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, May 27, 2008

A Different Adventure

May 24-25, 2008 - Brgy. Bueno, Capas, Tarlac

Usually, when I cross rivers and trek on mountains, it is to experience nature and witness a beautiful summit.

Last weekend, was a different kind of adventure and this time around, we did not come for anything else but the people who dwell within the mountains that most of us love to explore.

We came to bring hope for the children who are unable to afford basic necessities for their schooling.

Again, thanks to Mountain Lemmings for allowing me to join in their activity. As usual, the experience was adventure-filled, enlightening, fun and fulfilling. It is also a great reminder that one can never be too poor to share or make a positive difference in this country of ours.

It was again an unforgettable affair and just like in any football game, below are the highlights:

Elf truck ride going to the venue – it was a ride to remember because of two things 1. it was my first time to ride at the back of an elf truck while breezing through a wide road. 2. It rained which drenched most of us

The Adventure begins..dark clouds hovering, cold wind caressing our beat up bodies from the two hour jam-packed travel from Manila with lotsa boxes carrying school supplies.

And finally it rained, serving as a wet and wild welcome in the upcoming activity

But the views are too beautiful to pass up and stay under the protective, warm shield of our ground sheets...


Finally, we arrived at the beginning of another adventure...river crossing just the way locals do it..our backpacks and the supplies, were loaded into a tractor and a carabao (with the rest of our other companions).


pic from Ley

It's game time!

Rhone coordinating with the locals (pic from Ley)

Lloyd doing his thing, one of the magicians who participated in the activity

The final activity - Film Showing

This is the basketball court fronting the barangay hall where we stayed for the night.

These are the cute but smelly pigs near where we do our rest room break....Ate, pasensya na ngayon lang ako nakadalaw...

DAY TWO : Selfish time

Trek to the Hot Spring. It was a famed destination in the area. From the barangay hall where we stayed, we trekked for around 30 minutes through the mountains. It was a very easy trek, quite different from what we regularly do wherein we have kilos of loads on our back.

Our stop : The Hot Spring - this is famous in the area because the water in the spring is supposedly miraculous and should be treated with respect. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to dip our whole bodies in it. It was too hot anyway! Water is boiling and it looked just like a big jacuzzi. We were only able to wash our foot and body which were filled with mud because we had to pass by some plantation fields.

After the light trek, we rested until the master chefs were done with the cooking...

The Budle fight (I'm not sure with the spelling)...I only ate for around 5 minutes... just kept shoving food to my mouth...hehehe..we ate fried bangus, noodles...it was so yummy! Rhone cooked this dish out of a banana part ...it was also very good.

pic care of Ley

It's nice to be able to go back home.... I love the outdoors and exploring rural communities but I don't think I'll be able to last long in that kind of environment - 3 days is fine. It's too quiet...hehehe.at some point, I got so bored I ended up doing all the dishes at the nearby water pump - morning to evening - even while it was raining and while the sun was beating on my back.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Cooking Adventure Fiasco

In our home, my mother rules the kitchen. She’s the one who usually does the cooking and everything related

to kitchen tasks. I’ve helped her a couple of times and I even cooked occasionally but we usually stay away from each other when it comes to this sort of thing. It’s because we’re both control freaks. We usually end up yelling at each other when it comes to preparing meals because we both want it done our own unique way. She accuses me of being calloused and impatient and I tell her she’s too meticulous.

So anyway, this morning, my mom wasn’t home and I woke up on my usual hungry stomach.

I wanted food!

I remember she went to the market the previous day to stock on hotdogs because she will be gone for two days and none of us are quite keen on cooking, (well except for a couple of times when each of us prepared our own concoction just for kicks) .

So I opened the freezer and the luscious red hotdogs welcomed me graciously begging to be fried and devoured.

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s what they would have told me if only they could talk.

After a few minutes, I was done frying the hotdogs…I placed them on the table and prepared to eat.

Hmmm… hotdogs and rice seemed such a lonely breakfast..I went back to the freezer and saw some more longganisa. I decided to cook it as well plus I prepared some salad

To make the longganisa easier to fry, I decided to use a different pan and deep fry it.

