Tuesday, December 15, 2015

DISORIENTATION

Waking up in this room during my four-month assignment in Batangas always heralded a good day.

One question I find hard to answer these days is ‘Where are you?’ Y’see, I change locations almost every week.  When I’m in Benguet, I could be in La Trinidad, Kapangan, Kibungan or Buguias. When I get tired of the mountains, I take a little respite at my brother’s apartment in Laguna, or my sister’s in Cebu or back home in Leyte. My previous job as roving supervisor still sometimes makes me feel like I'm in Angeles, Baguio or Batangas. Some of my friends have learned to put the word ‘now’ at the end of the question. And it makes me feel amused at how ‘unnormal’ I have become.


There have been many mornings when I’d wake up to the sight of a familiar cabinet or the sun rays piercing through the curtains of the window. And the sight signals a certain routine for the day. I’d look for the stairs and expect Tatay Sabido to be preparing breakfast only to realize there is no flight of stairs. Then I’d guess again, maybe I’m in Daddy Marzan’s house in La Trinidad. Then I’d hear a dog sniffing through the gap below the door. Only then would I realize I am in Laguna. It takes a few minutes for me to gain full consciousness of my location after waking up.


It makes me sad a bit when the realization sinks in—the realization that today, I won't be slacklining in Canyon Woods, or that I won’t be spending time with Frenzel—the perky little boy who would jump over me in bed asking for my smartphone for games or for my laptop for movies while Daddy Marzan prepares breakfast.



But I think this is a preview of the belief I adhere to—Pantheism—in which I am everywhere at any time. I have defied the limits of time and space.  I have contained and retained in my consciousness the presence and the ‘presentness’ of the people I love and the places I’ve been to. I always feel like I’d be with them any time I want to. And this turns my nostalgia into a happy deep thought. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

LAGATAW Epiphany Treks

Trekking changed my life a lot. I have already mentioned in my earlier post how I found God in the mountains. And recently, I made a strong finish in the Kibungan Mountain Marathon.

But apart from the physical and spiritual strength that I gained from my ninety-day trek around Benguet, I’ve had the most remarkable growth and realizations in life.


My friends always wonder how I have been able to get by being unemployed for almost a year now. But traveling alone and traveling beyond tourism, I have learned the craft of gaining the trust and friendship of the locals. I change locations almost every week but it is never a problem for me to find free food and lodgings in any town in Benguet. In exchange, I give whatever service I can render. I was on my 65th day, in Buguias, when I had this liberating realization that I was already living the life that the leftists have been wanting to achieve—a life free from politics and commerce. Only, I achieved it without taking up arms against the government.


Living with the locals, as in doing what they do and eating what they have on their tables, has given me another perspective on life. I was amazed by what my two hands are capable of doing and creating. And in the simplicity of their living, I found how it is possible to live a good life—not necessarily happy but definitely free of the unnecessary worries and follies of the urban society.


I have already shared some of my routes to a chosen few. And one of my invitees told me a very inspiring story of how the trek changed his outlook on life. When he saw the long arduous process that rice has to undergo from the paddies to the locals’ plates and when he found out that the kids have to traverse many peaks for at least two hours just to get to school, he realized that he was still fortunate after all. Y’see his son, in addition to his recurrent seizures, has trouble retaining new memories and newly learned skills. But his experience during the trek made him realize that he has a lot of other things to be thankful for. It’s not that he thinks the locals have bigger problems than he and his wife do. It’s just that, the locals have shown him how it is possible to refute the reality of problems or hardships. Problems in the city such as tedious manual work, power outage, and walking far and long are the way of life in the little hamlets we passed by. And the locals manage to live this life with a smile and an extra plateful of rice for the weary traveler.


So before I start farming in Leyte in mid-2016, I would like a few qualified individuals to have a taste of this epiphany. I have designed itineraries for three trekking routes (in Benguet) that are less physically demanding than the Lagataw Invitational Treks but are just as beautiful and eye-opening. They are a good way to start your new year right.

