Trip Down Memory Lane | Resignation

In December of 2015, I made up my mind to finally quit my job in an Australian BPO company. No one in my family knew, but I told my friends in the office and my immediate supervisor whom I have grown close with.

Looking back, I knew I almost had the perfect job. It had a great basic pay. Their policies aren’t as strict as those of the bigger companies in the same industry. We were catering to Aussies so with the little time difference between AU and RP, our schedule was also very favorable. Office location was along ADB avenue, so the commute was very easy for me, not to mention that we were very near 3 of the major malls in the metro. People were nice and accommodating. Our supervisors were all very helpful. We had the perks of a typical BPO workplace. What more could I have asked for, right?

Then again, I grew tired of a lot of things. There was a major factor which I can only keep to myself. Then there were reasons that in a sense helped me think things through and then eventually helped me reach a final decision.

First, there were the changes that the management have  constantly implemented. They are a very young company and I get that they have to build new strategies every now and then, but those changes drastically increased over time and affected not only their employees, but a lot of their clients as well. We saw how their company’s own clients took advantage of one another to avoid the burden of the said changes. Plus, they also made changes internally including some employee benefits that were one of the major reasons why I took the job in the first place.

Changes were also made with our schedules so my little group in the office was broken apart, at least in terms of having lunch together and all. Not to sound such a baby, but I admit I was a little clingy and I loved talking to and bonding over food with them. Made the already stressful work easier. Although that didn’t last long as I unexpectedly found new people to have lunch with, including my supervisor who has become a friend too.

Second, I knew that when I took that job, it was only going to be temporary. I had a plan to save up for a camera and workshops so I could go on in becoming the next America’s Top Photographer. Charrr! Seriously though, that was the plan all along, ever since I quit my job in the hospital. Unfortunately, I didn’t save enough as I splurged on my film photography hobby and on food. Yes, FOOD! I still couldn’t figure out why, but I didn’t have any savings at all.

Third, I was getting tired of talking to irate customers, which grew in number along with the changes that the company implemented. There even came a time that we honestly didn’t want to take the calls anymore because the customers were getting so impatient and rude that it became traumatic for me (callcenter virgin). And to think that Aussies are the most polite customers.

Lastly, one of my office friends offered me a home-based job and even though it wasn’t a sure thing, I took the risk, thinking that it was a sign for me to finally quit my job. So I quit when I got back from the holidays last year.

I finally told my parents a few days before my last day at work. My mother was surprised, but I knew I had to make that decision on my own. I knew I couldn’t tell them without a back up plan, so I told them I wanted to work full-time from home.

I applied for the home-based job, waited for 3 months for the whole application process to finish only to be turned down in the end. To be honest, I was led on to believe that I will get the job. My friend’s friend who referred me had to tell me that I had been an unfortunate victim of their manager’s power trip to console me, but I had to pick myself up as well and went back job hunting. To no avail, I failed to find a job, because I was either extremely picky or unqualified.

That, along with my grandmother’s death and break up with the ex, all happening simultaneously were 3 of the most devastating things that happened to me last year. Those almost pushed me over the edge and I didn’t know where else to go. My office friends were half-kidding that I take my job back, but thanks to them and their insane updates on even bigger changes in the company, I knew I wasn’t going back.

So there I was, devastated, heartbroken and broke. I didn’t know where else to go but to Him.

Then soon, I realized, working in the said company wasn’t all bad. I had really amazing supervisors and trainers that were not only very patient and helpful but kind people as well. I also got to work with colleagues that were very welcoming, extremely funny and equally helpful. Lastly, I met friends I never even thought I’d be friends with. They made me laugh, they chatted with me during and outside work, they taught me so much about life and they bonded with me over FOOD! (Have I not emphasized that enough? LOL). They all made my experience in a BPO company worthwhile and they helped me adjust easier with all their horror stories from their previous BPO companies and tips in providing great customer service.

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photos grabbed from Xuxa’s IG account!

