Friday, April 8, 2016

Canyoneering Adventure from Alegria to Kawasan Falls


If you are an avid fan of the GMA News TV show “Biyahe ni Drew” hosted by Drew Arellano, then most probably you are aware of this adrenaline-pumping adventure in Cebu. Considered as a sport, canyoneering involves rappelling, trekking, climbing (either down or up), jumping, swimming to explore canyons and mountain gorges.
 
Talisay junction going to the canyoneering jump off site. The motorcycle fare is already included in the package that we paid for. 
The first jump is about 40 feet high. It's scary at first but you'll get used to it as you go downstream.
Downstream canyoneering from the town of Alegria down to the famous Kawasan Falls in the town of Badian involves long power walks, cliff jumping, swimming, climbing and a whole lot of fun. The entire activity usually runs for two to five hours depending on one’s speed and stamina.




To get there from Cebu City, take a Ceres Bus going to Bato via Barili. Make sure not to take the one going to Bato via Oslob or just tell the driver that you are going to Alegria. The Alegria canyoneering jump off is a 2.5 bus ride from Cebu City. Tell the driver that you are going to Talisay junction in Alegria where you can find several canyoneering operators. In our case, we contacted Mark Yong of La Nina Adventures ahead to book for a package. We got the whole package for 700 per person inclusive of two guides, government  fees, motorcycle fare going to the jump off site, and complete gears.   

Don't miss to take some group photos and achieve that squad goal if ever you are traveling with your travel buddies.




For this group travel, this is the itinerary that I prepared:
5:00 AM Departure from Cebu South Bus Terminal
8:00 AM Arrival at Sangi, Alegria
8:10 AM Departure for Canyoneering Jump-off Site then briefing
8:30 AM Start from Water Falls
DAMAGE:
Php 700.00 -- canyoneering guide fee, entrances, motorcycle, gov't fees, gears
Php 300.00 -- Fare, Cebu-Alegria-Cebu
Php 100.00 -- Lunch 
TOTAL DAMAGE: 1,100.00   


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Soaring to Sagada: Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada Trip

The uphill climbs, the winding roads, the exhilarating rides and the long hours on the road appeared like clinchers of this out-of-the-blue trip but the sceneries that welcomed us at the top resonated like a new civilization waiting to be embraced by every weary traveler. This is another tale of a travel under a shoestring budget.

Early morning, we were welcomed by the cold weather of Banaue. The smiles of excitement won't give you a hint that we just completed bundles of reports including students' grades the day before our flight to Manila. 
 I could sort this trip as a spur-of-the-moment journey of a group of colleagues who wanted to get out of their common shell. Since it was a group trip, we managed to get an affordable four days and three nights Tour Package which included a transport van for the entire duration of the tour and homey accommodations at Sagada and Baguio City. Thanks Kuya Vic of Victor Ticyado Van Rentals and Package Tours.  

Arriving from Cebu, we headed to SM Mall of Asia where we were picked up for our departure for Sagada at 10:00 PM. Making a couple of stopovers to stretch and freshen up, we reached Banaue, Ifugao around 8:00 AM which was just perfect time for breakfast at one of the hostels at the foot of Banaue Rice Terraces. Immediately after breakfast, we set our crazy feet to the viewpoint of Banaue Rice Terraces.  
The Banaue Rice Terraces in Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines still leaves your mind in awe imagining how the Ifugao tribe engineered these layers or rice fields thousands of year ago. 
Tribal Fight. At the view deck of Banaue Rice Terraces, you will see "lolo" who is wearing the traditional Ifugao costume. He's always up for some photo op and he can always act it out.
 Around 12 noon of the same day, we reached Bontoc which is the capital town of Mountain Province. We stopped by Bontoc Museum where unique collections of Igorot crafts and historical items are kept. The museum also  displays pictures of tribal headhunting expeditions and remains including jaw bones which were used as handles of their gongs, drums and other musical instruments. These bones are believed to improve the sound of the instrument. After our museum visit, I wanted to indulge with their local food. I felt like trying Pinikpikan, a dish popular in the region which is prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick prior to cooking but it wasn’t available so I tried Etag. Also known as the Igorot smoked meat, Etag is prepared by rigorously rubbing salt to the meat before curing it under the heat of the sun. Etag is also a staple ingredient which adds flavor to the Pinikpikan. 


The Bontoc Museum in Bontoc, Mountain Province is a replica of the traditional house of the people in the region. 
  
