Tuesday, December 12, 2017

HIKING DAW PO HINDI MOUNTAINEERING

What's the plural form of 'neck'?

Sobrang dami na po natin ngayon at unti-unting nag-eevolve ang terminology sa larangan ng pag- akyat ng bundok. Mukhang kailangan na ng panibagong Bundokipedia para sa mga bagong kataga na ginagamit ngayon ng karamihan.

Tampok sa post na ito ang pagbabago sa wika ng mga umaakyat hindi lang ang mga common mountaineering misnomers and misspellings kundi pati na rin ang mga bagong usbong na mga kataga at paggamit ng mga ito.

1. CLIMB / CLIMBING
Parang THUMB MARK lang yan. Huwag po bigkasin ang B

2. PACING po hindi PHASING

3. G2; D2. May ilang mga purista na ayaw makarinig nito. They insist it should be Guiting-Guiting and Dulang-Dulang. But these terms have gained some following. Umabot na rin to sa K2...H'wag nyo po ilipat sa Pakistan ang Kota Kinabalu. Teka baka may bundok na rin na K-12.

4. TREKKING....hindi po TRECKING at TREAKING

5. BACKPACK. Hindi ko pa personally naririnig to pero meron daw ilang nagsasabi ng BAGPACK instead of BACKPACK at ang sinisisi nila ay si Dora

6. ITINERARY po. Hindi ITIRENARY

7. TARAK RIDGE daw po. Hindi MT TARAK
Ang Batangan, Dalipey at Les-eng ay mga pangalan po ng sitio sa Brgy Tacadang. Hindi po yan MT DALIPEY, MT BATANGAN, MT LES-ENG at MT TACADANG. Baka gusto nyo isama na rin ang MT JUMP-OFF at MT EXIT para makumpleto lang ang 20-mountain EXPEDITION ninyo. 8. ASCENT/DESCENT po. Madalas pangngalan ang kailangan sa kontekstong pinaggagamitan natin ng ASCEND/DESCEND. (e.g. Ilang oras po ang ASCENT?...hindi ASCEND)

9. STEEP po hindi STIFF. Iba din po ang STEPPE. Ingat sa spelling

10. TRAVERSE. May mga naiirita sa expression na RevTrav. Ganito po paliwanag dyan. Sa philosophy of language this could be a case of 'direct reference theory' versus 'mediated reference theory' (itanong nyo na lang kay Wikipedia).

Ang pinagmulan nyan ay may mga nauna nang naging popular na traverse routes sa ilang mga bundok kagaya ng Mt Amuyao. The traditional traverse route is Barlig to Batad. Pero may mga gusto ng mas malupit na challenge kaya nagsimula sila sa Batad at lumabas sa Barlig. Ngayon hindi sila makapagpasya kung ano itatawag nila sa ruta na yun in order to avoid confusing it with Barlig-Batad. Kaya tinawag nila itong Mt Amuyao Reverse Traverse (RevTrav). Ang pinaglalaban naman ng ilan is that a traverse is climb entering at one point of the mountain and exiting at another. So basically traverse pa rin ang Batad to Barlig. At walang may inatasan na magpasya kung aling ruta ang original traverse. Ang mungkahi nila is instead of RevTrav, just call it either Mt Amuyao (Barlig - Batad traverse) or Mt Amuyao (Batad-Barlig traverse).

You may comment below the hiking misnomers that you know.

PS:
How true is it na mali daw paggamit ng term na TREE PLANTING sa Banahaw? Ang ibig sabihin daw po ng tree planting events dun sa Banahaw ay Backdoor.
#ayonsaakingbubwit

PPS:
HIKING daw po. Hindi MOUNTAINEERING.



Sukatan kung gaano ka ka-millennial na hiker. Sagutin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng mga sumusunod:

1. PTPA
2. CTTO
3. OP
4. LF
5. RFS
6. FF
7. UP
8. YGPM
9. JOP
10. HM



If you think someone you know needs to know this, don't hesitate to share it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Koi Grey on Outdoor Education

Koi Grey in Nepal. Photo by our good friend Kat Marasigan
There is no need for a biography of this man. Everyone knows Koi Grey and his outdoor exploits. What I want to share of him to you is his unconventional learning process. 

Like I said elsewhere, the hiking community in the country has ballooned in the last few years. And outdoor education has been challenged mostly by sales pitches of event organizers. You will always get educated by the outdoors one way or the other. The difference lies in who your teacher is. 