1. Sitio Paraiso Trek    
    (2 days 1 night; January 23-24)
        Physical demand: Comparable to Pico de Loro / Batulao / Maculot
        Aesthetic factor: 4 stars (If Mt Pulag without the crowd is 5 stars)
        Epiphany factor: 6 stars

2. Camp Utopia + Sitio Paraiso Trek
     (2 days 1 night; January 30-31)
        Physical demand: Comparable to Arayat traverse (2x) / Ambangeg-Akiki (Pulag) traverse
        Aesthetic factor: 5 stars
        Epiphany factor: 5 stars

3. Tacadang Trek
    (3 days 2 nights; February 6-8)
        Physical demand: Comparable to Tawangan-Akiki (Pulag) traverse / Batad – Barlig (Amuyao)  traverse
        Aesthetic factor: 8 stars
        Epiphany factor: 6 stars


General specifications for the trek are patterned after some of the general principles of ecotourism:
- Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in the host community


GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS for the EPIPHANY TREKS

NO SMOKING
NO Smartphones / Internet during the trek (we leave your comms at the municipal hall)
NO music (focus on the music of nature)
NO tents (we stay at local houses, where you get much of your epiphany)
NO Liquor (we drink local tapey or basi if you want to and if there’s some available)
You may bring a camera but I highly discourage this. It is better to focus on your experience with the place and the locals than to busy yourself looking for some vistas to capture on your camera. This way you can go home with a beautiful story that can paint a beautiful picture for the listener.
And when you do take pictures, make it as clandestine as possible when locals are around. We are not going there to remind the locals about what they don’t have. We are going there to find out what we’ve been missing in our busy lives.
A maximum of SEVEN (7) guests can be accommodated in each of the treks
Online screening with respect to your physical capability and your attitude will be done
More details will be posted on my Facebook page.

You don't need to be a 'mountaineer' to be a part of any of these treks. In fact, I prefer non-mountaineers. You just have to have positive attitude and a burning passion for new experiences. 

If you’re looking for beautiful pictures of the destinations in this post, you are not ready for an epiphany. Go find a Mt Pulag trek on Facebook!

Monday, November 16, 2015

KIBUNGAN MOUNTAIN MARATHON 2015: The Chronicles of a Warrior

THE race of the year for me
The 2015 Kibungan Mountain Marathon has been my only trail race this year and it was totally worth the wait! I am not an avid racer: I pick the races I join. You won’t see me in road races and in trail races which are primarily flats with a twist of sunbathing or sand swimming. So I was heartbroken when I missed the KOTM this year due to geographic constraints. Thankfully The Kibungan Mountain Marathon was put off to a perfect time!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Before Sunrise


She rises and walks to the edge. She steals a glance back. Less lewd than a Wink but effective enough to beckon Him to follow.

The conversation transitioned from dried fish to coconut oil to hemorrhoids to the President.

The question was simple, finite. Yes or No? He answers the Invitation

Its oddness made its simplicity profound. Profound and Criminal.

Every smile with an invitation to kiss, a taboo; every kiss an abomination; the remainder, unspeakable.

And when darkness swallowed the silence, their sweat challenged the humidity of the tent.

On her mouth a hand, tasked to suppress a sound—born a moan, escapes a whimper.

The rhythm, carefully controlled—slow, intimate, impatient.

And With a consummating clench, they surrendered to the Explosion!


And it was a good morning.

The CLIMB




THE TRAIL

The beginning,

The mud; stubborn, taunting

The wind; unrelenting, whimsical, impulsive, destructive

The blade of grass; sinister, cunning—Where did you come from?

The heat; piercing, punishment personified 

The rain; unpredictable, foreboding, calm, turbulent, mild, strong

The end; jubilation!

THE SUMMIT


Friday, October 16, 2015

BRIDGES

where the Agno River feeds the Ambuklao Reservoir
In life you'll be crossing different waters.
Some are turbulent and some are deep.
But there will always be a bridge for you to get across.


