Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Discovering Muay Thai

Yesterday was the most awaited Eraserheads reunion concert but I didn’t go. I thought I could score an invite and get in for free but unfortunately, the organizers changed prior to the big event and if I wanted to go, I had to buy tickets. I then realized that I am not much of a huge fan to actually spend on it.  I do hope the real fans were all able to go and enjoyed their performance. I’m sorry to hear about Ely Buendia (lead vocalist) who was rushed to the hospital during the concert and they had to cut it short. Still, that event must have been monumental.

Me? My Saturday was a bit hectic – socially - ahehehe. I attended a meeting for our outdoor group then after lunch with some of them, I had to rush to a nearby mall to meet my friend Rea. After a business meeting, me and Rea went to a Muay Thai tournament in the Mandaluyong gymnasium. I don’t know much about Muay Thai except that it’s a form of martial art that involves a lot of kicking and punching. We were there because the company Rea’s in – Red Corner was one of the sponsors of the event and she was going to give a very short sort of opening remark speech. I’ve never seen a live Muay Thai match and I was a bit excited to see it up close. We were seated at the cordoned area at the back of the judges and we were so close to the ring. We were also near the Muay Thai athletes and they pass in front of us a lot of times. They’re mostly well-built ....I saw lots of fine looking guys..hehehe

The ceremony started a little before 4:00 PM which lasted for about 20-30 minutes. It started off with a parade of the athletes from various groups around the Manila area. I saw groups from Pasig, Antipolo, Caloocan, Ateneo, Red Corner ..I forgot the rest. There were several weight divisions and I saw athletes who look as young as 6 years old, teenage boys, then some men and women in their 20's. After some introductions and speeches, the matches began and I sat back excitedly and savored the experience.

Parade of teams

A short speech from one of the sponsors

The very first match was with the young guys– I don’t know which weight division it was. They looked really cute in all that padding. They had gloves, shin guards, mouth guard, and that thing guys wear to protect their balls (geez! I forgot what it’s called!). Before the start of the match, each athlete performs a ritual dance which is called - Wai Khru Muay Thai. At first I didn’t know why they had to do it but after a quick glance on my good friend Wikipedia – I now know that it is required in each and every bout.

“It's a tradition in which fighters pay respect to their teachers, parents and things they hold sacred and pray for their safety and victory. The ritual has been developed in different ways, in different regions, even under different teachers and therefore it is theoretically impossible for two fighters to perform identical Wai Khru.”  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muay_Thai

At first I couldn’t bare to see the kids fighting - it was vicious! Each person tries to kick and punch the other and I was fearful that they might injure each other seriously but I also noticed that the referee was doing a great job in controlling the match. It was amazing to see how tenacious each person fights and after the end of each short bout, and winner is proclaimed, the two competing athletes hug each other or shake hands. The winner also accompanies the loser back to his side of the ring which I find such a beautiful rule. I rarely see that in football games I’ve played in. We usually try to crush our opponents and after the game, we usually avoid each other’s turf.

Another thing that I find interesting in Muay Thai is their oath of sportsmanship which had a line that said – “Let us love one another.” It’s the first time I’ve heard of such and I believe that it’s a value that should be incorporated in all sporting events. It also seemed that everyone involved in Muay Thai do this sort of bow when they greet each other. They bow their heads with two hands in a prayer position.

We were able to see about 6 matches or more and after about three hours, we had to go. It was really refreshing to witness the world of Muay Thai even if it’s just from a spectator’s side. I probably would try it maybe once – my loyalty is still to football.

Here are the rest of the pictures...

Women's match
Ifever I dream of Muay Thai in my sleep, I want Cristiano Ronaldo to be my coach

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the backpacking plans

Wohoo..I'm about 80% done with my birthday backpacking itinerary. I just needed to clarify some details.It was a challenging one because of the routes. I've been literally dreaming about this trip for two days straight already. In my first dream, I was running late for a flight and couldn't find my pocket money but before I woke up, I found my money and was able to make it on time. In my dream last night, I was riding in a private bus with lots of seats and I had a whole seat to myself near the driver and we stopped by a resort in Bohol. The water was so clear - as clear as the last time I was in Bohol. I forgot how my dream ended but I woke up smiling.