Also, everyone was telling me I was very lucky to have worked for that company as it wasn’t the typical contact center with the strict KPIs, and all that shizzz I’m glad I never experienced.

Looking back, I didn’t think I’d reach such a low point in my life. I didn’t know I could go that low. I’m pretty sure it was my worst year, but like I said, it definitely was my best as well. It was a real roller coaster ride for me with all the ups and downs, but I’m glad that not once did I feel disregarded by God. I’m just glad that He was there with me all along. He made sure that it wasn’t going to be all bad for me so I’m even more sure now that He will hold my hand through the good and the bad times, in all the days ahead.

 

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TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: I’m traveling back in time to write about those 2016 moments that I haven’t had time to in the past year. This is mainly for my own benefit as this blog has been my personal diary for the past 5 years. If you happen to have a chance to share in the joy or to empathize with me, I will be more than grateful as life is better lived when shared. Have a great 2017! Cheers!

Saying Goodbye to My Lola (part I)

I can’t really say my grandma and I were close, because we were more than close. I owe her the first two years of my existence (along with my deceased uncle) when my parents sent me to live with them for fear of me catching this disease where my parents used to live; and even though ours was a cat-dog relationship, I loved her very much.

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It was back in February when she was admitted yet again in the hospital. It was normal for her to get Pneumonia time and time again that we all already know the drill on what to do, what to bring and how to stay calm and take care of her.

It was very timely that I just resigned from my previous job at the time so together with my whole family, I helped fully take care of her through and through.

It was weird, for almost half to 3/4 of her whole admission, she seemed totally okay. She was always complaining of the bland and cold hospital food. She was always very chatty too. In fact, on her first night, I was her only companion and we talked all night.

I remember bringing one of my film cameras that night and doing some selfies with her (that I still need to get processed in the lab). We talked about stuff she never told me before like how she took many jobs in order to help with the finances for her 8 children then. I let my guard down that night and listened to all her stories, both funny and sad alike. I usually hate talking mushy with my family, but that moment was an exception.

Though it wasn’t always like that.

As expected, the longer she stayed in the hospital, the crankier she got. She kept on asking us to take her home. One time, she got so impatient, she literally asked us to just give her the money for her commute home. Often times, we would just make fun of her like we always do, just to lighten her mood and to divert her attention, but there’d always be hard times as well.

When I graduated in 2011, she was diagnosed with ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease). She had to undergo surgery twice: first was for her IJ catheter insertion, which was a temporary dialysis access inserted through the side of her neck that was used until her Fistula (another surgery) on her left arm was ready for her lifetime twice or thrice a week Hemodialysis treatments. That was the start of her more challenging and even more unforgettable journey.

There’d be times that we’d go visit her in the hospital before I go back to work (also in the hospital) or when I’d spend my rest days with her in the Dialysis center. I can tell that my whole family was devastated during the first few years, seeing her go through so much pain in her late 70s.

But just like any other trial that came our way, we got by through prayers, helping each other out and by putting on brave faces for her.

In a year, she would normally be admitted in the hospital twice or thrice at the most. There’d be false alarms when we thought she would already be taken away from us, but luckily, she always survived. My uncle and my mother’s youngest sibling would always kid around and say “Nakaligtas ka na naman!(You survived yet again!)” or “Sumunod ka na kasi sa ilaw (Won’t you please go into the light already?)” then a burst of laughter in the whole room would arise. There were even a few times that the patients admitted in the rooms next to hers would code or would go into cardiac arrest. I think that happened a couple of times, so we would poke fun at her being cursed (or at least the patients next to her). You may think that those jokes were so rude, but they always cracked everyone up.

My family has the weirdest sense of humor, but it worked so well. We’d all always be huddled in my grandma’s small private room after work or on weekends, either teary-eyed or out of breath because of so much laughter when my uncle starts throwing the punches. I guess it helped not only my grandmother, but the rest of us too because it took our minds off the fact that we are in deep trouble. Who wants to take problems so seriously anyway? Plus, we all loved seeing our grandmother laugh so hard with no care in the world. She’d even answer him back and seeing them throw the funniest lines at each other was like watching a live comedic show.

