Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘exploration’

​Breathing Adventure: Flying To the Rocky Summit of Mt. Paliparan

My chocolate bar has already melted. I set it before the air conditioning vent so I can bite that sweet piece that would replenish me from that 11-hour hike (which included 2 hours of picture taking). Still, its sweetness is nothing compared to the joy of being in the outdoors again.

We were back in Tanay, Rizal to explore Mt. Paliparan. Standing at more than 500 meters above sea level, it was one of the newly-opened hiking sites that’s fit for beginners and weekend warriors like me. But this weekend warrior had to strip off her title for a while because her little adventure army has chosen Monday as a date to conquer new land. Weekends would attract endless crowds that are likely to clutter the mountain, the view, and our photos with photobombers. 

The grassy trail

Brgy. Cuyambay would be accessible through public transportation (jeep from Cubao to Cogeo, another jeep to Bary. Cuyambay, and tricycle to the baranggay hall where registration takes place). Since we have to reach the place before sunrise, private transportation would be more convenient and safer to take. 

We originally planned the Maysawa Circuit because we wanted to see the sea of clouds. But the tour guides gave us Mt. Paliparan as another option. They suggested Maysawa Circuit would be best visited in August because the rains would make the sea of clouds more visible. Besides, they warned us of the abundance of limatik (leeches) in that trail. Since Mt. Paliparan looked more adventurous, we decided to take their advice.

The trail to the summit is reminiscent of almost all of the mountains we had visited. The vast farmland leading to the trail reminded us of Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Maranat, the grassy slopes was like the trail at Mt. Maculot, while the assault leading to the summit brought Mt. Pamitinan to mind. The rest of the trail was easy except for the last trail leading to the summit.

The first peak

Mt. Paliparan has four peaks. All of these are marked with huge, towering boulders that were challenging to climb. The tour guides have told us the mountain was called as such because it was a site where small Japanese planes used to land during World War II.

The second peak

A small cave can be visited along the way. It is a perfect place for hiding from the nasty heat of the sun. 

The trail was littered with flowers and colorful berries that seemed luscious but not edible. Small amorseco (hitchhiker plants) have annoyingly clung onto our clothing. The tall grasses were not helpful in giving us shade as they managed to annoy and tickle our sunburnt faces. We relieved ourselves with the sight of Laguna Lake, the old cement factory and the wind turbines at a distance.

While the rest of the trail proved to be easy, the assault going to the summit was challenging and quite dangerous. This is the time when gloves are highly needed. The sharp and jagged rocks, though may be helpful in providing footing, can be relentlessly unforgiving on bare hands. 

It requires rock scrambling and rappelling to get to the very top of the boulder that sits on the mountain’s highest peak. It was tempting to give up because I was struggling to carry my body’s weight on the rope. But I was challenged when the tour guides told me, “Since you’re here, you’ll regret it if you don’t do it.”

I felt like a champion when I have scrambled on that rock. Once I got hold of the pink flag that mightily fluttered in the wind, I felt like I have conquered the cowardly giant in me. Everybody was a winner that day. We had to reward ourselves by resting in the Dumagat village which would take about an hour to reach.

The Dumagat people are one of the nation’s indigenous tribes living in Luzon. If you were lucky, they would cook tinola or pinikpikan for you (these are local chicken dishes, one is made with soup). However, there were no chickens available that day. We ended up with buko juice and pansit canton. 

The adventure would not be complete without visiting Tungtong Falls. The trail, which would take another hour from the Dumagat community, lingered around giant, dark, round rocks and cool streams. The waterfall was small but refreshing. Instead of diving, I took a short nap because I was so tired from the trip. 

The tour guides were wise enough not to bring us to the highest falls which required rappelling again. We were so exhausted from the very, long trail. One of us had sprained her knee and ankle. We enjoyed the final stretch of the trail by taking our own slow paces back to the starting point. 

