Thursday, April 28, 2011

on the road to kalinga

i thought the road to Kapangan was the toughest until i reached Tinglayan in the province of Kalinga. it was not bumpy for most of the trip. in fact, almost a third of the way was already paved but there were several spots where we would pass by steep cliffs along side the mountain range of Kalinga.
until the last few days before the long weekend of Holy Week, we were still undecided where to go. first choice was to the island of Masbate, far south of Manila and the second choice was Abra which was far North of Manila. having a rare four-day holiday this year meant, we can go farther.
we were running out of bus tickets with Theo, who was persistent in checking with all the bus lines. then came the option of going to Kalinga. one of the remaining provinces that i haven't been to in Luzon. there were two options, either we take the route via Tabuk the capital of Kalinga or via Bontoc-Banaue south of Kalinga. though there were more bus trip options via Tabuk, tickets were already sold out and so we were left with the latter. one of the best experience when one is in Cordillera, the country's largest mountain range, is to ride on top of the jeepney that ventures on each of the province in this region. in exchange of the summer heat, are the stunning mountain views along the way. the danger on the road to Tinglayan can double during the rainy season as falling rocks and landslide can actually trap vehicles in between destinations. while during summer, the hills are dry and most of the time bare.
the whole time we were moving along side the long and winding Chico river. thus one side of the road are the towering stone walls while steep cliffs on the other side. there were fewer rice terraces on this route than the roads in between Benguet, Ifugao and Mountain province.
there were very few villages along the way and knowing that the trip would take three hours, i did not checked my watch. despite the ongoing road development, there were still a number of areas known for falling rocks and dangerous ravines.
after that long butt numbing trip on top of the jeepney, seeing the village of Tinglayan from the road was a relief. an unforgettable ride. but in two to three years time, this road will be completely paved.
how to get there:
to experience this road trip (Bontoc to Kalinga), best option is to take the bus (Florida Bus, Ohayami, or Autobus) from Manila to Banaue. regular trips to Banaue usually are between 9:00pm - 11:00pm for a nine-hour road trip.
from Banaue, take a jeep or van to Bontoc (about 2hours). regular trips are usually the whole morning till early afternoon.
from Bontoc, look for the jeep or bus that leaves Bontoc usually just once a day.

escape factor:
mountainscape: 4.5
accessibility: 2.5
road quality: 2.5
topload experience: 4.0
isolation: 4.5

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a stranger

"kanino po kayo titira?" the lady beside me asked as they noticed that i was a stranger in the van bound to the town of San Andres in Quezon. "kila kapitana po sa isla ng Alibijaban". the man on one seat turned and looked at me, wondering. still unsure if i still have a slot in the van as some passengers just left their bags on top to reserve the seats. it was noon time and the trip would took about five hours. placed my bag on the side thinking that if i got a slot here, i was meant to go there. after half an hour, the van driver came and checked the rear part then looked at me "dito ka." whew! got one slot. the last slot. three hours on the road, suddenly we stopped. clutch problem. we had to wait for an hour on the road in between rice field. soon antoher vehicle came and pulled us to the nearest town. transferred us to another van and continued our way. the lady beside me gave me some peanuts. i didn't resist.sky was darker and by 7:00pm we reached the town of San Andres. it meant one thing. i cannot cross to the island, so i have to find a place to stay. the town has no hotel. the lady with her daughter led me to a house who accepts student boarders. the lady left me saying, if you won't find a house, you can stay with us. walking quickly but didn't gave her mobile phone number. few seconds, the owner of the house came "sorry. walang bakante ngayon".had to leave the house wondering if i'll look for the lady's house but i didn't got her name and can't even find the way to her house. had to pass by a small fod shop where i had dinner. asked the owner if there's a place to stay around. she said, you can check with Gilbert, not his real name, he has a room for rent. she called a trisikad driver and told the driver to bring me to the house.



just a block a way, the driver did not charge me for the ride. then came Gilbert, who looked at me and said, "wala na. ginawa na naming stock room yung kwarto". he then recommended me to go to kagawad, pointed the house which was just few steps from his house. walked and when i reached the place, there was party. a group of men about ten of them were drinking, it was somebody's birthday.
talked to the kagawad and generously he brought me to a small hut and said, you can sleep here. "salamat po. pero punta po muna ako sa may internet cafe. balik na lang po ako". left my bag and went to the nearby internet cafe. after an hour, returned to the kagawad's house but he approached me saying "di pala pwede dito. yung nagbabantay ng baboy dito matutulog."