During the last few days of her admission early this year, she started deteriorating, but despite that and the bathroom restrictions, she just couldn’t let herself grow weaker. There was a time I was so mad at her for wanting to go to the bathroom to take a dump. She was very uncomfortable in doing it on a bedpan or diaper (because who wouldn’t be?) so she insisted even though it took us a while before we got to the bathroom. Did I say she had bathroom restrictions?

There’d also be sad times when she would ask me what’s wrong with her, but I could only make up a reason because even her doctors took a while before figuring it out. There was one particular night when she couldn’t sleep comfortably and woke up every 2 hours. At 3am, she woke me up again and I saw that she was in distress and and couldn’t breathe. Before calling the nurse again, I elevated her head of bed and assisted her in sitting up straight. She dangled her legs on the side of the bed and asked me to sit beside her. Having almost no sleep at all, I was a bit irritable and refused to do so. So I was just there in front of her standing up. Her dentures were taken off so she spoke as if like a little kid and answered me when I asked her why she wanted to dangle her legs despite the doctors’ orders not to. She told me “Kasi gusto ko lang lumakas (I just want to get my strength back)”.

That scene kept repeating in my head over and over and even when I think about it now, I still can’t help but cry. She just wanted to be okay again and I couldn’t even set aside the fact that I’m tired and sleepless. She’s been through worse, but I had to be a complete ass to her.

When I realized how much of a douche I was, I wanted to make it up to her before it was too late, and boy, I’m glad I did.

Soon after, they finally figured out what’s wrong with her and disclosed it to us. Apart from Pneumonia, she was also diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis and so she was referred by her main AP (a Nephrologist) to a Cardiologist. The aorta is the major artery of the heart that pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It has a valve that in this condition, narrows, thus restricts blood flow to the body causing breathlessness, weakness and sometimes even fainting. To add to that, she also started having absence seizures during her dialysis treatments that she eventually had to be referred to a Neurologist.

On the latter part of her admission, she started refusing her food and was advised to have an NGT (Naso-Gastric Tube) Insertion. My mother who is always overcome with her emotions, refused the procedure. We had to argue among ourselves with me wanting to get the procedure done. Still, my mother won. She talked my grandma into eating again to avoid having to put her through another ordeal and even though it was harder, we had to carefully assist her in eating. We exhausted all the techniques we could think of to encourage her to eat more including those that you’d normally use with kids and they worked. The NGT insertion was deferred a couple of times and eventually canceled.

Just when we thought that the hardest part was over, she started having episodes of disorientation, which was most probably caused by her prolonged seizures. The longest episode was the first time she had a seizure during her dialysis treatment. She couldn’t recognize any of us, or she just pretended not to because she was sulking. She was conscious, but she just stared at all of us with a weird look in her eyes as if seeing us for the first time. I even broke down in front of my relatives because I was reading about the worst case scenarios of her current condition which led to my aunt’s crying as well. The disorientation went on for the whole night and when my parents came to visit after work, she started uttering “‘Nay, ‘nay, kunin mo na ako (Mom, mom, please come and get me)” as if calling to her own mother. She said this in a childlike manner too. Our eyes swollen, I, surprisingly slept that night. The morning after, I was happy to see that itwas over and my grandmother was back to her old, chatty self again. You could hear the excitement in my aunt’s voice asking her whatever sinful food she wanted to eat so she could buy it.

After starting some treatments, she started feeling better. She couldn’t really stand on her own anymore, but she was strong enough to ask her doctors to let her go home. Soon, she was permitted to go home and continue her dialysis treatments outside the hospital.

