM, , links to this post