Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Sharing Project : Help Build a Library in Sorsogon

Help build a happy history by donating books (elementary levels and above) for the first-ever community library of Rizal Elementary School in Gubat, Sorsogon (First in 50 years!). The alumni association together with our contact, Emm Balabat are overseeing the library's construction while our group comprised of our leader - Journeying James is helping by filling the library with books!

Some of the project members
Here are the ways you can help! 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Books needed : Elementary to higher levels.  The library we're helping would be it's first-ever community library since the school was built 50 years ago!  
 You can also donate in cash as we would need the money to transport the books from our  drop-off points to Sorsogon. That's about 14 hours of land travel and it's not going to be  cheap so we need your help as well. :)

Here's where you can drop-off your books during store hours. These stores have graciously supported our project! Thank you, thank you!

A Runner’s Circle (ARC)
Website: arunnerscircle.com.ph
Location: Unit H, Aloha Hotel, 2150 Roxas Boulevard Cor. Quirino Ave., Malate, Manila, 1004 Philippines 
Store Hours: 
Monday – Closed; Tuesday to Friday – 12NN to 7PM; Saturday & Sunday – 9AM to 6PM

G/F, R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street
Address : R.O.X. MANILA B1 Bonifacio High St., The Fort, Taguig City.Tel. No.             
+63 (2) 856.4639      
FB Page : https://www.facebook.com/roxphilippines
Store Hours : 
Friday-Saturday – 12:00PM-11:00PM
Sunday-Thursday – 12:00PM-10:00PM

Cash Donations : 
a. For donations via PAYPAL, do send to one of the organizers- PinayTravelJunkie gaye.emami@yahoo.com. 
b. For bank deposits, you can use my BPI FAMILY SAVINGS ACCOUNT:
Account Name: Christel James Betia
Account Number: 5806-2935-73
*For transparency, all donations will be posted publicly through James' blog or fanpage. If you wish to remain anonymous, please say so. :) 

You can also join us when we transport the books to Sorsogon on September 13. More details at Journeying James website.

Wanna check out the community we're helping? Watch this video! 


Here's the roster of our team:
1. James Betia - Journeying James
2. Ed Escueta - Pinoy Outdoors  (Ed is in-charge of all the poster promotion about our project). 
3. Laiza Limpin - Batang Gala
4. Christine Fernandez - Jovial Wanderer
5. Josiah Sicad - Lakas ng Trip
6. Gay Mitra - Pinay Travel Junkie
7. Gael Hilotin - The Pinay Solobackpacker
8. Estan Cabigas - Langyaw
9. Lois Yasay - We Are Sole Sisters
10. Paula Peralejo - Our Restless Feet
11. Marky Ramone Go - Nomadic Experiences

1. JCI Los Banos
2. Team USB
3. Snail Runners Alabang

1. Emm Balabat - Rizal Elementary School Alumnus and our main contact 
2. Doc Minnie Tomas
3. Arvin Quilloy
4. Jojo Pauly
5. Vernie De Guzman Navarro
6. Charlie Fernandez 

The Book Sharing Project is my second project with Journeying James, Ed Escueta, Laiza Limpin and Jojo Pauly. The first one was  last year where we were able to collect shoes for the young athletes of Bayawan City in Negros Oriental and donate the extra amount to the affected families of Typhoon Sendong in CDO and Iligan. Here's James' account of the donations and expenses for our Shoe Sharing Project and an article posted at the Bayawan City's government website. :) Thank you to everyone who helped and hope you support this one as well. :) 

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm on Rappler!

A few weeks ago, a friend who writes for Rappler, a social news network, asked a group of travel bloggers  "Where do you travel during the rainy days? Why travel even if it's a rainy season? ".

Find out  the places we brave when every where else is wet in her article, Traveling on a Rainy Day

Izah Morales writes for several publications and the blogger behind Tripadora. More importantly, she enjoyed the outdoors when she went hiking with us in Mt. Pulag! :) Congrats on your first climb Izah and thank you for including me in your article. :)

Here's another one of articles for Rappler (and also a favorite story of mine) - Paddling in Lake Pandin


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mt. Damas Day Hike Traverse - A Sweet Suffering

"Mt. Damas Day hike on July 15!" When I received that text from hiker friend and fellow blogger, Gideon of Pinoy Mountaineer, I told him "Game! Wherever that is." I had no clue about our destination, but as I had not hiked in a month, I was ready to go anywhere as long as I get to see mountains. 