Introducing Koi Grey

Highest level of formal education: 2nd year high school
English communication skills (written): above average
English communication skills (oral): average
Photograjournalism: above average
Panitikan: above average
Physical education: above average
Geography: above average
Nutrition and health science: above average
Oriental philosophy: above average

A typical chat between two believers of mysticism and oriental philosophy. We both believe in mystical alignments and the cosmic abode of ideas.


Obviously he learned all these in the great outdoors. He exposed himself to a certain group individuals which served as a medium for the active exchange and flow of education. For instance, there was one time he heard a friend say 'P-O-V'. From that point on, he would grab every opportunity to practice using the term P-O-V.

That's basically the message of this post. If you surround yourself with people who love to talk about tae, you'll definitely learn a lot about tae, including not just its smell, but also its consistency, and the different ways to dispose of it. And there's nothing intrinsically wrong or bad about tae education (and absolutely no need for euphemisms). It's totally a matter of preference. 


Now would you rather learn about tae or flambe?

The outdoors is a melting pot of different forms of education. 

So choose your outdoor university.

2018 academic year opens soon! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

LAGATAW'S OVERSEAS BACKPACKING TIPS (INTRODUCTION)

at the world's best airport
Filipinos travel a lot nowadays. Expressways get congested during long weekends. Yuppies now have more extra cash for travel. And some have already started going off Philippine shores. But still many hesitate to try overseas travel for two main reasons: logistics and cost. The fear of not knowing what to do once we get to a foreign land still haunts many of us like it used to scare the generation of our parents who would just avail of the services of travel agencies and tour operators if they wanted to go on an overseas trip. And many still think that it is very expensive to travel abroad. But the world has changed a lot. And these things that still hold us back should already be matters of the past.


In my next series of posts, I'll be giving you tips on how to do DIY backpacking while not burning your wallet.


It should be noted, however, that at the time of writing, I have just started backpacking. My first overseas trip was in 2014 and since then I've traveled to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. My advice may not be relevant if you want to go backpacking in Europe, America or Australia.


To make your travel worthwhile, consider answering for yourself these four questions.


1. WHEN?
It helps a lot when you pick a special time to travel. It gives additional motivation for you to really carry out that planned trip. In my case, I try to do it every year sometime around my birthday. I find it a good way to celebrate my special day. Most of us give ourselves a leeway to spend a lot during our birthday. Some try to treat all their friends to a booze-up till the break of dawn. I prefer treating just myself to an experience that will help me learn and grow as a person. I try to experience different cultures.


2. WHERE?



I prefer to put together 3 or more countries in one journey. If there's one possession of mine that I want to get dirty that's my passport. I love to see many stamps on the pages of my passport. They say you wouldn't know a country if you only spent a few days at its tourist destinations. I say I've lived in the Philippines for more than 3 decades but I still don't know all of it. It doesn't have to be your goal to fully know one country's geography or culture. Getting there alone is already something. Being there will definitely create a change in you. And that's basically my goal.


3. WHY?
awe-struck by the wonder that the hands of the ancient man have created
A few people travel abroad for special reasons like a Thai massage training at Wat Pho or Ayurvedic Medicine in Sri lanka. But most of us travel to other countries for the usual reasons. To see monuments or to try different foods and sports. In my case, I love to see the wonders that the hands of man have made. I love to see ruins of great empires. I also love to see the creations of contemporary architects and artists.
mesmerized by the creation of the hands of the modern man


4. WHO?
travel only with thy betters or thy equals; if there are none, travel alone - The Dhammapada
I love traveling alone. I believe that 'more companions' means 'more chances of your trip getting ruined.' I hate wasting (time, money and energy). But honestly, when I find myself alone in the monuments I'm visiting, I always wish that some friend or a family member was there. I always think that the happiness I am feeling when I'm at a good place would be greater if I was sharing it with someone dear to me. So pick the right companion or travel alone.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Why I No Longer Take Part in Outreach Projects

 
There's a reason why I wouldn't give this Igorot guy a pair of slippers
I am not some big corporate guy. You probably make more money than I do. But I find a way to help others financially, not that I feel I have a moral or divine obligation to do so. I just feel that it's the right thing to do, but most importantly, because I am a product of philanthropy myself. I was on scholarship from high school 'till college. And this example of my benefactors helped me see the universe as a product of meaningful accidents or fate and fortune. It was an accident that I was born a Filipino citizen that's why I was not eligible for a working holiday visa when I was 25 and wanted to pick apples in Australia for a living and a holiday. Some Yoshihiro could do that because he was, by fate, born in Japan. And he could earn 3 months' worth of my salary, (just working at 7-Eleven in one month) because he was accidentally living in that society. But we can't just whine about our fate and envy others' fortune. We can choose to emancipate ourselves from this bondage of fate, and eventually make our own destiny. The inspiring story of Apo Elmer, whose dream to ride an airplane was realized all because he did what he was born to do--farming--and firmly believed in that dream, is a good example of making one’s own destiny.

