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The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.
Climbing in the Philippines will force you to love limestone. Our crags offer a range of limestone typessome young and soft, others old and bullet-hard; some sharp and skin-biting, others smooth and slimy.
To sample the variety, Dingles Nautod Wall (Iloilo) has inconspicuous angles that result in unidentifiable shadows, making it easy for the newcomers eye to pass off slopers for jugs. Cantabaco (Cebu) is fun for on-sighting with smooth pockets and large cracks pasted over a clean, highway-like surface.
Both sets of limestone features can be found in Montalban (Antipolo), apart from the common stalactites, tufas and flowstones that require good pinchers, sticky shoes, and relaxed, lay-backing technique.
These rock faces are set in different scenes. Palawan has 200-foot cliffs at the edge of white sand beaches; Atimonans views are that of luscious mountain ranges; while the boulders of Bulacan and Lamtang run alongside streams and rivers.
In all climbing areas, being located in small, less-urbanized (or completely rural) towns, the feel is laid-back; travelling from point A to B an escapade; food and lodging is cheap; beer is good; and the people, though shy, are friendly and accommodating. And the local climbers are sure to show you a memorable time!
The Philippines also has a tons of outdoor activities. If you are interested in hiking peaks, check out this site: pinoymountaineer.com/
If you want to discover beaches, diving, surfing, kitebaording, etc., check out this e-zine: mydigimag.rrd.com/publicati…
When travelling across island groups and provinces, you can either take a plane, boat or bus.
Flying is the most straightforward method both in booking tickets and the actual travel. Local airlines budget rates can also get incredibly cheap if you book early enough or catch a promo.
Philippine Airlines The countrys flagship airline, and offers both regular and budget rates.
Cebu Pacific Air Budget airline that services local and international flights. A bit notorious for flight delays and overbooking. But still the most popular airline for great deals throughout the year.
Zest Airways Another budget airline with the cheapest deals, and you know theres a catch for being the cheapest. Dont say you werent warned.
A boat ticket is less expensive than regular airfare. This is recommended if you have time to spare. Braving the ports, watching the sea and the sky, and chatting with unique characters is an experience encountered by a few.
Superferry Online booking available.
The last option is through the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This works by land vehicles that roll-on and roll-off (RORO) a barge to cross bodies of water. You can do this through the comfort of your own car, or take a bus that travels through the SNRH.
However, there is no agency that issues RORO bus tickets across all destinations. You will need to contact the exact bus company that caters to your desired travel points. If you are able to do so, a unique journey is in store for you.
Within the city, you can get from point A to B by riding buses, mini-buses (or FX to locals), jeepneys, taxis or tricycles.
For more notes and anecdotes on Philippine transportation, check out the Wikipedia page on it. This is a fun read, too
Climbing gets really challenging due to the heat and humidity. Tolerable if youre used to the tropical climate, otherwise, be ready for a heatstroke. Climbing is recommended to be limited to early mornings and late afternoons. Constant hydration is a must.
Rainy Season: June to October
As the Philippines is sitting on the typhoon belt, when it rains, it pours. Often. Only way to avoid frustration is by tuning into weather reports. Apart from knowing if water flows onto certain walls when raining, also important to be familiar with access to the crag as dirt roads and trails can get really muddy/slippery.
Cool & Dry Season: November to February
The best time to climb in the Philippinesafter the rainy season and before the hot summer begins. Trails are dry so access is safe and easy. Walls stay dry so there will be plenty of routes to choose from. Climbing under the noontime sun is becomes bearable.
Sad to say, global warming has taken its toll on Philippine weather. Nowadays we have long periods of dryness during the supposed-rainy season and typhoons dropping by in the supposed-dry seasons. Therefore, we advise to check the weather report before hitting the road to the crag.
Earliest records of rock climbing in the Philippines can be traced to the 1980s. Following its international roots, it began as a component of mountaineering, an incidental activity as mountaineers attempted more challenging climbs and terrains.
The University of the Philippines Mountaineers (UPM) is known as the pioneer of rock climbing in the country. The group developed a UPM Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) based on Alan Blackshaws 1966 handbook, which eventually became their manual for ascending the Matutunggil rock at Anilao, Batangas.
As described in the UPM history, the groups first rock climbing team used car engine parts and polyeurethane ropes as their makeshift gear. And along with other members of the Mountaineering Association of the Philippines (MAP, now defunct), they started establishing rock climbing routes at the municipality of Rodriguez, Rizal (formerly known as Montalban).
