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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In Focus : Philippine Climber Romi Garduce - The Cold Truth

Press Release 

Recreation Outdoor eXchange (R.O.X.) introduced another outdoor activity last September 27, 2012 at its branch in Bonifacio High Street. Alpine mountain climbing was at the spotlight this evening, with Romi Garduce, first Filipino Seven Summit climber, enlightening the crowd. 

The 3rd floor of R.O.X. was packed with outdoor enthusiasts! :) 
Garduce, who was been climbing mountains since he joined the UP Mountaineers in 1991, is the first Filipino to accomplish the feat of scaling the Seven Summits. The Seven Summits are the highest peaks in all seven continents, namely Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mt. Aconcagua in South America, Mt. Everest in Asia, Mt. Elbrus in Europe, Mt. McKinley in North America, the Cartensz Pyramid in Oceania, and the Vinson Massif in Antartica. It was in January of 2012 when Garduce completed the seven by conquering Vinson Massif. 

Vinson Massif  
In his talk, Garduce spoke about his years as a mountaineer, the challenges he had to face, and the preparation he had to undertake before facing each mountain. As an alpine climber, one must be completely self-reliant, toting all items needed for food, shelter, and safety while going up a mountain. In addition to carrying this load, one must be at the height of physical fitness, as well as mental preparedness. Garduce shared behind-the-scenes stories about his quests, with a short video on climbing Mt. Everest, the world’s highest and most treacherous peak to climbers. He also shared tips on training and health, climbing gear, and how to get started on this grueling mountain sport.

Mt. Everest - highest peak in the world. :)
Mt. Aconcagua - highest mountain in South America

All mountain photos for this post were shared as part of the press kit and were taken by Romi Garduce and Levi Nayahangan. 

Garduce’s talk was supplemented by the week-long Alpine photo exhibit at the R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street branch, which was held from September 24 to 31. 
R.O.X. is owned and operated by the Primer Group of Companies, Asia's next retail giant.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meeting Veteran Climber Mike Libecki

Two days ago, I was sent by Dispatch Media to attend a press conference for Mountain Hardware athlete, Mike Libecki. My mind went black and I was like, "Sino si Mike?" (Mike who?). 

But I am familiar with Mountain Hardware (MH), I am a fan of the brand myself and can attest to the delight of using their apparel and equipment. It's light and trust-worthy. Back when almost every Filipino mountaineer got obsessed with The North Face, I was one of the few who found fascination in using Mountain Hardware and up until this day, I smile at the sight of their logo. When placed on prints, it looks very simple, almost unnoticeable. I wish I can afford to buy a few more apparel & equipment from them though, as MH is quite pricey. Oh well, someday. :) 

The conference was at Abe restaurant in Trinoma Mall which I haven't tried before so that made me excited. Haha! 
Welcome signage for Mike Libecki
Mike Libecki came in with the gang from the Primer Group, the conglomerate that distributes Mountain Hardware in the Philippines. He is a multi-awarded climber and a recipient of several grants that is given to climbers in pursuit of remarkably challenging ascents with minimal impact to the environment and has appeared in films/interviews with National Geographic, Discovery, History Channel, Outside TV, etc.. Despite all these big accomplishments, he claims that his favorite award is winning father of the year - which he won on numerous occasions. Sweet! :) Below's the video that was shared to us by Mike. Woooow, he's really living it up!

Around The World With Mike Libecki from Red Frog Interactive on Vimeo.

As I write this, Mike and several local mountaineers is in a documented expedition to Mt. Amuyao, one of the most beautiful trails in the Philippines found in the Cordillera region. The long, challenging hike also comes with a noble purpose as their team will also be distributing portable solar lamps to the community in Pat-yay, Ifugao. 

 Though I am way past my teen years, I couldn't help but tell myself, "When I grow up, I want to be like Mike." - to be able to hike, test my favorite brand/s, travel around the world, exploring dense trails (something less technical though, I don't enjoy using harnesses). :P 

As the conference came to a close, he shared something that reminded me of why I love the mountains. Click on the video below. :) 

 Have an enjoyable life everyone! :)

Mountain Headwear made its way to the country through R.O.X, and opened its first store in Southeast Asia last July 30 at the second level of TriNoma Mall. Its second branch in the Philippines will open at SM Lanang on September 28, 2012.