But sometimes the water's too deep that part of the bridge gets submerged.
But that's fine, you just have to get your feet wet and you'll get to the other side.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Found God in the Mountains

I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit
My grandfather spent seven years in the seminary; my father, four. In my case, I tried seminary life for a week but I got my admission letter from UP so I had to say goodbye to priesthood. Studying Applied Physics for 3 years, I was drawn away from my Christian faith. I got farther away when I took Philosophy courses for two years. But my search for the Divine and the meaning of life went on. I attended different religious communities including Jehovah's Witnesses, INC, and Victory Christian Fellowship. I even paid a visit to The Theosophical Society in the Philippines in Quezon City where I got Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine (of Esoteric Buddhism). But none of them seemed to satisfy my thirst for knowledge of the Divine more than my professors in Metaphysics, Medieval Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion. So for the longest time, I lived the life of a believer in the unfathomable Divine and the mysteries of the mountains but not of a believer of a God that can actually relate to us.

Then I trekked Benguet for ninety days from May to August this year (2015) and there, I found God!

THE TOUGHEST OBSTACLE

At the outset of my journey, in Tublay (the second town in my 13-town journey), I was faced with a challenge that would make many travelers give up their quest. "O, pinaalis ka na nga sa bahay, nandito ka na naman?!" was the barangay captain's greeting when I logged in at the barangay hall after I made a courtesy call at his house where only his wife gave me an audience. I can't blame him for thinking I had come with an evil agenda. After all, why would a man travel to Brgy Ambongdolan when no one even knows Tublay, or Benguet for that matter? Why would one go there and not visit the DOT-developed caves of Ambongdolan? I was a fool to believe that the barangay captain could grasp the idea of traveling beyond tourism. But no one can blame me for having a burning distaste for that barangay captain's attitude and for resolving to just end my journey and write about how badly I was treated and make sure that no one ever goes to Ambongdolan. But fortunately, I gave Benguet the benefit of the doubt. So I went on. In the heat of the noon sun I climbed a steep mountain pass just so I could get myself out of that cursed place. Then I reached Barangay Gaswiling in Kapangan (the third town). But just like Tublay, Kapangan is also a town inhabited by Ibalois--a people believed by the Kankana-eys to be fond of wordplay. They'd answer your question with another question. The Ibalois would strike many travelers as the most skeptical of all peoples. But I learned later on that that's just the way they are--unwelcoming, but once you've earned their trust, they are the most hospitable and accommodating of all! So in Barangay Gaswiling, I was again  swallowed in an immense sea of doubt and distrust. All except one family believed I had some evil plan. Only Oliver Valdez's family saw me as a weary traveler in need of a place to rest. In the evening, the tanods and some barangay officials put me on the hot seat. Oliver was continually trying to pacify the distressed barangay officials, most of whom are his relatives. But when you've got nothing to hide, all you need to do is tell the truth and all will be well.

And so I thought the 'pagpupulong' was over. More tanods and kagawads came to where I was being housed earlier than I had woken up the following morning. 

In the evening before we went to sleep, I asked Oliver "Why do you trust me? What if the village people are right?! What if you wake up tomorrow and I'm gone with the heads of your two kids?" And his answer was the most meaningful homily I had heard in my life! "Life is a decision, my friend" he started. "I have already decided to take you in. And now I am to decide whether to trust you or doubt you. And I am to consider two possibilities of who you are--you could be the phantom that all my neighbors fear or you could be just the weary traveler that I believe you are. If I choose to trust you, I win in your two possible personas. If I choose to be skeptical about you, I lose in both. If I doubted you and you were indeed a bad guy, that wouldn't change anything. You would still be a bad guy and I would be a bad host. I wouldn't be able to sleep in peace and I would be constantly admonishing myself for sheltering you in the first place. I lose in this scenario. If I doubted you and you were a good man, you'd definitely feel my uneasiness and you would leave this place with animosity towards me and a bad memory my home. I lose again. If, on the other hand, I trusted you and you were a bad guy, my goodwill might sway you from executing your evil plan. I win in this case. And if I trusted you and you were a good man, this companionship we are having might go a long way. I win again."

