Mt. Makiling: photo adventure to the top of a magical mountain

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Mount Makiling is one of the relatively closer mountains from the city and is only an hour away from me. It is a dormant volcano that is now home to a diverse species of plants and animals. It’s been a long time since I’ve climbed it and doing it solo is really quite an adventure. This mountain is also famous for folklore about the name and how it got its name. As well as a LOT of ghost stories! I didn’t encounter any of those while I was there but it was definitely a beautiful place and everywhere you look is a sight to behold.

I had a few goals with this trip mostly to shoot photos that I had sketched and also come up with photos for the Lets get creative weekly challenge. I had the whole day of creating so I visited all the features of the mountain.

The first location that I went to was called the flat rocks, I knew that there would be water there so I wanted to shoot a concept that I had been wanting to do for months now but needed a body of water in a natural setting.

The concept I had in mind for this was a fallen angel that lost his wings and staying in water while the feathers float in the water and blood dripping from the remaining wings.

Story while taking the photo:

Skinny dipping early in the morning was really refreshing although I had to be aware if there were people coming and might think strange things while I was taking photos, haha. I was actually ALMOST caught naked taking photos because a couple of girls came to the area! But luckily for me I was already finished and was already putting on my pants when they came and where I was shooting from was a higher elevation from them so they might have seen NOTHING! I passed by them when I finished packing and went on like nothing happened.

Next destination for me was the popular Mud springs, it is what it is, Boiling mud, water and sulfur. I had a photo planned for this as well since I had a vague idea at how it would look like, I brought with me the props, namely the gas mask and goggles.

This photo was for the Concept collaboration March theme of “other worlds”.

Story on taking the photo:

This location is actually heavily fenced up like with barbed wires and everything, someone really didn’t want anyone going near there. So you might be thinking how the hell did I get in there. The fence was actually already broken into and the lower part of the wires were bent up like someone went through there so I used that to go in. I was being paranoid that there might be some CCTV and authorities might be watching me breaking in, haha, but there wasn’t any. So I changed into my character and used the props took a few frames and went out real fast because the smell of sulfur was really bad. I got out the same way I went in and again no one saw what I did. Today must be my lucky day I thought.

I left off from coming out of the mud spring fence. I didn’t leave the area just yet, near the mud springs there is actually a small stream of water and it seems that it’s dry this time of the season and you could actually see the path of the sulfur coming from the mud springs and the bottom of the water has an orange color to it.

I found the rocky landscape to be a very nice setting for a photo I have planned beforehand. Again, I was lucky enough to find such a nice place to take a photo in.(That’s my bag where I put everything in, I also use it as a focus point. lol)

Here’s an outtake, I change the poses a lot when I shoot and just choose the best one.

I changed to my plain shirt and did a few shots for my concept. Although it seems to be plain I had imagined a whole different scenario in my mind. I had to wait out for the light to be a little less harsh, again lucky that clouds pass by a few times.

I was thinking of a photo that would fit great for the theme of myth and I remembered the movie brave that used wisps in their movie as an inspiration for this one.

After I finished I quickly packed everything in my bag since I still had a long hike ahead of me. It was almost time for lunch and I brought with me peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches for the day and a few trail snacks. Although I don’t have a photo of them, they were really good especially after a whole morning of walking.

A side story when I was leaving the site, I ran into a group of Korean tourists coming down the trail who were probably going to look at the Mud springs(Good thing they didn’t arrive earlier or else they would have seen me in there). I had a sandwich in my mouth walking up the path and I was greeting them a hello in Korean which startled them since not a lot of Filipinos knew Korean.

Hiking up the mountain was just amazing and I kept on the lookout for locations to use for photos and while walking thinking of concept ideas.

Spotting enormous plants like these were a common thing here, like trees with unique forms and plants that grow strangely.

I sometimes get inspired by these plants to use into photos because of their strange nature.

As I continued on hiking I wanted to reach the top as soon as possible so I can get more shots when I come down and while doing that scouting for locations as well. For photographers, it is a constant thing for us to look for a location that would be perfect for our photos, I’m sure a lot of you could relate to this.

I ran into a couple of old guys that hiked to the top and were now going down. The trail also started to get damp and muddy and my knees were really taking a toll at high steps(I had to lift my right leg with my hand every time there’s a high step lol).

After almost an hour I have reached the peak and I just dropped everything I was carrying and just lied there staring at the clouds.

Unfortunately, the peak is surrounded by trees so the view is blocked by them. Here’s a shot from my phone at the peak:

After I took a break and ate some more sandwiches(I even saw a small leech crawling on my bag trying to get to me, I led him somewhere else no blood for you today little one.),

I prepared my things and went back to the tree that I saw going up, where it had a hole in it covered with moss! I immediately wanted to do a photo inside it and guess what NAKED AGAIN(it must be a habit idk) I was afraid that someone might come but then again I’m already at the peak the chances of that was slim considering it was already in the afternoon.

I gathered some of the excess moss growing on some branches and placed it on me, it was quite hard trying to balance them on my skin they kept falling off.

After this photo I hurried down from the peak because I didn’t want to walk in the dark.

I just kept moving and at some point I saw something at the side of my eyes and caught it on my hand and it was a leech coming down from my face!! I thought it was sucking blood from my finger since I could feel it but it actually wasn’t It already looks like it’s full tank and already had its fill with my blood and me not knowing.(This mountain is actually infamous for having these small needle-like leeches and they come in herds/swarm or whatever, but it was dry season when I went up so I didn’t encounter a lot).

After a few hours of walking, I reached the part where there was a store already I was able to buy more water. I had already drank all my water just almost halfway going down. There was even a point where I drank water coming down from the mountain!(there were bamboo pipes coming out of the ground that had water dripping from them, talk about desperate lol).

Just behind the store there were these flowers that bloomed(they could be seen everywhere on the mountain) so I had to take a photo with them.

After this, I continued to go down the path which was now more a road. While I was walking though a guy on motorcycle told me I could ride down with him. It was quite faster with the motorcycle and he didn’t even have to turn the motor on. We just rolled on down the hill until we reached the entrance of the trail.

And that concludes my adventure at this majestic mountain and after this I met up with a friend and I told her about what I did that day and she even treated me to some dinner!(Thanks Carmi! lol)