There is nothing special for this year 2018. But I just realized that one of the celebrations I did for Independence Day (June 12, 2009) of my country (almost 9 years ago) was not published here in this site but was partially posted in my old blog site which focused in featuring solely of my country Philippines. This time, I just wanted to remember and celebrate even in simple ways that my country got its own sovereignty more than 100 years ago, to be exact, its celebrating 120 years of Independence Day since 1898 today.
The mountaineering group that I belong was invited and selected to join Independence Day Climb or Freedom Climb last June 2009. And we are assigned to climb Mount Maculot located in Batangas. And our group successfully completed the climb for the celebration.
In this post, I collected all the previous posts that I created from my old site. A reminder to myself that there was part of my life that I got a chance to raise my country’s flag in the mountain together with other mountaineers around the country on a special occasion, the days to celebrate Independence Day. The post is not describing chronological order of experience, but a mixed one.
“Taal Lake At Different Perspective”
Photos above were captured during the 1st Annual Freedom Climb happened across the whole country. These were taken after starting to trek Mount Maculot from the jump off area. The lake seen here is Taal Lake, the view is another perspective of the lake since I have photos captured of Taal Lake came from Tagaytay City in Cavite. This time, photos taken from the base of Mount Maculot. These were captured last June 13, 2009 – Saturday in the afternoon.
Think Green But Using A Rubber?
The photo above was a capture of sleeper I brought and used at the summit of Mount Maculot. The picture was taken last June 13, 2009 during the night where the group was having fun at social activities.
One thing struck my mind in this sleeper, well there was a written message “think green planet”. It seems the message and the sleeper convey contradicting ideas. “think green planet” leads to taking care of environment while the sleeper was made using a rubber material which appears to have issues againts the safety of environment.
Post For A While
Here are some of the photos with a human or people concept. I never used to take pictures of people, but there are moments that I myself tend to do it naturally like the moment that we are waiting for the public jeepney that will bring us to the jump-off area of Mount Maculot, before the climb formally started and while resting in the middle of the trek.
Jump-off Area – Cuenca Batangas Municipality Building and other Municipal Government Offices
This is the place where we prepared ourself before climbing Mount Maculot. The mountain behind this building (which cannot be seen in this photo) is Mount Maculot itself. This is the municipality building of Cuenca, in Batangas province.
Looking Beyond Batangas And More
The photos above are some scenery that can be found while trekking Mount Maculot in Batangas. The climb held last June 13 to 14, 2009 as part of our both fun and historical first freedom or independence day climb.
Amazing Outlook of Taal Lake From Mount Maculot
While climbing Mount Maculot, this was one of the best or I can say the most stunning view I ever see while trekking the mountain. By just looking into it, I can feel that I can see beyond what I can. And the wonderful color of the lakes made me feel I am seeing a paradise that so near on me.
Mount Maculot Marker
This is the mountain marker which can be found facing the rocky part mountain of Mount Maculot. We found this when we descent the mountain partially to transfer to rocky part of the mountain. This photo was still part of freedom climb held last June 13-14, 2009.
The Maculot Trail
Here are some of the photos that I was able to capture while we started trekking the Mount Maculot. The last picture shows the mountain itself.
The Maculot Mountain Itself
Mount Maculot from a far, after we reached the bridge that we are going to cross before reaching jump-off.
Mount Maculot Mountain
Here are some photos of Mount Maculot, the mountain that we climb for the 1st Freedom Climb held across the whole country. Photos are still part of my photo collection captured last June 13-14, 2009.
Taal Volcano In The Middle Of The Lake
The above photos captured before darkness after reaching the summit of Mount Maculot last June 13, 2009. These were taken when I tried to view the rocky part of Mount Maculot which I will showcase in another day.
The photos above were captured last June 14, 2009 during the time we raised the Philippines Flag in the rockies of Mount Maculot as part in Independence Day Celebration.
The mountain part that can be seen here is the Taal Volcano lie in the middle of the lake.
The Critters At Mount Maculot
Butterfly, Bug, Grasshopper, Millipede and Centipede
I am not expert adviser when it comes to climbing or hiking mountain since I am a seasonal hiker. But the following tips that I listed below are the things that I wanted to share if anyone wanted to climb Mount Pinatubo. The list are not comprehensive but I hope it helps even in a small way. My adventure in the mountain fully described here.
I recommend to hike the mountain during cold months, we had it first week of January. Don’t go during rainy season and if there is heavy rains. Tourism will not allowed you to do so, but if warnings is ignored, you know what’s possible thing can happen.
If you are really on a budget and do not want to sleep in accommodation before the trek the next morning, travel to jump-off area which located in Barangay Sta. Juliana in Capas around 6:00 AM in the morning.
