The SMP Road Trip

Cebu, also known as Sugbu, is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with Cebu City (oldest city and first capital of the Philippines) as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. This province is in the center of Philippine archipelago and is bounded by the Visayan Sea in the north; Camotes Sea in the east; Tanon Strait in the west; and Bohol Strait in the southeast. With a land area of 4, 932.79 km2 (approximately 200 km long and 40 km across) the southern part of Cebu can be traveled within a day.

It was after our scuba diving session when my friend, Ivan, suggested the idea of driving around south of Cebu province. He said to just chip in for the fuel, bring food, camera and yourself. He wanted to see Osmeña Peak and since we haven’t been there, everyone excitedly agreed.

“Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

The December air was cold, so we grabbed a coffee first to keep ourselves warm and started hitting the road at 4am. Also every Christmas, the SMP is always in in the Philippines. This actually stands for Samahan ng Malalamig ang Pasko which means a group of single people with cold Christmas Holidays. Yes, we are single and our hearts were already used to being cold so we jokingly named our group as SMP but with different meaning. SMP stands for Samahan ng Mambabalat ng Patatas (group of potato peelers) because of the movie Princess Sarah and its memes circling around social media. (hay naku Pinoy, dami kalokokan)

Of course, in every car ride, there would be a driver, the navigator, and the sleepers and snackers a.k.a. the backseat chillers. And since I was the “Dora the Explorer” of the group, I was assigned as the navigator slash travel agent slash shotgun passenger (because there is no sleeping and I need to make sure that the driver is awake) slash DJ as I also manage the playlist. Easy-breezy. Like duh! *multi-tasking*

We took the route via Argao and had breakfast at Jambalaya Restaurant. It’s not fancy but you can enjoy a cheaper meal by the sea.

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You can have a nice view while eating fried fish. haha! (c) Sarah

After having a breakfast full of laughter, we continued then, stopped at Dalaguete so we can go to Osmeña Peak in Mantalungon. Ivan parked at one of the establishments and we rode a motorbike going to the mountain. You will find these motorbikes along the highway and you need not to worry as they offer driving voluntarily for Php100.00/pax.

Mantalungon is like Baguio in the south. It’s cold, and you’ll get to see huge, tall trees, cabbage plantation, and a wide landscape of green grass. From the drop off, and a small environmental fee, you will be hiking up the craggy hills, with strong blows of wind from different directions but you will also be blessed with beautiful views.

Osmeña Peak

This peak was named after the native Osmeña clan, one of the oldest and most established political dynasties in the Philippines. It stands at 1,013m above sea level and known as the highest peak in Cebu. These hills make up Mantalungon ranges and stretch as far as the municipality of Badian and were considered as a twin to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.

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(c) Ivan

It was cloudy, windy, and gloomy when we reached the summit – a total contrast when you look down the other part of Cebu.

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Feeling on top of the world? Oh, yeah! (c) Ivan

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(c) Ivan

We got to take a lot of photos including planned stolen shots (lol) and played Mannequin Challenge on our way up and down the peak. We were also teasing our friend, Ivan, as he was heart-broken that time. I took 300+ snapshots but too bad, my memory card was corrupted that I wasn’t even able to look at them. Now, I am also heart-broken! huhu! Thanks to Ivan who was also taking photos on his phone. But still.. huhuhu.. *cries in the corner*

Anyway, Filipino people were known as being resilient so when the camera pointed its way to us, we all smiled. Parang hindi nagdrama. Ganern!

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Bilisan nyo at magbabalat pa tayo ng patatas! (c) Ivan

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L>R: Sarah, Harmon, Rio (c) Ivan

We continued our road trip down south with windows rolled down. Whew! All those rice plantation on the right and sea view on the left… This is life!

We had a stop over at Boljoon. If you want a nice photo, drive pass the curve and stop at the car park across the heritage church. There you will find the right spot for a perfect photo.

Sanayon or Igwaron Site

We had another stop over at Santander, the very end point of Cebu. Sanayon or Igwaron Site is just along the road. The name was derived from the word “sanay” which means multiple, and this site was said to be built to honor the town’s abundance of harvest. According to the locals, their livelihood came from the sea thus the site was built just right there.

Also, if you want to go to Dumaguete, you can find the port at Liloan, Santander.

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Like water, she can either cleanse you or drown you. (c) Ivan

Aguinid Waterfalls

The group decided to chase waterfalls as we approached Samboan. We were all wearing sneakers so imagine how we climbed the waterfalls on our shoes, denim shorts, and sweaters. (LOL) But nothing can stop us!