I stayed with them for a few more weeks, going home only when I had no more clothes to wear. All of us still took turns in taking care of her. We bought more Oxygen tanks for her because she could consume about 1-2 big ones in a day. We also had to buy her own hospital bed, egg crate mattress, glucose monitor, new BP monitor and I insisted on getting her own portable pulse oximeter as well. Then, I taught everyone how to use the said monitors so they could observe her appropriately when I’m not around. I was very happy at how everyone, including my younger cousins were ready to learn and eager to help out even with diaper changes and bed bath. There was a time when I asked all my teenage girl cousins to help me in giving her a bath and changing her sheets. They all learned the proper techniques in turning and lifting our grandma and all I could think of was boy, all those night shifts taking care of bedridden patients in the hospital surely paid off.

We were able to take her back to the dialysis center for treatment, and force her the second time, but she was on close monitoring and hooked to an oxygen tank. Dialysis settings had to be adjusted as well so her heart can keep up, but still, she had episodes of absence seizures. She grew weaker and wouldn’t go back for a third treatment the same week, so we had to give up her slot, not knowing that it would be her last.

She didn’t want to continue her dialysis treatments. In fact, she didn’t want to go back for the third time so bad that week that even though she started sleeping for longer periods of time, she woke up just that one time we asked her if she still wanted to go and uttered a big “no”.

She then started having visual hallucinations as well, if you can call them that because there may be in fact, real souls of random people in her room, but only she could see them. There was a time when I just got back from our house to rest for a day. My uncle had to get the oxygen tanks refilled, so there were only the two of us in the house at the time. I had to do a bed bath for her and right before we finished, she uttered irritably, “Ang dami namang bata dito! (There are so many kids in here!)”. I know that she wasn’t disoriented at the time because we were talking and she even kept on asking me to make the bath quick because she can’t breathe well. I felt all the hair in my body stood and almost ran out of the house and left her alone in there. I turned the TV volume up before sending my mother a text message, telling her what happened, then shortly after, my uncle who went to get the oxygen called me. He was laughing and told me, my grandma has been seeing things for a while. True enough, she has been seeing a lady carrying a child, a boy that even sat beside her in the car one time and some other souls that give me the creeps.

Filipinos believe so much in the supernatural especially those involved in death and dying. Some of these I’ve heard from my senior nurses, like when a person’s death is at hand, you can observe them trying to remove their clothes. There’s also this belief that when you stare into their eyes, they stare back not at you, but at someone from behind you, as if their gaze goes directly through you. There’s the “Sundo“, which I know everyone knows is the entity that awaits the souls of those that are dying. There’s also this weird belief that those that are dying attract ants and you often see tons of ants underneath their sheets or body before they die. I’ve never heard that last one before, by the way, but I saw it happen to my grandma. It was so bizarre because we always kept her clean and comfortable so we couldn’t find anything that could have drawn the ants to her.

Right before she eternally closed her eyes and eventually became unconscious, I had a small talk with her. We just finished praying the Rosary together after she saw so many “people” gathered in her room, even though there were only 3 of us in there. I asked her if she knows we love her. She answered weakly, but in the sweetest tone I’ve heard and told me that she indeed knows. I told her we all love her the same and I felt that she was happy when she heard that. That was the last time I was able to talk to her.

During the next few days, she barely opened her eyes. She would nod occasionally when asked, but that was it. She couldn’t speak much. She couldn’t even eat anymore so we tried feeding her a supplementary milk, but could only consume 2 tablespoons.

The last weekend she was with us, visitors, close friends, relatives, family, co-Mother Butlers in Church and a Priest flocked to her. Even our household help, who was a close friend of hers, together with her sisters visited lola. I had to get out of the room when she cried, because I knew my eyes were going to fill up with tears again.

A final mass was held for her and was also anointed by their parish priest.

My brother couldn’t come home in time, so he had to talk to her one last time through a video call, which was the same for my grandma’s sister in Canada and our other cousins in Cebu and Ormoc. Their remaining brother was too weak to go on a long trip all the way from La Union so he never saw her too.

