Mt. Lanaya: The Confession of a Solo Mountaineer

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“Hesitates. Gets the phone. Thinks. Shakes head. Gets up. Gets back to bed. Hesitates.”

My life these days has gone to square one and the big word, “HESITATES” loose freely on my forehead like it has been there since time immemorial. Sedentary. Routine. Stuck – these are the words I repeatedly geared in everyday draining my only positive energy left in this corporeal body.

Run away? No. Freeze time? If I could. Work out? Too lazy but I should. Then what? I asked myself a trillionth time what I should do that makes sense in my life again.

If Moulin Rouge were a modern day musicale, I could have sang its catchphrase – “The most important thing of all is to love and to be loved in return.” But I am no damsel in distress. The love I have is something that conquers mountain. The passion which engulfs this carnal being is the prowess of being human.

The conventional thinking of being motivated is way too overrated. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Ergo, my motivation lies somewhere new, modern, contemporary – something not mundane; never trivial. So where am I heading? Which direction should I take? I am in search. Yes! I should hold on to that new exciting thing; something different.

In brevity, I am back to self searching. And this is where my confession begins…

It was more than a year plan – to climb Mt. Lanaya but it did not materialize until I had the courage to ask my friend, Gee who was a resident in Barangay Legazpi, Alegria, Cebu Province.  I honestly wanted to back out because of that black dog of depression and hesitation tailing me. I was afraid to take even a short leap from my comfort zone. I was totally scared to unveil the unknown. However, I yearn for a lifestyle change. I demand modification not only the place I am dwelling in but my perspective – a paradigm shift.

I then packed my essentials and agreed to meet up Gee even it was already very late in the evening. At 12 midnight of October 31, 2015, we headed our way to Alegria blissfully hitch-hiked Gee’s friend in their mini-van. Though the night trip was painfully exhausting (we arrived in the town proper at 4a.m. on November 1), her mom’s generosity kissed us a long-morning sleep until we woke up just ready for lunch. On a Soul’s day, I did something apart from the usual observation. I visited Mainit Spring in Malabuyoc, did a little stroll at the beach just across Gee’s house, joined a bountiful lanzones/langsat harvest (locals termed it as “buwahan”; Scientific name: Lansium domesticum), and biked Barangay Legazpi to Malabuyoc.

My thoughts went astray from the side-trips. I drifted to a place I had been craving. The word “hesitation” deeply suppressed in my cerebral cortex.  I realized that I was the one creating my own fear; my own insecurities and my own hesitations. I was the one twisting my world in a down-sized picture instead of capturing its entire panoramic view.

"Life is an adventure, dare it."
“Life is an adventure, dare it.”

That night on November 1, I slept soundly to bed thinking of the next day – my scheduled climb to Mt. Lanaya, Alegria. But the morning of November 2, 2015 started grumpy because of the downpour. At 7 of the clock, cumulo-nimbus clouds were still teasing me by threatening a rainfall. But I was not discouraged. That could be the only time for the kind of adventure I greatly desire so come hell or high water, my climb will pursue.

"The rolling terrain is a campsite for those who want to stay overnight."
“A sight which relaxes my eyes.”

Despite of the fickle weather, I was already talking with Gee about my plans and how determined I was to summit Mt. Lanaya that she never held me back. “Rain or shine, Gee,” I remembered telling her. And before we knew it, my guide started the trek to the jump-off point.

"The hills are so much greener..."
“The hills are so much greener…”

It was an uphill assault. The weather by that time changed from cloudy to humid up to hot then finally into light drizzles. My guide, Nino, was a young adult whose sideline is by guiding mountaineers to Mt. Lanaya. He informed me that the climb will take 4-5 hours depending on the trekker’s pace. Since it was 11 in the morning when we commenced our trek, I told him that he would determine his own pace and I will try to keep up. We passed by picture-perfect of view of the strait between Cebu and Negros Oriental, a rolling terrain ahead which serves as a campsite and peacefully, seeing green trees and grasses.

"Engaging inside the jungle."
“Engaging inside the jungle.”