In the province of Cebu, spelunkers and mountaineers were also exploring the caves and cliffs of Barangay Cantabaco, Toledo City. Following the natural progression towards advanced forms of mountaineering, Cebus first generation of rock climbers were born, and established the first routes (all traditional style climbs) in Cantabaco. It was the early 90s.
From mountains to walls
It was in 1993 when artificial climbing walls were first built in the Philippines.
In Metro Manila, members of UPM bolted hand-made foot holds and hand holds onto the surface of the 70-foot high university library. At around the same time, a group of mountaineers from the Habagat Outdoor Shop in Cebu City built a wall out of plywood sheets attached to the shops factory.
Being outdoors, however, made the use of both facilities dependent on good weather. And for the UP Main Library wall, no time was wasted by the university administration in closing the facility due to security and safety issues.
Not letting the momentum subside, the countrys first commercial indoor climbing facility was opened one year after the UP Walls closure. Power Up Center for Climbing and Fitness was setup in Quezon City, just a stones throw away from the university.
The gyms opening was a turning point in Philippine sport climbing history. Being indoors and in a more controlled environment, Power Up was able to make climbing accessible to the general public. Curious and eager Filipinos had a ready place to try climbing for the first time. For the more-familiar mountaineers, the variety of wall angles was a new playground to explore.
Climbing facilities mushroomed throughout the country to accommodate the growing community. And with the establishment of many gyms in schools, malls, and commercial establishments there came the need for a national group to oversee the sports development and keep safety standards in check.
The Sport Climbing Association of the Philippines, Inc. (SCAPI) was formed in September of 1998, linking climbing communities across the Philippine islands.
Competition climbing kicks in
It was the natural progression of having so many climbers around. Climbers were getting stronger and needed a venue to test their skills.
While individual gyms held competitions for their members, SCAPI organized national-scale events that let climbers from different regions meet and compete. The Philippine National Sport Climbing Circuit was then launched, and has since staged competitions in over ten provinces across the country.
The Nationals became an anticipated annual event. Climbers were exposed to more fellow climbers, spurring friendly competition. Concepts of seasonal work-outs and climbing-specific training techniques were researched and introduced.
With the growing popularity of extreme sports internationally (the first X Games was held 1996), media also easily caught on the climbing craze. This paved the way for sponsors to clamor for climbing events.
National competitions were held at prime locations such as the Glorietta Activity Center, Makati City and The Fort, Taguig City, where passers-by stopped and gathered to watch events unfold. To accommodate the growing number of competitors, SCAPI started organizing events for Open, Collegiate and Junior categories.
At the height of the National competition scene, there was an estimated three hundred active climbers. They joined regional legs and fun competitions, and vied for a place in the National Team.
Those who became part of the National Team went on to join international competitions such as the Singapore Rock On, UIAA-IFC World Cups, and the Asian X Games.
Return to the great outdoors
The hype of climbing could only last for so long. New sports and fitness regimens emerged, and climbers felt the weakening support from sponsors and media. There was less funding for climbing events, dampening the spirit of competitors.
But as the competition scene slowed down, Pinoys found a way to satisfy their climbing hunger.
2003 marked the birth of rock trips in the Philippines. Adapted from the Petzl concept of bringing together the worlds best climbers in a competition on natural rock, the local version gathered climbers from all over the country for a 3-5 day rock climbing marathon.
Climbfest 2003 was held at Dingle, Iloilo attended by 15-20 climbers from Manila and provinces of Bacolod, Cebu and of course, Iloilo. The pioneering event saw the establishment the countrys hardest lines (at that time) and an introduction of the sport to the locals.
Through the course of 3 days, climbers were also seen slacklining, doing yoga poses by candlelight, jamming, and not to be missed, feasting on shellfish and ice cold beera luxury that only Dingle offers, and is famous for.
The climbfest proved to be a success. Not only in the obvious pushing of grades in a non-competitive setting, but also in building climbers camaraderie and strengthening ties with the local community.
Climbers found a new reason to gather at least once a year, one that did not depend on large financial support from corporate sponsors or the government. All that one had to do was to go out there and climb.
From the success of Climbfest 2003, more rock trips were organized year-after-year, each for the simple goal of bonding climbers across the islands as they try new lines, push each other on project routes, and party at night! And to raise some funds for bolting projects of course. Development of new areas continue to this day.
Classic Climbing Routes at Philippines
Days w Precip