a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cebu : Mactan Shrine Park

I''ve been to Cebu about four times already and I still haven't seen much! Gosh, that place has a lot to offer  from  great  food, shopping sprees, adventure destinations, historical sites and more! I haven't even gone to the great beaches yet. I heard the ones in Malapascua, Bantayan and San Remigio are amazing.

On my most recent trip, which was last year (haha, sorry, this is an overdue post), I chanced on Mactan Shrine Park while I was roaming the resorts around Punta Engaño  in Mactan Island. I just finished an ocular at Abaca Resort and Crimsort Resort & Spa. I used to be in charge of piecing together adventure tours. It was a fun and tiring job and occasionally, I miss it! Especially now that I've transferred to a new work which is totally different from what I used to do.  Now I am in the office the entire day and engaged in conference calls twice a week with people from Australia, China and Malaysia. Hihi. Now that I got a hang of my work, I am sort of enjoying it. (I use  "sort of" because I believe that there's more to life than putting your  entire devotion to work).

I hailed a jeep from Abaca Resort and went down at the park which I saw from the map I carried.  There weren't a lot of people as it was past the tourist season.  It was such a hot day and I was sweating profusely. I went around and was amused to see that there are several shrines in the area. That time, I wish I had someone telling me the story of each structure.

Magellan Shrine

Lapu-Lapu Shrine

Marker reads - “Here on April 27, 1521, Lapu-lapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader, Ferdinand Magellan. Thus Lapu-lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.”


Dock at the back of the park

It takes less than an hour to tour the entire place but I think I stayed longer just to take in the views.  I had a great time staring at the clouds amidst the clear blue sky.

Aww, Cebu, I shall go back for more! 
Interested in going to Cebu? I found an online resource on the web but I am in no way affiliated with the website. Visit this link for more information - Everything Cebu.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Attempt # 1 – To Finish an Ultramarathon

Part of my adventure list was to join a 50KM trail running event and finish it within cut-off time.  Last Saturday, I took a shot at this dream when I joined the 57 KM Valley Trail Challenge in Nuvali organized by Front Runner Magazine.  What I originally signed up for was only for 50KM but the organizers added 7KM  to the route as freebies.  I wish I can tell you that it was a victorious attempt but unfortunately – all that mental training, protein loading and running before work weren't enough for me to make it all the way through. I’m still smiling though because I  was able to finish 34KM. That’s the farthest I’ve gone in a trail running event ever since I discovered the sport back in 2009.  Hooray! This only means that  I will be in the look-out for future ultramarathons, continue training and  will never give up until I finally finish one! 
 
So how does it feel to run 34KM?! I feel great - except that I’m feeling some pain at the top of my left foot. It never hurt that much before. Perhaps it was because of my shoes. Thank God, I have no chafing in any parts of my body because I applied tons of petroleum jelly on the key areas -  the inner thigh, chest, shoulder blades and my feet. I put some the night before and on the morning of the run. The energy gel I used, Stinger was great. It helped suppressed  hunger and gave me enough energy for 34KM.  I did not experience muscle cramps as I stretched appropriately before the run. I also snacked on salt a couple of times which according to my nurse friends prevent muscle cramps. 

The best part of all was the post-run meal (we ate 3 post race meals!) and the next best part - the company I was with!  It's so much better when you have friends to laugh and talk with.  (Thank you friends!!!). Oh, please visit my friend's blog - Running Mistress . This is where she puts all her trail running adventures. :)

I would like to acknowledge sir Jonel Mendoza of Front Runner Magazine and to the rest of his team for this well-organized running event! Thank you for introducing me to Ultramarathon. :) I hope you will come up with another trail running event. 

Thanks to the sponsors for supporting this event. I don't have personal sponsors but I would like to mention them because they helped make the event successful. Let's see, we have one of my food/running buddies - Mariel of Nathan,  my good friend from college -  Diana (Nature Valley), Salonpas, Pocari Sweat (you're an amazing drink!) and R.O.X. (love you!)! If I missed any, that was unintentional. Please continue supporting these events as it's encouraging people to live a happy and healthy lifestyle! Mwahhhh!

