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A Weekday at Manila



This vlog was basically a three (turned four) day trip to Manila on a weekday. I didn’t take much footage over the course of the trip because I was saving battery life which was probably not a good idea. Our sole purpose on this travel was to watch Phoenix Live in Manila despite the hectic schedule. I personally had this little list where I planned on going and eating but it looks like time and circumstances did not permit me to follow that said list. 🙁

Many of life’s adventures are unplanned.

Day 0 (Travel)

This is travel day. It was a 2.5 hour bus ride from Iligan to Laguindingan. It was longer than usual because of the checkpoints and road reconstructions, plus it was a rainy evening. Checking-in at Laguindingan Airport was a breeze despite the inevitable boarding delays but all in all it was alright. Just make sure you arrive an hour earlier than the check-in time. Another cool thing when traveling to Manila late at night is that there isn’t much hustle and bustle because traffic wasn’t as bad as usual.

I booked my stay via Airbnb. This was my second experience to try it out and here’s the kicker. You can get a huge discount on your first booking if you sign up with this link here! http://bit.ly/2ipT9SX

What I liked about it was that it was very affordable compared to hotel accommodations and the amenities are similar as that to a home since technically, you’re renting out someone else’s house with complete amenities. It’s like a home away from home.

Day 1 (Concert Day)

I made a mental note next time to email the organizers for a media pass if one is to take photos and footage during events such as this one. They were strict with their no DSLR bringing policy so I had to leave it along with the other things in my bag which they kept tucked away at their counter. For one to enjoy an event such as this one, it is best to read up on their announcements. There may be sudden venue changes (like this one) or they may post what items you should and should not bring.

Don’t forget to dress comfortably. I knew this was going to be slightly warm since I was going to sardine myself along with many others in the standing VIP section. I loved every minute of the chaos. The music and spending time with random people who love a band with the same fervor as you, now that’s a great way to enjoy a night.

I still can’t forget about that literal backstage free pass and the crowd-surfing crash. It was damn funny.

Day 2 (Free Day)

Miki led me to a crystal shop in Makati Avenue. I got myself a round rose quartz crystal and a quartz for good measure. It was a good walk going there and we passed along several Korean and Japanese grocery stores. After that, we randomly walked in on adult store which I failed to get some footage of 🙁 but it was quite funny and their merchandise was very…very interesing!

It was Chris’s idea to try out Señor Pollo, a Mexican themed restaurant at Makati. There was a vast amount of tourists at the area it was located. They had the best roast chicken I have ever had in a very long time. The chicken was seasoned to the point that the spices have seeped to the bone and yet the meat inside was tender. It was just so good! Their side dishes were also pretty tasty. We had Patatas Bravas, Colombian Beans, Mac N’ Cheese, French Fries and that Spicy Rice. Their sauces were remarkable as well and you had a lot to choose from!

Day 3 (Re-booking)

One thing this day has taught me was to never ever underestimate the check-in time. This resulted in a missed flight despite arriving with less than five minutes to spare. Also, always do a web check-in next time if you have a feeling that you’re going to be a bit late. Re-booking is a costly thing since its the same as practically paying for another flight. Got to stay an extra day.

With this extra day, I got to meet a not so little french bulldog at La Salle Greenhills named Logan!

Day 4 (Home)

Today was the ideal day to go home. I’m coming back to the peaceful place of 11PM curfew and of course, Martial Law. This I would never trade in for anything else unless its a month long free staycation at somewhere I have never been to.

Swimming to Languyon Falls

One had to take a swim just to get to this hidden gem of a waterfall which is popularly called Languyon Falls. It is located in Barangay Pugaan, approximately 14 kms from the city proper. The name of the falls itself comes from the Bisaya word ‘languyon‘ which means ‘to swim’ in English. Therefore someone, make that everyone will have to take a dip just to see the waterfall itself, unless you can fly.
languyon14languyon16We started our trek around 7AM which was supposedly earlier than that but we hit delays that time. We were a group made up of seventeen sturdy men and women with the zest for conquering new lands! I was looking forward to this adventure because it has been a long time since my last trek and this one had rainbows at the end caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light…okay enough with the geek speak, I will continue on with the story. (p.s. no  visible rainbows were involved actually)languyon11languyon10

A couple of minutes into our trek, we passed by a community of locals who we greeted cheerfully. After that, we had to cross a bridge. Little did I know that would probably the most easiest thing to do for the day. We passed by a farm which grew passion fruit at the entrance. The view was refreshing with a farm to one side and the opposite, a flowing body of water. Up ahead we had to pass by a Durian tree, I will admit that it made me think of the possibility of dying in a freak accident by a falling fruit. You should check out this post so you’ll know what i’m talking about! Our route was to follow the river. It would probably be the preferred path since it’s safer and you get to cross streams and having your feet soaked by cool water is a blessing while walking an arduous trail.