From Bomtoc to Sagada, we passed by this village. I forgot the name of this place so please comment below if you know.  
 We arrived in Sagada late in the afternoon already but that didn’t stop us from pushing through with our itinerary. There’s so much to do in Sagada that resting in your hotel won’t be a nice idea for a two-day trip. The group was up at an exhilarating caving adventure at Sumaguing Cave which, for me, one of the bests so far in the country. The entire Cave Connection Adventure lasted for almost three hours not because of the level of difficulty as you do spelunking, climbing and trekking but because of the magnificent stone formations housed in the cave that one can’t just proceed without taking photos. In case you would like to experience such kind of adventure, make sure to drop by at the tourism office to pay for the dues like environmental fee, entrance fee and guide fee before proceeding to the cave.
 
At the entrance of Sumaguing Cave. This cave has a very big opening so it's not so much of a problem for those who are claustrophobic depending on the degree of the phobia though. The way going down to the cave is slippery so wearing proper gear is a must.   




The locals give names to various rock formations inside the cave. There is an area inside that they call "PORN" for some reason. The rock formation in this picture is one of those formations located in the area.   



We were suppose to spend our night at Lake Danum for we were hoping to camp and experience the sunset of the place but time did not allow us anymore as it was already dark when we got out from the cave. Instead of camping at Lake Danum, we strolled around the area where our hostel was and we found a cozy place  at the Yogurt House. The ambiance of the place fits with the Sagada atmosphere and they serve really great yogurt.    
 
Dinner at Sagada Yogurt House

Camote Fries at Sagada Yogurt House

Our second day in Sagada was full-packed. We started the day with sunrise viewing at Kiltepan Peak. I wanted to have a remake of the scene by Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman in the movie “This Thing Called Tadhana” but all I could manage to do was a selfie and spare me the details of that. J Nevertheless, the view at Kiltepan Peak makes you feel that you are at Cloud 9. 
 
Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

Sea of Clouds at Kiltepan Peak


After Kiltepan Peak, we dropped by  at Rock Inn and Orange Farm for orange picking. Sagada orange is pretty expensive for me so instead of picking more oranges to bring , I took advantage of the unlimited oranges that you can eat while in the farm which comes with the entrance fee.
Orange picking at Saga Rock Inn and Orange Farm
Continuing the series of exciting activities for the day, we headed to our next destination immediately after breakfast. Our service van brought us to the jump off to Bomod-ok Falls. It took us almost two hours or more of trek going to Bomod-ok falls but despite the long hike wasn’t boring at all as you pass by fascinating views and local villages which gives you views of both natural landscapes and local cultures.   






After our trek to Bomod-ok Falls, I tried rock climbing at the Echo Valley while my travel companions were still with our guide at the Hanging Coffins. I wasn’t successful at reaching the top though. Since it was November 1, it was a perfect timing to watch the Panag-apoy after at the Anglican Cemetery.
 
Rock Climbing at Echo Valley 

The Hanging Coffins at Sagada. Local tribes used to hang the coffins of their departed loved ones. According to our local guide, some tribes are still practicing this until now. I asked our guide why there were chairs hanged and he said that these chairs were the ones used during the wake because some tribes usually have the dead corpse sit.   
It has always been a challenge for the people in Sagada to light candles in memory of their lost loved ones. The windy weather in this highland town would just blow the candles off. Instead of lighting candles, they burn woods to commemorate their loved ones who passed away.


We ended the day with a good rest by strolling at nearby places as we had to leave early the following day for Baguio City where another set of experience awaits.

Before leaving our hostel in Sagada

The Highest Point of the Philippines Highway System. We stopped by the landmark on our way to Baguio City. 




Monday, September 2, 2013

An Open Letter to my 10th Graders

Dear 10th Graders,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you all for exerting the best of your efforts during the First Quarter. I know that, for most of you, the recently concluded grading period was a battle that you fought for. I am fully aware of the struggles that you went through and I would like to let you know that I did my best to come to blows and win the fight with you in meeting the expectations set by your parents, the school, your teachers
Image from www.centerononlinelearning.org
and the society in general.

We started the quarter with a lesson on functions which, for some of you, was an alien term that was trying to invade your teenage imagination. Yet, I am glad that many of you still embraced the lesson with enthusiasm and optimism that you will eventually get through the entire chapter fully understanding what this mathematical term is all about. I was happy to see you climbing one stair at a time understanding the mathematical concepts and mastering the mathematical operations involved. Although you had a bit of difficulty figuring out the range and domain of a function, you were able to prove among yourselves that there are always ways in getting the correct answer and coming up with the correct solution. Finally, you were able to determine the graph of functions in general and you were ready to proceed to the simplest form of functions, which is, linear function.

