a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tawi-Tawi Series : Hiking Bud Bongao

After covering the activities of the 44th Kamahardikaan Tawi-Tawi in Languyan(see post here), we traveled back to Bongao for some sightseeing. I was especially excited to hike Bud Bongao, a mountain which has long been on my bucket list. :)

Bud (mountain) Bongao is a small peak in the provincial capital with the same name, just 342 meter high with a stairs trail from jump-off to its summit. Sacred to locals, it is frequented by people practicing Islam who pray in tampats (burial shrines) along the trail.
At the top of Bud Bongao with my fellow bloggers, Marky/Nomadic Experiences, Ferdz/Ironwulf, Potpot/Travel Trilogy, Olan/The Travel Teller/ & Celine/Celineism (Photo from Ferdz Decena)
When we got to the jump-off at past 8:00 AM, the sun was high up and the humidity was uncomfortable. I don't mind. I was just excited to finally set foot here. :) (Tip : Since you'll be passing some open trails, it's  ideal to hike early in the morning to avoid the heat. Trail opens at 6:00 AM.) 

The tasking concrete stairs trail is built in the middle of a forest, making it doable for those without hiking experience and even more manageable for those who come just to pray. I prefer natural trails but if it will benefit more people and get them closer to nature, then I'm all for it. 

Halfway through, we encountered lots of monkeys that gladly took the bananas visitors threw at them. I was initially freaked out at the sight of monkeys everywhere but when I saw a mother monkey carrying its baby, I was smitten, it's so cute! :) 

The hike up normally takes 1-2 hours depending on your pace.  As this is my first time here, I took my sweet time, taking in the scenery of a forest filled with tall trees, the sound of birds and monkeys. 

There are two viewing decks before the summit and on the peak itself. Both offer breathtaking views of Celebes sea. You'll also spot the airport runway in Sanga-Sanga and the islands of Simunul and Sibutu. 

I had a sunburn from island hopping the day before. Thankfully, the summit has a nice, covered sitting area, very ideal for those who want to take a long break and enjoy the view and fresh air. (Tip : There are no stores here so better bring your own water and snacks.  Before reaching the summit, we saw a vendor selling cold drinks but I'm not sure if he's here everyday)
our group at the summit of Bud Bongao (Photo from Al Dam of Tausug Traveler)
After our hike, still sweaty and all, we rushed back to town  for lunch at the affable mayor Jimuel Que's residence. Incidentally, it's his dad's death anniversary and their home is open for everyone needing a good meal. Hehe! I stuffed myself with fried chicken and despite the heat, I still drank native coffee after. Their coffee's really good! don't miss it when in Tawi-Tawi.  Aside from lunch, we also joined a quick media interview with him, DOT ARMM Secretary Ayesha Dilangalen, Bongao Tourism Officer Kinlene Sabaani, our last activity in the province.  You can read about it in this article by Ace Perez of Sun Star Davao | Bongao Lures Tourists.

How to get to Bud Bongao, Tawi-Tawi 
From Manila, take a plane to Zamboanga City. From Zamboanga city, you can either *fly to Bongao or ride a boat  via Aleson Shipping Lines
Aleson Shipping Lines schedule (Note : Schedules may change. Please contact them directly on the numbers provided below to confirm the schedule.)  
Zamboanga to Bongao - 6:00 PM, Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays
Bongao to Zamboanga - 6:00 PM every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
Zamboanga Ticketing Office +63(62) 992-5507, 992-6410, 992-4585 

*Cebu Pacific flies from Zamboanga to Bongao every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

From Bongao town proper, take a tricycle to the jump-off. It'll take about 30-40 minutes up. Not sure about the fare since we took a private van going here. To give you an idea, the tricycle fare from the town proper to sunset boulevard in Sanga-Sanga, which is near Bud Bongao is 150 Pesos/tricycle.  You may have to pay a bit more.

