Wednesday, May 25, 2011

For Anonymous

There's a limit to the number of characters in a comment. So I'm posting this as blog entry! You may see his/her comment on this link.

Thanks for that comment! Comments like yours motivate me to write more! I mean it's full of substance! May sense! Thinking out of the box! I hope you're not -waters-. You seem to have the same way of thinking! And i love it! I reiterate, it's full of substance and not just the ordinary wow-ang-galing-mo-naman-ser line! And I encourage comments like yours...if you really wanna know the truth, i encourage hate comments in my blog! I don't want a blog with just the monotonous WOW's! I would rather have something 'spicier'. So thanks for 'spicing' up my blog!
OK, to answer your question. I'll start with a confession! I am probably the most cynical and skeptical person you'll ever know. I see evil in good deeds! I never just 'thought' I MIGHT have haters! I have always been CERTAIN I have haters! There's one comment here from 'yourfriendlyneighborhoodclimberwithoutrules' which was not so ordinary. Just look it up here! When I first saw it, that was the time I first confronted the thing that I always suspected--that I had haters. Of course it would be so hard to believe and accept at first. But time heals all wounds! And thanks to my Philosophy lessons, I can always make justifications for anything. But haters don't affect me that much! It is healthy to have haters! Even Jesus had haters! Michael Jackson had haters! The Beatles got their fair share of rotten tomatoes and so did the ancient thinkers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Even a person as insignificant as Aling Iska or Mang Domeng have haters! Being hated is normal! This is an indication that you're human and there are humans around you! Only humans hate! But let's try to put it less philosophically. When you have haters, and these haters don't know you personally, it means you're starting to make some noise or some kind of a wave or a revolution or a religion! You start to gain followers at the same time, the number of your haters builds up! This is normal. Because when you make some noise, you're making a stand. And when you make a stand, you are waging a war against half of the population of the dichotomous universe. You try to stay in the middle; you die! And no one will believe you! You're not strong enough to stand by what you believe in! So you gotta make a stand in a lot of things!
Now on the pasikat issue! It is indeed PASIKAT! Because everything else is pasikat! The color of your jeans is pasikat, the profile picture on your Facebook is pasikat! But if this may adorn my pasikat in any way, I am doing pasikat just to tell everybody that an average Joe like me can also do it!
And on this Average Joe issue, it's only either "hardcore si Adonis" or "wala naman talagang hardcore kasi si Adonis nga na lampa, kayang gawin yan e!". And if you don't believe that I am just an average Joe, it's not my ballgame anymore. Ikaw na ang nagbuhat ng bangko ko!
And when I use the second person pronoun 'you', I refer to people in general and not just the author of the previous comment.
To stretch the inquiry further, yep some of those are just nambobola! Pero ayus lang yun kung binobola ka basta di ka nagpapabola! Pero kung may bilib ka talaga sa sarili mo, hindi ka na naaapektuhan ng bola o pamimintas. Kasi sa loob mo alam mo may ibubuga ka! At mas masarap ang pakiramdam kung alam mong handa ka sa kahit anumang hamon nila!
Pero madami sa aking mga readers ay na-meet ko na! At pinapakita ko sa kanila na I am just  as ordinary or extraordinary as they are! And the 'fans' become my equals and being already my equal, they are fully convinced that they too can do it--which is my ultimate goal! To tell everyone that THEY TOO CAN DO IT! And eventually make them stop idolizing me!
I'll leave you with this line that I got from my mountaineering mentor!
Sabi ko dati sa kanya: "Alam mo Jep, bilib talaga ako sa classmate kong si TJ Isla (who emerged vicotious in the recently concluded Pharmaton MVP Challenge): magaling mag-basketball, matalino, pogi, swerte sa girlfriend, may kaya, mabait kaya gusto ng lahat, hindi nakakalimot magsimba, para siyang santo"
Ang sabi sa akin ng mentor ko
"Alam mo Dons, kung may idol ka, sino pang a-idol sayo?!"
Let's all idolize ourselves!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