Josiah Ballagan has a similar story. He was just doing what he was born to do--run--when I met him at their home on the foothills of Mt Tabayoc in Benguet. I saw his great potential as an athlete so I registered him in The North Face 100 (50K, CamSur) in 2011 where he finished 4th. It was his first trail race. It was 50km and he was still barely 17 then. In 2012, he finished second in The North Face 100 Baguio (50K). That same year, with the help of the Philippine Skyrunning Association and the benevolent Nestor Fongwan, the then governor of Benguet, I sent him to the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon in Malaysia where he finished just 37 minutes behind the world champion Kilian Jornet. His outstanding performance in that international race prompted the governor to give him a full scholarship at Benguet State University. Four years after that run, he earned a college degree and now he has a job.

I prefer this idea of effecting a change—where you focus on an individual instead of a big community. I am not a fan of one-time-big-time outreach programs. Sometimes, the proud selfies of the donors last longer that the slippers they donate. Like I said, I am not some big organization. I can only effect a very little change in this world. I cannot help a whole community in a long term case. But with the help other little hands and small pockets, I can help create a lasting change in an individual.

And this year, we've seen two individuals brimming with talent—the elite runners from Antique, John Ray Onifa and Rene John Ello. However, little hands and little pockets can only afford to help one individual so we've chosen Onifa. We saw his running caliber when he breezed through the 21K race in Tracing Iraynon-Bukidnon Trails in Antique. Through the help of some individuals and organizations (who I really want to mention here but whose preference for anonymity we need to respect), the proceeds of the lagataw shirt was able to support Onifa in two of his trail races in Luzon—the Salomon Xtrail 32K and Soleus Cross-Country Challenge 12K- where he emerged champion (in both events).


Seeing the talent of this promising athlete, the office of the governor of Antique, Rhodora Cadiao (coincidentally a party-mate of former governor Fongwan of Benguet) through the Provincial Youth Development Office headed by Rexon Nodque, gave Onifa a job and a scholarship grant. Onifa couldn't contain his joy when he heard this news. He couldn't believe that great things could come just by being the best that you can be—whatever you are: a farmer, a fisherman or a runner. After TIBT, he has added more trophies and titles to his already large collection, the most recent of which is the Milo Marathon qualifier in Iloilo. But we want to extend this feat overseas. We're sending him to The North Face 100 Thailand in February 2018. And we need more small hands and pockets.



In this world of meaningful accidents and fate, you can choose between two things—you can be one who firmly believes in your dream and tries to be the best of who you can be, or you can choose to be the wind beneath that believer's wings.

Join me in sending Onifa to the finish line in The North Face 100 Thailand 2018.

dri-fit; neon green

Get a piece of this limited edition shirt. When you wear this shirt, it may not remind you of a mountain that you have conquered or a monument that you have visited. But let this shirt remind you that you have helped in creating a lasting change in this world.

Even the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can create a hurricane halfway across the Earth.

For details, visit our page on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ANTIQUE TRILOGY: The Toughest in the Philippines

TOUGHEST MOUNTAINS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Push your limits eh?! How about limit your push? This sure would be the case if you were ever in one of the three mighty mountains in Panay!


There's been a lot of hullabaloo on social media as to which mountain's the toughest in the Philippines. Some even have devised a set of standards to qualify and quantify the toughness of mountains and trails in the country. Many say Halcon is the toughest. Quite a few say it's Guiting-Guiting. And still some would insist it's Sicapoo! Whatever it is, I still reiterate “There really ain't any mountain in the Philippines that tough. It is you who make them tough.”

Please don't misunderstand the statement above. I'm saying there isn't any mountain in the country so tough that you won't be able to climb it. 

But there are definitely mountains tougher than the others. There is gradation among mountains...gradation according to toughness. But mountains belonging to one band or grade only differ in difficulty relative to the hiker and his itinerary, among other factors. One hiker may prefer Ambangeg-Akiki as his knees are cut out for walking up rolling terrain and running down steep slopes. Another hiker who is strong enough to climb steep slopes but whose knees aren't built for fast descent would prefer Akiki-Ambangeg route. A rock-lover would say that Madja-as and Halcon are tougher than Guiting-Guiting but a root-lover would say otherwise, if you know what I mean.