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I am Eve. And Adam might be lost, was hit by a bus or something. (c) Ivan

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After half an hour of just swimming, picture taking, climbing up the falls and sliding down, the tour guide told us that there are another falls on top, so we convinced him to take us there for an additional pay. Actually, falls #6-8 are not open for tourists since there is no trail. No ropes either. You need to climb falls #5 in order to get there. But we believed that we are like cats with 9 lives so without any rope or harness, we climbed up. I was the first to climb and then, it hit me. You know, humans have this habit of destroying anything that’s beautiful so I told Manong Tour Guide to not open a trail to protect the other parts of the waterfalls. But these photos will tell you how it looks like up there.

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chilling… (c) Ivan

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I really believe that I am an ambassadress of nature. (c) Manong Tour Guide

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Samahan ng Mambabalat ng Patatas (c) Manong Tour Guide

The photos were brownish because it was gloomy that time and the phone was inside a zip lock.

After spending some time chilling in the pool beneath the waterfalls, we went down on a different trail and continued the road trip on our wet clothes. (Hindi kami prepared, besh. haha)

Alegria Heritage Park

Aside from stopping for bathroom checks, we also stop for sunset shots. And since Alegria has the perfect sunset, we decided to have a stop over at the park. This park really has a different appeal to me.

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Waiting for the right one. (c) Ivan

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Spot light from heaven. (c) Harmoon

My mom might have known that we were taking photos because look! A spotlight!

We continued and stopped at Moalboal for a snack before hitting the road. Our last stop was Molave Milk Station at Barili. The best ice cream in the south! They have different flavors. I’ve been there a couple of times so I already tasted all of them. LOL.

It was already 7 or 8pm when we reached Mandaue, Cebu.

That was a tiring yet enjoyable day. One thing is for sure, everyone had a great time. A road trip is a great way for barkadas to spend time and annoy each other in interesting new places. Also, it’s not really about the destination but the wild stuff that happens along the way, like singing your lungs out with the windows down on a 90’s tune (probably boy bands), grabbing chips from someone’s hands when they’re not looking, taking photos of people sleeping, record the snoring, and battling if you decline their music request or not.

Also, I’ve learned that road tip is actually composed of:

1) “Are we there yet?”

2) “Are we there yet?

3) “I have to pee.”

4) “Are we there yet?”

 

P.S. 

To my dear friend Harmon, 

I was shocked and wanted to ask why you went too soon. It hurts, Harms. I am certain I would never find another friend like you. You were You and I love you from head to toe. You were just perfectly imperfect. I am sure the heavens is glad to earn another angel like you. 

Our road trips, food trips, and back to back travels will always be remembered just as much as we remember you being a part of it. You might be gone but your memories will stay alive. 

Your friends will let go of the tears but please, promise us that you are OK in there, that you are smiling and is in good shape. We are hurting but we promise to carry on. We will miss you, Harmon.

‘Til I see you, sesh. 

Love, Rio

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Kisses in Bohol

“Can I have a kiss?”

In the US, when you say, “Can I have a kiss?” it doesn’t mean physical affection but also means having sweets ever since Milton S. Hershey introduced Hershey’s Kisses in 1907 – a famous brand of candy in the west.

And if Hershey had kisses, we also have one in the Philippines, and not just one but 1,260 giant chocolate kisses which we call “Chocolate Hills“. Unfortunately, it is not a candy but just like Hershey’s, its conical shape and colors can also release endorphins in the brain when you see them.

There were 3 legends that go around these hills but since I am a hopeless romantic, I prefer the one where a giant named Arogo fell in love with Aloya, a simple mortal. Her death caused him so much pain and misery. Devastated, Arogo cried his heart out and when the tears dried, chocolate hills were formed.

Of course, geologists didn’t believe that so a study was conducted. According to them, the chocolate hills were formed million years ago by a combination of the dissolution of limestone by rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, and their sub-aerial erosion by rivers and streams after they had been uplifted above sea level and fractured by tectonic processes. And on 18th June 1988, The National Committee on Geological Sciences declared the Chocolate Hills of Bohol a National Geological Monument.

Chocolate hills sit on Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan in Bohol. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of 50 square kilometers (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass that turns brown during dry season (April and May) hence, the name.

Bohol is just across Cebu and I was lucky enough to go there with friends. And since it was a Team Building Trip, it was free! #SalesPaMore

It was in the month of July when we visited so the hills weren’t that chocolatey but I was still excited to see it. Stairs after stairs, I reached the viewing deck. There they are! Oh, it’s matcha flavor. haha! 😁

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Just a pinch of chocolate…

Another place off my bucket list! I had been dreaming to come here since grade school because I only get to see it on our textbooks for Sibika at Kultura, a subject for Philippine history. Seeing them not in postcards makes me so happyyyyyyy!

