One Day Hike, A Lifetime Memories: Mt Maculot Traverse

22 03 2013
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines

After a month or so of no outdoor activities, where else could I gear up? Of course Maculot! Crinkles, Monay and I wanted something more than the rockies itinerary. To make it more exciting then, a traverse hike would be the best! Let me share with you this safest route (grotto traverse rockies). Oh, before telling you the itinerary, I should say why it is the safest for me. Less hikers take the grotto side and traverse to rockies. Therefore, in case of any untoward incidents, more people may respond to you and not just those from the registration area! Besides, after grotto is already a forested area. Better,don’t get trapped in a very unfashionable way! So here goes:

Itinerary: Traverse from Grotto to Rockies side
7am – ETD Makati for North contingents, take the bus bound to Lipa, Batangas
8am – ETD Alabang for South contingents, take the bus bound to Lipa1-Maculot from the local market
10am – ETA Lipa, proceed to any nearby fast food for breakfast; this will be the waiting area for other fun hikers, just don’t forget to send them sms!
11am – ETD Lipa, take the jeepney bound to Cuenca
11:15am – local market, take the tricyle, go to Grotto registration area 
11:30am – start ascend, hike-up
12:30pm – ETD grotto, have lunch, photo op, then descend to the grassland  area – about 3-4 ft tall (depending on the season)
2-View After Grotto
13:30pm – ETD first rope area with bouldering.
Then continue hiking to the forested area
4-View after Rope1
13:50pm – ETD second rope area, but with dependencies on the traffic on trail. Hike up to the rooted area5-Rope2
14:20pm – ETD summit, photo op, enjoy the view of Taal6-Taal from Summit
15:30pm – ETD 7-11, there are sari-sari stores (more than 1 underground economy abound specially during Holy Week selling soda, candies etc). Go to rockies (be extra careful here for visibility may be a challenge specially from 4pm onwards)
16:30pm-  start descend, otherwise leave at 15:45 if rockies’ visibility is not good
7-Trail from Rockies side
18:00pm – ETA rockies side registration area, local market
More of Maculot >>

Don’t forget your sunscreen! All for Fun! h


Outdoor 101: Getting Back Into Outdoor After Knee Surgery

25 06 2012
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Arusha, Tanzania

If you are amongst the “lucky ones” who had arthroscopic knee surgery and would like to go back into your usual lifestyle, then these tips may be for you*:

1. Don’t Baby the pain. Right after the surgery, move your legs but not too much. Walk slow but sure. I had surgery on my left knee last May 11 and was sent home. I initially was assisted by a “human walker” (Thanks to my bro! 🙂  ) The following day, I used stick for walking. I have used 2 different walking sticks for proper balance. They were my accessories for a week. The first was a straight stick with a derby handle but equipped with an “umbrella” so I only used it for 1 day. ( I found the style very strange. Was it an umbrella or a walking stick?, so I asked my sister.) Then the second was a narrow-base quad cane. (This one I liked best because I had the balance I wanted. But after a week of using, my hands were in pain!)

2. Keep the wound dry. Allow the wound to heal. Do your own magic while taking a shower to prevent it from getting wet!

3. Undergo a physiotherapy. I could hardly recognize my left knee! It was swollen and very weak so I endured going to the hospital every single day. On my 5th day, I was already doing some knee exercises to help rebuild the lost strength in my knee muscles. My 2nd week was a blast! I was already doing some cycling exercises! I even bought a leg strap so that I could exercise before sleeping.

4. Manage the swelling by a hot pack and anti-inflammatory medicines (like gel). While showering you could even allow the warm water to free flow the area. Put hot pack while sleeping. During my outdoor camping 5 weeks later after the operation, I was already tucked in my Hillary -20 degree sleeping bag with a hot water in a container prepared by our waiter named Amani. Every night, my 2 other camp mates – OMishes C and J slept with the smell all over our tent caused by my anti-inflammatory gel. Then during the trek, I made sure I was using my knee pad to keep the gel and not to stress my left knee after 10 hrs or so of walking within the 6 day Machame trail route.

5. Wear a very comfortable shoes. I intended to recover fast so I bought 3 new pair of shoes for my first few weeks of recovery so as not to put pressure on my knees. On my 30th day after operation, I was already using my hiking boots, as planned.

*NOTE: Close consultation with your doctor is highly recommended since right treatment and recovery may differ from one person to another.

This entry is related to >>


AdventureHescape: Mt Napulauan

27 04 2012
Sunday, 18 March 2012
Hungduan, Ifugao
Luzon, Philippines

Here are 5 things to bear in mind when preparing for a successful summit chances on Mt. Napulauan:

1)    Contact guides from BANAUE and not from Hungduan, as a precautionary measures only. There are quite a number of stories from here and there that guides from Hungduan have tendencies of drinking liquor while on the trail and or campsite. So why take the risk? I already attempted to hike up here couple of years ago but failed due to security reasons. There were some other hikers mobbed on the trail. Hence, our group decided to abort the climb. Yes, hard to accept, but safety and security first. Ask Abe Culhi for guide endorsement.

