Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Throwback Travels

Since new year is just around the corner, it's the perfect time again to share a rundown of all the travels and hikes that happened in this outgoing year. That's right! This post will mainly be all about throwback sheez of my travels this 2014. Here it goes...
Disclaimer: I have been microblogging all my travels and hikes in my facebook page for the past year so yeah. You'll be linked to my FB posts if you click on photo posts below.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Sa pagyao ng kahapon, at pagkahimlay ng kaligayahan,
binubulong sa sarili't lubusang inaasam
pag-ahon sa kabunduka't paghimbing kasama ng kalikasan.

Nais nang mapakinggan muli, mga kuliglig at paghuning kagiliw-giliw,   
lagaslas ng batis, at maging pagsipol ng hangin.
Mga mumunting tinig na kailanma'y 'di magmamaliw.

Nais ding muli, masilayan ng mga matang nangungulila
tayog ng punong kahoy, at lawak ng luntian, 
mga banging matatarik at nakalulula.

Anumang sukal ng kagubata'y buong tapang na tataw'rin, 
kung kapalit nama'y kagandahan,
at husay ng Kanyang likhain.

Anumang tayog ng kabunduka'y pilit ding maaabot
kung kapalit din nama'y tagumpay,
kaligayahan ang maidudulot.

At nang  makitang lubos ang ganda ni Inang Kalikasan
Sa sarili'y ibinulong, "bakit pa babalik sa mundong kinagisnan,
kung dito nama'y nahanap na ang tiyak na kapanatagan?"


Takipsilim sa Bundok Maculot

Monday, December 22, 2014

Taal Heritage Town | A Museum of Museums

Before I became the free-spirited nature-lover, I was a heritage hunter... or maybe, I still am. Actually, I realized that I still have that side of me when my better half has expressed desire to visit Taal Heritage Town in Batangas. Yup, the old quaint town famous for the balisongs, old houses, and that one big church said to be the biggest in Asia. At tulad pa rin ng dati, excited pa rin akong makakita ng luma!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mt. Napulauan | The Mountain of Moss and Limatik

On the day that followed our Benguet-Ifugao border crossing (read in this link), our kickass team that includes the likes of Dr. Gideon Lasco and the great Koi Grey hiked up a kickass mountain. Gosh, I still can't believe I hiked with these great people, woohoo! And guess what, with these awesome people, we've accomplished a traverse of Mt. Napulauan in just a single day, instead of the usual 2-day itinerary. Bragging aside,  Mt. Napulauan is indeed a kickass mountain,with its dense forest trail, where 80% is moss-covered and has a mystical atmosphere, I probably won't think twice for a second go. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tawangan-Tinoc-Hungduan | Trekking Benguet-Ifugao Connection

For the wrap up adventure of 2013, I joined PinoyMountaineer's team in an attempt to complete the Grand Cordillera Trail (GCT), a long and continuous hiking destination comprising a series of foot trails, mountains and villages found at the very spine of the great Cordillera mountain range. Pinoy Mountaineer has already done a couple of segments for this GCT expedition, first is the Ugo-Pulag connection followed by a traverse of Mt. Pulag via Akiki-Tawangan trails. This time, on its third leg, Doc Gideon intends to connect the village of Tawangan in Kabayan, Benguet (where he previously ended his GCT expedition) to Hunduan, Ifugao using only the old, some forgotten, local foot trails. To put simply, the goal of the 3rd leg was to complete a Benguet-Ifugao connection just by foot, whew!

It was a great year-ender, which also served as my 2nd year anniversary hike (Batang Lakwatsero has been hiking for 2 years already, yey!).

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mt. Pinatubo | A Hike for Bohol

At the wake of the 2013 Bohol Earthquake (October 15, 2013), it was morning of Tuesday and I was at home, about to leave for work. I heard over the TV, that an earthquake occurred in the Visayan islands. That time, I thought it was just a usual negligible shaking of the ground, so I left and didn't mind.

Then a day after the quake, videos and pictures of the horrifying event circulated the social media. Centuries old churches in Bohol were leveled to the ground, several structures were greatly damaged, and lives were lost. Even the famous Chocolate Hills were not spared. Only then we realized how serious it was. I was struck by the "nakapanlulumo" scenes and wanted to help. I wanted to do something for these poor fellows, but clueless how to. Until a friend invited me to join their fund raising effort. Thanks to Ian of www.limbonis.com,  the "Stroll for Bohol" effort was born. Basically, the goal of the effort was to raise funds for the disaster's victims; we arrange a tour/hike then require our participants to donate a sum of money, simple as that. I will be able to help my downed countrymen, and at the same time, enjoy nature's beauty; win win situation, isn't it?

I took part of the "Stroll for Bohol" effort by leading a group to Mt. Pinatubo via Capas trail two weeks after Visayas, particularly the province of Bohol, was rattled.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Taal Volcano | The Small but Terrible

In an attempt to summit all the six most active volcanoes in the Philippines, my feet brought me to my 5th. This time, the most significant of them all.

