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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Sick

Today, I missed work. All the parties and traveling I did this December have taken its toll on me. While it's nice to sleep for as long as I want, I don't feel good about taking a sick leave. This is the first time I skipped work due to fever and colds, wah! Fever and colds are among the ailments which I do not consider as enough reason for me not to work but I have just succumbed to them. I don't really avail of sick leaves unless I am physically incapable of working. Today is such day. I woke up feeling hot, swollen tonsils, headache and a running nose. There was just no way I could work without messing up. I'd probably just spend the day sleeping on my desk and ignoring everyone so it's really not a good idea.

I did take some meds and applied Katinco on myself before sleeping last night. I slept at around 8pm. I know that's pretty early and should have given me some time to recover, but I do not feel any better.

Anyway, I would like to remain positive and hopefully tomorrow, I can go back to work and clean my inbox before the new year. I'm supposed to work until the 31st. January 1, I'm off!

(oooh, by the way, did you know that this green Katinco ointment now comes in a stick? How creative!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Frap from God

I’ve been trying to be frugal over the past couple of weeks and that means – refraining from spending on food, athletic gear, plane tickets, travels , my favorite coffee frap, basically anything that is not essential. I really couldn’t afford to spend anyway. But you know, God has been so good as I’ve been getting some amazing freebies – like a free trip to Bicol, a part –time job, free meals, soups, early birthday gifts, etc. My birthday is next month but I’ve been bugging/coercing some nice people in my life into giving me presents and they’ve been so understanding, thus my early birthday treats. Hehehe!

Yesterday morning, I found myself craving for an Espresso frap from Starbucks. I know I should not spend on one and so I found myself whispering to God for a free frap as I was preparing for work and guess what?! A few hours later, someone from work approached me and told me I just saved his ass. I was so surprised. I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him what I did and he acted secretive about it. Then he went something like, “I owe you a Starbucks frap.” I asked again what I could have possibly done to deserve a coffee treat and he said he’d tell me about it once I go with him to Starbucks. Way to catch my attention! I hate surprises. Not knowing, rattles me and so I went with him, still clueless. Was there a surprise party for me? But I knew it was too early for a birthday celebration.

When we got down to Starbucks, he finally told me and I laughed about it. It was a work-related task that I did on his behalf about a week ago. I hadn’t really given much thought about it since it was partially a responsibility of mine anyway but it turned out to be crucial for him and I had saved him from trouble. He was s extremely grateful and the frap was his way of thanking me for it. It was unnecessary but it felt really, really, really nice to know I’ve helped someone. He also reminded me of something – appreciation for others. Sometimes I tend to be selfish so I tend to forget about the people around me. It’s something I really want to overcome.

Anyway, the free frap was quite amazing! Sometimes, God answers prayers so quickly, it surprises you. And you know what, as I returned to the office that morning, I also made another wish – for this special someone to appear behind me and hold my hand. Ahehehe! He did not magically appear out of nowhere as I’d hope he would but at least I tried. God answers prayers all the time anyway. It may not be the answer you want, but it’s always the answer you need.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Time For Giving Back – SYOUT’s Jollibee Adventure

It was another Sykes Outdoor (SYOUT) activity, but instead of our usual escapade of exploring mountains, running on races or what other sweat-inducing activity our imaginative minds can conjure, we convened for a different purpose. This time around, we set off to another unfamiliar terrain to show our gratitude for a wonderful and adventure-filled year.

Our goal, just as tricky as planning for a climb - was to bring joy to the children who live in the reclamation area in Pasig city. The mechanic was to drop-by their area one morning and randomly pick-up kids ages 5-7 and surprise them with a Jollibee Kiddie party. It was what our group had unanimously agreed upon due to the limited time and conflicting schedules we had. This concept was pretty similar to what Oprah did in her show in which she performed random acts of kindness to complete strangers.

The only nagging question in our minds was – how do we go about walking into their territory and convince the little ones and their parents to join us in Jollibee?! It seemed just like the kind of ploy syndicates use to lure children into slavery. But since challenge is something that we all love, we gamely went for it.

Early Saturday morning, we met up in Jollibee Rosario for some last minute preparations. We strategized over a quick breakfast and decided on pairing up since most of us were new to this kind of activity.

After the rest of the group arrived, we set off for the shanties built along the river in Floodway. One of our members – Rici is familiar with the area and had already done some scouting before our activity so he served as our “trail head. It was a bit exigent to navigate around the narrow streets and into their homes but we were not deterred. We walked around trying to look harmless and gave the families we dealt with bright smiles and spoke with them in a friendly and upbeat tone.

Nearly two hours later, we arrived at the entrance of Jollibee along with the kids and their parents we’ve managed to convince – exactly 35 kids and 25 adults.

It was time to party!

