Romblon Baktas Mountaineers Anniversary Climb at Mt. Payaopao

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Every time we (my family) do road tripping around the island and every time we passed by at the Municipality of San Agustin I always felt amazing looking at Mt. Payaopao from a distance. The mountain looks so majestic to me, it was surrounded by water and a community on one side. It was my dream to reach the summit one day and see things below, so when I saw a newly establish mountaineering group in Facebook conquering Mt. Payaopao, I immediately joined them.

[Taken a few years ago during our family road trip]

Romblon Baktas Mountaineer planned a revenge climb to Mt. Payaopao since a lot of new members wasn’t able to climb the summit, but due to bad circumstances (bad weather) I wasn’t able to go with them, we are told it was really slippery when they climb due to frequent raining days before the scheduled climb.

On the group first anniversary, another climb was made to Mt. Payaopao (April 15, 2018), since the group was created during their first climb at the said mountain, this time no matter what, I did sure I can climb with them.  Since the municipality of San Agustin is about two hours drive from our town and my family doesn’t want to wait very long for me in the town, they asked my younger cousins (second cousin and a cousin in-law) to be my driver and go hiking with me, which they did.

Mt. Payaopao (also known as Tablas Summit on old maps) at the northeastern extremity of the island, is the highest peak on the island at 2,182 feet (665 m) high and the second highest in the province (after Mount Guiting-Guiting).

Just like before, we all assembled in town and just like before it was Filipino time, we all agreed to meet at 4:30 in the morning, but as expected most of the joiners came late, imagine how long we waited in town. Anyway, my mother and sister went with us at the jump-off and they left when we started walking to the trail. Unlike any other mountains we have climbed, we started climbing through concrete steps which I think almost 200 of them, I lost count eh.

Climbing Mt. Payaopao is harder than our last climb, it was all going up, flat plains were not a normal occurrence. I felt so tired within minutes, especially I am carrying a heavy backpack, my cousins wanted to carry my bag, but I declined to their offer, well that’s me I seldom asked for help. I will do things on my own until I can do it.  My hiking buddy Anna wasn’t able to go because her mother didn’t allow her,  she sounds sick as well when we called her on her phone.

The trail wasn’t that bushy, it has been just  slippery when you are nearing the summit maybe because of the fog during early morning, it was a good thing there are ropes that serves as a guide or help when going up. We reached the summit after two hours and 30 minutes, the summit wasn’t that spacious for many of us. We rested for a bit, ate some snacks, take photos and chit chatting, and then as expected, we introduced each other again and saying the reason why we climb, this is for the benefit of the new joiners.

We’ve been resting for a bit when I can’t find my younger cousins, I have asked someone and I was told they were at the other end so I went looking for them and that’s where I found that they are looking in a mesmerizing scenery. It was very beautiful, so astonishing, I think other hears me exclaiming or they got curious what to see at the other end, they follow and that’s where we took so long taking photos of each other. It turns out, it was the firs time they saw the view even it was their second or third time at the summit, because it was just this time that there was a clearing and the guides clean the bushes in the summit.

We spend a lot of time, waiting for a clearing because we can’t see the view when clouds are on the way. Our group president already called us many times to go down, because the first group whom wasn’t able to see the view we saw already descended to the guide’s house.

We hurriedly went down the peak it is past lunch already, the first group who descended might get bored waiting for us and eat lunch ahead of us. Adrenaline rush, everyone is rushing especially one of the guide which is left to us, a young boy who threw himself between the trees like a monkey.  It took us one hour to reach the guide house, it was planned to have a boodle fight, but it was quite hot to eat in an open space, we ate in groups and afterwards have a customary group photo with the anniversary cake, which others have fun wiping the icing to each other.

Within minutes we reached the jump-off, where we found a few of us got lost and wasn’t able to reach the guide’s house so they have been starved waiting for us to descend, and since we are the first one to descend we waited for a bit to the others and since it is getting late in the afternoon and we still need to travel back to Odiongan a few of us left already after asking permission and bidding goodbye to others.

And before we went out the national road I have asked my cousins to go to the port to have a photo of Mt. Payaopao in a distance just like how the first photo above was taken. I am surprised to see that the port was already improved after which, we decided to take another route, round Tablas passing other municipalities going home.

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