Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘bonding’

Breathing Adventure: Touching the Heavenly Abode At Mt. Ulap

There’s no other place like Benguet. Sitting beside Baguio, many have fallen in love with this place because of its fresh air, scenic views, and alpine-covered slopes that resemble a bit of Europe’s fairy-tale forests. Besides that, Benguet boasts of giant mountains that defy the deities by touching the heavens. Among these is Mt. Ulap, which lives up to its name because it welcomes its visitors into the cradle of the heavenlies. 

Is it a deer? Nope. It’s a cow hiding as a deer. How’s that for an enchanted forest? 🙂

We left Cubao at 10pm to ensure we’d arrive at Benguet by 4 or 5am. First-timers are estimated to take an 8 to 10-hour trek on the mountain. 

The glorious sunrise was a wonderful opening to this long hike. Ever since my old phone has been damaged due to this poor writer’s absent-mindedness at the beach, I never imagined I would be able to catch again a momentous moment that actually happens everyday.

The hike was not as tiring as I first expected. It was one of the most refreshing hikes I had since I had my first taste of wonder at Mt. Pulag in 2015. 

The wind was cool enough to lessen the sting of the rising sun. I was surprised I did not consume a liter of water as I only brought a small canister with me. I decided not to tire myself with a backpack. I wanted to have the liberty of freeing my back from such heavy load. Besides, I enjoyed having my own stick, which I had bought at the registration area. I can be a good memorabilia after the hike.

There are three peaks at Mt. Ulap. The first peak already has amazing views itself.

Stone markers that tourists would like to build as proof they were once here.

Along the way, I took a moment to listen to the bird that was singing its praises to the Creator, who had artfully sculpted the beauty that I saw all around.

The Gungal Rock, which was the second peak, has been the most challenging one. One has to be loaded with guts to cross the sloping rocks to pose for a rocking profile pic.

Most breathtaking of them all is the last and highest peak.

Mt. Ulap would never be called as it is without the clouds that had slyly curtailed our wide-eyed, sun-kissed faces. The evergreen slopes beyond was playfully peeking behind those rising white pillars while we pranced and jumped around to get that perfect, perfect shot!

After going down a short but very steep portion of the mountain, we were finally relieved when we dropped by Mt. Ulap’s 7-Eleven. Oh, yes! More ref magnets to collect!

The descent at Mt. Ulap has been developed by installing makeshift wooden stairs. Lans, my friend who organized this trip, told me there were no manmade steps when they first trekked here in 2016. Mt. Ulap has just been officially opened in 2015 so it only took only awhile to improve the more dangerous path.

What I’ve appreciated most in this trip was the camaraderie that has been developed among the group. Most of us were unknown to one another at the start but most of us have became clingy to one another at the end of the trek. That’s why hiking is more enjoyable than beach. The challenges we face in the mountains are actually refining us to become stronger individuals and to make stronger bonds of friendship. 

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The Magic of Dinner Over Movies (Seventh Bite): Banchetto Night!

Right after a powerful worship and time with God at the JRev Night last Saturday, all you must do is go home, right? Wrong!

Spend time with friends and…eat!

IMG_20150606_210646It’s very important that we strengthen our fellowship and bond with the friends that we love, don’t we? Besides, this is what the Lord wanted for us to be in: a community! And when we are in a community, there are people who help us with our walk in faith, who will pray for and with us, and who will love us, too.

In the Filipino culture (even in every culture in the world), food is the binding source of relationships. You spend your time together not only talking much, but eating and appreciating together what’s in your plate.

In order to satisfy our cravings, off we went to the banchetto at Araneta Center. In Manila, you can find a lot of banchetto

Isaw (barbecued chicken intestines)

Isaw (barbecued chicken intestines)

food centers especially in the urban areas where workers are highly concentrated. Here, you can find different cuisines at an affordable price.

Although stalls here were not as many as those in Ortigas or Makati, it’s appreciative to find a lot of street food here. I can assure you that they are clean and well handled.

Crablets

Crablets

So what can we find here? As usual, there’s the isaw or the barbecued chicken intestines, crablets, kwek-kwek or quail eggs coated with flour and my favorite: cheese sticks.

Cheese sticks! Only P30 per cup. <3

Cheese sticks! Only P30 per cup. ❤

For about P30 per cup for these treats, it was enough to kill off the hunger.

These are your typical Pinoy street food that you can buy in places like this. Hmm…I just wonder why there’s no balut?

But the best is finding friends in the banchetto. While my friend and I were looking for a place to sit, there were another group of friends who called me. Instant seat for both of us and an instant reunion with old friends.

Usually banchettos in Manila go overnight. I am not just sure if this one in Araneta goes until midnight or beyond midnight. But staying until 10 pm is not bad for me as long as there is still a bus trip going home.

If it were not too late in the evening, all of us would have stayed longer and enjoyed the night with more food, and more reunions.

Perhaps, it would happen in another banchetto night. 🙂

Banchetto in Araneta Center

Banchetto in Araneta Center

The Magic of Dinner Over Movies (First Bite)

I love eating. I’d choose dinner over movies. A plateful of baked penne or a 14-inch three cheese pizza is a real treat after a day’s work. But the real catch here is the people I dine with and the friendship we build over food.

Dinner has not been my habit until lately. It has become an outlet after work. Once when the camera lights dim and the taping wraps up, we’d go together to look for a good place to eat. A friend of mine told me that food is a good comforter after a stressful day. But once we take seats, that’s when the magic happen. We become ourselves, we express our hearts, and share each other’s thoughts and desires. Food has this magic that binds us together. It’s not only how it tastes that makes us alive – it’s the moment we share together in this dinner time.

It is over these dinners where habits and a part of ourselves are being revealed.

You’d guess who’s the slow eater and the raging consumer (take me for that…*hungry grin* “Can I take a small bite of your burger??” *big bite*).

Memories suddenly pop-up over one’s food (like “Oh, my Mom used to make lumpia rolls like yours but with cheese sticks inside. Can I see if these have cheese sticks? Thanks!” *big bite*).

It is also at these dinners that we release our feelings and comfort one another (like releasing frustrations, *frowning while cutting the chicken* “They shouldn’t have done that. We need support. If not, I’d faint with anger.” *giant munch*)

And this is where we practice our talents as food critics (“These nachos are good except that it needs more crunch. Now, how how does your chicken parmigiana taste? Let me have a try.” *spoonful bite*).

My friends and I got to know more each other every dinner time. We’d cry, rant, and scream over food. But the best part is our laughter mixed with the rich aroma of the restaurant. Once dinner is done, our stress is gone, and our bonding renewed.

I believe that food has been given to us not only to satisfy our stomachs but also our social being. It’s never fun to eat alone, unless we really need it. But as food is meant to be shared with another, the time spent in eating should also be a time of sharing one another. It’s no wonder I’d sometimes feel bad or empty when no one eats with me at home or outside. When we share not only our food but our time and hearts to the ones we cherish, it is not only our physical bodies that have been replenished but also our emotional selves being renewed.

It’s a natural thing to look for food buddies and be someone else’s food buddies for there’s another Food Buddy who lovingly made us as we are. I’ll share that in our next bite… 😉

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