1.       If I want to honor the heroes, I don’t need a companion to honor them. I don’t need a particular date or place to thank them for their sacrifices and noble deeds. In this write-up I honor all the heroes of the Philippines. Because of them I am FREE! I can blog for as long as I want. We can only imagine what Tandang Sora and the rest of the Katipuneros were doing at this time of day during the Revolution. You have no idea how it is to be constantly on the look-out and always in hiding. We are all lucky we live in this time in this united country. Tandang Sora never lived to see the McDonald’s and the Jollibee in the avenue named after her. And that’s a sad reality! Most of us only know Tandang Sora as a place in Quezon City. Don’t wait for the 12th of June to celebrate Independence Day. Celebrate it anytime. Celebrate it now! Remember the heroes, their deeds and their sacrifices. Let’s protect the freedom that they never had.
2.       I don’t want to be a part of a record-breaking stampede of climbers on the mountains across the country. And besides, who really cares about the Guinness Book of World Records?! Do you know the current holder of the record that this Freedom Climb wants to set? Or for that matter, do you know any record in the Guinness Book? You don’t even know what record Junko Tabei holds! And her record is even easier to pronounce than the record for the most number of climbers to simultaneously summit different mountains in a country in a period of 24 hours...It’s a little too long dude! I am not even sure if the wording is legalistically correct. And perhaps nobody will dare correct me because most of you are just as ignorant as I am as to what the actual name of the record for this climb is. That’s the problem with Filipinos! We all hunger for world recognition. We all clamor for RECORDS! If you really want a good record, set it in school and company records. Records like the most productive employee of the year and the 2011 ten most outstanding students of the country are probably more significant and worthwhile than records like the longest suman in the world and the most number of people eating together on the street! Let’s protect our FREEDOM. Let’s not be a slave to this Western Book of Records. You’re paying a lot of money to Guinness just to have a title—a piece of trivia. Before using the people’s money to buy a piece of foreign merchandise, you may first want to look up the meaning of the word trivia and its adjectival form trivial in your dictionaries.
3.       I don’t believe in that tree-planting gimmick! Tree planting doesn’t end in just planting seedlings. You have to see these seedlings through. It’s just a waste of time and effort if you just bury it in the ground and leave it for animals and irresponsible climbers to trample on. And your seedlings don’t stand a chance against the tractors and bulldozers of big mining companies. If you really want more trees, protect the old and strong ones. There is widespread mining in different parts of the country and some unsung heroes like Dr. Gerry Ortega and the botanist Leonard Co have died trying to save the rainforests of Palawan and Leyte respectively. And do you really think Mt Halcon is closed for the rehabilitation of the mountain and the education and training of the authorized guides? It was due to be opened in 2010 but perhaps the senator operating widespread illegal logging in the mountains of Mindoro and Samar is still not satisfied with his 10-year-or-longer ‘livelihood program’. Mt Marami is supposed to be a part Mataas na Gulod National Park but which spot in that barren area deserves the title National Park? Mt Tabayoc is slowly becoming Mt Timbak. The locals are encroaching upon its rainforests! And Ms Emerita Tamiray is single-handedly fighting for the preservation of the Mt Pulag National Park, which covers the area of Mt Tabayoc. Open your eyes guys! FREE your mind! There are better projects to focus our resources on.
Before you think of planting, deal with the cutters first!