I know. I do fully know that another set of challenges blew your minds as we ventured for first degree functions. There, we encountered slopes, intercepts as we tackled the graphs of linear functions. You learned about the applications of linear functions in the real world and started to apply the knowledge you’ve gained to a more useful real-life situation. The output that I asked from you might be more dreadful than what you have expected but I did it not do it to give you more burdens but to let you learn better in a more engaging and evidenced-based way. I know that some of you thought that you couldn’t do it but, once and for all, you have proven to yourselves that you are more capable than what you have imagined. Those moments when you told me that I was wrong. Those moments when you asked me why a positive number became negative. Those moments when you expressed your expectations for me – I value all those moments. Those moments reminded me that there is an individual within you that is hungry for knowledge and is waiting for explanations. Those moments reminded me that you are all capable of learning at a certain point and at a certain time given the support that you need. Please continue to let me know what your expectations and frustrations are for I am here to respond to those and not act against those expectations and frustrations.       

I encourage you to play with your imagination and go back to the time when you first stepped the welcoming doors of your first schools. I know you felt excited to learn something new and meet new friends. You entrusted yourselves to your teachers and gave your full admiration to them for teaching you the things you never learned before. Back then, you did not let the lessons you had define yourselves but you defined every lesson you encountered the way you see it and the way you see the world. You were not worried about your grades and about you learning too much. All you had to do was grab every learning opportunity and be happy about yourselves. In the end, you learned a lot and gained new perspectives of the world you live in. Apparently, you all made it to high school without much of a thought on what the world would think about you and what your grades would look like.

Then you grew older and started to define the world not as how you see it but as how other people see it too. You became so worried about your grades more than your own learning that you started to think of strategies to get through the system. There were times wherein you thought of using tactics that would even compromise your long-term benefits and, worse, your values. You became more concerned about what your friends would think about you rather than what you think about yourselves. 

As you embark another journey of your last year in high school, I hope that you will not forget to revisit the goals that you have set for yourselves. I hope that you will not forget the very reason you have had for coming to school. I hope that you will not waste the last year of your high school by failing the expectations of your parents who work harder than what they could probably do just to provide your needs including the best education that you could ever have. Of course, do not forget to have fun. As much as I would like to see you seriously taking your learning, I would also like to see you making the best out of your last year in high school. After all, you only get into this stage but once.

We’ve been together in this institution for less than two months but, honestly, I am very happy that I became part of this academic institute and your life as a learner. We have three more quarters to work on before you will finally say goodbye to your school and I am hoping that this will be one of your best years in this institution. I am looking forward to a more fruitful knowledge exchange with you. I would like to reassure you that I am going to do my best to end the game hitting our class goal: SUCCESS for EVERYONE. However, I can only be as good as your frequent feedback. Tell me what works for you and we will work on it together.


Sincerely,
Teacher Phil     

Friday, March 15, 2013

Let's Join the First e-Commerce Summit in Cebu

What was the first thing I bought online? I think it was a plane ticket and it was named e-ticket.

Apparently, the e- prefix has been attached to almost every conventional noun we have today and not to mention, e-Commerce. With e- being attached to almost every word we could think of, such is a very compelling reason to attend the first e-Commerce Summit in Cebu this March 23, 2013 at Diamond Suites and Residences, 8 Apitong cor. Escario Streets, Cebu City.  

The said event will not be exclusively helpful to business people engaged in online trading but it is going to be equally beneficial to consumers who would like to gain awareness on how the electronic commercial landscape works. With topics ranging from online freelancing to some legal parameters in online trading, every participant will surely gain helpful insights from the prime movers of e-Commerce in the Philippines. If you would like to take a look at the line-up of speakers for the event, simply browse through the e-Commerce Summit 2013 events page HERE.

As thriving online entrepreneur and social media advocate, I am personally interested  with the talks of Jack Madrid and  Atty. JJ Disini. Jack, being the country manager of one of the Philippines' biggest social media platform, Multiply.com, will elaborate the State of e-Commerce and Digital Marketing in the Philippines. I am excited to hear some enlightening words on the current condition of e-Commerce in the country knowing that knowledge of such will help every aspiring digital entrepreneur to gauge strengths and weaknesses (if there are any) of online businesses. Atty. Disini, on the other hand, as technology law expert, will take up Data Privacy and e-Commerce with emphasis on what every merchant should know in the light of legal aspects. I know you have interests of your own so browse through the roster of speakers for you will surely find your niche in this one-day educational event.

For details, join the Facebook events page HERE or direct HERE to register.
































  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Memoirs

It's been one year already since our beloved mom passed away which was a result of organ complications brought by her diabetes that she has been sustaining for over a decade. I wrote this piece of memoir almost eleven months ago while waiting for my flight from Cebu to Manila. I wanted to keep this piece secret in my laptop but recently, I decided to share it in my blog in time for mama's first death anniversary.