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The river was laden with rocks of all sizes from boulders you had to climb on and even fossils. We also had a marine biologist on our flank, he told us that some of these contained fossils that were millions of years old.languyon2languyon7languyon4

languyon17languyon20You can either climb the side of the gorge if you prefer to not get wet (for a short time) or you could do an 80 meter swim to the opening. I chose the latter, except that I floated. This time, I safely placed all the things that should be dry in a resealable bag and placed my backpack in a large dry bag I brought along with me. It was relaxing just floating along the way, the current wasn’t so bad. I held on to my dry bag and even want back and forth just to help out a fellow trekker by handing him a random log which served as his flotation device. Here’s the silly part though, I lost a shoe!   I don’t think I tied them up tightly and I may have dropped it on my first crossing. I was worrying at the back of my mind about how difficult this was going to be once we turn back and head home considering how challenging our traipse was going here. The jagged rocks and wicked boulders… What is a girl to do? Take a leap of faith! languyon3One had to also bring a rope once you get to the opening because the current was slightly stronger and the waters were deeper. We left our things to the pit stop rock. Here, we prepared for the next course. It is best advised though to use a life jacket in case you’re not that much of a swimmer. A rope had to be used and you had to use your strength to carry your weight while going against the current. I found this part yet another challenge of fun! It’s not as worse as Gollum though. Once you reached the opening, you had to carefully step on the rocks because some parts were quite slippery. We did not forget to also look out for our fellow trekkers. Keep in mind that it isn’t just your adventure but the adventure of the group as well. I caught sight of Languyon a couple of backstrokes later and it was very well hidden. I couldn’t reach it because the waters seemed slightly deep already and the rock faces looked slippery. The height of the falls was at about 15 feet and I could say the trek was worth it with all the challenges involved. It seemed like a secret cove where only the curious will ever reach. This was also said to be one of the main water sources of the Tubod river. Rock faces on both sides and not a hint of human alterations. There was even a medium sized python resting in between the rocks. I remember the pebbles there were quite smooth that it tickled my soles.

Photo by Bobby Timonera

Photo by Bobby Timonera

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After taking photos and just simply resting there while absorbing the tranquil feel of the place. We went back to the pit stop rock one by one with the help of the rope. We excitedly had lunch and talked about our personal experience of the day’s activity. Thankfully, our trek friend Dotdot offered to let me use his sandals because he wanted to practice barefoot trekking for an upcoming marathon. Thank you Dot!

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I was very thankful for that. I need to stress this out though, do not forget to always remember this saying…

 Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

So please, whenever you go to places like these, just bring your trash with you and don’t just throw your plastics anywhere. Always pick up after yourself.languyon15 The weather was starting to get balmy so we hurriedly made our way back before it got even hotter and by the time we reached back to civilization, we were already tired as ever but the feeling of accomplishment was very much felt. Be prepared from head to food but always anticipate many unexpected things to happen!

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Crediting several photos and footages to:
Bobby Timonera
AyosaOi

She Gets Inked

Nope, that my friend ain’t me. That’s Jilly and she just had her first ever tattoo done by Junepher of F.O.D. Hardcore Tattoo Shop. She had been planning this for years and I guess this was the day to get it. I was commissioned do the design. She asked for a dragonfly to be done because she had this affinity to dragonflies. Color was very much welcomed with her request and the splatters was her suggestion.

Inked Sketch

I teased her if it hurt and all she did was smile about it while continuing on with reading a book she brought with her. The session took about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Inked with Junepher doing his thing

Here it is without the colors yet. Nicely done eh? It didn’t bleed much but then again it could be because of the location or Jilly was pretty calm about it. I even asked Junepher at some point if I could be his apprentice and he agreed if I had my own machine. Let’s see where this goes… 🙂
Inked all it needs is color

inkeddragonfly1Here’s the final output. As you can see this is the part where there was some blood letting. I’m pretty sure this was the part that stung.Another thing about this tattoo is that she has not even told her parents about it to this day considering that they’re living under the same roof. I wonder what they’re reaction will be when they find out. Now that we’re at the end of my story, I will leave you with tips I learned when you decide to get a tattoo of your own.

Tips I learned on getting your first tattoo

  • Do not get your tattoo on a whim.
  • Choose your artist wisely.
  • Custom art is what it’s all about
  • Don’t haggle with the rate.
  • It’s going to hurt but you can handle it.
  • Aftercare is extremely important.
  • The tattoo is going to itch like b**** while its healing.
  • If the tattoo has any meaning to you and you’ve been thinking about it for a while, then you’re probably not going to regret anything.

Here are some resources I’ve found along the way:

A Morning Stroll at Luinab

We were supposed to catch the sunrise and take some decent photos but it looks like we arrived a bit too late. We left the house by 5AM. The path was short compared to our other treks and the steepness wasn’t that difficult. The view was awesome and nothing can ever go wrong with a whiff of fresh air in the morning after sweating off the toxins. There was a cornfield at the top. We had ice cream after made by a local ice cream maker. Our company was composed of Leia, Yobz, Jophet and Lupe.