Taal Volcano may be small the smallest active volcano in the world, but just so you know, with at least 33 eruptions in recorded history, some were even destructive, it is the second most active volcano (Mayon being the first) in the whole Philippine archipelago. That's right, literally small but terrible! Worthy of a hike, most definitely.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mt. Labo | The Jungle Mountain of Jungleness

I would have found myself hiking in the historical Tirad Pass had the typhoon chose not to sweep the area a couple of days ago. The precipitation it brought had caused the rivers in the area to rise, making the only passageway to the jump-off not passable, and thus, a cancelled hike. I was about to unpack my stuff when Pinoy Mountaineer suddenly dragged me to join his hike somewhere else.

The hiking master said we will be day hiking Mt. Labo. Mt. Labo eh?! A mountain which I honestly know nothing about. Other than the fact that it is the highest in the province of Camarines Norte (CamNor), in my head, it's a big blank mountain.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mt. Palay-Palay (Pico de Loro) | A Traverse Hike And A Visit to Kaybiang Tunnel

Unless you have a vehicle waiting at the other side in Nasugbu, Batangas, traversing Pico de Loro is logistically challenging. There's no regular public transportation plying the route, and if ever there is, it is costly. That's why not many does a traverse of Pico de Loro.

Well, this was the story before Kaybiang Tunnel was completed at the foot of Mt. Palay-Palay.

Upon learning that Kaybiang Tunnel has been passable for quite some time now (it was inaugurated last July 2013), I hastily and excitedly organized a day hike in Pico de Loro. It was actually because of the tunnel that I'm doing a traverse, finally.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Adventure Time at The SandBox at Alviera

Somewhere in the town of Porac, Pampanga, right beneath the shadows of the mighty Pinatubo Volcano, lies Alviera township development by Ayala Land. And part of this development is the SandBox. With an array of exciting attractions which are all prefect for families and barkadas, this activity hub will surely make you want to stretch some muscle fibers.

Together with my blogger friends, Darwin and Kuya Angel, we were invited in the media launch of The SandBox last weekend to try some of their adrenaline-pumping activities. What I discovered was a wholatta fun!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Camiguin Island | From Summit to Sea, Off to White Island

The beach is calling, and I must go!
I am on the 6th day of my mid-year travel madness (halos isang linggo na pala akong wala sa bahay) and am starting to feel home sickness again. Sadyang hindi ata ako talaga para sa pang-mahabaang byahe. I miss the comfort of my bed and being in front of my PC. But I can't go home just yet. There's still one more destination in my list that I can't let past—the White Island of Camiguin.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mt. Timpoong | Virgin at the Summit

When I visited Camiguin last year, my primary goal was to hike two of its mountains. One being Mt. Hibok-Hibok, and the other, which probably you haven't heard before, is Mt. Timpoong.

Rising at around 1,630 meters above sea level, Mt. Timpoong is the highest in the island province of Camiguin. But ironically, it has not received the attention it deserves, especially from the hiking community in the Philippines. Only a few attempts to climb this mountain, and most of them are foreign nationals. Probably because there is hardly any discussions about this mountain in the internet. I, myself, had a hard time researching for this mountain (thankfully, I found this article).

Anyway, I decided to include Mt. Timpoong in our itinerary because of three things: 1) it is the highest mountain in Camiguin Island; 2) Pinoy Mountaineer pushed me to; and lastly, 3) it is said that its summit is a virgin forest.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Camiguin Island | The Hot Spring, the Waterfall, and the Lanzones Tree

When this trip was still on the working table, I realized that a day would not suffice to see and experience the totality of island's charm and beauty. Camiguin Island may be the country's 2nd smallest province, but in terms of tourist hot spots or places which we can go adventurous, it is gargantuan.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mt. Hibok-Hibok | Yumbing to Ardent Traverse Dayhike

Humans are, by nature, afraid of natural calamities, (i.e earthquake, typhoon, or volcanic eruption), so understandably, many would think that hiking an active volcano is nothing but a crazy idea, risks are much higher. For most of us, volcanoes are time bomb waiting for the big day to unleash destruction.

Mt. Hibok-Hibok, for instance, in the island of Camiguin, is an active volcano. In fact, it is one of the six volcanoes in the Philippines (along with Kanlaon, Bulusan and Pinatubo, which I've already hiked; as well as Taal and Mayon) that's being closely monitored by PHIVOLCS due to their highly dynamic volcanic activity. But despite the risks, I still chose to hike it when I visited Camiguin Province. I'm a crazy guy and am never turning down an opportunity to hike an active volcano. Living the life without involving risks is just so not me. I always yearn for thrill, and I think, hiking H2 would be thrilling.