Ohhh - and thanks to the people of Asiatel Inn.  This is where we stayed. Rates are cheap, the rooms are clean and it's only 5 minutes away from Nuvali by private transportation. 

Pig-Out in Solenad...Sorry no food pics, we finished everything before anyone remembered to take photos!
Running your first ultra marathon? I found an interesting article from Runners World that helped me. Click here.


P.S. 
Thanks to Running Mistress for all the photos here! :)

To God be the Glory!


 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adventure Bucket List

Borrowing an idea I got from visiting several blogs, I decided to come up with my own bucket list of adventures :

1. Hike Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle in Peru
2. Finish a 50 KM Trail running event
3. Podium finish at a Trail running event
4. Hike Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka
5. See the Grand Canyon
6. Ride an ultra light plane
7. Mother of All Adventures: Space travel – which is insanely expensive (20-35 Million USD – insane!) but not impossible. In fact, there have been several successful space travel made by rich people (around 3 of them or so, hehe). Maybe one day I can finally afford it. I wonder what I can do to earn that much moolah.

I think those are it for now. Hahaha! Given all these adventures, it’s going to take a lifetime of hard work to afford these.

How about you, what’s yours?

Don’t be afraid to list them because if you focus and work hard enough for it, it will come true. Ever since I started believing that, I was able to tick off some items off my old lists.

And here’s a side story to demonstrate, hihi. One of my dreams in high school was to be able to watch a football game with a professional European team playing. I used to think that I had to travel to Europe to be able to do that and that’s not cheap! Fast forward to 2009, Manchester United, one of the world’s most popular football teams, did an Asian tour and made a stopover at Kuala Lumpur where airline tickets from Clark were much more affordable than going all the way to Europe ! I was able to go and watch them live! They made the big guns play! I saw Wayne Rooney, Owen, Nani, etc. It was surreal and I enjoyed it very much even if I had to travel alone.

I don’t think I’m any more special or luckier than anyone but if I want something, I believe I can have it and I don’t let anything or anyone stop me from getting it. My biggest hurdle so far – (same as what was mentioned by Lilliane Cobiao of Wanderlass.com – who’s currently in a RTW adventure) – is myself. I can be complacent and too carefree sometimes so it’s quite a struggle.

Oh well, what’s life without “issues” right? :P

Have a great day everyone! Keep the adventures coming!

P.S.
I think I may have written something like this before. Haha! But I feel like sharing again so thank you for taking time to read this.










Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Not so Lonely Solo Hike


As part of my training for my first ultramarathon next weekend, I did a solo day hike in Mt. Maculot this morning. (Ahhh, there I've said it, my first ultra - I'm nervous about that! Please pray for me. I just want to finish within cut-off time which is 9 hours, with a huge smile on my face and if it's not too much to ask - heaping plates of siomai at the finish line. :P ). This mountain is located in Cuenca, Batangas and easily accessible from Manila both by public or private transportation.Though this is where I usually train with friends because of its proximity and steep terrains, it was my first time to go there alone.It was also my first time to get to the summit because we usually just spend our time up until the area popularly known as Rockies which has amaaaaazzzing views. It's really nice up there. You get to walk on top of boulders and from the cliff, see Taal Volcano, the beautiful serene lake and nearby areas in Batangas.

I also met a couple of new friends at the big campsite and I hiked with them to the summit which is on the opposite direction of Rockies. It would have been a lonely,  scary trek if I didn't go with them. I enjoyed their company very much and at the same time, got the training I needed. I learned something about birds and plants from them. Now, that's admirable! There weren't any views at the summit but the trail though slippery was very nice. We only had to face the sun for a couple of minutes because it was heavily forested and we saw a lot of interesting plants and insects. We also heard tons of birds. 

