WATCH How Pampanga lanterns ‘twerk’

Miley and the girls from Brandon Beal’s music video, “Twerk It Like Miley,” were not the only ones to specialize in this newest form of dancing. Last December 19, at the Robinsons Starmills grounds, the city of San Fernando gave the word its own Kapampangan interpretation, as the annual Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) proved once again that they truly deserved the title “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”

 

"Al dove u all," a variation of AlDub, the phenomenal tandem from Eat Bulaga's Kalyeserye.

“Al dove u all,” a variation of AlDub, the phenomenal tandem from Eat Bulaga’s Kalyeserye.

 

TWERK IT

Now on its 107th year, the lights of the eleven colossal lanterns, each around 20 feet high, twerked through a music show amidst the rain on the opening day. Brgy. Dolores was hailed as the overall champion while Del Pilar, Sindalan and Calulut bagged the first, second and third runner-up awards, respectively.

 

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The Giant Lanterns of Pampanga are run by electricity and controlled manually by using these rotors.

 

So how do these electricity-driven, manually-controlled lanterns twerk? Watch this:

 

 

THE ALDUB SOUNDTRACK

Released in 2014, the song, Twerk It Like Miley, was even popularized locally by the segment, “That’s My Bae” on the noon time show Eat Bulaga. The song eventually became part of the soundtrack of the show’s phenomenal segment, Kalyeserye, featuring Pambansang Bae (National Heartthrob) Alden Richards and Dubsmash star, Maine Mendoza. The tandem was later on known as AlDub, which was a combination of Al from Alden and dub for Maine.

The lanterns also twerked to the tune of Dawin’s Dessert, Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5, and Bigbang’s Fantastic Baby, all of which were also included in the soundtrack. Watch the lanterns dancing to theses tunes here:

 

 

THE TRUE SPIRIT

But using festive songs, with a little bit of spice in them, did not mean losing the true essence of the image of the lanterns, the star which guided the Three Wise Men towards the child Jesus. An figure of the Virgin Mary and of Christ on the cross were featured in Brgy. Sindalan’s parol.

 

 

 

The asset of the lantern of first runner-up Brgy. Del Pilar featured a dove, symbolizing peace and bringing “al dove,” a variation of AlDub, across also.

 

 

 

 

Brgy. Sindalan also paid tribute to the Philippine flag to the tune of Francis M.’s Mga Kababayan Ko.

 

 

 

SPREAD THE LOVE

The world-class lantern performances were re-staged at Essel Park at Brgy. Telebastagan on December 22. The following day, Brgy. Sindalan witnessed the lantern twerks at Greenfields Tennis and Country Club Inc., where the Viewfinder took all her videos. On December 26 and 27, Angeles City watched the lights at Marquee Mall. The lanterns had returned to Robinsons Starmills from December 28 – 30 and would be illuminating Clarkfield on New Year’s Eve. They would be spending the first 6 days of 2016 back at the same mall.

 

 

From the Facebook page og Giant Lantern Festival 2015.

From the Facebook page og Giant Lantern Festival 2015.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

If one would be going on a road trip, Pampanga would just be one to one and a half hour drive from Manila. Just cross the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and take the San Fernando exit. Robinsons Starmills would just be after the toll gate.

If one would be taking public transportations, any bus going to Bataan would be passing by Pampanga. The said buses also had a bus stop at Robinsons Starmills. Genesis or Bataan Transit terminals in Cubao or Pasay would get anyone to the city of San Fernando. Bus fare would be just around a hundred pesos.

 

 


The Ligligan Parul truly was one of the most festive celebrations of Christmas in the country. And for the tradition to last more than a hundred years meant that our Kapampangan craftsmen were able to go with the trends over time. And so this year, they made the lanterns twerk. In 2016, the year of the monkey sure would be bringing something naughty and cheerful for the world to see at the Giant Lantern Festival of Pampanga.

Pursuing Polaris, Seven Years Ago

It was the year when DSLRs started capturing video, and memory cards began dethroning mini-DVs in the film and photography industries.

 

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At the Dominion Bus terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Circa 2008.