Start the climb early to be able to finished the day trek as early as possible.
During registration they will ask your age so tell them the true information as the tourism center required to checked your BP (blood pressure) once you registered for the hike and please follow their advise if you are allowed or not allowed to climb the mountain.
Bring sun glass and mask to be used during the river bed drive as it is dusty along the road because of combination of dried lahar and sands.
Bring enough water and food (at that time, our tour guide just brought our packed-lunch and bottled water).
Wear comfortable shoes that can go wet or under the water as there are astray river pathways along the walking trail and it helps for faster walking and trekking.
It is not allowed now to swim in the Crater Lake, it was prohibited so follow the announcement.
The general rule of the mountains applies even in Mount Pinatubo – “Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints, Kill Nothing but Time”.
Plan to climb Mount Pinatubo?
I cannot recommend specific website for the official information of climbing Mount Pinatubo. But this link (I am not affiliated on this site) I found the information as useful for additional details.
We stayed at Bognot Lodge (Look for Alvin) and they helped as well to arrange our climb at Mount Pinatubo. You can search this and you can find them in AirBnb and Tripadvisor websites.
Public Transportation :
From anywhere in Metro Manila, go to Five Star Bus Terminal in Cubao (or other bus terminal) and take bus going to any of the following : Vigan, Baguio, Alaminos or Bolinao. Next, get off at Capas Junction in Tarlac. Then, take tricycle to Sta. Juliana (P300/tricycle) and get off at Mount Pinatubo jump-off (we get off at Bognot Lodge).
Pinatubo Crater Lake is one of the lakes that I can say met my expectations. Because of crystallized scenery, I thought that is was similar to lakes that I found in Banff, Canada. These photos are part of Mount Pinatubo Trekking Adventure Photo Collection January 2017.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#27) : Mount Pinatubo
Before my hike in Mount Pinatubo, seeing similar photos before made me felt envy with people who were able to hike the mountain. And when I got a chance to be within the crate of Mount Pinatubo, one of my wishes became true. These photos are part of Mount Pinatubo Trekking Adventure Photo Collection January 2017.
It was year 1991 when Mount Pinatubo erupted and categorized as an active volcano. The tragedy happened at my young age where I witness ed in the news how this volcano created sufferings to my fellow countrymen specially to those who lived in the surrounding areas of the mountain. I remembered that a lot of people died and lost their homes because of heavy ashes and lahar flowing in rivers coming from the volcano. It’s been decades that people lived nearby suffers every year specifically during rainy season.
After decades or more, the crater lake of this active volcano started to be noticed by hikers and adventurers. I had seen photos and blogs in the past years from whom climbed the mountain and whom reached the stunning crater lake. Every time I see the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo in photos, it reminds me the lakes that I saw in Banff, Alberta Canada. I started to dream to climb the mountain and wanted to reach the crater lake but the opportunity was elusive for me in a time being.
This year 2017, last January 4, my dream has been fulfilled. After more than two decades of tragic eruption of the volcano. My friend from USA invited me to join climbing Mount Pinatubo. The schedule was weekdays and I never hesitated to accept the invite and I immediately filed my vacation leave.
After my work on January 3, Tuesday night, I reached the Five Star Bus Terminal in Cubao few minutes before 12AM. I was lucky because there was a bus leaving the terminal within 10 minutes. I took bus that goes to Bolinao (any bus goes to Vigan, Baguio, Alaminos or Bolinao will pass Capas Junction). I traveled alone, I was tempted to sleep but I never slept because I don’t want to miss the junction that I need to get-off. Its midnight and first week of January, my travel to Capas Junction was smooth and I arrived almost 2AM. From Capas Junction, I took tricycle to Sta. Juliana. I thought the travel will just few minutes, I was wrong and with the price of P300, it’s not just far, but really far. As I traveled early in the morning, I felt the cold wind that passed through my skin and I had been in that situation for 30 minutes. At last I reached Bognot Lodge accommodation where my friends are staying. My friend Nits woke-up and able to meet me outside.
I had 2 hours of sleep. We were three together, myself, Nits and new friend Marisa. All of us are first timer in climbing Mount Pinatubo. We started preparing ourselves past 5AM and had our breakfast. Because it’s not yet peak season, we were allowed our stuff to remain in the room where we stayed over night. Then, took 4X4 jeep and we went to Municipal Tourist Satellite Office where Nits and Marisa required to check their blood pressure before the climb, the result are good and were all set.
The adventure begun past 7AM and we rode again 4X4 vehicle. We were advised that we will drive the ground for an hour. On the way, the first thing that I saw was plain white and dusty ground. The ground that we were driving on was lahar that flowed in the river before that has been cemented through times. We never expected to see beautiful and unique spots along the way that adds enjoyment in our jumpy ride.