I had to go down alone because my NFF's were still heading for the rockies after getting back from the summit. When I reached the jump-off, there were tons of other climbers and I had no space to sit down so I headed straight to the makeshift bathrooms at the back of the owner's lot. Fortunately, there was a vacant cubicle and so I was able to take a bath right away. I had to hurry though because I got the middle "cubicle" - with sheets of plastic as walls and there were 2 guys on both sides and since the walls were so thin and they were talking, it felt like they were with me in the same room!!! Hahahaha! I felt very paranoid but what the heck. It felt good to bathe after a hard day's trek. Hihi.

After packing up and saying good bye to the owner (geez, I keep forgetting her name), I was able to hail a tricycle quickly and rode another jeep to Lipa where I ate a solitary meal that involved the best food combo of all times - siomai and yang chow. It's my current fave post race/climb meal.

I got home before 6:00 PM and I can't believe that it was only a few hours ago that I was sweating profusely and trying to catch my breath.

Thank you God for keeping me safe and for the great experience and thank you  Gideon Lasco of Pinoy Mountaineer for making information readily available for everyone who wants to experience the Philippine mountains. (click on the link to get a copy of the itinerary).

New found friends







Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Sunday Adventure - Makiling Day Hike Traverse

"There is a place like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter." Alice in Wonderland

I’ve always been amused with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland - falling into a rabbit’s hole and finding a magical place surrounded with enchanting trees and animals that can talk. That surreal feeling of amazement – close to a dream is what I crave on a regular basis. That’s why every now and then, I disappear from the city and go to the mountains in search of breathtaking views.

Last weekend, I had another one of those dreamlike experiences in a place barely two hours away from Manila. Armed with information downloaded from the internet, I met with my companions at past 3AM and boarded a Lucena-bound bus. Our destination was the Batangas entry point for Mt. Makiling. We planned to traverse and go down at Los Banos, Laguna.

We arrived at the Sto. Tomas (Batangas) public market in less than an hour. From there, we rode a tricycle that took us to the barangay hall of San Bartolome where we registered. The fee was very minimal – 20 pesos/head. They have restroom facilities where you can take a quick break and a huge lot where you can stretch and fix your stuff.

We started hiking at 6AM. The mountains that lured from afar excited us. It's been  weeks or maybe months since I last hiked. I don't really remember. There were only four of us and we were all friends so it was more like a get-together. The terrain at the start was easy but we missed the first turn so we had to retrace our steps to find the right trail. There weren't much ascents on the first hour but it eventually got tougher. We encountered several boulders where ropes were installed to assist the climbers. There were tight spots where we had to crawl under the trees, slippery trails that made us clung to vines and tons of other surprises. Since all of us were mountain lovers, we had the time of our lives - despite all the sweat and dirt.  




The mossy forests and sharp rocks reminded me so much of G2 in Romblon and Mt. Tapulao in Zambales, while the twisted tree branches were similar to what I saw in Mt. Matarem, Batanes. Still, this mountain has its own charm - a combination of challenging terrains and rewarding views of nearby mountains and towns. I don't know much about the whole flaura and fauna thing but I was very amused with what we have witnessed.  We past an area that had white flowers scattered on the ground which looked like fairy's haven. There was also this metallic green insect perched on a boulder a but I  found it  while I was clinging for dear life with one hand on a rope and the other on a rock so I wasn't able to take a picture. I also saw something I recognized - pitcher plants because I once stayed in an eco lodge in Bukidnon and the owner toured me around  his garden that had about hundreds of those. 


I cannot count the number of times I fell and the slashes I incurred because I wasn’t wearing arm sleeves but I didn’t care. I was happy the entire time except for that one brief moment when I fell and thought I broke my hand. Aaah, the pain was so bad, I had to close my eyes. Thank God I recovered after a few seconds and continued hiking as if nothing happened.

It only rained mildly and the limatiks, which Mt. Makiling is notorious for, seemed to favor only one person in our group,  so the rest of us were spared from those slimy little suckers. (I don't know if the Off lotion we slathered all over our body was the one that saved us). 