 

 

The year was 2008. It was the semestral break of our third year in film school. For the following term, we would be asked to present our production theses and proposals. And the pressure was just so overwhelming that we felt lost and did not know what to do.

We all knew where our compasses pointed and so we decided to find ourselves further north. We went on a trip, not towards the Cordilleras where most people would go to, but somewhere northwest.

After more than eight hours of traveling by bus, we found places willing to share their experiences with lost souls like us. And they were none other than the provinces of Ilocos.

 
A Place to Look Around

In Science, the first step in the scientific method had been to observe. And where could we go to see an overview of the whole situation? High places had always been perfect spots, just like the Bantay Belfry.

Situated on top of a hill, the campanile of the municipality of Bantay provided one of the best views of Ilocos Sur. Built during the 1590s, the brick establishment served as a watchtower for enemies since the Spanish Period up to World War II.

The Bantay Belfry, towering over Ilocos Sur.

The Bantay Belfry, towering over Ilocos Sur. Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

 

But the tower was not made only to spot intruders. It was also a good place to check what the vast world could offer young castaways like us. And upon seeing the entirety of the picture, we decided to visit the Spanish checkerboard of the nearby city of Vigan.

 
Crossroads at Vigan

Intersecting roads might be more confusing to those seeking the right path. But the timeless beauty of the cobblestones and the capiz shell windows were telling us that they might be holding the lead to our search.

 

 

A piece of technology amidst the centuries-old surroundings. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

A piece of technology amidst the centuries-old surroundings. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

 

The Heritage Village of Vigan never lost its magic through the years. The calesas continued to transport guests back in time. The place was even hailed recently as one of the New 7 Wonder Cities of the World.

Calle Crisologo and its old Spanish houses would always remind us of our rich history. The place taught us, that for us to be able to move forward, we should, every once in a while, look back to our past.

 
Pottery is a process

Pottery had been a craft practiced around the world ever since mankind began. And it remained to be a process ever since.

 

Danboard overseeing the burnay-production. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

Danboard overseeing the burnay-production. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

 

The Pagburnayan of Vigan, located a few minutes from the Heritage Village, was a living demonstration that the best things in life never happen overnight.

From the gathering of clay to the molding of the jars up to the kilning process, pottery sure was a craft requiring specific skills and a lot of patience. And so was film and other significant forms of art.

 
Test of Strong Winds

So did we really have the patience? We braced ourselves and embarked on another three-hour bus ride to witness the coastal towns of the nearby province of Ilocos Norte.

And just before we reached the municipality of Pagudpud, the first test of endurance greeted us, “Hello!” Strong winds came rushing, blowing away everything on its path. And they were no ordinary winds. They were strong enough to make 20 colossal pieces of steel rotate to produce energy.

 

The epic Bangui photo of Sheig Encelan. windmills

The epic Bangui photo of Sheig Encelan.

 

The Bangui Wind Mills, inaugurated in 2005, were one of the major sources of electricity in the region. Because of the strong winds, the shore was covered with chunks of polished stones instead of the usual white sand.

Journeys were made exciting by these strong winds. And the best way to get through them was just to glide and go with the flow.

 
A Long and Winding Road

A few more minutes on the journey and the winds finally subsided. But it was just a starter. We were welcomed after by a majestic view of the West Philippine Sea and a significantly winding road.

 

Are you willing to go through Patapat Viaduct? Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

Are you willing to go through Patapat Viaduct? Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

 

The 1.3-kilometer Patapat Viaduct connected the Ilocos Region to Cagayan Valley. The word viaduct came from the Latin words via meaning ‘road’ and ducere, meaning ‘to lead.’

The ride through it was nice and sweet. And true enough, this winding road was really kind to lead us to our final destination.

 
The North Star

Finally, the fine white sand beaches of Brgy. Saud in the town of Pagudpud brushed the soles of our feet. And being on a journey to find our true north, the Polaris Beach Resort caught our attention. And luckily, they even offered us a fair student discount.

It was already dark. The six of us sat quietly by the shore, staring down at our sand-laden feet, while enjoying the sweet hum of the waves.