I am really weird - guess which book I started reading again last night?! It's one of my favorite books actually - In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham. It's the real life story of Gracia and the other kidnap victims' ordeal under the hands of the Abu Sayyaf. Gracia and her husband Martin were vacationing in Dos Palmas, Palawan in the summer of 2001 went the resort was sieged by the Abu Sayyaf. It's a great book which I've read years ago and I have forgotten most of the details of that story so I'm reading it again. It's informative and entertaining - some parts were actually funny. It's also the only book that made me cry. They still sell it in bookstores here in the Philippines at less than 300 pesos. Better buy it because I'm not lending you mine. hehehehe

Monday, August 25, 2008

Explore Not Exploit

Traveling and backpacking seems to be the "in thing" these days in our beloved country. I think, of all the years that I've been going to places, local tourism is so much better than it was. I remember having a family vacation in Puerto Galera, early 90’s and most of the people in the resort were foreigners. Now, traveling around the Philippines is much more affordable and easier for us who really grew up here, there are cheap inn’s everywhere and varied choices. Ang galing din ng campaign ng Wow Philippines which worked on targeting local tourists – diba they have this – Tara Na Byahe Tayo and the music video with local celebrities which showcased the places around the Philippines… their website could use some updating though..

As travelers, some have evolved from family picnics and group excursions. They have deviated from the usual tourist route and have become explorers. Blogging tremendously helped. It’s so nice reading about other people’s experiences and looking at their pictures. It serves as inspiration for novice backpackers like me to travel more. Blogs are my favorite sources when looking for a new place and directions. My second favorite source are the locals in the area.

The other face of local tourism though – is the problem with waste management. I am appalled with people who write on boulders, making marks that they’ve been there especially people who just throw their garbage around (especially the candy wrappers!) as if the entire place is a one big trash can. The girl-boy forever signs, the tropa so and so plus the year that they’ve been there. How appalling.

I really hope and pray that we can all be responsible travelers and locals. The Leave No Trace (LNT) policy which most mountaineers adhere to is really something everyone should keep in their hearts and minds even if they’re not in the wilderness.

"Take Nothing but Pictures

Leave Nothing But Footprints

Kill Nothing but Time"

Going to new places is really a great experience but we have to keep in mind that we came to Explore, to learn, to share, to discover, not Exploit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cooking Day Saturday

Though the memory of my last cooking disaster with hotdogs is still a bit fresh, I decided to give it another shot. This time, I had a support group – Charwill and Glee with the special participation of Adi – chums who are much more experienced cooks than I am. They prepared their own dish – chicken something, bangus balls and pasta with ranch dressing. I get to prepare the dessert (with Charwill’s help) - which wasn’t really part of the plan. Initially, we just decided in having a get-together cooking day so we can try Glee’s chicken something which she learned to make from this cooking show – Quick Fire. However, when we went to the grocery and I saw these huge, intriguing, green plantain (saba which most of us locals call it) , I went ahead and bought it. It was really scandalously huge, I just couldn’t leave it alone. In fact, before buying it, me, Charwill and a foreigner guy were both just staring at it in amazement. It was the first time I’ve seen plantains that long and huge – it was a little less than 12 inches long. I thought we can cook it somehow and it’ll taste good. Charwill and Glee both laughed at me when I bought it. The plantain does seem a little out of place from our agreed menu – pasta and chicken. Anyway, I stood by my choice. By hook or by crook, it was going down our throats and stomachs. I just had to figure out how to make it edible.

