What Will You Get Outside For?

There are countless reasons to go outside. And if you think you have the reason to go outside, all expense paid, might as well consider this one. It’s quick and would only take a couple of minutes of your time. The steps:

1. Go to Facebook and look for the Go to the What Will You Get Outside For App.

2. Click the LIKE button and authorize the App. You will see something like this:

3. Fill out the Registration Form and read the Mechanics. Create your entry by completing the statement: I am _________________ who will get outside for _____________________________. And then submit your entry.

4. And if it’s not too much to ask, I would humbly ask for your support by voting for my entry by following this step: (A) Go to Gallery and look for my name. (B) Click the icon and a big red circle will pop up. Then kindly click the Vote button.

If you have your entry too, let me know and I will cast my vote for you as well.

5. Finally, if you have more time to spare, please do support my other friends who have entries as well. Thanks!

Disclaimer: This promo is hosted by R.O.X. Philippines and I’m not affiliated with this org. This post is just for promotional purposes.

Mt. Malipunyo Climb 2014 (Part 3)

Few more minutes and we were able to reach a flat ground for the first time in hours – the first of the three Mt. Malipunyo peaks. Right there, realization struck me – I have been here before. The tagged Mt. Malipunyo failed climb last year wasn’t really a failure after all since I’ve actually been to one of its peaks. Then I’m close to knowing that we actually almost reached Peak 2 too. And it would only take only a little less than an hour before the feat to Peak 3. Only if storm did not throw its wrath on us that day, we could have fully conquered Mt. Malipunyo at the first attempt. Meanwhile, we took a substantial amount of time to rest and energize for that mean time.

I was at the sweeper’s position during the climb but I took the lead after reaching the first peak to contain the excitement I was feeling to set foot at the very peak. As we continued with our clamber, the air started to get cooler and the mountain’s diverse flora and fauna get even richer. I have seen at least eight different orchid types and other rarely seen plant species strategically thriving along the trails. The mountain also offered a wide range of diversity: mossy, grassy, thorny, and even spiral-y trails. The enthralling view started to present themselves as we go further which includes silhouettes of Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Cristobal, Talim Island, the Laguna Lake, and the rest of Laguna and Batangas cityscapes. We were further engrossed with an alternating course of ascents and descents towards the peak. The pacing on the lead was perfect for me, I was gasping at some point but the eerie feel ironically satisfies me. There were lots of short stops here and there to take some good breath and refill our canteens before the final assault bleakly came, along with the promise that sooner or later, we would find our feet finally unable to go any higher at the end of that steep trail.

And there were we, at Mt. Malipunyo’s third summit. We shortly took a moment to appreciate another scenic view of the nearby towns and other mountains atop, before delightedly feasting for lunch. And the inevitable came, the clouds turned into drops and wept hardly upon us even before we’re done eating. We waited for the 30-minute torrential downpour to cease before deciding to tarry down. And it took us another four hours of long walks, unseen tumbles, hard slides, totaling to a slight jeopardy on those wet and slippery trails, before calling it all quits.

Credits: Photos are properties of Bettina Asilo & John Leonard Eseo

Mt. Malipunyo Climb 2014 (Part 2)

With the extreme mountaineering adventure the Malarayat range (seven peaks total) has to offer, I dreamed and started my quest of conquering each peak, one at a time. I had the chance to triumphantly reach Manabu Peak last year and have been part of a failed attempt to surmount Mt. Malipunyo few weeks later. Reminiscent of the latter’s unsuccessful stint, I made it a point to go for a redemption climb which happened to be just last weekend tofinally seal that unfinished Malipunyo business.

To prevent some pre-assumed complications, we see to it to find a guide this time who will make things right since we’ve been to a hell of a crappy climb the last time we’ve been to this very mountain’s trails when we decided explore its forest-ness by ourselves alone. We lightly took the locals’ advice that we won’t need the help of a guide for this climb’s purpose, and that going up would be an easy job, which turned out to be the other way around. Tales of troubles aside, what have left now are lessons learned. We’ll not be going up there with no one to accompany us. To cut the long story short, we hired Kuya Rey as our day’s guide. Though he’s not as popular as Kuya Mario among bloggers, wonders presented themselves as we furthered our climb along with him. One striking impression about him is his apparent physical disability being a polio victim. Though this is quite an issue to begin with, it’s fair to give him the benefit of the doubt before dropping any unlikely judgment. The man might prove you otherwise. I had a good chance of exchanging words with him during the early parts of the trail, and though I could not really understand most of the things he was talking about, the eagerness in his eyes to share those things was enough reason for me to listen.

