Friday, December 14, 2012

Buying a Tent

tents @ Mt Madja-as
Trekking and camping ordinarily involve the use of tents. Your tent is your shelter when you’re out there. And just like any shelter, it should protect you from the elements. Shopping for a tent is like buying a premade house. Houses should be user-and-environment-specific. Before you buy your tent you may want to go through this first.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Minimalist Camping

going solo at Alto Peak in 2006

I have decided to switch to minimalism. Minimalist camping has probably not yet been given a clear-cut international definition. Its definition varies according to region. In some parts of the globe, an ax may be essential. In other places, a rifle or a shotgun should always be on the list. But in the Philippines, the list of equipment may be trimmed down as we have no problems with bears and snow. With this fluid definition of the term, one thing’s for sure: in minimalist camping, the camper should keep his gear down to a minimum.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Malapascua Revisited

Malapascua Legend

When you’re in Cebu City, four hours is all you need in order to extend your weekend. I took the 5 am bus to Maya, the northernmost tip of Cebu mainland. At 9:30 the outrigger boat sailed to the island of Malapascua and after 30 minutes my long Saturday started.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lagataw's New Writer

My new HP Folio 13
When my MSI U160 died last week I had one question in mind.

Vaio T or MacBook Air?

My budget for a speedy ultrabook was P50K. Vaio T and MacBook Air were within the budget.
The Sony Vaio T13
I love Sony products so Vaio was on top of my list. The only initial problem I had with Vaio T was the stupid design! Its two USB ports are both on the left side of the 'dashboard'. That means you'll be forced to buy a blue tooth mouse or depend on the touchpad if you don't want to deal with cords snaking around your laptop. Well, not unless you're left-handed. And your printer should also be conveniently placed on the left. So I was in Cyberzone tinkering with the touchpad of Vaio. Impressively, among ultrabooks in the market today, Vaio's touchpad comes the closest to the versatility of Mac's. But as I was trying its three-finger and four-finger features, it lost its clickability. I could still hover but I couldn't click. Booo!

The Apple MacBook Air
It then left me with just the 11 inch MacBook Air (64GB). I spent about an hour testing the MacBook Air at iStore. And its smooth multi-functional touchpad made other touchpads feel like sandpaper!  My problem with Mac was that I use MS Word extensively at the office and in blogging. I tried using MS Word for Mac but some features in Windows MS Word were either missing or difficult to find. But I knew I would get used to it eventually so software change was not a major problem for me. The price of the MacBook Air, however, turned me off! I don’t have a credit card. I use cash whenever I buy something. Mac don’t offer a lower price for a cash purchase of any of their products, which was very disappointing!

So I went to Silicon Valley to have more options. Next on my list were HP Folio 13 and the rest of the ultrabooks in the market.  What I hate about other ultrabooks is their eagerness to emulate the teardrop shape of MacBook Air. They look flimsy and unoriginal. I wouldn’t want to hear a friend saying “Cool laptop you got there huh! It looks terrifically like a Mac!” . I would have ‘a laptop that looks like a Mac’ for the rest of its operational time. On the other hand, HP and Sony made no attempt, whatsoever, to look like a Mac. Although the keyboard of HP does try to look like the keyboard of the MacBook Pro! What made me decide to get an HP Folio 13 instead?

Lagataw's new home

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mt Lanaya Traverse: Minimalist Camping

my bivvy at Windows campsite

I have recently decided to take minimalist camping to a more intense level. My first taste of minimalist camping was my overnight trek at the Akiki-Ambangeg route in Mt Pulag in 2011. I slept in the cavity of a boulder by the banks of Eddet River. That time I didn’t make use of my stove and cookset. I survived the trek without the usual necessities of a camper.

But last weekend, I took minimalist camping to a higher level. This time, I was more self-reliant. I climbed alone (without a guide) and I took a different entry point and exit point from the ones I took last January. And this time, instead of taking refuge in a boulder, I had to make my very first bivvy. And, I’d love to think that the bivvy I made may have been the best four-point bivvy I’ve known. The destination: Mt Lanaya (Alegria, Cebu).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Remembering Buruwisan