I had to come home after that and go back one last time. When I got back to her house, I greeted her in the most enthusiastic and scandalous way I could. I knew she wouldn’t respond anymore, but I also knew that hearing was the last sense to go in a person who’s dying so I made sure I was heard. This was the time my uncle (mother’s youngest sibling) and his wife went to get my grandma’s brother from La Union but had to go back because their children told us he couldn’t travel that far anymore. My aunt and I gave grandma one last bed bath and when my uncle and his wife arrived, my aunt and I went to get some groceries, and stuff for oral care and bed bath.

When we came back, we cleaned grandma’s mouth and left her in a high back rest position. We all stayed together in her room and watched a late afternoon show. She was very calm until shortly after, my uncle saw that she was drooling. She then started coughing hard and drooling even more, before finally passing away.

Two of my cousins came home from school just minutes after her passing. My aunt was already crying so hard while talking to her one last time, telling her that she’s now an orphan. My uncle (same one who always teased her and took care of her since forever) tried carefully jolting her a couple of times even though he knew that she was gone. I placed her pulse oximeter on her finger one last time and waited for the ECG reading to go on a flat line as I hold her still warm feet.

I’ve never seen anyone die in my life before, not even while working in a hospital. I wasn’t in shock, but I didn’t shed one tear either. I couldn’t understand what I felt then and I still couldn’t explain it now. I just knew that she was gone and it happened unexpectedly.

We didn’t try to revive her nor rush her to the hospital anymore because we knew that all she wanted was to rest and be free from all the pain. Had she been revived, she would just be hooked to a ventilator and no one in my family can ever stand seeing her intubated, especially my mother. She and all of her siblings agreed that the moment lola was brought home from the hospital, all we needed to do was to make her feel comfortable and wait for her final breath at home like she personally requested and that’s what we did.

My parents had to attend to my brother in Cebu at the time of her death. Before they left, my mother asked my grandma to wait for her to come back. She must have had a hunch that something might happen. I couldn’t tell my mother the news so I had to tell my father instead. I know how hard it was going to be for her and I know it still hurts up to this day.

My grandmother died peacefully on March 15, 2016. She was one of the most annoying, most makulit, most mataray, most maloko, most beautiful, most fashionable, most God-fearing, strongest and bravest persons I knew.

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And I loved her so much.

I love you so much. Thank you Lola!

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So happy she get to eat all the sinful food, every after Hemodialysis session;) (at Lydia’s Lechon LOL)

 

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Trip Down Memory Lane | Weekend Warriors Part II

Christmas is only 44 days away, and the year is swiftly coming to an end, yet I haven’t even crossed out half of the stuff on my list of trips and events to write about. Boy, I better get everything done soon and by soon, I mean NOW! 😛

So going back to where I left off 4 months ago, here’s the second part of our exciting, but not so challenging, and thus enjoyable 😛 day hike to Mt. Manalmon back in May. Here’s the first part. ⛰⛰⛰

No, I’m not being cocky at all. It was definitely a walk-in-the-park and I can even vouch for those who don’t work out on a regular basis. Easy peasy is what it was.

Although I couldn’t say the same for my cousin, whose blood pressure, I assumed shot up as early as the first ascent. We had to stop a few times so he could recuperate and re-hydrate.

After the first ascent, we reached a clearing (in terms of plants & trees), just a few meters from the marker at the foot of the mountain.

We stopped again so we could catch our breath or should I say, take some selfies. The drying grass helped make for a good background on our photos and the wide patch of land served as a rest stop for various groups before the second ascent.

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Basing on this marker, the first ascent was just around 36 MASL

We then proceeded to climb the mountain itself in more or less an hour after we left the jump off point. This was probably the more challenging part of the climb. Though more amateur friendly, it’s still a mountain, so obviously there are no paved staircases and metal railings to hang on to on the way up. It can still be perilous so you’d need to watch every step and to hang on to branches and vines to support yourself. You see, that’s the beauty of having a guide, he told us exactly where to anchor our feet and which vines/branches to grab a hold of.

Here are some shots taken by my sister who was ahead of us…

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Resting after the steep climb, while the sister went up ahead…

Here we were finally reaching one of its many summits!!