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Stairs to viewing deck (c) Joyce

We also visited other tourist spots. However, Bohol was struck by an earthquake few months ago that some of the heritage churches were left in ruins. So we only visited the ones we can easily go to.

Dauis Heritage Church

This church is one of the sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in Bohol. This was said to be built in 1920’s after the first one was burned in 1795.

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Lift it all up to God…

Bilar Man-Made Forest

This is a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. This forest was a part of a bigger reforestation project that was created in response to the alarming deforestation in the Loboc watershed. The project started during the administration of Governor Marapao in 1947, which was continued in the succeeding administrations.

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Connect! (c) Merrick

Hanging Bridge

With railings made of steel and flooring of bamboo, it sure would move with every step you make, but was fun!

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My feelings were left hanging. LOL (c)Aljade

Bohol Python and Wildlife Park

This is a nice place to visit to see the wild animals and your bff. haha! 😝

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A wildlife in denim. 😋 (c) Joyce

Butterfly Habitat

Pay this a visit and learn how my sisters and brothers turn from caterpillars to beautiful butterflies. Alright? Now, let me go back to my cocoon and let metamorphosis happen. Like please… 😏

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Do you know that butterflies also play dead when threatened? They play it better than your boyfriend. 😂

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Butterfly Fairy 👑👼 (c) Joyce

Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary

A foundation that aims to preserve and protect endangered tarsiers, the world’s smallest primates, runs this sanctuary. During your visit, be careful not to be too loud as it stresses out tarsiers and can cause them death. Also, don’t use flash when you want to take pictures.

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Tarsier, only in Phil. 😊

Blood Compact Site

This marks the location where Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain, forged a blood compact or sandugo on March 16, 1565 with Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who represented the King of Spain.

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#FriendshipGoals

Hinagdanan Cave

This cave was made of limestone and derived its name from the word “hagdan” means stairs/ladder when a farmer accidentally discovered this and built hagdan when he heard a splash after dropping stones through the holes.

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cavewoman

Panglao Island

Panglao once housed the Kedatuan of Dapitan (Kingdom of Dapitan), an ancient Philippine polity before the full Spanish colonization in 1563. Now, this island is one of the main tourist destinations in the Philippines because of its white powdery sand and clear pristine waters. It also offers amazing views during sunrise.

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star gazing.. 🌟⭐

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velvet sky

There are a lot to see in Bohol actually, like the Abatan River where millions of fireflies settle at night, the Loboc River where you can cruise, the National Museum that features pre-Spanish artifacts, Baclayon Heritage Church that was completed in 1717, Clarin Ancestral House, Sagbayan Peak, Mag-aso Falls, Puntacruz Watch Tower, Balicasag Island, and many more. They also have adventure parks that are not for the faint-hearted. I haven’t tried that yet which makes me want to go back. Also, this time of the year would be best to see the chocolate hills. It would be brown since it’s summer.

I know, I know. I’m far, but I would like to go back.

“Can I have another kiss?”

Love Gift From Poseidon

We all love stories – be it real or myths. For me, I would prefer Greek mythology. And because of the unwavering love I have for blue spaces, Poseidon could be considered as one of them.

In mythology, Poseidon is known as the God of the sea and of other waters; of earthquakes and horses; protector of seafarers and Hellinic cities. In his benign aspect, he was said to be creating islands and offering calm waters. If offended, he would be sending chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings, shipwrecks, or strike the ground with his trident.

They said that he fell in love with Amphitrite, a nymph and an ancient sea-goddess. Even gods do silly things when in love, and creating beautiful islands could be one of his offerings to the goddess. With the 7, 107 islands in the Philippines, I would like to believe that he was feeling extra when he created the Island of Kalanggaman in Palompon, Leyte.

Kalanggaman Island derived its name from the word “langgam” meaning bird in Bisaya, a dialect widely spoken in Central and Southern Philippines. With its two sand bars at its western and eastern tips, when viewed from above it looks like a bird with its wings fully spread out.

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N 11° 7’3.96; E 124° 15’ 1.89”; Distance from Mainland: ~15,90 km; Length: ~753 m; Average width: ~71,8m; Total Area: ~5.4ha

It was a beautiful sunny day when my friend, Philip Nino, invited me to join him in his quick out-of-town trip. Upon mentioning the name of this island, I excitedly said, “Payr!” (a Bisaya version of Fire which usually means bring it on). So the next morning, we packed our things and met with other teams as it was a joined day tour package by Sea to Summit Travelers, a tour agency in Cebu. (For Php1,500.00/pax , everything was already arranged.)