Everything was so calm and serene. There were no bars by the shore. There were no drunk people dancing around bonfires. There were no loud music. It was just the sand, the sea and us.

Hours passed by quietly. Drowsiness was slowly pushing our backs flat on the sand. Looking up now, we finally saw what we were looking for.

Apparently, we were not alone that night. We were accompanied by the stars, beautifully arranged in the velvet sky.

And there at the center was the genuine Polaris, outshining all the other stars. And the experience was like an electric shock to our veins. Right there and then, sweet smiles were etched on our faces. Every trace of being lost was now temporarily gone.

 

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There was a rainbow behind us. There was… really. haha. Pagudpud 2008.

After 3 days and 2 nights, we were able to find what we were looking for. We went back to the bustling streets of Manila bringing with us those shining ideas for our theses.

Seven years after, in the year 2015, we are still wandering, this time in this so-called real world. And being lost in the real world is nothing compared to being lost at the university. We were now on an intensified search of ourselves, hanging somewhere in the time-space continuum.

Consulting the compasses of the real world can be overwhelmingly confusing. They point to a variety of paths that lead to a variety of goals.

But upon looking back on this trip, we are reminded. The night sky offers a wide range of stars and dreams. All we need to do is to find our true North Star, the one that outshines them all.

Hong Kong and the Lost Tripod

Still can’t get enough of Hong Kong? Here is one of my very first blog posts, detailing how my friend’s tripod got lost in our first trip abroad.

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The Magical Disneyland castle.

The Viewfinder

It was the time when one of the major airport terminals in the Philippines was disturbed by a royal rumble between a celebrity couple and a veteran media man.  According to reports, it all started with the unannounced offloading of the couple’s luggage from their overloaded plane.  Still according to  reports, there were also no CCTV cameras installed in the baggage conveyor area of the airport, making it impossible to check on the actual happenings.

Unfortunately, our flight to Hong Kong was booked in the same airline.  But fortunately, we weren’t in the same airport.

It was the wee hours of May 26 when Mai, Jombits, Ami, Sheig and I, arrived at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga.

diosdado macapagal international airport clark angeles pampanga

Except for Sheig, this was our first trip abroad and we initially did not plan to check-in any baggage as we are in backpack mode, and also to…

View original post 1,901 more words

Pagsuong

Maulap ang umaga. Makapal rin ang hamog. Mukhang hindi akma ang umagang ito sa pag-akyat sa rurok ng bundok, nguni’t wala na kaming pagpipilian. Ilang araw na rin ang aming pinalipas sa dormitoryo sa camp site dahil sa tuluy-tuloy na pag-ulan.

“Kung hindi kayo aakyat ngayon, hindi natin alam kung kailan muling titigil ang ulan,” banggit ng aming tour guide na si Kuya Nato. Kaya’t iniwan namin pansamantala ang aming mga gamit sa dormitoryo at minabuting sumuong na.

At ang malakas na pag-ihip ng hangin ay lalo lamang nagpalala sa lamig ng panahon.

Ipinagpatuloy namin ang aming paglakad. Habang tumatagal ay pakapal nang pakapal ang hamog. Parami na rin nang parami ang nahakot na putik ng aming mga sapatos. Palamig na rin nang palamig ang panahon at ang aking paghinga ay palalim na rin nang palalim. Inatake na ako ng aking hika.

This post had been transferred by the author to another blog named “Nimotsu Counter.” To know what happened after the character had an asthma attack in the middle of a hike to the peak of a mountain, kindly click here.

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Post-climb or Pulag Hangover?

Part 2 of 2 of the Cold Chronicles

Part 1: Breathless at Pulag


 

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Definitely breathless at the summit.

The descent from Mt. Pulag was definitely full of pride for me. The congratulatory remarks from the people who were just embarking the climb were just music to my ears that day. And Breathless never gave me trouble again after we both enjoyed the summit experience.

When we reached Camp 1 again on our way down, I added another layer of clothing from the existing two layers. Our group came to a consensus that it was colder there at the moment, compared from our ascent the previous day. And so we bade everyone there loads and loads of luck (with an underlying meaning of “beware of the cold”) as we continued our descent.