This is Oliver Valdez, the key guy to my successful trek around Benguet. He is a devout member of Keys of the Kingdom Ministries. On a typical day, he'd be repairing and selling mobile phones in Centermall in Baguio. He's not really some big personage but he sure taught me a lot about goodwill, trust and redemption. This photo was taken a few days after the completion of my 13-town trek. He paid for the food I ate. And it made me change the way I look at overcharging salespeople. The extra money could just go to a treat to a friend. And that friend could be you!

In the same evening, Oliver spoke further about my bad experience with the barangay captain in Ambongdolan. He said that it would be unwise of me to speak ill of the barangay chief based on that singular event in his life. He said, if I defamed him, there would be the two of us victims of doubt. I wouldn't be any different from the man I loathed. The barangay captain treated me bad because of some unfounded doubt about me. And I would be writing ill thoughts about him because of my doubt that he is a malicious man just because we got off on the wrong foot. Oliver said, the barangay chief wouldn't have been elected to his position if he were utterly evil. He might have just been having a bad day. And that's how the word 'redemption' made sense to me. I never really understood the idea of Jesus dying on the cross to redeem the world until I learned it from a personal experience in Gaswiling. I have already forgiven the barangay captain and with a calm heart and mind, I saw more reasons not to defame him in writing. Oliver sure taught me a lot about trust, redemption and goodwill. I, who was educated in the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of UP, was humbled by the wisdom of this man who never even finished sixth grade. All his wisdom sprang from his devotion to the Word of God. Perhaps Plato's greatest contribution to mankind--the academic system--is not enough to guide us in the way we lead our lives and the way we formulate our world view.


COINCIDENCE or THE WORKINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

And so my journey continued. I kept trekking. But when you're trekking alone and with minimal gear, you are at the mercy of the trails. Sometimes they bifurcate and will lead you to the wrong destination. I had already lost my GPS device to The North Face 100 trail race in 2013 so I had to deal with a live topographic map--the mountains themselves. But I was just bewildered by the many times that I would meet a local who would point me to the right direction a few meters before I reached the bifurcation of a trail...and the two instances where I would come across a waiting shed with a water source (Can you believe that?!) just before rain started to pour during the rainy months of June and July. But yeah, you're right. That could be just a coincidence.

the waiting shed with a water source beside it right before rain poured in Bakun. God indeed provides!


But what I don't quite get is the neat linkage of the people I encountered on my trek. The biggest challenge for me in my 90-day journey was to introduce myself and gain the trust of the locals. This linkage made it easy for me to be counted in as family. I used to sponsor a certain Josiah Ballagan in his trail races. Helen (who I call Mama Helen now), the woman who adopted me in La Trinidad and Bakun,  happens to be Josiah's aunt. She has a niece, Ella, who happened to be engaged to Popot. Popot happens to be the nephew of Marzan (who I call Daddy Marzan now), the barangay kagawad who took me in when I came upon his house in Buguias. And Daddy Marzan got fond of me that he didn't want me to leave his house in Buguias. He said he saw Apostle Paul in me and when I asked why, he said there were many things he wanted to tell me but he didn't trust the capacity of his brain to contain all his thoughts. So he took me to a fellowship and he introduced me to Rev. Allen Dante.

Daddy Marzan using his Holy Bible app and taking down notes while the pastor speaks

I wanted the conversation to be brief because I already had my own world view founded on logic and empiricism and I believed no pastor could shake that. So I opened up with the challenge 'Could you prove to me the existence of God without using a verse in the Bible?'. The pastor said he couldn't because the Bible is his truth. Game over! But somehow, something (probably the Holy Spirit) softened my heart and so I reworded my question. "How can you convince me that The Bible is not just another Marvel comic book?" The conversation that ensued was the most enlightening I had had.

Pastor Allen Dante answering all my questions about God and His creations

me speaking in front of a gathering of married men during the Men's Fellowship of the Assembly of God in Buguias


Then from Buguias, I went on to Atok and Kabayan. When I reached Bokod, I saw a girl tending a carabao. She happened to be Josiah's classmate back in BSU. That made it easy for me to be introduced to her father who gave me lodgings for 3 days.