Climbing Down and Over to Gollum Falls

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I don’t usually take selfies, but when I do…

I have been wanting to reach this place ever since I’ve heard of it just last September. It has been infamously nicknamed as ‘Gollum Falls’ (though not official…yet) because to get there, you have to re-enact a scene from the Lord of The Rings movie wherein Gollum goes down to the forbidden pool to catch a fish, so juicy sweet! Now to continue on with my story…

Dotdot, a fellow trek buddy called me up all so suddenly in the wee hours of 7:30 in the morning just to let me know if I wanted to come along with them to visit Gollum Falls right after they gave out framed family photos sponsored by Umbrella, a photography group in Iligan. The meet up time was 9AM sharp and in just a few minutes I made up my mind and went along with it! I packed light and wore white which was something I should not have foregone against my better judgement. Our trek team that day was composed of nine fellows, six who have not yet ventured the area namely Ace (the very prepared looking dude), Aubrey (the adventurously timid photographer), Nj (the graceful lead), Jophet (the friendly support!) and Lupe ( the youngest of the group). The experienced three would be Rio (our guide), Dotdot (not his first time here but one of the excited of the lot) and Sir Bobby Timonera (Boy Kubal the trail runner).

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The path going to Gollum falls was a two hour trek which as slightly tricky as we went farther along. It started with us going off road once we met up with our guide Rio who is originally a habalhabal driver in the area. We passed by shallow streams, haughty carabao glances, plain grasslands, rocky areas and even a hanging bridge which rocked left and right for every step you took.  Just as we were at about midway through our destination we passed by some kids dunking their heads on the stream trying to catch hito or catfish with their makeshift spear gun. Talk about childhood…

Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum33Photo credits to Bobby T.

You crawl like Gollum

This is no walk in the park. The pictures posted here recounts the various flora and fauna found on the way. You can see the streams are pretty clear and the terrain is pretty tricky. Proper footwear is advised. The sturdy kind that sticks to your feet well without giving you blisters. Bring water too! Hydration is essential on long treks. If you’ve got a sensitive stomach like me then don’t risk drinking the water in the area unless it has been boiled.

gollum2Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum34

By this time we were slightly straining our breaths because we had to climb uphill at about a 45 degree angle. The trail was very steep and rocky so one had to carefully climb up while making strategic foot placements. It literally was a breath of fresh air and nature has more than ever looked so inviting in my eyes. The harder the climb, the bigger the anticipation! As you can see from the photo below, this was the final path to get to Gollum falls and the reason it was called that. One had to scale down a rocky crevice with an estimated height of about 30 feet. It was definitely a requirement to bring a rope! There are two tiers one should climb but, you can rest midway. There are roots you can hold on to and the rocks are very ‘grippable’, mind you it can be a little risky should they break of during your climb.

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This is Gollum falls. It may not look it but there’s a part of the pool that’s pretty deep and so far hasn’t been measured how deep it goes. The rocks here are slightly slippery because of the growth of moss around the area. So be extra careful where you’re stepping especially when you’re at the mouth of the pool which connects directly to Dodiongan Falls below.

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Gollum falls on one side and downward to Dodiongan falls on the other. I strongly advise to not make any silly motions while you’re at the spot I am (photo below). One little slip will doom you to a romantic 20 meter fall to Dodiongan. I was also told that one can rappel down but I guess we’ll have to do that next time since time was a luxury during this trip. Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum37

Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.

Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.gollum28

The waters were inviting me to go for a cool swim but I didn’t bring any extra clothing so I had to make do with just partially submerging myself. We are now officially at the top of Dodiongan Falls! Yay! P.S. I haven’t been to Dodiongan Falls yet but hopefully I can get to visit it sometime in the future. Do remember to always bring your trash, keep the place clean and no to vandalism!

Photo credits to Bobby T.

We didn’t stay too long because some of our companions had other places to go to and had much pressing matters to discuss. I guess it was time to go back up through that crevice again. If you’re having a hard time, try being the nature photographer, sir Bobby T. (All photos with no watermark are of his own takes).

More photos!

gollum29Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.

Time to go bouldering

I tested my bouldering skills when we got back up again (do not attempt this though). This means I wasn’t aided with the use of a rope and purely relied on my hand and feet coordination to reach the top. This was an exhilarating experience for me and the surge of adrenaline was very much welcomed. Yes, the struggle is real but our guide Rio managed to walk in between the crevices like some Jackie Chan! Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.Photo credits to Bobby T.

This particular waterfall was quite difficult to reach as well but not as tricky as Gollum’s. You had to traverse through huge boulders slowly just to get to this part. I find this a good photo op despite my slightly messed up state. Haha! Sir Bobby liked to call this one as Frodo Falls since this was found on the way and goes directly to Gollum Falls. gollum26gollum25

Call me silly but don’t you think this flower slightly resembles something we’re all to familiar with? While looking through the interwebs, I have discovered that this is scientifically named Clitoria L. I know you know what I’m thinking. Hey! Wanna smell a Clittoria? HAHA. gollum23 gollum20

I got home by 2pm. Our total trek time was at about 4 hours. I cannot wait for the second visit! You could say this was definitely one of those secret falls one has to climb through canyons and cross streams just to get there. Mind you I will definitely bring my picnic basket the next time I come back!

