Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mt. Pinatubo Trek (Capas, Tarlac Trail)

Summer 2012.  (Updated April 2015) Ever since I was in high school, I had this craving of going to Mt. Pinatubo. It all started with its eruption in 1991 which brought about massive ash fall in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces. I was then a freshmen student in college and I still remember that it was a Sunday when the ash fall hit the Airbase in Pasay where we were scheduled to have our weekly drill for our cadet military training (CMT). The area was covered 2-3 inches of ash fall. Everything was covered with ash. I was amazed on the might of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. I wondered what it actually looked like…
It took me twenty-one years after to stop wondering when I actually went to one of the premiere ecotourism spots in the Philippines last summer 2012.

I just finished my Mindanao tour which lasted for ten days. Ten days of memorable adventures. Once you experience to travel, you just cannot get enough of it. You ask for more.
 I planned on going to Mt. Pinatubo. No ifs, no buts. My mind was all made up.
It was 4:00 am when I left Batangas and I arrived in Manila just before 6:00 am. I boarded the LRT bound to Doroteo Jose. Thereafter, I boarded the Genesis bus bound to Baguio. The route to Baguio passes Capas where the trail to Mt. Pinatubo leads.
Ride the  bus going to Dagupan or  Baguio. You can choose from the buses in Cubao namely: Victory Liner, Genesis or Dagupan Lines. Fare to Capas, Tarlc  is P170.Travel  time is 2 hours. Once  you reach Capas, alight at Mc Donalds. The tricycle going  to Sta. Juliana (jump-off point to Mt.Pinatubo) is situated  therein. Trike  rent is P300 for 3 pax or P100/pax in case you are 4 pax. Travel time is 40 - 50 minutes or  25 kilometers. Alight at the Tourism area in Sta.Juliana. 

Contact Persons (TOURISM OFFICE)
Ms. Edwina Santos - 0999-365-5069
Mr.Redem Dizon - 0919-430-5997

Better coordinate with the Tourism Office  before  going to Capas, Tarlac. If there is a typhoon or  heavy rains, there will  be  no trek. If there will be Balikatan or  joint military exercises, there is a cut-off time. Again, coordinate. 
Prior to this travel, I thought that the trail either starts from Zambales or Pangasinan. I was wrong.
Anyway, on with the journey to Capas which took me several hours that gave me enough respite to rejuvenate my energy. I reached Capas around 9:00 am. Not mindful of the time, I hired a tricycle ride to Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. Along the way, we passed the Capas Shrine. This was not part of the itinerary. But I decided to tour Capas Shrine. The tour which would I regret later on.

After the tour, we proceeded to the site. I paid PhP300.00 for the tricycle ride and it took me almost an hour to reach the site.  It was past ten in the morning. I inquired at the administration office and to my surprise, they told me that the tour for Mt. Pinatubo has a cut-off of 10:00 am and as a result, I did not make it on time!! I tried my best to convince them to allow me to go on with the tour. But it was a futile exercise. What made things worse is when they told me that I had to pay Php4,500.00 for the tour to Mt. Pinatubo since I had nobody to share it with.

Realizing that I am just making matters worse, I decided to go back to the town. Good thing the tricycle driver waited for me (The driver knew that I won’t make it on time!! He was in cahoots with them). So I paid Php150.00 for the ride back to the town. Imagine, spending Php450.00 for nothing! I realized that the Capas Shrine tour was a bit expensive!

So I spent the day in Capas, wandering around the town and I even went to the other towns of Tarlac. 

I also went to the Aquino Museum.

I stayed at Tres Marias Apartelle and paid PhP800.00. 

Contact Nos. - (045)-491-3467 / (045)-615-0317
Deluxe - P1,650.00
Triple Sharing - P1,250.00
Twin Sharing P950.00 (All with free breakfast) 
The following day, the same tricycle driver fetched me and we went to site and arrived 7:00 am. 

The tour package is now P1,500/person (or P1,650 with food) or P4,500 which included 4x4 rent, conservation fees, and the service of a local guide.

