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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Happy Birthday: The One When I Didn’t Wish for Anything

Wow. It sure looks like a lot has happened since I last wrote something here. This will be my first ever November post and the blog editor looks different, but much better. I like it!

So November huh? Ain’t it my favorite month and time of the year!?! It’s almost Christmas, but not quite yet. The air is definitely cooler in the morning and most people have started to decorate. Malls are getting busier (even on ordinary weekdays) and Christmas trees are up on sale again, and so are Poinsettias! Yay! I spelled it right!

It’s also my birth month and this year, I got to have 3 days off from work! Woot woot!!

Last year, we traveled south to Cebu to visit my brother, but this year, sadly, he wasn’t with us to celebrate my 26th birthday. You see, it’s also the APEC week so most flights in and out of the country/metro have all been cancelled to make way for the world leaders’ arrival and departure.

We haven’t really planned anything for my birthday. Papa thought it would be nice to have lunch or dinner buffet (again), but a day before my birthday, I saw a pretty detailed article on Looloo on things to try up north. Papa told me he printed the article out (right then and there) and the next thing I know, we were driving along NLEX-SCTEX, heading to Tarlac!

Originally, we were supposed to try Sandbox before finding our way to Tarlac, but since it was a pretty busy and long weekend, it took us half a day just lining up on various toll gates, so we went straight to Tarlac. It would’ve been too crowded in Pampanga anyway, said the bitter girl.

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First stop was the breathtaking and sacred Monasterio De Tarlac. Behind us on the third pic is a 30-foot statue of the risen Christ.

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Among the 3 stops we were to make that day, the Monasterio was the farthest from McArthur Highway (we were counting on the km road signs to see how far it was going to take before we reached the monastery-30km from Tibag, if I’m not mistaken) and in going there, you would pass by Tarlac Recreation Park.

While traversing the almost endless and empty roads (and a single-lane bridge) across vast fields of green, one would think that the place wouldn’t be flocked by city-dwellers, but we were wrong. The parking lot was full, and the place was peppered with tourists. We even saw Fr. Jerry Orbos just before we left.

The place is a go-to hideaway in times when you have too many things going on in your mind. It’s quiet (except for some excited, shrieking tourists :P) and tucked within several mountains of San Jose, Tarlac.

You can also offer petitions and prayer requests and feel like whatever you put in there would be granted, so long as you wouldn’t lose faith.

Next stop on the itinerary was of course, the aforementioned Tarlac Recreational Park.

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Here I was, obviously with feet itching, literally and figuratively. #slippersanddenimpamore!

You should get there in 10-15 minutes from the monastery. We got there at around quarter past 3. The 2 groups that registered just before we did signed up for kayaking and dune buggies and since they said there wouldn’t be enough time for us to drive buggies after the first group does, we opted to just bike around the place.

I must say, their bikes were all in good condition and probably well-maintained. They have trails that are shared by both bikers and buggy drivers and we found an easy-enough one (at least for beginners) just beyond the football field beside the oval.

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Here are my parents flushed and probably with hearts racing at the time as it has been years since we biked together as a family, excluding that time back in May when we went to Bataan.

There weren’t a lot of guests that day (which I extremely love). Most of those I saw were young families who were there to swim, 2-3 pairs of biker couples, the 2 groups I mentioned earlier and a big group of about 25-30 students training at the oval. The place is huuuuge and there’s so much to do so there’s a very little chance of you bumping into the other guests.

An hour should be enough to go around the trails, thrice, but then we also needed time to take photos of each other. As you can see, we were there right during the golden hour! It was the best time to bring out all the cameras, including my newest, a Yashiflex TLR.

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Here we were, the sedentary trio, an hour later, all parched and weak from biking uphill and on rough terrain, but not quite ready to quit just yet as we had one more stop to make before we called it a day.

After the obligatory feetfie and groupfie, off we went to our third and final stop…

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Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, it just did!

I remember I used to be friends with this girl back in grade school, whose dad races and who happened to be the only girl I ever heard of enjoying karting, to think we were only kids at the time. I mean, how can a kid drive a race car, right?

I’ve never tried karting in my 26 years of existence until my 26th year of existence, but one thing I know now for sure, I’d definitely do this again, over and over if I can!

TRIVIA TIME! Did you know that apart from zombie-killing and other shooting games, I also love playing GTA (just so I could drive around) and of course, Forza Horizon. I’ve always wanted to drive fast and I’m really good at it with a gaming console, but I’ve also had the chance to drive soooper fast in an express way once. Of course, I was still really cautious because I’m a girl. 😛

Going back, I think I definitely got the hang of it instantly. During the first few laps, I was “half-braking” when going around the curved parts, and was sooooper stiff too, but I learned to loosen up in the end.

