The last time I was in Batulao was during a clan team building retreat in 1979. Heading there at that time took a good 3 hours with generally rough and narrow dirt roads. Today the roads are concrete and a lot wider but traffic is terrible - which often is the case when progress runs it's course.
Upon reaching Sandari, Batulao, however, you are transported to a totally different world. Running the Sandari Batulao 21 km trail proved to be a very tough course; a combination of trail and mountain climbing with endless uphills, downhills and a couple of river crossings. Luckily, I somehow managed to keep my shoes dry with the help of my Trekking pole. Climbing to the summit was quite difficult and torturous with its steep slopes and portions of loose rocks. There were fixed hanging ropes that served as aides to propel oneself upwards but I still can't help but think that one wrong move could mean a 100-feet drop to the jagged rocks below. I couldn't resist taking several stops along the way just to take in the breathtaking view ( and also to catch a few breaths myself ) but once I reached the summit with it's fantastic 360 degree view, a sense of exhilaration came over me... notwithstanding the fact that I still had a lot more trail to cover before the finish.
It's the day after and I'm still walking around like a duck and my back and legs are creaking loudly but it was all worth it. The Sandari Batulao 21 km Trail Race is one of the best trail races I have run thus far and I would definitely want to have a chance to take on this trail again on a "non-race" mode and just explore the terrain at a leisurely pace, soaking up the scenery and having a joy-filled time just running, without being sidetracked by my watch telling me my pace or time.
I'm happy to have finally conquered Mt. BATULAO...next on my bucket list...PINATUBO
I'd like to give special mention to my good friend, Jackie G., who was kind enough to serve as my unofficial photographer. Thanks Jackie for all the great shots you took!
Jackie G. Thank you for all the wonderful photos.
Celso and Jai
10 mins before Gun start " parang akong saling pusa " on the left side
Friend " Rhett "