Kibungan Circuit : where my Heart Wanders

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Someone close to my heart taught me that it is never too late to do the things you love, to take chance on everything. That it is okay to cry on the things you can’t understand and to laugh your heart out because you are simply happy. Life is indeed too short, and he lost his battle to it. He may have left me with a broken heart, but he showed me how to live.

The ray of the golden sun awakes me. It has been 3hrs since we left Dangwa Terminal and we are still on the road. The ordinary bus was filled with passengers, there’s not enough seat for everyone and all is willing to stand on their feet and endure the long travel just to be home before the holiday.

We have so much love for the Cordilleras that we decided to hike again on its mountain 4 days after conquering Mt. Pulag. The blue sky is a promise of a good weather while the breathtaking scenery outside the bus window assured us of an epic year end climb.

After a couple of stop overs, we reached Poblacion. We’ve met kuya Mark, the guide arranged to us by Sir Charo, our contact in Kibungan.  We were not able to meet him but Ms. Wenday from the Municipal government gave us a warm welcome and made sure we have  everything we need before our climb.

Josh and I travelled 62 kilometers north of Baguio City to get to the town with a unique mountain. Endured an almost 11hr bus ride from Cubao to Baguio City to Kibungan Benguet to experience the Great Kibungan Circuit, this will be our longest hike to date.

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The Circuit is comprised of Mt. Tagpaya, Mt. Oten and Mt. Tagpew. For three days we will live inside the pine forest, for three days we will walk to a place we can call home.

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We had our lunch in the sleepy town and bought some supplies. At exactly 1:30pm we started our hike. On the first part of the trail you will walk on a wide rough road passing some local houses and a school. It was a continuous descent all the way to Tanap River. Akala nga namin ee pauwi na kami at puro pababa, hangsakit sa paa!

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After crossing the Hanging Bridge you will then face an assault up to Abas Community under the scorching heat of the sun. Puro paakyat naman ngayon. .nyaaahhh!

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It was 2:30 pm when we reached the Community. The Kankanaey Tribe is having a Kanyaw, an Igorot Ritual, we are lucky enough to witness it. Some were dancing to an ethnic music outlandish to my ear while the others are preparing for the feast. They asked us to stay for a while.

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I took the time to capture these priceless moments with the kids in the village. They are the cutest.

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The Kankanaey people are very hospitable; they’ve offered us food and made sure we have enough water to bring on our hike. We had a little chat with them and I was surprised that they are conversing in English and not in tagalog, especially the elders.

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I asked kuya Mark about this, he said aside from their local dialect; English will be the second language in the village because of the influence made by the missionaries over the past years. Those who can speak tagalog are the ones who had been in the lowlands, especially to the city.

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An hour after, we courteously said our goodbyes to them and promised the next time we get back we were able to speak at least a little kankanaey words to chat with them.

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We entered the pine forest as we continue with our trek. The heat of the sun turned into a cold freezing environment as we walk on a steep terrain. From time to time we would stop to catch our breaths.

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The fog enfolds us, creating an enigmatic feeling, as if a werewolf is watching behind the mist. I just hope it would be Jacob Black.. or else nyahahahah! :D

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Kuya Mark and I walked slowly; we’re not even talking to save energy. I checked on the time, quarter to 5. It’s already getting dark. I stopped for a quick rest and asked how far the campsite is. ‘Malapit na po mam, dun po sa taas na yun’, he pointed. I can see it but it seems we still have a long way to go.

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Josh is way behind us. After about 15 minutes he still out of sight. I worriedly shout for his name.. parang ganito  ‘jjjoooooosssshhhhhhhh’.. mga 5 minutes naming ginawa to ni kuya Mark. Then we heard a response, we saw him. ‘Sorry nakatulog ako.. at nanaginip pa. Nasa bahay na daw ako at gumagawa ng collage ng kibungan tapos pag dilat ng mata ko nasa trail pa pala ako’ we both laugh :)

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Without further delay we began to walk again. It was another assault to the campsite of Mt. Buga. Josh was not feeling well since we started our trek. The colds and headache slowed him. He asked us to go ahead, although a bit hesitant because of his condition, I proceed thinking if I can reach the campsite before the night falls I can setup our tent and we can rest at once.

It was 5:30 when we reached a clearing. We made it to the e-camp of Mt. Buga. There’s a water source just below the site. While pitching our tent, kuya Mark fetch water for us and told me he will spend the night on the nearby house.

I immediately prepare for dinner, Kare-kare for a reward. From where I am, I can see the distant community lights and the ocean of stars above the night sky. Josh has a slight fever, I asked him to rest while our food is being cooked.

The mountains silhouette plus the darkness around me gives an eerie feeling. It’s as if there were eyes watching.. ee ganun talaga kasi yung imagination ko. Nyahahaha :) ! To keep myself busy, I texted Rodel, their group is currently at Lake Tabeyo to camp and will hike Mt. Tabayoc in the morning, their 2nd mountain to complete the Luzon 3-2-1.. mga hardcore ee :). So with a phone on the left hand and a knife on the right, that’s how paranoid I was :D nyahahahah! Kaya naman kahit hindi pa luto ang kanin ay pinilit ko ng gisingin si Josh para makakain na at makatulog.

It was an incomparable day 1. We had a good hike. I closed my eyes with so much happiness in my heart, for that night we slept with the stars shining brightly above us.

Day 02: Mt. Tagpaya (1820 masl) to Mt. Oten (1875 masl)

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We woke up at 6am with a surprise. Mornings should always be like this.

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The glorious sunrise slowly awakens the Big Rock in front of us. Its top has pine trees perfectly planted. I thank God for things like this.

At dahil food fest kami.. nakapagluto pa kami ng breakfast. Mac in chilli beans at Creamy Mushroom Soup nyahahahah!We proceed with our hike by 9am. The sun is already up, reminding us of a tough day ahead.

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The weather in Kibungan can be compared of those in Mt. Lobo. The heat of the sun can drain your energy and sometimes your sanity. Kaya naman kung maka take five kami ee wagas.. walang halong pag mamadali.. hahaha.

We’ve met a group of mountaineers on their way down. They did an outreach on one of the communities in Kibungan. Saludo kami mga sir at mam!

Our patience was put to test on the steep trail of Mt. Tagpaya. It was an endless ascent. On some part you would have to climb into the steps carved on the mountains boulder.

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By 11:15 we’ve reached the campsite. We had sisig and rice under the pine trees with a superb view of the rest of the Cordilleras. It was perfect.

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We spent an hour lying on the earth’s floor, staring at the cloudless blue sky. My heart always wander in a place like this.. a place where Life struggles  do not exist.

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10 minutes from where we are is the summit of Mt. Tagpaya.