2)    Rent a transportation who will take you back and forth your destination. For a sure safe and fun driving the scenic area of Ifugao, you may call Abe Culhi, at +63921-991-4655. He has been our driver for more than 7 years now.

3)    Itinerary should be Poblacion Hungduan and back. There are two routes to Mt. Napulauan. One from Poblacion Hungduan and back. Another would be from Poblacion Hungduan to Hapao (traverse, multiple days). But why go the longer way when you could do the hike in shorter days with no vacation leaves from your work, logical right? Well, if you have the time, why not?! So go and take the traverse

4)    Buy good food as soon as you arrive Banaue. Where else? Our fave is “Las Vegas” in Tam-An since they really know how to cook well. Aside from having a pretty good service in the mountainous area of Ifugao, the personnel and owners are very friendly. You could relax and chit chat with them while you fix your things (food, backpack, water bladder or container, etc). Have breakfast and order your pack lunch. Yes, lunch on trail. Prepare your dinner and the following breakfast and or lunch (depending on what time you will reach the jumpoff) in the campsite. Water source on the other hand is available but already 5-min away FROM the summit.

5)    Most importantly, physically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually gear up for the climb. “Train train train” is the operative word for Mt. Napulawan! First and foremost, you have to pray for your security and safety. This will answer the spiritually side but mentally preparing oneself too. As we were hiking up, I saw 2 locals of Poblacion Hungduan and they were just following us to up to a certain point before the summit. Our guides asked them in their local dialect, and the 2 locals did not respond. They were like stalkers following us for no reason at all. I therefore ended up guarding the tent inside while the OMishes, my friends,are happily sleeping.

Another preparation is the fact that you will be hiking in deep forest so expect that there are “matok” around. The “matok” or  leeches here actually are not used to seeing people. So if given the chance, they will suck blood all over your body.  So try to secure all possible passages like ears, nose, eyes etc. Yes, a little nasty. Look what happened to this hiker >

One matok went inside the tent and bit the earlobe. Another matok even hitchhiked from Ifugao to Manila and reached kubo!

Physical preparation is a must before going here since most of the trails are 75 deg- 85 degrees in inclination. But after reaching the 6th campsite (about 10-15 min leisure walk to the summit, the trail is already a breeze – patag! Or elevation is even)

(overall elevation: 2642 m asl. 3 nights and 4 days including the travel time from Manila)

Day1: Take the 10pm Ohayami bus in Sampaloc that leaves from Manila to Banaue. This is considered your 1st night. Have some sleep so you will maximize the 9-10 hr bus traveltime.

Day 2: Meet up your driver and guides for breakfast. Start going to Poblacion Hunduan from Banaue. The trip takes about 1 hr and 15 minutes. Register at the Police Station then go to the jump off where you could see the signboard “Welcome Hungduan Patrol Base”.
This is the designated jump-off with an elevation of 1080m asl. If this signboard is no longer visible in the future, ask the locals. It is better to converse with the locals in English since they have a different dialect in this region. (See related comment in my other entry here for the dialects in the country  >>

Depending on your pacing, after about 2 hrs of trekking you will reach Ny-O campsite (1630m asl).

You could rest for your lunch on trail.

Then as you hike up the mossy forest, try to reach up to the 6th base camp area before summiting. Camp here. Do not attempt to camp at the summit as trails before the summit maybe steep and there is a part exposed to wind element. The only demarcation between life and death is a black ribbon used in funeral areas! Shame! This serves as your 2nd night.

Day 3: Try to get up early morning so that you could feel the mountain breeze in the area. Then you could take a snap of the picturesque view of the summit. But make sure to take the same path where you headed up since there is a trail that goes to the traverse side as mentioned in #3 above. Total hours to descend back to the jumpoff would be 4-6 hrs depending on your pacing. Enjoy the flora and fauna abound >>

Take a side trip to UNESCO’s Hunduan Rice Terraces and see the Mountain Province of the country.

After reaching Banaue, take the bus bound back to Manila. This serves as your 3rd night since you will be reaching Manila the following day. For sure, if you need to go to work, you will be sleepy towards the afternoon. So careful if the boss is around! Enjoy climbing!

BUDGET: <4,000php / <95 USD per pax for a group of 3 inclusive of rented vehicle within Ifugao.

WHEN TO GO THERE: All year round. Just remember to complete all the 5 things mentioned above. Once you have achieved 100% readiness, buy the bus tickets! h

12 Hopeful Adventures to Rough out in the Philippines

30 12 2011
Friday, 25 November 2011
Guam, USA

1. BIRD WATCHING and see the famous Calayan Rail – found only in 2004 on Calayan island up north the country and make sure you have x number of days to spare so you could go to the forest and have a glimpse. Otherwise, you will ask yourself to choose – the bird or the boat to the main island? Ah! tough one!