It was exactly an hour past eight when we commenced with the climb. The sun’s deprecatingly ablaze that there was no trace of rain to come unlike our previous attempt when we’re stormed during our way up. It was a gradual walk for the first hour along that familiar wide trail that eventually narrowed down to a grassy one. Intuitively, I took a substantial amount of time documenting things. Until a minor change on the trail – a residue from the onslaught of typhoon Glenda, a landslide along the trail, welcomed us as we walked further. Huge chunks of rocks and soil were substantially eroded altering the landscape of the previous trail.

After passing through it, we continued walking along a long grassy track towards a proverbial stream of ankle-deep water known to be the De Lobo River that swiftly flows from the nearby Rey Falls, named after Kuya Rey himself, by the legendary Sky Biscocho (a popular name in the hiking and mountaineering world). The falls is definitely not comparable to a faucet someone left leaking like the other falls I have been to during the previous climbs, but a fully-fledged falls to the very word itself. The way to it was short but certainly not an easy task. The ridge towards it is too steep that one could not afford to commit a fall of any sort. Extra care is very much needed to claim such a rejuvenating reward afterwards, such an awesome sight to behold.

We continued with the ascent through the thick healthy forest and reached another mini-falls which is still entrailed to the Rey Falls. We had one good rest at the place to condition ourselves for an even daring way up the slopes. Soon enough, we were welcomed by Lipa tress and teka-teka plants which were the primary hindrances during our climb aside from the steep ascent itself. While the excitement creeps down my spine, thorns (or whatever those) were hitting their way thru my skin, unknowingly. It was only later when I realized about the pain they have indelibly caused. The amazing thing was, there were no visible signs left on my skin, but I could feel the intensity of such damn pain.

Few more minutes and we were able to reach a flat ground for the first time after hours.. the first of the three peaks.

Credits: Some photos are owned by Bettina Asilo

Mt. Malipunyo Climb 2014: Flora and Fauna

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mt. Malipunyo in Talisay, Lipa City, Batangas, is the high diversity readily noticeable through its trails, as previously reviewed on some blogs online. With this knowledge before hand, I was quite excited to capture all these shits in mind, especially with our failed Mt. Malipunyo climb last year which refused me from keeping a watchful eye on this aspect. And with that previous failure, I learned that high expectations are really a tricky thing as the chances for disappointments are also higher. So I set my mind on the neutral state and not expect too much. Fortunately, I did have a good time fulfilling the plan but alas, failed to complete the job as the camera at my hand wasn’t able to extend its life up to the very peak. Nevertheless, majority of my expectations and anticipations were fairly justified.

Our Mt. Malipunyo story comin up..

Marinduque Trip Roundup

It pays to travel to the not so obvious places, to the tough ones, it’s always an opportunity to discover and learn new things. A Marinduque trip is one of such. To make a long story short – a long story that involves experiencing the gift of nature in different range and forms, but shortly cursing the stars with a sojourn so quick to end – I’m doing this round up. 

Early May this year, we sped along that long drive from Calamba Laguna to Dalahican Port in Lucena intensely hoping to catch the 10:30 pm RoRo trip towards that heart-shaped island trivially known to be the center of the Philippines. We were six in the group, all in hurry running late. Unfortunately, dust of devils seemed to swirl around our way as we rode that hopeless bus fingers-crossed to catch the last trip. And in an instant, there they were – the anger, paranoia, heartbreak, and bitterness that raced against each other as we’re welcomed with such a bad news: we didn’t make it. Instead, we ended up waiting for the first trip to come later at around 4 am the following day. Right then, two of my main expectations were dispelled. One, that my first long ride across the sea will memorably be a good one, and two, that I may have my much-needed sleep at that time. Obviously, I haven’t had a nice sleep the whole time and aboard. It was a painstaking wait compounded by the delayed voyage and the long drift itself. But the good heavens soon presented the first wave of surprise with the breathtaking sunrise right before our eyes. And the skies were blanketed by a bloody rosy blend that slowly broke into positively uplifting hues suggesting a good day ahead. And good day it was.

We made it safely to Balanacan Port eventually after four sleepless hours. From there, we took lift to Sta. Cruz where we’re supposed to stay. We were dropped to the city proper alongside Sta. Cruz Cathedral before finally proceeding to Bancuangan. The good day officially started with a mouth-watering breakfast meal courtesy of our hosts. Indeed, the best foods in life are free. Then by 10 am, we pushed through with our first stop: Bagumbungan Cave at Brgy. San Isidro, Sta Cruz.

We then started walking back to where we have entered; eventually giving us a view of that much coveted light once more, as we finally reached the mouth of the cave, and generously gave a final sight of such sarcophagus we just came out from.  We traveled back to Bancuangan at around 1 PM. On our way back, we had this little mission, accomplished:

It was almost 2 PM already when we reached Bancuangan for lunch, keeping in mind that in a few minutes, we’re heading to our next destination: Maniwaya Island. We took a quick rest before packing up and further our way to that island.

