“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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).
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. ALWAYS observe mountain etiquette – “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs. Kill nothing but time.”
- 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.
- Since you are in Alegria, do some side trips. Visit their tourism office for more information. The staff are really friendly and accommodating. Enjoy!
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.
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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.
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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
For full list of speakers, their topics and profiles, visit http://cebubloggers.com/cbstalks/.
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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:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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!
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.