Other info :
- The park is open from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
- Smoking is not allowed
Entrance fees :
10 Pesos for locals
5 Pesos for 7 yrs old to 18 yrs old
20 Pesos for visitors from outside of Bongao
- the trail is straightforward and there is no need to hire a guide
- there's an ambulant vendor selling cold bottled drinks near the peak but I recommend bringing your own water to reduce plastic waste :)

Where to Stay in Bongao
We stayed at Rachel's place near the town proper. 
Rachel's Place Hotel & Restaurant
Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
Contact Number : +63 (068)268-1248

Facebook Page : Rachel's Place Tawi-Tawi
Room Rates : 1, 200 Pesos for a matrimonial room to 3000 Pesos for a family room (as of September 2017)

To travel  to Tawi-Tawi safely, please get in touch with the following :
Provincial Tourism Office of Tawi-Tawi
Mr. Mobin Gampal (PTO Officer)
Contact number: +63 977 230 9061
Email Address: pto_tawitawi@yahoo.com
Facebook Page : PTO Tawi-Tawi (first contact)
Facebook Page : Department of Tourism - ARMM 

Travel Guides : 
Tawi-Tawi Travel Guide by Travel Up | Cebu Pacific Air City Guide, Tawi-Tawi

NOTE : This trip was made possible by Department of Tourism - ARMM. Last September, I traveled with fellow bloggers and members of the media from Mindanao to cover the 44th Kamahardikaan Tawi-Tawi, the province's founding anniversary. A DIY (Do It Yourself) trip to Tawi-Tawi is possible, just get in touch with the provincial tourism office of Tawi-Tawi on the contact details provided above. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Adventure Farm at Timberland Heights

Living in Metro Manila, one can easily travel to Rizal for a quick outdoor adventure. About an hour from Quezon City (depending on traffic), the nearby province offers biking, running and hiking trails that can be enjoyed by people of varying fitness levels. 

Read : Travel Up | 5 Places to Mountain Bike near Manila 

An addition to its outdoor playgrounds is Adventure Farm, an education farm concept that provides visitors a preview of farm life while learning about plants and raising animals. Though the layout is designed for kids, adults looking for a fun and easy time are welcome too!

Check out our hike at  Mt. Lubog, Rizal here.

Adventure Farm opened in 2014 and is a project of Filinvest Land Inc., one of the leading real estate developers in the country and the same group behind Timberland Heights subdivision, where the farm is.  

On an overnight camp with my fellow bloggers, we tried its latest attraction, the Adventure Playground, a 1.25 KM natural trail lined with obstacles. I've been hustling weeks before so on the day of the camp, all I wanted to do was pick some vegetables at the farm and sip cold lemongrass (the welcome drink) all day, but I've already committed to joining the challenge against Team Timberland. Years of playing in the football varsity has trained me to go on auto pilot and show up where I need to be. So there I stood at the starting line with my friends, dressed in all black, psyching myself to embrace the thrill of running outdoors and getting myself dirty. 
One of the obstacles along the trail. Photo from Dennis Murillo 
Fortunately, the obstacle course was much more fun than I expected. I've been watching too much American Ninja Warrior (check out an exciting clip here if you're not familiar with the show) that I somehow convinced myself that the challenge would be just as hard. Silly thoughts

While it was not as easy as a walk in the park, it gave us a good sweat. The kind of sweat that makes you happy and hungry after. :P (Tip : If trying this out, wear closed shoes with a good traction as the trail can get really muddy and slippery). 

My favorite part of course was crawling in the mud. Being short, challenges where I have to kneel to the ground  are easy for me. Parang normal na lakad lang, haha! Add my predilection to mud and there I was, having the time of my life. Background : The movie, Ghost has permanently romanticized touching mud for me. (Here's the clip I'm talking about. :P It's got a steamy scene so you'll probably have to log in on your YouTube account to verify you're above 18 so you can watch it ;))
A section of the Adventure Playground. Photo by Dennis Murillo.
Team Timberland got to the finish line first but we really enjoyed the obstacle course that we also felt like we won, ending our quest with loud cheers and some weird dancing. 

If you fancy a quick workout with your friends, Adventure Playground also accepts walk-ins with a minimum of 5 PAX from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but  I still recommend getting in touch in advance as there might be bigger groups coming in (contact details below). 

After cleaning up, we set our camp at a hilltop overlooking La Mesa Dam and the rest of the city. When darkness set in and the light from the infrastructures came on, everything in the distance sparkled, giving us a different perspective of the city. 