Though we got lost twice and had mud all over our bodies,  we got down the mountain in high spirits. See that's what I love about climbing with good friends, it's so much fun! A MakTrav fix totally fed my lust for a weekend adventure!

And since I had so much fun, I am sharing with you our itinerary. It's actually the one we got from the Pinoy Mountaineer website. I just edited the costs and the time. For those who are interested in doing a MakTrav for the first time, here's a friendly advice - do train so you can focus on enjoying the scenery than trying to catch your breath. :) As for the trail water, I am no expert but I brought 2.5 Liters and I was fine the entire day. Do bring packed lunch and don't leave your trash behind.
Oh and one final thing, whoever established the MakTrav trail, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart! It's an amazing trail!

MT. MAKILING (VIA STO. TOMAS)
Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Jump-off: Brgy. San Miguel, Sto. Tomas
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to Peak 2 / days required: 1-2 days / 7-8 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 3 with roped segments

ITINERARY
Via Palanggana (West) Trail
330 Meet up at  KFC Buendia
0400 Board a bus to Sto.  Tomas (Signage of the bus is Lucena) at the Jam Terminal (91 Pesos)
0500 ETA Sto. Tomas public market,take tricycle (50 pesos/trike, can fit 4 people with day packs)
0630 ETA jump-off Brgy. San Bartolome. Register (P20), then proceed to water source
0700 Start trek (3 hours to Palanggana Peak)
1000 ETA Palanggana Peak, snacks.
1130 ETA Melkas ridge campsite. Commence Melkas Ridge crossing.
1200 ETA Peak 3. Follow Wild Boar trail to Peak 2.
1400 ETA Peak 2 (Mt. Makiling summit)
1415 Start descent via UPLB trail (We eventually flagged a habal-habal in one of the stores and paid 50/head for one motorbike each, it was a bumpy but nice ride down!)
1600 ETA - UP College of Forestry, Wash up, relax a bit
1800 Walk down the road and wait for jeepney (P8/Head)
1830 Dinner at Chowking near UPLB 
1930 Head to HM Transport Terminal via jeep across Chowking (20+ Pesos each)

2030 ETA HM Transport Terminal, Board a bus to Buendia (68 Pesos/Head)
2130 - ETA - Buendia

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Adventurer's Love Story

About 2 weeks ago, I received an email from a friend of mine. Initially I thought it would be one of those spams but when I browsed through the page, I immediately felt happy, hopeful, weak, mushy and a jumble of other emotions.

The content of the email was a reposted article from the Inquirer News website. It was about the wedding of two extraordinary people. The groom was one of our trainers at a Basic Mountaineering Course I took last 2008 - sir Fred Jamili. He was part of the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition Team’s technical and support group. He gave out a lecture on Philippine Mountains and even taught us how to tie knots. From what  I knew, he was not in a relationship with anyone at that time. I remember someone even mentioned that he's married to mountains which was easy to believe. His eyes sparkled as he talked about it as though he was referring to an actual woman. I had the impression that he's resolved to loving mountains his entire life and will never tie the knot. He gave off that forever bachelor vibe actually.

Life is full of surprises indeed! For the rest of us who are still waiting for that one great love apart from the sports that we love, I am sharing you their story.

Happy reading!

Balangay romance: Love blooms at sea for mountain lover, prof

By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Inquirer Mindanao
1:02 am
Sunday, May 29th, 2011
His love affair with the mountains is beyond doubt, having spent most of his life singing the most romantic serenade—the way only a possessed lover can do—to the precious forests and sacred rivers that had embraced him over the years.

Until quite recently, Fred Jamili, a 59-year-old experienced mountain climber, lived a life entirely devoted to the mountains.

Not that he has shaken off his passion for high places, but Fred has found a new love.

It is ironic that after more than three decades of conquering mountain peaks here and abroad, Fred would find his new love waiting for him to set foot in Zamboanga City .

And it was all thanks to the Philippine Balangay Expedition, which last year took replicas of the historic precolonial vessel on a triumphant 12,600-kilometer journey across the country and Southeast Asia .