Despite the strenuous journey, I was revitalized with the beauty of nature. Experiencing this is a privilege because it is a gift from the Greatest Artist in the universe. Seeing, touching, and feeling such immense creation is like seeing the very heart of God who made these things because He loves us greatly. It’s something you won’t find everyday in the mechanical jungle called Manila.

The river trail

As I closed my eyes to sleep in the van, I kept a clear picture of the pristine waters, the warm summer heat, and the vast sights from the summit. The memory I had treasured that day was the ability to conquer my secret fear of heights. That instance made me dare for more. I hope that little courage gained would not abandon me on my next adventure. 

The adventure team

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Breathing Adventure: Friendships and Sunsets for the Lone Trip (Benguet Tour Part 2)

My two-day Baguio getaway was brief yet blissful, momentarily pulling me away from the reality that nearly freaked me out of my sanity. What came after my first BenCab Museum tour was a visit to a missionary friend I have not seen in years, a short walk in the night-cloaked city outskirts, and a moment of fellowship at my friend’s church the following day.

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The city lights glitter on the hilltops at night. Baguio is just one of the places where you can safely stroll at night

I emerged once again in the homey ideals that these lovely people hold, while vainly trying to understand Ilocano dialect. Competition was unlikely to begrudge the existence these people delve in; too far with what we Manileños strive for everyday. Little by little, urbanity has been setting in Baguio City for years. Yet, the unyielding purity of the city’s outskirts is just one of the million things that amazes me in this place.

The main reason for going up alone to Baguio was a small mountain my friend was telling me days ago. On the day I was to leave Benguet, I had the chance to go on a short trek on what they named as Mt. Jumbo. It was located at La Trinidad, a city beside Baguio, also best known for its strawberry farm. We planned to start the trek right after lunch. But due to the slow, incompetent service of a diner we came upon, we were able to leave for La Trinidad at past 3pm, a few hours before the sunset kicks in.

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Part of the view while going up to the summit of Mt. Jumbo

It was an easy trek, but my legs became easily strained after ascending a number of those small but steep man made steps. This is the consequence of not jogging for a long time. The cloistered trees, fresh air, and clear blue sky refreshed me though. Upon coming near the summit, the trees became fewer and the air became crispier.

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Going upward

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Racing towards the sun

I was surprised to find a few tourists clamoring upon the nearly bare, green, rolling hills of Mt. Jumbo. Some of them had tents set up, anticipating a clear, star-studded sky soon. A group had even taken horseback rides to the summit. We walked passed them as we clamored to the west side of the hill. The vast, industrial fields of La Trinidad opened wide before us, the golden sunshine painting it in bright orange.

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Beyond the rolling hills was part of the view of La Trinidad.

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The sunset gleaming over La Trinidad. This area once called the “salad bowl of the Philippines” as it used to be an agricultural area. Now, it is replaced with houses and industrial buildings, striving with the urban shift of the country.

I did not mind my short stay on the summit. In an intense moment of freedom, I did not dance, I did not run. All I did was flap my arms to feel the wind beneath them and watch the sunset descend behind the mountains in awe. But that moment of awe was broken when we tried to catch the sunset with our cameras.

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The sun giving us a final breathtaking view for the day.

The sun’s majestic exit was interrupted by the thick silver clouds that canopied over the mountains. Still, the view was breathless, for a sea of clouds surged over the adjacent mountains. It was a phenomenon that no city-dweller could experience everyday. Twilight was not far behind by then. The first sparkle of stars began to blink the moment we left the spot.

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The sea of clouds just behind me

It was a breathless moment. Though part of me knew I had to go straight to the bus terminal right after that trek, I strongly felt that my Baguio experience would not be complete without experiencing a known restaurant at Session Road. With that, I capped my stay with dinner with friends at the fine but affordable Solibao Restaurant. Should you end up hungry at Session Road, this is one of the places you should you drop by.

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Capping my trip with a great dinner with my friends Lans, Marian, and Angie. This Pinoy/Chinese group meal at Solibao Restaurant was too much for four ladies and yet it was very affordable.