We left Manila at 12:30 am after the rest of the group were introduced to each other. There was a friendly vibe bursting in the air and so I could not help but feel very relaxed and in a few minutes, fell asleep peacefully. Dozing off beside me is another friend, Ivan of Batang Lakwatsero

 By 5:00 AM, we had arrived at our starting point in Barangay Papaac, in Camiling. Our host was GAME-NEST, a Tarlac-based hiking club who pioneered the establishment of the trails to Mt. Damas. Sir Emman informed us that the truck that was to take us to Sitio Dueg, our supposed jump-off did not arrive and so we had to hike two more hours by taking an established dirt trail in the mountain regularly taken by locals. 

The trail to Sitio Dueg passes through a community with a few homes. The trail is flat and relaxing with commanding views of Mt. Damas. The challenging part came in less than two hours. The terrain was rolling - steep sections up for several minutes, then sheer descents after. It was a torture to the knees, thighs and everywhere else. The thorny shrubs that gleefully welcomed us inflicted some cuts in whatever body part was exposed. The sun that was painfully shy the pass couple of days was intensely blasting us with its rays. The views fortunately, came as generous as the difficult trails that we endured for several hours.

With the heat of the sun and the lack of physical activity for a month, I was drained by the time we reached the summit. My only thoughts were - "Ohh, nice view, OMG, where do I get the strength to go down?" We stayed for a couple of minutes as there was no cover and the heat was just overbearing. 

                                                         Summit :) 

Summit Group Shot courtesy of PinoyMountaineer.com. Salamat Gid!
From the summit, Ubod Falls, our side trip was 2.5 hours away. We stopped briefly for lunch inside an abandoned open hut where most of us fell asleep. After 30 minutes of trekking beside the river, we reached the towering 120-foot Ubod Falls. It was gorgeous but I was speechless with fatigue and clamoring for more water down my throat. We rested by the boulders with the sound of the falls powerfully pounding down a small basin for about an hour. 
Photo Credit :  http://www.ivanlakwatsero.com  :)
By the time we set off, I was already on auto-pilot. I had no strength left, just the will to get down safely. With all the challenges we faced on the half part of the way, you'd think the trail would be easier on the way back. A few meters from the falls was the trail dubbed as "Cardiac Hill", the steepest portion of our hike that took 30 minutes of ascending a forested trail. After that, we endured a very slippery hike down a muddy trail. Then our final challenge, a hike amidst a trail practically engulfed with thorny makahiya (Mimosa pudica). 

I was all-smiles by the time I caught up with the rest of the group at the jump-off. I was so tired but inexplicably very happy. I felt as though I just went on a wrestling date with every part of me in agony - either from cuts from the branches or from all that hiking. :P

Salamat GAME-NEST for the post-climb meal! :) Photo by Ivan of Ivanlakwatsero.com. Thanks friend! :)
After exchanging high-fives with some of my companions, my body impulsively gravitated towards the 4 bottles of ice-cold Sparkle and found myself uncontrollably digging my hands on a bag of nuts. After a few seconds, a little lady handed me a heaping plate of pancit. I stared at it as though it was a bouquet of edible long stem red roses. I devoured it in a few seconds. God bless that little lady! (Dear God, bigyan mo po sya ng gwapo at saksakan ng bait na asawa).

It's officially a 10.5 hour hike (rests included) for most of the people in the group while frolicker me completed it in 11 hours. Though I was in agony for more than half of the time we hiked, I am deliriously delighted that we did it. A day in the mountains with great company, I can't complain with that. 

P.S. With the overbearing trails of Mt. Damas, Ivan and I joked with Gideon that we should call it DamTrav (Damn that traverse!).  I

I'd like to thank Gideon Lasco for organizing this trip, GAME-NEST for hosting us and to the rest of my amiable companions - Ivan, Coby, Mich, Raissa, Martin, Neil and Iggy. 