When we reached the ranger station, I was overwhelmed by the number of hikers seeking the sea of clouds.

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This was the ranger station when we started our climb around 2PM on a Friday. When we went down on a Saturday afternoon, the place was filled with hikers. Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

After munching on some fresh snacks from the food stalls, Kuya Fermin, our jeepney driver, finally arrived.

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Nessa and Kuya Fermin. In case you need his services, you may contact him at 09474545044. Photo by Karah Decapia.

And this was when fatigue finally swept everyone to sleep.

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Photos by Karah Decapia and yours truly.

 

 

 

When we all woke up, Kuya Fermin brought us here.

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The Ambuklao Dam. Photo by Tim Reyes.

 

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Photo by Tim Reyes.

 

Ambuklao Dam is one of the major water reservoirs and hydroelectric power source in Bokod. And it sure was another source of breathtaking landscapes from the beautiful province of Benguet.

ambuklao dam

Benguet. Still leaving us breathless.

And after another hour of zigzag roads, we finally and treated ourselves to a sumptous feast at the famous 50s Diner located at General Luna Road corner Brent Road, Baguio City.

50s diner baguio

Feasting.

 

And this was where we parted ways. Karah, Tim, Ralph and me decided to stay in Baguio for one more night while the rest of the group headed back to Manila.

We managed to find an affordable inn along Session Road, and no, we didn’t take our rest yet. Instead, we had coffee at Volante.

volante baguio

Their apple pie was highly recommended and their Volante coffee truly was so strong that I worried if the weariness from this very long day could send me to sleep that night.

But eventually, it did. With the help of the soft bed and blankets, fatigue became more powerful now than the cold. But the low temperature still stayed at the side of our beds that night.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and were suddenly in the mood for art.

oh my gulay baguio

Oh my Gulay!

 

To get to the Oh My Gulay Artists’ Cafe, we did a post-climb exercise as we ascended five flights of stairs inside the La Azotea Building along Session Road.

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Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And through the works of passion and the relaxing ambience, OMG could truly extract the inner artiste out of each guest.

oh my gulay baguio

Photo by Karah Decapia.

The healthy menu and good coffee were even the best companions to keep those brain cells oozing with creativity.

omg2 copy oh my gulay baguio

Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

After our organic banquet, we planned to go to a cultural village but Ralph had an emergency and needed to get to Manila the soonest possible time. So Karah, Tim and I grabbed a cab to Pinsao Proper, Baguio City while Ralph offered to secure three more bus tickets for our trip back that night.

tam-awan village

Tam-awan Village shares a glimpse of the Cordilleran heritage from the arts to its customs and traditions.

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Inside the Bugnay Gallery. Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

tam-awan village

Shelter.

tam-awang village

And what I liked best about the place was that it provided us another post-climb routine after the Pulag trip.

tam-awan village baguio

Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

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Photo by Tim Reyes.

 

But while we were enjoying our mini-Pulag adventure, Ralph called to tell us that all tickets bound for Manila were already sold out. The next available trip would be at 1:00AM the following morning so he would take his luck through the long queue of chance passengers.

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Anito.

So we bade the anitos goodbye so we could already secure our tickets.

But along the way, we saw the market. The vegetables and coffee were too enticing so we got to them first before the tickets.

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Gulay. Photo by Tim Reyes.

So when we finally got hold of our tickets, they were already for the 2:30AM trip! And it was still four o’clock in the afternoon. I never had so much time to spare! So we decided to roam around a little more, until we found this place.

lagalag baguio

The climb continued at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road.

 

The shop had all the stuff one needed for mountain-climbing: walking sticks, trek pants, backpacks, water jugs, harnesses, stoves, etc.

lagalag baguio

But after feasting our eyes on yet another post-climb experience, we still had a lot of time on our hands. So we just continued walking along Upper Session Road and saw this.

No, we were not interested to have a massage and spa. What caught my attention was the Cinematheque. Unfortunately, the last film for the day just finished. So instead of films, we went to visit the books.