The activity began with a short prayer, followed by a game for the kids. Seeing the excitement and the joy in their faces was just as exhilarating as reaching the summit of a tough mountain. After that, everyone was treated to tasty Jollibee meals which filled everybody’s hungry tummies with delight.

The last portion of our treat which brought excitement to everyone in the room – children and children at heart was the appearance of the affable Jollibee mascot. When it came out the children wiped their hands on it as a sign of intense admiration, kind of like what devotees do to patron saints. Jollibee had such strong effect that the children did whatever the host asked them to do. I made a mental note that when I do have my own family, I shall warn my kids to be wary of a mascot masquerading as an orange bee.

We also had a raffle program which brought more energy and joy in the atmosphere. The mothers were especially ecstatic about the grocery packages we gave away.

After another hour, program came to a close and we parted with our new acquaintances as though they were neighbors we knew from way back. It was elating to see the smile on their faces and hear how much they appreciated the gesture. On our end, we all felt extremely grateful that they trusted us and allowed us to be able to share something to them.

It was another monumental feat for our small group which will not be possible without the support of the people who are outside of Sykes Outdoor - the ultra supportive staff of Jollibee Rosario and the welcoming community in Floodway. With this activity, we are reminded once again that it’s everyone’s responsibility to be a good brother to their fellowmen and that anything is possible with cooperation and collective effort.
We hope to be able to share more next year when we explore another mountain to deliver school supplies to children who need it.

*Pictures courtesy of fellow SYOUT members. Thanks! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Wishlist

If you plan to give me something for my birthday, Christmas or anything, strain your brain no more. Just check out the list of my favorite things in random order! :) Hehe! I don't like surprises anyway. Oh, I am not so materialistic, you can just give me a hug or big smile. 

Anything from Nike

Anything from Deuter
Anything green

Anything from Eagle Creek or Pacsafe
Anything football related - jersey, hanky, pillow, (don't give me the soccer ball stuffed toy, I have a lot of those na..hehehe)
Waterproof pouch

AAA Thunder batteries from Handyman in Robinson's Pioneer
Anything I can use for mountain climbing, running
Starbucks GC
Powerbooks GC

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Mrs. Field or Starbucks
Milk Chocolate Digestives from Marks and Spencer
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Original DVD ng Goal 2
Cristiano Ronaldo poster
Lotion - mahilig ako sa lotion! hehehe
Dark chocolates
Ballpen - black - fine point - any brand
External Hardrive
Anything about sharks
Duct Tape - preferably 3M pero any brand would do..hihi..don't ask where I plan to use this.
Transparent bandages
Hugs will do

A big smile - see, I'm not so materialistic..hehehehe 
Movie tickets

I also love books. If you're planning to give me one, I prefer the following genres in paperback:
Non-fiction - foreign or local. I like F. Sionil Jose, Sophie Kinsella, Jessica Zafra, Luis Katigbak, Ambeth Ocampo, 

Books I've been wanting to have:

Into the Wild by Jon KrakauerTracing the Marcos Gold by D. Ahl Umali
Lonely Planet Philippines
Any travel book


Friday, December 11, 2009

Encounter with Giddy Girl

As I was about to leave the office pantry after devouring my enjoyable solo lunch, I ran into a girl who looked so excited, it sparked my curiosity. She asked the lady at the counter where I bought my food about a certain package that was left for her. At first I thought it was just an Avon product she bought from someone but she acted so excited about it, I knew it had to be more than that.

And so, I decided to stay a bit and eavesdrop.

The lady brought out this huge box wrapped in glittery red paper and handed it to the giddy girl. Ohhh, a present! Giddy girl started ripping off the paper and was giggling while doing it. I felt myself gravitate towards her huge present as I can’t stand unopened gifts. Nonchalantly, I asked giddy girl if it was her birthday and was it a present from a friend? Despite her intense enthusiasm over her present, she managed to blurt out a single word that was enough to make me feel as giddy as she felt. – “Monthsary!”, was the word that escaped her lips. I congratulated her and greeted her enthusiastically, “Happy monthsaryyyy!”, as if I was a true blue friend, but deep inside I  felt a twinge of envy. How I wished I also had a huge present to open or perhaps that envy sprung from my desire to have my own “monthsary” to celebrate. I actually wanted to wait for her to finish tearing off the wrapper so I can finally see what’s inside the box but I reminded myself that I don’t even know her. So I walked away, giving her some privacy. I also didn’t want to witness any hugging or kissing just in case her boyfriend planned to make a surprise appearance.