Before we reached the jump-off area around 9AM, where the long walk starts, I realized and understand why there is a need for 4X4 vehicle. I was thankful because it helped a lot of people who wanted to climb the mountain. Our jumped-off area was farther than the original jumped-off few years back. As per our guide and driver, the jump-off are before was near the climbing trail to crater lake but now it was not because of the effect brought by heavy rains and typhoons. According to the signs of I saw, we have to walk of 7km to reached the climbing trail.
We reached the jump-off area and it means that we reached the start of our long walk adventure. I figured out that the track that our 4X4 jeep and the trail that we took for a walk is actually a river pathways, it means that during rainy season, it is not safe to climb the mountain, the tourism office will not allow you to do so.
During the whole trek, we had guide and we’re thankful to him as I survived without soaking my feet under the water as too many strayed waterways along the way and he kept assisting us (I recommend to wear sandals and shoes that can go wet).
The walk was not an easy feat. Because the track is not as simple as plain road. The track was where lahar flows and become a solid ground. There are big and small rocks all over the place which need careful attention. We reached the half of the trail and station where there’s toilet and water, where people can rest.
Our treacherous walk continues, as we come nearer the climb trail, bigger rocks and boulders are to be found and walk become more difficult. We reached another station where there is haven for resting and toilets too. It is the station where the climb begins. At the station we saw a notification where it categorize people’s age how long the climb will be before reaching the crater lake. All the three of us jokes ourselves where we belong in the category list, whether we belong in young, middle age or senior.
We rested a bit in the station and then started the climb. I don’t have options to avoid my shoes to get wet because the trail is smaller and narrower where water stream flows too. We took stairs to reach the viewpoint of the crater lake. When we reached sightseeing view of the lake, all my fatigued that I felt along the way immediately gone as I saw up close the fascinating crater lake of Mount Pinatubo. We had our lunch inside the crater and went near the lake to enjoy the amazing views in front of us and to have our photos. After an hour of enjoying in the crater lake view, we decided to go back to finish our adventure.
Name Of The Place (Post#36) : Pinatubo Crater Lake
When we reached the crater lake of Pinatubo, it was an achievement for us. The trek was not really difficult but since we walked around 7 kilometers, it was a tiring trek. At the viewing area of the lake, there are people having rest and lunch and enjoying the scenic view in front of us. The photo is part of Mount Pinatubo Trekking Adventure Photo Collection January 2017.
Chromatic Outlook (Post#40) : Lahar Carved Canyons
During our trip towards the jump-off area of the walking trail towards Mount Pinatubo, I did not expect that there are scenic wonders that we will see along the way. I am referring to Lahar Carved Canyons. Seeing these lahar carved canyons made me felt that I was in another world while we were taking the river bed. These photos are part of Mount Pinatubo Trekking Adventure Photo Collection January 2017.
Transportation (Post#9) : Zambales – 4X4 Owner Type Jeep
Trekking Mount Pinatubo requires 4X4 to be able to reach the walking trail towards the mountain. Because of Lahar that flows in the river, the change in the Lahar deposits that became concreted after years that passed had major effects on the river bed that used by 4X4 to send tourist and hikers near the walking path which still kilometer distance to the Pinatubo Crater Lake. These photos are part of Mount Pinatubo Trekking Adventure Photo Collection January 2017.
I joined one of the travel blog site not only to promote my blog but to experience as well to write articles to another website. Honestly, I am quite nervous because its first time that probably more people going to read my post who are traveler enthusiast and writer or blogger as well. So fingers crossed that my first post will be appreciated more by many people.
I had vacation in my country last October 2010 since at that time I was still employed in Singapore. But to be honest the main reason I came back in my country after around 6 months (I had vacation last May 2010 too) was to sign a job offer for my next job back home. Yes, I returned to my home country to work (other people surprised because there are lots of Filipinos dreamed to work abroad and yet I am returning to my country). And I used the climb event as a reason when I requested for approval of my vacation leave so that I can return to the country without so much effort of reasoning.
The climbed that I joined in was a training climb for all the members of the group that will climb Mount Pulag which happened the following month as preparation since they took the difficult trail of the said mountain. I was not able to join that climbed as I went back to Singapore to formally submit my resignation letter to the company I was working with.
The climb happened last October 16-17, 2010 and the mountain was Tarak Ridge. Before my flight back home in my country I informed the group that I will be joining the climb. I missed the group because I was away in my country for almost a year. I was both excited and worried because it’s been almost a year that I wasn’t climbing. As most of us knows that there’s no really mountain in Singapore aside from Mount Faber.