And the Pulag hangover remained.

mt cloud baguio

Tim and Karah browsing “Akyat!” by Romy Garduce.

 

The place was just relaxing and features a wide variety of books.

mt cloud baguio

Soon it was dark and our stomachs started to get grumpy.

grumpy joe

 

grumpy joe

Their pizza and pasta definitely relaxed our grumpy stomachs.

grumpy joe baguio

We finished dinner at around eight o’ clock. How many more hours do we have before 2:30AM?

We decided to walk around some more, though the cold was starting to get to my nerves again.

Along Session Road, we found a booksale shop. The placed offered books from fairytales to biographies. They even have a section offering 50% discount for all the books. So we tried our luck.

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“CD and DVD Recording Dummies”

 

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Guide to the Internet.

Most of the books in the section might seem obsolete but I was able to unearth a valuable piece of non-fiction there.

It was 10:30PM when we left the shop. How many more hours do we have before 2:30AM?

Across the street, the Night Market along Harisson Street greeted us a chilled welcome.

And that was an ukay-ukay haven. All sorts of second-hand and brand new items could be found around the area: from clothes to shoes to kitchen utensils.

We finished our window shopping at around 11:30PM. We decided to spend the rest of the time at the terminal where we witnessed how many passengers were taking their chances. The queue was still long even until past midnight.

I started reading my book and never thought I would get so teary-eyed just on the first few pages of this compilation of true-to-life stories about death. And I continued crying as the temperature went lower and lower.

At long last, the clock struck 2:30. We boarded our bus and said goodbye to the chance passengers who seemed to be witnessing sunrise at the terminal.

And as we went further and further from Baguio, the temperature started to normalize.

mt arayat sunrise

Mt. Arayat in Pampanga. Next climb? 🙂

 

We now reached Central Luzon as the sun wished us a very good morning. The descent was now complete.

Breathless at Pulag

Part 1 of 2 of the Cold Chronicle


 

We were born together. We even grew up together. And he had always left me breathless ever since.

He was the chill and quiet type. But he was also very moody at times.

This childhood friend of mine was strict with my engagements with outdoor activities. He said that he should be the only one to leave me breathless. He became too possessive and was fierce whenever I tried to sneak out. One could hear his wrath beneath my chest. It was a special tune, resembling a mad bird, that reverberated through my whole respiratory system. And it was definitely a sound only he could make.

nebulizer

His Filipino name was Hika. His english name was Asthma. But I would like to call him “Breathless”.

And maybe Breathless was also the main reason why I was so vulnerable to cold climate. And we were talking about cold temperature in the Philippines here, Central Luzon and National Capital Region to be exact. We did not have winter but my feet was already turning purple every December to January because of the cold mornings.

So when my friend Karah initiated a Mt. Pulag climb during the peak of the cold season in the country, I was determined to use the month-long pre-climb period to train and accustom my lungs to the cold.

Mt. Pulag, the third highest peak in the Philippines, was located in the province of Benguet, an area known for its mountain ranges and cold climate. So the sloping streets of RP Gulod, Novaliches became my training ground twice or thrice a week. I tried to do it every early morning but work just did not permit. And yes, I needed to do it early morning to catch the cold.

shoes

It was a Friday morning, around one o’clock, when I and my friends left Manila via Dagupan Bus bound for Baguio. I had two layers of clothing at the moment.

At three o’clock, we were around Tarlac area and the cold started to creep inside my lungs. I added one more layer to my clothing, a total of three layers.

Our bus surprisingly arrived at Baguio City at around 5:30 in the morning. And I was really overwhelmed by the cold. I added another layer of clothing, a total of four layers.

oblation University of the Philippines Baguio

So if I take my Masters this year, would I graduate on time? I just had a photo with UP Baguio’s Oblation! 🙂 Photo by Karah Decapia.

We had our breakfast at a local fast food chain and went to the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio campus to meet our reliable service vehicle.

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Our lovely jeepney.

 

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Because the blur was an effect of the 4D, haha 🙂 Photo by Ralph Ubales.

