Friday, September 21, 2018

Somewhere Only We Know

My birthday is just around the corner and since I'm not leaving the country this time, I'm racking my brains for a good destination. And these images keep taunting me!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Profile Picture

Namiss ko lang bigla ang ma-excite gumamit ng profile pic na may sea of clouds.

Before I knew it, I'm way over it na pala. I know...wala pala akong Facebook. Pero if I should make a new account, sea of clouds wouldn't be a big factor in choosing a profile picture.

In one world a sea of clouds profile pic would say 'astig ka'. In another it would say 'you're a newbie'. Whatever it is, your profile picture somehow summarizes who you are in social media. In fact, nung nag-oorganize pa ako ng treks, I would quickly reject applicants whose profile picture is Mt Maculot. Sorry na. Judgmental lang talaga.

Pero your time will come. Pagsasawaan mo rin yang Mt Kinabalu profile pic mo. Sa ngayon, namnamin mo lang muna kung ano ka.

Friday, August 31, 2018


I miss my childhood years. Back then, I'd just knock on neighbors' doors, and me and three of my friends would be off to Pantalan. Now Carigara Bay has been transformed from a once clear and blue bay to a murky  body of water--a helpless victim to siltation due to unregulated logging for more than two decades. But the sunset is still beautiful. No big ships still dock there so its long stretch is still a lovely place to spend the late afternoons. Two decades from now, a young Carigaran-on today could be reminiscing about this sunset.

I want to go solo camping in Alegria but a guide is required now. I don't mind the fee, I just don't need some unsolicited company.

I am now in the tiny island of Mactan but all the beautiful shorelines have been fenced by resorts. So much for my Boca del Cielo daydreaming!

Apparently what we see in movies where you just get outside and find a place where you could contemplate and meditate has become more and more elusive.

But I believe I'll find one such place once again. I just know so.

Friday, July 20, 2018

How To Save A Life

I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life

Based on the photo above, which guy, do you think decided to commit suicide the following day?

Karamihan sa atin na mga hikers ay escapist. Umaakyat sa kabundukan upang makalimutang sandali ang masalimuot na buhay sa kapatagan. 

Ten years ago, a very good climb buddy invited me to climb Mt Cristobal just the two of us. 'Bro, bat ngayon? Huwebes pa a!' ang reply ko sa text nya. 'Sige mauna na lang muna ako sa Majayjay tas sa Sabado kita na lang tayo sa San Pablo!' Ganun talaga yun, there was no way to dissuade him kung may maisipan syang gawin. Masaya ang naging akyat namin pero batid ko sa tema ng mga pahiwatig nya nung nag-iinuman na kami kinagabihan na may mabigat na dinadala ang kaibigan ko. Alam ko naman na na may problema sya kasi yun lang naman dahilan namin pag umaakyat kami nang dalawa lang kaming magkasama. Ang ibig sabihin nun, may problema ang isa sa amin. Subalit, kagaya ng kinagawian, we'd climb and laugh the night away without discussing our problems and the following day, we'd realize how trivial our issues were and how beautiful life is. Kaya ayun panay block ko sa mga pahiwatig nya.

Kinabukasan bago sya sumakay sa bus papuntang Manila, isang tapik sa balikat at isang sulyap sa ngiting hindi malilimutan ang paalam nya. Little did I know, that was the last smile I would see of him.

Rest in peace brother

Sari-saring circles of friends nya ang nagtipon-tipon nung lamay nya -- may mga tattoista, punkista, mountaineers at mga kababata nya. And all of them were wondering kung bakit sa akin, na bagong kaibigan lang, nagpaalam si Nixon. Ngunit may isa ding anggulo kung saan hindi pagpapaalam ang pakay nya. Maaaring isa pala akong baka-sakali sa araw na yun. Baka-sakaling mabigyan ko sya ng dahilan at pag-asa na mabuhay pa. And I am forever thankful to him for considering me as such and perpetually resentful of myself for refusing to be his baka-sakali, for blocking all the signs and for thinking that his problems were too small and that the strange tapik and ngiti were all too corny. 