The whole group that joined the climbed met in 5 Star Bus Terminal in Cubao early Saturday morning . We took the bus that goes to Mariveles Bataan. After almost 3 hours of travel from Metro Manila to Bataan, we reached our destination and we got off the bus near the jump-off area which located in Barangay Alas-asin.
Barangay Hall Alas-asin and nearby local stores (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
When we reached the jump-off, we spent sometime in preparations (buying water, food and other essentials) and registrations in barangay hall before we started the formal trek. Then, we begun our journey to reached the base of the mountain. I remembered that the climb was still unique from the past mountains that I climbed. I cannot really compare every mountain. They are like human with distinct personality inside.
The Group before the climb (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
Jump-off point before the start of the climb
At the start we had a long walk in a wide grassy plains before we reached the base of the mountain. Then it followed the forest trail. After a long walk, the real climbed started. The walk and trek up to Papaya River can be considered as the easiest part of the climb.
The pathway to reach the base of the mountain
The pathway to reach the base of the mountain (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
Like every mountain that I climbed, we passed trails where there were rocks besides the trail. Most of the time, if I can pass the trail normally like walking while standing and does not require me to sit down it will be an easier one, I used big rocks to hold myself or sometimes I used to stepped on them.
The Group while waiting inside the forest before reaching Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
The Group while waiting inside the forest before reaching Papaya River
At the forest trail
As I remembered Papaya River, it was one of the river that is still used by people as a main source of water in the area not only for household use but for safe source of fresh water to drink. Yes, we drank the water from the river. That was why when we rested a bit for lunch near the river, we were prohibited to use dish washing or any soap detergents when we were in Papaya River.
At the forest before Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
At Papaya River
At Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
After lunch, our lead in the group gave us a heads-up that there were no more gradual trail ahead of us. This means that the trail all the way are all steep and it’s all assault. I was a bit nervous because I really don’t know what to expect. We got our backpack again and prepare for full assault climb.
The next trail we need to pass was the trail where the only way to do was to crawl to the roots of trees strayed and branched in the ground. Trekking pole cannot be used in the trail, both hands must be free from holding anything to be able to hold tightly the big roots while trying to push ourselves upward with the help of our feet. That moment of my climbed, I felt like we were spiders as we were crawling to the roots and branches of the trees, its similar to rappelling and the difference, we were not holding on to the rocks but were holding to the tree roots that we can grab on so we can hold on of ourselves while ascending in the trail as the roots were only our support.
I thought that the trail will never end. I reached the end of the assault trail. One of my group member experienced muscle cramps and it’s a good thing that before it become painful, he still able to reach the end of the assault trail. We advised him to rest a bit and one of us gave him pain reliever. We continued our trek, we carefully passed the narrow trail until we reached the campsite which near before the summit.
Just after the crawling trail (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
Tarak Ridge campsite is like an open area similar to Gulugod-Baboy mountain that I climbed. The summit is at the other side of the camp site. And for what I heard, the summit trail is not an easy task as well.
Surroundings of the campsite before the summit
Like the most climbed I had, we pitched our tent so we have place to stay at the top of the mountain. Next thing happened, the group prepared for its dinner and followed by “socials” (group activity where most of the members were gathered together to talk and chat about anything) that the group always does if weather in the mountain permits us. After hours of “socials”, all of us concluded the day.
The next day, we woke up early to climbed the summit of the mountain. The good thing about it was, we don’t have our backpacks anymore. We left everything in our tent.
On the way to the summit from the campsite (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
We started our trek to the summit. Like what I heard, the trail was not simple, though there’s some difficulty along the way, the group safely reached the summit. It was a fulfilling task. I felt it was really great to be at the peak of the mountain again.
The common hikers does when it reached the summit were the same things we did. We spent time for photo shots, individual and group pictures. At the summit area, there’s a huge rock where it is slightly hanging and some of my group went there for a great individual shot.
We came back to the campsite and started our break camp. We had the last moment of group pictures with the summit and we started descending the mountain.
Group Picture with the summit of the mountain (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
We used the same trail when we climbed the mountain. Therefore we passed again the treacherous trail where we become a spider. And because we have backpacks it’s more challenging to go down as our bags scratching to the roots and branches in the ground. Even it was more difficult, we successfully passed the trail and reached Papaya River again. We used the place to rest a bit and refill our bottles for water. Then, we moved on and passed the grassy wide plains.
Group Lunch (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
After the climbed, we had lunch altogether and we had a great time going back to the city to return once again to the real life that we have.
The mountaineering group that I belong did a lot of adventures, trips and climbs. Some were in abroad but mostly were within our beloved country. This group gave me a chance to see a lot of places, unforgettable and unique experiences.