We went to Glee’s house after doing the grocery and prepared our meal for the day. After an hour of sweating, cooking while dancing to Shakira’s music, Glee and Charwill laughing at my plantain, Adi unusually quiet… tadaaaaaaaaaa!….our dishes for the day…

Glee and Charwill's chicken something that goes down well with rice

Glee's pasta with all-purpose flour and ranch dressing

Adi's fried bangus balls

And the best dish of all ..well..I'm a bit biased because I prepared this with my sweaty hands, (love your own right?!) ...hehehehe

This is sliced plantain sauteed in strawberry daiquiri served with striped chocolate chip cookies...You know that local Chips Delight cookie brand? That's it right there on the side. It's really good! You can buy it in most local groceries

Needless to say, after a few minutes of eating, we all had smile to our faces and bigger stomachs. It would have been a successful cooking affair –if only I had not burned Glee’s boyfriend’s pot. I felt bad about it that I did all the dishes after eating.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Preps I do Before A Travel

Just want to share these to you. Maybe you can use some of these or maybe you have something you can also share so we can both learn more about traveling. Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your inputs.

Things I consider before choosing a destination (in no particular order):

  • · Sights to see
  • · Food to eat
  • · Peace and order situation in the area
  • · Weather forecast
  • · Geographical information of the place such as capital, municipalities, whichever is relevant
  • · Transportation – how to get there
  • · My budget
  • · Travel time against the time I can spare

Other Things I research on:

  • · Nearest police outpost or barangay hall

Before leaving the house:

  • · I leave a copy of the itinerary to my family which includes possible places I will wander off, contact information of the places I will be staying or possibly stay , contact number of my companion if I have any, contact number of people at work who are not with me
  • · I leave a copy of the itinerary to my colleague and good friend Glee (if she’s not coming with me) with instructions that she has to organize a search and rescue if she doesn’t hear from me within a specific time

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bangkong Kahoy, Quezon Province

Last weekend, I went to Bangkong Kahoy Valley in Dolores, Quezon for a tree planting event. Well, that was the original plan, but due to a communication failure between the local government unit and the PASU (Protected Area Superintendent), we couldn’t proceed with our activity. Our group will definitely go back and fulfill our unfinished business. Temporarily, we handed over our seedlings for safe keeping to the owner of the Bangkong Kahoy Valley resort who also happens to be an environmentalist. Like me, he also believes that commercialism and mother nature can complement each other.

He’s quite a nice fellow and very keen in saving the environment by starting with the local community of Bangkong Kahoy. He organizes youth groups who help educate other people about proper waste disposal.

The resort is very quiet and weather is similar to Baguio's. They have several cottages and from there, you can get a glimpse of Mt. Banahaw. There’s even a trail from his resort to Mt. Banahaw.

When you go to Bangkong Kahoy (and as with any other place), please support the local community by buying something from them. I’m sure they have something you can appreciate.That's something that was also taught to us by our instructors in our basic wilderness training. They believe in supporting local businesses to help improve the way of life of the people in the community you are visiting.

How to get to Bangkong Kahoy Through Public Transportation: (Thanks Anne!)
1. Take any bus line from manila to Lucena (there's Jac liner along EDSA-Kamuning that has trips to Lucena and Jam Liner in EDSA Cubao). Trip takes around 3-4 hours I think. The bus btw is P135.50 if you take the Jam from cubao
2. Alight at San Pablo 7-eleven - this is a popular jump-off to Mt. Cristobal so if you're not familiar with the place, you can just request the conductor to let you off in this area.
3. Take a tricycle going to Dolores jeep terminal station in San Pablo wet market (P10/person).
4. After that take the jeep going to dolores.. alight at dolores church..jeep costs P30/person
5. Then take a tricycle from dolores to 10 utos (the 2 tablets of 10 commandments) That's P150 for 4 persons (max 4 persons). One way special trip is at 150 pesos.

Then hike about 2.5KM to the resort or or you can arrange a P300 hammer ride (1way).

OPTION 2 from San Pablo City
1. Ride the jeep straight to Kinabuhayan upto Sampung Utos. (About 50 pesos/head). Then hike 2.5 KM to the resort.

1. Zipline
2. Basketball court
3. Huge area for teambuilding activities
4. Sari-sari store
You can also coordinate with the staff and arrange a trek to a waterfalls

Bangkong Kahoy Valley Contact Info : +63 (042) 5656957 63 920-947-92-70


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