Reaching the first summit was more than amazing. The first mountain I ever climbed was Kalbaryo within Mt. Banahaw back in high school and for a moment, I was taken back to how good it really felt to immerse in the great outdoors.

I’ve this extreme fear of heights. I get weak in the knees just walking along mall balconies, but being on top of a mountain feels so much different from that. I guess the surreal feeling tricks your mind into thinking that you cannot fall over the edge, not with beautiful views in sight. Just saying that makes me seem high because that’s exactly what it felt like, literally and figuratively. It was euphoric. I guess nature can really give you that feeling, huh? This is most probably why everyone goes mountaineering these days. Just writing about it now makes me giddy. Definitely can’t wait til our next hike. Keeping fingers crossed.

Apparently as seen on the following photos, the first summit was where we stayed the longest, because it had bigger room to accommodate several groups. At the time, I think there were 4 groups of 5-10 climbers when we reached the first one.

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We also maximized the time to take as many selfies and groufies as we can in one spot, and to re-hydrate and freshen up. Fortunately, the sun kind of shied away too when we reached the top, so we didn’t have to hurry to go to the next stop.

Some of these photos below were taken by our guide and we’re all very impressed, I must say. His compositions were spot on! Way to go, Kuya Joseph!

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After a while, we decided we needed to let go of our spot as more groups were coming up, so off we went to……….. take more selfies! 😛

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Here are some longshots of the incredible scenes we saw from above. Those ants meeting under a tree sure look good in those shirts.

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The second and final summits were both on the other side of the mountain and had more beautiful views of what I believe is the Madlum river snaking its way in between these mountains.

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The final ascent was quite steep so we had to Spiderman-crawl to the top. My sister recorded the whole thing on video, unfortunately I messed up the music volume while editing, so you’re gonna have to put your speakers on full blast for this one.

The third and final summit had less room obviously, so we had to do all our shenanigans very quickly as the queue of climbers was also getting longer.

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This tree was on the edge of the mountain and even though my cousin looked really happy here, he was actually very nervous as I was when I took the photo.

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Yes, we also danced our hearts out on the summit. Bucketlist thing. LOL. This must be why someone from the group behind us was so pissed at us.

There you go. That was definitely one of the many highlights and blessings of this year for me. Of course, it could not have been possible without His blessing so like all of the mountains that we’ll be conquering this year and the years ahead, this was and always will be for His glory.

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I want to say though that this is the last part of this travel series, but then I realized there’s still so much to write about. We also tried the extremely challenging Monkey River Crossing and Spelunking, both of which I think deserve a separate entry.

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Trip Down Memory Lane | Weekend Warriors Part I

I’ve been having a hard time getting myself to write about things I’ve been meaning to for the longest time now. You see, I created this blog mainly to immortalize events and milestones in my life that I can easily go back to whenever, especially since I don’t really have the sharpest memory; however, procrastination always gets the better of me.

So much has happened since the start of the year and if I don’t get everything cast in stone now, I’m afraid I’ll lose all those memories in my head forever, good or bad. I can’t say I won’t regret not having something to look back to, because I will. Plus, reminiscing is always more fun for me when I read my own blog entries, no matter how pathetic it may seem to you. LOL!

So to start of my trip down memory lane, I’m going back to the time when I climbed my second mountain and this time around, not as a part of the school curriculum.

Normally, I’d be writing about our trips as soon as we get settled in, maybe a few hours up until a few days after we get back, so I’m not sure why I put writing off lately. I’d either need a strong urge and willpower to do so or in this case, an inspiration.

I just saw the film, “Everest” for the second time this afternoon and thankfully, with a much clearer copy. Obviously, I appreciated it more this time, thus the post. Now, I can cross off Mt. Manalmon on my “to-write” list.

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Surprisingly, here we were looking happy and not tired at all, despite having just trekked, hiked and climbed the very challenging, Mt. Manalmon. Okay, it was just a very minor climb, and the summit was about 196 MASL (LOL), with a difficulty level of 2/9, according to the site, Pinoy Mountaineer. It took us about 2 hours to reach the summit with 5-6 breaks that took 10-15 minutes each including the mandatory photo ops.

