“Batang Batad” Turns 3!

12 07 2015

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-A Birthday Community Outreach-

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Batad, Banaue, Ifugao, Cordillera

Luzon, Philippines

It all started with one volunteer, my two friends – J for the 1st year and C for the 2nd year.

Then got tripled three times this year! Yes, nine of us went to Cordillera for the birthday community outreach dubbed as “Batang Batad 2015”. Wasn’t it the best gift ever? They spent their weekend with the kids of Batad!!

BEFORE THE OUTREACH. While waiting for Lilian with the sorbetes ordered direct from Lagawe to Batad, we decided to do the Banaue tour. First stop was the trial of the local wooden scooter, then to Banaue Viewpoint where I met the local women who loves saying “Wacky! Wacky!” Then we went shopping and had some cultural awareness at Banaue Museum. Then more shopping at Tam-an Village where the local Ifugao house is showcased. Tam-an Village is just beside Banaue Hotel.

ON OUR WAY TO BATAD. While I was busy coordinating with some more logistics like picking up the spaghetti ordered from Las Vegas Restaurant, the other volunteers excitingly went on top of the chartered jeepney for their ‘topload’ experience. Grateful moment was the time we started walking on foot for more than 1 hour with the goodies loaded by each one of us from the saddle.

OUTREACH PROPER. Without having eaten our lunch, we started setting up at 12n since kids were mushrooming around. We handed the spaghetti and drinks then the much awaited sorbetes. It was their first time to see and tasted a real local ice cream in the country. For the locals, their “ice cream” is solely the “ice candy” inside a square-shape styropor. The experience didn’t stop there. They too had movie time with a projector set-up by the Tostados boys – B1, B3 and B4. We were supposed to play “Rio” but movie didn’t work out. Good thing that B4 was ready with his “Avengers”.

While the kids were watching the movie, we indulged ourselves for lunch. It was almost 3pm. Then we started repacking the goodies inside a classroom. The whole area became like a “repacking assembly line”. It was a smooth process spearheaded by the ladies – Cath, Emerald, Jonine, Lianne, Migs.  Kids who rendered a song, a poem or who even won the “Bring Me” game got a bag or two. Of course, Lianne didn’t get any bag although she has shown us her dance moves right in front of the kids!

I was in awe when the teacher mentioned “Bring me a kuto!”.  It helped me gain a better perspective for the next Batang Batad in 2016 since lice infestation seemingly was common.

AFTER THE OUTREACH. As part of my Thanksgiving to the volunteers, I decided to invite the two remaining mumbakis in the village. The mumbakis are the Ifugao religious specialist who says prayers and does rituals to various deities specially after a rice harvest. They offer chicken. They chant memorized lines, oral traditions, stories and lineages that are passed on from generations to generations in a rhythmic tone. They only pause when they share tapuy, the local rice wine and when they refill chewing betel nut and leaves called “nga nga” or “moma”.

Uncle Simon’s Viewpoint Inn wrapped up our day.

MORE SIDETRIPS. B1, B3 and B4 game me “fried pusit” (squid) for breakfast. I then became brave enough to take everyone at the Viewpoint, the highest point where one could both see the whole rice terraces and the saddle. I may say that Ifugao Rice Terraces was a phenomenal trekking on the rice paddy coupled by the descent to Tappiya Waterfalls.

Lilian, the local contact hosted our lunch with her tinolang manok. Thanks to the mumbaki who gave us one of the two chickens used for their ritual. After walking around 600meters for our backpacks at Uncle Simon’s Viewpoint Inn, we all decided to go back to the saddle. Since we were one hour early than the agreed time for the chartered jeepney, all of us consumed the tapuy from the locals. It was an afternoon “tagayan” or alcohol drinking session.

BACK TO BANAUE. Maybe because of the alcohol spirit and not the deities of the mumbakis, we decided to go “topload” on our way back to Banaue.

I may say that this year marked the birth of a new friendship – the “Mumbeki gang” – no one else but – Cath, Emerald, Jonine, Lianne, Migs, B1, B3 and B4.

*1) To some countries, “Bata” is a brand of shoes or a city in Equatorial Guinea. But “bata” in Filipino language means “kid” or children. Hence, Batang Batad means Batad child. Batad is a village in Banaue, Ifugao, Cordillera region. This is known to be the UNESCO Heritage Site location of the amphitheatre rice terraces at 1,100m elevation. 2) sorbetes is a local ice cream in the country made from coconut milk and peddled by street hawkers. 3) kuto is a louse or wingless insect. h


Biking Sleigh in March

3 01 2012
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Laguna, Philippines

I know. An absurd one. Indeed crazy to even coin it as “biking sleigh”. Guess why… I became a Santa not in December but for the month of March!

I took a light bike ride from Makati to Binan SLEX via West Service Road just to give gifts to my godchildren. One in Muntinlupa and another one in San Pedro, Laguna. Three months, never too late for me. But not for them, my godchildren!

Cham, my Chamorro bike became my sleigh and we reached 45k together as a team. I didn’t wear the fancy red and white attire. I just wore my usual biking shorts. And ended up with a half-burned thigh!