Vastly speaking, it was already a non-stop trek all the way up to the hut where we asked for a refill of our bottled water before submerging ourselves to another knee-jerking uphill struggle in the forest. It was no joke climbing up. My supply of oxygen was short-changed by the mountain’s inclination. Nonetheless, there was an overwhelming feeling whenever I stopped and looked behind – the blue seas, and the greenery.

"Mountains always offer magnificent views."
“Mountains always offer magnificent views.”

The chilly wind started to blow at 1 p.m. whilst dark clouds accumulating the sky. It was beginning to rain when we were at the top of Kalo-Kalo Peak (Mt. Lanaya). But it didn’t stop me from standing up and basically, admiring the 360-view. I finally made it to the top of Mt. Lanaya after all the hesitations and the indecisiveness.

"Life is a promise, fulfill it."
“Life is a promise, fulfill it.”

For some time during the climb, Nino kept on checking on me if I was alright. He sounded concerned because first, I was a girl and alone and I did not look too fit for a climber. From time to time, he asked me if I needed rest but I smiled on him and replied, “I could keep up.” I no longer look fit since the 10-kilo gain on my normal weight. I became a couch potato who referred “eating” as my solitude to “escaping” my unstable emotions. I was deteriorating because I allowed myself to deteriorate.

"Life is life, fight for it."“Life is life, fight for it.”

This solo climb is a manifestation of the real deal. I may get stuck in a certain period of time but in the end, it is my sole self who will carry me through to the finish line. This confession of a solo mountaineer is a confession of every one of us who becomes immobile. We shouldn’t wait for a long queue in our life’s traffic instead we must find our way out to the clear expressway.

How to Get There and Around:

A private vehicle is preferably convenient and hassle-free, of course. For commuters, you can follow the following directions:

  1. Take a bus in the South Bus Terminal bound for Malabuyoc. Ask the bus driver or the bus conductor to drop you off to Barangay Legazpi, Alegria – Barangay Hall. The fare is around P170. Ask for a discount if you are a student (just present your student’s identification card).
  2. In the Barangay Hall, a registration fee is required for every climber. P50 by the time I had my climb. They can provide a guide. During that time since it was a holiday, I had a hard time looking for one. Good thing that my guide was my friend’s relative thus he gave me a great favor. Guide fee is P500 for a pack of 5. During that time, I had to pay P200. I did not regret it though. I was safe and the guide was really doing his job.

What to bring:

  1. As I always emphasize in my posts, always prepare your climbing essentials – a snack or trail food, something for lunch, an extra cash and water. Mt. Lanaya is a challenging mountain to climb because there is no water source except for the house before commencing the forest. I suggest bringing 2 liters of water and an electrolyte drink – Gatorade or the like.
  2. During the first few hours, the terrain is bared with shady trees. So I suggest to bring sun protectors – hat/bandana, arm protector, and sunblock.
  3. Be mindful of your surroundings. ALWAYS observe mountain etiquette – “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs. Kill nothing but time.”
  4. Watch out for some snakes. I did not mean to scare you but when I had this climb, I had encountered snakes in three different places. Of course, I was the one invading their territory so I couldn’t blame them for being aggressive.
  5. Since you are in Alegria, do some side trips. Visit their tourism office for more information. The staff are really friendly and accommodating. Enjoy!

 

 

#CBSTalks: Best Blogging Practices

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Cebu Bloggers Society (CBS), Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino and Smart Communications present #CBSTalks: Best Blogging Practices

#CBSTalks: Best Blogging Practices is one of the major events that Cebu Bloggers Society is holding this year. This initiative manifests the Society’s commitment to promote best practices and nurture professionalism in blogging and social networking.

Patterned after the rousing TED Talks, it will feature Cebu and Davao’s best digital influencers who will share their personal inspiring stories of best practices related to content, website management, ethics, and online interactions, among others.

Their stories will be captured on film, edited and uploaded on Cebu Blogger Society’s YouTube channel, website and other social media channels.

Join us on November 28, 2015, 9AM-4PM at the Jimei Room of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. Admission is FREE! Visit http://www.cebubloggers.com/cbstalks for more registration details.

This FREE event is organized by the Cebu Bloggers Society, Cebu’s first and premier blogging organization, established on February 14, 2008.