Since I hate waiting for the pan to heat up, I turned on the stove, placed a lot of oil in it and turned the knob to its maximum level. I then went inside to prepare cabbage salad. After a few minutes , I was done. I went back to the stove and saw the pan severely heating up. I could see a lot smoke coming out of the pan. Good, I thought to myself, this is going to make the frying quicker.

Then I did something I should have never done. I decided to splash a trickle of water on it with my fingers. For some weird reason, I enjoy hearing the hissing sound of oil when water hits it. You know that sound (krrrrr..sshhh sound?) . I missed that sound.

To my horror, the second I dropped water on it, the fire grew to about 10 inches engulfing the pan area. I thought it would stop but after several seconds, it seemed to grow bigger. I decided to move the pan away from the stove for fear of a gas explosion. It was a small round pan which fortunately has a long handle. I grabbed it by the handle and walked very carefully towards the kitchen sink. The fire continued to grow.

Finally, I reached the sink. I thought I’d let the fire die down. After several more seconds, the fire looks like it wasn’t going to stop until it burns the whole pan. I figured I ‘d pour more water in it to stop the flames.

I splashed more water on it.

And it got worse….

The minute I poured water over the pan, the fire blazed from 10 inches to around two feet. I quickly scanned if something else got caught in the fire.

I could not believe this was happening.

No sound came out of my mouth. I tried to remain calm and quickly thought of what to do next. Shall I call on our building guy and have him put off the fire or shall I call my sister from the bedroom and have her evacuate all our belongings?

I can’t believe I was going to burn down a building.

I knew I had to decide quickly.

But fortunately, I didn’t really have to do anything. Miraculously, the fire that started so abruptly stopped quickly and all this happened in a few minutes.

Then something which I rarely experienced happened. I felt faint. I felt weak. I felt like a damsel in distress – although no one really rescued me.

I prayed to the Lord and thanked Him from saving me from my stupidity.

As I cleaned up my mess, I saw something sticking on the wall of our kitchen sink, right on top of the faucet – It was a small figurine of the Lady of Manaog – My mom was the one who placed it there.

For whatever reason this little accident happened – (whatever reason = my impatience) , I learned my lesson – take cooking a little seriously and don’t mess with oil.

And that my friends was how I began my day.

The Breakfast

Monday, May 12, 2008

Behind the Beauty of Anawangin - A Different Perspective


*got the inspiration for the title from Omar's blog. :) pahiram po..


A lot of people are passing emails about the dangers in Anawangin but more than the strong current in the part of the ocean near the river which has already caused a life, we also have to consider that the influx of visitors in our beloved Anawangin Cove has caused a problem in waste management in the area.


This is really embarrassing. We are supposed to be civilized after all. Most of the people who go to Anawangin Cove have money to spare but don’t even have the decency to take care of the waste they brought it. Tsk tsk. A lot of us forget that when we visit a place, even how much we pay to get there, we are not entitled to deface it in any way. We're all travellers seeking our own paradise. Let's take care of our resources. We are already suffering from economic crisis, let's not degrade our ourselves by destroying the beautiful things we still have.


I was guilty of letting the caretakers get my garbage twice but now I know we shouldn’t leave the trash to them. It is our waste after all and we have the responsibility to dispose of it properly.

If you have been to Anawangin and has appreciated its beauty, kindly take time to read this. This was writted by Christian Ragasa. I personally don't know him but he has echoed the feelings that have been nagging me for some time. I love Anawangin cove, I love camping there even if I have no company and I would like to keep visiting it but if the abuse continues, we may have to say goodbye to it soon.

Spread the word. :)


This is the link to the original post :

http://tiantiantian.multiply.com/photos/album/88/Save_Anawangin_Cove_--_UPDATE_Sen._Richard_Gordon_Replies...#

Pictures - care of Christian Ragasa


Save Anawangin Cove -- UPDATE: Sen. Richard Gordon Replies...