It was a chilly August morning. It took me a bit of a while to realize that we were on a mountain. It is always chilly on the mountains. The music of the stream nearby reassured me we weren't in the city. As I peered through the tent vestibule, I saw my father perched upon a promontory, his chin on his knees, and staring probably at the water below or probably at the space between. He believes space is perceivable by the naked eye. He says we were born with it and we experience it every day so we take it for granted just like our own saliva, which we think is tasteless just because we taste it every day. Occasionally he would be frozen steady, gazing at the horizon obscured by foliage that shifted from purple to blue to dark green. I wondered what was on his mind at that moment. Was it mom again, or another subject for a book? He always has a subject to write. But he’s never finished any book. He would, at times, tell me bits and pieces of them though. He says those subjects are too profound to be contained in just a set of words. He treats those things as if they were sentient beings that deserve to be respected. He maintains that if you can’t perfectly put into words the ideas contained in a single event in the universe, better not verbalize it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mt Panamao: The Disappearing Trail

the campsite and Mt Panamao on the background

"Adonis can you fly to Manila tonight?” “Sorry boss I am in the middle of an island and the only outrigger boat that  plies between this island and the mainland already sailed this morning.” That was the lie I had to make up when I got the message from my boss on my way to Biliran. That was going to be the last and only climb in my one month vacation.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Don't ask where this is. Find another place like this and never tell others how to get there!

In my previous article, I focused on changes to a place that the visitor is not responsible for. In this article I’ll focus on changes that a visitor causes a place. 
The inception of the theme of this article came about when I read a friend’s article on how Calaguas had changed.

A climber can never avoid changing the mountain! As soon as he climbs up the mountain his presence already affects the things that live there. No matter how light you walk, you will always affect the little things that creep underneath the surface that your shoes land on. You somehow disturb the ecological balance of that habitat. The twigs and leaves you tread upon could be food, shelter or tool to some organisms in that habitat. And you will always be an agent of erosion in that place. It gets worse when you have to blaze the trail.

On a philosophical perspective, your act of visiting a place gives others an idea that the place can be visited. When others follow suit, the incremental changes you cause the place pile up and become a large-scale change to the place.

When people live in the place, the effect of your visit is more evident and long-lasting. It may be that some ethnic groups prefer to be secluded. The presence of a stranger in their place distresses them. Some of them may become hostile and some may just relocate. In most areas, the effect of the visit of a stranger is on the people’s attitude. A stranger’s misbehavior may make the locals think of visitors as generally unpleasant. An act of kindness can make locals expect the same act of kindness from the next visitors. And when the act of kindness is not repeated or surpassed by the other visitors, the new visitors are not welcomed the way the previous ones were.

Your visit, especially if repeated quite frequently by more and more people, also gives the locals an idea that the place is sought-after. This idea in combination with the idea that visitors give presents and money, is the major root of greed and extortion among locals and tourism officers in badly-supervised destinations in the country such as Mt Apo.

If you really don’t want to change the place don’t go there.

But the idea that a place can heal itself gives us hope. And healing takes time. The deeper the wound we cause the place, the longer the time it takes to heal it. The park authorities in the Sibulan side of Mt Apo are guided by this principle. In the area where the trail has to cut through thick vegetation, they made more than one route available to trekkers. One route is used for a certain period of time afterwhich the others are used to give the used trail enough time to rehabilitate itself.

And there is a direct correlatiion between the intesity of the impact and the number of visits. The more visitors, the higher the impact. The more frequet the visit is, the higher the impact too. Needless to say, to mitigate the impact, it would be best to travel in small groups and less frequently.

Being a blogger and a traveller at the same time, I have twice as much guilt as those who just travel. By travelling, I directly change the place. By blogging, I give others the idea to travel the same place thereby making the frequency of visits to the place higher.

This line of reasoning has led me to the resolution that I am going to travel less. And this may be bad news to some of my followers, if I blog about a place I can call paradise, I may not tell you how to get there. But I’ll leave you with the idea to explore your own paradise, enjoy it and don’t tell others. Anawangin and Calaguas used to be ‘paradise’ but because of ‘sharing’ they can barely pass for the title now.

This used to be paradise!

Explore! Don’t just follow another explorer’s journey! The lovely islands of the Philippines number to more than 7000 as to be exhausted.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mt Tabayoc: The Face of Change

The settlement on the banks of Lake Tabeo
It was an aborted Bakun Trio in 2006 that led to my discovery of Mt Tabayoc! All I had with me was my scant knowledge of the place—that Mt Tabayoc was the second highest mountain in Luzon and that it was located in Kabayan, Benguet.

When the bus driver refused to take us to Bakun owing to the damaged road, we boarded the bus for Buguias. We told the driver that we were heading for Ballay so he took us beyond the terminus of the bus route. At the boundary between Kabayan and Buguias the driver told us ‘This is as far as I can take you.’ And that’s when we started trekking up the rough and slippery road to Ballay!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freedom Trek Visayas 2012

We Climb And REach out!