There's a decent bathroom and shower room facilities just a few feet from our campsite, making it more comfortable, especially for those who don't want to rough it out too much.   While I'm used to doing my thing outdoors, having clean facilities nearby is nicer and eases my paranoia from being attacked by an animal while sitting on the grass. :P

Aside from the Adventure Playground, there's plenty of other things to do out here. The farm is marketed for kids but adults who are interested in plants and animals can also enjoy. I advise you to get a a guided farm tour (150 Pesos/head) so you can get more information on how they're running the place.

Those looking for a venue to hold pictorials and prenups are also encouraged to visit. For rates, see contact details provided below.

Here's an infographic of what you can see at Adventure Farm. 
Infographic provided by Adventure Farm
Other activities : 
- chicken feeding
- fish feeding
- city viewing at Tree Troop
- relax at Hilltop Haven
- vegetable picking (pay for what you get later)
- birdwatching (binocular rental at 100 Pesos/piece, can be shared)
- fishing (rod rental at 100 Pesos/hour, can also be shared within the group)
- waterfalls trekking (150 Pesos/head, minimum of 5 in a group. 50% downpayment must be paid in advance 7 days prior to desired schedule, the remaining half to be paid at the farm)
- camping (advance reservation is required. Rate : 600 Pesos/head. Tent rental with a capacity of 2 persons is at 500 Pesos)
- biking (bike rental is at 100 Pesos/head per hour inclusive of safety gear, with an additional 50 Pesos for the succeeding hour)

Potted Herbs are sold at the shop for 50 Pesos/pot. Herbs like lavander, stevia, peppermint, aloe vera and more are available. They also have native tree seedlings at 150 Pesos/regular seedling. 

With its proximity from Manila, activities available and reasonable rates, Adventure Farm is a good option for those who are looking for a light outdoor adventure. 

Adventure Farm

Timberland Heights, San Mateo Rizal
Facebook Page : @AdventureFarmPH
Rates (in Philippine Pesos) :
Entrance Fee - 50 Pesos 
Guided Tour - 150 Pesos/head

For booking inquiries, please get in touch with Adventure Farm directly. 
Call + 63(02)571-9116
Email : adventurefarmtimberlandheights@gmail.com
Location Map

NOTE :  This trip was a collaboration with Adventure Farm. Thanks to Jon Tablante and to the rest of team Timberland! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tawi-Tawi Series : Kamahardikaan Tawi-Tawi & Agal-Agal Festival

Every September, Tawi-Tawi celebrates Kamahardikaan, its anniversary as a province. Held on the same week is Agal-Agal Festival, which highlights the province's top product, agal-agal, the local word for seaweed. On its 44th year,  the municipality of Languyan played host, about an hour away by speedboat from Bongao, the provincial capital. This being my first visit to Tawi-Tawi, I was very excited and didn't mind the arduous travel to get here, about 15 hours of air, land and sea travel from Manila! 
Contingent from Bongao wins 3rd place
Together with fellow bloggers and traditional media from Mindanao, we covered various activities during the five day celebration,  showcasing the culture & history of the  Sama, Badjao, Jama Mapun and Tausug, the four major indigenous groups in Tawi-Tawi. 

Related Post : Zamboanga-Basilan birthday trip (this post was written 2011, I was more hyperactive back then :P)

One of the festival's highlights was the parade and the street dancing competition. This year, it was participated by 9 of the 11 municipalities of the province with each contender presenting a glimpse of their traditions through dance, music and their costumes. Having limited knowledge on traditional dances, my level of appreciation was at a basic level - how I felt while watching the performances. Most of the performances were engaging and I was in awe after witnessing the pangalay for the first time. Pangalay is a traditional dance by the Tausug in the Sulu Archipelago and Sabah (Malaysia). Characterized by graceful movements of the fingers, elbows, shoulders and wrists, it resembles a form of martial arts in the Malay archipelago (Source : EDC Dance Company)

One of my companions who studied pangalay,Travel Trilogy,  did a better job of explaining their performances. Check out his post here.

Here's a snippet of Sapa-Sapa's performance at the 44th Agal-Agal Festival.  