We rode a van and arrived at Maya Port by 7am. Since it was low tide at that time, we rode a row boat that will take us to the rented bangca (a type of boat in the Philippines used for fishing and/or transporting passengers) that was waiting for us away from the port. I think we were 15 people and everyone just wanted to be on that boat at the same time, making the little boat appear heavier than the usual. And too many passengers makes you fear not for your life, but for other things inside your bag that do not know how to swim, your phone/purse for example. But we survived! =P

Note that the island is no longer part of Cebu so after more than an hour sailing in the sea, we reached the pristine waters of Leyte. And since the island is northeast, we need to take a detour as left of the island has strong current while the right was calm. Tides can drag you out to the open sea so swimming is also not allowed on the other side of the sand bar. You need to be mindful on this to avoid accidents.

I always have this weird feeling whenever I set foot at a new place for the first time. When my feet touched the powdery white sand of Kalanggaman, I just felt so happy. I stood there for a moment, looked around and smiled, not minding if I have photos already or not. That time, I was already planning to leave the country so I stood there and made sure to savor every moment.

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See me where the waves meet. (c) Philip

Standing in the crystal clear tranquil waters while facing the island, you will see small cottages and palm trees on the left, and a long stretch of white sand on the right where waves meet at the tip. My friends though were too excited and wouldn’t let a moment pass by without taking photos and I am lucky enough to have friends who take beautiful photos of me.

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F** love, I’m busy getting tanned. (c) Emil

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Wondering where Poseidon is… (c) Philip

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Operation Photo Shoot (c) Philip

This island doesn’t have any resort, too. If you are looking for something fancy, you are wrong. Kalanggaman preserves its beauty by not giving in to the calling for industrial improvement. Bringing tents, toiletries, food and grills will be perfect if you are planning an overnight stay. Once the other tourists leave by afternoon, you’ll have the island all by yourself. Who wouldn’t love sleeping under the stars and the moon, right? And oh, did someone mention skinny dipping?

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Water bender (c) Philip

After lunch, Nikko (Philip’s other friend) mentioned that we will go to Malapascua Island. It was 6.8 kilometers from the Northernmost tip of Cebu, so imagine how far we’ve traveled from Leyte.

After nearly an hour, we reached Malapascua. This island is known for divers as you get to dive with thresher sharks. Giant manta rays and devil rays are also common visitors, and hammerheads, grey reef sharks and white-tip sharks can sometimes be seen. I believe this island has its own beauty so it deserves a separate article. Also when I went there, I was not able to experience everything it offers. Aside from burying my toes in its white sand, I only get to dive in one of the giant rock formations in the sea, a few miles away from the island. The school of fishes there didn’t disappoint me as well as the scary, dark, deep blue sea when I swam too far from the boat.

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Did you notice that it looked like a turtle? Or was it just me?

Going back, I just realized how much Poseidon loved the queen of the sea. Both calm and troubled waters with a long white sand bar is more than a luxurious gift – a gift we all get to enjoy. I do hope people who are lucky enough to be there wouldn’t abuse this or we will all be facing Poseidon and his fury. We don’t want a curse from him, do we?

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Moana… make way, make way! ♫♪

For now, a beer in hand on a sandbar wouldn’t be a bad idea. Bring me the drinks, babe!

Beautiful Alegria

Define beautiful. My friend Merriam said that it means very attractive, pleasing to the eyes, or it’s delighting the senses or the mind. Some say, it is what you see from the outside that catches the eyes. While other say that what lies inside is much more important, making the whole thing beautiful.

I lived in Cebu for quite sometime and I never expected to meet someone from there. It was a good thing that I had been transferred from one team to another that I met Bryan Kenneth (Bree) and treated me like a family. And in the Philippines, if you are a family it means that you are invited in whatever occasion there is. Hallelujah!

One day, he invited me to his niece’s christening. I was greeted with a smile and made me feel so welcome (They even got a new nickname for me! They called me “Ree”). And true to its name, Alegria is indeed beautiful, not just with its people but also with the treasures in nature.

Alegria was once known as Tubud (means spring) because of its cool flowing water. You can still see this tuburan near the main road, where people do their laundry while having a chit chat with friends or just take a bath for hours without paying a high bill for water. Looking up its history, it was said that a group of Spaniards witnessed residents enjoying a festivity with people dancing and having fun. Amused, they exclaimed, “Que Alegre! Que Alegre!” (How gleeful!) thus, the town earned its name.