Awkward me washing off tiny pebbles that got stuck in my shoe along the way. Photos by Bobby Timonera

Check out these links:

To Siargao and The Butt Smashing

 

You read the title right! If you’re wondering why, it’s because we traveled a total of 14 hours from Iligan to Surigao City by bus! We started our journey at about 6AM and reached Cagayan De Oro by 8 in the morning. It was still the beginning of the said trip and things were all running smoothly. The view on the way was a sight and the sunlight was as gentle as it could get. By the way, we’re an all girl trio on our way to the surfing capital, meet my travel buddies Leia and April later on.

Here are also 5 things to do when traveling from Iligan to Siargao! 

I did not take photos during the said trip because I did not want to draw attention to myself too much if I took out my camera. I made my first pit stop at Gingoog City. We then had lunch at Butuan and arrived at Surigao by 8pm! the first thing on our mind was getting some grub. It was Lamberto’s that caught our attention and we tried out their food and it was a feast fit for the sea-see-food inclined! I personally loved the Java rice, I had to stop myself from ordering seconds.

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A view of Lamberto’s. Photo by: Leia Khu Bartolome

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(left) Kinilaw (middle)Tuna Panga Sisig (right)Java Rice. Photo by: Leia Khu Bartolome

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Grilled Squid. Photo by: Leia Khu Bartolome

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We booked a place for Le Chard Place which offers breakfast upon Leia’s suggestion and it was a decent location! It was near the mall and very accessible by tricycle, jeep or any private transport because it was found along the road. They had decent internet though the front desk told us some rooms had poor connections. Luckily ours was alright. Their rooms were clean and the corridors were well lit as you can see and yes we immediately crashed there for the night.

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A view of Le Chard Place at Night. Photo by Leia Khu Bartolome

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We awoke early by 4AM and headed straight to the port for Dapa via tricycle. We were groggy which a hot shower can immediately fix! As we were boarding the pump boat, I was already starting to feel the seasickness coming in….argh. Yes I easily get seasick just by looking at the waters horizon while on any boat/ferry or ship. The people there were very accommodating and assisted us upon boarding and leaving.

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Conquering dawn. Photo by: Leia Khu Bartolome

You can also visit Leia’s entry in her eyes here: http://reiyakhu.tumblr.com/post/138580286190/where-to-stay-surigao-city-le-chard-bed-breakfast

Check out more of my Siargao related reads with:

5 Things To Do When Traveling from Iligan To Siargao

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I am not here to deter anybody from doing the dreaded land travel, the question would be are you up for an estimated 17 travel hours of sitting in a bus? If yes, then do continue on! Going from Point A to Point B isn’t for those with weak knees and little patience. Here are some tips and information based on how my personal accounts and additional information from other reliable sources. Take note that there may be changes in rates, this one is for November 2015.

Create an itinerary
Nothing beats planning where you’re going and what you’re supposed to do. If you’re the impulsively spontaneous “let’s wing it” type then I daresay you are one brave individual with no internet connection! What is an itinerary? It’s a detailed plan for a journey, especially a list of places to visit; plan of travel. It is a great idea to plan out and ask around friends who have been or live there on how they made their travels. It doesn’t matter how short or long your travel duration may be, an itinerary will always be a lifesaver and a confidence boost.

Prepare yourself financially, mentally and physically
Physically, you’ll be sitting most of the time which can take a toll on your back. I suggest you do simple sitting exercises to help the circulation and then sleeping it off on between which I conveniently did. One must have a positive mindset as well! There were three of us going to Siargao, so we had to switch around our seating for every bus route to keep ourselves in a good mood and for some little talks in between while we were awake.

BY LAND: From Iligan, take the 2 hour bus ride to Cagayan de Oro. Once you arrive, get a jeep or taxi to Agora Bus Terminal and take the bus to Butuan, the travel time is at about 6 hours. Upon arriving one then takes the 4 hour bus to Surigao City. From Surigao City you can take a RoRo to Dapa Port, Siargao. Tip: Travel time is faster when you’re traveling in the evening.

ILIGAN > CAGAYAN DE ORO > BUTUAN CITY > SURIGAO CITY > SIARGAO
Travel duration: 17 hours (including stopovers)

Rate Location Duration
95php (Bus w/AC) Iligan: Tambo Integrated Terminal to CDO: Bulua Bus Terminal 2 hours
12php (Jeep) CDO: Bulua Bus Terminal to CDO: Agora Bus Terminal 15 minutes
350php (Bus w/AC) Iligan: CDO: Agora Bus Terminal to Butuan Bus Terminal 6 hours
250php (Bus w/AC) Butuan Bus Terminal to Surigao Bus Terminal 4 hours
10php (Tricycle) Surigao Bus Terminal to Port 20 minutes
180php (RoRo) Port to Dapa Port 3 hours

Check for schedules, and current fare at http://www.surigaoislands.com/fastcraft.html
RoRo Ferry: Fare Range: 200 – 300 PhP/Pax First Trip: 5:30 AM (Surigao – Dapa, Siargao)
Last Trip 12:00 NM (Surigao – Dapa, Siargao)

BY SEA: Take a Ferry to Cebu and from there get another ferry to Surigao City. The latter travels daily at 7PM, except on Sundays. Monday to Saturday via Cokaliong Shipping Lines
Travel Duration: ~26 hours (Iligan to Cebu is at 14hrs and Cebu to Surigao is at 12hrs)