The bus terminal was jampacked with people leaving for Manila. I was one of them. With me were jars of lengua, choco flakes, and strawberry wine — just some of the Baguio goodies I can’t leave without. As I waited at the line, I just realized that I have the capacity to travel somewhere far without a definite plan and still enjoy good memories of this place. Next stop? I won’t plan it up. All I know it would sure be better. 🙂

Breathing Adventure: Curling the Trail of Mt. Maculot

IMG_20150905_163137Dwelling in the urban life for a long time can drain the senses and dull the emotion. Upon getting into a new job after a short hiatus, I was getting into the toxic mode again. I then realized I can manage my time by treating myself out of the challenges of the marketplace from time to time. I have to get back to nature. And there’s no other way but getting back to the mountains.

With a bunch of close buddies and new friends, we left before sunrise on a Saturday to the province of Batangas to trek Mt. Maculot. Maculot is a Tagalog word for “curly”, which no one could explain why it was named as such. Our ascent was a steep trail riddled with huge rocks. This gave me a jumpstart. My two-day jog ahead was not enough to strengthen my legs.

11951109_500853750081805_287650774244924684_nBefore we started this journey, our good-natured tour guide gave us fresh buko juice. As we drank straight from the fruit, we got to know each other. It’s odd to be the only media person among the group. Amazingly, our tour guide was also a rescue volunteer. He was one of those who responded in a rescue operation of a helicopter crash in this very mountain months ago. Upon hearing his story, I was amazed and confident that we can rely on him in this journey.

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Looking at the view from the Grotto

The woodland trail in Mt. Maculot reminded me of Pico de Loro: the hovering tall trees that served as a shade in our journey, those strange plants and ferns that littered the forest, the huge fallen trees that get in the way, and the huge centipedes that freaked us away…well, at least only two of us girls had goosebumps at their sight. The steep trek exerted much of my legs, however. Thus, we had to be given walking sticks to support us especially on the slippery parts. After an hour, we got to the Grotto. This was only halfway going to the summit.

At the Grotto, we could see a wide view of the city of Cuenca, Batangas. This place serves as a pilgrimage especially during Holy Week. For an easier trek for the devotees, a stone staircase filled with a thousand steps was made. But we loved to get the more foresty route. And we have to go back to this trail to get to the summit.

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One of the roped segments going to the top

The part leading to the top was steeper. There are also two roped segments leading to

The second roped segment near the summit

The second roped segment near the summit

the summit. I realized that strengthening the legs is not enough for this journey. We have to strengthen our arms, too, in order to support our bodies in these roped segments. I thought I was being a survivor when I climbed those ropes.

The summit was not appealing enough except for the distant view of the Taal Volcano,

which was a famous destination for those who visit this area. The summit looked like a

The Taal Volcano seen from the summit of Mt. Maculot

The Taal Volcano seen from the summit of Mt. Maculot

bare area strewn with tall, dry grass. We gathered under the small, lone tree that stood there to eat our lunch. But the summit was not the highlight of the trek. We cannot end this journey without visiting the Rockies.

The grassy trail to the Rockies

The grassy trail to the Rockies

We had to take a long winding road downhill. At the end of the wooded trek, we were welcomed by a grassy trail that made me imagine I was in an African savanna. These tall reeds however cannot block the early afternoon sun. So, it was a relief to rest for a while at a store fondly called 7/11.

Whenever, we are in a journey like this, water is gold for us. As precious as it would be, its price in a store like this could become as expensive as gold, especially for us who are on a budget. So, I had to save the remaining water in my bag in order to survive the rest of the journey. But I don’t have to bring

The Rockies

The Rockies

it for this last leg.

We left our bags for a moment in the 7/11 store in order to get to the Rockies. The Rockies is a lower peak adjacent to Mt. Maculot. We have to do rock climbing to get to the top. This time, we got a more rewarding view. Here is a better view of the Taal Lake.