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It was 12:30 when we decided to descend and continue with our trek to Mt. Oten. It was a never ending trail of ups and downs.  We walked without complaining, for every step towards the next summit offers a rewarding scene.

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After about 2 hours the trail transitioned into a mossy forest. The verdant moss gave a refreshing feeling. Pitcher plants are also abundant on this area. It continued until the next water source marked by a hanging bridge.

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The original plan was to hike all the way to Mt. Tagpew (2105 masl). Kuya Mark told us we could reach the campsite by 8pm. This made me hesitant. It’s not a problem to do a night trek however since we were both exhausted chances are we might get there later than 8pm.. isa pa sayang ang view ng Kibungan.

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So we both agreed to spend the night at Mt. Oten’s campsite, the only consequence is that there’s no water source nearby.

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By 430pm we finally made it to the campsite. We immediately set up our tent and prepare for dinner. A creamy Macaroni Soup Kibungan style is perfect for the freezing weather.

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It’s our second night inside the Great Kibungan, and it was exactly a year when Josh and I became hiking buddies. It was through a decision-from-the heart that we had our first hike at Mt. Romelo, and after that we would always hike together. Decisions came from the heart will always lead to wonderful things, just like meeting another adventurous soul whom you share the same passion, just like having sensible conversations whenever you feel like talking about random things, just like these priceless moments at the campsite. It was just us, the starry sky and the pale moonlight.

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DAY 03: Mt. Tagpew (2105 masl) and the Traverse

We woke up to a cold Monday morning. It was 6am when we saw our first light, a magical tangerine sunrise.

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The Cordillera Mountains will always have my heart.

We still have one more mountain to conquer, so after a quick breakfast of what we could cook, we fixed our things and start the descent at 7:30.

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We learned from Kuya Mark that Kibungan can be traversed to Ilocos Sur exiting La Union. He said this can be done in 4 days..nyaaahhhh! I got excited again.Kibungan never fails to surprise me. That’s another reason to come back.

a distant view of Ilocos Sur

a distant view of Ilocos Sur

Again the trail going to the 3rd mountain is a combination of ups and downs. Pa ahon kung pa ahon at pa baba kung pa baba. After a walk through the pine trees, once again we found ourselves inside a mossy forest. Nakaka amaze talaga. You will pass by another water source before you proceed to the summit.

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After 4hrs we’ve reach Mt. Tagpew. The summit has a landmark to set the boundaries for the 3 Municipalities of Benguet; Kibungan, Atok and Bakun.  We have also seen a distant view of Mt Sto Tomas and Mt. Ugo and the Bakun Mountains.

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a distant view of Mt. Sto. Tomas as view from Mt. Tagpew

a distant view of Mt. Sto. Tomas as view from Mt. Tagpew

a distant view of Mt. Ugo

a distant view of Mt. Ugo

Bakun Mountains

Bakun Mountains

The sun is shining brightly against the cold morning breeze. We shivered while preparing for whatever we can cook for lunch. Kasi nga fiesta kami nung day 1 at day 2 kaya naman ang natira samin ay isang latang Beef loaf at knorr cubes na ginawa naming sabaw..nyahahahahahha! ang alat! :D

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The rest of our idle time was spent gazing at the clear blue sky again, imagining things formed by the fluffy clouds. Puro dinosaur yung nakita ko pero si Josh ay may kakaibang nakita nyahahahah! :)

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Wew! This is life. If only I could freeze the moment but we still have to hike 8 hours to complete the Circuit.

The walk back to Kibungan started at 130pm. Kung ano yung haba ng inakyat naming pataas, ganun din kahaba yung binaba namin. At some point we did try to trail run, but the loose soil prevents us from continuing.

As we approach Beyeng Community we noticed a lot of trash along the trail. Nakakalungkot. It came from the villagers who pass on this part of the trail according to kuya Mark. I just hope the Kibungan government can disseminate environmental education to the Community; after all they are collecting fees from Mountaineers. We picked whatever trash we can see, kaya lang sa dami ee hindi namin kaya ibaba lahat.

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At 2:30pm we reached a wide rough road. We walked under the unforgiving sun.

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By 3:30pm we made it to the next water source, it was at St. John’s Chapel.

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Take 20 minutes muna tapos picture picture.

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After an hour of continuous walking out of the wide rough road, we found the Bato Viewpoint. It gave us a magnificent view of Kibungan’s Rice Terraces.

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We were at Mayos River at 5:15. It was starting to get dark. Yes! 4 hours nalang!

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We trek the night crossing the rice fields. Our headlight was a life saver when darkness surrounded us.

At 7:15 we finally made it to the Hanging Bridge of Tanap River. From here it was an endless assault until you reached Poblacion.Nagkatakutan pa kami nung malaman naming may nadaan kaming sementeryo, napabilis tuloy yung pacing naming nyahahahah! Pa relax-relax pa kasi :D

I enjoyed the night, for without the dark we will never see the stars. We’ve made it back to civilization by 9:15pm.

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We have completed the Kibungan Circuit. We walked 23.5 kilometers. For 3 days we experienced the great outdoors. We slept under the star lights and witnessed a fascinating sunrise. We watched the fluffy clouds being blown by the cold cordillera wind. We wander and received more than we seek.  It was an Epic Year End Climb.

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When my heart wanders in the Great Kibungan, it made me realize a lot of things. That there is an end to all your ups and downs.. just like the trail. That Happiness is always a matter of choice whatever your situation is. Just like walking endlessly on the trail and knowing that at the end of it something wonderful is waiting. The year changed a lot of my perspective in life, the way I see things, the way I value them and whatever the next will bring me I will always be reminded to take a chance because we never know what might happen, to cry when you feel like crying, to laugh your heart out because you are simply happy. To live and not just to exist, to keep the faith and to believe on second chances.

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Thanks buddy for a year full of amazing adventures.