CBSTalks Best Blogging Practices

Co-presentors

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider.

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino is the official venue of #CBSTalks. The hotel is grandly situated at the heart of the city’s commercial and business district. A convenient 30-minute drive from the Mactan International Airport, the hotel is home to 561 guestrooms and suites, 10 wining and dining outlets, and is popularly known for its superior meeting and conference facilities. With a seating capacity of up to 4,000, the hotel’s Convention Center is outfitted with 4 function rooms and 2 grand ballrooms designed to host all event types and sizes.

Gold Sponsor

Megaworld Corporation is the Philippines’ biggest developer of integrated urban townships and the largest lessor of office spaces. As the country’s pioneer in integrated urban township developments, Megaworld now has 18 townships all over the country. The Megaworld Group has around 4,000 hectares of land in its portfolio. Around 80 percent have been dedicated for LIVE-WORK-PLAY townships or mixed-use communities, the concept of property development that Megaworld pioneered in the Philippines way back in the 1990s. The townships combine the residential, office, commercial, retail, recreational and institutional components to form mixed-use communities.

Silver Sponsors

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Program Flow

8:00AM-9:00AM – Registration
9:00AM – Welcome Remarks
9:10AM – Morning Session
11:40AM-12:40PM – Lunch Break
1:00PM-3:40PM – Afternoon Session
3:40PM – Closing Remarks

The Speakers

For full list of speakers, their topics and profiles, visit http://cebubloggers.com/cbstalks/.

So what are you waiting for? ADMISSION IS FREE! So register now at http://cebubloggers.com/cbstalks/

Mt. Kan-irag and the Golden Yellows

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Let me start this article with Robert Frost’s famous poem: “The Road Not Taken”. Here are his first few lines:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;”
We are all travelers in this road called “life”. Some gave up traveling as they encountered harsh obstacles; others simply continued walking even though it meant surpassing each roadblock. Each step we take could lead us to our destination and each path we choose could either make us or break us. After all, it is not just about our goals but how we get there. It is how we deal with these predicaments as we go on to our life long journey.
The road I am taking this time is the road I had been yearning for so long – series of adventures and sometimes misadventures, traveling from one place to another, eating luscious food – sometimes, exotic and grotesque ones. Most of all, meeting new friends who share my passion.
And this is where I am leading you, my fellow travelers, the road I have been taking while influencing a young soul to travel with me – a road up to the mountain. It was a clear January sky – a fresh start to a new year; Apol, my mountain buddy, An Angel, our new travel buddy, and I were already riding motor bikes while catching up the morning sun at Brgy. Baugo. With good vibes for the new year, we were now having our first trek for the year at the same Mt. Kan-irag.
"Apol's travel companion at Budlaan Falls"
“Apol’s travel companion at Kabang Falls”
I have been climbing back in this mountain for several times, each trekking experience was distinct from each other and the climb I had with Apol and An Angel made a lot of difference. An Angel, being a first timer, was all with “ahh’s” and “wow’s” while we were still trekking to Kabang Falls. However, the usual river trekking and reaching the highest falls weren’t feasible because of the slippery boulders, we opted for a detour.
Mt. Kan-irag
“Reaching Budlaan Falls”
The trek was quick until we reached the water reservoir and had our lunch. A quick rest and then we continued trekking to Brgy. Sirao when we hoped for Nanay Merla’s store opened since we were already craving for an iced-cold soda (we often call this store our very own version of “7 Eleven”). The store was closed so we stretched some more in the greenery up to Mt. Kan-irag and this is where our great adventure happened.
Mt. Kan-irag
“Passing by the pond”
Apol was now at the shoulder of the mountain when she happened to glimpse a field of yellow flowers. She went down a little path then caught her breathe when saw the brightly colored golden yellows with a farmer taking a stalk at a time. She called us out so An Angel and I immediately followed her – and loo! What a sight to behold! It was like being transported to Libya when Ulysses and his men came across with lotus-flowers which induced them to sleep. I was dreamy holding a bunch of golden yellows – I had never hugged bunches of fresh flowers in my life! It was really a sight to behold and an experience to remember forever.
Mt. Kan-irag
“Those golden yellows are great delights!”
We were all smiles and the screams of amazement were all pouring from our happy mouth especially when the farmer gave us a bunch of those lovely bright flowers. Of course, we need to continue up to Mt. Kan-irag before the afternoon gets dark. We politely bid farewell to the kind farmer and commence our trek to the grassy slope of the mountain.
After 45 minutes, we were already “hooraying” at the top of our lungs when we had our 360-view of the sea (to the Northeast is the city of Lapu-lapu and Olango Island) and the summit (to the Northwest is Mt. Mauyog; the Southwest is Mt. Babag). Our new travel buddy as well was “awed” by her experience.
Kan-irag 5
It was one great trek and we all agreed that it was while we were heading down to J.Y hitchhiking. We were glad that we had our little detour and our experience made a lot of difference from our previous mountaineering experience.
(P.S. Some golden yellows that were given by the kind farmer were offered to Virgen dela Regla as it was the farmer’s request. Of course, we never refused him instead we were glad to do his little humble favor.)
Finally, let me share to you the last few lines of “The Road Not Taken”,
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Mt. Kan-irag
“At the shoulder of Mt. Kan-irag enjoying a scenic view.”