The Taal Lake

The Taal Lake seen from the top of the Rockies

Too bad, the Taal Volcano was being covered by rain clouds. The sight at the rest of the lake though was fabulous. In order to get a better picture, I had to dare myself at the tip of the rocky edge. Despite of having shaky legs and a throbbing heart, I better get a pose with this

Don't forget to pose at this awesome view :)

Don’t forget to pose at this awesome view 🙂

beautiful view.

The adventure’s over. But my sore legs and feet were just beginning. Florencio, our tour guide was reliable to me especially towards at the end of the journey. Although it was embarrassing, I appreciated him for willingly carrying my bag all throughout the journey. At the descent, I began to get slower and my feet more painful. Oh, well, I was the slowpoke of the team this time. 🙂

But it was a refreshing pain. The pain of getting into the outdoors! The pain that made me know I am alive! What is a life without getting in touch with nature? This job is not what my life accounts for. I have more things to enjoy in life rather than drowning myself in work all the time.

There are still more mountains to explore. See you on the next mountain, then. 🙂

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Breathing Adventure: That Brief But Wacky Trip to Mt. Manalmon

IMG_20150611_113249The sound of water splashing beneath the bridge welcomed us after that long, rocky, brain-jarring tricycle ride. The air that blew on our faces was getting even more sultry and humid. The sun was already glaring high above the cool shady trees. It was already late in the morning for we had left late from Manila. There were already other hikers who came before us. But I guess we were quite on time. I was glad to feel the countryside again, far away from my home yet close within my territory.

Welcome to Mt. Manalmon, one of the mountains belonging to the rocky terrain of Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan. An

The river at the foot of Mt. Manalmon

The river at the foot of Mt. Manalmon

easy trek to go through, it would only take about thirty minutes to get to the top (almost an hour if you have countless rest periods. So, better eat a banana first). It stands at 196 masl (meters above sea level ). It may not compete with the other giants we have conquered, but as always there’s having the price of having a good view, a memorable experience, and an achievement after getting to the top.

I felt like a stranger in my own province. Living in another town in Bulacan, I did not know this little piece of adventure myself until a friend recommended it to me. From my hometown in Sta. Maria, it would take about an hour and a half to three hours to San Miguel. However, a bus ride from Cubao is faster, taking only about two hours. Since there is no direct transport system from my town to San Miguel, going to Cubao would be my best option. Just drop by Baliwag Transit or Five Star Liner and take the bus going to Cabanatuan. Bus fare is only P117.

My friend and I took the trip on a weekday since most tourists flock in at weekends. As I watched out for the road signs, I felt like being transported in time. The roads took us to quaint little, farming villages, knowing that the air outside was scented with newly planted palay (rice) and fresh soil. But our destination is more than rice paddies and farms. We got the first knack of adventure when we had taken that bumpy tricycle ride from Camias, San Miguel which was supposedly at P240. But, we were given a deal of P180 on this ride.

Given the name, Biak-na-Bato, or “split rock” in English, is a valley-like terrain divided by a long winding river. Looking at the crystal clear waters, one might think that these are too shallow. However, this tourist spot is notorious for the sudden rise of its currents during rainy days. It would be better to arrive here on a dry, summer season to enjoy more of its place.

Once we treaded the path to the peak, I suddenly had to battle again the feeling of falling over. Although most parts of the trail are easy, there are some really steep places. Most of these areas are covered in limestones, which spike out on the edges of the mountains. I always had the difficulty of getting a good footing on such trails, but I took them slowly but surely.

The peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga saying "Hello!" :)

The peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga saying “Hello!” 🙂

The sun was already getting a bit harsher on us. We had to stop occasionally for water breaks and banana snack time (still a lot of them in my bag). Upon reaching a smooth rock on top, we reached the first part of the peak. At that point, we could see the peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga inviting us to give her a visit sometime soon.