4.       It’s all BIG BULLSHIT! Let’s start with the title. FREEDOM CLIMB. Nationalism is a TREND in the country. It started with the rise of the people’s champ Manny Pacquiao. The Philippine National Anthem and the Sun and Stars became perennial guests on American boxing arenas. Then nationalism became an even more popular trend with the death of Francis M and the birth of FrancisM. This rapper hoped to enkindle amongst his fellow countrymen the spirit that is PINOY PRIDE. And everyone has seen Three Stars and a Sun worn buy teenage boys with caps worn backwards and baggy shorts that desperately reach for the ground! The death of Corazon Aquino also intensified nationalism. And the map of the Philippines became a proud emblem on shirts and just about any piece of clothing article in the country. These days, anything with the map of the Philippines and the three stars and a sun, or just about anything related to love of country is an instant hit. And this didn’t escape the minds of the entrepreneurs behind the FREEDOM CLIMB. They chose Freedom Climb instead of Climbapalooza to set a world record because of this trend.
Then they threw in the flavor of environmentalism, which is a global trend. They included in their itinerary the planting of trees. And who won’t be lured by the promise of being identified with the righteous and concerned environmentalists? Al Gore already did most of the conversion and evangelization part for the organizers. Everyone wants to be green now!
Third they mixed in the promotion of tourism in the country with the aim of generating income for the locals. Why can’t they, for once, promote responsible and fee-free travelling? They’re just poisoning the minds of the locals and introducing them to what the organizers do best—capitalism! Some travellers who travel alone just want to experience real kindness from locals. But these organizers have put a price tag on every bit of kindness the locals can offer.
And there’s the ultimate catch—the Guinness Book of World Records! No tool in commerce is more effective than VANITY! And Filipinos are great hitch-hikers of vanity! We hitch upon the accomplishments of a fellow Filipino and consider them our own. Everyone feels as if he were a brother of Pacquiao when talking about him! Can’t we, for once, take a step to build our own names?!
And all these bullets cater to the great majority of commoners—the gullible ones! And at the end of it all, IT”S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! You say P400 is nothing, but multiply it by the number of fools joining the climb—voila! It’s a magnificent gravy train for the organizers!
5.       Lastly, I am not joining the Freedom Climb simply because I don’t like being organized by others! I have my own definition of ‘climb’ and ‘adventure’. I won’t buy that shirt just to be seen—just to be identified! Who needs identity when you’re a fan of anonymity?! And there is nothing wrong in criticizing an event before it happens. This is a part of a campaign to give everybody informed choices and decisions. You’re a fool if you criticize it afterwards. You stop a wrongdoing before it gets full- blown!

