Disclaimer (since people can be so literal at times): This is a mockery. I aim to poke fun at my ridiculous tendencies. I do not mean offense nor disrespect to anyone who would associate themselves with one or more of the personalities enumerated below.
“I don’t care.”
I am generally a peaceful person (smirks). On days I am hormotional, I have my misgivings when it comes to sitting beside someone while traveling. On days I want to be left alone, I have my reservations when it comes to sharing my thoughts with a seatmate. On days I am unlucky, I need to be on my own so as not to channel my misfortune on others.
Here I share with you some personalities you may not want to sit with or be within a radius of one foot when having a bad day in a trip.
Crying tots. Just no. Yes they are adorable, chubby, and cute; but when you have a headache, a wailing baby on overdrive is not the better alternative to paracetamol. On top of that, seeing the hapless mom or dad feeling at a loss is simply – sad.
Heavy people. Not to be mean, but I dread sitting next to someone a bit on the heavy side. A one-hour bus ride is tolerable. What if it is an extended overland trip? Twelve hours of being squished in a tiny seat next to someone big is plain uncomfortable.
Loud snorers. Ah, the envy of insomniacs – people who, as soon as they rest their head, doze off to dreamland. Not cool if they start blaring snores in your ear, or worse, using your shoulder as a p-i-l-l-o-w.
Stinky dudes. This includes inconsiderate smokers, not just unhygienic travelers. Sweat and (unpleasant) body fumes are never okay. They trigger a massive throb in the head, and will be the death of anyone.
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The longest I have gone in the belly of the boondocks is three days. Beyond that, I get cranky and itchy with the mere thought of spending another hour without a bath (fortunately, this multi-day climb allowed us an executive experience where we got to bathe every single day). Being the practical innovators of hiking itineraries, our group tried to compress the usual 5-day Mt. Mantalingahan traverse itinerary into just four (including the long bus trip to and from the jumpoff). It came about not to display speed and brawn, but more so for monetary considerations, and to have a longer time to enjoy the islands of El Nido.
A major climb rated a difficulty level of 9 (out of 9 by PinoyMountaineer), Mt. Mantalingahan stands at 2,086 MASL. The jumpoff for a Mantalingahan traverse is Brgy. Ransang in Rizal, Palawan. Leonard Shuttle vans ply the Puerto Princesa – Rizal route regularly. From downtown Rizal, there are Sicud-bound jeepneys that pass Brgy. Ransang. For convenience, take Leonard’s 5:30 AM direct trip to Sicud and get off at Brgy. Ransang.
A climb to Mantalingahan is on every serious enthusiast’s bucket list. Aside from being one of only a few rated 9/9 in the Philippines, the attraction of being located in the country’s last biodiversity frontier presents a naturally rich and culturally indigenous experience. The forested mountain range has varying displays of towering trees and small shrubs like the pungdan and pitcher plants. Birdwatching is also listed as one of the recommended activities in the area. The variety of birds is noticeable given the different bird sounds heard throughout the day (at times taunting but most times amusing). Mt. Mantalingahan is also home to indigenous Palaw’ans like the Tau’t Bato and Tau’t Daram. Small communities of the Tau’t Bato tribe live on the mountain and still lead an olden way of life. More popular in terms of urban myths are the members of the Tau’t Daram tribe. According to the locals, the Tau’t Daram, although no longer in existence, were cannibals. Stories of locals from the lowlands not returning home from the mountain, and being eaten by the tribe abound.
After the registration and a courtesy visit to the community chieftain, hikers walk for 2.5 hours to the next village. Wide open roads lead to Balin-Balin Village where the real trek commences. If arriving from Puerto Princesa late in the afternoon, an option is to stay overnight in the village and start the trek the next day.
© Iniel Caballero
The first night is spent in the Magtangob campsite located 2.5 hours away from Balin-Balin. There is a hut available for overnight use at the campsite and a water source nearby. The following day’s itinerary is a pleasant surprise. Aside from the easy (relative to the other days) trek (and the occasional appearance of the limatiks), it was one of the shortest with a total walking time of five hours only. The trek passes through a small community of the Tau’t Bato tribe whose curious members greet passersby with timid smiles. While the recommended campsite is Kawayanan, it is more convenient to stay at the Kabugan Village because it has a wide camping area and a flowing brook.
The abandoned Kabugan Village (as pictured below) provides shelter for the night. According to the guide’s account, the village was abandoned by the Tau’t Daram when they were unknowingly driven out one night by unexpected visitors (a mountaineering group that went up on an induction climb and that apparently numbered more than 30). This prompted the tribe to flee and go up deeper into the mountains out of fear that the visitors will “conquer” them.
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I was selected to do the 5-day black and white (B&W) challenge on Facebook. Simply put, the game forces the nominee to post B&W photos for five (5) consecutive days. For each day, the nominee will then pick someone else to do the same thing. While shooting in color is how most of us in the digital era started and saw images (in print or otherwise), B&W photography is temperamental. Easy on the settings; but difficult on the tone to convey.
Day 1 is portrait photography.
“Audience with a Centenarian” (Batanes, January 2011)
104 years old at that time, Mang Marcello Hostallero is the oldest resident of Sabtang Island. Here he is whiling the day away, and keeping busy by his lonesome outside his house in Chavayan.
Day 2 is landscape photography.
“A Beautiful Destruction” (Mt. Pinatubo, March 2012)
Breathtaking and devastating at the same time, Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake is a stark reminder of Mother Nature’s play on turning her powerful fury into a magnificent display of beauty.
Day 3 is nature photography.
“By the Beach” (Bali, February 2013)
A banten (traditional Balinese offering) can be seen almost everywhere in the island of the gods. The most unlikely place I have seen one is perched precarioulsy on a cliff face. Its solemn symbolism of worship striking in contrast with the mad beating of the waves below.
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Five years after my first Pulag hike, I have finally completed all of her four (known) trails: Ambangeg, Akiki, Tawangan, and Ambaguio. The Ambangeg-Ambaguio traverse records a total walking distance of 34.5 kilometers with a trekking time of twelve hours. While most Ambaguio treks commence at Ambaguio and end at either Ambangeg or Akiki, a weekend hike is possible by doing a reverse traverse. Hiking begins at Babadak, progresses to the summit using the Ambangeg trail, and then traverses to Ambaguio via the Lusod trail. This is more manageable as the lengthy portion of the trek (about two thirds of it) involves the descent to Ambaguio.
After summitting Mt. Pulag, hikers enter the Lusod trail. Entry to Lusod is near the first campsite. Unlike Ambangeg’s mostly stoned steps and moderately inclined trails, Lusod is established albeit slippery and steep. The moss-covered trees are reminiscent of those found along the Tawangan trail sans the beloved limatiks. Since the trail is mostly used by locals, a number of resting sheds provide shelter along the way.
The first day ends at Lower Napo, and hikers may settle for the night at the Napo-Tuyak Integrated School. There is a restroom and a water pump within the school compound available for use. The other possible camping area is at Upper Napo’s elementary school which is about one hour away.
The second day is straightforward and covers a very long scenic trek through local villages, rice and corn fields, farmlands, and communities. At the last village, if fortunate, motorbikes are available for rent to take hikers to Ambaguio town and then onwards to Bayombong. Otherwise, the last leg of the trip will be a one- or two-hour walk to the town proper where those motorbikes will take you to the national highway in Bayombong.
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