ITINERARY:

KIBUNGAN CIRCUIT

Kibungan, Benguet

Jumpoff (closed loop): Sitio Tanap, Poblacion, Kibungan

LLA: 1820 MASL (Tagpaya); 1875 MASL (Oten); 2105 (Tagpew)

Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days / 6-9 hours (Tagpaya)

Specs (Version 1): Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4

Specs (Version 2): Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-4

Features: Pine ridges, mossy forests, rice terraces, village walks

Day 01:

10:00 – Cubao to Baguio

04:00 – ETA Baguio

Day 01:

04:00 – Taxi to Dangwa Terminal *Breakfast*

06:00 – Baguio to Kibungan

11:00 – ETA Poblacion, Kibungan

12:00 – Luch at Kibungan and buy supplies

01:30 – Start Trek

02:30 -  ETA Abas Community

03:30 – Start Trek to E-Camp

05:30 – ETA E-Camp Mt. Buga

Pitch Tent – Dinner – Socials – Lights Off

Day 02: Mt. Tagpaya to Mt. Oten

07:30 – wake up – breakfast – break camp

09:00 – Start trek to Mt. Tagpaya

11:00 -  ETA at Campsite *summit is 10 minutes away* *Lunch*

12:30 – Start Trek to Mt. Oten

04:30 – ETA Mt. Oten Campsite /  summit

Pitch tent – Dinner – Socials – Lights Off

Day 03: Mt Tagpew back to Tanap

06:00 – wake up – sunrise viewing – breakfast – break camp

07:30 – Start Trek

10:30 – ETA Mt. Tagpew Summit *Lunch*

01:30 – Start Descend

02:30 – Beyeng Community

03:30 – St. John Chapel

04:00 – Bato View deck

05:15 – Mayos River

07:15 – Tanap River *Hanging Bridge*

09:15 -  ETA Kibungan Poblacion

*End of Trek*

EXPENSES:

P900 – Cubao – Baguio – Cubao

P260 – Baguio – Kibungan – Baguio (P130.00 one way)

P1500 – Guide (shared – 500 per day)

P90.00 – Green Fee (30 / person x 3 days)

**Food Expenses depends on the Groups Menu**

HIKING NOTES:

-          First trip of bus from Baguio to Kibungan is 6am. Last trip at 11am

-          First trip of bus from Kibungan to Baguio is at 5am. Last trip at 11am

-          There are only 10 guides available to do the Kibungan Circuit. It is advisable to make necessary arrangements to the Municipality of Kibungan before your hike to assist you in securing a guide and porters. We highly recommend Kuya Mark :) . No need to secure a permit. The road going to Poblacion is prone to landslides.

-          There are small stores in Kibungan which you can buy your supplies, but not all that you need is available there, especially butane.

-          Cellphone Signal is available (Globe and Smart) and maybe intermittent on some part of the trail.

-          There are at least 8 water sources in Kibungan. If I can remember them correctly;

  • Abas Community
  • E-Camp Mt. Buga
  • Along the trail going to Mt. Tagpaya
  • Bulalacao going to Mt. Oten
  • Along the trail going to Mt. Tagpew
  • St. John Chapel
  • Along the trail going to Mayos River
  • Along the trail after Mayos River

-          There’s a lot of stray dogs during the night in the community, be extra cautious.

-          You can sleep at the Municipal Guest House for P200.00 per person. They have a clean restroom.

-          Hot spring in Kibungan is a perfect sidetrip :)

-          Stores in Poblacion are only available until 8pm.

-          Be courteous at all times :)

***KEEP CLIMBING*** :) :) :)

MT. Pulag : on a Rainbow Trail

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‘Life is like a rainbow, you need both the rain and sun to make the colors appear’

The cold December morning greeted the 6 of us as we alight at Victory Bus Terminal in Baguio. It was 4am and chilling. We waited for at least 30 minutes for our chartered jeep at the nearby 7-11 and board it as soon as it arrives.

‘Will we survive the cold weather at the campsite?’ I murmured as I sit comfortably inside the passenger jeep, eyes fixed on the concrete winding road. Here I am again, about to conquer another Cordillera mountain, but this time it will be the highest in Luzon, Mt. Pulag.

They say you will miss half of your mountaineering life if you haven’t climbed the famous Pulag, known for its mesmerizing grandeur and heavenly sea of clouds. When the highlands started calling me a year ago, I dreamed to set foot on this mountain. Now, before Christmas it will turn into reality.

The butt numbing ride to the jump off continued, with unlimited pine trees along the way and a good view of Ambuklao Dam. It was already 7am when the jeepney stops at Jang Jang’s Eatery where we had our breakfast.

Soon as we finished, the four of us positioned ourselves on top of the jeep. Malamig pero nagawa pa rin naming mag top load.. wuhhooooo!

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It was 9am when we reached the Akiki Jump off, a more challenging route to reach our destination, 2, 922+ masl. After meeting with the person in charge, paying all necessary fees, arranging our things, waiting for our guide and group porter, we left the ranger station an hour late to our Planned Itinerary.

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We had a taste of the ‘Killer Trail’ on the first part of the hike. It was a continue ascent, pa ahon kung pa ahon omigawwd. Not only I can feel my heart beats fast, I can hear it.. parang sinasabi yatang ‘anong ka adikan nanaman ito? Nakaka ubos to ng kabataan ha!’ nyahahahaha! :D

After 30 minutes we reached a clearing, yes! May patag na, take five muna..

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The trail whose up-and-down paths continue inside the pine forest was deja vu, it’s the same feeling I had in Mt. Ugo. It could be because of the pine trees perfectly planted by Mother Nature or the pine cones that fell from above to keep the earth company, or the gentle cold cordillera breeze, it was euphoria.

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We were provided by verdant landscape as we continue with our walk and arrived just in time at Eddet River to have our lunch.

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We still have a long way to go, wala pa nga kami sa kalahati. We did not waste any time and proceed with the trek at 1pm.

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As the trail changes into a steep ascend, so is the weather. The fog suddenly envelopes the surrounding, the drizzle adds to the goose bump that I felt. We sauntered into the Christmas land.

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Exhausted from the long walk, Josh, Ron and I decided to take a quick nap along the trail while the others were already ahead of us. Surprisingly the rain doesn’t stop us from falling asleep and dreaming.. ee pagod kasi talaga kami..haha

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30 minutes has passed, we forced ourselves to get up. We have to keep walking or else we will not make it to the saddle camp.

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4pm came and we were able to reach Marlboro Country (hangang ngayon hindi ko pa rin alam bakit yun naging Marlboro country haha). We rested again and weighed the situation. A crucial decision whether to continue the hike in the night just to reach the saddle camp to give us an amazing view on the famous sea of clouds in the morning, or to stop and rest our weary bodies and camp at Marlboro country where there is a water source. We choose the latter, and all agreed that the safety of everyone is most important than the sea of clouds.

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We immediately pitched our tents and prepare for dinner before the twilight completely fades into the night sky.

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We had our cooking show-talk show-socials-dinner in one hahaha. Had a good laugh on every SPG joke (may tema, lenggwahe, sexual, karahasan, horror at droga na angkop sa mga mountaineer na pagod??) nyahahahah!

By 9pm we all agreed to sleep while the other group of mountaineers who arrived an hour after us are still enjoying their socials filled with booze.

I slept like a cocoon in my sleeping bag. For the 2nd time inside the cordillera mountain, my tent did not disappoint me. It was a good night, too good that I don’t want to wake up yet and begged myself for more sleep. It didn’t happen though; we have to continue with our trek as early as possible, for it might give us a chance to see the majestic sunrise over the playground of the gods. Feeling hopeful nyehehehehe!