Updates on Mt. Kan-irag: Barangay Baugo now enforces that every climber must log-in to their Barangay Hall near the basketball court for monitoring. This new policy issued by the Barangay captain is to look after the welfare of climbers since there was an incident of robbery and mishaps that involved a foreign climber sometime this year – 2015. So, let us bear with this new regulation for our safety.

How to get to Mt. Kan-irag:
1. From Jollibee A.S Fortuna, Mandaue City, take a cab going to Talamban and tell the driver to stop you by Sunny Hills (P9.00 for the fare). There is a junction there going to Barangay Baugo. Habal-habal drivers are willing to take you there for a fare of 25 pesos per head. From there, you would be hiking and river trekking Budlaan Falls.
(A word of caution: Never attempt to cross the river when it had been raining the previous night – the current on the next day is expectedly strong and the boulders are slippery).
Tips:
1. Be ready with your pack – water (at least 1 liter), snacks (trail food especially those with high-sugar), oral hydrants/salt, lunch.
2. You can take your lunch at the reservoir but it is preferable to have it in Nanay Merla’s store in Barangay Sirao. There is a little hut and they offered some refreshments. If you are lucky enough, they could even invite you for a flower harvest the next time you’ll have the climb.
3. Wear protective gears – rash-guard, visor, sunglasses, sun block and leggings.
4. Respect the locals and be friendly enough – they will do you great favors! (Trust me!)
5. Don’t be afraid to hitchhike on your way home – somewhere in Ayala Heights down to J.Y. (tried it several times but again, always be careful and learn to trust your gut).
6. Common mountain etiquette: “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs. Kill nothing but time.”
Enjoy!

Heart’s Day Climb at Mt. Naopa

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“Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.” – Barbara de Angelis.

I immediately fell in love with this quote when I asked my students to prepare some quotes fitting for the Valentine’s day. The same feeling when I am asked about how in love am I to climb mountains. Since I was introduced to this kind of hobby, I began to see it as my very soul that livens up my mundane reality. Not being so defensive, enjoying a piece of this solitude is something I would hang onto to forever.

The date was set – February 14, 2015. The place was set as well – Mt. Naopa, Naga. I have been craving to climb this mountain for so long but never had the company and more information about it so it took me just this year to finally decide to take my shot and summit the 584 MASL, Mt. Naopa.

Mt. Naopa
Mt.Naopa on a clear Sunday morning

Well, the pinching truth about working as a public school teacher is you need to complete the school days required even if it means having classes on a Saturday. Indeed, it is still quite a shock for me but then, I need to have a better grasp of my new profession before complaining my a** out of it. Regardless of that Saturday class that ended at 6:10 P.M., I scurried my feet from Olango Island all the way to Eskina Rikio, Naga. With all the heavy traffic, influx of people at the bus terminal and oh well, lovers holding hands, flowers all around, and red balloons I could glance at sometimes made me smirk secretly. As for me, knowing with pride, my Heart’s Day would be spent into something else – night trekking, and scaling another mountain.