1.       I want to honor the heroes and I want to celebrate Freedom Day on June 12. You probably haven’t taken part in any revolution. Well, I was in EDSA II and I’m telling ya, I had goose-bumps when I saw the movers and shakers of the country joining the multitude in the fight for Truth and Freedom. The spirit of any undertaking is intensified when two or more people gather. You will never know this when you’re a loner! And yes I want to protect the freedom that our heroes died for! The empire of Spain is gone! Do you know what empire is quietly enslaving all of us? Look at yourself in the mirror, you’re all covered in Columbia from neck to toes and you’re topped with that TNF cap! You speak of supporting local merchandise but you, a local mountaineer, voluntarily fall prey to this omnipresent Leviathan that is the American Imperialism. And if you think that only one organization will benefit from this freedom climb, you’re wrong. Outdoors shops hope to increase their sales after this event. The organizers have a vision that mountaineering will become a lifestyle very soon! And with our support, the local outdoors companies may have enough resources to fund their R&D so that someday they may be able to compete with your Columbia and The North Face. That is my idea of protecting our Freedom!
2.       I want to be a part of a record-breaking undertaking of Filipino climbers who stand united. It is not the record that I am after. It is the ideals of the organizers that I will go there for! You probably have not been oriented by the organizers of the real itinerary of the event. Before you put the word stampede anywhere close to the title 2011 Freedom Climb, know first that the environmentally-concerned organizers have set a limit to the number of climbers in the mountains that will be covered by the event. And before you start throwing accusations of the participants leaving their trash behind, let the event finish first and go check for yourself if there is really garbage left behind! I trust the good judgment of the organizers and being mountaineers themselves I know they will never let the environment be abused. Remember we’re there to save the environment. I trust and support the cause and ideals of the organizers and I will encourage more because I know the cause is noble!
3.       I want to plant trees and in my own little way help preserve and protect our environment! And you’re right! Some seedlings may die eventually. But only Mr. The-Glass-is-Half-Empty sees this as something bad and worthless! As for me, I’ll put your statement optimistically—Some of the seedlings will survive! And this is absolutely better than nothing! And if you wanna follow in the footsteps of Dr Gerry Ortega and Leonard Co, then go ahead! We will all thank you for that honorable endeavor. But in our case, we will fight this big mining companies and politicians by being bigger than them! They can continue cutting trees but our record-breaking number won’t stop planting! And you dare touch the issue of ancestral domain in Benguet! These people had been there long before Ms Emerita Tamiray saw Mt Pulag! The people of Mt Timbak and the vegetable farmers of Atok are the reason why you have on your table those cabbages, carrots, potatoes and broccoli that you thought were from Baguio! These people cultivate the land, they don’t destroy it! Only the ultra-conservatives label it as such. But do these conservatives give the locals any alternatives? They can’t go down to the cities as much as you can’t live up on the mountains because cultivating the land is what they do best! And as for you, sitting in front of that computer, and doing Facebook pretending to be productive is you best enterprise! There is more to LIFE than travelling—and that’s LIFE itself. Do you want to preserve these rainforests and leave the locals earning nothing just so you have a pleasant view during your travels?!
4.       Yes it is all BIG BULLSHIT and only you are making a BIG DEAL out of this! Everything on Earth is Bullshit, ain’t it clear yet to you?! Facebook is bullshit, religion is bullshit Nike and McDonald’s are bullshit! But we all feed on this BULLSHIT! We are not in the time Adam and Eve. Some time in the history of the world, entrepreneurship was invented! And from then on, people have learned how to trade goods with goods and goods with money guided by mutual consent! And of all the entrepreneurial events organized, this Freedom Climb offers the clients a more agreeable deal than most other organized events. A much better offer than the promise of a healthy lifestyle by the record-breaking Run for Pasig. And P400 is nothing compared to the P3500 you paid for your race kit in the recent TNF100 Camsur. The effort-profit equation in this organized event leans heavily on the effort side. Whatever profit the organizers make out of this is nothing compared to the effort and time they sacrificed for this national event. And Jade of FIMO can totally get more profit from their family’s construction firm than from this petty event. I know a noble organizer who called off a Mt Pulag event after ending up with the equation EFFORT=P30,000 for the event. He just couldn’t sell his efforts and stress for P30,000. And that’s just a Mt Pulag climb involving around fifty climbers. A national event demands for much greater stress and effort! This is practically a pro bono from the organizers for the whole mountaineering community. And Jade and the other organizers know this. But they’re not giving up because they know that a bright future for the mountaineering community is pegged on this event. It is not the current profit that they’re calculating. It is the long term benefit for the outdoors shops and events organizers that they’re eyeing on. And this can only happen when you help them make mountaineering a national lifestyle—a much better lifestyle than running on hard concrete and breathing in the smog of Manila? But running has gained more support from people because they don’t pull each other down! Can’t we just for once stand united and emancipate ourselves from this crab mentality that has pervaded the mountaineering community?!
And thanks for that little piece of pop history. But I have to say, Nationalism should have been a trend long before Pacman’s rise to international phenomenon! The Philippines is a great country of talented and wise people! We deserve recognition! And the universe is conspiring for us to once again establish our presence on the world map!
5.       Lastly, I am joining the Freedom Climb simply because I am not like you who can organize your own climbs. And I consider climbing synonymous with fun. And I can find more fun when I’m with people because, just like Alexander Supertramp, I believe happiness is only real when shared!

LAGATAW’s note:
Thank you for taking time to read it through. As you can see, I can take any stand and defend it vehemently and steadfastly. And this argument could go on forever. The thing is, there is no right or wrong in making a decision. It is your heart that makes it right and your regret that makes it wrong. I hope, in my own little way as a mountaineer, I have helped you in coming up with an informed choice and decision. Whatever you think is right, FOLLOW YOUR HEART! And DON’T REGRET IT in the end. Instead learn and grow from it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