I recently went to Anawangin Cove, off the coast of Zambales, for a variety of selfish reasons. First, I wanted to get away, and with the line-up of office people who were scheduled to go that day I was awfully sure Chase and I were in for a lot of fun. And I got to tell you, the trip was as unique an experience to me as Anawangin is as a place to visit. We got to sleep out on a tent (thanks to Mari & Nina), cook the best chicken adobo using gathered wood, roast marshmallows over a bonfire (which in my 28 years have never ever done), climb up a mountain to see the glorious sun set, and trek inside the pine forest looking for giant snails and wild carabaos which according to Tin, exists within the woods!

I also hastily packed my bag to join the trip because I wanted to check the place out myself. I've seen Anawangin and its numerous beautiful angles only in pictures and blogs describing how wonderful a trip there can be. And it did not fail to amaze. The pictures I took on my previous posts are proof that even if you don't carry an expensive dSLR, there's always gonna be a spot for that picture perfect, postcard-worthy shot. Anawangin is a haven for photographers, amateurish as they may be.

But then there's big trouble in paradise. What annoys me the most is the irony that slaps you right in your face once you pitch your tent and start to gather your wits from the shore's hypnotic bliss.

There you are (in what my boss in the U.S describes as an "absolutely beautiful and stunning" place) admiring a spectacle of creation, only to be confronted with the typical utter disrespect for nature that only Filipinos can conjure. Well that may be a bit of an exxageration, but by golly! An unfinished cake left under a pine tree?! Messed up plastic plate with the fork and a cherry? Then there were the beer bottles, plastic cups, 1.5 L Coke bottles, Ginebra San Miguel bottles, Red horse bottles, abandoned sacks full of garbage, plastic bags floating down the river and an abandoned lotion bottle by the beach. I even saw a used up condom inside the forest for crying out loud! It's the typical Filipino attitude and mentality that someone out there, someone they don't even know, MIGHT eventually take notice and pick up their junk. Yes, you should pick up their garbage, tuck it away for them while they soak up on tanning lotion and sunbathe by the beach. I don't know about you, but that just cracks the sanity out of me. It makes me mad as hell.

So I figured its not helpful ranting about it without doing anything about it. And I promised Tin, my beautiful colleague and a big fan of the place, that I'm going to write about it somewhere. I took some pictures of what I saw with the limited battery life my digicam had, just to prove to everyone what I mean.

Its absolutely unforgivable if we all allow this place to become a mess just like all the rest of the tourists spots we have in this country. Its absolutely an affront to God (whoever you choose to believe) to ignore what is happening to his creation and not do ANYTHING about it. Its absolutely shameful for the owner of this place, the local government of Zambales even, not to have safeguards to protect what should've been a uniquely pristine paradise for campers. But most of all, its absolutely horrifying and mind boggling, it defies logic even, that SOME people continuously choose to ignore a simple lesson we all must've learned back in kindergarten: YOUR GARBAGE IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!

I went to Anawangin for selfish reasons. But went away feeling that I MUST do something and share what is happening.

Save Anawangin and places like it from destruction. Most importantly save it from neglect and your own APATHY. Clean up. Speak out. Write about it!


UPDATE: I emailed several Senators (Gordon, Zubiri and Pia Cayetano) about the problem, and I'm mightily satisfied with Sen. Gordon. His good office replied to me thru email and this is what the email says...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Senator Richard Gordon to Edgar, Liezl
show details 10:15 PM
Reply

Edgar/Liezl,
Kindly ask the Governor and Vice-Governor to look into this as with the concerned Mayor. The advent of increased tourism arrivals in Zambales brings about problems like pollution. Kindly, revert to Mr. Ragasa who has so kindly brought the matter to our attention.
Thanks,
Louis
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At least I can feel a little better knowing that my effort to save the place is going somewhere. I did my small part. Now i'll wait and see.