he then endorsed me to a lady, Gina who mentioned that she has a cousin who might allow me to sleep at their house. walked to another block and when we reached the place, her cousin resisted. "puno kami". giving Ate Gina no option she brought me home instead saying "sige dun ka na lang sa anak ko, magpaalam na lang tayo kasi lumabas pa". we arrived at their place, watched television and after a while, her son came and looked at me. shocked.

i remembered him. he was one of the man who was at the kagawad's party. her mother introduced me saying i was looking for a house to stay over the night. after i introduced myself, he then started talking "alam mo ba kung ano nangyari pagkalabas mo dun sa bahay ni kagawad?" this time i was the one who was surprised. "pinaalis kaagad kami para umuwi at sabihan na may dumating na estranghero. baka daw may dalang grupo".

all the while, i didn't know that there was already a commotion around the village because of me. but good enough Ate Gina and the family welcomed me and shared their sala for the night. i slept smiling. the next day i crossed the island.
this post is my contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival. Compilation of solo travel wil be done by this year's Philippine Bes Travel Blogger Nina of http://www.justwandering.org/. check other interesting stories.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

escape calaguas

by demand here's another beach escape invite this summer. Calaguas group of islands in Camarines Norte remains to be my favorite beach in the country. send me an email to get the details i.dongho@gmail.com. deadline of confirmation is on April 30. check out my last year's post on Ten Reasons Why I Love Calaguas

Friday, April 8, 2011

summer adventure

some really good events coming this summer which you might also want to consider. Break All Boundaries for the adventure trail in Camsur and Ironwulf's Banaue Batad Bangaan Photo Adventure. Check on the links for details.

Monday, April 4, 2011

to ten years of trekking - batulao peak

looking back at the years of trekking, i remember the time when i first joined a trek to Mt. Manunggal in Cebu only to be part of the team activity. not knowing that it was the very climb that led me to love the mountains, the trek and the camaraderie.
this year, i celebrate ten years after that first trek with the goal to trek ten mountains until the year ends. starting with the beautiful peaks of Batulao in Batangas. it is best for day hikes and night treks. a two and a half hour bus trip from Manila and another two hours trekking leads one to peak eight through the new trail.
Batulao may only be at a height of 811meters but the multiple ascend and descend can be exhausting to those who are not used to trekking. passing by some nipa huts serving coconut juice, was refreshing.steep ravines, extreme weather conditions, wild animals and careless actions can lead to accidents. i remembered my trek to Makiling as we did a day hike under a sunny day but on our way down, rain poured and i ended the trek with an injured ankle half way down. even worst, a week after our trek, Dr. Rimando Pimentel died from a fall from one of Mt. Makiling's ravine. risk is always there. as Doc Jun Sobremisana, a friend and an experienced climber would always say "never underestimate a mountain". i first joined him in trekking Pinatubo, it was those times when we still had to access the old canal route to the crater. requiring four hours of trek under the sun and the view point of the crater lake was still open for overnight camping. by night, we had to be vigilant from the wild cats.
soon after that, we started organizing fun climbs. it was when we meet familiar faces on every trek somehow wondering if we have few accessible mountains in the country or we were just trekking that often.i may not even be close to the likes of Romeo Garduce, as i never tried trekking outside the country or may not forever be trekking like the famous Fred Beckey, i am quite sure that i'll never cease to love the mountains as much as i love the beach.the trail to Batulao's camel back and rocky peaks reminded me of how amazing nature can be. ten years after my first trek. i am still fascinated with mountains. still trekking. still enjoying the camaraderie.dedicating this post to the friends who i trekked with in the past years, the people who i met along, and above all to the God behind each mountain splendor.

how to get there:
take a bus to Nasugbu and tell the bus inspector to drop you at the entrance of Evercrest Hotel. from there you can either start walking to the peak or take a tricycle to the village drop off which will shorten a bit of the trek. from there, you start trekking the ascend choosing either the old trail or the new trail. i recommend the new trail for the great view but you can do both setting one route for ascend and another route to descend.

note: take at least someone who has experience in trekking Batulao or a guide from the drop off point. there are no official guides but many locals are open or are usually doing it (specially on weekends).

location:
island: Luzon
province: Batangas


GPS location:
14^ 02" 24' N
120^ 48" 09' E

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