First Day in the Philippines:
I’ve chiseled out about two weeks to spend in the Philippines over the New Year holiday, 2011. During this time, I am interested in seeing two world heritage sites, climbing some mountains, seeing some waterfalls and navigating underground rivers.
This might be an auspicious venture and an unreasonable expectation for Southeast Asia’s black sheep. But I have been pleasantly surprised at my goal’s relinquished rewards in the past. So I continue to set my standards high.
Day one sees me landing in Manila. I landed at about 9:30, well after dark. And Manila, like many Latin-descended capital cities, it’s not really safe to fumbling the streets late at night. So I jumped right into a cab and headed for the Stonehouse Hotel, far north of the city.
Strategically, I planned on staying near this location because I wanted to simply leave Manila as soon as possible the next morning. I had bigger plans in mind. In fact, my plans stood 1486 meters high as I planned to crest the lower reaches of its summit within the next two days.
The mountain has an amazing recent history. But first, for reference, I will start on the other side of the world: In 1980, Mount St. Helens, which sits along the Cascade Range in Washington State, erupted like a nuclear bomb and blew fully grown trees to the ground for hundreds of yards in all directions. It was so powerful that it recorded a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 5, the most significant in the contiguous 48 states. It hurled bombs and ash into the air that tormented surrounding states and Canada for months after.
But when Mt. Pinatubo went of in 1991, it recorded a VEI of 6. It also coincided with a massive tropical storm that happened to have been battering the coast at the time. When they met, the water from the heavens created a surge of mud that buried a handful of villages in the mudflow’s wake. A dozen people died and cleanup and recover took months. It erupted again two years later.
I didn’t know if I was going to take the longer, more strenuous two-day hike with an overnight, sweating to the temperature-cued crickets choir or if I was going to try and shoot straight through in one day. But I knew that I was headed for the world’s most recent VEI-6 explosion and currently active volcano, Mount Pinatubo.
But, as is the case in many other times of seeking out the location of desire, the adventure, I was planning, would be in the voyage.
Below is a video of the first part of the trip (be sure to subscribe to my channel). It covers much more than this journal. But since I’ve already made the video, I might as well put part one of the six-part series in here to add some reference:
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