With that said, I would like to introduce three mountains that belong in whichever grade Guiting-Guiting belongs in. And these are the three mighty mountains of Antique—Madja-as, Nangtud and Baloy-daku. Geographically, however, only Madja-as has its peak in Antique soil but all three have convenient access points in Antique. If you wish to climb any mountain in Antique you have to coordinate with the office of Mr. Broderick Tra-in. He is the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council head of Antique (at least back in 2010). He has received numerous Kalasag awards for his outstanding performance in rescue and disaster prevention. A mountaineer himself, he is one of the founding members of Antique Mountaineering Society Inc (AMSI), an active mountaineering group in the Visayas. It is a blessing that I had had a lot of experience in the mountains of Luzon and Mindanao before exploring the mountains of Panay Island. The terrain is hostile. Antique offers you the scorching heat of the sun in the lowlands and the really thick, mossy, misty rain forest up in the highlands. Most mountains are prone to landslides and you’ll often have to engage in a very precarious trek on a long open ridge before approaching the summit. So if you want REAL challenge, head for Panay Island.

MT MADJA-AS




This mighty mountain presides over the town of Culasi in Antique. The ideal jump-off is at Flores. Joshue (Oswe) claims to have established the Flores trails so he doesn't allow hikers any entry to Mt Madja-as without him as a guide. But he has grown old now, although still strong enough to lead you. Another entry point is Brgy. Alojipan and the main man there is (Ta)tay Dimas. When I first saw this mountain from sea level back in 2006, I was amazed by its imposing height. I failed to climb it then due to the sudden physical discomfort of my companion. Last March (2010), though, I was lucky to set foot on its summit thanks to the team organized by Haji Tandog of Antique Mountaineering Society Inc! Some claim that Madja-as is the highest mountain in Panay. Some put it in number two, just a few meters under Mt Nangtud. And still quite a few put it in number three after Baloy-daku. This discrepancy may be best resolved by an individual climbing all the three mountains using just one dependable altimeter. Until now, no one has done such a feat.

The horrors of Mt Madja-as

1. The trail
   a. It’s looong
   b. Tinangisan trail (the first phase of the trek) is long and steep and open. Trek it in under the sun and you'll curse the maker of the itinerary.
   c. Deep into the rainforest, the mossy ground is slippery.
   d. If the ground ain't mossy, you're gonna have to deal with loose soil and rolling pebbles.
2. The summit is almost always cloud-capped. When you're up there, there's hardly any visibility. And it's always moist.
3. Unpredictable weather conditions near the summit. They say Madja-as trades heavy rains for your noise.
4. Unfriendly vegetation. The rainforest is thick. You'll have to negotiate the thorns and the roots that block the trail. You'll have to go over, under and through those Jurassic roots. They're really nasty. Trust me.
5. Limatiks. Not so many though
6. Bangin...a lot of these. In some parts, you'll be walking on edges of slippery boulders. At another, you'll be testing your balance on an open, narrow and long ridge. At still another, you'll be forced to trust the flimsy rope that your guide brought with him...the same guide who'll scare you by making you realize how vertiginous the cliff is.


MT NANGTUD



The ideal entry point is Barbaza, Antique. In a sitio called Lumboyan, mention the name (Ta)tay Lino and you've got your guide. Just like Brgy. Flores, mobile phone signal is not that good in Lumboyan. The best way to contact these guides is to get your ass out there where they live. They're always there anyway and there are less than 200 voters in these places so everyone knows everybody else. I summited this mountain in October, 2009 alone with two guides. Yes, you’ll need two. You can’t be assisted at river crossings by just one guide. It was the first time I asked myself "Why do I climb mountains?" It was the first time I used a makeshift trekking pole. My thighs failed me. Mt Nangtud is popularly believed to be the highest point in Panay Island. The trail to the summit is very established. Although, unlike Mt Madja-as and Baloy, it has no known established traverse route other than the link to Mt Madja-as. There's plenty of water sources and the guides are really helpful.