This photo was taken that night the song 'How to Save a Life' by The Fray made so much sense. I really would have stayed up with you buddy all night had I known how to save a life. 

So I am advising all of you not to commit the same mistake I made. If God gave you the gift for words, the opportunity to be a very good friend to someone, use it no matter how silly it would look. 

Always remember that the prelude to suicide could be as positive as a carefree smile.

Don't judge. Save a life! 

When God took you back He said hallelujah you're home!

Blooger's note: This was originally posted on my defunct Facebook page. I have decided to post this on my blog so that the message may be perpetuated and that more good lives may not be wasted. Please share to spread awareness on depression and mental health.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

On Phone Calls and Privacy

In one of my recent sessions with my learner, we discussed a three-minute video from The Wall Street Journal (online) focusing on how voice messages could be more practical than text on Messenger, WhatsApp, Line and other messaging apps. It starts with the fact that phone calls have largely been replaced by text messages and it goes on to the prospect of text messages eventually becoming replaced by voice messages. A phone call, the video says, requires your instant attention. A text message, on the other hand, gives you the leeway to carry on doing what you are tied up with at the moment and the freedom to choose not just what and when to reply but also when to open the message.  This is the reason why texting has become more popular. In a sense, it gives you greater control of your time and privacy. But, according to the video, the microphone icon on messaging apps has slowly gained popularity in many business settings. To some, it could be bothersome to key in every character of their message. What would require a full minute to key in all the characters in 'Please let me know when you'll be available for a discussion on the beta testing of our new inventory system' could be reduced to a quarter of the time and much less mechanical energy. Moreover, in text messages, there is more room for misinterpretation of the emotion or mood that you want to go with your message.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Life In Transit

I miss my bus rides to Baguio and back to Manila!

I miss listening to the music they played. 

I miss looking out the window.

My bus rides had always been about surrendering to and living in the moment. I loved the stops and the length of time the ride had to take. It reminded me that I was inside the bus and that I couldn't do anything about it: that there was no point worrying about things. I loved the music I'd hear on board. It didn't matter what song they played. What mattered was the fact that some artists put together all their gifts to create that song. I loved looking at the views that presented themselves out the window. I would always imagine I had been on Mars or on the Moon for a long time and I'd instantly feel happy looking at each withered leaf and twig on the ground. I'd always be filled with awe, wonder and joy looking at how Life thrives on Earth.

It's a beautiful life!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Facebook-free Life

photo taken during my talk at AkyatCon 2.0

It's been a week since I deactivated my two Facebook accounts. And I feel free. I no longer feel like I'm living a life that others wanted to see or that I wanted others to see. I can't say it had been a bad life. But I sure can say it had been a life preoccupied with vanity. Now I can feel more peace. The clamor in the audience has died down. The audience has disappeared. Now I can catch up on my reading and blog posts. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mt Baloy: The First and The Last.

On my fourth attempt, this decade-old quest was finally fulfilled.
With my buddy and brother by choice Kevin Jauod
Photo by Mark IAL
I should be writing a great deal about my recent Mt Baloy climb. After all, Mt Baloy has been my toughest nemesis of a mountain. And we took a route that is less taken by hikers: the circuit from San Agustin to Busog. But I guess this is what they call retirement phase.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tracing Iraynon Bukidnon Trails (TIBT) 2018 Race Report

The top two finishers of the 50K distance teaming up to battle the sweltering summer heat of Antique and the unforgiving talahib of Laua-an.
(photo courtesy of Mark Ian Vescatcho)

The inaugural 50K of Tracing Iraynon-Bukidnon Trails has been a testimony of the struggle, fortitude, defeat and victory of the human spirit! Everyone came prepared, so they thought. But what transpired during the race proved to be an overwhelming shocker even to those who had reconnoitered the route before the race. In the end only seven of the pioneering twenty-two brave warriors crossed the finish line within the 15-hour cut-off time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mountain Horror Stories You Never Heard

Fear of the unknown keeps us going.