Kaya naman break camp ng madali, luto ng breakfast na madali, kape ng madali, ayos ng gamit ng madali tapos larga na.

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Together with our heavy backpack, we found ourselves once again walking on the unforgiving trail of Akiki.

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After about 2 hours, we entered the mossy forest of Montane. It was surprisingly beautiful. When the daylight touches the trees it’s as if the forest is alive.

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The bamboo dwarfs will greet you upon exiting the forest. Even if you’re already out of it, your patience will still be put into test.

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Under the blue sky, a rainbow appeared. It was fascinating. Truly, if you want to experience a rainbow, you would have to put up with a little rain, and that little rain for me are the moments when you feel like you want to go home in the middle of your climb.

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I walked continuously and found myself singing. I smiled.

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But oh, can’t you see, That no matter what happens

Life goes on and on, So baby, just  smile

Coz I’m always around you, And I’ll make you see how beautiful

Life is for you and me. .

 The picturesque view was familiar to me, i dreamed of it. The golden shrubs’ swaying slowly along trail plus a rainbow just above it was magical, and the song playing at the back of my head, it’s perfect.

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Take a little time baby, See the butterfly’s colors

Listen to the birds that were sent, To sing for me and you

Can you feel me?, This is such a wonderful place to be

Even if there is pain now, Everything would be all right

For as long as the world still turns, There will be night and day

Can you hear me?, There’s a rainbow always after the rain

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We reached the saddle at 10am. We said our usual ‘good morning po sir / mam’ to a group of mountaineers who spent the night at the campsite. They too were unfortunate to witness the ocean of lofty clouds because of uncooperative weather. The sun was up and the wind carried the drizzle of rain into my cheeks, I may not experience what the mountain is known for but hey, I walked on a rainbow trail!

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We had a long rest at the camp. Took pictures to our hearts content, had coffee and eat whatever is left on our mac and cheese breakfast. From here the summit is just 15 minutes away.

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Like most of the summits, it has a signage that bears the mountain’s name. Picture picture ulit bago mag traverse via Ambangeg Trail.

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There are 4 Trails to hike the summit of Mt. Pulag. The Ambangeg, Akiki, Tawangan and Ambaguio Trail which is being managed by Mount Pulag National Park. I believe any combination of this trails are possible.

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The ‘Executive Trail’, being mostly used to hike Mt. Pulag because of its effortless, straightforward trail has been massacred. Overused kumbaga. Sa dami ba naman ng umaakyat gamit ang trail na walk-in-the-park ang dating. It became a ‘Champorado Trail’.

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Whichever way we go, our shoes will always be soaked in the mud. Ang mortal na kaaway ni Josh.. nyahahhaah! It was a combination of yikes-ayyy!.. aaahhh-sheett…woooppps-muntik na! owno-lubog na-pisti!, whenever we slip.

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Halfway through, boulders were used to pave the way, it is also said that the management of Mt. Pulag are planning to continue this up to the summit, creating a more accessible, more commercialized hike for everyone.. deym! Paano na ang impact sa kalikasan??

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Anyway, after our long walk, lots of take fives?? Nah.. maybe twenties nyahahahha! We reached Babadak Ranger Station (starting point for Ambangeg Trail). The chartered jeep will wait for your group here. You can also take a shower being offered by the locals in the area or alternatively you can wash up at the DENR  Office since all mountaineering group who hiked Mt. Pulag needs to log out there. For us? We took our shower and had our dinner at Jang Jang’s Eatery before we head back to Baguio City..napamahal na sya samin hahahha!

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Looking outside the jeepney’s window, I say my prayer of thanks. Akiki was indeed a ‘Killer Trail’. It killed my eyes with unforeseen beauty and it was a painfully sweet experience. There was no ‘playground of the gods’.. no ‘magnificent sea of clouds’, but  we have a rainbow, and as they say, over the rainbow there is a pot of gold. Indeed, I found mine. My friends who joined me on this hike and the memorable stories that we shared were my own pot of gold :)

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the cast: Ron, Jeff, Me, Euge, Frank and Josh

Thank you for this amazing hike. Keep Climbing :)

**Shout out to my hiking buddy Josh for organizing this climb and thank you for letting me use some of your photos :)

ITINERARY:

MT. PULAG (AKIKI TRAIL)
Kabayan, Benguet
Major jump-off: Brgy. Doacan, Kabayan (Akiki)
LLA: 16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E, 2922 MASL
Hours to summit / Days required: 10-11 hours / 2-4 days
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 7/9, Trail class 3

December 20 – Day 0
2100 Assembly. Victory Liner Cubao
2200 ETD to Baguio City

December 21 – Day 1
0430 ETA Baguio City; Proceed to Chartered Jeepney; Breakfast Along the Way.
0915 Start Trek at Akiki Jump Off
1040 ETA Eddet River; Lunch Break
1140 Resume Trek
1300 ETA E-Camp; 30 Minutes Rest
1330 Resume Trek
1430 ETA Marlboro Country; 30 Minutes Rest
1500 Resume Trek
1550 ETA Montane Forest
1745 ETA Saddle Camp; Set up Camp; Assault to Summit.
1800 Sunset Viewing
1900 Dinner; Socials

December 22 – Day 2
0400 Wake-up Call
0430 Magkape Tayo
0500 Summit Assault
0520 ETA Summit. Sunrise Viewing
0600 Descent back to Saddle Campsite
0630 Heavy Breakfast
0730 Break Camp
0800 Start Descent
1000 Camp 2 Ambangeg
1100 Babadak Ranger Station
1200 ETA DENR; Log off.
1300 Lunch, Wash up.
1500 Departure
1800 ETA Baguio
2000 Departure.

3:00AM ETA Manila(Monday)

EXPENSES:

P900 – Manila-Baguio-Manila

P10.5 k – Jeep (shared)

P1.8k – Guide (shared)

P1.5k – Porter (shared)

P50.00 – Green Fee

P30.00 – Cultural Fee

P150.00 – Camping Fee / Registration Fee

**Food expenses depends on the Team’s Menu**

MT. Ugo : a Walk to Remember

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1476607_503277173103165_928971697_nNope.. this is not about the  story of Jamie Sullivan and  Landon Carter’s A Walk to Remember.  This is my version of their Love story which started from Kayapa, Nueva Viscaya to Itogon Benguet. It was a 2 day affair in the Cordilleras, chilling-freezing-awesome hike.

The Team of 9 met at Victory Kamuning at 10pm. We were joined by another group organized by Sir Jhay, making a total of 16 to traverse Mt. Ugo, 2150 MASL.