Another type of adventure that the group involved with are doing outreach activity mostly to remote places. The group does it regularly, at least twice a year for the past recent years, which gives us a chance to give back something to community.
One of the outreach activity that I got a chance to join was the event held last June 30 – July 1 2012. The group selected a school in a remote community which located in the middle of vast farmlands in Tarlac. The event held in Sitio San Pedro Elementary School, Barangay Iba in San Jose, Tarlac.
I knew it’s been a long time when it happened, it was more than 4 years had passed but I still remember a bit something about it.
In every travel that I did with the mountaineering group I belong to, I usually join them. I never really got involved in planning. Honestly when roaming around my own country, I was not really good at it. The planning of itineraries are far more difficult compared to other countries. The planning does not only involve a research, it involved communication to people, groups or even individuals. It requires network and connections to different people.
We traveled to the designated place of outreach. From Metro Manila, we took NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), followed by SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway). Then we exit at Luisita Access Road.
One of the thing that I cannot forget in this event was when we were on our way to Barangay Iba. We traveled a bit in a rough road and we took some rough roads in the middle of the farm (not a typical or common concrete road). For me it was an experience because I never really been inside the vehicle in middle of the farm. Yes, I saw farms or rice fields almost all around me, but never really drove in the middle of it. After a while, we reached a small community, the Abeling Tribe one of the indigenous community in my country where the school located which we planned to visit. I was surprised because I never thought that there was such community in the middle of rice fields. Most of the time, communities are near in main roads or local roads.
Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
Every time the group does its outreach activity, the group usually prepares before the big day. The group does ocular to see the school and the people whom we will collaborate the event. Next, we solicit to friends, colleagues and some corporations for some voluntary funds which within the network of all members of the mountaineering group. Then, all the funds we received were audited as the mountaineering group is non-profit group. Everything is transparent to all members specially when we do this kind of activity. Finally, the group prepares activities for the outreach. In the planning, it involves creation of games and entertainments for children. It will follow by providing food and giving school supplies. We also provided equipment that the school basically needs such as speakers or generators.
Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
With these experiences with children that lives in provinces specially in remote places and all of them usually lives in poverty, during outreach, it feels something special part in my life. Sometimes I am thinking if there’s still better way to help them aside from what we were already doing. Then, somehow there’s sadness that I felt too because children in the city lives comfortably while the children we visited lives in frugality. But, I knew as well that’s the reality of life of communities that outside the major cities in my country. And the outreach activities that we did may not really address the problem but at least it alleviates some of the gaps that the government should be doing.
Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
The next day, the group did a side trip activity which climbing the mountain just beside the community that we visited. The mountain we climbed was Mount Tangisan with an altitude of around 490 masl (meters above sea level).
Climb Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
What I like about this mountain? First thing was its trail (not too difficult), next was its altitude (just enough to see views from the ground), third was its location (located in open space) and finally the scenery at the top or the summit surrounded by farmlands.
Climb Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)
I really enjoyed the activities that includes both of outreach and nature adventure, I felt both alive. It is one of the contentment that I treasure in my life.
Abeling Tribe Outreach and Mount Tangisan Side Trip Climb
Photos that I captured while at the summit of Mount Tangisan
When we roamed around Baguio City, one of the places we spent our time was Philippine Military Academy which happened last May 2010. As we took our way to the said academy, I remembered the first time that I visited the academy when I was in high school, we visited the academy during Rizal Day which is a national holiday in the country that pays respect to the country’s national hero – Dr. Jose Rizal. Every 30th of December, the date that Dr. Jose Rizal died, the academy conducts military parade and we were able to witnessed it. I was reminded again with some amusing activity we did as we were young and playful that time, we saw some soldiers standing seriously on their post after the parade and we tried to make funny faces to test how focused and disciplined the soldiers in their duty. We tried some tricks and the soldiers we tested passed our expectations because we felt that we are not existing in front of them, as if they did not saw what we did, doing some crazy stuff in their front but they never smiled nor moved and never wavered on their post. Since then, even if I saw soldiers that seriously standing in some statue or similar to what we saw, I understand how serious they are in their post.
At the road inside PMA
Our cab took the road after we passed the main gate. The first thing we saw inside the academy was the Relics Point. This area is in the middle between roads not too far from the main gate and displaying historical equipment and weapons used during World War II.
Korean War Memorial
At Relics Point, we also found a Korean War Memorial which built to commemorate the Filipino soldiers who were members of Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (Peftok) which was contingent of the United Nations forces that fought in the Korean War happened between 1950–1953. After Korean War Memorial, the next thing we saw was Cavaliers Park and Cadet Circle.