You do have a choice to think of all these as just a network of coincidences. But if you really think of it more deeply, you are actually acknowledging the reality of Coincidence as if it were an absolute existence...as if Coincidence were a sentient Being controlling the universe. If you really are a skeptic then you'd see that the idea of Coincidence is just as contingent and superstitious as the idea of a living God. I see no reason why you'd think of the idea of God ludicrous and the idea of Coincidence logical.

As for me, I'd rather believe that it was the Holy Spirit that put all these people at the right place at the right time for me. It was the Holy Spirit who put the biggest obstacle in my journey at the beginning so that I would survive all the other minor challenges that lay ahead. It was the Holy Spirit speaking through Oliver's mouth as well as the pastor's in order to introduce me to the Kingdom of God.


THE WONDERS OF HIS CREATIONS

And it is hard not to believe that God was with me on my journey across the land blessed with His wonders. There was one time, I was trekking in Kapangan and I got so exhausted and running out of water that I had to sit down under the shade of a boulder. And when I sat down, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the panorama in front of me. The view was nothing like I had ever seen before! And I said to myself, only a Supreme Being can create this natural beauty and harmony. The wind chilled my face and before I knew it I was already humming "As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship Thee" Strong emotions still well up every time I sing this song even in my mind, probably because of that personal experience with the Divine. But yeah, you could say it was just a hallucination due to exhaustion and desperation.

This is just an insult to the beauty of the actual scenery that took my exhaustion away

You will always shun the idea of a Supreme Force if you have not felt it. You will never understand the euphoria and overwhelming power of the wonders of His creations if you have never traveled and laid eyes on the greatness of this universe. I have seen the faces of my companions as they froze speechless with their mouths agape, mesmerized by the grandeur of the places I took them to.

Who wouldn't stop and stare at this grandeur?!
I have had enough of trying to reject the reality of a personal God. This time, the universe evidently affirms His reality. Now I understand how mortals necessitate themselves to bow down or kneel in front of Greatness. I, too, have felt the urge to show my humility and adoration to the Great One through gestures.

And so I started the journey a man with an unshakable world view and a complete set of standards for Right and Wrong, Proper and Distasteful. After three hundred fifty kilometers and ninety days on the trails of Benguet, I came out a reborn man, baptized in The Holy Spirit with a world view where God is the center and the scope of everything!

And just like Santiago in The Alchemist, I think I could never have found God in the seminary. So don't confine yourself in books and ideas or in the repetitive interaction with the same set of individuals and environment. Travel and keep learning for it is in the different interactions with humans and in witnessing the wonders of God's creations where He reveals Himself and where we learn more and grow as a person.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Devolution of Philippine Mountaineering

The year 2006 will remain an important milestone in Philippine mountaineering history. That year, the battle cry of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition "Kaya ng Pinoy!" reverberated across the country when Leo Oracion set foot on the roof of the world saying "Kung kaya ng Pinoy umakyat ng Mt Everest, kaya ng Pinoy magbago"! Indeed one faction of the Philippine society changed. With that feat and the social media, more and more Pinoys have become inclined with the outdoors. The only difference is that it's much easier now! With just one click, one can already be a part of Wave 76 of a Mt Pulag eco tour! I remember a time when climb itineraries were still hunted printouts. That was also the time when mountaineering clubs were scrambling for the few remaining meteorological terms like hamog, unos, ulap and bagyo which had not yet been used by other groups to name their club. These days, those clubs are starting to find competition in the growing number of tour operators catering to backpacking and climbing. And that's the rule of the game now! You only need to be a member of a Facebook group and wait for a PTP Admin post and you are one step away from your first legit climb! No more training climbs, no more BMC; just your non-refundable reservation deposit!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Honey a la Fear Factor


If it's white then it has larvae

Everyone loves honey but have you tried eating a honeycomb? 