The top three winners were Sapa-sapa (1st pace), Simunul (2nd place) and Bongao (3rd place). Each won 1 Million Pesos in cash and 5 Million Pesos worth of project for their respective municipality. Whoa! 
Participants from Languyan 
More info about the festival here :  Ironwulf.Net |  Tawi-tawi Agal-Agal Festival 2017 at Languyan     

Next year's Kamahardikaan & Agal-Agal Festival will be in Sitangkai. About 6 hours from Bongao by boat, it is famous for its stilt houses and a community surrounding a canal, somehow reminiscent to the popular waterway  in Venice, Italy. 

More festival photos here.

Related Post : Hiking Bud Bongao

Tawi-Tawi boasts of  beautiful mosques,  white sand beaches, peace-loving, kind people and good coffee.  Unfortunately, its reputation is marred by reports of kidnapping and the stigma of  being part of ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), a section of southern the Philippines with a long history of conflict. It is also included in a Travel advisory for US Citizens (read here).  The local government wishes to change that. To travel  to Tawi-Tawi safely, please get in touch with the following :
Provincial Tourism Office of Tawi-Tawi
Mr. Mobin Gampal (PTO Officer)
Contact number: +63 977 230 9061
Email Address: pto_tawitawi@yahoo.com
Facebook Page : PTO Tawi-Tawi
Facebook Page : Department of Tourism - ARMM 

Tawi-Tawi Travel Guide by The Lakwatsero here.
Related blog : Celineism | Tawi-Tawi's Colorful Agal-Agal Festival

NOTE : This trip was made possible by the Department of Tourism - ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) headed by Secretary Ayesha Dilangalen. Thanks again for bringing us here, it's a dream come true!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Travel News : Starting the Christmas Vibe withTaiwan Excellence

Last September 29 - October 1, a showcase of Taiwan's best brands was held at the SM Mall of Asia Main Atrium. Taiwan Excellence Experience Zone 2 featured products which has earned the Taiwan Excellence seal.  

Sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) organizes the Taiwan Excellence campaign to promote innovative and superior-quality products, and encourage Taiwan innovators to continue transforming current technologies.
Travel info on Taiwan? Read : Poor Traveler | Taiwan on a budget  

In this 3-day event, Taiwan Excellence brought its sports and leisure products to the spotlight. Visitors got a first-hand experience of products that maximize active lifestyles, such as the Johnson S3+ Spinner Bike, which parallels the rigors of a spinning workout, while at home. Meanwhile, a Revolution Tri-Max Fabric can be the perfect gift for your athletic and sporty friends (See related post, Gift Ideas for Outdoor Lovers). This suit is made from special super-stretch fiber to support muscle, boost performance and reduce body soreness after exercise.

There’s also a plethora of options for the ride you and your loved ones have been looking for — the Verge X10, with its ultra-light wheels getting you places in style, the Strida LT making riding, carrying and storing your bike superbly convenient, as it folds in 5 seconds tops, or a Kymco Xciting 400 motorcycle,which makes riders feel completely safe, while enjoying the pleasures of driving. 

Beyond the booths and presentations, the 3-day event gathered the thrill-seeking crowds for activities, performances, fashion shows, games, and raffle draws.

The first 50 registrants qualified for a draw to win a signed basketball from the one and only, Philippine Basketball Association player Doug Kramer. The Gosiengfiao Sisters (October 1) also made an appearance, while other performers included Angeline Quinto (September 29), 4th Impact (September 30), Inigo Pascual (October 1), and the Judy’s Harmonica Ensemble.

About Taiwan Excellence
The symbol of Taiwan Excellence honors Taiwan’s most innovative products that provide tremendous value to users worldwide. All products carrying this symbol have been selected for specific Taiwan Excellence Awards based on their excellence in design, quality, marketing, Taiwanese R&D, and manufacturing. Started by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), R.O.C. in 1992, the symbol of Taiwan Excellence is recognized by 101 countries.

NOTE : Post is from a press release.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Beginner Friendly Hike : Mt. Kalisungan

Mt. Kalisungan in Calauan, Laguna is another good option if you're looking for a short & moderately challenging hike near Manila. The trail starts easy at a farm, then onto a moderately steep trail all the way to the summit. Though forested, you'll hardly feel any wind, making it a very uncomfortably humid hike. Making up for all that sweat is the view at the summit! Here, you can enjoy a scenery of nearby mountains and the lakes of San Pablo. 
approaching Mt. Kalisungan
If you're planning to stay at the summit for a while, bring a cap or umbrella as the peak is a grassland with no trees. 