BY AIR: By far the most convenient and efficient way to get to Siargao is to take a flight from Cebu City to Sayak Airport at Del Carmen, Siargao. There are also alternatives if you can not get a direct flight to Siargao, try getting one to Butuan City or Surigao City.
Travel Duration: 45 minutes

Bring snacks…and other stuff
It is of utmost importance to the picky eater to bring snacks of their own. But if you’ve got some spare change then migght I suggest you buy snacks for every stopover which constantly happens (adding to a longer travel time). They mostly sell peanuts, water, bibingka, eggs, chips, mangoes and many delicacies. You can also do a pit stop during stopovers, they usually have a fee of about 2-3php. I would also like to stress out to bring wet wipes and keep them at the most convenient part of your bag next to the alcohol! They serve as a refresher when you get the icky feel :3

Be friendly
There will be many stopovers therefore people will come and go at some point in your bustrip including your transient busmate. Take back the awkward eye contact with a smile. You can even strike up a friendly conversation if you and your busmate are bored and in the mood for more awkward eye contact. There are times when I use my bag as a prop so that no can sit beside me (it’s a bad idea when you want to pee so bad and you have to bring all your stuff with you). I find it comforting to sit beside middle aged women with a motherly aura. They are ever so nice.

Ask when in doubt
Life is full of questions especially when you’re on the road. Ask and you shall be answered when it comes to directions and whatnot.

How to Enjoy Freediving Lessons on the First Try

I can swim!This is my first ever serious attempt at freediving before aiming for deeper waters. It was Agent Dolly who taught us the basics and in less than an hour, I could already touch the bottom of the pool! Her A+ coaching skills were definitely effective. We did this days after my first ever gym experience which resulted in strained pectoral muscles, a reason why I couldn’t stretch out my arms that much. Credits to Yobz for the video, and coach Leia for teaching me to equalize.(For anyone wanting to learn the basics, the woman is just a message away!)

Posted by Porsche Carreon on Saturday, October 24, 2015

This was my first ever serious attempt at freediving since this is a must learn skill if I wanted to cross out several items from my bucket list. I was egged on by Leia to wake up at 6AM and take a dip at Dela Mar Swimming Pools. The entrance fee is at 100php and they have snacks within the premises but you can bring your own or buy from the outside of the premises without a corkage fee. Warning: The waters will be ice cold crystal clear since it is a spring pool! I was able to do this in less than an hour without any discomfort as long as you were taught the basics of equalizing. Sadly, I do not need the grace and finesse of a professional swimmer but one did not need to be.

While I may not be an expert on this matter. I will gladly share what I have learned from this experience!

DO: Have a good night’s sleep!
I’m putting this one as a first. It may not look it but this activity requires a heck of a lot of energy especially to newbies such as myself. You could tire yourself out without feeling anything only to collapse instantaneously once you get home. Sleep deprivation is one thing that makes you slower in the water too. Therefore find a way to get earlier the day before.

DO: Wear an appropriate swimming attire.
Wearing the correct attire is an added plus for an ideal swimming experience. Those one piece ensembles work pretty well and if it has any straps or ties then I suggest you tighten them very well. We don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions at the pool! I personally recommend wearing a rash guard especially for those people who rather lean on the conservative side. I personally don’t want to drown because of pajamas.

DO: Relax
Think happy thoughts and try to calm your mind before moving on the the breathing exercises. Try not to think too much about it and calm yourself down.

DO: Breathing Exercises
Before entering into the water, we must learn how to relax and breathe correctly to avoid black-outs, drowning and premature surfacing. Learn how to breathe from the abdomen with these simple instructions here.

DO: Learn to Equalize
Before going deeper, one must learn how to equalize. You can read up on proper equalization techniques here. I am currently doing this by pinching my nose and exhaling. The pop in your ears means that you have already equalized. Do this repeatedly everytime you go deeper. I’m still trying to find the most effective technique as of the moment.

DON’T: Overexert Yourself
Don’t tire yourself out too much! It may not look it but that session tired me out which can result in a longer resting period!

Video credits to Yobz Tolentino and Leia Khu Bartolome

 

Exploring The Caves and Waterfalls of Hindang

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I’ve been wanting to see the talked about Hindang Caves on various blogs throughout the inter-webs and having a trek team was what I’ve been wanting for a long time. This time, our group which was composed of the new friends I made from our Pugaan waterfall trekking had new faces wanting to go to new places. There were about 15 of us this time.

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Barangay Hindang is located 20km away from the city proper of Iligan city. We had to take a bumpy ride going there but the scene was amazing. As we got higher the air was colder and far refreshing compared to the urban winds of smoke and smog. It was a 2-3hour uphill trek (shorter though if you decide on running). Sir Bobby and Elijah decided to do a 14k uphill walk-run to the meet-up point and surprisingly they arrived earlier compared to us who took the van!

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You had to write down your name on their logbook which was located at the nearby sari-sari store beside the local basketball court. There was also a fee of 25php person. We had to pass by a school and several houses before the actual trek.

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It’s a nice day out for a walk. We were already starting a sweat there with the warm weather. The road was still manageable but once we started on the rough terrain, that was where things started to get really interesting.

