Mount Banahaw is currently in restoration period since 2004 that’s why it is prohibited for any climbing related activities though there are still few breaks it. When I saw it while at the summit of Mount Banahaw it become notable for me, I fell in love with it further every time I pass Maharlika Highway (Pan-Philippine Highway) and when I visited my home in Visayas through Lucena Port in Quezon province, I witnessed how it was majestic from a far. Photo captured last March 2015.
One of the things that I really missed with my mountaineering group back home is the outreach activity that it does to the distant and remote places that most of the time only travellers, adventurers and mountaineers alike can reach such places. Combining the spirit of exploring and discovering places and the heart of helping people in need for me is a great and luxurious opportunity of doing something you love for yourself and for the humanity which is quite rare chances to treasure in our times since people nowadays tend to be selfish because our world are suffocating, exhausting and overwhelming.
It was Thursday night, April 30 and the next day was labor day which is a public holiday in my country. That night was feel like frenzy Thursday because a lot of people were in the mall, I was in the mall to pick-up the boxes of pack juices that I bought for the outreach program were going to do the next day. After picking it up it’s almost 9PM, I had difficulty of getting a cab because like me there were tons of people need a cab, but I was not intended to go home as I was going to meet my group in Robinsons Pioneer mall in Boni, Mandaluyong as it was the meeting point before we head to the San Andres Quezon Port where the boat is waiting and will bring us to Alibijaban (or Alibihaban) island.
After more than half an hour, I was able to find a cab because of the reason that the taxi driver was going to the place where I intended to be, well I considered it as lucky fate, as I had been waiting too long and I was worried if I will be really able to get a cab.
It was almost 10 PM when I reached the meeting place, some of my group were already there. Since it’s been a long time I met the group (the last time was almost a year ago during outreach in Tacloban) it was a moment to catch up with them again. Some were unfamiliar to me as I hadn’t been around with the climb for years but some were known faces. When I went out of the cab I called Che (member of the group) to tell her I just arrived in the location, then Billy (another member of the group) and his friends met me and they tried to figure out how they can help me with the boxes of pack of juices as they were huge and heavy. And then I turned back again to Che and we started talking. The last time I was with Che was during Mount Batulao climb last January this year, then Jovy whom one of the senior member of the group and one of the members that I climbed together from the past years. I caught-up with them while waiting for the dinner inside the nearby food chain. Then in between the dinner, I met Dorothy whom like Jovy is a senior member in our group and will lead us to the charity activity, next Leo, Dorothy’s husband came, next was Dewi whom are all members of the mountaineering group.
I had great time talking with them, it feels like a long time that a group of friends were just in the corners. I felt comfortable and felt at ease. We finished our dinner and we went to the assigned vans and cars allocated to the group that will bring everyone to San Andres Quezon Port and our long night journey begins.
I was in a van together with Jovy, Mark with his girlfriend Joan (both first time I met that day), Dewi (first time I personally talk with), Tanya (Dewi’s friend), Gertrude friend of Albert (member of the group), then Joanne, Roland, and Gladies (all members of the group).
We left the city and we stopped over in gas station with lots of food chains and restaurants available along SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) to buy something and to prepare for a long drive. During the night trip before we snooze ourselves, I spent some time talking with Dewi, we talked a lot of stuff, from international travel to local adventures and many more interesting topics.
— Some of the captured views while taking the rough row
The overall trip to the port was not that smooth, it was alright from the city to Lucena, it was still fine from Lucena to Pagbilao nearby area, it was challenging before Mulanay because it was a long distance zigzag road where initially I thought it will never end and it was unexpected difficult adventure before reaching the port. The unexpected and difficult road trip started after we passed Mulanay, we took mountain road, the trail were all rough roads until we were at the ground. The travel felt like we’re riding a boat, it took us a while before we overcome it. It took us a while before we completely passed the road. There were cases we thought it’s not the right road. We had been in that situation for more than few hours.