And now I know that emailing a trusted Senator's office works! My taxes is paying someone who actually listens to a concerned citizen like me. Just like how public officials should. I know there's a lot more to be done to save Anawangin, but this I think, is a good way to start.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sta. Cruz, Zambales Weekend

Last weekend, I was set to go on another mini backpacking trip to the farthest point in Zambales – with one of my oldest friends – Bitchay. It’s been a while since we went out on a trip and I was really excited. Everything was set. I had already booked a resort – actually I practically begged the girl from the resort to give us a room. They only had 5 rooms and were fully booked that weekend but she told me she’ll call me again when they have a cancellation. I told her we can sleep in a tent. Me and Bitchay even prayed together so that we can have a room. Thursday morning, I received a text from the resort and they told me they had a cancellation! Yay! Answered prayer!



I even bought sunblock and chips in advance. Friday morning, I received a text message from Bitchay saying she couldn’t make it because she had to bring her mom to the doctor. I cannot argue with that. Family comes first right? So there I was, set to go on a summer adventure with no company just when I was not in the mood to go solo. I frantically coordinated with other friends to check if they were available. Most of those I talked with had already made plans.


Around 9PM, I had already accepted my fate to be alone that weekend. I went to the mall to buy an easy read book. Around 10 PM, while browsing the selection in Powerbooks (there was a midnight sale so Megamall was still open), I received a text from another close friend – Anne. She told me that she can go! Wohooo! I had company! Another answered prayer! Anne is a friend of the family. We went to the same high school and we met because both our parents were members of the Couples for Christ. We became closer because we liked the same guy – another friend of the family who we both saw at the church and we would both freeze every time we see him. Hahaha! Back then, we were both thinking that that guy was the right one for us and we even talked that if one of us gets that guy, we would be happy for each other. That mad crush went on for 5 years I think. It was infatuation. None of us could barely talk to that guy with a straight face because we were both shy around him. Just last year, Anne told me that the guy had already tied the knot. Aw, our love story had ended before it even began. Anyway, me and Anne had both moved on and now we have new crushes! Hahaha!


I haven’t actually seen Anne in months. The last time I saw her was in the debut party of her cousin. I was really excited. It would be the first time Anne and I went backpacking together. Actually, me, her brother Abbie and I are really close and the three of us are always together back when our family still lived in the south. Me and Abbie were jogging buddies and we used to do our morning run every weekends either in SM Southmall or in BF.

Okay I talk too much. On with the trip story…

Anne and I met at Victory Liner in Pasay at 3:30 AM Saturday morning. We boarded the Olongapo bound bus and it left around 4:10 AM. The ticket was around 191 pesos – one way. We could have met in Caloocan for a direct trip to Sta. Cruz but Pasay is near where we lived.


Before 8:30 AM, our bus finally made it to Olongapo. There, we had a quick breakfast at KFC, near the terminal. We also bought some last minute supplies in the grocery near Chowking.


From Olongapo, we rode in one of the mini buses fronting Mercury Drugstore headed for Sta. Cruz (if you're in a hurry, don't take this one!).  I haven’t tried the mini bus going to Zambales and I thought it was really cute so we tried it out. It turned out to be a learning experience for us because the mini bus moves so slow! You can’t really trust it when you’re in a hurry.


We sat in the back for bigger leg room and space for our huge bags but we didn’t get any sleep because even if the mini bus moved slower than Victory liner it felt like we were going to get thrown out of the window whenever we pass by some curves. What was great about riding an ordinary bus is we get to appreciate the view more and the wind – even if it made me look like a witch. Before last weekend, the farthest point I’ve reached in Zambales was in Palauig – where Mt. Tapulao was. We climbed it last year. The view after Olongapo was refreshing. We saw lots of mountains, fields, rivers, some mangroves and we also past by several interesting bridges.



We arrived at our jumpoff - Bayto waiting shed a little after 12pm and we had lunch at a local eatery. Food was good but I didn’t enjoy it that much because it was pork. We tried the lechon paksiw. They didn’t serve fish so we bought tuna and ate it as a sidedish straight from the can.