Our walk continues until we reached Quezon Avenue, the road where most of the academy’s building can be found. We saw one of the main building which is Melchor Hall. At the opposite of the building are Sundial and Lim Hall (PMA Headquarters). At the side of the Lim Hall, we found helicopters, planes and jets displayed in open Air Force Museum.
Quezon Avenue (Inside the academy)
Lim Hall (Headquaters)
Looking towards Lim Hall with Sundial
Air Force Museum
PMA Grand Stand
Lopez Hall and Magilas Visitors Center
PMA Souvernir Shop
There is a Tree House just beside Air Force Museum where everyone can enjoy the view around the academy from the top. There is an open ground where they call it as PMA Grand Stand which it is like a sunken garden with Bermuda grass. Other buildings that we saw were Lopez Hall and Magilas Visitors Center. We found the PMA Museum as well and here we saw related artifacts about Philippine Military and its history which. And it was our last destination in the camp as we ended our tour inside the academy.
Last year of my travel in the island where my family roots begun, I had a quick visit and a bit of walk in Tabunan Beach at Banton Island in Romblon province. Above photo is just one of my collection during my walking tour along the beach. The beach is located at the western side of the Island in Yabawon where my uncle Napo lives. Photo captured last March 2015.
Juncture With Folk(s) (Post#3) : At Silanguin Beach
Summer Season is the period that most of Filipinos got a chance to go to beaches and because my country home is an archipelago and surrounded by body of water, there are lots of beaches available in the country that we can adore and enjoy. Last March this year (2016), I got a chance to join the mountaineering group that I was affiliated with and this year’s summer season I was able to be with them after such a long time. It’s been 6 summer seasons that I never joined them because I was out of the country and for other scheduling conflict reasons. I was glad that this year I was able to go with them once again.
Beyond Our Reach (Post#2) : Overlooking the Other Summits and Peaks at Mt. Tangisan
When climbing the mountain, one of the moment that I really appreciate whether in the trail or at the summit of the mountain is the view where you can see lots of summits or peaks from other mountains. I will be always amaze with the scenery. With that in mind, those beautiful peaks of other mountains seems to be so close yet so far and beyond my reach. But with endurance even the things we thought impossible sometimes become possible. Photo snapshot last July 2012 during the side-trip climb we had after outreach activity done by the mountaineering group in San Jose, Tarlac.
It was almost 17 years ago had passed when the last time I visited the island province of my parents. The visit was unplanned as I went there with my father because my grandmother at father’s side had passed away. I heard the news at the night of 27th of February 2015, after I came from work as my father heard the news in the afternoon at the same day. At first, it was decided that only my father will go to province until I decided to cancel my summer outing plan that weekend with my mountaineering group together with my sister. At that time, it struck me that it seems it was time for me to come back to the place where my roots begun. Without thinking twice, I told my family I will cancel my summer trip and I decided to go with my father.
The next day morning, I packed my stuff while my mother was preparing my father’s belongings. We left our house around 10AM in the morning. From our residential village we took public jeepney to Paliparan, next, we took multicab public transportation to Pala-pala. From Pala-pala we took public van to Lucena Grand Terminal in Lucena City. At the terminal, there was supposed to be a transportation directly to Dalahican Port but unfortunately it already left before we arrived and we have to wait for the next available one. My father and I decided to take alternative public transportation to the port by going to the ‘Bayan’ (City Center) of Lucena and from ‘Bayan’ we took tricycle to Dalahican Port. We arrived at the port around 3:30PM in the afternoon.
Jellyfish I saw while in the ferry at Dalahican Ferry Terminal
At Dalahican Port, we paid terminal fee and went straight to the waiting area. As we look around if we knew someone familiar, my father went outside and looked for Kalayaan Ferry and checked if some of our relatives were there. In few minutes, my father returned and told me that some of our relatives were already boarded in the ferry. The next thing happened, I picked up our stuff and went straight to the ferry that will bring us to my home island – Banton, part of Romblon Province.
At the ferry, I met some of my uncles, aunt and few of my cousins. Some of my relatives were not familiar to me since we live far from them and I seldom meeting and talking to them. We waited for more hours as the scheduled departure was around 8PM that night. While waiting for our ferry’s schedule departure, I spent watching drama online in my phone and eating some of the food pack that we brought from home. After getting tired of watching drama in my phone, I took a nap. I woke up a bit when I heard that the ferry started leaving the terminal. Since its twilight and I can’t see much around, I decided to sleep again.
