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Quick getaway to Batulao

Date: October 2, 1994

The first line of a famous march song, “Over hill, over dale…,” aptly describes the type of terrain that characterizes Mount Batulao, a favorite destination of hikers, mountaineers and campers.

Situated in Barrio Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas, right after the boundary of Tagaytay, it can be reached in approximately one-and -a-half hours of travel from Makati heading south and passing through the Coastal Road.

Thus, for reasons of accessibility and the terrains’s physical features, Mount Batulao was once upon a time training ground for ROTC cadets and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

Today, the beauty of Batulao, rediscovered, is evident in the profile of its visitors who range from the amateur or professional campers, the inveterate nature trippers, the adventurous vacationers, or the urbanites who are simply curious about the place or want to get away from it all.

For our group, which falls under the first category, the trek begins near the entrance of a golf course right across from which is the Mary, Help of Christians Center of Spirituality. The building is actually a retreat house run by the Salesian Congregation of Don Bosco. Bro. Obet Narvaez is its administrator, and he is accommodating enough to share some information about the place.

The name “Batulao” has interesting origins. From the town of Balayan, one can see the twin mountains to the east that appear quite distant from each other. But the same scene viewed from Batulao is curiously different. These same mountains seem to move closer. More fascinating is the fact that at some time between Dec. 22 and 28, every year, the sun nestles right between them, causing the natives to describe the scene as “ilaw sa dalawang bato (light between two rocks)” or “bato sa ilaw (light in a rock),” from which was derived the term Batulao.

Moving on and up, first stop right before the climb and last stop for a cold soft drink, is the trading center, a drop-off point and selling site for the local produce, guavas and camote.

During the climb itself, one makes one’s way through a wide expanse of rolling hills passing cogon-lined trails and narrow ridges. Trail grading is arguable because what may be easy to seasoned mountaineers may be difficult for neophytes in the activity. Refreshing to the weary traveller on the trail is a slice of local color – natives on horseback or on foot making their way to the trading center. Standing on elevated ground, one sees the hills as a painting — a masterpiece of nature in various hues of green (grass), white (weeds) and blue (sky), with patches of brown (nipa huts).

One reaches the campsite after a three-or-four journey, on the average. But the exhaustion that one feels quickly evaporates in the cool breeze and the view from the top (3,000 ft. of elevation), which is nothing short of exhilarating. From the majestic summit, one sees scenic wonders of Batulao unfolding — the Camel’s Backs (three adjacent peaks) and the historic Taal Volcano surrounded by the mysterious Taal Lake. The evening sky presents a stark contrast to the twinkling city lights of Batangas.

The trail back is less tiring and easier with more level ground than the trek up, which had a considerable number of sudden ascents and descents. Then there is the added attraction of being able to catch a glimpse of the ocean from a distance. On the path is a major water source to cool down hot spirits and relax tired bodies. For a dose of Vitamin C, guava trees abound.

Mount Batulao is an ideal nature experience for the amateur trekker or for those vacationers who prefer an accessible, convenient and pollution-free destination — a quick getaway from the humdrum of urban living.