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The buffalo looked at our group earnest with curiosity while enjoying his mudhole.

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I want to know what fruit this is and if it’s edible because I’ve been seeing this tree lately. Can anyone help me out here?

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The terrain may look like a walk in the park but I assure you it can give one quite a sweat, make it minor muscle tears. We had to climb a 200 meter mountain before we could actually reach the highest peak in the area! For people like me, well, that took the breath…make that sweat out of me.

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The trail was visible enough and the flora there was varied from mushrooms to ferns, most of them I do not recognize. There were some parts though that got tricky since you could actually notice that not a lot of people seem to travel here. The sounds were pleasant with the tweets of birds but there was an area that made unusual warning chirps whenever a trekker passed by. I tried looking for it but I never found the sources of the sound.

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It seemed like the huge rocks there were similiar to those you see under sea floor. Some were razor sharp so you definitely look where you were stepping along with some strategic footwork when it came to the high slopes and the muddy areas. There were also times when your knee and chin could literally meet from the steepness of the trail.

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Breathtaking view isn’t it? Our pace was at a brisk walk but one can easily get lost if you go too slow and get left behind by the others. I loved every bit of it from sky to earth. Plus, you could never see a single sight of trash anywhere unless you counted the coconut husks.

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time

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It may not look like it but I was already sweating excessively that I got my rash guard soaked to the sleeves! That’s the ever smiling Leia beside me and the one behind us is her sister Ana.

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We passed by many sparkling streams, we were told not to risk drinking the water. I mean, drink all you want but nobody wants a bad bout of diarrhea later on. I do love dipping my feet once in a while or so just to get cool from the heat.

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There was an area there which grew huge bamboo trees. Some of these clusters had nasty thorns that resembled barbed wires. I wonder what this area would sound like when the winds were blowing.

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I’m pretty sure we’ve almost reached the peak  which they called Mt. Pagangon once we saw this little hut. This was where our guide and his family lived. According to Sir Bobby’s GPS we were at 1822ft above sea level, awesome.

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They gave us a share of their boiled camote for us to snack on during our rest before we started to descend further down to the cave. Take note to bring lots of water with you and an iced water bottle the night before is truly one of those things you have to do. I secretly brought one camote with me to the cave in case I got hungry and boy was that a wrong idea.

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and this is the cave entrance! You had to go on a slightly downward trail just to reach the opening. It was covered in lush greens, plants were growing in different directions and the area had some scattered vines around just to name a few. Seeing the opening made me ecstatic with the thought of going in and seeing what was inside. At first,the smell resembled to that of freshly burnt moist leaves. Later on I was told it was a mixture of bat droppings and urine.

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It looked slightly eerie at first with its wicked looking stalactites and the silence from within. One had to be careful which way they were going and what rock to step on. The cave was made up of about 6-8 chambers. It  was cool yet very dark, that’s why you have to bring a source of light with you. This place is definitely not for those who easily flinch at the sight of dirt and grime. The ground here was slightly mushy and there were random water drops here and there. The purple haired vixen to your right is my new friend Yvette!

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Once you got inside the main hall, the next thing to do was crawl inside this little opening. We had to do this one at a time because it was really dark and you couldn’t be sure what you’re stepping on. (Photo by: Bobby T.)

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The next thing one should expect is the bats once you start to look up above after you take a whiff of guano (bat poop). Now I tell you it might not smell like that field of flowers but think of it as something new….and unforgettable. Don’t forget to close your mouth though while you’re looking right up because a bat dropping or two might accidentally  go to the wrong place

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Only a few of us dared to go beyond the steep area of the cave because of that nasty looking huge spider with pincers connected to a foot long antenna. Some of us had to shoo it away and aside from that there was about 5 inches worth of guano there. I had to be really extra careful which parts of the cave I was touching and stepping foot on. (Photo by: Yobz)

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I like this spot a lot. Just as we were about to go out there were several picture worthy snaps you can take.

What to bring:

  • A flashlight or any source of illumination
  • A hat for those afraid of being pooped on.
  • Alcohol which is highly regarded upon going out of the cave
  • Towel to wipe the sweat off
  • Plastic gloves? Haha.

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That’s me being helped up by Jilly. Imagine balancing a camera on one hand while holding on for dear life with the other. I have seen the sunlight at a different perspective once I was out of the cave.

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We went back to our guide’s house and that was where we decided to take our lunch and fresh coconut water for refreshments. Talk about the simple life! I’ll take Buko juice over energy drinks any day. Just as were were about to go downhill it then started to rain and the winds were freezing cold. I think it was cool that Jilly brought an umbrella, talk about being prepared. (Photo by: Bobby T.)

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I slipped and fell several times and even got into a very awkward position with another trekker because the trail got muddy and extremely slippery. Next thing I did was thinking “Oh f*ck it, i’m going commando” and then immediately taking of my shoes and socks and doing it in the most natural way possible….trekking on bare feet! The joy of being free from foot wear made me hug trees and hum while trekking downhill amidst the rain and erosion. (Photo by: Yobz)

I do not recommend that for those who have dainty and delicate feet.

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Just passing by another stream. Oh the pleasure of soaking tired feet despite the cold.