Mountain Hardwear is exclusively distributed by The Primer Group of Companies, Asia’s next retail giant.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's in my Backpack?

Being a natural snoop, erm, a keen observer, the contents of other people’s bags always amuses me. What’s inside and how it’s packed says something about the person carrying it and what they’re doing. A person’s bag is like a walking Facebook profile! 

On a recent trip to Sorsogon, I had to pack for a 3D 2N trip and our itinerary involved the following activities : 
1. Attend an opening for the Rizal Elementary School Library (Gubat, Sorsogon) - it’s first ever in 50 Years! Congrats everyone! 
2. Beach swim 
3. Food Trip 
4. Short hike to Bayugin Waterfalls 
5. Trip to Bulusan Volcano Natural Park 

The travel involved an uneventful 14-hour bus ride from Manila to Gubat, Sorsogon and if not for my entertaining seatmate, Gael of The Pinay SoloBackpacker and the rest of my companions, I would have melted in boredom. That said, when I pack, I also prepare stuff for the transit. 

The Main Backpack : 
Deuter Act Trail 32 (very durable, light, packs a lot, highly recommended!). 
Capacity : 32 Liters 
Where to Buy : Toby’s, R.O.X. 

Now, on to the juicy bits, here’s a list of what was inside my backpack : 
1. Carry-on backpack - since we had a varied range of activities scheduled, I brought a smaller backpack which I used when we roamed around Sorsogon. I placed it inside my main backpack so I don't have to worry about it while on the road.  

2. Bus Ride Essentials - located at the pockets outside my bag, within easy access are the things I needed for the long bus ride. 

The snacks I brought for the trip were all put to  good use :P

These included : a. inflatable neck and shoulder pillow. It avoids stiff necks and falling into the arms of an unwilling seatmate. b. MP3 Player c.Mints - keeps breath fresh all night long! d. Malong - in case it gets really cold inside the bus e. Jacket f. Notebook and pen - in case I felt the urge to write g. Chocolates - in case I get hungry and cannot wait for the next stop. I hate waiting for food! :P h. Wallet - I bought an Eagle Creek wallet which comes with a sling so I don't have to worry where I put my wallet. I could just string it on my neck in case I needed to make an emergency purchase.i. Vapur Anti-bottle water container - The great thing about Vapur is that you can just fold it up when you've depleted the contents. It also comes with a carabiner to keep it from falling off your bag. j. Headlamp - in case of power outage; and  also because I get scared of the dark very easily when I'm far from home.  k. Wet Tissue - keeps me feeling fresh all the time even with no bath. :P    

Whew, so that's it for the bus ride. Now on to the rest of the trip essentials : 

3. Clothes placed inside plastic bags/waterproof bags - years of hiking has taught me to pack as though I'll be walking a heavy downpour. It's an irreversible habit and I actually feel iffy when my clothes aren't inside a waterproof bag. A question I always ask myself whenever I pack is that "if my backpack is thrown into the water, would everything remain dry?". It's something that was instilled to me years ago by a former mentor, Sir Rommel Corro from the Ayala Mountaineers (now called AMCI). 

To save space and to avoid from crinkling the clothes, I fold then roll it. My clothes are packed per activity. It's easier that way for me so I can easily pull things out from the bag. The going home clothes stays at the bottom of the bag while the ones I needed to change for the first night are at the top of the pile. 
Packing Light Tip: What I wear in the evening is what I also wear the following day. When I swim, I use the same set so I don’t consume a lot of clothes. 

Some of the clothes I packed. 
4. Waterproof bags for wet &  smelly clothes 

5. Mobile Phone & Camera Chargers - since these are a bit sensitive, everything's placed on top of the bag. 

6. First Aid Kit - this is an essential. Sometimes, it's not you who will need it but someone else so it pays to bring one. 