How about a honeycomb with larvae?! That was the first time I did it. But the maggot-like creatures didn't bother me that much. I mean nothing could get any more authentic than that. 


I was just feeling my tongue for itchiness because I was worried that I had some undiscovered allergy to beeswax or bee larvae. The place was three hours away from the nearest clinic.

Okay you may have passed the larvae challenge but what if I told you that this honey could have been harvested from the most repulsive of places!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tacadang: The First Lagataw Invitational Trek

Les-eng rice terraces that turn vibrant green during the rainy season
A local farmer in Tacadang once apologized to a guest for serving domesticated chicken because there was no available canned sardines at the local store. This was the story that got me wanting to visit the place. And now I regret that I had allowed myself to wait that long a time to finally set foot on this paradise.

Tacadang is at least seven hours away on foot from the last road access in Kibungan, Benguet. This is the primary reason why it has remained unspoiled by tourists who can only bear to trek Sagada and Batad in spite of the fact that the beauty of Tacadang surpasses that of those two places! When I saw the whole barangay of Tacadang at a very good viewpoint, I couldn't come up with a better description of the place than 'a plateau that God pressed with his his thumb and bled countless waterfalls that nourish the rice terraces that flank the walls of the cleft'.

the whole plateau that is Brgy Tacadang symmetrically cleaved in the middle;
Les-eng on the left and Tacadang Proper on the right
This is one of the very rare moments when I have to break my "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" travel dictum. I want to share this to a few individuals who are ready to face the physical challenge of the trek this coming August 21-23, 2015  and take on the responsibility of helping preserve this paradise.

The rice terraces of Les-eng become pastureland when rain is scant. Talaktak Falls on the background.
This sight is something you won't see in Batad and Sagada.

between the terraces of Tacadang Proper (left) and Les-eng (right)
falls # 1
the breath-taking drop of the waterfall just 200 meters away from waterfall # 1
The waterfall I thought to be Betotong Falls which turned out to be just the lowest cascade of the inaccessible Betotong

the Machu Picchu-like view of Beneng Falls with a faint view of Kamayan Falls on the right
Kamayan Falls up close; stronger when it rains
Kamayan Falls as seen from Falls # 1
the very tall Talaktak Falls and the inaccessible Betotong Falls

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mt. Timbak: The Never-Before-Seen Edition

You can all flock to La Presa so I can have this view all to myself

Mt. Timbak has been an easy prey for climbers who want to have an 8000+ footer under their belts. Being an easy hike, it often becomes a side trip or a pre-trip to Mt Pulag. And this is how the full splendor of Mt Timbak evades the hurrying tourist.

The glorious sunset of Mt Timbak
Four days ago, while waiting for the endorsement letter (for my ultimate journey) from the governor, I decided to pay a visit to my favorite hideaway in Benguet--Mt Timbak.

And yet another good vista at the summit
In the three days and three nights I spent there, I learned more lessons in life and I got to accomplish a ten-year old mission! I was finally able to see close at hand the unnamed waterfall I had been intending to get to. I had to climb down and up Mt Timbak's version of the Akiki trail to gape at the tallest waterfall I've seen in my life.


I used to always stick my head out of the window on the bus coursing Halsema Highway just to have a glimpse of you!


Now I've finally seen you from the top, side and bottom!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Ultimate Lagataw Journey

Can my Mobex last six months?

Ten years of travelling is probably enough to prepare me for my ultimate journey.

Many would liken this to Supertramping but just like most of my journeys I don't intend to emulate any personage. And I don't want to be different either. Without reference to any other activity, I do what I come up with.

I leave tonight but I don't know when the journey's gonna end. I don't have a concrete plan for my journey, I let my destination guide my way and determine how everything's gonna unfold. I always welcome changes! After all, that's what life is all about! One thing's for sure, though. I plan to be off the grid while doing this. And I'll probably be under the radar throughout the journey.
This is all the plan I have

I would just like to thank my two friends Melo Sanchez of Tingguian Tribe (the official shelter of Lagataw) and Christian Zamora for going out of his way to help me out with the stuff I need.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Run Laon 2015

AJ Mercado and his photo ops with Johnny Salinas at the crater summit
As I have maintained before, organizing events is not my cupof tea. But, once in a while, when I know that the event is worth sharing and the company is worth the time, I would go out of my way to make it happen.

