Wall climbing and rock climbing are exciting, adrenaline-pumping activities that are, sadly, just faint blips in Philippine sports. In fact, there are only a handful of artificial walls in the country much less outdoor crags and bouldering areas. There is almost no government support in promoting the sport or developing climbing areas, and even the private sector gives wall climbing and rock climbing a cursory glance.
Yet, out of the efforts of the Philippines’ small but dedicated climbing community, we have produced professional, world-class climbers who have became medalists and champions in prestigious international climbing competitions—champions that brought honor and pride to our nation. And many of these climbers started off in humble climbing gyms like Power Up Center for Climbing and Fitness in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, one of the first climbing facilities in the country.
First LRT Ride
After spending two hours in the Museo Pambata, we went straight to the Manila LRT (Light Rail Transit) station at United Nations Avenue to catch a ride. Sweetie, Alexa, and I were quite giddy with excitement during this particular episode of our adventure. You see, we’ve never rode a fast, modern rail system in our lives, and we’d like to experience how it is like to be whisked away at a constant 60 kilometers per hour.
Here comes the train! An LRT system (or any modern mass transportation system) in Cebu City would definitely be very useful in decongesting the traffic in our main thoroughfares. It can also carry more passengers than dilapidated jeepneys and can transport them over long distances within a short amount of time. Finally, considering it runs on electricity, an LRT has less carbon footprint than fleets of jeepneys.
Cebu deserves to have an LRT, or a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit, a mass transportation system that utilizes buses instead of trains. The buses drive along a dedicated lane). But our country’s ugly politics, particularly the rift between the national government and the local government unit, creates an almost unsolvable barrier to implementing such a system.
Ah, so this is what’s inside an LRT car. It is clean, air-conditioned and comfortable. After experiencing the comfort, safety and efficiency of time on riding the LRT, we became more convinced that jeepneys, especially those that are driven by maniacal drivers, should be totally banned from traveling along main thoroughfares.
The LRT has enough room for hundreds of passengers at any one time. With all cars running, the LRT can transport around 470,000 to 600,000 people in a day!
Power Up Center for Climbing and Fitness Tandang Sora
In just 15 minutes, we disembarked at the Baclaran station and stopped by the Baclaran market to purchase some cheap clothes. Then we rode a bus at the market’s bus terminal to Tandang Sora, Quezon City. After an almost two-hour ride (yes, Manila’s traffic is that horrendous), we reached Tandang Sora where we had a simple but sumptuous lunch. After lunch, we set off to find the climbing gym.
Well, it wasn’t difficult to find it all. Power Up Tandang Sora Climbing Gym was just a five-minute walk away from where we had lunch.
Before anything else, we sincerely apologize for some of the blurry photos. We were in action as the photos were taken, and the interior of the gym was a bit dim.
Unfortunately, we arrived at the gym a full hour before opening time. We tried to ask the attendant if we could climb by ourselves. Anyway, a top rope system was already set up, and we know how to belay each other. Nope, we need to wait for the instructor who will arrive in an hour.
Thus, we took the time to check out the gym. That’s the counter and office, which offers personnel an encompassing view of the entire gym. A couple of shelves are placed nearby where climbers can put their shoes, bags, and other personal belongings.
Lockers are available for rent at a minimal price. If you want to climb here every day, then it’s best to get a locker so you won’t have to haul your climbing gear when you go home after every training session.
This banner says it all. Climbers may have different genders, ages, professions, nationalities, beliefs, cultures, etc. But in a climbing gym, all of them are eyeing on one goal: to reach the anchor.
Although done in a controlled environment, indoor climbing can be dangerous. Indeed, a momentary lapse of concentration can injure someone. Thus, be sure to take into heart the standard climbing safety procedures and climbing commands.
Also, check out for banners that announce special events that you may be interested in joining.
Another safety technique that you need to master as a climber is spotting. Proper spotting prevents a climber from incurring injuries if he or she falls at start or a couple of feet up a route or problem (the term used to denote a “route” when bouldering).
