Monthly Archives: August 2011

King of the country’s mountains

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So there we were, at the peak, shivering from head to foot in the cold mountain air and rainfall. Ah, Mt. Apo – indeed the grandfather of all Philippine mountains (2,956 MASL) . Halfway into conquering him, we have already had our fair share of shifting landscapes and contrasting trail types. As nighttime bade hello, we set down our full packs and quickly assembled our tent amidst the biting wind. Good thing we had the entire peak to ourselves. We settled for a spot inside a shallow cave and hoped the tent can take the battering of the winds.

Our gracious host and guide Jezer Paro* (+63 918 7819861) is nothing short of amazing. Contacted at the eleventh hour, we were fortunate he was available and agreeable to our 2-day traverse of the Kapatagan (Davao) and Kidapawan (North Cotabato) trails. His suggested plan was to start at the Kapatagan side and climb all the way to the summit on the first day, make camp at the summit area and descend to Lake Venado and the Kidapawan trail the next day. Whereas the usual itinerary takes three or four days for the entire traverse, we opted to challenge ourselves to finish it overnight. Jezer knew the ins, outs and shortcuts of the mountain by heart. With all his tricks, we were able to cut short our ascent by an hour or two. We negotiated the ascent for a total of seven hours and 25 minutes and the descent for a staggering seven and 15.

continue wandering here…

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Lucban’s annual fiesta

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We celebrate festivals in every region and province: to give honor to patron saints, to thank the heavens for a bountiful harvest, and to celebrate legends and folklore. One of the Philippines’ famous and most colorful celebrations is the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban, Quezon. Staged every 15th of May, this year’s festivities fell on a weekend.

A huge tourist crowd was expected to attend the Pahiyas. Every year, the local government changes the route to give the houses their chance to decorate with fruits, vegetables, palay and kiping. The kiping is a leaf-shaped wafer made of rice paste and dyed in bright colors. On the eve of May 15, most houses have already been decorated. It is a good time to see the beautifully lighted decors and to stroll along the night markets. In the morning, the image of their patron, San Isidro, will pass along this route in a procession along with the judges who survey the annual entries onboard SUVs.

To get to Lucban, you can either take the route via Lucena or via Sta. Cruz and Luisiana in Laguna. We took the latter route as it is faster and at the same time to avoid the weekend crowd.