At exactly 11pm the bus departs to Nueva Viscaya. The travel time takes about 5 hours and I am lucky enough to get some sleep. It was already 4am when the team alights in Aritao. The cold wind welcomed us as we walked towards the sleepy market (ee dapat talaga sa CCQ Stop over ang baba namin..haha.anyare? mga excited lang haha.), from here a rented jeep will take us to Kayapa.

Buti nalang dumating din agad yung Jeep namin bago pa kami ma frozenJ. The winding road going to the jump off offers refreshing scenery. From the mountain ranges to the river bed.. definitely Cordillera.

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6am and we arrived in Kayapa Public Market, registered ourselves at the police station, met our guide and porters, had our breakfast and bought some supplies. Hinayaan na naming mauna ang 2nd Team habang kami ayy rumerelax pa sa market..pakape kape na saglit lang eh nagiging juice na sa lamig ng panahon.

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The Trek:

The team started the hike at 8am through the uphill cemented road. This kind of trail i-do-not-wish-to-encounter continued, passing some local houses. It provides us a good warm up na ang katumbas ay 100x na pagod..nyahahah. (ganyan kami, pagod agad :) )

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After roughly 30 minutes we saw the pine trees (nasa totoong trail na kami J). And if Landon and Jamie’s story started at school.. Mine was at that instance.

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The view of cordillera mountain range never fails to amaze me.  I knew from there it will not be an easy hike. One needs more than patience to see its beauty. And so with a heavy backpack I walked slowly through the pine forest.

This mountain was discovered when an airplane bound to Baguio crashed in the slopes of Mt. Ugo, killing all passengers while attempting to land during a monsoon on June 1987. The subsequent operation to retrieve the remains paved the way for trails, thus making the mountain one of the more popular and challenging hikes in Cordilleras (source PM).

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The Mountain’s name was derived from the Ibaloi word ‘Ugoan’, which means to ‘cut the neck’. So this is how the invading Spaniards were killed. When the people on this land defended their freedom, the mountain remains a silent witness.

We were near Domolpos when we decided to have Lunch on one of the Locals house. Sir Jhay’s team was already having a comfortable meal inside the house. It was almost 12 noon; we were just right in time.

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1454743_503276909769858_996831387_nWe’ve met a very accommodating family with two very cute little girls. I cannot help myself to take pictures of them.

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They both look like dolls na masarap iuwi sabi nga ni Josh. The house’s exterior are made of galvanized iron, has a high ceiling and bare soil as their flooring. I cannot imagine how freezing it could be during the night. The weather keeps getting colder and we found comfort on a cup of coffee being sold by Ate at their small store. As I rest my weary body outside the house, feeling the cold breeze, sipping my cup of coffee, I wonder if I would be able to live a simple life as these family have. I know life in the mountain was not very easy. And to see a happy family like them is priceless. I guess they have accepted that their lives will be spent and lived up here, together with the mountain.

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1395123_503276926436523_1706730802_nI thought of Jamie Sullivan, and just like them, she wholeheartedly accepted her fate. .while I constantly remind myself that some things are not meant to be understood but to be accepted.

The rain started to pour, providing another challenge for the team. Rain + Cold wind = Frozen Mountaineers nyahahahah.  We continued the trek to the summit at 1pm. The other Team was already ahead of us.. ee kasi nga chill lang talaga kami sa hike na ito kahit pa sabihin ni Ate guide na malamang 5pm na kami makarating sa summit dahil sa  pacing namin.

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The wide trail was a reminiscent of those in Mt. Sto. Tomas and Cabayao. We also encountered a passenger jeep along the trail. I’m not sure if it ply’s directly to Baguio or just the neighboring towns.

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1464104_627981050595002_1367445094_nWe walked, walked and walked. Took pictures and had a group selfie..mga 50x yata. Shared some personal stories ..alam mo yan Mikey. Had a lot of take five’s. Enjoyed the picture perfect scenery and got surrounded by cows. Run away from the cows! Nyahahahah.. na ambush kasi kami hangang waiting shed.

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We laugh, laugh and laugh some more on the long but happy trail. Took more pictures and encountered some limatik.. at ngayon ko lang nalaman na may limatik din pala ang cordillera mountains.

The last leg of the trail was a continue ascent up to the camp site. With the impact made by the long walk on my knees and feet I don’t have a choice but to walk slowly. If it’s not for Josh and Mikey who keep me company I’ll be walking alone for an hour J thank you guys sa pag damay.. at syempre ang ultimate palusot naten ayy sweeper tayo nyahahahah!

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We were the last to arrive at the campsite by 5pm. Most of the tents were already pitched, so without wasting any time, we setup our own. Our guide and porter informed us that they will spend the night at the school just below the site and will be back by 7am. We thanked them and bid goodbye.

The fog surrounds the site making it hard for us to move.. ang lamig lamig kasi.. may kasama pang ulan. Since we were all hungry, we immediately prepare for dinner. Sir ace Vergel was in charge of the rice while me, after discovering that I have a talent in cooking.. agree naman kayo diba Josh? Nyahahaha! Cooked a hearty-spicy-sinigang ala siling labuyo  at inuulit ko.. sa campsite lang lumalabas ang talent kong yan :)

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We used one of the tents for our socials ala cooking show since we can’t cook outside due to the weather.

I think it was 8pm when we call it a night. Each of us tried to be comfortable against the freezing environment. The strong wind doesn’t have any plans of stopping; making it difficult for the others to sleep. Good thing my tent, a Luxe Firefly was able to stand the weather. Not even a single leak of water or moist build up inside my shelter J I even shared a space to a co-mountaineer. One of the many lessons I learned from the past is to be self-contained. No one is responsible for your own safety but yourself.

So after saying my thanks to Him for keeping us safe, I closed my eyes and let my consciousness slip into a dream.

My Faith and the Sea of Clouds:

‘Please wag muna tayo mag break camp. Ang aga pa at ang lamig-lamig. May hinahabol ba tayong last trip?’ I keep on repeating this phrase on my mind, with my eyes closed and body curled up.

I can hear their shaky voices from the outside; some were already asking where the coffee was kept and the other stuff so they can prepare for breakfast. From time to time they would shout ‘ang lamig-lamig!’

I slowly convinced my eyes to check on the time, t’was 4 am.owno.. 30 minutes pa..please. I want to sleep some more..

Those 30 minutes turned into an hour. When I step outside my tent I was the only one left to eat breakfast. Buti nalang mabilis ako kumain  at mag ligpit ng tent. I learned from my team that most of them were not able to sleep (kaya pala ma aga sila bumangon), their tents were flooded by rain, and they battled the night wet and cold.

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Despite of this, they enthusiastically shared their disastrous night experience to all of us. We laugh and tease those whose snores were able to surpass the windy night hahaha.  These moments is another piece on each of our Mountain Stories.. pang throwback lang ang datingan :)

I can see the sun shyly peeping through the gray clouds as we patiently waited for Mother Nature to show us what we came for. And then.. Slowly, the Sea of Clouds magically appeared.  It was unexplainable beauty.