BEFORE there were allowed or  available like boating, massage, volcanic ash and mud pool which require separate payment.

The contact numbers for the tour packages are the following: Lydia – 09097591300; Ivy -09994539264; and Remy -09093695178. 
It is better to make the necessary inquiry and/or reservation before going to the site. There are reasons why they suspend or postponed the tour.
Anyway, I waited for half an hour and there were plenty of trekkers that day going to Mt. Pinatubo. Feeling uneasy, I decided to pay the entire PhP4,500.00 and decided to go on with the tour. 


NOW -  The amenities I mentioned  are no  longer available. The PDC is no longer  existing (2015).

ATV ride is  now available for P3,500.

Side  trips - Go to Tarukan (made famous by the movie Crazy Beautiful You), Tambo Lake  or Hotspring. 
The 4x4 ride going to the jump-off point took one hour. 

Along the way, we passed the joint military exercise of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Marines. We passed miles and miles of barren lands covered with white sand. But the view was spectacular! The terrain was rugged, sandy and mountainous.

The driver of the 4x4 told me that the road we were traversing was also the path of the lava flow when Mt. Pinatubo erupted.

The 4x4 ride was exciting even though it was my second time to experience it (the first time was in Paoay, Ilocos Norte). 

The terrain was totally different from Paoay, a lot better from Paoay since you have to pass boulders of rocks and several rivers just to reach the jump-off point.

After one hour of 4x4 ride, we reached the site and my guide told me that the trek to Mt. Pinatubo was good for almost two hours for amateurs. 

We started the trek.

The sun was scorching hot that day. Good thing I was prepared for the trek.

We reached the resting area and rested for fifteen minutes. Then, the ascent started. It took us 18 minutes before reaching the top. It was very slippery since you have to pass a long and winding river.

And we continued our trek... 

Finally, we reached the crater!

There were several tourists swimming on the lake (now, NOT ALLOWED) and enjoying their time. I took pictures of the area and wandered around.

After one hour, we decided to descent. It was past 11:00 am.

Going back was faster than I thought. We boarded the 4x4 and went back to the registration area.

It was past one pm when we reached the registration area. There was plenty of food (since it was good for 4 persons). 

I decided to drop by in  the Tourism office and then,I went home  to Batangas.



Others –


  1. Yap, nice place. Maybe because I grew up in one of the barrio of Capas near in camp o'donelle in 16 yrs. I left Capas when I was 17yo. So how google listed your blog in my search result, because I key in to google search about Life In Capas Tarlac. . . I grew up thre and why I still looking about life in capas. . Yap, maybe I still miss that place or maybe not but carefully examining myself the reason why I still searching life still exist in that place hehehehe. Well, definitely not the best place to live in the Phils, I just simply grew up there lah. Batangas maybe much better than Capas, you know. Anyway, as you mentioned, barren land. In my own opinion,school life is somewhat barren too. Growing up in Capas and exiting from high school life to college life then entering to working class then escaping from the Phils, took me a lot of life excursion abd hardwork. My analysis, bec I studied in one of the futile and poorly planned outlined academics which is in Dominican school of capas takla. From that school going to Manila school, surely you might experience and question yourself as I did on "why I didnt know that" question, why my college classmates have statitics subject, complete algebra/chemistry course and some calculus or etc when they were in high school. Why we were not taught of that and that and that, when I was in that high school. A lot of fucking academic gaps made by dominican sisters if compared to other schools. maybe because that high school is being managed by dominican nazi sisters. Hah thats why religion/ethics subject is paramount over the important ones. I dont regret having a life experience in capas, but definitely I should rather studied outside capas e.g. Angeles city.. Anyway, I think we are the same age, since I was also in 1st yr college when mount pinatubo devasted life in Luzon. Anyway, I now permanently live Auckland city working as Engineer and taking up masters degree. just reminiscing life Ive been thru back home beginning from my failures in capas which is partly or mostly influenced by poor performance of dominincan school. . Trekking in NZ is better than in Capas. Wriiten 5am 26th sept 2015

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