Read : 12 Useful Things to Bring on your First Mountain Hike

This was my third visit to Mt. Kalisungan and though the trail and the views are the same, the experience is unique. I'm  happy with the new friends I met (hello Cess, PJ, Red, Rod, Razel and Ana!) and the food we enjoyed after :P.

Our group at the summit of Mt. Kalisungan (Photo fr PJ Sapoco)
Mt. Kalisungan can be tackled as a short day hike, combined with a second hike to nearby Mt. Mabilog (post here) or as an extended day hike to its neighboring peak, Mt. Atimla (post here). 

More Tips!
- Wear a dri fit shirt as you'll be sweating buckets due to the humidity. Bringing a foldable fan or  umbrella is also a good idea.
- After your hike, you can change at the bathrooms at the jump-off and eat at Itlog ni Kuya, a roadside eatery along the main highway in Victoria, just near the junction where you can see a giant duck statue. You can also make your way to UP Los Banos where there are a lot of good food! (Read ELBI : The real "food trip"  | Food Trip Under 500 UP Los Banos).  
refreshing ourselves with fresh fruit shakes at Vega Center in Los Banos, Laguna.
This stall near the mall entrance serves really good and affordable shakes! (Photo from Cess)
On this hike, I brought 1.5 liters of water (I froze 500 ML the night before so I have something cold to drink while hiking). Bring more if you get thirsty often. For snacks, I bring food that sustain energy on the trail such as almonds, cashew, sliced apples, orange, healthy snack bars and for long hikes, energy gels. 

How to get here 
My friend arranged for this hike so I didn't keep track of the fees. However, I found a helpful itinerary from The Novice Trekker, check out his post here.

Thanks Gid (and Wang for the ride!) for letting me tag along this hike. :) 

"If this inspires you to climb a mountain, just remember to preserve what Mother Nature has to offer. Reduce your impact leave no trace." 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Travel News | Singapore Travel Showcase in Manila on Sept. 15-17, 2017

Less than four hours away from Manila by plane,  Singapore offers endless options for food, shopping (here's a list of malls)  and nature parks (more info here). Even the Changi airport is a destination on its own  (Airport guide here)!

If you plan to visit Singapore soon, read on for some news from our PR friends.

"Visit the  Singapore Travel Showcase at SM Megamall Fashion Hall (in Mandaluyong city) from September 15-17, 2017. The showcase will feature collaborations between Singapore – Passion Made Possible brand personalities and Filipino key opinion leaders and personalities. It will also serve as a platform to share how Singapore can enable Filipino travelers and visitors to realize their passions and dreams. Aside from attractive airfare and travel deals for Singapore, visitors to the 3-day fair can also expect an exciting line up of activities, performances and programs featuring some of Singapore’s best offerings, attractions and brands such as Irvins Salted Egg, Naiise (a retailer of well-designed products), and Benjamin Barker (men's clothing store)."

For more travel info, visit Singapore's official tourism site here 
To check out flights from Manila, go to Traveloka or download the app on Google Play or the App store

The Singapore travel showcase  in Manila is part of a global campaign,  Passion Made Possible, a collaboration between The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) to market Singapore internationally for tourism and business. "The agencies’ first joint brand is a bold move to put forth Singapore’s unique attitude and mindset: a passionate, never-settling spirit of determination and enterprise that constantly pursues possibilities and reinvention."

Monday, July 31, 2017

12 Useful things to Bring on your First Mountain Hike

Hiking has become very popular in the Philippines that it's now easier to find a mountain and come up with your own itinerary  or join an organized group. (Read 10 Tips on How to be a Good Climb Participant
Our group - bloggers and fellow outdoor lovers at Basekamp PH  at our campsite in Tarak Ridge, Bataan
If you're heading out to your first mountain hike and thinking of what to bring, here are a couple of tips. Note that this list was created as a guide and not a mandatory checklist. The items featured are based on what I observed to be  useful when hiking in tropical weather.