Fred, who was a member of the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition Team’s technical and support group, was one of the voyage’s leaders.

His new love

In March 2010, the expedition’s three balangays (boat villages) docked in Zamboanga City , a few months before it completed its 15-month Asian voyage.

One of those who welcomed the expedition was Fred’s future bride, Russelle Tabuniar.

“I thought, yes, I will forever be married to the mountains. I had convinced myself that the mountains are my wives until I met her,” said Fred.

Russelle, 30, a history professor at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, will wed Fred, 59, today, something they both never imagined would happen to them until they met.

“This is a special wedding for the special woman in my life,” said the soft-spoken Fred.

The groom will be wearing a coat embellished with beads. The bride will wear a matte-gold beaded dress.

“We want it to be simple and something that will take us back to our cultural roots. The beads will connect us to the culture of the indigenous peoples. It is something that is always part of their life, art and culture,” said Russelle.

Shipboard wedding

The wedding will be celebrated on the Masawa Hong Butuan, one of the balangays, which is now moored at Barangay (village) Bading in Butuan City .

It is the couple’s way of paying homage to the reason why their love blossomed.

“I met her because of the balangay. When we decided to get married, we both wished it to happen here,” said Fred, who is from Bago, Negros Occidental.

“It was not love at first sight. Nothing like that,” said Russelle of their first meeting when the expedition docked in Zamboanga City last year.

Russelle was part of the committee formed by Ateneo de Zamboanga to hold a symposium on the voyage.

“That was a very formal meeting. We were not even properly introduced. Even during dinner, the discussion was very formal but she already made a good impression on me because she was very knowledgeable about history,” said Fred.

A texting romance

Two months after they met, Fred and Russelle were in love.

There was no formal courtship. Everything happened through constant texting.

“We just found ourselves in love with each other. The words and the process of courtship were no longer needed,” said Russelle.

A month after they first met, Fred told Russelle by text message that he wanted to marry her. And then over dinner in Pagadian City , he personally proposed marriage, which she happily accepted.

“She is outgoing and we have almost the same interests. Academically, she is into history. It’s like we’re similar in a lot of things, something that I have not found in other women,” he said.

“She is very special to me,” he added.

For Russelle, married life is something unimaginable if it were not with Fred.

“He is adventurous. I love the fact that he understands the life that I was imagining to be. I am very adventurous myself and I want to spend a lot of my time outdoors. Other men would not understand that,” she said.

Better late than never

Art Valdez, Fred’s mountain climbing partner since 1979 and the Balangay expedition leader, said their group was happy that “[Fred] has found someone other than the mountains.”

“All his life, he had no one to care about, he was carefree and always out there … it is worth celebrating that he has finally found something that will temper him and will complete the cycle of life,” said Valdez, a former transportation undersecretary who chairs the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines.

“It is better late than never,” he added with a laugh, remembering the bridegroom’s age.

According to Valdez , a lot of things changed in Fred after he met Russelle.

“He was always cross. A terror. Very strict. But when he found love, he changed. Love brightened him, lightened him up,” he said.

But Valdez , who will be godfather at the wedding, hopes that Fred’s romance with the mountains and the great outdoors will not be weakened by marriage.

“But I am confident that Fred will always be part of our expeditions. His wife will understand,” he said.

Like launching a ship

As for his advice to the couple, Valdez said: “Marriage is like the launching of a ship in an unchartered sea. It is full of challenges but determination and love will be able to bring you to that desired destination. Overcome the big waves and bad weather. And it will make the journey worth it.”

For Fred and Russelle, marriage only signals the beginning of their journey together.

“I know it will be an exciting journey with him. People asked me if I am excited about the wedding day and yes, I am. But what I am more excited about is the journey with him, that life with him,” Russelle said.

And Fred has another adventure in his mind.

“We are not only living a new life as husband and wife but we will also be building our own boat house, our own balangay,” he said.

Awwww...








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