We spent the night over the island. And before finally leaving hours before lunchtime the next day, we were able to experience the refreshing island taste through their buko at very affordable prices.

We then travelled back to the mainland and arrived just in time for lunch. We took the liberty of exploring Marinduque food through the infamous Rico’s Inn strategically located at the city proper. We did kill a substantial amount of good time there before deciding to further explore the city and buy some mandatory pasalubong. Few walks from there and we were able to find a stall that fulfilled our aim. Marinduque is known for its local delicacies such as uraro, ube jam, and banana chips, among others. After the swift shopping, we decided to go back to our base to take another break in preparation for our next trek.

It was already 4 PM when we resume with our itinerary. From where we were, Kawa Kawa Falls was an hour walk away so we wasted no time for us not to catch by the dark.

It was franticly getting dusky when we get on our feet and leave the darkling woods. And it took us just the right time to walk and manage to spare school supplies to the children along the way. It was yet another good time extending a little help to them. It’s always a wonderful feeling just seeing those wide smiles.

We took a good sleep that night, enough to prepare ourselves for the most exigent stint of this trip yet: the extra challenging climb to a hill in Hinanggayon where The Luzon Datum of 1911 is located, the wicked center of the Philippines. Within minutes, we find ourselves hitting the road again.

Running late and hugely conscious about time, we rushed our way down at around 1 PM. We were largely scarce with water at hand which made the descent even hard. But to a much shorter time than we expect, we safely arrived at the jump-off. The first thing to look for was a cold drink, but much to our surprise, there was more there is than we crave for. Coincidentally, it was there barangay fiesta that time so the locals unselfishly offered us the best food there is on their plates, all for free. Unlike the water scarce we experienced earlier, good people are still all around the place, and they do come when we least expect them. Even after treating us with a satisfying meal, their kindness didn’t end just yet. They even escorted us to where we could rent a boat for our way back to Balanacan Port.

In thirty minutes, we boarded the RoRo again, and the sad truth presented itself – we’re definitely going back to reality once more.

Note: Excuse the induced self-plagiarism


How it felt, before I forget

Apparently, our Marinduque Trip wasn’t solely about us. In between those escapes were some shiningly proud moments I barely consider the crux-of-the-matter. One of which is this tiny mission (I’m not a huge fan of) of sharing a few of what we have to the locals, in return to the joy the place is bestowing us; we wanted to give back so to speak. Yet lurking just below that thought lies a swath of comically practical deficit – we lack enough funds to sustain such deed. But definitely, that wasn’t a valid excuse not to be able to extend a little help. Nevertheless, we managed to raise and collect a few school supplies from generous donors. And thus, while driving back through that dusty dirt road fresh from our Bagumbungan Cave adventure, we took the opportunity to enact our cause as we passed by a flock of joyful children playing under the intensely raging noontime heat. After being asked with some friendly questions about them, one by one we handed our simple gifts. Instantly, the glows in their eyes were largely evident after having new school supplies, drawing some deeply familiar looks of gratitude I have rarely seen.

I have at least experienced being deprived of the basic materials I chiefly need, thus I know how it feels to be in such a receiving end. By just looking at them, I saw myself the struggle of having less once again, the same way those young people feel. 


Kawa Kawa Falls

It’s probably not as grand compared to the other hyped, more-loved, and well-established falls in the country but Marinduque’s less-travelled gem called Kawa-Kawa Falls, has its fair share of those best-of-nature’s-works, which I think makes it as a worthy side trip once your feet lands on the historic home of the Moriones. Situated at the remote and forested area in Bancuangan, Sta. Cruz, it would surely take a few calories to burn to reach it, noting the slightly uphill trudge of that long hard road. But fret not because all the efforts await an end that’s satisfaction-guaranteed. (For further falls details, read: here)

The trek started after a few moments of rest freshly from the Maniuaya Island jaunt. We pushed through with this third nature destination in our itinerary despite the lack of previous night’s good sleep which cues for a very timid and lazy Sunday afternoon. But then we had to move forward and stick to the plan, and soon enough we made our way there. Despite the disappointingly drop-wise flow of the water during that time (since it was summer season) and the uninviting feel out of tiredness, my nerves that long for a refreshing plunge still prevailed to have a test on the waters. Surprisingly it’s deep, in simple ways. Summing the pluses and the negatives up, the falls still has a lot to boast about.

For one, the falls is blessed being inhabited by a school of fishes that offers an instant foot spa. Upon dipping on to the ice-cold water, these fish species promptly feasted on our feet’s dead and callused skin like there’s no tomorrow, nature’s own brand of luxurious pedicure so to say. And the tickling sensations they bring are way too relaxing in effect. In turn, they are getting food from what’s supposed to be our body’s garbage. Mutualism defined.