7 Hiking Tips for Beginners | 8 Essentials for Rainy Day Hikes by Basekamp PH

1.  Footwear
Footwear should enhance your experience outdoors and protect you from injury. There are shoes designed specifically for hiking but I encourage you to research the mountain  first before purchasing hiking shoes. Will there be sections where you need to cross rivers? How long will you be hiking? If the mountain has a clear and established trail that normally won't take more than 4 hours to complete, you can very well survive on any type of footwear. However,  comfort and safety might be compromised, making it challenging to get through the slippery sections.

Pick shoes with a good traction (one that can be used in steep, muddy trails which are common in the Philippines) and one that's comfortable enough that you can walk in it for hours and hours.  Shoes with a good traction have lug pattern  on the outsoles (the outermost part of the shoe which come in contact with the ground. (Recommended read -  Hiking Boots: How to Choose) Trail running shoes are also a good option so you can maximize your investment and be able to switch activities.

2. Backpack 
Don't sweat too much thinking about which brand of backpack you need to buy on your first hike. If you already have a sturdy  backpack (just check the straps and zippers before using it), that will do, as long as you're able to bring the essentials and use both hands when hiking. Once you've decided you really want to continue hiking, do your research and invest in a nice backpack. 
With my trusty backpack. Photo taken by Celine Reyes of Celineism
Packs designed for hiking have  special features that support your back and hips such as adjustable shoulder straps and hip belts.  Some also have a mesh back panel (that area in the bag touching your bag) for ventilation which prevents the sweat from your back from being absorbed by the bag. These extra features allow you to hike longer hours comfortably. A good backpack is  more valuable when doing extended day hikes - hikes that last 8 hours or more.

When hiking  especially during the rainy months, protect your stuff by storing it in waterproof dry bags or a resealable bag. A waterproof backpack cover offers added protection from the rain and helps avoid tears on your bag when navigating in the bushes. 

If you're ready to buy a backpack, check out this post for tips on what to look for in a bag. 

What I use : Osprey Sirrus 24, a pack designed specifically to fit a woman's frame. It provides good support on the back making it very comfortable to use on long hikes. I'm also a fan of Sandugo Pilot 15  because you can use it for trail running and you can carry a lot with it. Link to FB page here. Prices of hiking bags vary depending on the brand, specs and capacity. To give you an idea, Sandugo Pilot 15 (max capacity, 15 liters) costs 1,845 Pesos. 

3. Water bottle
Minimize plastic waste by using water bottles that you can reuse. I've invested in a durable water bottle because I tend to drop things a lot. :P Nalgene is one of the most trusty brands around, though the 1 Liter bottle takes up space (Price range : 525 Pesos-750 Pesos depending on size, available at Basekamp branches listed below) .There are also foldable water bottles around  such as Hydrapak (sold at Urbanize stores). 

How much water you need to bring depends on your needs and how long you need to hike. Also, when the trail has no forest cover and exposed to the sun, you may need to bring more. I normally bring at least 500 ml to 1.5 liters on a day hike. For long hikes (12 hours or more), I would bring hydration salt (you can buy at any drug store for about 11 Pesos per sachet) and mix it with water to make sure I stay hydrated. 

Before visiting a mountain, please read this short guideline from the Center of Outdoor Ethics on how to enjoy nature responsibly. 

4. First Aid Kit & Personal medicine 
An essential that you hope you don't ever need to use. I suggest making it as handy and as lightweight as you can so you won't feel lazy to bring it with you.

What to pack on your first aid kid? Check out this list from the Philippine Red Cross.

5. Trail Food 
Hiking can be physically demanding so eat a good meal before your hike and bring snacks with you so you can replenish your energy while hiking.  I usually bring something that's easy to carry (leave that jar of Nutella at home :P) and as nutritious as possible. I also suggest bringing food that you enjoy to help boost morale when the trail gets rougher.

Also check out this good read on Top 7 Food for Sustaining Energy on the Trail
A mix of cashew nuts and cacao nibs
What I bring to hikes : cacao nibs, dried fruits such as cranberries (this makes me feel full and energized), mangoes, pineapple,  nuts like peanuts, almonds and cashew, chia seeds in water. Whenever I can, I hydrate the day before the hike by drinking 500 ml-1 liter of coconut juice. 