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Look what I found! (Photo by: Bobby T.) It’s a Velvet Apple or commonly known as a Mabolo fruit! It’s got a lot of health benefits too like hair growth and reducing inflammation and a whole lot of other things when you consume it.

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That’s me trying to pick up ferns (Photo by: Bobby T.) which I THOUGHT were edible. Turns out they weren’t and ate She had to toss them for fear of me collecting more of them. 🙁

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Sweet and fresh Marang in season at 10php apiece! The marang is rich in protein, fat, carbohydrates, ash, calcium, phosphorous, iron, crude fiber, retinol, beta-carotene, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamin A and C. It should be consumed as soon as possible because it oxidizes quite fast and loses its flavor. The seeds could be boiled or roasted and are quite edible too.This served as the ending credits to a hike well done.

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Next up is Hindang Waterfalls which was at about 1.5 kilometers away from where we were originally parked and 20km away from the city proper. Now the trek going there wasn’t as difficult as the one to the cave. It took us about 10-15minutes to get there and the first thing that greeted us was the sound of rushing water amidst the lush plant life.

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One had to pass in between the falls to get to the other side. For those who aren’t up for it well you can bathe in soothing waters there. (Photo by: Bobby T.)

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Be extra careful though, most of the surfaces here are slippery. This one here is the main falls which was at about 40ft. high. (Photo by: Yobz)

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This is the view going down the falls. A bit risky but totally worth the sight.

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There’s a surprise here though because you don’t get to see just 2 but three waterfalls. Here’s the catch…you have to climb a steep path with the use of tree roots and trunk and jagged rocks. Once you get to the top, you can see the biggest and the majestic of the 3 tiers. It was spectacular and the rocks there were massive! That’s me trying to scale the rock formation found beside the falls while trying to give a smile. Thank you for reading through this post and have a nice day dear reader! (Photo by: Yobz)

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Read more about this adventure based on my companions experiences:

Chasing Pugaan Waterfalls in The City of Waterfalls

I’m writing this post despite the aches in my muscles and the creaking in my bones which was totally worth the trouble because I definitely had a blast with this adventure. I found this one through a friend who posted about a waterfall trekking event at Brgy. Puga-an. Now come to think of it Iligan has been called the “City of Waterfalls” with it boasting at about 23 waterfalls. Also there’s a video at the end if you want to see how it really went!

Iligan is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls because of the numerous waterfalls located within its area. There are about 23 waterfalls in the city. The most famous as well as the city’s major landmark, is the Maria Cristina Falls. It is also the primary source of electric power of the city.

Hopefully we would get to see more than 30 kinds of falls all in various sizes with the largest one at about an estimated length of 20ft. This would be a perfect opportunity to go nature tripping. Now it was noted beforehand that the difficulty level was for intermediate climbers. I guess it’s time I put the  previous wallclimbing experiences to good use!DSC_0021 We started early around 7AM once we assembled at the local Gym. Our guide was Sir Bobby who was an experienced trail runner and a photographer as well (credits to the photos with me in it all goes to him). There were only eight of us in total gathered there. I was expecting a lot of people though considering that the opportunity was really eye-catching! I learned a thing or two during that trek and there’s a couple of tips I can share here.

1st

Before we could actually start our trail we had to take a 3km uphill walk (credits to Jeffrey for this photo) which made me sweat like crazy considering I haven’t been doing anything active lately. There were several kids ahead of us and It was unnerving seeing how the local school kids could easily run without breaking a sweat. Talk about fitness.

Before your trek:

  1. Hydrate your body 3 days prior to your trip.
  2. Exercise (cardio!)
  3. Make sure you bring about 2 liters of water.
  4. Fill your water bottle and place it in the freezer the night before, the ice melts along the way resulting in an ice cold drink.
  5. Prepare your stuff and pack light.
  6. Get a good night’s sleep
  7. Eat the most important meal of the day, breakfast!

11937035_10153078790637724_8931355571748591519_o What to bring:

  1. Resealable bags for your gadgets and things that you don’t want to get wet
  2. Lunch!
  3. Snacks like energy bars or candy.
  4. First aid meds (just the basics)
  5. Water. A 1.5L would suffice because staying hydrated is crucial.
  6. A trusty towel.

After that we took a turn to the right and followed the trail which led us to a cornfield. DSC_0017 It was a bit tricky since we were going slightly downhill. Here’s our first waterfall! 11896488_10153078791042724_3441800162641214647_o It’s got a cave underneath! 11947705_10153078791692724_7326368450700793639_o We then went back up to our path and proceeded to head to another direction. We followed a stream which led us to the start of our challenges. The following photos will speak for themselves. 11894455_10153078791757724_7898246477629707918_o Teamwork is key when you’re travelling in groups. Please don’t hesitate to help one another and always make sure nobody gets left behind.11930969_10153078792107724_2941690852278243216_o During your trek:

  1. Do as what your guide says and follow them.
  2. Slather on that sunscreen! The higher the Spf, the better it is.
  3. Wear appropriate clothing. (something I may have failed to do?)
  4. Don’t wear white unless you love bleaching laundry.
  5. Take lots of photos!
  6. Have fun.