7. Hiking shoes - The initial plan was to hike Mt. Pulog in Bacon but I decided to take it easy instead and spent time at the beach with friends. 

8. Plastic bag for trash - in case there are no garbage bins around. It's another packing habit from hiking I'm unable to break even if I'm not going to stay long in the mountains. 

9. Toiletries - alcohol with atomizer, lip gloss,  soap, shampoo, conditioner, sunblock, mosquito repellant, sanitary napkin, etc, etc. I keep a separate set - one that's left at home while the other set's what I pull out from the closet when I'm traveling. 

I also had an earlier post about the toiletry kit I bring on the road. Read it here - Travel Essentials : Kikay Kit for Outdoorsy Backpackers).

And that's pretty much it. I was able to bring everything I needed for the trip. :)

This is a partner post with another friend, James Betia of JourneyingJames.com. Check out what he packed for our trip -> What's in my Backpack by Journeying James

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Sharing Project Update : Gubat, Sorsogon

Two months back, I joined several blogger friends in the Book Sharing Project initiated by James Betia of Journeying James. The team worked closely with Emm Balabat, an alumna of Rizal Elementary School in Gubat, Sorsogon. The goal was to help fill up a library with books which the alumni association and other members of the local community heavily worked on putting up. 

What made this project special was that it would be the first library of this school in 50 years! 

Last September 14, the Rizal Elementary School library finally opened its doors to the public. We witnessed the opening along with the excited members of the community, a bulk of which were grade school students. TV5 also graciously covered the event. 

Our team received heavy support from Mayor Ronnel Lim and the people of Gubat, Sorsogon. (Emm, maraming salamat!) We were also joined by other volunteers, some of them, came by themselves after reading about the project from James' blog. :) 

A selected number of students performed prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

Apart from the opening, we also shared 400 slippers to the kids. 
After the long ceremony....Tadaaa!

Photo courtesy of JourneyingJames.com 

P.S. Special thanks to chef Arvin Quiloy for the delicious food that he and his team prepared for us. Thanks to the LGU as well for taking care of some of the meals. :) My delighted tummy sends its regards. :P Emm, James & Nikki, I can't thank you enough for taking charge! 

And thanks to everyone who shared their time, money, moral support, etc. :) 

Here are the blogs of my fellow bloggers about their experiences at the Book Sharing Project :
Claire Madarang - Traveling Light : The Library Born From the Love of Travelers and Community : 
James Betia - Journeying James : Leaving a Legacy in Gubat, Sorsogon

Coming Soon : Touring Sorsogon 

Columbia Eco Trail Run 2012 - Pinatubo

Join me and other running enthusiasts as we take on Mt. Pinatubo's rough course, a combination of sand, granite and water. Hope to see you there on October 13, 2012! :) More details below. 

Registration Period : August 1-September 30, 2012 

Categories & Registration Fees : 
5KM - 600 Pesos 
12KM - 800 Pesos 
25KM - 1000 Pesos 
*Limited Slots Only 

 Race Kit includes : Singlet, race bib, drink stub, snack stub and finisher’s medal

Gun Start Schedules :
Race Date : October 13, 2012 
Sitio, Barangay Sapangbato, Angeles City 
25K - 5:30 AM
12k - 5:45 AM
5K - 6:15 AM 

Cut-off Time : 10:00 AM

*Important Reminder : Participants are required to bring their own hydration bottles 

Registration Venues: 
Columbia Alabang Town Center
Columbia Gateway
Columbia Greenbelt 5
Columbia Festival Supermall
Columbia SM Annex North Edsa
Columbia SM Mall of Asia
Columbia SM Megamall
Columbia Harbor Point
R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street 
*Contact them first to check if there are still available slots. 

Transportation : 
Transportation to the venue is not included in the registration fee but you may acquire the shuttle service of Pinatubo Tours who will be bringing you to the staging area. 

Pinatubo Tours
Boyet Otchoy:+63 02 5462056
+63 917-401-09-17/949-765-55-55. 
Fee : PHP 550 per individual. 

