Monday, February 26, 2007

Hilltop Day Drive
2nd of January, 2007

Angat Water Reserve, Norzagaray, Bulacan

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, Philippines
Composition: Skeletal Notes
Previous Post: New Year's Eve to the New Years

I was using up the last of the firecrackers we had left over from New Year's on a makeshift cannon when, Marco approached me and said, "Punta tayong Hilltop!" ("Let's go to Hilltop!")


The name given by riders, hikers, and other people aware of its existence. Located in the highlands of eastern Bulacan. It is the one twisty road that's closest to my hometown. A place that my Dad used to ride during his motorcycling days. He also brought me here around 12 years ago to show me Angat Water Reserve's, Ipo Dam, and also the foothills of the Sierra Madre Range.

We used Marco's 2LT (2.4L Toyota Turbo Diesel inline four) powered Mini Cruiser - assembled using the pukpok (panel beating) method and brush painted red oxide; this is Pinoy simplicity in engineering at its best. While it had more than enough power to handle the steep ascent and enough nimbleness to take on the twisties, the Mini did have teething problems with its cooling system - teething problems are very common among hand-built grassroots motor vehicles. we neared the view to Ipo Dam, we stopped to admire a roadside water supply - mountain spring water piped by hollowed out bamboo. As I washed my face, hands and feet, we noticed something totally different about the place. Aside from the magnificent sorroundings of the watershed's untouched forest, it was the combined effects of an absence of traffic noise and the air's certain crisp freshness that lent a really "away from civilization" feel to where we were standing.

We proceeded to the bridge in Barangay San Lorenzo. I found it to be so high up, I actually feared its height a bit - and I don't often think about heights. down to the mountain spring fed river, we found it to be clean and free of pollutants. The people who own the land by the riverbank had created picnic areas with sheds and tables and benches you can rent for the day for a minimal fee. Nearby, a family is swimming with their Yellow Labrador.

That same river, by the time it has reached near our Grandfather's property, is polluted with urban and agricultural runoff.

Yet we were only 45 minutes away from crowded and congested Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

And about 10 minutes away from Norzagaray's marble quarrying.

After soaking in our sorroundings we took the obligatory tourist shots.

On the way back we saw an inconspicuous sign that declared "Pinagrealan Cave".

"Cave?" we both wondered, "surely they jest?"

Resorts, subdivisions, and memorial gardens with names too fancy for their own good exist all over the Philippines. We assumed this to be the case. Yet, we were drawn in by our curiousity. We had to check it out.

The road towards this "cave" was narrow, and again, nondescript. But this was indeed a cave. There was a drunken and shirtless caretaker who told us details about the cave. 2km deep? Gets more treacherous the deeper you go? Historical? drunk has got to be kidding, we thought.

But, our minds were made up, we have to see this cave.

We went in and found out that without any lighting at all, you could only get in to about a few meters in.

We decided that WE have to come back to this place.

Flickr Photoset.

Click Here for the Sequel!

Next Post: A Snake!


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