For an overnight itinerary of Mt. Damas, please visit Pinoy Mountaineer.   

Please visit the blogs of my companions:) 

For more of my hiking adventures, visit this page.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Philippine Hiking Blogs

Two days ago, I joined a day hike traverse in Mt. Damas organized by Gideon Lasco of Pinoy Mountaineer  and hosted by Game-Nest,  an outdoor  group based in Tarlac. It turned out to be the hardest day hike I have ever done because of the hot temperature. 
I think I got half of my limited brain cells fried from hiking under the scorching sun and so I shall try to write about my beautiful suffering after a few days or weeks even :P. I had a lot of fun during that hike even if I was overwhelmed with fatigue.  The trail was awesome but the sun exposure was just too much! :P 

While I am trying to recover, I'd like to share with you a list of blogs which offer great information about hiking in the Philippines. (Listed randomly)

1. Pinoy Mountaineer  
Site Owner : Gideon Lasco, MD
About The Site :
Cited in the Lonely Planet Philippines and Lonely Planet Southeast Asia guide books (2010) as a recommended portal in trekking the Philippine trails.  

I met Gideon two years ago for a project he's working on  with a former colleague of mine.  During that first meeting, I was enamored with  his humility and passion for hiking. After two years, we finally got the chance to hike together! :) 

Oh, here's his account of our recent day hike in Mt. Damas. Click here.
2.  Akyatera Bundokera
Site Owner : The gorgeous and semi-anoynymous Ms. BPS
About The Site : Contains climbing itineraries  of the lesser known hiking destinations. 

I climbed with BPS last year  and she showed me her favorite playground - Mt. Balagbag. I will never forget how I almost fainted from climbing the waterfalls.  I'm afraid of heights and anything that recreates the environment of the  rock climbing accident I had back in 2009 where I incurred 7 stitches. :p  Read about my misadventure here. 
3. Lagataw 
Site Owner : Adonis Loren
About the Site : Love extreme day hikes?  Visit his site to get great ideas on what to try next. 

I admire this guy. He's very humble and easy to talk to.  It's too bad our planned day hike was postponed. Oh well, there's always a next time. :) 
4. Tramping Philippines   
Site Owners : Agnes Navales and Dane Policarpio
About the SIte : Clean lay-out, amazing photos,  straight-forward information, entertaining write-ups are the things I love about it. 

The power duo are also working behind the Philippines First travel Web Series, PHL 360. I met both of them during the launch and I hope I can climb with them some day. :) 

5. Batang Lakwatsero   
Site Owner : Ivan Cultura 
About the Site : Great writing and photos. I always tell Ivan that I feel embarrass  about my writing every time I read his. This young person has depth of character! :) How admirable.  
6. The Quixotic World   
Site Owner : Anonymous 
About the Site : I love the heartfelt posts mixed with hiking itineraries. 
How about you? Any other hiking blogs that are not on this list? Please share, I'd love to visit them. :) 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trail Running Philippines : The North Face Baguio 2013

Since I've been  introduced to the grueling sport of trail running, I've witnessed runners crawl to the finish line as they complete either a 50 or 100 KM event,  while some never get the chance to cross that coveted marker. Some either miss the cut-off time, succumb to  injury  or yield to severe exhaustion.  The event which have made a mark in the running community of  having the toughest race course organized within the Philippine terrain  is the Thrill of the Trail, spearheaded by the outdoor brand,  The North Face

Apart from runners, the Thrill of the Trail attracts participants from different avenues  such  as the adventure racers, mountaineers  and  a small number  comprising of  gutsy trippers - people who are in it out of pure curiosity.  Since I can hardly do justice on what a runner is, I consider myself as more of a tripper and while I have the will and endurance to hike all day, I  am yet to gather the discipline, desire and stamina to survive an ultra marathon. I will not be able to attend this one since I will be attending  an important affair but  I am sharing this with you so you can block your calendars! :) Enjoy the mountains of Baguio on April 20-21, 2013! :) 

Teaser released through their Facebook page a few minutes ago. 

Check out their FB Page for more updates - The North Face PH
or visit the event website -  http://www.thrillofthetrail.ph/.

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