Mt. Gola on the other side

Mt. Gola on the other side

A few minutes more, we moved on and reached its top. The sight below was a treat. On the other side, there’s the peak of Mt. Gola, another mountain in Biak-na-Bato. Way down below is the Madlum River, winding all the way through this terrain. But from beyond, the rain clouds came and loomed over us.

The rain approaching the peak. See how the other side is not showered upon :O

The rain approaching the peak. See how the other side is not showered upon :O

It’s funny how we had to open our umbrellas as we descended down the mountain. I advise you to bring raincoats all the time when trekking. It’s better to keep your hands free so you can hold unto rocks on steep portions. The weather is even more moody than our emotions; it can suddenly change in a minute.

It was not a dangerous downpour, but the mud heavily stuck on our shoes and sandals so we had to walk barefooted. Our tour guide knew where the rain would fall, so he led us to a safer route. Fortunately, it did not rain upon the Madlum River, so we spent the time washing our shoes and feet upon the clean, crystal clear waters.

The clean waters of the Madlum River

The clean waters of the Madlum River

We initially planned to go into the Bayukbok Caves since we’ve heard that there are more activities in it. But because the

Into the Madlum Cave

Into the Madlum Cave

rains had fallen on that portion, our tour guide said that it might not be wise to go there at that moment. The path in that cave, riddled with more jagged limestones, can become dangerously slippery, especially for my round, little feet.

A stalagmite at Madlum Cave

A stalagmite at Madlum Cave

Instead, we explored the Madlum Cave. From the Kapampangan word, the Madlum Cave, which means madilim or dark, is eerily dark and silent inside, save for the tiny screeches of the fruit bats living there. Even if I tell you that this cave became a production set for the television fantaserye, Mulawin, you will not find any superstars in there. This small cave has nursed glittering stalagmites, stalactites, and history. From its hushed walls, I learned that San Miguel was once a part of the province of Pampanga. And from this cave, the image of their patron saint was found. Thus, this was how San Miguel was given its name.

So much for the history and the little magical chant that we had inside (I won’t tell you because you have to discover that). We had to try one more escapade before going home: the monkey bridge.

To cross the other side through merely two thick wires suspended over water might seem to be a horror story to you. Don’t.

Want to join me to the other side? :)

Want to join me to the other side? 🙂

Think of it like you’re playing monkey bars in a playground. One wire balances beneath our feet and the other is held by our bare hands while crossing it sideways. I’m sure this looks familiar to you if you’ve seen that milk commercial of two small children crossing such a bridge while going to school.

And our tour guide was right. That crossing over was the longest ten minutes of our lives. Scary? Not anymore when you get to the middle. The wires can become wobbly in that journey, but I’ve been fascinated by the river and the view before me. I love the idea of being suspended on air, while being cautious of myself and being conscious of the water and the rocks below me *gulp*. It was very

See you there! :)

See you there! 🙂

exhausting though, because I exerted my weight on both my hands and feet while balancing myself. Besides that, my friend and I did it with bare hands. (Whew!) It’s an achievement once you get to the other side. Go, monkey, monkey, monkey bars! (Now, where’s that banana? Gimme more, gimme more!)

The afternoon sun was cooling down a bit. It was a short, fun-filled,

My friend, Lans, and I had a fun time with this equally wacky and trustworthy tour guide, Michael. I assure that you can rely on these guys. :)

My friend, Lans, and I had a fun time with this equally wacky and trustworthy tour guide, Michael. I assure that you can rely on these guys. Never go alone in your trip to the top. 🙂

and wacky trip (add it up with those silly anecdotes from our tour guide). If we have stayed a bit longer, much more could have been explored. Still, it was very meaningful, knowing that this tour is just right for our budget. I’d suggest don’t go alone on these trips and

have a trusted tour guide with you. That would make P300 for the tour guide and P200 for every cave visited. The bigger you are in a group, the better you can budget and share in these expenses.