We rode a tricycle from the Bayto waiting shed. From there, the resort was around 3 KM. We were very eager to see what was in store for us. The stuff we heard from people in the area weren’t encouraging. Whenever we tell them where we’re going, they   gave  us a strange looks that seemed to say – “why the heck would you go here, there’s nothing special in here.”… Well, I chose this destination because I was particularly intrigued with Sta. Cruz  for three reasons a. my officemate Jo Annie told me how pretty the shore of  Sta. Cruz was. Back when she was in HS..the shore had white sand and there were plenty of starfishes. b. There isn’t a lot of resources in the net about Sta. Cruz which got me more interested c. I enjoy going to remote places . With those valid and sane reasons, how can I resist myself from going to to Sta. Cruz?!


The tricycle drove deeper into a remote barrio – Barangay Sabang. We past by huge fields with lots of trees. The area was a bit remote. We didn’t see a lot of people or houses – just some signs pointing to the direction of Sea Sun.


I wasn’t really expecting much from the resort. I was informed by Ate Nelly that the resort is still under construction. The room we got was only for 600 pesos – a fan room which good for two and a common bathroom. I was definitely not expecting first class.


The tricycle entered a huge lot and I knew we had finally reached our destination. There was a construction going on the right side of the lot. We saw several small nipa huts. I told Anne that we might be sleeping in those since ours is a fan room. On the left side were rows of adorable concrete rooms. The place did look a little unfinished. Still a little dizzy from the 8 hours travel, I felt confused where to go. A girl emerges from a store and the flashpacker in me asked – “San po ang reception? (Where is the reception). She looked slightly surprised at my query. Then after several seconds, she politely said “Kayo po si Christine? Kanina pa po kayo hinihintay.” The  girl led us to our room. She was really warm and I instantly felt at home with the place. Even if it still needed some finishing touches, I knew it was a place where I can feel safe and peaceful.



She led us to a room with a small balcony and concrete walls. It was clean and smelled clean too. There was a sofa bed against a wall which looked soft and comfy. There was a table to place our bags and other stuffs, a table for kikay stuffs and another wooden table for whatever we want to place on it.


There also two monobloc chairs for hanging out in the balcony. The room was bigger than what I was expecting which was a huge relief because I have space issues. It was a humble setting. Cozy, clean and their staff are super nice. Yay!




Since the sun was high when we got there, we didn’t bother to check out the beach. We were so intent on getting a good sleep to recuperate from the long, bumpy but fascinating ride.



Well..me and Anne tried to sleep but I was having difficulty trying because the people next door left their music player on and it was really loud. The good thing about it was that they played okay music so it was tolerable. I dozed off for a couple of minutes.



We woke up around 3pm. It started to feel humid in the room. There was no tv to entertain us so we decided to go check out the beach.



I was excited. I had no idea what the beach looked like. The shore was less than 50 meters from our room so we only walked for a minute or so to get there. There was a beach entrance from the resort and we made our way outside the wooden gate.


A view of a quiet rural life welcomed us. Amazingly, there were some pine trees growing along with the coconut trees around the shore. There was also a mountain on the left side of the ocean. What I love most about the scene is the fact that there were only two groups of people in the water. I finally got my remote serenity.



The sand was black but surprisingly super soft! It felt like powder, I’m serious! We delightedly stomped our foot as we made our way to the water. There were several waves crashing against the shore and we wondered momentarily if it was safe to swim in there. The kids in the water were all playing happily by and after several seconds, we jumped in with them and it felt amazing! Though the water is not clear because of the dark sand, it felt really clean and not so salty. It felt like fresh water actually. We didn’t step on any stones either. The sand was really soft – not muddy soft. It was like stepping on powder.



The water really low too. We were already 20 feet from the shore and water hasn’t gone over my head.


We swam and jumped with the waves for around 3 hours. We also did some catching up. We were famished after our swim and we ate at the resort restaurant. We were the only ones who ate there since all the guests with private transpo had brought their own food.
We ordered pancit bihon, ham sandwich and calamansi juice. The pancit bihon serving was huge and we almost didn’t finish it. It was good. Price was similar to what they charge in hostels and I wished it was cheaper. Anyway, service was good as usual. I think there were only about two people in their staff but they’re both warm and friendly I couldn’t ask for more.