 

From The Outside

They offer pleasant scenery just along the streets! That means, when you get off the bus from Cebu City, this is what gonna welcome you.

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“Cause we’ve no time for getting old, mortal body, timeless souls, cross your fingers, here we go.” ♫♪ @ Heritage Park (c) Greza

Bus going to the south via Barili usually drops passengers at St Francis Xavier Church. Across the church is Alegria Heritage Park where people usually spend their afternoon taking photos of the sunset, eating street food, or scrolling on their phones as there is free wifi connection around the park. I can still remember that I was on LSS with Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams that day, so in the afternoon, I slid my dress inside my backpack, grabbed my fedora hat and ran to the park.

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“Say you’ll remember me, standing in a nice dress, looking at the sunset, babe… “♫♪ (c) Bree

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I proclaimed Bree as my personal photographer. Good job! (c) Bree

We had snacks at Sun Xi Sea Shack and on our way back, we stopped at Batching for a swim. And what made our hearts jumped with glee? Swimming there was absolutely free as it was just along the road plus it’s a very good venue for watching the sunset. Mother Nature doesn’t really disappoint!

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Pusuan mo naman, besh. (c) Bree

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Katkatera. LOLS. (c) Bree

This was Bree’s backyard. And yes, I climbed that tree just to take a good photo.

 

From the Inside

After breakfast the next day, we decided to explore more. This time, we decided to discover what’s inside their forests and mountains. And just like Samboan, Alegria is also a home of waterfalls. We rented a motorcycle from Sta. Felomina and up up the mountains, we went. 4-5 passengers in 1 motorcycle made it even more fun! Bwaha!

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Only in the Philippines!

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My family in Alegria.

First stop: Cambais Falls

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True or Falls? @Cambais Falls

We trekked for maybe a couple of minutes before we reached this falls. We did not really noticed because we were chitchatting on our way. Then, we reached a cottage where you need to register. There is also a small store that sells chips and drinks. However, it would be best to bring your own food as their offer is limited.

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Natural Pool!

There was also a natural pool around the place. I was so jealous of the locals who get to play there. See that?

Second Stop: Montpellier Falls

This one is actually nearer but we went there on a different day. It also has clearer footpath but you might not notice the trail going there as it is beside a cliff. We get to trek a few minutes then, there it is! A beautiful waterfall in its natural shape and beauty!

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Hidden Paradise

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Take a closer look…

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Like wildflowers, grow in places people thought you never would.

If you are lucky enough, you will find a tall tree there with long vines which you can use as swings. You can play pretend as Eve as this waterfall is not too famous to other tourists. Just don’t get nude, please.

Third stop: Canlaob Falls

People who wanted to go canyoneering usually missed this part of Sangi in Alegria. The start point of canyoneering is actually just a few meters away. Once you started your first jump from that waterfalls down to Kawasan, you cannot go back so it would be best to try visiting this one first.

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Kick-off spot of Badian Canyoneering (c) Xed

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Canlaob Falls (c) Bree

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Peace out! (c) Bree

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Wateerrrrrr!

It was so enchanting to jump into that green waters, and just forget the world. You can jump from the crag, swim for hours, listen to the insects in the near forest or to the sway of the leaves of tall tress, or simply sit on one of the stones submerged in water and feel how therapeutic the water is to your mind, body and soul.

When there’s a constant buzz from the streets and even from the phones in our pockets, it can add a lot of stress and anxiety to our lives. So if you wanted to go for a quick getaway from your city life, Alegria is one of the places to go. From the welcoming people, to the blue scenery in the streets, to the green waters in the wilderness, you sure can meditate and find yourself. You will also see beauty in a different light, and after that, you will feel more connected to the world and those in it.

 

From My Heart To The Heavens

Dear Mom June,

Sawadee Ka, Suway! That means “hello, beautiful” here in Thailand. I know you’re smiling! Do you think I’ve already forgotten how to melt your heart? Nope!

I have been meaning to write to you but I couldn’t. It’s not that I do not have the time but I don’t have the courage. I have always been open to you. You were like my bestfriend, my confidante, my bank of secrets, but this time, opening up my heart would mean opening an old wound that never heals. You know that I always say what’s mulling around my head, and in the last 3 years, I am full of thoughts but letters won’t work with each other. My lips are dying to tell you everything but words won’t come out. My pen has ink but I lost the strength to write. However, I walked down the memory lane today. And while on my way, I kept on looking around because memories came rushing to me as if accompanying me in my reminiscing moment. I’ve tried recollecting the good times which brought tears to my eyes but still able to make me laugh.