One of the nicest things about Power Up in Tandang Sora is that they have an assortment of training equipment designed to improve climbing performance. For example, they have a campus board (the inclined wooden panel with slats), which is used to develop upper body strength. They also have a training board to improve finger strength.
Not shown in the photo below are a couple of barbells, dumbbells, a lat machine, and other weight-training equipment.
These cute kids were cleaning the gym mats when we arrived. Upon seeing us change into our climbing attire, they immediately beamed and headed to the main climbing wall to show their skills. And when we tell you that they have skills, we’re talking about really good climbing skills!
These children, we learned, have joined and won several climbing competitions! In fact, they’re way better than we are! Wow!
It’s really great to see children exhibiting a passion and showing great interest in sports. Engaging in an active lifestyle helps them keep and maintain a healthy body and mind. It develops confidence, willpower, and strategic thinking at an early age. Joining a sport teaches them the value of honor, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
Power Up has a really nice bouldering area with steep overhangs and a cave. It occupies one quadrant of the facility, which means, that’s one big bouldering area! Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that involves climbing a boulder or wall without using safety equipment such as a rope or harness. The problems are usually less than 20 feet. To prevent injury, bouldering mats are used to soften a climber’s fall.
Since we still had half an hour to spare, we warmed up on some of the problems.
Go, Sweetie! The photo below gives you an idea of how the bouldering wall is inclined.
Sweetie enjoyed the warm up. We do hope that our own climbing wall in Cebu will have its own bouldering section someday.
While Sweetie rested, I tried out the cave section of the bouldering wall. It was still quite slippery since the children cleaned off the holds.
Working on this steep roof is an excellent way to develop techniques in climbing steep overhangs and roofs.
Seeing I had fun on this particular section of the bouldering wall, Sweetie got envious. Hehe! She stood from her seat and tried out the cave.
After we had our fill of bouldering, we stretched our muscles by traversing the walls of the main climbing area.
I practiced a few moves that I’ve seen in YouTube and other online resources to develop more efficient climbing techniques that can save strength and energy.
While traversing the walls, it was very evident that the walls were diligently maintained. Not one hold was loose or rotated in its axis. All holds were firmly affixed and comfortable to grip.
The instructors and a few regular climbers started arriving around 2PM. Most of the people in the Philippine climbing community are friendly, so you don’t have to be intimidated in approaching them. In fact, they warmly welcome anyone who shows interest in rock/wall climbing since the climbing community in the country is very small and tight-knit.
Here’s a nice view of the gym’s walls. The entire climbing wall is divided into 8 top rope lines of varying grades. There is also a single 40-foot wall with a roof for lead climbing.
Climbing time! It’s time to check out the walls. I warmed up on an easy, slightly inclined roof to loosen up my muscles. I totally enjoyed the climb.
Sweetie warmed up on face-type of wall. As she climbed, I saw that her climbing technique has really improved a lot.
After a short rest, I was ready to climb another wall. This time, however, I chose to follow a designated route. What do I mean? Well, do you notice the colored tapes under the holds? In attempting a certain route, I had to use only the handholds and footholds that are marked by a designated tape color, in this case, white. The climb is not legal if you grip or step on any handhold or foothold that is not designated with the white tape. It’s a lot harder than you think.
After I successfully sent the route, Sweetie thought about trying the same challenge on another route. The hold with the white square is the designated starting handhold or foothold. Check out the handholds and footholds she’s stepping on; all are designated with a white tape.
Sweetie was able to successfully finish the route without takes (resting on the rope), but she said she had to pause a couple of times to scan the designated holds.
Above Power Up’s office is a platform that serves as a rest area and storage space. It overlooks the main climbing area and is a perfect vantage point for taking photos.
“Come on! You can do it! Just a little bit more!” Fellow climbers and friends use these words to encourage this lady to give it her all to get past through a roof. This is one reason why we love climbing. Everyone encourages, cheers, and prods everyone to do their best to accomplish a goal. That is why there’s always a positive atmosphere in a climbing area.
Then it was my turn to climb a roof. Let’s see if we can do this without falling, taking, or resting.