(Note: Mt. Hibok-Hibok is the 4th volcano in my Bulkan series)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Camiguin Island | The Island Born of Fire

Despite the lack of good rest from the 3-day mountain adventure I just had [read the account of my Mt. Apo adventure here], I flew to Cagayan de Oro City the following morning to submit myself into yet another exciting trip. Camiguin Island in Northern Mindanao is the next travel destination.

En route to Cagayan de Oro. Davao City beneath the shadow of Mt. Apo.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Two-Thousanders of the Philippines

In the Philippines, there are at least 30 mountains with an altitude or prominence ranging at 2,000-2,999 meters above sea level. We call these mountains, the two-thousanders. These mountains are high enough to pierce through the cloud level, thus they exhibit, at a certain level, moist mossy environment; presence of endemic floral and faunal species; and most of the time, sea of clouds is seen from the summit.

The top highest mountains we have in the country are all two-thousanders, concentrations are in the Cordilleras, Mindoro Island, Panay Island, Negros Island, and of course, the mountain ranges in Mindanao. And more often than not, the highest mountain per region (16 Regions in total, NCR excluded) is a two-thousander.

(Edit: 3/13/15) I have so far summitted 60 mountains across the archipelago (all are listed in my Kabundukan Page) and among the list, 16 are two-thousanders, all of which are climb-worthy. However, I have 6 particular favorites among these high mountains.

(Edit: 6/1/15) Although it is really not a personal favorite, Mt. Halcon in Oriental Mindoro is another mountain that must be included in this list as well. It's my 61st mountain, and likely the last. See my input about this mountain in the "Other Noteworthy Two-thousanders" section of this article.

My top 6 favorite two-thousanders in the Philippines (so far). The mountains are with their respective elevations, sorted from highest to lowest.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Philippine International Pyromusical Competition 2014 | Spain vs. UK

At least once every year, I make sure that Pyromuscal Show will brighten up my dark night sky. I've been doing this yearly tradition for 4 years straight now (started 2011), yet still, the fireworks show have not failed to amaze me, it's simply entertaining. The blasting colors in sync with music and beat, it made my day.

Thanks to SM Mall of Asia, venue of the annual display of colorful masterpieces, I was able to witness 2 of the 10 competing nations this year.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mt. Apo | Through the Boulders, the Highest Peak

"All the elements conspired against us, the howling wind was deafening, the violent rain was piercing, and the temperature was really immobilizing. Mt. Apo became so cruel during our assault, it's as if we're battling our way to get inside a bastion full of defenders, almost or totally impossible." - excerpt from my January 2013 Mt. Apo climb. Read the full story here.
Even though it was a priceless, one of a kind experience, that Mt. Apo climb of January 2013 was a little frustrating. Somehow, I did not feel the utmost happiness a mountaineer should feel when he set foot on the country's highest peak. There was a hole in our success—no clearing at the summit.

Hence, I immediately planned a redemption climb. A comeback climb that has only one goal—experience Mt. Apo anew and hopefully gentler than the last time.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mt. Samat | For the Love of History

By finishing Tarak Ridge day hike earlier than usual (read our quick Tarak Ridge hike), our team had an opportunity to spend more time in Bataan. So I told them, "since we're here in Bataan, we might as well go to Mt. Samat and visit the province's most renowned landmark—the Shrine of Valor."

And so we did hike Mt. Samat that same day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mt. Mariveles (Tarak Ridge) | Tarak Peak at Last

Have you ever had this urge to climb a mountain just so you can test (or probably show off) your newly bought, still-fresh-from-the-shelf item or mountain gear? Haha. I actually did that when we climbed Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles several months ago. The kid in me simply wanted his newly bought ANBU Mask to be displayed on the trail. Is it not obvious that I'm a Naruto fan?

Alright, I'm just kidding. Actually, my sole purpose in doing this hike was to finally reach Tarak Peak and have a picture at the famous tree which I never had in my three previous Tarak Ridge hikes. Yun lang naman, wala nang iba.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kalinga Province | A Great Cultural Experience

Talk about Cordillera culture. Being the less explored area in Luzon during the 300 plus Spanish occupation, the landlocked mountainous region of Cordillera has preserved its unique mountain culture intact, free from all foreign influences, thus one of our country's cultural hotspots today.

Now, the region is subdivided into 6 provinces: Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Abra, with Baguio City as its regional center; and each province has a dominant ethnic group: for Abra it's the Tingguians; for Apayao - Isneg; Benguet - Ibaloi; Ifugao - Ifugao; Kalinga - Kalinga; Mt. Province - Bontoc and Kankanaey.

I am forever a fan of these people, my desire to immerse in their distinct culture has been growing everytime I get to visit a new Cordillera province. Of the six provinces, I've already explored Benguet, Ifugao and Mt. Province. So when a friend told me they're bound for Kalinga, I blocked off the date and made sure I'll be part of their trip.


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