There isn’t much to do on the resort. There’s no tv either which was also a good thing because we went there to get a feel of the reclusive life even for just a day. We inquired about the snorkeling site which was advertised in their website. It’s supposed to be 50 meters from the shore. I learned from the caretaker that we’ll have to take a boat to get there. Boat rental is at 800 pesos. It could accommodate 4 people. It would have been better if we can share it with other people but since there were only two of us and we didn’t want to spend that much on a boat, we decided to wait for other groups we can join so we can split the expenses. The problem was, there aren’t a lot of people in the resort. Well, we weren’t going to pay that much for a boat either.



We turned in early after doing a little reading. The people in the next room were quite considerate and didn’t make a lot of noise.



Me and Anne woke up at around 5AM. Sun was beginning to rise and decided to gear up for another swim. I went outside to brush my teeth. The group who was beside our room were also up and they were talking about going to another island. Hmm..interesting. After brushing my teeth and fixing myself, I went out and asked them nonchalantly where else can we go. Luckily, they mentioned about the island again and I jumped it at the chance of joining their group. They were very accommodating and friendly and the best thing was that they agreed to let us on the boat with them. Yipee!



We’re off to Hermana Mayor! Me and Anne quickly ordered breakfast and packed our stuff. Before 8am, we joined the group on the shore at Sea Sun. We boarded with 3 other people and 4 other people were on a separate boat.





After 45 minutes, our boat docked on a pristine private island owned by the Hernandez family. Luckily, the person managing the island wasn’t there, else, we were told that we wouldn’t be allowed to go there. We were told that the manager is really a nice guy but he’s security conscious. Well, I would be too if my clan is that wealthy.




For about three hours, me, Anne and our new acquaintances, a barkada from Rizal, swam happily in the ocean. The boatman informed us that we were near Potipot island which is also nice. I’ve heard of the place but Hermana Island sounds more interesting. They also call it the Ms Universe island because the 1979 Ms Universe pageant candidates had their pictorials here. I didn’t know that, I just read it from the internet. Hehehe!




The sand is almost white, similar to the sand you see in aquariums but not as rocky.








Water is so clear, it’s like swimming in a pool. We saw tons of small fishes – like dilis in the water and some corals. Well, on the way to the island, we also passed by a coral reef and it looked really interesting but we didn’t get to stop because me and Anne were the only ones with goggles.



We got back around lunch time and after bathing and eating, we prepared to leave for Bo. Barretto in Olongapo. I told Anne about the jumbo tacos in The Coffee Shop along the national highway and she was so intrigued because she loves tacos. I severely missed their frozen iced tea too so I wanted to go back there.

We arrived in Bo. Barretto after 2pm. Surprisingly, I saw some people from work! Hehehe!We ate the tacos. It’s really not that good but it’s so huge, it’s just something you need to try. I was happy with the frozen iced tea. Thank God they still serve it.

After that, we headed straight to Olongapo for another 3 ½ bus ride back to Manila. The line was quite long and we waited for 30 minutes for the ticket. It would have been faster if Victory Liner had a machine for ticketing or something. Their staff has to write on each ticket for the bus details. I feel for them. It’s so difficult to write all day! What I love most is that, their conductors and ticket people are friendly, what sucks though is the ticketing which makes it hard to purchase tickets on holidays and peak seasons. Anyway, aside from my angst on the ticketing system, I can say it was a successful weekend. I got what I want. Serenity, freedom from noisy tourists, finally reached Sta. Cruz, swam in the beach, saw some fishes, ate lots of food, did a lot of catching up with Anne, experienced a bit of culture and most of all, I got the recharge I needed to face another hectic work week.
Oh, here's the contact information of Sea Sun. Ate Nelly told me the resort would be finished by September or something so I would defintely go back there.
0921 641 8783 - Nelly
Sea Sun Resort
Brgy. Sabang, Sta. Cruz, Zambales
*you can also request her to get you a boat to take you to Hermana Island or Potipot.
Boat Rental is at 800 pesos - good for 4 people - Half Day
Whole Day - 1200 per boat

Sea Sun Rates:

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