Heave ho! Grunt! Grunt! Yes, I made it. By constantly practicing in a climbing gym, a climber discovers and develops innovative techniques to overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Climbing constantly improves his strength and enhances his reasoning, strategy-development, and problem-solving skills. It helps you regain your self-confidence and self-esteem.
In other words, climbing helps make you a better person.
We wanted to stay for a few more hours, but we had to catch a ride back to Roxas Boulevard so we can see the famous Musical Fountain Show in Manila Ocean Park. Thus, feeling a little bit sad after climbing for only an hour and a half, we did a final cool-down climb.
Check the photo below; it clearly shows the degree of steepness and the roof of a couple of routes. Now, you may say, “I can’t climb that! That’s too steep!” Believe us, you can! Yes, you may need a bit of coaching and strength training, but it’s the willpower and the belief that you can do it that can make you succeed.
Thank you Tom Sales, our assigned belayer Allan Cruz, new climbing friends, and the rest of the staff of Power Up Tandang Sora for letting us climb your walls. We are definitely honored to visit the birthplace of the Filipino luminaries of rock/wall climbing. We will surely be back for more climbing fun; you can count on that.
1. Get in touch with Power Up Center for Climbing and Fitness in Tandang Sora using the following contact details:
- Street Address: 690 Old Balara, Tandang Sora, Quezon City
- Phone Number: (632) 932-7273
- Facebook page: Power Up Climbing
2. There are several ways to go to Power Up Tandang Sora from Manila proper:
- Option 1: Take the LRT and disembark at the Baclaran Market. Walk through the market until you reach the Balaran Terminal. From there, take a bus going to Quezon City. Disembark at Commonwealth Avenue corner Tandang Sora.
- Option 2: Take a bus to Fairview from the MRT Cubao Station (Farmer’s Plaza) or from Edsa corner Quirino Avenue. Disembark at Commowealth Avenue corner Tandang Sora.
Your landmarks are the KFC outlet and the pedestrian overpass there. Walk around 50 meters to the first street corner, which leads uphill. You will see the Power Up Gym sign just outside the climbing center.
3. Power Up Tandang Sora is open on the following hours and days:
- Monday to Friday – 2PM to 10PM
- Saturday and Sunday – 12PM to 8PM
4. Power Up Tandang Sora has the following facilities:
- a large climbing area divided into 8 top rope lines
- one 40-foot line for lead climbing
- bouldering area with cave
- changing room
- bike parking inside the facility
- limited parking space outside
5. Check out the established climb rates in Power Up Tandang Sora according to their flyer. Rates are subject to change without prior notice, so it’s better to contact the gym beforehand for updates:
- Walk-In Adult – Php 150 (all day climbing)
- Walk-In High-School Students and children – Php 120 (all day climbing)
- Walk-In Bouldering – Php 120 (all day bouldering)
- 2 week membership – Php 600 (climb any time you want)
- 1 month membership – Php 1,300 (climb any time you want)
- 2 months membership plus 1 month free – Php P2,600 (climb any time you want)
- Personalized Training – Php 2,400 (scheduled)
- Climbing shoes – Php 40 per pair
- Harness – Php 40 per piece
- Belayer – Php 100 per 30 minutes
6. If you have your own climbing partner with you, ask the staff if you can waive the belayer service. When we got there, we were told that getting THEIR belayer is mandatory despite explaining to them that Sweetie and I are climbing partners and we’ve been climbing for years.
7. You can step outside for refreshments. There are bakeries, sari-sari stores, restaurants, and other establishments outside the gym.
8. Don’t get intimidated by the climbers there. All of them are really friendly once you get to know them. Remember that no matter how strong and skillful they are, they have also started somewhere.
9. Pack light but do bring the following:
- personal climbing equipment if you have your own (climbing shoes, chalk bag, harness)
- climbing attire (comfy shorts, dry-fit shirt, tank top, or sports bra for ladies)
- extra clothes (trust us, you’ll get really sweaty)
- face towel
- water, juice, or energy drink (at least 1 liter)