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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pinatubo Cover: Beauty Born Out of Destruction

Trek Date: February 27, 2011

Major jump-off: Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac
LLA: 15°8'35"N, 120°20'54"E, 960 MASL
Days required / Hours to crater: 1 day / 45 min 4x4 + 2 hrs hike
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1
I remember waking up to a shocking sight back in high school. As I looked out from my bedroom window, all I can see was white -- everything was covered in white! It's as if it snowed, but it wasn't cold. And I live in a tropical country!

Later we found out that Mt. Pinatubo has erupted. We were about 150 miles away from the raging volcano, and yet we still received a portion of its wrath. In fact, the whole world felt its effect as it decreased the temperature by an average of 0.5ºC. The areas surrounding Mt. Pinatubo were devastated by raging lahar and thick ashfall, rendering thousands of people homeless, destroying farmlands and killing livestocks.

Photo Credit: T.J. Casadevall, US Geological Survey

Photo Credit: SMATE

Photo Credit: SMATE

Photo Credit: Philippe Bourseiller/Jacques Durieux

Photo Credit: HigadAttack

Fast forward to 2011 (20 years later). As soon as I emerged from the trail, a magnificent beauty greeted me. Exhausted after a 1-hour-45-minute trek, the view was a pleasant reward. Who would have thought that this beautiful landscape was ironically created by destruction? It was simply beautiful. The saturation of the colors brings calm, the noontime sun makes the caldera lake glisten, the blue-green water lets you forget that it once terrified and killed people. I was sensory overloaded, definitely.

The Trek

Before you are taken to a wild ride, you have to stop over at the Pinatubo Spa Town to register and pick your 4x4. We joined the public tour of TRIPinas, so they took care of everything. Stepping into the Pinatubo Spa Town makes you feel like you've just been transported to Korea!

massage area

Adventure begins on the bumpy 4x4 ride across streams and rocky terrain. For approximately 45 minutes, you see endless stretch of dry landscape, featuring rock formations that are extraordinary. 

This is where you leave the bumpy comfort of your 4x4 to battle the rocks on your feet. The view is amazing all the way up. Make sure to slather sunblock though, as the trail is open. 

You know you're "almost there" when you find this sign:

"Welcocme to Mt. Pinatubo. Your trek starts here.
Young Age - 15 minutes
Middle Age - 18 minutes
Senior Citizens - 20 minutes

The trail suddenly changes from open and rocky to shaded with lush greeneries. The sign is meant to challenge you. It's a shame that it took us 20 minutes to get to the top -- the record of senior citizens! Expect other trekkers to get past you while they are huffing and puffing to beat the time. 

The Caldera

You know you are really "almost there" when you come across concrete steps going up. This leads to the caldera, where you finally get yourself surrounded by this beauty:

I know it's cliche, but this view literally took my breath away!

Did you notice that the rock formation on the left seems to glow?

Steps going to the caldera lake

You can swim in the lake or ride a boat to the other side. We decided to just chill in one of the huts, eat our lunch and enjoy the noontime sun.

The trek down was faster -- we were able to make it in 1h 30m. But not before getting my shoes all soaked up in one of the streams while stepping on a supposedly sturdy rock. Good thing I brought a pair of Havaianas for those just-in-case moments.

It was rewarding to finally be able to see this volcano. The destruction it brought changed the lives of many people living within the area, and changed the landscape to reveal its beauty within. Tourism now helps the locals recover from its wrath 20 years ago.

See also: Pinatubo: Budget, Itinerary and Essentials


Oh goodness. As I entered your blog, that majestic picture welcomed me. I stared at it blankly. So wonderful. Great photos! :)

Thank you, The Lost Boy Lloyd ! But the place is really beautiful to begin with, such beautifully saturated colors :)

This is so, so beautiful! I love volcanoes, and I havent been to the Phils! Planning to go to Palawan upon my graduation next year. :)

Thank you, @c5849687e9dc4d786891aafec64f5208:disqus ! It's really beautiful, you should come visit! :)

Would you happen to know kung pwede mag camp dun sa may crater? Mas masaya siguro overnight ditu  =)

Oh yes, @b44b3b12baa93392f75489be7e28f84f:disqus ! I had to ask because I wanted to do that, too. I wasn't able to inquire about the rates, but they said they allow it as long as a guide stays with you for safety.

I've been there last June 4! Amazingly beautiful! :)

Our pics:

Stunning photos! Who would have thought the destruction it caused to all the people around the mountain.. However, it's a good thing that tragedy developed this beautiful scenery... 

The lake looks wonderful... But, isn't it dangerous still?

Thank you! Yes, it is still dangerous that's why they advise not to swim in the lake -- but still a few people do, but they stay near the shore :)

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