I was cautious on that night travel yet my speech failed me when I was meters beyond the so-called “Eskina Rikio” or Rikio Junction where I would have had a motorbike ride all the way to Cogon Chapel where my friend, Sir Henrey would meet me up for a night trek up to the hills of Naopa. I was just lucky then when a good motor biker happened to ask me where I was going (his name was Paul, by the way) and took me to the junction, himself. I only had my thanks to give him. It was quite an exciting ride from Rikio to Cogon Chapel. Imagine this, for the first few minutes, I was riding into a total darkness with only the moon’s luminescence and the mountains sandwiching the road. There were some bumpy, and winding ride until I saw a festive night up in Cogon and finally met Sir Henrey and Sir July (first time I made acquaintance with).

And so began the night trek – carrying my bag which was quite heavy (packed some of my greeting cards I received from my students on that day and my clothes I used in school and three kinds of footwear and of course, my camping essentials). Besides our headlight, the moon guided us up to the top while the wind greeted us with its cold brush. Once we reached the top, I was surprised of the big company – we were a bunch of campers whom I wasn’t really familiar with. I had my meal which I deliberately savor while listening to their jokes and conversation. I was silent for the meantime but didn’t mean I was bored. I was more like being introvert than being the opposite one.

At the break of dawn but sad to note that land area  bared - told that was a result of quarrying. (sigh)
At the break of dawn but sad to note that land area bared – told that was a result of quarrying. (sigh)

I could remember that the camp fire broke out because of the rain and we went to our tent one by one preparing to sleep the rain out and what accompanied it – the cold wind. The next thing I knew, it was already dawn where I need to find my personal space to answer the call of nature. As I glanced at the site, I could see the great backdrop – the sunrise shedding its rays to the earth, the mountains surrounding me (us) and the city that seems so tiny and consumed.

Greeting the sunrise on Mt. Naopa  with a smile painted on my face
Greeting the sunrise on Mt. Naopa with a smile painted on my face

Oh! I felt screaming at the top of my lungs and thanking my decision to come and to celebrate with them. The fervor I felt when hugging the scenery was so intimate like hugging a partner whom I never have yet. (I once had and I could equate that feeling.) We had breakfast and climb some more hills and did the usual landscape photography, selfie and groufie.

Lessons learned: Never be afraid of taking a step from getting what you really love. Yes! Love is a great force more formidable than any other. My love of traveling, of conquering mountains and of enjoying life as I seem it to be surely give me enough strength to fulfill them one by one. I do need a partner to share my interest with but for the moment, let this independence be my wind beneath my wings to soar somewhere I love going.

How to get to Mt. Naopa (584 MASL), Naga

1. Take the South Bus Terminal. Ask the driver to drop you by Eskina Rikio (before South General Hospital, right side, just across Petrol Gasoline station and at the junction, there is a bakery store – forgot the name though). Unfortunately, I was told that bus fee would just be 25 pesos but then I was asked to pay 40 – never argued though. But on my way home, I paid only 20 pesos – the same bus liner (Ceres Bus – non-airconditioned).

2. Eskina Rikio (Rikio Junction) – Take a habal-habal ride/motorbike ride and ask the driver to take you to Cogon Chapel, jump-off point to Naopa. Trekking Mt. Naopa is an hour or two depends on one’s pacing. Night trekking isn’t a problem but one should be familiar with the trail, of course. Well, habal-habal ride costs 35 pesos per person. I paid 80 pesos which I don’t mind at all. The driver was too kind and he drove me safely and entertaining me with information about the mountain and uh well, him being a resident there.

Literally on the summit of Mt. Naopa. Glad I was with Sir Junrex, Sir July and Sir Henrey.
Literally on the summit of Mt. Naopa. Glad I was with Sir Junrex, Sir July and Sir Henrey.

Reasons to Enjoy Olango Island

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“You are making the island as your rehab,” my friend quoted this one to me unexpectedly when we were climbing up Mt. Babag one weekend in August.