Banton Island (captured from the ferry on the way to the island)
Banton Island (approaching the island)
I woke up in the morning, then I stood-up, walked to the nearest window from where I was slept, I looked at the window and I saw a mountain shape as our ferry is not far from it, and I knew its island in front of us. I asked my Aunt Inda whom nearest to me and confirmed if it was Banton island, the island where my ancestors and family roots begun. I watched the island for a while until it sync to me that the time was almost up and soon we will be arriving at the ‘Bayan’ (Municipality Center) of the island. After half an hour, we were close to Banton Port and in few more minutes passed the ferry stopped. All of us got ready to leave the boat. And as soon I deserted the ferry and stepped on the ground of the port, I looked around and checked if there were familiar faces waiting for us but none was recognizable to me.
Approaching Port of Banton at the Municipality Center (‘Bayan’) of the Island at Banton Bay
At Port of Banton
Uncle Napo’s Store (rented commercial space located at Municipality Center ‘Bayan’ of the island)
At the port, there were motor bikes waiting for a chance to fetch passengers coming from the ferry like us in exchange of transportation fee. Some of us took the available motor bikes, some walked a little and we come together again in the store owned by one of my uncle, Uncle Napo which not far from the port. From there, we waited a little more for other motor bikes that will pick all my family and relatives before we headed to the local town or village of one of my relatives where the remains of my grandmother was laid.
Directions and Road to Sibay
Road to Tongonan
While riding the motor bike, I got a chance to see again some surroundings of the island. We left ‘Bayan’ and followed the track of Banton-Libtong-Yabawon Road. From ‘Bayan’, we ascent a bit and passed Togbongan. Then, we descent and we passed the road beside the shore in Nabalay where the sceneries are really great. When we reached Sibay area, I tried to recall the place in my memory that I remembered 17 years ago, it was not the same as before because that time, when the small boat we took from Mindoro and arrived at the shore in Sibay not Banton port, we walked passing Sibay area and there is no concrete road available at that time.
I remembered Sibay as place where lots of huge rocks strayed in the area. When we reached Sibay, we switched the road and we took Tan-ag Barangay Road. After Sibay, we passed Libtong area, the school where my brother graduated in elementary. I still remembered the school because I was there in one of the recognition years of my brother and I went to the stage to give some gifts to him after he received his awards. After passing Libtong Elementary School, one of the most challenging and accident prone area of the road in Tan-ag Barangay Road was almost near, Uncle Richard (uncle from cousins) was the one taking me as passenger in his motor bike and since it is his daily jobs, he’s really familiar how to prepare for taking the road. We drove ascending the concrete road like driving to the top of the mountain, the road inclination is quite steep and requires to be really careful, or else either you will die or you will caught accident and ended with severe injuries.
My Lola Bebe’s New Built House
We passed the difficult part of Tan-ag Barangay Road. At the same road we reached my grandmother’s house in my mother side in Tipo, a small place with few houses which located just beside the road before reaching Tan-ag. ‘Lola’ (Grandmother) Bebe was the only person in the house when I came in, as my uncle Jay (my mother’s brother) was at the farm working. She’s surprised when she saw me, but even it was a long time ago that the last time she saw me, she still remembers me. My ‘Lola’ Bebe is most likely around 85 years old but she’s still working like a normal aged adult when I found her at her house. I greeted my grandmother and paid respect to her by putting one of her hand in my forehead. Her house changed a lot from the last time I saw the place, the last thing that I remembered, the house was built by coconut dried leaves as its roof and wall while its flooring was made by bamboo. But now it is a concrete house with metal roof. I was glad the house had changed, it was a good thing for them so that my grandmother and my uncle have a comfortable home that will shelter them. I missed my grandmother and we talked a bit. Then, I bid a quick goodbye as I have to go to my other grandmother to see her remains in Tan-ag. I promised ‘Lola’ Bebe that I will come back to visit her again.
Random post of my relatives and visitors
We traveled back to Tan-ag Barangay Road until we reached the home of my Aunt Benny, wife of my father’s brother Uncle Dupo. Inside her house, I saw my grandmother or Lola Tasing’s remains. When I saw her, she’s like sleeping like my late sister that passed away few months earlier. Since it was morning, there were few people around my Aunt’s house. Since its almost 17 years that the last time I visited my parent’s province I am not familiar with most of the people visiting and paying their respect to my grandmother and one by one I was introduced to them. My relatives at father’s side are more than my mother’s side because my father has 8 siblings while my mother has 4 siblings and 1 out of 4 are still single. I knew some of my cousins but the faces that I remembered was long time ago as most of us were still children at that time and now most of my cousins has their own family and kids. I knew that my age is within marrying age and having a family, it’s just that it’s not yet time for me or maybe it’s not my destiny. I met the brother of my ‘Lola’ Tasing who still alive and we call him ‘Lolo’ (grandfather) Kunos, but even though he did not remember his exact age, it was mentioned that he was younger than my ‘Lola’ Tasing.