The number dwindled from fifteen to just me and Fernz. Contigents from Cebu, Negros and Antique had to take care of their local Freedom Treks which turned out to be successful too. Others just wanted to join Pacquiao in his disappointing bout with Bradley! As many backed out, the itinerary constantly had to be modified. The volunteer doctor wouldn’t be available until the 16th. Without him, we couldn’t administer the prescripition medicine. We initially planned to move the medical mission to the 16th and just focus on the back-to-school project on the 9th. But when we woke up that day (June 9th), both of us (Fernz and me) resolved that the show must go on! So we headed for Caraye carrying some basic school supplies and the over-the-counter medicine that we picked out among the meds that An WARAY donated.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

L is for Let's Celebrate Freedom

I have two and a half hours left here in NAIA Terminal 3 before my boarding time. Too short to write something that would cause a social change but long enough to at least remind everyone of our Independence.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MT PULAG: Ambangeg - Tawangan Over the Weekend

on our way down to Lusod

A journey in Benguet is always worth a story. I’ve travelled the place far and wide but it’s a different feeling when you’re travelling alone with a local family. And the Ballagans are one of those families who know the trails of Mt Pulag National Park like the back of their hands.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TNF 100 Baguio 2012 Results

Josiah and the other 50km podium finishers

I can’t think of any other way to start this article than to express my gratitude to all those who believed with me. I believed in Josiah and so did you! Now we’ve put him in his rightful place on the podium. Thanks to Lukas Lakwatsero, Bhenjo Bernardo, Jules Picato, Jesus Calupitan and friends, and Allan Palomares.

Cordillerans Rule
Josiah with the trail legend Iker Karrera who finished first in the 100k event

The recently concluded TNF100 Thrill of the Trail in Baguio was participated in by more than one thousand trail runners around the world including the trail legend Iker Karrera and one of the top adventure racers in the Asia Pacific region Ryan Blair.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Osmena Peaks

I want to start this article with a note on the name of the location. This cluster of peaks in southern Cebu, which resembles the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, is referred to by three names—Osmeña Peaks, Osmeña Peak and O-Peak. Whether the place had a previous name is as unclear as who christened it as Osmeña Peak. One thing’s for sure, the place is named after a prominent bloodline in Cebu to which the late President Sergio Osmeña belongs. One of the Osmeñas, they say, took refuge in this group of peaks during wartime.   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tinagong Dagat

Visayan Trekkers Forum: Friendship Trek of the Visayans

March 3-4, 2012

This article isn’t about itineraries and budgeting. This is about one of the many lessons LIFE teaches us! This is about an experience!

Last March 3-4, a group of ten individuals representing the islands of Leyte, Cebu and Negros gathered together for the first Visayan Trekkers Forum—Friendship Trek of the Visayans. We were mostly strangers to each other but we were all one in the spirit of unity and camaraderie among Visayan trekkers. The master planner was Gian Carlo Jubela (Cebu). The itinerary architect was Jack Daniel Cerrada (Bacolod). The other participants were Yuri (Leyte/Cebu), Neil (Leyte/Cebu), Duyduy (Cebu), Ed (Cebu), Kathy (Cebu/Negros), Mitch (Cebu), Jigz (Negros) and me (Leyte). We were to embark on a trek in Tanagong Dagat in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pilipinas Akyathlon Results

taken during one of his trainings in Baguio

Josiah Outruns the Country’s Elite Runners

The first-ever International Skyrace in the Philippines has just been concluded. And Josiah Ballagan awed everybody with his very strong performance! The event was a 33-km out and back run in Mt Ugo in Itogon, Benguet last Saturday (February 18).

Josiah finished fifth overall and second among locals with a time of 4:05:40. The Kenyans ruled the race with Chirchir Jackson finishing with a time of 3:42:36 and compatriot Eliud Kprugut Kering finishing after 3:46:08. A local runner from Bicol, Mario Maglinao came in 3rd with 3:59:46 who was followed by the Malaysian Saffrey Sumping with 4:01:14. But the very strong uphill runner Josiah was the third to reach the summit (behind the two Kenyans).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CANCER Kissed My Ass

1. What is Cancer Kissed My Ass?

a. When/How was the inception?

Showing my ass in public started after I survived colon cancer (Stage 3 Recto-Sigmoid CA). That was in 2005. Nurses and doctors often saw my butt during radiation therapy, colonoscopy and other procedures. Nasanay na lang siguro ako.  One of my doctors recommended only one option – “colostomy” (a surgical procedure that involves cutting the anus, connecting a part of the colon onto the anterior abdominal wall which leaves the patient with an opening on the abdomen) which means I cannot use my ass again. But God didn’t allow that to happen. But miracles do happen! During the operation they discovered that colostomy wasn’t necessary. Praise God!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Geronimo Rectum Pablo

Who is Geronimo Rectum Pablo?

You might not know his name but you sure as hell have seen his ass in one form or another on the mountaintops of the Philippines!