If you’d ask me, I’d like to return to Biak-na-Bato. It’s ironic how rare I’d get to visit this part of my province. After this third visit I’d like to add more, and drop by other portions of Biak-na-Bato that I’ve not explored yet.

See you again, Biak-na-Bato? Of course. 🙂

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The Magic Of Dinner Over Movies (Sixth Bite): A Reunion in Pampanga

It’s strange how our relatives could only get together after years. If it were not for a cousin’s special occasion, my mom and I wouldn’t get a chance to visit Pampanga.

Pampanga is a province located in Central Luzon. Should you begin your travel point from Manila, go in a two-hour northward travel to get to Pampanga, or longer depending on the city to visit. Since my province Bulacan is adjacent to Pampanga, travel going there is quicker. From the district of Bocaue, Bulacan to the city of San Fernando, Pampanga, it takes about an hour’s ride. So what’s so special about this place? For foodies like me, of course, it would be food.

I had the privilege to taste of the authenticity of Kapampangan dishes as my cousin invited us for the christening of her first baby. Now, add up the mini-reunion of relatives on my mother’s side, our visit is worth to remember.

Kapampangan dishes are known for their richness. Besides that, their food can range from simply being savory to exotic. I’ll give you a peek to one of the restaurants there.

Bale Capampangan:
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My craving to taste the best of Pampanga has been answered by having the privilege to visit and have lunch in this cozy restaurant, located in Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga. The buffet it offers has a variety of dishes, igniting the curiosity and the hunger pangs in me.

IMG_20150516_112354There are the classic dishes of bulalo (cow soup), pinakbet (vegetables cooked in sauce made of seafood like shrimp or fish), bistig damulag (the Kapampangan version of beefsteak). I’d take only a little of each, since they are very rich in ingredients. The each sauce of these dishes is filled with much flavour. It embodies the homestyle cooking. Besides, the place is a good place for family reunions as it gives a homey feel.

Adobong Balut

Adobong Balut

There are also exotic food like the pasta aligue (pasta made with crab paste), susong supsop (yes, it’s

made of cooked, small snails) and adobong balut (the matured chicken egg now cooked adobo-style). These are but a few in the whole bunch of buffet offered by this restaurant. I bet you’ll keep on coming back once you take a bite of them.

As most Filipinos, we had the habit of ignoring the people around us while we eat. Perhaps, it’s an inborn ability to take note of the food first before we get to talk much. Or perhaps, we heed what the elders say: “Don’t eat when your mouth is full.”

Susong supsop

Susong supsop

Of course, Filipino meals are not complete without sweets. After a plateful of the main course, we’d line up for halo-halo (or mixed up, literally in English). Just fill your glass with sweet banana, red sago (round starch pearls), mongo, pinipig (uncooked glutunous rice), sugar, crushed ice and milk. A cold treat to chase the summer heat away.

Aside from that, there are also other sweets and rice cakes like the palitaw.

I guess this place gave us much to talk about, like language differences. Yes, that’s right. The signs are mostly in Kapampangan. In the Philippines, each provinces have unique dialects. Pampanga has its own dialect, aside from the Tagalog widely spoken in the whole country. Even my uncle admits that he was still confused with some of the words, being a Bicolano himself.

The calming atmosphere of the restaurant made us stay, relax, dive into nostalgia and crack jokes at one another. Because it shunned us from the terrifying heat of the day, I did not notice that we were staying there for more than five hours! It was past three in the afternoon, and we would have wished to stay longer with our relatives.

After scouting for pasalubong, my cousins invited us to try the popular cheese bread and Spanish bread of a bakery just beside Bale Capampangan.

L.A. Bakeshop:

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When the door was opened, the smell of freshly baked bread gave us the tingling sensation of home in the city. Started in 1985, this bakeshop had its humble beginnings at one of this city’s market. But the populace would flock this store because of its tasty cheese bread, thus it grew into a cafe and resto-bakery.