In a while, both my Father and I returned to Tipo where my ‘Lola’ Bebe’s house is. After meeting again my grandmother, my father and I strolled around Tipo, met some people live in the area and had time talking to them. At that time, I tasted coconut adobo. I learned that the people in the island, if they don’t have money to buy meat because its expensive for them, what they do is replace it with alternative. They used the coconut kernel (the white part) when it still soft and crush it uniformly like a spaghetti strap, and that’s the meat they used and they cooked it with adobo recipe, the only difference was the meat, it was not chicken, not beef nor pork, it is coconut kernel. We are fresh coconut kernel as well as desert and partnered with coconut water as drinks. It’s one of the proof that coconut is a tree of life.
From Tipo, we went to Mayabag, the place where my deceased grandmother used to live and realized that it is where one of my uncle now lives, Uncle Fred . As I approached the house, I can still remember the place, the old house of ‘Lola’ Tasing that I knew was not existing anymore, the land where the house used to stand is now used for vegetation. Uncle house was built just beside where my grandmother house used to stand. His house is a bit modern because half of the materials used were hollow blocks and cements, the other part of the house were made in wood and bamboo. At my uncle’s house, I met two of my cousins and honestly I don’t remember them at all nor I even met them before.
After spending time with my uncle ‘s Fred house, we walked back home to Tan-ag and on our way, we met few people whom my father and my uncle knows. Even its been so long that my father visited the island, it seems there are still people do remember him and they exchanged greetings and talked a bit.
Coming back at Aunt Benny’s house, though my father and I had different religion compared to my relatives, we just let them do what they planned to do when a person died. Catholic is major religion in my country and my relatives followed the practice when someone passed away like they conducted daily prayers for my grandmother. We silently respected the practice though we never involved ourselves in such activity as we have different beliefs and doctrines when people died.
Both of my father and I stayed in Aunt Benny’s house for our first night in the island. At night, there were more visitors coming and most of them, I did not recall who they were, but the surprising thing, they knew something about me. They knew me as one of the grandchild in the family that lives in the city, they knew me as my Lola’s grandchild and they knew me as my father’s daughter. They knew me because my family’s name was known to them.
During the trip, there was a part of me that I realized why it took so long for me to come back and visit my parents province. Thinking the reason why, because my family not practically used to visit the home province every year. The province was too far from the city and the only way to get to the island was through ferry, and the ferry traveled back and forth to the island was seasonal. Usually, if its off-peak season, there is at least once a week schedule coming in and out of the island. During summer at least there’s more schedule. For almost two decades, I reminisced what I had done for not coming to the island, busy at work and busy with life. To be able to visit the island, it seems that I need a reason to come back and it seems it happened at the time that my grandmother died.
Remembering the island from the last time I had seen it, a lot were changed in the island. Because the province is an island mountain, where you cannot see too much of a flat ground. I can say that the island is practically a mountain submerge in the sea. Because of this, even constructing roads around the island is really difficult. The end result of the road infrastructure in the island was just enough to accommodate single motor bike, not even a tricycle will fit in the narrow road that the government provided. Aside of having tight road, there were parts of the road that are dangerous and prone to accidents because the other side of the road is a cliff, just with a wrong manuever, it will cost life. But people who lives their whole life in the island, knows how to take care the dangerous point of the road and they are used to it, it’s already part of their lives but still extra care really required.
My trip in the island was a short one and to think I was not in the island for at least 17 years, I knew for myself I still wanted to stay longer in the island, but I have commitments back in the city that I cannot neglect.
Sunday, my second day in the island. I went with my Auntie Norie back to the store. There we stayed a bit. Aside from roaming around in the island the other things that you can do is lay around the house.
My grandmother scheduled burial was Monday which was my third day in the island. From Tan-ag, the planned activity is to walk up to the cemetery which is located near the telecom tower site near in ‘Bayan’. At the start of the walk, mostly were family and relatives were accompanying my grandmother. And then every time we passed some houses or small communities, our group become bigger and bigger, that day I saw a lot of people who wanted to walked with my grandmother up to her last destination. When we reached Libtong, most people hopped on with their motor bikes, but the immediately family and close relatives of my ‘Lola’ Tasing still decided to walk, I promised that I will try my best to walk with my grandmother remains from Tan-ag up to cemetery, but I was not able to keep my promise. During the walk, people who joined the parade with my grandmother and even my family and relatives walks so fast and I wasn’t able to keep my close distance from them. Uncle Richard asked me if I wanted to take a ride in a motor bike instead of walking. I decided to take the motorbike. I can understand that people in the province walks so fast as they are used to it.