All information from this post were gathered from Columbia Sportswear Facebook Page / Twitter : @columbiaSW_PH

The Columbia Eco Trail Run Pinatubo is organized by Adrenaline Multisport headed by Thumbie Remigio.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Food Quest : Ustingan Cafe, Laguna

Photo taken by cousin Len
After eating lunch at my lolo's place who was celebrating his 94th birthday, me and several members of the clan revisited Ustingan Cafe. It's located a few blocks from the public market with  views of Mt. Banahaw as part of its backdrop. 

Started in 2002, Ustingan Cafe in  Luisiana, Laguna was the brainchild of the Igloria siblings who wanted a place where locals can hang-out and celebrate important events without traveling to nearby Lucban (less than 20 minutes away by jeep), which is famous for its annual Pahiyas Festival and flavorful cuisine. 

The siblings' penchant for coffee and the arts is showcased on the cafe's decors, most of which are their creations. 

We had chilli pops and cups of various brews. To deviate from my usual cup of Americano, I tried cinnamon coffee. It was served in a pretty cup with cinnamon sprinkles on top. When I took a sip, I had to smile. The mixture of cinnamon and coffee made me feel energized and giddy instantly. 

Chilli pops. This one's really good, the wraps crunchy and not spicy at all. Only 20 Pesos! :) 
Aromatic Cinnamon coffee (30 Pesos)
Most of the items in the menu cost less than 50 Pesos. With 100 Pesos, you can go home perky and full. :P 

Ustingan Cafe
Dela Torre Street. Brgy. Zone II, Luisiana, Laguna
A few blocks from the public Market
Mobile Number : +63 916-664-4529 / 0949-892-3646

How to get to Luisiana :
From EDSA-Boni (Southbound), ride one of the buses bound for Sta. Cruz. At the Pagsawitan terminal, ride a jeepney to Luisiana. Total travel time from Manila would be 4-5 hours. Safe budget for the fare would be 500 Pesos (round trip). 

Mt. Maculot Day Hike, Always a Delight

The waters of Taal Lake and its nearby islands which can be seen at the rockies peak in Mt. Maculot is one that I have seen countless times but on every visit, I still feel magnetized with the view.

Yesterday, after a month of no hiking, I got the chance to go back with two other friends, Henry and Milmar. Both have not gone to Mt. Maculot yet and I was excited for them to see rockies peak. I knew they'd love it too. 

We started hiking from the rockies jump-off, which is marked by a hut which sells food and drinks. In less than an hour after we started, I vomited. I was definitely not in a good condition as I've been feeling lazy the past couple of months and not as physically active as before. 

With my frequent pleas for rest stops, we reached rockies peak in 2 hours. 

The view is still incredible and all strained muscles ignited with gleeful praises . My buddies Henry and Milmar could not contain their amazement and kept exclaiming praises for the view. 

Above us, clusters of clouds converged, just enough to block the sun's scorching rays as it was nearing 12 noon. We were able to take great shots and relish the winds. It drizzled for a few minutes, then the sun came back. 

We ate lunch at past 2:00 PM. At the hut were we started our hike, we were served delicious heaping plates of pancit! I love the woman who lives here. I keep forgetting her name but she has always been accommodating and very friendly. Two other stores catering to hikers' needs for bath and meals have sprouted around the area but I always choose to stop here as soon as we get down from the mountain. 

As I write this, my muscles are sore and I'm feeling dehydrated. The calories I've lost are crying injustice and in the next few minutes, I will have to eat again. Despite the slight agony, my mind is wandering when I can go back here again. 

Shoutout to my buddies - Henry and Milmar! Til next time!

For a copy of the itinerary, check out: Mt. Maculot Itinerary

A traverse can also be done from Rockies peak, then to the Summit and down to the grotto which is also within Cuenca. As of September 2012, starting from the grotto is not allowed. Consult with the barangay before doing a traverse. Here's my post when on our last traverse : Mt. Maculot Day Hike Traverse.

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