— Before leaving San Andres Port
We arrived in San Andres port past 9AM. In few minutes we boarded the boat. We traveled from the port to the island in around 20 minutes. While we’re jam-packed in the boat I took my time to look around the area and capture snapshots of the port while we’re leaving and approaching Alibijaban Island.
— On the way to Alibijaban Island
From the port, the island looks like a long island but while in the boat in the middle between the port and the island I saw how amazing and scenic view some part of the sea displaying different hues of blue. Some part were dark blue which means it’s one of the a deepest part of the sea. Some parts were just blue and some were sky blue or light blue which means it’s the shallow part of the sea and where most of the sand bars are to be found.
Alibijaban (Alibihaban) Island – A Worthy Summer Outreach Vacation
— Approaching Alibijaban Island
— Scenery while looking back at San Andres, Quezon
We reached the island and some of the groups contact met us at the beach side where we jumped off from the boat, then they guided us to the house that will accommodate the whole group while we were in the island. The house we went into has kitchen veranda where most of the group assembled together. It was also the same place where our group started to organise the outreach event like a head quarter or camp area.
Dewi led the meeting and informed all of us on our assignments in the outreach activity. Then, Mike (another senior member) took over the meeting and informed us to have lunch first then the charity will next.
— Setting up the Mountaineering group banner for the outreach event
The group had lunch together within an hour. After we finished our food, one by one and some were in group went straight to the school. I was assigned in preparatory and day care students and this means I will take care of the youngest and the toddler children. Yes it was a challenge but it’s a good thing that most of them accompanied by their parents whom majority were mothers. I had the list of the students and I called them one by one, some kids that were present were included on the list, some were not. After calling their names, we mentioned to go to one of the school room as the heat from the sun felt like its gonna burn us and it was not good for children since it was past 1PM in the afternoon. We arrived in the designated room for my toddler students and instructed to group themselves. The children followed accordingly. After few minutes, the food came in and we started to serve the food to them.
— The toddler kids under my supervision during outreach activity
Next thing our group did after all the student were full in their lunch-snacks, we conducted program which composed of games and entertainment. All the kids had fun in the games as we provided lots of gifts and rewards for the winners. There were kids showed their talents such as singing and dancing. Some students had talent showdown. The entertainment had been better as some of our group members in the mountaineering shared their talents to the audience as well, we enjoyed the show.
— Organizing students from different grade level before starting the program
— The games started
— And the games goes on … and the prices are giving away
— And the fun seems never end
— And the entertainment keeps coming
After the program proper, we prepared all the school supplies for all the students in the school which was the main part of the outreach event. These supplies were all came from consolidated pledges from the mountaineering group, member’s friends and specific sponsors both from corporate and personal acquaintances of the members.
After we prepared the stuff, I saw the excitements, happiness and hopes in the eyes of the students and even with their parents. I knew that what we have for them were small things but for them it symbolises hope and chances of future.
We properly organised the giving of school supplies to the students. Most of the students in our list received their part, some of the remaining supplies, we gave them to the school teachers so they can manage to give it to other students who are not present in the event.
The outreach activities were over, though we were tired, but all were happy because we knew that we fulfilled something that’s worth to remember.
— School vicinity area
We returned to our assembly area. And I felt so uncomfortable because of the heat from the sun and it’s summer season. The wind was dry but still thankful because sunset was almost there. Near the assembly area, the group agreed to pitch the tent so we have place to sleep in.
I picked up my backpack from the house we used as headquarter where most of the group put all their stuff. Then, I went to the nearby place and I chose the space where I will pitch my tent. Then, I opened my backpack and setup my solo tent. After a while my tent were ready so I went in and put all my stuff.
After sometime, the group agreed to walk around in the island. I decided to walk together with the group’s most senior couple none other than Eddie and Ethel whom I admired as they enjoyed life together traveling and even trekking mountains even with that age.
— The views beside the school
— Sceneries while walking along the beach on the way to the mangroves area
As we walk along the beach we felt the last heat of the afternoon that day and we started to witness the sunset. At that moment I got a chance to enjoy the perfect sunset views in the island. We passed the mangroves just beside the sea-shore. Then, we heard voices along the shore and we didn’t understand why until we were on our way to return to the camp. Without knowing what’s happening with the ruckus we heard, our wandering in the island continues until we reached the area they called “The Farm”.