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Haziel June M Valencia (June 7, 1961 – Sept 28, 2014)

Remember when I was 7 and you got mad at me? You yelled at me to go out of the house because I was hard headed. And since I am an obedient kid, I left and went to my huge play house made by Dad. It was already dark when you realized that I wasn’t home so you started looking for me. You found me sleeping on the mat but instead of becoming angrier, you laughed when I reasoned out that you shooed me away. So guess where I got my stubbornness?

Remember when I was in 5th grade when you let Aunt bring us to a festival? You said that you would wait for us at the station. It was already 7pm when Aunt let us go. Janne Rae was just 5 years old that time but I took her with me. I only had 2 coins in my pocket thinking that you would pay for the fare anyway, yet you weren’t there when we arrived. Horrified, I looked at the driver and said that I don’t have any money. One passenger said that he’ll pay for it so he let us go. We looked for you everywhere but you were not there. So at the young age, I tried to make a deal with another driver to take us home because you said to always use my common sense. And when we arrived safe, although you were nervous, I could see how proud you were at that time. You thought I was already a grown up.

Remember when I was in 6th grade and you said to add another piercing on my right ear? You said that it will look cool. I guess you were right because my classmates kept on asking me who did it and I was so proud to tell them, “Oh, my mom!” You were also after cute nice things. So when someone asked where I got my shirts, my skirts, my shoes, my sandals, my bags and bar pins, I always say the same.

Remember all the extra curricular activities I attended in my primary years? You were there all the time. You were a stage mom who was always ready with my costumes whenever we have dance competitions. And we always go home with an award.. and some cash..

Remember when I was in high school and our cheer dance practice was every midnight? You were sleepy but you were there holding my energy drink. You always made sure that I am not thirsty nor starving. And that pageant that was against my will? You were there to support me and even made sure that all my gowns are lovely. You even made my oratorical piece. I came home with too many sash that night and you were so happy to display them around the house. You even made a Wall of Fame for our achievements, or a memorabilia with all my photos and letters. You kept everything even the dried rose from my junior and senior prom.

Remember when I was in college and we tried to look for a room to stay but the owner was so mean that we have to move out the following weekend? How about the nights we had to sneak out just because we were hungry? You even bought me so many stuff that my housemates said that my room looked like a grocery store already, or a boutique because of color coordination.

Remember when you braided my hair during my Acquaintance Party? You put beads at the tip of my hair making me looked like a Rastafarian or a sister of Bob Marley. You did it for 3 hours and when I told you to rest, you only said that my hair would be so dope. True enough, our department won that day. You have supported me to absolutely everything.

Remember when we did the census in the mountains that we have to ride a motorbike and climb the hill in 90°? Remember when we have to hug each other in a tiny apartment because it was cold and we did not bring any jackets, when we have to eat with bare hands because we did not have anything and you said it’s fun just like in camping?

Remember when you bought me a thong just because it was cute? God! How could I forget that when I was so disgusted but you were laughing your heart out?

Remember when we chased the neighbor’s native chicken just because you were craving for Tinolang Native na Manok and Adobo? It was reported missing the next day but they did not find out who the culprits were because we hid the feathers so well.

Remember when it was early morning and we have to throw stones at the store just because we wanted to eat dried fish which we called “Goodbye Head”?

Remember when you get mad at me? But instead of nagging, you punched me directly. Lol. I guess that’s the reason why I’m a little bit punchy, too. I got it from you.

Remember when I was heart broken, you called and asked me why I was crying? You said to go out with my friends, go shopping, eat out and sell my ex’s stupid ring? And when I told you that I did, you just proudly said, “That’s my girl!”

All these made you smile. I know you. These were just some of your crazy doings. You liked talking about how crazy you were on your younger years and I can attest to that. You would be telling stories before bedtime, like how you ran away from home and Granddad didn’t catch you on that ship, like how you enticed the battalion’s commander from the rival school so that your troupe can occupy the space, like how you planned a trip to escape household chores and your face will be too red from too much laughing. You might be a crazy cool mom but I always kept the wisdom you shared with me.

