Years back when I was in grade 2, I cheated on an assignment. Well, I didn’t exactly cheat on purpose but I didn’t have any choice. Assigned to get a picture of Tirad Pass by our teacher, I was so saddened by the fact that this historic landmark had no postcards for sale at various bookstores. As a solution to it, I bought a photo of San Juanico Bridge. Idiotic! right? Shamed and worn out, I sat beside my classmates as my homework was being scorned by my teacher.
Alas! finally, I have reaped a self-redemption of sorts as we engaged and climbed the famous last stand of a young general. But of course, I promised myself to get clear and beautiful photos of the place...then wait for the invention of time machine, rewind back to that particular time so I can slap these photos right on my teacher’s face and say. “THIS IS TIRAD PASS!!!”
Our sojourn started at the somewhat nostalgic town of Candon. While distributing our stuff, I started lambasting my teacher by telling the story of the unfortunate day I was embarrassed. We hopped inside our rented jeepney taking some time to stretch our aching bodies.
The view of the path to the town was mesmerizing. Like the assignments my other classmate had, it was spectacular: the unfair thing though, was that their spots were common with examples like Mayon, Banawe Rice Terraces. etc. etc.
Tirad Pass was not as popular and as easy to find as the others but my teacher still assigned it to me. I told and retold the story of this infamous traumatizing moment of my childhood as we were close to the jump-off. In a matter of 2 hours, we were standing exactly at the start of the trek.
The trail to the campsite was easy. With no underestimation, I think it could be done by a first time climber. The path was almost flat, ascending only at the edges of the zigzagged trail. As we started to close the bronze statue of Goryo, a feeling of redemption was starting to fill my body. With every step we took the view started to peek slowly.
It took us an hour and half but with will and perseverance, I finally saw the place that made me hate assignments for the rest of my life. It was one of the reasons I had to pass high school and college with 0 scores in home works. At long last, I was able to capture the very important photo of the place where the General died. With ultimate pride, I set my foot on the trail of Tirad Pass and of course, took photos of it for evidence.
|Gregorio del Pilar Shrine|
|friends goofing around|
We were there at an early time of 11:00 AM. The main goal was to touch its highest peak the morning after. Having huge amount of rest time was a welcome respite to our bodies that would supposedly be battered the next morning. As for me? I was just there sleeping in my hammock, thinking of ways to invent time traveling.
My other mates went and explored the land while I was off swinging in my dreamland. It took about 3 hours of sleep but the rain I thought was a nightmare, was in all intents and purposes, real. So I hid inside our tarp for a good hour waiting for the downpour to stop.
Well it didn’t halt. As the rain kept on punishing our slightly battered bodies, we decided to cook dinner at an early time of 5:30 PM. It was fun and all in all a good experience. The wind made the rain almost horizontal, boggling my mind as to how did this storm suddenly start after trekking on such blue skies early that morning. However, it didn’t hinder our hungry stomachs from cooking the best meal we could ever do on a mountain. With confidence on our chef skills, we pushed through the preparation.
The socials night was weird. To summarize the things that happened: Agnes burned her supposedly waterproof boots. Unfortunately for her, there was no telling whether the flames got to the insides of the mesh. Thankfully, it was still wearable. After this brief altercation with our firewood, we surrendered to a complete slumber at a late time of 11:30 PM.
4:30 AM was our wake up call for the summit assault. I, being the earliest of the birds, woke all my group mates and prepared our breakfast. We said our prayers, prepared our trek poles and after an hour of waiting, we finally started the assault.
I had no fond memories of the first 2 hour-duration of this climb but after scaling the outset of the cliffs, it suddenly became terrifying. The scree was not that technical however, the trail was just mere inches from sure-death-if-you-fall cliff. Being one of the first persons to reach the rock faces, I put on a brave face and started to scale the jagged peak.
Little by little, the pointed land was starting to appear near until all of a sudden, I was already on top. It was easy yet, nerve wrecking. It was just like rock face at the last part of Mt. Batulao but the view of the never ending precipice was poison enough to make my mind sick. I thought, at least the worst was over, NOT!!!.
As Agnes and I had our photos taken on top of the small summit, the feeling of uneasiness started to engulf my chest. We started to down climb the steep scree and lo and behold, it was much tougher for a person with acrophobia.
“Damn!” I said to myself. “Don’t look down”, I followed. I really tried my best not to be intimidated by the view but the problem with this was I have to look down so I could see the next foothold. Oh pity the climber with fear of heights! Oh pity me!
I inched my way to the flat part of the rock face and thankfully went back in one piece. We still had to wait for a good one hour for our other team members to go up. It was a small summit that could only occupy a maximum of 5 persons making it hard for everyone to go up all at the same time.
While the others were still scaling the peak, Agnes, I and other group members decided to go back and break camp. It was once again an unremarkable down climb to the campsite, but at least I was going down still the same complete person I was back then. I was happy even though I didn’t overcome my fear because I was able to challenge it and take it to the limit.
We went back to the jump-off in a brief 1 hour and a half down climb from the infamous Tirad Pass. We tidied up, said our prayers and went our separate ways.
At least I forgot about the “homework incident”. The mountain made me move on from this sort of traumatizing event in my life. Because of the steep rock face, I completely forgot the past connection between Tirad Pass and me. However, if the time comes that I will be able to go back to the year 1995. I’ll just tell my younger self “Continue not doing home works! You’ll still be awesome in the future without it”
22:00 - meet up at Florida Bus Lines Earnshaw
23:00 - departure from Manila
05:00 - arrival at Candon, breakfast, buy goods
07:00 - departure from Candon to GDP proper
08:45 - arrival at GDP baranggay hall, register
09:00 - departure from GDP to Tirad Pass jump off
10:00 - arrival at jump-off, start trek
10:45 - arrival at nipa hut resting place, rest
11:00 - continue trek
11:10 - arrival at GDP cave
11:55 - arrival at Tirad Pass shrine, set up camp
12:00 - lunch, explore place
17:30 - prepare dinner
18:30 - dinner, socials
23:00 - lights out
04:00 - wake up call, prepare breakfast
04:30 - breakfast
05:00 - start trek
07:40 - arrival Tirad Peak Base, wait for others
08:00 - arrival at Tirad Peak
10:00 - continue trek back to Tirad Pass shrine
11:30 - back at campsite, breakcamp, prepare lunch
13:00 - lunch, wait for the others
15:00 - trek back down to jump off
16:30 - back at jump-off, tidy up
17:00 - ride jeepney back to Candon
18:00 - back at Candon through shortcut
19:00 - dinner
21:00 - departure from Candon to Manila
*will be back at Manila 03:00 the next day
How to get to Tirad Peak
Take a Candon Bound Bus at Cubao, Pasay or Sampaloc Bus Stations. From Candon, you can rent a jeepney to Gregorio del Pilar.
You can contact 09351863557 for jeepney arrangements going to the jump off.
You can contact 09351863557 for jeepney arrangements going to the jump off.
*Thanks to Bryan, Ron and Jeth for accompanying us during this hike.
*Thanks to the group of Sir Arnel Vidad and Co. for being with us in this climb.