“Nothing beats the island,” I smiled while thinking about the great things that happened to me ever since I was assigned in Olango Island to practice my teaching profession.

Indeed, I suck about my past but it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t move forward to begin my future as a clean slate and the island helped me to become who I am this time – a better me and a great teacher!

"The Blue Sky and the Sea"
“The Blue Sky and the Sea”

My travel paranoia doesn’t mean to end when I began my profession; rather, it pushed me to explore the area whose land capacity is almost half of Lapu-lapu City. Furthermore, with 12 barangays and some more islands surrounding Olango, I would have the luxury of time to visit each island during my entire stay here.

1. Enjoying a Tour in its Bird and Marine Sanctuary

With the migration of birds from China, Japan and some other countries from the north , the rich wetland of Olango Island has become a common stopover of these migratory birds. Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary is the best spot to watch these flocks especially during the months of September and February. I had the chance to watch some kinds of birds such as the heron and the sandpipers together with my friend one day when we were photo shooting around the island. Well, bird watching in the island costs P10.00 for local tourists. (Prices vary whether you are a local tourist or a foreign one.)

"Heron"
“Heron”

Just before we turned left heading to the bird sanctuary, a kilometer bamboo-bridge led us to an open view  of the sea and a floating restaurant as soon as we reached the end of the plank. We saw different variety of sea creatures – schools of fish, shellfish, pufferfish and water snakes in its translucent water.

2. Enjoying a Wonderful Road Biking Experience

Bike rentals are available in a very affordable price. Imagine touring Olango Island in a half day just by paying P10.00 per hour by biking. Jarlou (www.kasakaymo.blogspot.com) and I went all the way from Sta. Rosa to Poo to rent a bike. We had the chance to visit different barangays starting from Poo (visiting Bird and Marine Sanctuary), Bas Coral (Casa Blanca and Sagastrand Beach Resorts), Suba Sabang (drinking coconut water and visiting Shalala Beach Resort) and finally, Tungasan (stopping over at its boardwalk) before we returned the bike we rented.

"Biking is fun in Olango Island - somewhere in Maribagani, Bas Coral."
“Biking is fun in Olango Island – somewhere in Maribagani, Bas Coral.”

As for my opinion, biking in Olango Island is not only a healthy and fun way to tour the place but also a chance to know the local folks and witness at a glance the simplicity of life.

3. Enjoying the Simplicity of Life

When Jarlou and I had a stopover at Suba Sabang for a refreshing coconut water, he asked me a trivial question and it went like this: “Is success parallel to happiness?”

I smiled at her while giving a calming sigh, “When you biked on the street for the first time, did you feel happy?”

He said, “Yes”

“Did you consider it successful that at last, the activity that you longed for so long was finally accomplished?”

He answered again, “Yes”

“Well then, success is paralleled with happiness in that instance.”

"The smiles of these kids are simply contagious."
“The smiles of these kids are simply contagious. – Tungasan Boardwalk”

I, too, realized that enjoying life didn’t need a lot of cash (of course, if you wanted to do something financially draining). A simple smile and doing something for the first time is a whole lot depiction of life’s simplicity.

4. Enjoying one of the Most Breathtaking Sunsets

One thing that I am so in love with Olango Island is its crimsoned sky when the sun sets upon the horizon. The transition maybe quick but it is something that I am longing to watch every afternoon the moment I stepped out from the school. The sky is painted with tinges of orange, pink, and red as it signaled the coming of the night with its dramatic scenery. I was so glad to have captured such beautiful sunset together with my friend as he went on taking photos of such natural phenomenon.

"This scenery is something that takes my breathe away."
“This scenery is something that takes my breathe away.”

The very good thing about a sunset? It is for free and it makes you savor life a little longer as hope envelopes in your heart for another day to come.

5. Enjoying the Fullness of Life

"I found this little thing inside Sta. Rosa Church"
“I found this little thing inside Sta. Rosa Church”

Above all the reasons, traveling or visiting Olango Island makes you feel better after the scurried-hurried city life. It makes you feel the sea breeze brushing your cheeks, it makes you feel that life has so much to offer to be wasted. I have been learning all these in the island that I now considered home.