As I get older, my appreciation and admiration towards you continue to grow tremendously. You were a perfect image of what to look up to. With everything you have faced in life, and the strength you developed, proves to me that when life is tough, I could be tougher. I hope I never disappoint you. There is nothing I would hate than letting you down because you have always lifted me up, and with all my imperfections, you always made me feel that I am perfect. You helped me see beauty in a cruel world, Mom, and with that, I am truly thankful. Saying “thank you” wouldn’t be enough even. You also said that I should be brave, to always be kind and have courage; to fight back when I know I was right and to stand my ground; to always wear my scars wonderfully as it add beauty to what I already am; to always stay mysterious and make people wonder; to always let go of the things that are not meant for me, that money shouldn’t be a big deal, and to always stay happy. You succeeded in keeping me grounded.

Anyway, I added “travel the world” to that list, if you didn’t already know. Oh, I also got a tattoo. Hep! You are late, I can’t erase this anymore. Actually, I am planning to add one. I know you’ll be mad at the thought but after that, I also know you’ll ask for its meanings. Well, for now I have a compass. This is to remind me that come what may, I know the way. That I always know my way back home.

And oh, I have another one. But it’s more like a living scar. It was sculpted in my heart when you left. It still bleeds and the wounds get deeper and deeper, and the bandage doesn’t help. You taught me a lot of things, but I guess you forgot to teach me how to move on this time. I can’t believed I have survived not seeing you nor hearing your voice. I know you know that every year, I always hold flowers for you – artificial flowers – to let you know that my love for you never dies.  I miss you, Mom. Our home misses you, too.

Sigh… I know you will not be able to read this. I don’t even know if you heard me said I love you one last time over the phone before you took your last breath. But Mom, I am saying it again, Happy Mother’s Day and I love you from my heart to the heavens…

 

Your greatest fan,

Darling

 

Chasing Waterfalls in Samboan

I am always captivated by waterfalls. I chase them whenever I can. Maybe because I love being in the water, maybe it’s the sound of the strong water falling from above that excites me, maybe it’s the fact that I can’t really chase whatever I am after or maybe because it’s somewhere deep into the woods with fairy tale setting that gives magical feeling like you are a fairy or a nymph, except that, the enchanted place is for real.

I am quite thankful that Cebu province has a lot of waterfalls. Data shows that it’s actually close to a hundred, it is just that some were not yet open for tourism. So for now, I am contented to chase whatever is being offered.

One day, a friend from college named, Mikku, invited me for a chasing activity. And knowing myself, he didn’t need to ask twice. So on the following weekend, I packed my dry bag and ran to the bus station.

Samboan is 150 kilometers south of Cebu Province. It is known for its beautiful crystal clear waters with a rich marine ecosystem along its coastal areas. But this time, we intended to discover their attractions hidden in its dense wilderness.

From Cebu South Bus Terminal, we took the 5 am schedule bound for Samboan and got off at the town proper found on the foot of the hill where the St Michael Archangel Church was erected. There’s a Bell Tower up the hill and you can check that one out. From there, we rode a motorbike and chased the nearest waterfalls one by one.

First stop was the Aguinid Falls. This falls has calcium-rich water that turns the rocks into slightly green color and makes the water a bit warmer than other waterfalls, which was good because seeing the entire waterfalls means being wet.

There’s an entrance fee of Php20.00, plus tour guides who are ready to assist you in your exploration. It’s important to note that these guides serve voluntarily and were not paid with a fixed fee so giving a tip is a nice thing to do. Their importance is obvious once you start climbing up the waterfalls especially on level 2.

You will be climbing an 80 degree waterfalls so it would be best to wear flip flops or walk bare foot. The rocks can be slippery but there is a rope you can hang on to and the rocks have holes for better grip. The guides will be there to assist you but it would still be best to be careful. They can also take photos of you so you need to place those cameras or phones inside a zip lock which you can buy at the entrance for Php100-150.

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Feel the water’s current.

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Jade Waters

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Life is tough, my darling, but so are you. (c) Mikku

Second stop was the Binalayan Hidden Falls. It’s not really hidden because you can see a sign just beside the highway and it’s just a 5-10 minute trek away. However, it is not a single waterfall but 2. You will see one shorter water fall before you can find the higher one hidden just above it. It’s called Tridrop Waterfalls. I think the photo will tell you why.

There is an entrance of Php20.00 and a guide will be there to show you around. They can also take good photos of you and can do a demo jump from the cliff right to the waters. I did! You must, too!