We left UP Baguio at around nine o’clock in the morning. And there started our three-hour 4D theatre viewing of soothing sceneries from our mechanical screens on both sides of the jeepney.

mountain range benguet

The Mountains of Benguet.

The seats were also specially made so you can realistically feel all the bumps and curves of the zigzag roads of Benguet. The heat of the sun through the window could also be realistically felt that I needed to remove two layers of clothing. I had two layers left at the moment.

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A baby girl and her mother joined us in our jeepney ride towards the mountains.

After eating lunch at a nearby carinderia, we went to register and hear some short reminders from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office.

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A short seminar for those seeking Mt. Pulag.

Then another hour of sceneries welcomed us as we finally reached the ranger station at the the foot of Mt. Pulag, where we met our tour guide, Kuya Tiryo. I added one layer to my clothing, for a total of three layers.

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Another view from the mechanical screen of the 4D jeepney.

 

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Let us see until when this smile will last. 🙂

We started our trek at two o’clock in the afternoon. And I just took my first few steps when I began to hear the whistling rage of Breathless inside my chest. Uh-oh, not this early please.

Mt. Pulag

We were still at the cemented road but Breathless was out of pace already. 😦

But when I turned to my right, I saw why Breathless was enraged.

panorama Mt Pulag

“A view that will leave you breathless.”

My Breathless surely was jealous of the sceneries that would definitely take one’s breath away. And so with each step, this asthma got worse. I needed to use my brown bag as an improvised air mask.

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Breathless, please let me reach the summit. Photo by Karah Decapia.

 

Mt. Pulag

And yet another reason for being breathless.

Thank God that after forty-five minutes, Breathless was able to adapt to the altitude and the thinness of the air around. And I felt like I needed to keep going to keep my breathing momentum aligned with the climate.

At 3:45 in the afternoon, we reached Camp 1 where we rested in a small shed. But it seemed that the altitude was even higher here because Breathless started whistling again. I even added another layer of clothing, a total of four layers now.

camp 1 Mt. Pulag

Kuya Mil at Camp 1.

 

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Rest. Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

After around thirty-five minutes, Breathless stabilized itself again. I thought it was a good thing that the intervals became shorter. I prayed that my breathing continue to calm down.

Mt. Pulag

Breathless with the silhouette.

And my prayers were answered as the wrath of Breathless finally subsided when we reached Camp 2 and prepared for the night.

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Setting-up. Photo by Jed Lising.

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Outfits of the Day. Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

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Pasta al dente on top of Mt. Pulag. Yum! Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

The cold of the night was really getting to my nerves. I now had six layers of clothing, gloves, two pairs of socks, a scarf and a bonnet on but I still could not feel any warmth. And the strong rush of the wind was not helping at all.

And then dinner ended and I and my friend Nessa were the ones assigned to do the dishes. I never thought that the water could literally burn my hands because of its frostiness. And as the time went by, I could no longer feel my hands. My knees started to tremble and my jaw began to shake. So we did the dishes fast and finally zipped up our tents.

But even the hands of the clock were frozen that night. The hours seemed to pass by so slow and the fatigue from the ascent was not enough to send us all to slumber. Even the sleeping bag, human warmth and the tent could not keep us safe from the cold. I definitely would not be fit for winter.

The only good thing about this abnormal temperature was it sent Breathless to sleep that night. And I was thankful for that. Battling the cold would have been more torture if Breathless came to make a scene that night.

Soon, it was three o’clock in the morning. It took us almost an hour to prepare and have coffee because our little butane stove was no match to the chill of the atmosphere.

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Even inside the tent, the water couldn’t heat up that fast. Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

 

Then I made a makeshift poncho from my blanket and put my rain coat over it for extra warmth as we started the one hour trek towards the summit. I now had a total of eight layers of warming material around me, but it was still cold, gah. But I thanked the Lord that Breathless was still at dreamland at the moment.

And this was what kissed us a very awesome morning when we reached the peak at around five o’clock.

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Definitely breathless at Pulag.

 

And yes, Breathless never bothered me at all while we were at the summit. Maybe because he realized that he could not compete with what we discovered at the summit.

panorama sea of clouds pulag

So who wouldn’t lose their breaths from this sea of clouds?