MT PULAG (Ambangeg-Ambangeg) - SAGADA

Mt Pulag's Sea of Clouds

Mt PULAG (2922masl; ~9600fasl) in Kabayan, Benguet is the highest mountain in Luzon and the third in the Philippines. The word pulog in that part of the Cordilleras means bald. And so is the summit of Mt Pulag!
The highlights of the climb are the mossy forests in the Ambangeg and Akiki trails, the dwarf bamboos at the summit and the majestic sea of clouds that blanket the surroundings of Mt Pulag from sunup ‘till noon.
Four trails lead to the summit—Tawangan (in Ballay), Ambangeg (in Bokod), Akiki (in Duacan) and Ambaguio in Nueva Vizcaya. Of the four, Akiki is the most feared earning the epithet ‘the killer trail’. Tawangan trail is thick in vegetation and infested with limatik (leeches). The Ambaguio trail which is probably just as long as the Tawangan trail will remind you of the Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings! The Ambangeg trail, on the other hand, is the easiest and attracts more visitors than the others!
The main threats in Mt Pulag are the near-freezing temperatures from December to February. Some first-timers also suffer from dizziness due to a drastic change in altitude.
The entrance to Sumaging Cave
 SAGADA in Mt Province is a quiet remote village in the Cordilleras. For decades this cool misty place has been drawing backpackers to enjoy tranquil treks, moments of solitude and, at times, cheap dope. Its isolation keeps it safe from weekend turistas that pervade the beaches of the country. It is at least 12 hours away from Manila (or 6 hours from Baguio)
Most travellers go to Sagada to experience a splendid spelunking trip. Other attractions are the hanging coffins, Echo Valley and Bomod-ok Waterfalls. Others, who just want to immerse themselves in the local culture, try their food and the weaving industry. But above all these, it is the peace and serenity of the place that keeps the author coming back. Sadly, though, roads that lead to Sagada from the west in Cervantes and from the east in Banaue are starting to get paved. Experience this place before it fills up with noisy turistas.

This itinerary is designed for travellers coming from the south or somewhere outside Manila.
Day 0
ETA @ NAIA Terminal 3. Take the airport bus to Pasay Rotonda. This airport bus will terminate behind McDonald’s right beside MRT Taft Station. There are buses bound for Baguio there. Taking airport cabs might cost P200 per cab/4pax to Pasay Rotonda.
ETA @ Pasay Rotonda Bus Terminal
ETD for Baguio City
Day 1
ETA Baguio City
Breakfast: There are 7-Eleven convenience stores along Session Rd. and one right across from Victory Liner Terminal. I always have my Tapsilog @ 456 Restaurant (open 24-hrs) also along Session Rd. Good Taste Restaurant at Dangwa Terminal offers hearty meals from P60-P100 24/7 but they have really slow service.
If you think it’s a little too early, there are some stopovers on the way to Mt Pulag Visitors’ Center. One meal costs P60-P80.
You may also do some grocery shopping. Although there are stores at the Mt Pulag Visitors’ Center.
Meet the driver of the chartered monster jeep. Sometimes Ma’am Emerita Tamiray hitches a ride.
ETD for Visitors’ Center (Ambangeg). (You may tell the driver to take you to the best stopover for breakfast. The stopovers offer the driver free meals when they bring in customers)
ETA @ Visitors’ Center
ETD for Mt Pulag Park Ranger Station. This is where the chartered monster jeepney stops. This is also the pick-up point on the way to Sagada or back to Baguio City.
Fill up trail water bottles.
Start trek
Camp 1
Camp 2
Lunch. Lunch would be quicker if you have packed meals.
Fill up water bottles. This is the last water source.
You may wish to camp here.
Resume trek
ETA Summit
Start descent to Saddle Camp site
ETA Saddle Camp site
Pitch Tents
Head back to the summit or to Mini-Pulag for sunset pictures. Don’t forget to bring with you your headlamps!
Prepare Dinner
Socials (minimize noise)
Lights out
Day 2
Quick breakfast (noodles; coffee)
Head for the summit
ETA @ Summit
Wait for the sunrise
Take pictures
Start descent to camp site
Prepare breakfast.
Break camp
Start descent. Power trek. Run if possible. NO slowpokes.
ETA @ Camp 2
ETA @ Camp 1
ETA @ Park Ranger Station. Quick wash-up or wet wipes.
Board the monster jeepney.
ETA @ Visitors’ Center
Buy souvenir shirts
Print certificate. (P35)
Log out
Some trekkers have their lunch and wash-up here.
ETD for Sagada. This will take the bumpy dusty road that passes by Kabayan Central. Get your body covered. If you chance upon an open restaurant on the way, have your dinner there. You might not see any more restaurants after 7pm. The trip will take 7 to 8 hours. Always move quickly. Unless you want to arrive in Sagada at midnight. The later it gets; the more impatient and reckless the drivers get. They might even charge you an extra fee for overtime.
ETA @ Sagada. Check in @ any guest house. Coordinate beforehand as the guesthouses may be full. St Joseph’s Resthouse offers more options for your accommodation. They have rooms (P500/P600 double occupancy) and cottages (P1700) with hot water.
Socials. Sagada is a peaceful quiet place. Travellers go there for peace and relaxation. Guesthouse owners usually don’t tolerate noise after 10 pm.
Day 3
Wake-up call. Breakfast. Verify with the receptionist if you can check out after 12nn without any extra charge. If there is an additional fee, you may check out before spelunking and leave your stuff at the municipal hall or you can hasten your movement in the cave!
Arrange a guide for Sumaging Cave
Start trek to Sumaging Cave.
ETA @ Sumaging Cave entrance. The ground could get slippery. The cool water inside the cave could get waist-deep. Bring along dry bags for your gadgets. You may also opt for a four hour cave-connection tour.
Exit Sumaging Cave. Head back to the guesthouse or the municipal hall. You may not have enough time for Echo Valley if you want to catch the last trip to Baguio. Echo Valley is not really that charming. It’s just a valley and your echo when you shout. I shouted before but I never really heard my echo. Much of what you read in travel books is an exaggeration. If you’re a mountaineer and have seen countless waterfalls, you will wonder why the diminutive Bokong Waterfalls is worthy of the title ‘waterfall’. The big Bomod-ok Falls also can’t be more beautiful than the many waterfalls in Laguna or elsewhere in the country. If you’re looking for hanging coffins there are already some at the entrance of Sumaging Cave or on the way there from the poblacion. Basically there’s nothing very special in Sagada except for the caves. My friend who got disappointed during our trip in 2004 even dubbed Sagada as “Malayong Baguio” (Remote Baguio). In my case, I am charmed by the beauty of the community itself and the people. After my experience in Sumaging Cave, I went back to Sagada in two more separate years just to stay at St Joseph’s Guesthouse and to walk around the vicinity of the municipal hall. That’s the secret to enjoying Sagada! Forget about the caves, the falls and the valleys. The poblacion itself is already a beauty in its own right.
1200hrs (or whatever time the last trip is)
Board the bus bound for Baguio
ETA @ Baguio City
ETD for Manila
ETA @ Manila