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Tridrop Falls

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Binalayan Falls Level 1

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I came in like a wrecking ball! ♫♪

From Binalayan, we rode a bus with our wet clothes going to our third stop which was the Dau Falls. They said that the drive to Dau is very quick and changing to dry pair of clothes would not make sense. Now this one can be a bit tricky. We first thought that it is just near the highway just like the first 2 falls we’ve been to. When we asked for the fare going back and forth, we didn’t really believe that it will cost that much and we tried to negotiate. Lucky enough, the driver agreed but on our way there, we were stunned by how far it was from the main road. (If you pass the coconut plantation and cornfields over the hill, do not panic! You are in the right direction!) The driver delivered us at the drop off center where we need to register and a tour guide waiting to assist from there. Registration fee is Php20.00.

From the drop off, you need to trek maybe for 20-30 minutes depending on your pace. But knowing us, we trek a little faster but still enjoy the beautiful view around us while clicking on our cameras.

The way to Dau Falls is not really that difficult as a solid trekking path was already made. The challenge during our visit though was a slippery trail because it rained a few days ago and it ruined some of the footpath. Our tour guide was an old woman but since she live there all her life, she knows the place by heart. She is also a bit chatty and jump onto the waters which made the tour a bit fun.

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Hanging Bridge (c) Mikku

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Stay close to nature. (c) Mikku

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Into the woods. (c) Mikku

After slipping off a muddy rock because the rails were broken, getting wet because some parts of the trail were submerged in the water, and clearing the footpath, we reached our destination. Then, there she is! The trek might be challenging but when you get there, it is all worth it!

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I’d rather chase waterfalls than chase people. @Dau Falls

We stayed maybe 30 minutes, jumping off its cliff or just listening to the sound of the waters. So relaxing…

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my travel buddies – Mikku & Cefrose

And mind you, this troupe is not just crazy chasing waterfalls, we also chase sunsets. So since Moalboal is along the way home, we decided to drop by. Our last stop is the Panagsama Beach in Moalboal. We grabbed something to eat at Chili Bar, a restaurant by the sea where you can watch a nice sunset while eating a pizza made of chili. Be careful not to burn your mouth!

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our view… @Chili Bar, Moalboal

How about you? What do you chase? Time? Dreams? People? Tell me about it.

 

Send My Love To Heaven

And some say love is holding on

And some say letting go

And some say love is everything

And some say they don’t know…

I slowly wiped my tears away when I heard the lyrics of an old familiar song. I looked up and remember my brother, Jayson Roi. Childhood memories came rushing over me like they were just yesterday; his struggles before his death and the pain I felt when he was gone.

I sluggishly turned my head and a smile curved on my lips when I saw our old picture together and I could not help reminiscing the past. Jayson was a sweet kid. When he came home from school, he used to kiss everyone’s cheeks and he always had something to give. I remember the time when he saw me crying my heart out. He gently caressed my hair and offered a big warm hug. There were times that I did stupid things and he was the first to laugh. He always saved me from dad’s sermon and did the things mom wanted me to do. See? He was an angel to me.

Everything had changed when darkness stepped foot on our simple abode. Laughter turned into tears, dreams into frustrations and happy faces into gray. Jayson was frequently bought unto the hospital and since he always smiled after he ached about his head, no one thought it was already critical. We thought that it was just an ordinary headache or perhaps a migraine. But time came that he was already screaming while holding his head and tend to hurt himself saying, “I can’t take this anymore!” I really loved Jayson that it broke my heart not just in two but into many pieces when the neurologist told us concerning his real condition. The world seemed to stop when we learned about it. It wasn’t headache, migraine or whatever. It was brain tumor! Every time I saw him fighting for his life was killing me. I would not stay long when I heard him scream. It made me sick when I saw that sadness in his eyes. I even prayed that God would take him so he wouldn’t suffer that much.

June 28, 2006 was the worst day ever. We were in the hospital and I was left to look after him. Jayson looked at me and smiled since he couldn’t talk anymore. Half of his body was paralyzed. I could see that he was already tired and wanted to give up. As his sister, I couldn’t help seeing him in such situation. I gently kissed his forehead and whispered, “Take a rest, you’ll be fine.”

It was around 12 noon when God touched him and he slept. For sure, he would be sleeping forever. I didn’t cry at first for I had to be strong. I am the eldest and my family counts on me. Yet moments later, tears ran freely down my cheeks like river when I saw nurses and doctors came rushing into the room, and I saw Jayson turned into paper white. My dad told them to just let him go with the Lord then the commotion stopped. God answered my prayer yet it seemed that He took my heartbeat, too.

It’s already 11 years after his death yet my heart can’t just get use to it. I simply can’t forget such things because he had given me so much to remember. Wherever he is, I know that he’s fine with the Lord. He’s gone, yes, but his memories will stay alive in our hearts. The only thing I am asking now is for the Lord to just send my love to heaven…

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In their loving memory… ❤