6. Headlamp or flashlight
This is always in my  bag even if the itinerary does not involve hiking in the dark. It's best to be prepared in case you end up extending your hike until nightfall or if you find yourself exiting at a remote community that does not have electricity. Make sure you put the batteries in. You can also utilize the flashlight apps on your phone (just bring a power bank to charge your phone), though not as convenient as a headlamp which you can use hands-free.

What I use : I'm using a Black Diamond Storm and for back-up,  Sunree Ree headlamp from Basekamp (940 Pesos). 

7. Garbage Bag 
Help preserve the beauty of the mountain by bringing your trash back with you. If you see garbage around, pick it up as well for proper disposal. I never get why some people think it's okay to throw their trash in nature. When bringing a bag, make sure that it won't rip easily and soil your stuff. 

8. Emergency Whistle 
Ideally placed where you can easily access it - either in the straps of the backpack or on your neck. It can be used to communicate with the rest of the group you got separated from and takes lesser energy than yelling.  It is also  used in emergencies when calling out for help. 3 short whistle blasts is an internationally recognized distress call. Two blasts mean, "come here". If you get separated with the group and want to locate them, blow one short whistle blast. If the rest of the group can hear you, they should respond back with one whistle blast. (Source : Outdoor Life - Signal Whistle Codes

Mini carabiner
A mini carabiner  comes handy when you need to clip stuff together  so it doesn't fall off or for  hanging stuff. For example, clipping your water bottle to your bag, hanging your dry bag in the changing room. If you're visiting communities near the mountain, you'll most likely have to use spartan bathrooms with no hooks to hang your dry clothes. 

Where to buy : I get mine from hardware shops. Basekamp also has this cool whistle carabiner (100 Pesos).  Check out their merchandise on their Facebook page.

10. Head scarf/bandana
A tubular shaped bandana is easy to wear on your head, helps keep sweat and hair off your eyes and can also be used in a dozen different ways. It's a fashionably functional accessory, offers protection from the cold, sun, dust and can  be worn as an eye mask to help you sleep better while traveling to the jump-off. 

Where to buy : Basekamp (99 Pesos)

11. Slippers or post-hike footwear
After your hike, give your feet a break by changing into  slippers or sandals. Sometimes, your shoes get so muddy, you wouldn't want to wear them with your clean clothes and you end up having to look for a sari-sari store or market that sells slippers. Avoid the hassle and added expense by packing a pair.

12. Lightweight Travel Organizer
These handy travel pouches keeps your stuff organized and easy to find. I find those with mesh material more convenient to use because I can easily see what I've stashed in it. It's also a plus if it has a built-in hook so you can easily hang it.

Hammock Republic sells affordable travel organizers at 200 Pesos per set (plus shipping fee).

If you plan on getting any item on the list above, check out Basekamp PH for your travel and outdoor gear needs. Facebook Page link here.  The "Shop" tab on their page features some of their products including price and specs. 

Branches :
BaseKamp Market!Market!
BaseKamp Galleria 
BaseKamp Ali Mall 
BaseKamp Trinoma
BaseKamp Ligaya Pasig 
BaseKamp Gaisano CDO 
BaseKamp Star Mall Alabang 
BaseKamp Isetann Recto 
BaseKamp Gaisano Davao
BaseKamp Fairview Terraces 

Where to hike?
10 Hiking Destinations Near Manila (Note : Pico de Loro which appears on the list is currently closed to the public for rehabilitation)
6 Beginner-Friendly Hikes that Offer Spectacular Views around the Philippines

NOTE : Photos with watermark were taken by Jed Rosel aka Biyaherong Barat during our camping trip at Tarak Ridge, in collaboration with Basekamp PH.

Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers below : 
Travel Up : Guide to Hiking Tarak Ridge | Celineism : Of Implements & Second Chances (a nice narrative of our hike)

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Hiking in Kyushu, Japan (Plus travel tips!)

On a recent overseas trip, I traveled south of Japan in  Kyushu, the country’s third biggest island. It was the end of March, the beginning ...

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