Please contact the Park Superintendent beforehand. The park could be fully-loaded and you could also verify up-to-date rates of fees with her!
PaSu Emerita Tamiray 0919 631 5402


Manila-Baguio v.v. (P450 x 2)
Monster Jeep (18pax)   P15000 / 18pax (0920 553 8758). This price doesn’t include transport service from Sagada to Baguio. From Sagada you can just take the bus to Baguio but you have to know the last trip. It’s normally around noon. In the afternoon there may be trips to Bontoc. You can just get off at the junction and just wait for buses from Bontoc bound for Baguio. If you want to include Sagada-Baguio service in your charter, you may negotiate with the operator (Eddie) for the additional pay. This second option is ideal for a climb size of over 15pax. This gives you more time to spend in Sagada and you don’t displace the local passengers.
Green fee + Entrance + Camping fee
Guide fee  P500 / 1-5pax…+P100/ excess head
Porter fee P300/day (15kg-20kg max)
Sumaging Cave guide fee (P500-P800) / 5pax
Sagada Resthouse
Sagada-Baguio (Bus)
Safe budget Manila-Pulag-Sagada-Manila


Monster Jeep Operator (Eddie)
0920 553 8758
Mt Pulag Park Superintendent (Emerita Tamiray)
0919 631 5402
St Joseph’s Resthouse
0918 559 5934
Sagada Guesthouse
0929 680 7849
Alfredo’s Cabin (Sagada)
0918 588 3535

Monday, May 2, 2011

The North Face 100 (CamSur)

