With the world in utter chaos today due to COVID-19, we are reminded of our mortality — our vulnerability despite having played like gods over other creatures. As death threatens to knock on our doorsteps, we realize the value of living.

To live, not merely exist. But have we made the most of life?

Festive night and foggy morning in Mt. Hambubuyog

Camping at Mt. Hambubuyog has always been a “drawing” plan for my SMS peeps. For a long list of reasons, it always gets cancelled. But this time, the wait is over. We finally decided to make it happen to celebrate the birthdays of our March-celebrant friends: Kevin, Paul and Ofelia. Together with Shiela, Chiarra, Shiekinah, Kim, James, CJ, Charlie and Jharm, we took a four-hour bus drive to the quiet town of Ginatilan.

There are two ways to get to Mt. Hambubuyog: one is passing through Brgy. Mangaco and the other is through the winding road between the border of the municipalities of Samboan and Ginatilan. Our habal-habal drivers took us to the latter since it was the safer choice.

At 820 meters above sea level, Mt.Hambubuyog is the highest peak in Ginatilan. The base of the mountain is surrounded by tropical trees and farmlands which made us enjoy the over 30-min motorcycle ride.

The summit is also where the Divine Mercy Chapel is located which is frequented by locals during Holy Week. We chose to pitch our tents on a spot farther from the chapel where we can get a better view of the neighboring island of Negros.

The night rolled in and we began the feast — in the literal sense. Who said you only get to eat instant food when camping? We brought the kitchen with us and covered the full-course meal, from entrée to dessert. Birthday boy Kevin took the spotlight since Paul and Fel couldn’t make it.

We also played the card game called Avalon where we bluffed our way to either claim that we were loyal servants of Arthur or hide that we were minions of Mordred. In the end, neither the kingdom nor the resistance won. Laughter reigned among all players. Also, we realized that loyal or not, Jharm can’ be trusted. HAHA!

Morning came but sadly, we didn’t get to witness the sunrise due to thick clouds. Soon, fog began to build up and cover the view. After a quick breakfast and break camp, we set out to our next destination: Inambakan Falls.

What started as a fascinating walk in the fog became eerie. As we went further and farther, we started losing sight of the trail. We may have been laughing and kidding around but deep inside, we were panicking.

Later on, the group decided to stop. We reached the point of zero visibility and our leads (Charlie and James) had trouble finding the right direction. The internet connection was intermittent but, thankfully, Google Maps worked.

The trail to the paved road was a steep descent. While the fog slowly dispelled, we still had to be careful with our steps. By the time we reached the foot of the mountain, we were dripping in sweat. Just the perfect reason to make us crave for the waterfalls even more.

Chasing Waterfalls in Ginatilan

Truth is I didn’t know that Inambakan Falls has more than three tiers of interconnected waterfalls. Some claim there are four while other say there are five. When I first came here though, we only visited Kampael, Bugnawan and Inambakan.

As we moved closer to the river, we heard the familiar gush of waters and soon saw a four-meter high cascade. It was tucked in the midst of the forest which gave it an enchanting feel. We spent a long time here swimming and taking pictures. Jharm, Charlie, CJ and Kim even dared to jump over the cliff.

We skipped the next level, Kampael, and headed to Bugnawan Falls instead. It’s a secluded mini chute waterfall surrounded by trees. There were also huge cave-like boulders that gave it a unique character from the rest of the levels. We didn’t take long though since other tourists started coming in.

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Model: Charlie | Photographer: Shiela

Finally, we arrived at the main waterfalls. Inambakan never did disappoint. Whether it’s a sunny day or a gloomy one, this place will proudly flaunt its beauty. We found ourselves feeling like kids again as we enjoy its plunging waters.

Looking back, I never thought this trip would be the last one I’d have with my friends. Had we known, we would have stayed longer, talked deeper and laughed louder. But what’s done is done. At least we had a memorable weekend to remember. Especially in these trying times.

Now that we have nothing but memories to hold on to, I realize that life is not something that waits ahead or slips from our grips. It is not something that should be pursued. Life is here and now. And we only have to live it.

Check out CJ’s vlog here:


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If you ever go and do it for the Gram, take your trash with you — every piece, every gram.