a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Getting Lost in the Mountains and Finding Paradise

College Days - Me and 6 other guys from school went camping in Pico De Loro in Ternate, Cavite. After summiting on the second day, we traversed to the beach but on our way to the beach, the trail we were following suddenly stopped and we realized we're in the middle of nowhere. We were suprised because two of the guys we were with have been there and they knew the way. We decided to follow the path of a dried river and got lost even more. It was really hot and very uncomfortable, there were fat mosquitos everywhere who keep on biting my legs. Luckily, after walking in circles for about an hour or so, a local found us and suggested a beach different from where we intended to go. Since the only way to that island was through a boat, we made arrangements with a local fisherman to bring us there and pick us up at a specified time.


The boatman brought us to an island which was a bit similar to the beach in the movie - “The Beach” . The sand was white. Opposite the shore, separated by vast water was another mountain and on the left side was a dark swamp where people can get prawns. It was sooo serene and just like in the”The Beach”, there were armed men in the island, precisely two men. They were okay, kinda freaky though because of the guns and because the place was isolated. They could have murdered us and dump our bodies somewhere and no one will find us.

I dub this as my most unforgettable camping trip because :


1. It was 3 days and 2 nights of camping with people I didn't reallyknow that well. 5 of them were my blockmates, the other one (Chris) was the boyfriend of August's sister. Anyway, I ended up going with them because all the other girls in the trip – the ones I was friends with cancelled at the very last minute. - like the night before and I was already packed and excited so I didn't back out of the trip.


2. I was assigned to a tent with two guys I barely knew at that time – Miro and Joey – who later on became close friends. When we were inside the tent, we didn’t really talk. They sandwiched me in the middle. I slept the whole night face-down with a prayer.

3. One of the guys I was with - Alan – now a friend of mine almost hacked my face off – by accident. He was axing wood for bonfire and I was watching him from a distance – grabe, kasi I’m a real sucker for men’s chest. He had taken off his shirt. Anyway, while he was about to chop another wood, we both noticed that the other half of the axe was gone – the one with the blade. We both looked around and saw that the blade landed and had struck the sand a few inches from where I was standing! Our eyes went wide when we saw it. If I stood a bit nearer, I would have been bleeding to death. That axe blade was brutally sharp! The memory still makes me shudder. I didn't get emotional, we both started laughing after my near-death experience and went to everyone talking about it. I really felt touched by an angel. My friend almost killed me!

4.I almost drowned. August and the rest of the guys had this brilliant idea to borrow the armed men’s boat so we can row to the deeper part of the sea. Of course most of us went with them except for Joey who stayed by the shore communing with the sea animals and collecting shells. Anyway, I didn’t know that they were intending to swim. I just wanted to ride a boat. So when we reached the deep part, they all stared at the water. August yelled, “Talon na!” (Jump!). Almost everybody hesitated. Feeling very adventurous, I jumped in first and the rest of the guys followed me. Waaaaaaaaaaaa! Modafucka! The water was so dark and deep. I was thinking my feet would be touching the bottom soon but it didn’t I just kept on going down! It was happening so fast, I started to panic but no sound came out. I tried to clear my mind and thought of how I could save myself – Oh yea, don’t panic. I know how to swim. It was really scary and I shut the part of my brain which said I was drowning and tried to focus. I was having a hard time trying to stay afloat but I wasn’t making a scene so nobody really noticed. I do remember telling them that I was going back up because I was scared. Luckily, August was still on the boat and he reached for me with an oar. I grabbed the oar and struggled to pull myself up. Freaky! Thank God nobody really noticed how I fought for dear life or they would be teasing me about it forever!

We all bonded well on our third day together and had a lot of fun because of the unplanned camp to Hamilo Cove (The ala “The beach” island). Unplanned itineraries are rare in mountaineering because it’s dangerous. Given that our country doesn’t have much resources to organize the kind of search and rescue teams they have in the US, it’s very important to inform people you know where exactly you're going. We were pretty lucky that the beach we camped turned out to be a safe place. It was really, really, really worth all that risk. Me and the guys still talk about that trip until now. It was quite unprecedented.

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