Oh well, Christmas is coming, maybe I’ll get lucky. Hehe!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Trail Run Attempt in Pico De Loro

When I told my mom I was going "jogging" in Cavite at 4:30am on a Saturday morning, she wailed. She thinks my legs are too big and muscular already for me and my 4’11 height and that I may not get a boyfriend in this lifetime because certain parts of me are bigger than that of a normal guy’s. I don’t blame her for being so concerned. Since I was in high school, she’s seen me go home with blood on my clothes, wounds on my legs, bruises everywhere. There were times that I couldn’t even walk normally due to extreme body pain brought by football and mountain climbing. I thought she would have gotten used to it by now but apparently, mothers never really get over this sort of thing.

I tried to console her by telling her that exercise is good and that I’m going to be with  friends from college who are also my backpacking and mountaineering companions. There’s something about my friend Jules that radiates a sense of responsibility that most parents would trust their children with her for a friend. So my mom calmed down and I got out of the house without much debate.

I arrived at the meeting place in less than 30 minutes. As I approached their table where they ate breakfast, Tan announced, “Let’s just go on a day hike!”. My face beamed and I immediately agreed to it. I already had a feeling that they would opt for that instead. Jogging on cement is boring anyway. I just do it for exercise. I thought to myself, this would be a great venue to train for the Climbathon 2010 in Mt. Kinabalu. Me and Jules joined its 2009 edition last October and did not finish. We couldn’t even run past the Carson falls which was only at the beginning of the race. We had very little preparation and joined it for adventure’s sake but this time around – we are a little more serious and more determined to reach the summit and finish in 3 ½ hours – the cut-off for the women’s leg.

Hence, instead of jogging along the road near Pico De Loro, we gave in to the urge of our itchy feet to climb/run in Pico De Loro. It’s a mountain the three of us know very well for we have been climbing it since college. It’s the venue of our training climbs –we’ve already done a traverse from Cavite to Nasugbu, a night trek, an overnight trip and Tan – used to do a day hike here when he was reviewing for his nursing board exams.

We started off at the DENR station –in full smiles. The weather was just the way I like it – chilly yet no signs of rain. We had a slow start – I especially took time to warm up my leg muscles and eventually picked up the pace. Me and Jules reached the summit, 664 meters above sea level in under two hours followed by Tan about 30 minutes later.

We stayed and had fun at the summit for about an hour. It was only March ‘09 when we last went here. Now, the wonderful summit is marred with a huge metal signboard with holes in it that seemed like it was made by a pellet or air gun. I do not mean to be blunt but personally, I prefer if people leave the summit alone and let mother nature provide all the beauty.

After the steep trail down the summit, we started to run again and we hardly saw each other on the trail. Jules came down first and was way ahead of me (high five!), I was the second and Tan was the sweeper.

Basing from our pace, we estimated that we could get back at the DENR station by 12:30pm.

I suddenly felt tired as I’ve been lacking sleep for the past two days and so I decided to slow down as I made my way to the farm, also called Basecamp I by mountaineers. The farm to the DENR station takes only about 30-45 minutes by walking and so I knew that cold Coke was minutes away. I started to run again – though very slowly this time.

30 minutes later, I began to feel a bit disoriented. I was aware of this fork where I had to turn left to get back to the main highway which was a few minutes away from Basecamp I but I haven’t seen it so I stopped running and continued to descend by walking. It felt weird because I had made a mental note not to miss it. This was Pico, practically our club’s second home.

I began to freak out a bit. There was no cellphone signal so I couldn’t call Jules. I took note of the time – it was only a few minutes before 12:30pm and I knew, I ought to be seeing a signboard by La Salle. About 20 minutes later, I reached an area filled with purple flowers on the left side of the forest and that’s when I confirmed that I was lost because these weren’t on the Ternate trail. I decided to head back and almost cried. The trail going back was obviously not the same way we came. I knew I was going to be delayed for another hour. At that time, I knew that both Tan and Jules had already reached the DENR station and figured out that I got lost and would probably come back and wait for me at the fork which I missed.

After some more trekking, I saw another fork on my right but I knew it wasn’t the trail we passed by because there was supposed to be this arrow sign engraved in a tree. This one didn’t. Instead, there was a signboard posted on a tree with an arrow pointing to the left.

I decided to try it because it felt familiar. I began to feel at ease. Though I knew it wasn’t the same trail we used this morning, I felt confident it was the path that will lead me back to the jump-off.

A few minutes later, I triumphantly reached the main highway and when I made a steep descent from a trail that was different from the one we passed by earlier, I knew I had trekked the old trail – the one we used back in college. No wonder it felt so familiar!

I got back to the DENR station smiling. Tan and Jules welcomed me in amusement and I immediately told them how I got lost. It turned out – Tan also missed the fork on his way back. I also told Jules that I was hoping they would come back for me but Jules said – they had no plans of doing anything other than wait for me because they felt confident that I could make my way back. Wah! It was weird indeed but I’m glad we all got back unharmed, though with damaged egos.

Itinerary can be found here:

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