So that’s about it. 5 paragraphs of introduction before the most awaited “after photo” and it’s not event the summit photo. What the heck?

Cue video-scratching rewind sound effect….

This was the easiest trip we’ve planned together as a family (oldies not included, of course). 2-3 weeks prior, we weren’t even sure this climb was going to push through. For all I knew, it was just one of those trips we planned ahead and never talk about again. Fortunately, we all agreed on a date, May 14, and the rest, they say, is history.

Funny ’cause we just bought our trekking sandals the night before the climb. And we also pigged out on street food, Maginhawa street food, that is. You can just imagine how hard it was for us to wake up a few hours after this.

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Anyway, we started strong despite the lack of sleep, not to mention sleeping on full stomachs.

So the next day, we just had to eat again, to make up for the energy we lost by sleeping and taking a bath, and sleeping again in the car.

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During the trip, I must say that we never ran short on food as we had containers of snacks and drinks and a whole pot of Adobo c/o our tita E, mother of our 2 cousins here, waiting for us in the car after a whole day of climbing and spelunking. Surely, we were a bunch of skinny people with bottomless guts, so my clever, little sister made up a hashtag on instagram just for our group, #TeamLamonManalmon. FYI: Lamon is a local, colloquial term for “pig out”.

You can even see my cousin below bringing a whole can of chocolate wafer sticks on the way up to the mountain.

 

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We couldn’t be more excited!! It was like a school field trip all over again, except that I was with the people I really, really love. I couldn’t remember a time we weren’t laughing. God, I love them all.

Of course, being the careful and thorough planners that we were, we didn’t have a permit to show when we reached the jump off point. We had a copy of their itinerary for climbers c/o our aunt who is an experienced climber, but we weren’t aware we had to let the authorities know beforehand of our scheduled climb. Fortunately, they were very kind enough to let us through after a quick orientation. This is not something we’re proud of btw, but it would have been disappointing had they not allowed us to so we’re very grateful to all of them for taking care of us still.

So for those who would want to experience the beauty of Mt. Manalmon and all the other fun activities within Sitio Madlum, be sure to submit a permit via email so the organizers would be able to anticipate the number of people climbing each day as well as the number of guides needed.

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Around 8:30am: After our descent from what I believe to be the historic Madlum cave, our eyes feasted on these beautiful, huge stone formations along an almost water-less Madlum river. This was also our first stop, a.k.a first photo op. This photo was taken by our very nice and funny guide, Sir Joseph, whom I highly recommend not only for his great photography skills (check out our summit photos later on), but also for his happy disposition and easy-going attitude.

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Not sure what this spot is called, but it had a spectacular, surreal feel that I couldn’t help but pause for a moment and convince myself that the moment is real. I want to say that I think I captured the moment quite well, but it looks more beautiful in reality. I guess I just watch a lot of action-adventure movies with lots of wide angle shots in beautiful landscapes. Sort of like those LOTR moments where Frodo and his troop traverse vast fields with mountains in the backdrop and with the camera panning across. Or perhaps a couple of scenes from the movie I mentioned earlier, Everest where the mountaineers seem like dots moving in one line, cutting through a blanket of snow, while the camera sweeps across the beautiful landscape. That’s how I saw this moment then.

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Here we were beginning our first ascent on the way to the foot of Mt. Manalmon, led by kuya Joseph. My cousin had a bit of a hard time so we had to stop for a few times, but it wouldn’t be too difficult if you work out regularly. It’s just like climbing the stairs to a 5-storey building.

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Had to ask them to pose for me from time to time.

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The group feetfie. but of course!

Unfortunately, I would have to end the first part here, but would be posting the second half soon! This would be my last post for July and tomorrow, I start the August Break Challenge! Woooot! Woooot!

****photos taken by everyone on this trip!

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