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I have to say, with an entire year that mostly sucked, I never thought I’d have a birthday as beautiful as this one. Like what I said, this was the only year I never asked for anything (at least none for myself). I just wanted to spend time with my family and God gave me more than that. So thank YOU.

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I can’t say that I’ve been a good girl this year because I have been literally the opposite of being good. I have pushed people out of my life and I’m not going to blame anyone but myself for that. This is all me, but despite everything, I’m still thankful. Thank You, for never giving up on me and for giving me people who will love me no matter what. You are the reason why I am here and You have a purpose for me. Whatever that is, please, please help me find it. One more thing, Could you please never let go of my hand? Please?

So there goes another year and came another one for me to be thankful for, again! We can’t thank God enough and those who love us unconditionally. It was a happy birthday, indeed!

P.S. All photos were taken by my beautiful sister, Kat and yes, the title was patterned to be like those FRIENDS episode titles (I have been looking for and watching the Christmas episodes yesterday).

30 Day Writing Challenge: DAY 5

List 5 Places You Want To Visit

Easy enough, there’s New York, Greece, Japan, Norway/Finland and Batanes. That’s 6, but not really, I’ll explain this later!

1) NEW YORK – This is obviously my top 1. It’s my favorite place on earth, yet I haven’t been there, sadly. What I want do in New York is explore every street and alley there is, and discover something artsy and just have the time of my life! I feel like it’s the place where I want to live in and work in and have a family of my own and all that. It feels like a perfect place to live in, especially for a girl like me who loves people-watching and being amazed and just being in a busy place all the time (because quiet places sometimes freak me out). I know, I sometimes wish I could live in the country too, preferably near a beach, but more often that not, I feel so much more comfortable in the city.

What made me fall in love with NY: The movie “Serendipity” and this movie on my to-see list, “Broken English“, shows like “FRIENDS” and “Gossip Girl“, the art museums, Serendipity Cafe, That ice skating rink in central park and the list goes on!

2) GREECE – I have decided once in my life to just work as a waitress in Greece. I love the beach and seeing Santorini was like seeing your soulmate the first time, without having met him/her, ever. The background would all be just a blur and in slow motion and your eyes both focused on that little island in all its blue and white goodness. I could wear shorts and dresses all day all the time and I’d never get tired of it.

What made me fall in love with Greece: the movie “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” 🙂

3) JAPAN – I’m not a big fan of their language or any foreign language other than English just because I won’t ever have the patience to learn them all. What I love to see in Japan though are the cherry blossoms, that snow-capped Mt. Fuji, the temples, HARRY POTTER theme park, eat authentic Japanese food like Ramen, Sashimi and Sushi and of course, hoard FILM CAMERAS AND FILMS!!!!!!!!!!

What made me fall in love with Japan: Japan Camera Hunter and this store that sells FILMS (I won’t die without ever stepping into that store, I swear!)

4) NORWAY/FINLAND – I’ve always been mesmerized and not to mention, intrigued by the northern lights and what better way to see them than right out of your window, and where would that be? In either of these places. There’s this site that listed the 5 best places to see the northern lights and I know that Norway’s one of them, but I didn’t know that there are these glass igloos in Finland you can rent and stay in to see the northern lights above you. Pretty amazing!

What made me fall in love with Norway/Finland: the northern lights, snow and the glass igloos and colorful settlement area of Longyearbyen.

5) BATANES – I swear there was one tv show that braved Batanes long before people started flocking to it. I fell in love with the whole place the moment I saw it. It looked like it was not a part of this country. It’s probably one place in the country that I can live in even without cell service.

What made me fall in love with Batanes: This establishment they call the “honesty store”, biking around Batanes and the gorgeous cliffs just beside the sea 🙂

I’m breaking the rules here, but I got to put this on to the list too (just in case someone wants to sponsor my travel fund someday, you’ll know where to take me)

BONUS COUNTRY: IRELAND!!!! I’ve written an entry about this here, just to prove how much I’d love to go to this country someday, mostly because I want to hear more of the Irish accent and to see the beautiful cliffs they have there. Pretty shallow, I know, but when you’re there, you wouldn’t even think I’m shallow.

What made me fall in love with Ireland: Like what I said on that entry, the movies, “P.S., I Love You” and “Leap Year” made me fall in love with it 🙂