The horrors of Mt Nangtud
1. The trail
    a. It’s looooong…longer than that of Madja-as. You start almost at sea level
    b. It has its own version of Tinangisan trail--a long, open cogon trail. But before you get to this cogon ridge, you'll have to take your chances up a steep wall of loose soil.
    c. Talahib. Get your body covered.
2. Bangin. The cogon ridge itself is vertiginous on both sides. I actually slipped. But the guide was quick enough to catch and pull me up. A more dangerous trail is a long, narrow path alongside a steep wall before you get to Camp2.
3. River trekking. Four hours of negotiating the current and rocks will blister your sole and cramp your legs. It is NOT easy to cross a river…not a stream. This is legit river. It's not the depth...it's the intensity of the current and the instability of the stones you're stepping on.
4. Limatik. tolerable


MT BALOY-DAKU



Probably the toughest in the Antique Trilogy, Baloy records the fewest successful summiting. Some sources say IMC conquered the mountain back in 1997 and confirmed the presence of a small lagoon nestled in the highest peak. This information has recently been debunked by locals of Valderrama, Antique who set "mohons" (boundary markers) between Antique, Iloilo and Aklan, saying there is no body of water nor flat land of any kind at the peak. It's purely thick mossy forest.

There are two convenient entry points to Mt Baloy. One is in Calinog, Iloilo via sitio Karatagan. The other is in Valderrama, Antique via Brgy Sn Agustin. I took the Calinog entry point last October (2009) but me and my buddy could only go as far as sitio Karatagan. We couldn't find any guide there. In Calinog, the imposing image of Mt Baloy is clearly visible but it would break any hiker's spirit, as it resembles an immense vertical wall that you would find it difficult to figure out which route to take. I took the Valderrama route in March 2010 but our team still failed to summit due to hostile weather conditions as we approached the summit. If you ever wish to take the Valderrama route, it is best to coordinate with the tourism officer (Chester Regondon) or a local mountaineer Kevin Jauod (0906 262 9321). They have a detailed overview of the trek. They have summited Baloy on separate occasions. However since very few, if any, local guides will be willing to take you up the mountain. Turn instead to a mountaineer from Iloilo Joanathan Sulit (0927 253 8172). He has taken some groups all the way up to the summit. He knows the secret to a successful Mt Baloy summiting. But he’ll check the profiles of the contingents before saying YES. If he suddenly gives excuses that means someone in your group is not fit for a Mt Baloy climb. PICK THE RIGHT BUDDIES.
 



The horrors of Mt Baloy
1. The trail. The trail is almost exactly the same as that of Nangtud. The first phase is a four-hour river trek…then a nearly vertical ascent along the slope of an open ridge then a 3-hour trek on a long, open, narrow cogon ridge. Then you’ll have to camp at a peak (Camp2). Then you’ll have to trek the narrow treacherous ridge that connects Baloy-gamay to the adjoining peaks to Baloy-daku. The only difference is that this is a strenuous CONSTANT ascent. No downward trek before Camp 1 and Camp 2.
you can bypass this uphill area and take the Brgy Busog route.
2.  River trekking. The same as that of Nangtud
3. Snakes. Had three sightings during our trek
4. The summit is very elusive. The summit is always cloud-capped at certain times of the day. Locals say, rain pours when mortals try to approach the summit. The village captain, who joined in the laying of boundary markers a few years back, said that they were pounded by the rain at the summit. Last April (2010), we saw a pile of twigs and leaves that marks the spot where a local fugitive died trying to hide from the authorities. He purportedly murdered someone in the lowlands. The guardian spirits of Baloy don’t admit tainted souls.
5. Bangin. Aside from the ‘Cogon trail’, there is the Bitas trail—a long narrow stretch of open ridge right after Baloy-gamay
6. Limatik. Plenty of them. Chester practically bathed in Off lotion, detergent and bath soap during our climb in 2010.

Here's the deal! 
I have done Luzon 3-2-1 and Mindanao1-2-3. I've climbed Guiting-Guiting overnight. I’ve (traverse) run Kanlaon, Pulag and Apo within 10 hours on separate occasions. But I’m telling you, none of them can compare to a trek in even just two of the three mighty mountains of Panay taken as a combo, let alone all three of them at the same time. There was a recent Madja-as – Nangtud combo. And the participants cannot exaggerate the ordeals they had to deal with. Nangtud and Baloy are the real deal! You start at sea level and you negotiate all the kinds of terrain a tropical country could have.

TEST YOUR LIMITS: Trek Antique!

Jonathan Sulit (Talahib Eco-Trekkers; Iloilo): 0927 253 8172
Kevin Jauod (Valderrama, Antique): 0906 262 9321
Paulino Fano (AMSI): 0909 324 1431

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