Danielle and Joseph Cebu, Philippines March 9-12, 2017 “True love is not a hole you fall into – it’s a mountain you climb everyday of your life. It’s a decision you make and continue to… More
Back in April 2014, we watched the sun set in La Union. I’ve got only one word to describe it and one photo of it that just can’t give it justice.
Til the next sunset,
It was a beginner’s trek, they said. It will be fun, they said.
Mount Makiling in Laguna stands at 1,090 meters above sea level, which I only found out in 2016, and we climbed this mountain in January 2014!
Now, let’s talk about that trail.
The first few parts of the trail was a thick foliage. Trees labeled with their scientific names, after all the trail to Mount Makiling’s starts near the Forestry area of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, flowers in colors I only see on the internet and moss on rocks and trees here and there.
The middle parts of the trail is where the guides ask you to wear your jackets. They asked us to bring light jackets since Mount Makiling is a rainforest, but they asked us to wear our jackets for a different reason: creatures which they call “limatik” were said to fall randomly from trees as they’re attracted to warm bodies! Vampires! I didn’t know what limatiks were, but I wore the jacket. I saw one fall on a fellow hiker’s arms and it was, in one simple word, icky. It’s a skinny little leech! When I saw it crawling, which looked more like standing on its mouth or sucker, and sort of began burrowing its body on his skin, I knew that this trail was no trail for beginners. What trickery?!
Anyhoot, the last parts of the trail was the forest which they fondly call “wilderness zone”, and that area really lives up to its name. Without a guide or expertise in climbing mountains, one can easily fall off a ravine or get lost in the undergrowth. Branches with thorns you can’t grab on to, ladders made of bamboo that you have to cling on to for dear life and mossy mud that sort of swallows your shoes and feet, not to mention the strain on your legs while climbing. The last parts of the trail were steeper than steep. My then-crush, now fiancé (kilig), slipped and grabbed one of those thorny branches. Ouch! Of course I helped him remove the thorns. Eep! *wink*
We got to Peak 2 at around 2pm, had our lunch, rested, took pictures, and started to re-think why we’re up there that day and if we can still walk back. The view from the peak was a little bit of Laguna Lake and some parts of Laguna, I think, but due to the thick shrubbery, the view was not all that grand for me but being on top of a mountain, for the first time, gave me the chills. I made it. I climbed a mountain. I knew that day that the Makiling trail will just be the first of the many trails I’ll tread.
Til the next mud covered trail,
Let’s go again?
Since I started my personal project, which I fondly called Tour de Pilipinas, I have found myself asking this particular question every time I plan a trip: Are weekend overnight trips worth the trouble? This question, myself answers every time I start packing for a trip: Yes. They are.
I started this project when I started building my career. Each workday, as the millennials say, “the struggle is real” were the very words that explain how I felt and weekends? Well, they were the days where I live my actual life. Weekends should not be days where you “live life” though. Everyday should be all about living, but I’m writing in the sense that “living life” is taking a break from the hustle and bustle and … oh you get what I mean. Weekends mean rest! Vacation! A breakaway from the computer screen and the tick-tock-ing of your keyboard.
This particular weekend in January 2014, was a Mommy-planned-Groupon-worth-the-trouble-overnight-trip. This was a weekend getaway in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro with my mom and my sister.
A 2-hour boat ride from Batangas Port will take you to pristine white beaches and islands where you can lounge around, play frisbee, snorkel, watch fire dancers and eat seafood!
One of the disadvantages though of overnight weekend trips is that you only get to see few places resulting to just-enough-photos-all-tabingi-and-blurred and less adventures. But, nonetheless, seeing and exploring a bit of a beautiful place even just for a few hours, for me, is all worth it. And you can always return. It’s just a few hours away!
Til the next sleepy-exciting trip,
For what are we without God’s grace? What would our life be like? What would we look like if God did not change our face by grace? Yes. Probably like a hermit. Wandering, displaced, dirty and homeless. But by His grace, our wrinkles of worry, shadows of shame and doubt are all brushed away and we become portraits of grace and trust.
Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
Still in awe of His grace,
Seize every opportunity to leave, travel and see places. One way and probably the best way to do it is to go with your family. It’s fun, funny, fulfilling and it’s free!
The holidays for me, always involved a 12 hour++ road trip (dad is our driver and he stops to sleep on the road a lot), going home to see relatives in the province, smelling my lola’s old iskaparate (closet) in our little balay (house), walking the dingy but comforting alleys of the Rilanse (wet market), sprawling along the shores of Sabang Beach, eating lots of seafood especially kasag (crab), enjoying the company of childhood friends and eating more kasag.
My dad was born and raised in probably the farthest, littlest town in Bicol: Bulan, Sorsogon and I already considered it to be my hometown too, even if I grew up and spent most of my waking days in Laguna.
Being in the province has always calmed me down. Time seems to be slower near the sea , the little shacks that line up that community and seeing hunched up para-uma(s) (farmers) makes me realize how richly blessed I am.
We never leave this hometown without seeing other equally stunning places within the bongto (town) and in the neighboring bongto. This trip made me discover a Lake Bariis located in Sta Remedios in Bulan!
And our visit would never be complete without getting our feet scratched on the corally shores of Sta Magdalena Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon.
In all manner of speaking, going home is always worth the journey that takes more than a day. It has always been and will always be awesome.
Enjoy life in transit,
The island most visited both by local and foreign tourists in the Philippines. Regarded as one of the best islands in the world according to the world wide web and several travel magazines. Its shores boasting of long stretches of powdery, white sand, cerulean waters and limestone boulders. Maligayang pagdating sa Isla ng Boracay!
I toured this island with six of my officemates. We island hopped, fly-fished, parasailed, snorkeled, tried helmet diving, swam, walked on the beach, drank shakes, ate chori-burgers, failed at skimboarding, played in the soft sand, walked a lot around town and had breakfast at the same place everyday for three days. I ain’t complaining. It was all fun, sun and sand everyday and it was worth it being stingy. Our lunch and dinners were all the good kind of food anyway.
Boracay is always known to be a an island of late night revelings and all. We got lost in the party crowd one night after we ate out for dinner and it was crazy. I don’t like that kind of crazy and I’m always a daylight kind of person, so I am always back in my room before midnight.
Boracay in 3 words: One fly adventure.
Enjoy life in transit,
Being a daughter of a Bicolano, I can definitely say that I already have a Master’s degree in long drives and roadtrips. We visit our hometown almost every year. I can watch every tight and steep turn in Quezon-Bicol’s version of Kennon Road, Bitukang Manok and I can sleep through the herky-jerky Quirino Highway. After more than 10 years of summer and Christmas vacations spent in Sorsogon, with each trip taking about 10-12 hours from Laguna and another 10-12 hours going back, I already knew I am on my way to becoming a road ranger.
This trip to Bicol however, was different. We took a planned little detour and discovered more of Bicol.
A 2-hour drive and a 2-hour boat ride from Naga City in Camarines Sur will take you to Caramoan. This island paradise is charming.
The place boasts of limestone islands, pristine beaches and lush greenery. We hopped four of the open islands in one day. Lahos, Matukad, Cadbalinad and Minalagos.
We only stayed for a day, thus the measly number of photos, but the sightly islands gave me more than a million reasons once more to explore and see more of this beautiful Archipelago and praise God, the designer of it all.
Dream of the ocean. See the ocean. Be near one.
Enjoy life in transit,