This ass-showcasing of his has attracted a variety of reactions from outdoorspeople on social networking sites. But what really is the deal behind the behind of Geronimo Rectum Pablo?! You’ll find out soon in my next post.

This man behind the cause 'Cancer Kissed My Ass' will answer the following questions in my next post.

       1.       What is Cancer Kissed My Ass?
a.       When/how was the inception?
b.      Mission and/or vision (or What do you wish to accomplish out of this?)
c.       People behind the scenes
        2.       How do you carry out this project?
a.       How is it similar to / different from other projects?
        3.       What made you start this project?
        4.       Tell me something about rectal cancer(???). How is life with this cancer? How does it feel   to survive this cancer?

        5.       Why should people support your cause?

        6.       Why should people not support your cause?

        7.       Showing your behind in public may seem offensive and lewd to others. How do you react to this?

        8.       Who is Geronimo Rectum Pablo?

       9.       Please provide the website/webpage of this project. I would also like to request for (an) image(s) that I can use in my article.

10.  You may have addressed this in #2 but just in case…One might say ‘There is already CAC! Why don’t you just join them?!’ 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

CALAGUAS: Island Paradise of the East

Calaguas is a group of wave-beaten islands clustering in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Camarines Norte. When I first heard of this destination, I thought it was just another virgin island anonymously dubbed as the Boracay-of- so-and-so. But in February, 2010, I had to change that line—Boracay is the Calaguas of the West!

I am probably the last travel blogger to write about this destination. I’m sure you’ve already heard and read stories about its beauty and allure. So, here I’ll be sharing something that you might not have heard of yet about the destination. But the reader must take note that this is based on the blogger’s experience in February 2010. Things may have drastically changed through time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mt Lanaya: Sea to Summit Traverse Dayhike

atop kalo-kalo
Alegria, Cebu
N 09˚42.242’ E 123˚21.165’
2238 ft asl

Covered Distance on foot
7.10 km
Moving Time
2 hrs 36mins
Stop Time
4 hrs 20mins
Total Ascent (Elevation Gain)
2472 ft
Fluids consumed
500ml Pocari Sweat +  500ml water

I used to know only two mountains in Cebu—Osmeña Peak and Mt Manunggal. But when I came here to climb again last January 20, I heard of other trekking destinations in the island. There’s Mt Lanaya, Mt Kan-irag, Mt Babag, the Cantabaco Walls and a lot of waterfalls in the south.

The mountains in Cebu are not very lofty. The highest, being Osmeña Peak, is just 3422 fasl. But the views and the experience will make you want to come back for more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bundokipedia (Part 2)

my e-camp at Mt Apo
Emergency Camp:a camp set up before reaching the desired destination due to bad weather, climber’s incapacity and other constraints.
Unexpected turn of events may modify the desired itinerary. The most common reason for e-camps is when night falls and the climbing party can’t seem to find the trail. The climbing party should wait for the sun to guide them the following day. But many expedition leaders opt to explore the area by themselves and try to find the trail to the desired destination. When successful, the trek resumes. When one member of a climbing party gets injured, exhausted or, in general, incapacitated to continue the trek, the group or a sub-group should set up an e-camp. E-camps are usually not as convenient as the desired campsite. The e-camp site is usually small and not horizontally flat. During an e-camp, the group should make another contingency plan. If injury is the reason, the climbing party should administer first aid to the injured climber. When ready and if necessary, the injured climber should be safely brought back down the mountain to be given proper medical attention. If not necessary, the group may opt to resume the trek whenever physically ready. If the reason for the emergency camp is hostile weather conditions, the climbing party most often aborts the trek and safely descends whenever ready and rested.
E-camp na tayo. Baka lalo pa tayo maligaw pag i-push natin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Buying Your Next Foot Gear?

When you’re climbing a mountain, you’re climbing a mountain. You’re not doing a leisurely walk along the beach. Nor are you walking on tiled aisles of malls and churches! Proper foot gear is essential! You might have heard your expedition leader stressing the importance of proper foot gear during the pre-climb meeting. But still you’d be hearing questions and comments like ‘Okey naman ata tong Havaianas ko diba? Matibay naman to e ’ or ‘Sa States galing tong Adidas na to, hindi to basta basta bibigay’. Although injuries resulting from bad foot gear may rarely be fatal, they sometimes put you in so much pain and spoil an otherwise fun trip!If you’re not willing to spend on a functional pair of foot gear, be ready to face the consequences. But if you don’t mind spending a couple of more bucks for your safety and comfort, you might find the following tips useful.
I classify Philippine hiking foot gear into four levels: the camp foot gear, the trekking sandals, the all-terrain shoes and thetrekking shoes or boots.

YOU deserve a holiday!
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