Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for August, 2016

​For the Love of Coffee

One cup for warmth

Two cups for friendship

My cup of coffee always honored at my presence

Without you, I’d be desolate at my office table

The living savior of my mundane hours
Coffee, coffee, you make my nerves alive

A little sip would brighten my weary eyes

Silencing my thoughts during the dead of the night

Lulling me to sleep in a rainy day
Coffee, coffee you will forever be

Whether instant, brewed, with cream or more cream

From Vietnam, Korea, or in the heart of Dublin

You will always be my steaming cup of coffee

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The Ringing Crisis

​I yawned as I waited for someone to reply on the other line. It’s not a call center job, but I was required to make follow-up calls to overseas customers to confirm some missing information in the probate accounts I handled. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and it was just the middle of my shift.

An airy, ghostly voice answered on the other line, “Helloooooo…”

My heart jumped to my throat. In a matter of three milliseconds, I debated against myself whether I should hung up and forget this account. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and weird things happen in the middle of my shift.

Trying to hide the nervousness of my voice, I promptly asked, “My I speak with a relative of so-and-so?”

The mysterious caller cleared her voice which turned out to be a husky one, “I am her sister.”

I was relieved. This is why I hate taking calls.

Ever since the beginning, I have the fear of talking on the phone.

I don’t have any genetic or scientific explanation for that. Every time I make a call, receive a call or just have a phone over my face, it’s like facing the greatest nightmare of my life. Somehow, not seeing the person I’m talking distracts me. I’m a visual person, I could concentrate at what I hear when it is associated with what I see. Staring at a blank wall while hearing somebody babble on the other end would cause me to day dream, especially if my mind would be confused on what to say next.

We never had a landline at home. The old folks did not see the necessity of it. Owning a phone only happened once. That was when my sister ordered an internet phone line at her house where we used to stay while her husband was working abroad. But even that was not of much use unless we needed to call a government agency or book for a room for a Baguio vacation (which happened only once). Still, I hated the experience of taking a call because I believed every caller makes a weird, gargled frank at my ear (which really never happened).

Thank goodness for cellphones. Receiving and sending text messages were less frightening for me. I believe it gave me more time to think over what was written (although I would overlook at them like a dyslexic at times) and carefully compose what I want to say. More so, calls are more expensive are text messages. Not until those unli calls and postpaid mobile lines came into existence…

This I had to endure at my former media career. Calls, which were always a part of this seemingly-glorious industry, made me mortified until I became numb with it. But I couldn’t be numb forever. Calls can range from placidly dumb to unnecessarily urgent. Soon, such calls made me a nervous wreck. I shudder whenever I hear that shrill voice on the line…

“Where are you now? How come your subject has not agreed on the interview?”

“I have not received a reply from you and our ratings have fallen and the boss made a scruffy feedback!”

“Scrap that! We got more important stories to air.”

“Where’s the script you’re working at? I need that NOW!”

There goes the triggering point. I knew I had to change my job and my phone (as well as that alarmist ringtone). Calling me would never help – it never did. It’s because my mind would play when I receive calls.

I guess calls are for emergencies. I’d rather read silly shoutouts on my smartphone than get a call, whether it be nice or alarming.

I wonder if I would get over this fear of calls. I bet no hi-tech innovation could ever take that out of me…just yet. So, don’t call…ever.

Breathing Adventure: Lounging On Mt. Daraitan’s Treacherous Assault

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My heart was at my throat while I was listening at our tour guide’s orientation. For the first time, I felt a little apprehensive against a planned hike. We were told this would not be an easy one but that fact did not dawn on me until that morning. We were about to conquer an assault we have not yet conquered. I never thought my limits would be tested at Mt. Daraitan – at least a portion of it.
With the world still numb in darkness, we were already bustling with excitement as we waited for the van at 2 o’clock in the morning. I was excited on meeting new friends as well as catching up with old buddies. Because this was the first time we had rented a van, I thought we’d be cozy for the rest of the trip.

 

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Riding the raft in pitch darkness

Arriving at Tanay, Rizal two hours later, we were surprised to find a wide river separating us from the jump-off. There’s no other way to get there but to cross the six-feet deep waters through a makeshift raft that was able to carry the ten of us. We had to bring all of our things to the summit because shower was also at the other side. But nature’s whimsical charm had made its way to brush off our little disappointment. The smooth rocks beneath the river peered at us when our lights pierced through the clear, pristine waters. It’s going to be a beautiful adventure.
A short tricycle ride carried us to the registration area. The registration area, which

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The team with their headlights still on

was actually the baranggay hall, was jam-packed. Weekends do make terrible hike dates sometimes, even at such a cold Sunday like this. Though hikers were told an assault would meet them ahead, nobody dared to turn back and let us take the rest of the mountain’s space.
Existing blog posts told us Mt. Daraitan’s difficulty was at 4/9, which was a notch higher than the usual 3/9 level mountains we have visited frequently. Our tour guides, Delo and Marquez (because he said his first name was hard to memorize), told us there are two routes to the top – the hard route and the easy route. The first, which was everybody’s usual way, would take 2 to 3 hours. The other one, which might have been a leisure to most of us, would take about 5 to 6 hours. Forget that one. We have became willing advocates of the tougher road.