It was an ordinary day in Cebu. I did not feel any complaint from my usually clattered pad so I did the usual routine of putting myself to bed after a long day at work. As I brought myself to sleep, I had a sudden gaze at my phone which was lying near my books on a corner of my pad. Not the usual thing but I checked my almost forgotten gadget which I seldom bring when I head to the office for work. My phone’s look was enticing on that day, so I checked for messages. A couple of messages were left unread so I decided to check what’s up with the world. It was my sister. I needed to go home for the weekend as Mama was rushed to the hospital. 

I thought, that was not new because Mama has always been in the hospital lately due to a couple of health complications brought by her diabetes which she has been sustaining for over a decade already. The last time I was with her in the hospital, she has been so weak although she stayed positive. She was occupying a bayside private room in a hospital in Bohol which she would always mess about because she thought it was somebody’s home or she was in a hotel. I would usually end up kidding or even bragging just to take away her worries on the hospital bills. Such confinement led to the amputation of her only foot but the good thing was recovery became brighter after the operation. In fact, she has been telling us that she already wanted to go home as air is fresher there. After almost a month of stay in the hospital, she was eventually sent home for further recovery and I stayed positive on that. On the day I went back to Cebu for work, I told her that I am going to see her the following month and I was emphatic when I said that she should be better during that time. We had a deal!

Knowing Mama, I knew she could make herself better that’s why I did not worry that much when I learned that she was rushed back to the hospital. I thought, things just needed to get better and it was good   for her to stay in the hospital again for further medication. However, I was wrong with my foresight. I was so devastated to see Mama helplessly and unconsciously fighting with the doctors who were trying to insert tubes in her mouth. I wished I could take her place and seize all the pain she was experiencing at that moment. I stood up in her front clueless of what I wanted to do. Should I hug her? Should I kiss her? Should I tell her how much I love her? No words and actions ensued – only tears which started to flow down my cheeks. I wanted to stay positive but I could not be optimistic watching such a dreadful situation of Mama.

Then I talked to her. She would not respond but I knew she was listening – Mama was a very good listener. She used to stay late listening to my absurd plans and ideas. Even if she could no longer relate sometimes, she would still listen. Such thought made me feel better. I continued to talk to her and took her back to what we agreed on before I left for Cebu for work. She tried to grasp my hand and held me tightly. She tried to move her legs showing that she did her best to be better. Then I and my siblings started to recall fond memories which compelled Mama to speak but she could not utter any word. She only tried to open her eyes to let us know that she was listening.

After few hours, we needed to bring her to the radiology department for brain scan. I was on her side telling her that things should get better and assuring her that we will do our very best to bring her out from such agony. She opened her eyes again and gazed at me. Tears started to flow from her aging eyes. I knew she wanted to tell something. That was the last time I saw her eyes open. 

The following days were emotionally challenging. Mama could no longer respond. She could not feel any pain. She could not move any part of her body. The only hint that life still went on for Mama were the figures shown in the machine attached in some parts of her body. Without those machines, we would not have any clue that life was still good for her. Doctors and nurses visited from time to time to tell us the real situation – it was almost hopeless. I drew some positive impulses from my brain and tried to convince myself that hope has never left us. I wanted to tell those medical practitioners that they were wide of the mark. Everyone was telling me to let Mama go as that was the only way her suffering could be ended yet I could not. Even though I tried, words would never come out from my mouth but tears would flow instead. The pain was almost unbearable seeing Mama in such a situation. That time, I was in the verge of believing that I was only waiting for the moment that those figures in the machines attached to her body would tell me that Mama could no longer be with us – FOREVER.

The following morning, I had a heart to heart talk with Mama’s doctor. I was telling her what kind of fighter Mama was. I was asking him if they could still pull things off and do something to save Mama. I got a positive response from him. He talked to all of us. He assured us that a specialist would come in few minutes to discuss the options left. However, Mama could no longer wait. She stopped breathing before further medical options could be discussed. I thought that was not fair but I had to accept the reality no matter how hard it sucked. Doctors tried to save the last few breaths of Mama but they no longer could. During those last moments, I could not say anything but the word “MAMA” – the very word I first learned to utter when I was still a young boy cuddled in her arms and probably the last word she heard from me. January 31, 2012 is a day that will always be engraved in my heart for it was the very day I lost an endearing mother who knew no other good but my and my siblings’ own good. 

That same word I continued to utter on the day of her funeral. MAMA sounds so endearing to me. Even if I could no longer hear any response from her when I call her with such a sweet name she taught me to speak, it is still relieving to appreciate that I had and will ever have someone I could call Mama. I always presume no response but I know that Mama is still with us because she lives in our heart.