Some of L.A. Bakery's special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

Some of L.A. Bakery’s special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

L.A. Bakery's tasty cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces of these can be sold for P195. Freshly baked, it's inviting scent invigorates nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other passengers in the van as we went home :)

L.A. Bakery’s cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces sold at P195. Freshly baked, its inviting scent ignited nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other van passengers as we went home 🙂

Unlike some usual cheese bread bought in other bakeries, this one is oozing with much cheese and it’snot airy; even though it looks smaller compared to other breads. The Spanish bread is sweetly superb, as well. A box of it would make a good pasalubong. Aside from being tasty, a box of it is worth its price. Even if you reheat it in the oven, it still smell as if freshly baked, provided that you keep it in a safe place. My mother said that instead of using lard, real butter and egg yolks were used for the dough. If we had much more time, we’d stay with our cousins and have coffee in this homey little bakeshop. Perhaps, I would not stop myself from its offer of unlimited coffee and bread. Yes, coffeeeeee… 🙂

My cousins introduced us other shops just near these places where we’ve been. I promised them and myself that we would return and try them all. But I would enjoy these places and food better with my relatives. That would make every bite and taste more sumptuous and even memorable.

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt :)

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt 🙂


Breathing Adventure (Mt. Pulag Climb Part 2): Into the Flora and Fauna

11131791_924304300955047_831847193_nBeing one of the most exciting treks in my life, this Mt. Pulag hike is also one of the longest and most tiring trek I’ve experience.

After the basking in the warm sunlight and the freezing air at the peak for about an hour, we began our descent. The trail going down became quite unfamiliar, perhaps because we saw it differently when it was dark. Still, it was the same trail.

Our tour guide told us that Mt. Pulag was from a local word which means “bare”. It was named as such because its peak had no trees at all, save for one that I saw at Peak 3. But the peak was covered with tall grass and a tiny bamboo species called the dwarf bamboo. But there are more plant wonders ahead. Amazingly, this mountain was littered with plants, flowers and ferns that you could not find in Manila. But no one is allowed to pick anything…not even a shoot.

By not picking plants and flowers, the flora and fauna of Mt. Pulag is preserved. This is

Some of the flora at Mt. Pulag. Top left is the bugnay berries, or bignay in my Tagalog dialect. Top right must be a dried dwarf bamboo, I guess. Below are some pretty flowers I haven't seen

Some of the flora at Mt. Pulag. Top left is the bugnay berries, or bignay in my Tagalog dialect. Top right must be a dried dwarf bamboo, I guess. Below are some pretty flowers I haven’t seen

important so as not to put these plants species in danger, for some of them is only found in this area in the country. It’s also one way for tourists to respect the places they visit, one lesson everyone is entitled to learn in their tours.

But I just wonder why I have not seen any animals around. Not even the birds that were chirping behind the thick trees high above us. I guess these animals are too shy to be looked at. 🙂

And so, to immortalize these rare sights we had our cameras ready (except for mine that drained immedietely that dawn). Because of that, the five-hour trek going down became a six-hour groupie tour.

The locals said that Mt. Pulag was a woman. If one would look at its contour in a certain angle, it look like a lady lying down, looking up at the sky. Perhaps, this is why her feminity is scattered around the place, making it a haven of the flora and fauna we humans are privileged to see.

11148896_924302860955191_1204472494_nBut with the sun going higher and the temperature getting warmer, the walk back became a bit difficult. Thankfully, these plants gave us a wonderful and cool shade while we were catching up with our breath. My legs wanted to give way, especially when I saw that steep trail at Camp 1.

At the end of the trek, I could say I survived Mt. Pulag. Glancing back at11132100_924302977621846_1520638946_n the height of its peak, I never had an inkling at I could go all the way to the top. To achieve reaching the top of the Philippines’ 3rd highest peak is a dream come true. Despite of my throbbing feet and almost lost energy, this experience gave me the encouragement to go higher and beyond. Perhaps, I may conquer the Himalayas one day. 🙂

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