‘How can you see places like this.. and have moments like this and not believe? A question struck me as I gaze in awe. The moment answered most of the thoughts I had in mind. I’ve been trying to reconnect with my Faith for quite some time, and to be honest it is not easy but I know I’m getting there.

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The Sea of Clouds slowly being touched by the golden sunlight was not only beauty beyond words, it was my miracle.

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Traversing the Pine Forest:

As the scenery completely fades, we all decided to continue the trek to the summit of Mt. Ugo. It was I think a good 30 minute ascent. There’s nothing much to see on the summit but a signage bearing the mountain’s name and its elevation as a landmark. There is also a gravestone with the name of those who departed from the tragic accident .Picture picture ulit and a short prayer before we go down to continue our traverse 15km to Itogon Benguet.

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The trails were wide and established. There are pine trees everywhere, and when the fog embraces them, it’s as if you are entering a different world. Mala twilight ang dating :)

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Although we were rewarded by very relaxing views, my feet do not enjoy it as much as my eyes did. It was a very exhausting walk with a couple of ups and downs and cows blocking the trail. Konti na lang at putol paa na talaga.

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My feet hurts, and its telling me that they can no longer endure another kilometer, pinapakiusapan ko nalang silang lumakad..haha.

And because of this I was the last on the trail, well sinamahan naman ako ni Mikey at Martin, such good guys :) and we called ourselves as the 3rd team, the Team Sweeper!

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While our team mates were already 4 km ahead of us we still manage to take a lot of take fives or should I say take 20 (minutes ) in every 500 meters.. hahahaha.

The consequence? None of us has a trail food. So we ended up walking with a growling stomach, parang Walker lang kami, pwede ng cast sa The Walking Dead. We almost imagined each pine cone on the trail if not a pineapple, a sugar apple.. oh diba..gutom talaga. . My smile only appears once I saw a km marker, an indication that we had finished another kilometer but yet to conquer some more.

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12nn came and were still walking. As much as we would like to have lunch, we have nothing but water to fill our empty stomach.. gusto ko na ngang gawing trail food yung dalang biogesic ni Mikey :)

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Sir Jhay’s Team were able to keep up with us.. sadyang mabibilis sila at malalakas kaya naman nahiya kami at pinilit na naming maging zombie ulit sa trail.

On the last 4 km of the trail we could almost see the hanging bridge, it was a slight relief.. slight kasi masakit pa rin ang paa ko.

We were walking above postcard perfect scenery, with a portion of Agno River below and a distant view of Ambuklao Dam. A rainbow also appeared after a drizzle of rain, maybe to applaud us for getting that far and for surviving the long walk.

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After passing a community and some rice paddies, we found ourselves in the bridge. Happiness at last! Of course a picture on a hanging bridge is mandatory.. hahahah. We took some photos and enjoyed the last view of what we could see.

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After the last 500 meters a concrete road appeared. Civilization Hooray! From here a rented jeep will take us to Itogon Barangay Hall, where we need to do a courtesy call, logged out and received our certificates. Josh and the rest were waiting at a local’s house beside the road, already finished tidying up. Mountaineers can take a shower here for a fee; they have a small store too and a cold drink is guaranteed after the hike. Alternatively, the barangay offers a free shower.. so that’s what we did :)

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The hike was completed with a sore feet, empty tummy, picture from everyone, our own version of awarding ceremony with the Barangay Chairman na ipinasundo pa namin, lots of laughter and shared stories and above all unlimited brewed coffee fresh from Benguet :)

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If Jamie died in the movie, the only casualty here was my toe nails. Mt. Ugo was indeed extraordinary. Not only a long walk worth remembering but to be cherished <3

Thank you to my friends who joined me on this Hike. Keep Climbing!

**Photo Credits to : Josh, Mikey and Rache

Mt. Ugo Itinerary:

Mt. Ugo Traverse (Kayapa -Itogon)

Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet

LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL

Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs

Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3

Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks

November 22

10:00 – meet up at Sampaloc Victory Liner

10:30 – departure to Aritao Nueva Vizcaya

November 23

05:00 – arrival at CCQ stop-over Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, board rented jeepney

05:30 – departure to Kayapa

06:45 – arrival at Kayapa, register at PNP

07:00 – start trek

07:45 – start of pine forest

09:30 – arrival at Indupit Village, rest/breakfast

10:00 – continue trek to Dumolpos

11:00 – arrival at Mt. Samiento

12:00 – arrival at Waiting shed near Dumolpos Lunch

13:00 – continue trek to summit

14:00 – arrival at last water source

15:40 – arrival at summit, rest, relax

17:00 – prepare dinner

18:30 – dinner socials

22:00 – lights out

November 24

06:00 – wake up, sunrise viewing

07:00 – prepare breakfast

08:00 – breakfast/breakcamp

09:00 – start trek to Lusod

12:00 – arrival at Lusod, lunch

13:00 – Continue trek to Kawayan

14:30 – arrival at Kawayan Village, rest

15:00 – arrival at Foot Bridge

15:10 – arrival at Bang house,

15:20 – arrival at Brgy hall of Tinongdan, logout tidy up

16:30 – departure to Baguio

17:00 – arrival at Baguio, dinner

21:20 – departure from Baguio to Manila

*will arrive at Manila 03:00 AM the next morning

* Itinerary is based on Tramping Philippines IT.

Expenses:

Bus-Cubao-Aritao > P289.00

Chartered Jeep Aritao-Kayapa > P2,500.00

Guide Fee > P 500.00 / day

Registration Fee at Tinogdan >P100.00 each

Chartered Jepp Tinogdan-Baguio > P2,200.00

Baguio-Cubao > P450.00

Porter > P400.00 / day

**Yung gastos po ng Food depende po sa menu ng Team**

Camiguin, my favorite Daydream

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‘anong gagawin mo bukas? Pupunta ka pa ba sa Mantigue at White Island? Kuya Ronald asked me. ‘Hindi na po, wala na rin po kasi akong pang arkila ng bangka’

When I saw a promo fare going to Cagayan de Oro on the internet I immediately booked a flight without hesitation. My friend asked me ‘ano naman ang gagawin mo sa Cagayan de Oro ng mag isa? Mga ra-raffting ka ng mag-isa?!’ I just smiled and told her ‘pupunta ako ng Camiguin’ :)

So after a week of planning my Itinerary and searching on the how- to-get-there stuff on the net, I packed my bag and told my brother where I’m going and head to the airport.

Mindanao is a dream destination for me. I am always fascinated by its people, places and culture, and going on a solo backpacking on its Northern part will be a feat.