The pilot Run Laon (which I did with just one buddy—Xerxis Tan) left a lot of my friends requesting for a second edition. My stopover in Cebu en route from Leyte to Manila this year was an opportunity to squeeze in RunLaon 2015!

I was joined by nine runners and trekkers from Cebu, Leyte, Negros and Iloilo, most of whom I had already run or climbed with. AJ Mercado and Johnny Salinas were doing this as training for their Mt Apo Sky Race 7 days after. With the help of the former head the guides association in Canlaon City, Jigz Santiago, our permits were secured.
The Mapot Trail entry
Then at 10 in the morning of April 26th, we started our trek/run at the Mapot trail. The lead pack reached Makawiwili Peak around 1pm. And they waited until the whole team assembled there at around 2. 
all ten of us at Makawiwili Peak
I joined the tail pack on our descent and we reached the shoulder campsite a little after 4pm. That time, the lead pack could already be seen as little human figures at the crater. 
The tail pack at the shoulder campsite
That was the cut-off time for the crater summit assault. I decided that the tail pack pass up the chance to take a peek into the crater. As we heard news that the Guintubdan trail authorities disallowed descent in the dark, we had no choice but to use the Mananawin exit trail. The tail pack started the descent and the lead pack caught up quickly at the grassland. 

After that, it was a swift downhill run. I joined the lead pack because I didn’t wanna be an inconvenience to the sweep guide (I didn’t have a headlamp with me).  AJ and I reached the road around 6pm. Immediately after, Johnny, Laurence Ortiz, Rey Angelo Padrique, Rey Anthony Narciso, Jake Liarta and Maria Mahinay joined us. We had to wait for Gene and Vince who joined us around 10pm.

Lots of lessons were learned and more friendships were forged. It felt good to give back trail running its original meaning—No medals, no finishers’ shirts, no competition. Just a natural high with the best of companions on the trail!  This realization has made me reconsider what I had told the team—that I wouldn’t organize events again in a very long time. I think K3 Run and another RunLaon are just around the corner!

The mossy forest of Kanlaon
the enchanted forest of Kanlaon
Feels great to be running with my buddy Jake Liarta again!
Laurence Ortiz who ran his first climb
Gene Libres who ran his first major climb
The ultramarathoner Vincent Parra who ran his first mountain ascent
Seasoned ultra trail runner Johnny Salinas training for his Mt Apo Sky Race and forgot his glasses at the crater
Awarded ultra trail runner Maria Mahinay proud endorser of Silangan Outdoor Equipment
Seasoned ultra trail runner Jake Liarta running down the crater summit



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Experience Palawan and Sagada in One Place


In 2005, I watched in awe as the guide shone his spotlight on the enormous cathedrals and told us every story of each of the stalactite and stalagmite formations in Palawan’s subterranean river which recently made it to the short list of the world’s new wonders of nature. Two years later I would be thrilled by the adventure in Sumaging Cave in Sagada as we scrambled and navigated through its many chambers.


This year, I experienced both of them in one place. 

This lovely waterfall substitutes Sabang beach as a prelude to the underground river

The inexperienced eye would say this is Palawan.

Explore the cave's immense chambers but instead of being on a boat, you get the thrill of swimming and wading through the underground river.

Without a powerful flash, this would be just total darkness and you wouldn't see how clear the water is.
the river could sometimes get dark and deep

The other exit is the icing on the cake.
The exit leads to another barrio.

Locals kids enjoying their own version summer chill! 

at the other end
The stalactite and stalagmite formations may not be that awesome but they're still camera-worthy.

Back at the entrance. Next time, I'll be sure to take my time to enjoy this natural swimming pool.
I'm so fortunate to have been able to enjoy the place before it gets too popular and expensive!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...