Alabang fans

I was already being toasted by the noontime  heat.. But the excessive glaring and scourging rays of the sun didn’t bother me when the street vendors of Alabang shouted and chanted the famous jingle “Pia! Pia! Pia Cayetano!”  Funny indeed. I just waived to them. I needed to pay attention to the busy corner of Alabang towards Laguna.


Upon reaching the main town, I stopped for some refreshment. I bought dirty ice cream. As I  moved towards the resting area, I saw two kids looking at me. I felt that they too craved for some ice cream. I went back to the sorbetero* and bought two more cones. Then without saying anything to the two kids, I just gestured to give them the ice cream. Ashamed yet with a smile, they looked up to me and I seconded the gesture. Then, they said “Salamat po!, “Thank you!”.. They motivated me to continue.

San Pedro

Alas! I have handed over my gift. As I have continued my mission for the day, I reached the bridge of San Vicente Road and struggled! There was a jam and as expected all jeepney** passengers were looking at me! Their scrutinizing look did not stop me and I was able to give the second gift.

It was a cruise as soon as I have seen the very environment-friendly signage in town. I took a snap.

Binan side trip

Of course, a side trip completes an adventure. I went to Almond’s house. That was the time I met, Bianchi, the old bike of Almond’s brother. It was a good feeling since Bianchi was able to go out for a ride. She and Cham peddled right through the tunnel of Binan just beside South Luzon Expressway. What a ride!

I felt that Cham became a Santa too as well for Bianchi. Looking forward to my next biking sleigh weekend! h

*ice cream vendor; **public transportation in the country inspired by the US military during World War II

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

12 Monthly Reasons why we should all enjoy Philippines

24 11 2011
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Guam, USA

1. HIKING to Pulag in JANUARY – via Ambangeg trail, hike up the highest mountain in Luzon at 2,922 asl. Enjoy the breeze and see the most beautiful sunrise

2. Balloon ourselves up for the HOT AIR BALLOON in FEBRUARY – every year, Clark has the most extravagant celebration of hot air balloon and aviation sports event

3. Join or arrange your own OUTREACH programs in MARCH – go any where in the country to help indigent families

4. SWIMMING with the Butandings in APRIL – go south of Luzon to the Bicol region and enjoy swimming with the quite gentle yet humongous whale sharks of about 15 ft

5. SUNDUNE in MAY – make sure it is the early rush for you to go up north the Ilocos region and enjoy a 4×4 short circuit. If you miss the first two weeks of the month, rainy season will already be a hindrance to your fun!

6. SNORKELLING to the Cross Marker and Sunken Cemetery in JUNE – challenge yourself while you “fight with the tide” as you reach the marker of Camiguin island. The current is so strong that you will end up riding a boat on your way back to the main island.

7. ZIP LINING in  JULY – go to the longest zip line of Bukidnon and enjoy the view of Mindanao while you are wearing a harness

8. WHITE WATER RAFTING in AUGUST – get the splash of your life in Davao during the Kadayawan festivities. It may be a prelude to your Mt Apo (the highest in the country at 2954 asl) adventure.

9. SEPTEMBER REEF WALKING in Boracay  – go to the Visayas region and look like an astronaut for once, with your diving helmet

10. CATCH the vinta* REGATTA in OCTOBER with your lens – be amazed with the colourful ala Latin festivities of Zamboanga City in the island of Mindanao, southern part of the country

11. PAY TRIBUTE to the Kabayan Mummies of Sagada in NOVEMBER – take the late bus bound to the north of the country and immerse with the culture and prepare yourself as a travelling archaeologist

12. DECEMBER MOUNTAIN BIKING in BATANES   – cool down and enjoy the slow-paced life in the Batanes area, the north most part of the country. And surprise yourself if you are still in Asia or not..h

*vinta-traditional boat

One “Good Morning!” for Hagonoy after the Flooding

16 10 2011
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Hagonoy Bulacan, Philippines

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The volunteers greeted the locals “Good morning!” (Magandang Umaga!). The ambience was very positive. All locals were eager to receive their bag full of goodies (canned goods, rice, noodles, bottled water, clothes etc).

We were supposed to go last week. But the flood has not subsided yet. We finally were able to reach the school early morning today and immediately started distributing the 250 relief bags. All volunteers moved to their posts and gave the bags to the locals who were on queue. With “bayanihan spirit”, distribution ended efficiently after an hour.

I was able to interview some of them. With teary eyed two of them told me, “Malaking tulong po ito sa amin. Salamat po sa Dios at sa inyo” (This is a big help for us. Thank God and thanks to all of you!).

One kid even shared with me that she was in the same school when the flooding happened. Her mom almost got drowned. She thanked GOD for saving her mother.

Hagonoy is a coastal area in Bulacan who got hit by the massive flooding during the September typhoon Pedring and the alleged water released by Napocor (National Power Corporation).

NOTE: Should you wish to donate on any similar endeavour, you may drop me a line so that I could endorse you to the organized humanitarian Clubs I know of.  Thanks in anticipation! h

I Walk the World to End Hunger

29 05 2011
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Mall of Asia (MOA)
Manila, Philippines

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Three years in a row doing the traditional walk.

Every year, I do it with volunteers who believe that hunger will end around the world specially in the southern part of Mindanao . I hope the hunger will end soon. 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

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