The plane landed on Laguindingan Airport at 6am. From here, private cars can take you to Cagayan de Oro City.. alas-puno ang alis ng sasakyan.

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It was an hour ride from the Airport going to the City of Golden Friendship. I asked the driver to drop me off Agora bus terminal. When he found out I came from Manila and will go to Camiguin alone, he walked me to the terminal and made sure I boarded the correct bus. Thank you po :)

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It was a 2 hour ride going to Balingoan, where a ferry can take you to Benoni port of Camiguin.

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The blue sky meets the azure water as the ferry sailed smoothly into the open sea.

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It was lunch time when I arrived at the port and took a motorela from Benoni to Mambajao where Kuya Ronald, my guide in the island is waiting.

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After we took our lunch and checked in at Enigmata Ecolodge, my half day tour on the Island Born of Fire begins.

Camiguin, although the second smallest province in the country (next to Batanes) has a lot to offer, from beaches, marine sanctuary, rainforest, waterfalls, springs, the choice is yours.

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I haven’t seen an Ostrich up close, so our first stop is the Provincial Breeding Centre and Ostrich Farm 300 meters off the highway in Mahinog.

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Then all that remains of 1598 settlement, the Moro Watch Tower. You can climb the tower for a great view towards Mindanao. It is located inside the Guinsiliban Central School.

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I also checked out Sto Rosario Church. Built in 1882, it has a unique interior of Sawali walls, driftwood chandeliers and adobe stone altar.

From here, my habal-habal road trip proceeds to the Old Church Ruins. Located in Bonbon, 13 kilometers from Mambajao, overlooking the sea are the remains of the 16th century Spanish Church destroyed by the 1871 eruption.

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Afterwards, we went to Brgy. Mainit to see Tuasan Falls, cascading beautifully  25 meters down into a rocky pool.

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And then to top my first afternoon in the island, we went to see a tangerine sunset.

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The Sunken Cemetery being the most photographed attraction in Camiguin is located on the National Highway in Bonbon, 12 kilometers from Mambajao. A majestic cross marks where the original Spanish cemetery disappeared into the sea during the 1871 eruption.

There’s no entrance fee however if you wish to go to the Cross, you will have to take a quick boat ride for 50 pesos; at least that’s what they offered me.

After kuya Ronald and I had dinner, he drove me back to the Ecolodge.

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I woke up to the sound of thunder and heavy rain as it pours on the nipa roof of the room where I was sleeping. It was midnight when I checked on my watch and went back to the dreamland soon as I grabbed my blanket.

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At exactly 5am I heard kuya Ronald’s motorcycle outside the Lodge. I was all ready for my next adventure, traversing the famous Mt. Hibok-Hibok, 1332 masl. Without further delay we drove to Mambajao to eat breakfast and start our trek from Yumbing to Ardent. We were blessed with such good weather.

There are seven Volcanoes in Camiguin. Mounts Hibok-hibok, Vulcan, Guinsiliban, Mambajao, Tres Marias, Uhay and Timpoong being the highest in the island.

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*The details of my climb will be posted on a separate entry* :)

Since we used the Ardent Trail for our Traverse, a dip into the famous hot spring is a must. Hot spring addict mode on. Tanggal lahat ng pagod sa pag akyat… yehheeeyyyy!

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Ardent Hibok-hibok Spring Resort is centered on a series of hot water pools which range in temperature from 39 degree – 32 degree Celsius. Picnic facilities, accommodations and massage are available 24 hours.

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Kuya Ronald asked me if I wanted to visit the other attractions in Camiguin. I answered him with a smiley YES. So after that relaxing hot spring experience, we went to the Philvocs Observatory Station. The Station has a museum and a sweeping view across to Bohol.

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I also visited the highest water falls in the island, the Katibawasan waterfalls plunging 75m into a large rock pool which is perfect for a refreshing dip. The falls are approximately 5 km from Mambajao on the road running past the Provincial Capitol. Entrance is P20.00.

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To end my second day in Camiguin, I had a taste of their Special Halo-halo and the famous Pastel (yema filled bun) for dinner.. nagtitipid na nyahahahah.

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‘anong gagawin mo bukas? Pupunta ka pa ba sa Mantigue at White Island? Kuya Ronald asked me. ‘Hindi na po, wala na rin po kasi akong pang arkila ng bangka’ I told him.

One of the downside of travelling solo is that you don’t have anyone to share your expenses with. So I simply cannot afford to rent the whole motor boat to go to these two islands. Also I have plans on going to Iligan after this.

Then Kuya Ronald said ‘yun lang ba? May guest akong darating bukas, mag isa lang din sya. Sabay na kayo pumunta sa Mantigue at White island para may kahati ka sa bangka’. Yehhhheeeyyyyy! Problem solved.

The guest kuya Ronald is referring will have her island tour first when she arrives, then we will go island hopping afterwards. And so my 3rd morning in Camiguin was comfortably spent on this hammock with the vivid flowers dancing through the gentle morning breeze and the melody created by the chirping birds, these moments I used to daydream.

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I spent 2 comfortable nights at Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge. It’s an art camp and a non-profit social enterprise located 5 km east of Mambajao.  It’s a haven for those who are passionate for the arts.

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the reception

the reception

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If you are a party goer, or one of those who cannot take off their hands in the videoke’s microphone, or those who wanted to have a five star resort accommodations.. this place might not be for you. It’s quite far from the crowd and rest of the resorts in the island. A good thing for me though because I’m not a fan of crowded places and a P300.00 rate per night is a good deal for every budget traveller.

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It was around 12 noon when I’ve met Ivy. She will also spend the night at the Ecolodge. After she checked in we first went to Mantigue Island Nature Park.

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It’s a palm fringed island with pristine white sand excellent for diving and snorkeling with a distant view of Mt. Timpoong, located off Barangay San Roque, 2km from Mahinog.

We saved the best for last. It’s the jewel in Camiguin’s crown, the White Island. It’s a perfect place to swim, snorkel and enjoy magnificent sunrises and sunsets and a good view of Mt. Hibok-hibok.

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Ivy is one bubbly backpacker from Ilocos. Before she came to Camiguin, she’s been roaming around Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. There was an instant connection between the two of us that we started talking and sharing not just each of our travel stories even personal ones. For me she’s not just another person I’ve met on one of my backpacking adventures, with her I have found a sister.

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Camiguin is a beauty. From spectacular landscapes, rugged mountains, hot and cold springs, amazing volcanoes, priceless underwater treasures and white sand beaches, truly it’s a sanctuary for restless soul. A place where I will forever day dreamed of.

On board the ferry going back to Cagayan de Oro, Ivy and I looked back at the island with a big smile and an adventure filled hearts.