Josiah and the other podium finishers for the TNF100 men's 50K in Camsur

The TNF100 CamSur has just finished and I was there to witness its kickoff with a sound of a gunshot at 0400hrs on the 30th of April and its culmination with the limping runners and their blistered feet on May 1st. I saw familiar faces like those of Jules Picato ( who finished 4th in the women’s 50K event, Charina Javier who finished 4th in the women’s 22K and other runners in the 2nd Annual Hungduan Climbathon. I was there not to run but to bring a dream ready to be realized.
I heard of Josiah's story during my stay in their home last month
When I climbed Mt Tabayoc in April my guide Santiago Ballagan told me of his son Josiah who competed in this year’s Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) bringing home two medals—a silver and a bronze in the men’s 5000m and 3000m distance runs respectively. He was scheduled to run in the 2011 Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan this May but his coach told him of his inclusion in the team when they were already on the ship bound for Dapitan and we were already in CamSur. The moment I heard the boy’s story, I knew I’ve found the golden boy in Philippine sky running and trail running. I had no second thoughts signing him up for the 50K event as soon as I got back to Manila from Benguet. I believed in him! He doesn’t train to run. Running is his lifestyle. Growing up in a remote sitio in Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet, he is used to travelling more than 30 kilometers on foot and at altitudes over 2000masl. His vegetarian diet also reassured me that Manila runners don’t stand a chance against him!
training in Baguio
And so after my Bakun Trio during the Holy Week, I watched him train in Baguio for a couple of days. Then I brought him to Manila and got him accustomed to the weather and thick air. April 28, we headed for Camsur. We stayed at Moraville Hotel with Xerxis Tan and his friends, one of whom was Carlisle Carly Dizon who finished 3rd in the women’s 50K.  Josiah promised to finish the 50K race within five hours. We both believed that it was a generous time frame. He can run from his school near the DENR office in Ambangeg to his house in Ballay (more than 45 kilometers away) within four hours without hydration and elite foot gear.

The 50K race started at 0500hrs. The route was on the slope of Mt Isarog. Josiah led the pack during the first 20K of the race. He roused marshals in around seven tents along the trail and from time to time he would be stopped by the marshals and media people to have his pictures taken for promotional purposes or to be interviewed. After the 27K water/aide station, he came upon a fork—one trail goes up and the other, relatively flat. There was a sign on the upward trail so he followed it for about five hundred meters until he realized he couldn’t see other trail signs anymore. He backtracked and this was the time he was overtaken by the two runners from Bukidnon, who also had gotten lost in the earlier phase of the race.  According to the marshal that he talked to, the sign must have been moved by local pranksters the night before. The sign was situated next to a local’s house. In the remainder of the trail, his legs got cramped one after the other. This was the time the runner from Laguna overtook him. Some 100K runners, who were running the trail in the opposite direction, offered help while he sat for about thirty minutes. When he recovered, it was already a downhill run so the pain was not much of an ordeal. 
the 1st and 2nd placers in the men's 50K (both from Bukidnon)
He finished the race fourth with a time of 6 hours and 32 minutes (unofficial time)—seventeen minutes behind the runner from Laguna. And everyone should know that the 1st and 2nd placers in the 50K this year were 4th and 3rd placers respectively in last year’s 100K event. The 3rd placer was also a runner-up in last year’s 22K event while the 5th placer this year was, I heard, the defending champion for the 50K event. Indeed that was an impressive performance for a first timer in an ultramarathon. And even more impressive knowing that he could have done much better if only he had had better training and a better coach.
GMA 7 crew
When he finished the race, he was a favorite among interviewers and even his fellow runners. And the organizers were wondering why the interviewers kept going up to him and setting interviews with him and not the top three finishers. The interviewers and the runners in the lead pack couldn’t help asking ‘Anong nangyari sa’yo?’ (What happened to you?!). They were all expecting him to finish first. When you’re a runner, you know whom you can catch up with and whom you can’t. And trust me! It’s difficult to keep up with this boy’s pace.
He may not have earned a title in this year’s Thrill of the Trail but I promise you all that you’ll be seeing his name in lists of top five’s in many more trail running and sky running races to come. He’s just turned seventeen. He’s got a long bright future ahead of him!
the Kenyan who ruled the men's 100K
with the 52-year-old Eduardo Villanueva who finished 2nd in the men's 100K
complete list @ 

YOU deserve a holiday!
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