Yet another majestic feature of this falls is its intimately-private feel. Usually, there were practically not much visitors around the area. Though during our visit there was that one group who were there before we came. The lush green shrubs and tall trees extending around it effortlessly give the shady atmosphere. The indulging rivulet, the natural cleanness, and the refreshing coolness, all count to its being a wondrous get away. Really, seldom do people go to that place, which practically preserves the next point which is..

Peace, serenity, and freedom in the wild. The calmness and quietness of the place is such a music to the ears – from the birds’ joyous chirps that echoes, to the insects’ rhythmic screeches, and the whistles of the swaying trees that graciously dances, everything’s just in perfect harmony, suggesting a pretty good eargasm for me. The detachment from noise and buzz of the busy streets in such a strangely feral scene is one of my nature engrossments, being one totally obsessed with the idea of solitude in such exquisite settings.

It was franticly getting dusky when we decided to get on our feet and leave the darkling woods. And it took us just the right time to walk to where we’ll stay the night before everything turned to a complete gloom.


Breaking Leg in Bagumbungan Cave

Before our Maniuaya Island spree, we had this short spelunking course to a lesser popular destination in Marinduque called Bagumbungan Cave located at Brgy. San Isidro, Sta. Cruz. And by less popular, I simply mean it’s not yet fully known to public as a tourist destination. According to the local guides, the cave was discovered five years ago, and since then the local government has been doing efforts to protect it and at the same time promote it as a tourist attraction. Out of stress and tiredness from the long overnight bus-and-boat-combo-ride from Los Banos to Marinduque, we hopelessly hopped to our first destination few ticks after the much-needed brunch. The sun was radiating sultrily matching the excitement we feel while going through that long bumpy, arid, and dusty ride. It took us at least an hour before finally greeted by the cave’s welcome sign.

The cave is under the protection of DENR and the local government’s tourism office, thus environmental and guide fees (totaling 150 PhP per head) were collected prior to the drill, with a considerable discount for students, and inclusive of the much needed protective hard hat with built-in flashlights (headlamps). There was also another option to do a longer cave course which will lead to the other end of the cave (sort of traverse), however, we opted to avail the shorter trail due to time constraint. After all, there will always be another chance for that next time.

Eight of us converged on the orienteer’s seats for instructions and cave rules. After the quick and informative laying of directions, we eagerly geared up and walked a few meters before reaching the cave’s opening. I knew the course is not for faint-hearted, I would admit I have claustrophobic tendencies, plus I ignorantly associate caves with ghouls and goblins, so I needed to set those fears aside for that mean time. And before getting lost on that dark hole, we took some mandatory shots

The sight and feel was a sinister mix of dark and cold and filth the moment we sat our feet down the steep ravine of laddered entrance pitch. The pungent smells of the stinky trogloxenes and troglobites guano, I mean bat poop, were all over the place. Add up their annoying screeches but eventually turn into music to my ears. For the next few moments, we were just some tiny creatures of the earth spending the day on what seems to be holes beneath the ground, dilating pupils to a quarter size. Few more walks and we’re greeted by such famously amazing caving things called stalactites and stalagmites.

And the journey continues with those body-wrecking stunts and long dry crawls needed to fit ourselves on those unbelievably narrow and scrotty passages made of stockpiled large stones. There were parts of the trail where every step should be as careful as the other not to miss the right one or else something untoward will happen. There were pointy rocks as well as slippery ones, thus, it’s best to be in the best shoes. In my case I only had a pair of slippers with me so things went a little bit harder than what I expected. Mea culpa, on that account.

Crossing the cold, waist-deep frosty water was the next obstacle. Within seconds, my toes and knees were but a numb zombified flesh. To add more, there was that tingly sensation of what seems to be dump mud underfeet as we walked our way across it due to coconut husks allegedly from the residential areas. Though, that was not terrifying as it sounds. We barely made through it anyway. There were also moments when the trails were sandy and grainy. Talk about diversity.

A few cracks towards our protracted endpoint, the rocks started to become very slippery with ceilings that are relatively low characterized by pointy vertical ridges, quite looking weird for me. After further cascades, with moments of flat-out crawlings, and awkward letterbox climbs – we finally reached our turning point they markedly call as falls. Sadly I forgot the exact name.

And then we were there. Just before we finally decided to return, we rested for a while, admired the eerily-shaped rocks in front of us, and fondly did a surprise activity (courtesy of our dear tour guides), which I refuse to share details here. You have to experience it yourself. Their goal was to let us appreciate little things around us – which is the real cherry on top of this cake. It's one of the many perks of travelling, being educated beyond the four corners of our classrooms, beyond the limits of what our textbooks has to offer. 

We then started walking back to where we have entered; eventually giving us a view of that much coveted light once more, as we finally reached the mouth of the cave, and generously gave a final sight of such sarcophagus we just came out from. 


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