Thank you, Camiguin. :)

How to Get There:

-          Daily flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro are available with fare ranging from P1500.00 or above one way. I’ve got mine as a promo.

-          Direct flights from Manila to Camiguin is available, just check the leading Airline Companies.

-          From Laguindingan Aiport to Cagayan de Oro, you may take a private car or vans for P200.00 each. Alas-puno ang alis nila.

-          Then asked the driver to drop you off Agora Bus Terminal and board a bus up to Balingoan Pier. Fare is P143.00 + P2.00 Terminal Fee. Travel time is 2hrs. The bus will stop at Balingoan Bus terminal and from here you can walk up to the pier or ride a tricycle. Fare is P7.00.

-          From Balingoan Pier ride a ferry to Benoni Port for P170.00 + other minimal fees such as environmental and terminal fee. Travel time may take 1.5 – 2 hrs.

-          Take a motorela from the Port to Mambajao Camiguin. Fare is P23.00.

Travel Notes:

-          Upon arrival at Benoni Port Camiguin, tour guides will approach you to offer their services. If you do not have any contact in the island you may avail this. Negotiate with the price. I highly recommend Kuya Ronald Rabile – 09106593349 / 09059783183. He’s also a registered guide if you are planning to hike any of the volcanoes in Camiguin especially Mt. Hibok-hibok.

-          The best way to tour the island is via a habal-habal. If you are travelling on a group you can rent a van or a Motorela (muticab). Price range P1700.00 – P2500.00 good for 8-12 persons.

-          For the adventurous ones, you may asked for a copy of the islands map at the Tourism Office and rent a motorcycle (P500.00 per day I think not including the gas) and visit the different tourist attraction by yourself, just make sure you know how to drive nyahaha :)

-          The Boat rental going to Mantigue and White Island will cost P500.00 (6pax) + environmental fees (usually P20.00 or less).

-          Don’t Forget to try Kilawin na Tanigue, the best Halo-halo at Café 1914, the islands sweetest Lanzones and the famous and delicious Pastel (P70.00 half box)

-          Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge is serving meals. They offer affordable and delicious food which comes in big serving.

-          The rooms at Enigmata are non-air-conditioned; don’t worry for the rooms are well ventilated allowing fresh air inside. Just don’t forget to bring insect repellent lotion to keep away mosquitoes and bugs as you will sleep on a tree house.

-          Ferries going to Bohol are also available. If you still have plenty of time take this trip and explore another island. Who knows what adventure is waiting for you there :)

-          Don’t forget to Enjoy each moment and follow your instinct.

-          Smile and make friends.

**Happy Backpacking** :)

Osmena Peak : the rain and the Jagged Hill

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 ‘Even without a clear view, I’m still mystified, for behind that thick fog is the magnificent hill waiting for my second chance. I stared in the mist as it slowly being blown by the wind and let the rain kiss my cheeks. This is my first mountain in the Visayas and I promise this is not the last.’

I gazed at the gray sky outside the bus window. I was constantly praying for a good weather since we left manila, which was also experiencing heavy rains. I looked at ate Claire with envy, she was able to get some sleep on this bumpy ride while I’m wide awake since last night. Excited? Yes! :)

We arrived in Cebu past 11pm. Buti nalang may kakilala ako dun kaya libre na accommodation for the night :) (salamat brod henry). While unpacking our things on his ‘studio’ we talked about our Itinerary and the things we want to do while in Cebu, at automatic may tour guide na kami :)

At around 4am we are already walking along Colon street, the oldest street in cebu towards South Bus Terminal (warm up agad?? hahah). We boarded an Ordinary Bus bound to Bato, this will also pass by Dalaguete (pronounced as dalaget) our jump off point.

I checked ate Claire, she’s already busy taking photos of the bucolic scenery. ‘Dalagit, poblacion’ shouted by kuya kundoktor. Finally after the 2.5 hr ride we alighted at our 1st stop were we will take the habal-habal up to the foot of our destination.

I let brod Henry negotiates with the drivers, speaking in cebuano of course so we got our habal-habal for 80pesos each  not bad :D

We had breakfast first at the eatery across the street, and after about 30 minutes we positioned ourselves into kuya Ray’s motorcycle. Travel time up to Mantalongon is 40 minutes to 1 hr.

I glanced at the sky, no chance of turning into blue.

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scenic view from the zigzag road

The view to Mantalongon reminds me of Benguet with pine trees along the cemented zigzag road and its cold weather. Truly, this part of the province is a Vegetable Haven.

Hindi ko yata narinig na gumamit ng busina si kuya driver kahit sa mga blind spot at kahit na may mga kasalubong. Overtake kung overtake. Hahaha. Buwis buhay ang habal-habal ride namin :D

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buses bound directly to Mantalongon

After we passed by Mantalongon market, it started to rain. Change position daw sabi ni kuya driver kasi rough road na paakyat. Yung isa sa harap ng  habal-habal, tapos si kuya driver tapos dalawa sa likod nya.. buwis buhay part 2  :)

It’s still raining when we reached the jumpoff. We still need to walk 30 minutes up to the summit. The original plan was to traverse Osmena to Kawasan falls located in Badian, Cebu, but because of weather fail I have to schedule this for next time.

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nostalgia

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christian – smiley and shy

You don’t really need a guide to hike Osmena’s Peak. The trail is established and easy. Walk-in-the-park kumbaga. A kid named Christian approached us offering his service as a guide, we declined of course but we let him tag along.

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The jagged hills are nowhere to be found when we reached the summit; they were all covered with fog. On a good weather, the summit offers 360 views of cebu’s shoreline, farms of vegetables and a distant view of Bohol and Negros. The jagged hill resembled the one of chocolate hills.

Fotor081840033Even without a clear view, I’m still mystified, for behind that thick fog is the magnificent hill waiting for my second chance. I stared in the mist as it slowly being blown by the wind and let the rain kiss my cheeks. This is my first mountain in the Visaya’s and I swear this is not the last.

We took photos to our hearts content and went down after about 30 minutes. Kuya Ray will wait for us at the jumpoff and will take us to Obong spring (also in Dalaguete) as we failed to go to Kawasan. We gave Christian some money for being a nice kid and a good photographer too.

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the buwis buhay habal-habal ride :)

On our way back, I positioned myself in front of the motorcycle (before the driver), well I volunteered hahaha. Mala action star lang ang dating :) at si kuya driver ay pwedeng pwede sa motocross competition.

Obong spring is an alternative side trip after the hike. I was tempted to swim on its refreshing water if only I bought some spare clothes.

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Obong Spring

I watched the kids do their stunt and dive from the large balete tree and by 3pm we head back to the Queen City.

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exploring

Indeed, the best thing to do when it’s raining is to let it rain. I thank the rain for giving me a reason to comeback, who knows maybe the second time it will be more special.