Red Butterfly Travel Series: Mt. Pinatubo

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I was in grade school when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. I remember asking my granny why it’s raining sand while I watched our roof slowly get covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash. The eruption was so destructive it killed a lot of people, destroyed a lot of properties and infrastructure, and even caused the earth’s temperature to drop (the volcanic ash reached as far as Russia and some parts of North America).

(photo from USGS)

After so many years of (thankfully) not exploding, this is what the crater looks like now.

When I saw this, it got me thinking; how could something so breathtakingly beautiful be so destructive? I wanted to cry. Seriously. But maybe that’s because I was also thinking: “What the fuck?! More than 3 hours of walking under the sun with blistered and bloody feet?! FINALLY! No more walking please or I will die!” Yes. I was really thinking that.

My friends and I booked this trip through Lakbay Turista Travel and Tours (they also took care of our Ilocos trip). The package costs 2,800 pesos per person (60 USD) which includes:

  • Roundtrip Van transfers (Manila-Tarlac-Manila)
  • 4×4 wheel drive to Mt. Pinatubo via Skyway
  • Service of a tour guide
  • Entrance fee and permits
  • Toll fee and gas

We all met at SM Makati around 12mn and arrived at the jump-off point somewhere in Tarlac around 5am. When the 4x4s dropped us off, the guides asked for an additional 1,000 pesos (22 USD) so that they can drop us somewhere closer. That’s if we don’t want to torture ourselves and walk the shorter route. This got us confused because we were sure that the agency told us that it would only take more than an hour to get to the crater. Since we didn’t want to shell out more money and get ripped off, we let the 4x4s leave us and started walking. What should have been an hour and a half trek became a 3 and a half hour torture!

We weren’t even halfway there when my right foot started to bleed because of blisters. Thankfully there were streams where I was able to soak my aching, sore feet even for a few moments.

When we finally reached the top and saw the crater, only one word came out of my mouth: “WOW”.

We stayed at the crater for a couple of hours to rest. Some people in our group took a dip in the water (which I’m pretty sure has sulfur in it) while I clean my wounds (by this time, both feet were bleeding) with alcohol and Betadine.

We all looked like “Espasol” (rice cake dusted in flour) when we finally got back to the jump-off point. Thankfully, there was a spa nearby where we were able to take a bath. We were so tired we didn’t have the energy to shout and argue with the travel coordinator from Lakbay Turista.

Was it worth it? Of course! Are you kidding me? Just look at the photos above. I would do it again but next time I would wear socks and hiking shoes.

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