Our imagination is easily tickled by the story of the roving couple of Mt Cristobal; or Maricar, the lady who jumped off the 'dila' of Mt Maculot; or Taong Lumot of Mt Halcon and all other horror stories of many popular mountains in the country.

But I'm not gonna talk about them this time. Instead, I'll tell you of real-life horrors during treks. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


As a man was passing by a group of elephants, he noticed that one of the elephants was leashed to a small stake on the ground using a flimsy rope tied around one of its legs. Surprisingly, however, it wouldn't attempt to break away even though it could pull out the stake with just a budge of its huge legs. Filled with wonder, he asked the trainer why it was so. The trainer told him that, when those elephants were younger, they were restrained using the same set-up. A few times  they tried to get away but they were still too young and too weak to break the leash. And they grew up conditioned to believe that they could not break loose.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Kagaya ng pag-ibig, wala ring forever na view...yung akala mong pure nature na panorama
biglang makikiapid si hand railings pagbalik mo (photo by Ed Glipa).

Many misconstrue Lagataw's 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' Policy as greed -- that we don't want to share the experience to others. But in truth, it's quite the opposite! We don't disclose logistical information to others fearing that these others might take the wrong people to these treasured destinations.

You bring someone who panics when his substandard burner malfunctions, you burn Mt Pulag as a result. And all of a sudden everyone else may now be required to carry a portable fire extinguisher. The old experience is lost and can no longer be shared.

You organize a climb through the Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun route and you allow a fresh graduate of Mt Batulao to join you and she slips off Taktak or early on at the 'via ferrata' segment. All of a sudden Kibungan closes the route labeling it as 'not safe for TOURISTS'. And the qualified adventure-seekers can no longer experience the same thrill that the previous participants did.

This is the main reason why I reconsider many times over before I admit an organizer into the climbing party. Many organizers indiscriminately take guests to trekking destination oblivious of the technicality of the route.

As it is, this activity of climbing mountains is just not for everyone. The incapacity and ineptitude of many tourists fuel the pervasive Safety First dogma that consequently changes not just the landscape (via infrastructure that ensures the safety of selfie kings and queens) but the whole experience as well.

This photograph can no longer be replicated...

...because now, a fence has been constructed to ensure the safety of tourists (photo by Aris Aglupus)

Remember that when you cause a mishap on a climb, you're not only jeopardizing your group. You are affecting the whole industry! So I'm not sorry if I refuse you on my treks.

We don't ask and we don't tell because we want to share!

If you think others need to know this, don't hesitate to share it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Project Onifa: A Mission; A Prophecy

I'm probably the creepiest stalker of Champion System (now The North Face Adventure Team) -- a team of elite adventure racers across Asia. And for a very long time, I had wanted to see a Filipino guy in their roster.

Ryan Blair at TNF100 Ph 2012

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten and one Hiking Stuff I No Longer Include on my Top Ten Hiking Stuff List

1. Bag Tags

Our climb ID during the first Lagataw Invitational Climb

I used to think climb bag tags were cool. We called them 'climb ID' . They were considered a validation for one’s being a ‘mountaineer’. I had two—one during my first Mt Pulag Climb in 2006 and another from the Mt Pulag invitational climb I organized in 2011. But these days, I see them as an indicator for hikers who have not outgrown their newbie fervor. I wonder if the likes of Romi Garduce still rave about bag tags. But bag tags are not solely for pormahan. They serve other meaningful purposes for others.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Lagataw Difference

Some of the destinations we take our friends to. (photo by Josh Pasia)

When I was kid I was the only child in the family who had roamed beyond the two-block radius around our home before reaching the age of six. In fourth grade, while everyone was using saw dust to show creativity in our map project, I used crushed egg shells for my map of Leyte. I have always had this thirst for uniqueness and discovery; to do what others do differently. And I’ve taken this principle even in my treks. Here are some of the things that make Lagataw treks different.

YOU deserve a holiday!
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