Missing KL and SG

It had been a year now since I took the multi-cultural photographs of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Malaysia National Mosque

Inside the National Mosque of Malaysia.

As I wrote in the Travel section of the 2015 First Quarter issue of The Electrical Engineer magazine:

On the far corners of a photograph are limestone caves beautifully lit by the rising sun. A towering minaret and the statue of Hindu god, Murugan, compete with Petronas over the horizon. An enormous Buddhist temple oversees Chinatown, where the Merlion statue stands proudly. A jam-packed train passes by, filled with Malays, Indians, Chinese and Muslims braving the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore rush hours.

With its wide range of destinations both for the city-dwellers and the nature-trippers, Malaysia and Singapore are few of those nations which can extract the most multi-cultural photographs out of a traveler’s camera.

Get to know these destinations in a free copy of the magazine in this link:

The Electrical Engineer is the official magazine of the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. My article is at page 24.

I also wrote a different story of that trip here at Baggage Counter. 

That night, while roaming around Kuala Lumpur Chinatown searching for good food, I thought I found another Pinoy when someone shouted “Maganda (Beautiful)”. When I looked around, he was an Indian and offered me some Malaysian souvenirs after confirming that I was a Filipina. These Indians sure knew how to make a Pinay smile.

You can read the full blog post in this link.

Enjoy reading! 🙂

Fireflies: Reminiscing Kenshin and Kaoru

Puerto Princesa, Palawan is not just about the beaches. Situated about less than an hour from the heart of the city is a kingdom of bioluminescent insects in a place called Iwahig.

And to update my post about it, which I originally wrote in 2014, the Kenshin-Kaoru firefly scene has been slashed from the live-action movie of Rurouni Kenshin. For those who are interested to read my review of Kyoto Inferno, you can access it in this link.

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A wall decor at the headquarters of Iwahig River. Photo by Nessa Gabrillo.

The Viewfinder

Article 2 of the Palawan Chronicles

Palawan Day 1: Iwahig Fireflies


It was 4:00 in the afternoon. After deciding to stay in Puerto Princesa for the night, Nessa and I checked in at a lodge near the airport and walked around the area.

We met a trike driver who offered a price lower than the normal rates of Puerto Princesa tours. So we decided to take the firefly watching tour.

Iwahig was a long drive from the center of the city. And we became feast to the hungry mosquitoes when we came to Iwahig River.

Photo by Nessa Gabrillo Photo by Nessa Gabrillo

There was a fee of 600 for boat rental, which can accommodate 3 people.

And our tour started, this tour of firsts.

It was my first time to ride a katig boat so I was a bit nervous. It was this narrow boat with wooden balances at the sides, known as…

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The Red Dot Airline: A Blessing in Disguise

As I am patiently waiting for my next trip, let me share to you once again the series of posts I made during our Palawan trip. I already shared one a few days ago. I now present to you Article 1 of 7.

The Viewfinder

Article 1 of the Palawan Chronicles

Palawan Day 1: Puerto Prinsesa


Sleep. Even on a vacation, I am in need of sleep.

I ended the Christmas Day of 2013 with a nap at 11:30 in the evening. I woke up at 1:00 in the morning of the 26th to prepare for my trip from Bataan to Manila. At 2:00, my uncle brought me and a cousin to the bus terminal. And by 2:30, the bus was driving to the city while everybody was asleep.

And surprisingly, I was able to reach Munoz, Quezon City at 4:00 in the morning. And at 4:30, I safely returned to my apartment in Novaliches.

I packed my bags and by 7:00 I was already on my way to the airport. At 7:45 in the morning, I was battling with myself if the exaggeratedly long line in MRT North Avenue could get me any nearer…

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A Song for my Darling Serenity

It’s Throwback Thursday! And now that I am itching for my next travel, let me bring you once again to a kingdom of ultimate serenity, Palawan.

The Viewfinder

Article 7 of the Palawan Chronicles: Last Article


DISCLAIMER: I recommend listening to the song “Cool Change” while reading this to gain maximum serenity.

And this exhibit launches in 5, 4, 3, 2…. .

If there’s one thing in my life that’s missing

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It’s the time that I spend alone

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Sailing on the cool
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And bright clear water

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Lots of those friendly people

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They’re showing me ways to go

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And I never want to lose their inspiration

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I was born in the sign of water

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And it’s there that I feel my best

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It’s kind of a special feeling

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When you’re out on the sea alone

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Or Sun? Or Sun?

Staring at the full moon like a lover

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Time for a cool change

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I know that it’s time for a cool change

.

Now that my life…

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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…

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HONG KONG: A Reblog from Hacking Travel Asia

Chi Lin Nunnery, Diamond Hill, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

My Hong Kong travel secrets finally revealed at Hacking Travel Asia. Here is a reblog from their site.

Asia: Korea Vietnam Indonesia Thailand Taiwan Etc

Sheen Irerick Seeckts Shares Insider Secrets of Hong Kong for Expo Printing Co.

Twitter: @SheenSeeckts | https://irerick.wordpress.com/

Blog about this page and Facebook it so people will find it and love you!

Amidst its seemingly-expensive and highly-urbanized streets, Hong Kong also offers a night life fit for tourists on a tight budget.

From four in the afternoon to twelve midnight, Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok, Kowloon is closed to all traffic to give way to the “Ladies’ Market.” The place is a shopping haven not only for ladies but for gentlemen as well. All sorts of items can be found in the area: clothes, accessories, bags, shoes, various souvenirs and even toys. You name it, they have it here.

There are actually a bunch of stores selling the same items so shopping here also means using your Sherlock skills to find the right item and the right bargain for…

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Travel Secrets: Hong Kong

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An apartment in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Disneyland? Victoria Peak? Lantau Island? Are you tired of the usual tourist destinations? Are you the explorer type of person who is fond of the “road less traveled”?

I shared some hot and top-secret destinations in Hong Kong in Hacking Travel Asia.

Plus know a place that resembles some of the locations of Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express!

And learn a destination where you can watch Hong Kong classic films from renowned directors!

Only on Hacking Travel Asia!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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

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Photo by Karah Decapia.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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Shelter.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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

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

grumpy joe

 

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Their pizza and pasta definitely relaxed our grumpy stomachs.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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?