2. HUMPBACK WHALE encounter – Camiguin island, Babuyan group of islands. They like to swim around the areas before sundown. While killing time, you could go to the literally “hotspot” area for a stone massage in Magas-Asok

3. CULTURE-WATCHING the religious way – after travelling on rough sea aboard falua boat, hear mass wee hours in the morning in Itbayat. Make sure you are in the right hour since mass service for male is different with the female! Might as well donate some books to the locals while you wait for your turn.

4. SURFING in Aurora province – whether you like it or not, local law enforcement may stop newbees any time in Sabang due to the high tide of the Pacific Ocean. The alternative for you then is to get a BIG HUG from Baler’s 600-year old Banyan tree standing tall at 50 meters in height. Baler is the town proper. But if you are not like me and you are the so-called “highly skilled” individual, Charlie’s Point is your target!

5. If you are still in a SURFING mode, try BARAS in Catanduanes – or else hike up to Mt. Lantad for the cool coastline view along the ridge

6. For some MILITARY adventure, swing by Camp  Abubakar  in Maguindanao and learn the peace efforts done back in 2000. Mind you, no bunkbeds for you here! You could either stay in Lake Sebu for a relaxing meal after a hostile experience!

7. BEACHINEERING in Jolo – this term is actually a concoction of swimming and bumming then leaving the island after max 4 hours! The exciting part here is taking photos of the prestine waters of Jolo and the colourful Muslim stilt houses.

8. PHOTO OP on Pink island, Zamboanga when the sun is up! You will see why it is called PINK. The island’s cemetery is a point of interest since the tomb tells a lot of stories. As a courtesy of course, you do not take photos without asking the locals within the area. Before going onto the island, register at the Tourism office to book your “bodyguard”. Oh by the way, get real. You are still not WHITNEY HOUSTON!

9. LANZONES craving in Isabela, Zamboanga. Yes, the best in the country! This may sound subjective, but how would you know if you will not go there? While munching, you could enjoy watching the rubber treeline in the area. Awesome! Make sure you have the tricycle driver to tour you around and listen to the locals and or men in uniform for instructions up to what point you could only bum around.

10. SNORKELLING with the 3ft long TURTLES on Apo Island – then enjoy the breeze while you lounge in your veranda hotel. If you still have some adrenalin rush, scramble to the the stone structures in front of the hotel

11. NEMO hunting on Caramoan group of islands – stare in one of them and for sure you will end up stuck in a current of whirlpool. Mesmerize yourself and end up staying in one of the islands with no electricity. This is already a clue for you to always bring a flash light with you.

12. RIDE a 6×6 to the foot of Mt Parker – General Santos City. Make sure you bring some school supplies for kids and medicine for the locals. Kids here walk x number of km just to get education. Hook up with the local mountaineering group for better logistics so you could also experience Mt Matutum as well so you could have 2 peaks in 2 days!

NOTE:This is ONLY for adventurers who  could backpack lots of fun, open mind, courage and prayers! If you qualify, make sure you have left back home a copy of the signed insurance policies for you will surely experience the most inconvenient fun adventure of your life! h

Two Different Worlds, 1 Goal

23 04 2011

BCP: Babuyan Claro-Camiguin-Palaui Islands Dental Mission
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Cagayan, Philippines

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It was 2010 when Doc Sam immediately confirmed the dental mission for this year.
Eggpie thought that it will not push through after the recent Japan tsunami.
Because of the good cause, the road to our goal was not smooth but practically went well.
All 4 dentists made it to Aparri, the main meeting place and was able to adjust to the “outdoor” working condition
All 4 non-medical team at the same time was able to get used to seeing and washing various dental instruments such as: tissue and extraction forceps, bone curette, bone file, explorer probes, mirror, periotome elevators and a lot more!

The weather was good with no 12 inch high tide.
The technical nautical difficulty was attended to right away by the cargo vessel team.
The compass that mysteriously bogged down became perfectly functioning.
Camiguin island wrapped with fog became crystal clear.
While all these nautical difficulties were happening, dolphins and humpback whales were on sight giving us a second of calmness. These mammals seemingly knew that we needed comfort at the time.

The sponsorships such as medicines, medical consumables, financial assistance, new clothes for the local volunteers, prayers and support were all just right. We even received food from the couple dentists based in Lal-lo, fish from the boatman, free lunch and dinner from both the house owners and the Health and Elementary Principal Offices.

Overall beneficiaries for the FREE dental extraction assistance totalled 135 patients both children and adults. These patients came all over from Camiguin and Palaui islands.

Next year, we hope for Babuyan Claro. h

Caramoan Whirlpool

3 04 2011
April 2007
Caramoan Islands,
Bicol, Philippines

As snorkelling buddies, Bucopie and I explored the island together. Monay and Oven became worried when 30 minutes later they still could not see both Bucopie and I. They went around the island and they saw Bucopie trying to rescue me. I was caught in a whirlpool while being fantasized by “nemo”, a clown fish. Immediately, the three of them got me out from an outdoor danger.

Be careful then with Caramoan whirlpool that could probably pull you down to an abyss. h

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