— On the way to the farm and the first bridge
“The Farm” is where the majority of mangroves are to be found. We passed two bridges in the area. And because it was low tide, the first bridge seems to be useless because we can walk in both sides as the ground was dry. After passing the first bridge, we walked a little before we found the second and larger bridge. While we were in the bridge, we discovered a nice view in the area as we passed the shallow river. It was not really a river but it looks like one.
— Trail after the end of second bridge
We reached the other end of the bridge and followed the existing tracks visible in the sand. As we were not able to caught up with the other group we’ve been following. We decided to stopped and went near the shore. There, I saw the other beauty of the island. Aside the beach area, what I really enjoyed the most was the sunset views. We spent sometime in the area until we decided to return to the camp.
— The beach area at “The Farm”
— Sunset views while at the shore of “The Farm”
— More sunset snapshots on the way to our camp
As we were on our way to the camp, we met the rest of the group going to “The Farm” at the first bridge. We stopped a little to talked to them to share some expectations in the place. Then, we went ahead to the camp, the group’s sleeping quarter.
As I came back to my tent, because I couldn’t last with the discomfort that I felt because of the summer heat and the sweat all over my body, I immediately took a shower. After the shower, I felt refreshed and relieved.
Then few minutes passed and we had our dinner. After dinner, the group prepared for the night activity and the group usually called it as “socials”. One of the funniest and happiest moments in the group in every climb and most of every event of the group such as outreach activity is the “socials”. Every “social” nights, the jokes comes out and the naughtiness of each group member were seen. Questions out of nowhere were asked in each member that requires answer, some questions were personal and some were out of this world and that led to lots of laughter. It’s a group discussions that the group tried not to offend anyone and still the respect was present. Everyone will feel mixed emotions, you will shy, conscious, smile or laugh, it was a moment like forgetting or leaving the world behind even for a moment. The group discussions usually last until early in the morning, it will last until someone able to last long. I returned to my tent past 12AM in the morning and the “socials” was still not over. I crawled inside my tent and in few minutes I was already dreaming.
I woke up at almost 6AM in the morning but I didn’t get up immediately, I was laying in the ground still contemplating on something. Then I got out of my tent, had breakfast and went back to my tent. I breakout my tent earlier than the other members as I was slow in fixing all my stuff in my backpack.
During the breakfast it was discussed in the group to go for swimming as our last adventure before leaving the island. The group was divided into two, the first group left the island early in the morning as some of them has commitments the next day. I was included in the second group left in the island and decided to go for swimming.
We took a boat to the part of the island wherein I realised that it was the shore of “The Farm” which we visited. As we approached the beach I realised how shallow the water was. We jumped off the boat and the water was just my knee level. It was the part of the beach they called sand bars are everywhere. I saw how clean and refreshing the water was. It was morning and all of us in the group was not afraid to swim as the sun heat was not out yet. Because the water still shallow, we were able to even walked from the beach to other sand bars. We’re even far from the shore and the water level still in my chest or shoulder level. All of us were enjoying the water. We were technically in the middle of the sea and we were in the middle of large and connected sand bars. I enjoyed my swimming and the water without worrying that maybe something under the water as everything we’re almost visible.
All in the groups were enjoying as well as we spent hours in the water. After sometime I swam back to sea shore and quite surprised as I noticed that the water level increased as some part of the sand bars were under the water where before we arrived its not. I rest ed under one of the mangroves until the other came back because our boat arrived to pick us.
— Some boats in the island, capture while leaving the Alibijaban Island
The group boarded the boat and we sail back to the shore where our temporary headquarter in the island was located. All of us prepared for leaving the island. After an hour we took the same boat we had used on our way to the island back to the port. As we were leaving the said island, I already missed the place because of its fresh beauty that I hope will last long.
— Returning to San Andres Port
From the port, we returned to our designated vans, and before the group breakaway we had our lunch in Lucena before completely back in the city to face the reality of life again.