 

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A steep ascent ahead

As the pathways were still dark at 5 am, most of us have to rent headlamps for 30 pesos (secretly vowing I will buy one on the next payday – next month). After we huddled to pray for God’s guidance and protection, we immediately trudged off with the long line of tourists. Soft drops of the early morning drizzle were already pelting on our already cold faces.
The ascent was a bit more arduous because some of the pathways were at 80 degrees. Most of the muddy path was littered with huge limestones that either slipped us down or helped us up. Around us were sturdy trees that kept our footing sturdy, shielding us from the treacherous cliffs that lingered on one side. The daylight rendered our headlights useless after an hour. Gray clouds have not been cleared from the skies I expected to be blue that day. The wind then howled like mad above our heads.
We were refreshed as it blew horrendously above us, resonating like a typhoon about

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The sign at the summit

to make a landfall. But at that moment, we were not threatened by its howling angst, because it enlivened our weary muscles. But I could sense these kinds of blustery gusts would soon bring rain. While I welcomed the cool winds, I hoped to have a little bit of sun warm me up for the rest of the day.
The sea of clouds were gone and the fog was lifting up, but the wide, green view welcomed us at the last resting point leading to the summit. The little caves that were hidden in dense rain forests have been left behind. The pain of clutching those sharp limestones was forgotten as we stood before the picture-worthy spot that was about to be blurred by the rising fog. It was beautiful, wondering how green and vivid it would have been without the fog. Still, the view appeared to be a dreamy haze that might be stomped eternally in the minds of campers. It was just 8am in the morning and I had this inkling this sight was better than at the highest point.

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Upon arriving at the summit, it was even more crowded than we expected. True enough, the fog has already covered the view. I would have loved to stay and watch the clouds dissipate but more and more tourists were flocking in the area. If there would be anything memorable there, that would be our group action pose on one of the limestones.

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When superheroes unite on the top of Mt. Daraitan

And this strange plant that was hidden behind other plants at the edge of the summit. Can anyone know what it is? I would gladly appreciate your help.

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We proceeded to descend to the Tinipak River. Not yet halfway there, the rain started to fall. In a short moment, it became a downpour that slowed a few of us down. We held onto sturdy trees to keep us from rolling down. This was a crucial part of the trek because it still involved steep pathways and edgy rocks. I was irritated because of the seemingly endless rain that only stopped when we arrived at the foot of the mountain (to which the rest of our group clapped when we came there dripping wet).

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Gazing at the current of the Tinipak River

The rains have subsided after we took lunch in a hut beside the river. Not wasting the moment, we went to see and wade our feet into the sandy waters of the Tinipak River. From its name (“tinipak” means “chopped off piece” in Tagalog), huge rocks towered along the river’s meandering path. The murky current slices through the verdant Mt. Daraitan and another mountain, sleepily looking down at us as we frolicked on the sabulous riverbed. The roaring sound of the hasty current was memorable, as if its waters were washing away our wp-image-1656096907jpg.jpgtired souls.
The pathway back to the jump-off was lovelier. The captivating landscape garnished with lush, green grass and tiny, yellow flowers seemed to have transported us to a portion of Middle-earth. At our left side, the river’s current became stronger and louder. Some portions of the pathway were danger zones though because of the falling rocks ahead. We needed to hurry and to be alert especially that many are

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The pathway back to reality

crossing that path. Horses carrying loads of goods would rush past us. Ahead, the tricycles were waiting to ferry us back into reality.

 
Instead of crossing the river through a raft, we crossed the hanging bridge. It was sturdy but my head nearly spun as I wobbled while walking on the metal steps. Seeing the river below, the pristine waters

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Collecting guts at the hanging bridge

 

were already replaced by murkier waters caused by the wild current. At the other side where we came from, people were flocking for the next boat ride that has not arrived yet.
I turned back to the mountain which is now shrouded by rain clouds. Hiking season has almost come to a close because of the rainy season. But I guess no season would be able to dictate when we should stop. I bet the bad weather did not dampen our enthusiasm in this adventure and the mud did not spoil the fun we had in our visit to Mt. Daraitan.

 

 

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The whole adventure team posing after another adventure at Mt. Daraitan

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