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Even the view from the other side surely was breath-taking! Braving the cold was definitely worth it! And I was thankful for having really good shots here because the cold was making my hands tremble, I thought all my photos could have been defocused.

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And after experiencing these magnificent God’s creations for three hours, we trekked back to camp.

And the rest was history.

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Photo by Karah de Capia.

 


 

This trip was a milestone for me because, first, Breathless never bothered me for the rest of the descent and I want to congratulate my lungs and my whole respiratory system for braving the cold. Secondly, my mountain-climbing skills and stamina had now improved because I was not the one at the end of the trek line anymore. I wasn’t the slowest hiker in the group now. I was even next in line with my friends, Karah and Tim, who were the master trekkers in the group. And this was just an achievement for me. Congratulations, self!

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Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

 

So where’s the next climb? 🙂


 

Next Article coming soon: “Post-Climb or Pulag Hangover?

 

Halughog-Bataan: Straight Ahead

First Article of the Halughog Series Halughog was the Filipino term for ‘ransack.’ But I want to call it the passionate search.  This will also be this blog’s official term for road trips. The term was first used by my dear friend … Continue reading

EPOL and the Rain Bearer’s Mended Heart

Part 2 of 2 of the December Waterfall Chronicles


 

A week after the heartbreaking Kawasan trip, I was still craving for an “authentic” nature getaway.

The 22nd of December was a rest day for the Davao leg of our nationwide event. So I tried my luck on one of Davao’s finest.

It was quite a long bus ride. My bus window showed a free film featuring breath-taking mountain views. The sun was shining brightly and the clouds cast various shadows over the green meadows and forests of Mindanao. The chill of the wind was particularly evident as the bus traversed over the zigzag highway. Christmas was surely coming.

The bus was jam-packed that morning. Even people from this part of the country were cramming for the holidays. People climbed up the vehicle with all sorts of baggage: sacks of rice, coal and cotton; containers of fish and other sea food; bags full of native delicacies; vendors selling durian and mangosteen candies; and boxes and boxes of gifts. Christmas was definitely round the next corner.

epol falls highway

I went down at the middle of the highway at Sitio Bagong Silang, Brgy. Baganihan, Marilog District, Davao City. The place was around five more hours away from Cagayan De Oro City.

epol falls yellow bell

A native specie of Yellow Bell.

Across the street, I saw a nipa hut selling a variety of plants. And there I saw the signage.

 

My feet subconsciously stepped backward. I was getting allergic to the word “resort” when attached to waterfalls (see my heartbreaking Kawasan Falls trip here).

But then I saw this path.

epol falls

I started to feel the ants walking over my feet. There was a sigh of relief.

epol falls

Birds began calling me and a grin registered on my face.

And the gush of the water made adrenalin flow through my veins. This was what I called “genuine adventure.”

The Ate at the entrance, to whom I paid seven pesos for maintenance fee, said that I just needed to follow the path and I wouldn’t be lost. Sounds familiar, eh? But she was washing some clothes and didn’t offer me any apples so I applied my insect repellent and moved on.

I came across a magnificently-shaped tree. My heart was already jumping. I could already sense the waterfalls from here.

Then I came across another nipa hut. There was a Kuya who asked me again for another seven pesos. I couldn’t remember seeing any furry ears and tail behind him so I thought he was also telling me the truth when he said, “follow the path.”

I came to a wooden makeshift staircase where I saw this. And I was frozen right then and there.

epol falls

 

It was just… beautiful.

And it was just a perfect timing. The group that got there before me were already leaving when I came. So now, the waterfalls was all mine.

 

epol falls

Yes, a selfie.

 

 

(sigh) Isn’t it serene?

epol falls

(sigh)

epol falls

And for the next two hours, I just sat there staring blankly onto the falls, drowning my consciousness onto the melody and succumbing my senses to the depths of the icy waters.

 

That afternoon, the rain poured, as the sun was shining brightly over the clouds.

The place was just enchanted. The rain bearer was in love.