10295482_10153078792272724_9063246048823607224_o Crossing through streams. Thank goodness the weather was ever so kind to us! Is this what you would call a…..groupie? 11951515_10206084942776230_8311190634237254362_o Here’s a waterfall! I don’t think this one has a name yet. 11937467_10153078792462724_8450933758950559723_o Passed by this little stream with a hobbit sized cave underneath. There were two of them as you can see another dark hole to the left of this photo. 11895040_10153078793052724_2242374247597913514_o That’s me struggling to pass through a grass filled path in all smiles. I was looking forward to what was ahead! I tell you this was no walk in the park.11205100_10153078793217724_2492086042108976695_n Which a was a waterfall in a cave which fit a person to climb up! That’s me scrambling to climb up while basically not trying to slip. 11921810_10153078794007724_3647906453098118685_o Which we had to climb a rock formation just to get to the next falls. Note to self: Wear a hat! DSC_0039 Here it is! Partially hidden and very secluded. This was what they called the “secret falls”DSC_0059 It was deep enough to go for a dive with our shoes on! I mean we all had our shoes on through most of the time. I was extremely cautious of getting leeches, good thing there weren’t any there and the waters had guppy-kals (askal guppies) in them. 11703470_10153078795127724_8546518583358566664_o That’s us heading to the 5th falls and that’s Bok. I invited him to join us as a chance for him to get out of his personal cave. 11895166_10153078795242724_591731810569878621_o More rock formations to which you had to slowly walk to the side. I avoided my bag getting wet with the camera and all. 11926072_10153078795602724_3312832840854963078_o Waterfall climbing right beside it! Always step on the path with the flowing water because that’s the part that isn’t covered with algae therefore isn’t that slippery. You’d be surprised how non-slippery the surface is. 11908942_10153078795742724_8891148241437651351_o After that climb we got to view another new waterfall and this was the one where you had to raise your backpack up to your head just to cross and get to the other side. I was extremely careful at this stage. Better me than my camera! That’s me contemplating on how a tragedy it would be if it did. Also, the adorable couple you see here in this photo are Yobz and Leia slash “Peng” (peace! ^_^). 10655405_10153078796267724_8363503458884151904_o   Another waterfall to swim in! Leia was actually the one who hosted the trip. 11953339_10153078796237724_7936634807358761095_o Just hastily climbing through this one. I did try to ask for the names of each respective waterfall but sadly most of them had no names yet! 11942195_10153078796562724_6773811804877038613_o A happy looking bunch under the afternoon sun with (from left to right) Sir Bobby, Eli, Jeffrey, Me, Mico, Boknoy, Yobz and Leia!DSC_0094 Someone’s assessing the situation on this particular waterfall. We climbed over this one too! DSC_0095 Trying to catch our breath! 11958114_10153078796647724_7601538741183483363_o Moving onwards, here’s another baby falls! Leia and I have only been acquaintances before the trip and i’m glad to say i’ve made friends today! She’s also a blogger to which you can check out her site here. 11248947_10153078796792724_6091295858571655397_o The nth waterfall to climb and I can honestly say I have started to lost count. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take photos of the itsy bitsy ones. 🙁 11958234_10153078797087724_5453265355280001542_o Several meters ahead of  the previous one we reach another waterfall in between a narrow rock formation. There totally was no room for any lady-like demeanor if you wanted to move ahead safely. DSC_0104 Another waterfall after just a couple of steps and we decided to take our lunch here. Take note to bring your trash with you. As you may have noticed there was naught even a single piece of plastic in the area. Let’s keep the area the way as it is. 11896317_10153078797312724_7249426437107983809_o

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.

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That’s Mico and Sir Bobby climbing up barehanded. We went back to several waterfalls and had to rappel our way down on them. Upon taking another turn we find out that the highest one has sadly dried out because of El Niño (damn you)Our planned 30+ falls was cut short to 20+ something. But that definitely did not sadden our mood considering that’s already a lot of waterfalls to see in just 8 hours!

Lost in the mountain. Pls send chopper to the mountains of Pugaan.

A photo posted by Bobby Timonera (@bobtimo) on

We decided to take a detour and ended up lost for a couple of minutes only to find  out they got 3G signal and an instagram post to prove it! (Don’t mind the derpness) 11885784_10153078798342724_7129062777652460448_o We then landed in a vegetable plantation of eggplants, papayas, alugbati and bitter gourd and some basil? 11892297_10206084914255517_4876704408579092441_o A happy mango family tree! What a swell bunch of people. 11950445_10153078799062724_3416824623419107503_o The whole trip lasted for 8 hours and we walked a total of 12km (it would have been 15km if we hadn’t taken the motorcycle ride at the end, that one costs at about 30php per head). 11999162_10204561483137770_75637618_o That’s our travel route. Before I end this post I just wanted to congratulate everyone who went with us and completed the trek. Nothing could have prepared us for it (unless you’re a long time fitness fanatic). I look forward to joining on the second trip! Iligan is definitely the place to go to if you’re up for an eco-tour adventure! I think I deserve a whole day’s rest after this.

Here’s a vlog by Yobz and Leia!

 

Here are more tales by my companions: