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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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mariawentoutoftown

Bohol Backpacking: Exploring Ubay and Alicia (Day 1)

With its impressive and diverse natural wonders, Bohol has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. People gravitate toward this quaint island province because of its beautiful beaches, stunning peaks, untamed attractions, exciting eco-adventures, and welcoming people.

If only there is no COVID-19, our summer getaways would have been planned out. Itineraries would be ready. Check lists would be ticked off.

But we can’t have that, at least not yet. So here I am, reminiscing a three-year-old trip in Bohol I had with three strangers turned friends.

The Making of Team Buwad
They say that people are guests in our story just as we are guests in theirs. Looking back, James, An, Shandy and I have come a long way. From day hikes to major climbs, sea to summit ─ it’s funny how far a ¼ kilo of buwad for 20 pesos has brought us.

Some people would find it funny, but that’s how the inside joke started.

An and I have met before during our hike for a cause in Toledo but we didn’t really get a change to interact. Meanwhile, James and Shandy were complete strangers to me. I was unsure how this trip would turn out for the four of us but, apparently, some people just naturally click!

Our weekend adventure in Bohol started in Ubay, a first-class municipality that boasts a strong agri-tourism. They take pride of their vast rice fields, large plantations, and huge dams.

And that is what we came here for.

After buying our last-minute errands, we charted a tricycle to take us to our first two destinations.

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Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date

Valentine’s Day… also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. A time of the year when the world is filled with songs, flowers and gifts. When smiles are warmer, hugs are tighter, and sweet nothings are exchanged. An annual celebration of love in all forms.

And who said you can’t celebrate this day with friends?

The last time I traveled via Transcentral Highway was in 2017 when my friends and I hiked Mt. Manunggal and Mt. Mauyog in Balamban. It has been quite a long while since my eyes feasted to the view of Cebu’s highlands. The cool wind, the uninterrupted ride (no traffic, yes!), and the long winding stretch of scenic mountain view are already a treat to every traveler’s heart. Going farther north with me are my SMS peeps, James, Chiarra, An Jurvel, CJ Estrada, Kevin, and Belle.

After two hours of van ride, we reached the municipality of Tuburan. The town got its name from the Cebuano word “tubod” which means “spring.” We stopped at the covered court across the San Antonio De Padua Parish Church which is also a pilgrim destination for devotees of the patron saint of the poor, the lost, and more. After a quick lunch and last-minute errands, we charted motorcycles to take is to our first destination.

Sea, sand and sunny smiles
Eve’s Beach Front Home and Garden Resort is a slice of paradise situated not too far from the heart of Tuburan. Their two-storey beach house offers guests enough rooms and space for a weekend getaway. Here, you could either spend an intimate time with your loved one or go with family and friends without worrying much about a crowded shoreline.

Peace and quiet. ©CJ Estrada
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Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort: A retreat for escapists

In less than a 30-minute drive from a side street in the town center of Carmen lies a quiet place that escapists from the big city will truly enjoy. Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort easily rings a bell for most Cebuanos. It is one of Carmen’s quadruple treat when it comes to cold spring waters, alongside Middle Earth Mountain Resort, Mt. Uragay Spring Resort, and Alhibe Farm.

A natural retreat

Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort is situated not too far from the main road, but far enough to be considered remote. The place is teeming with lots of trees and plants that will captivate the eyes ─ especially those of plantitas and plantitos. I appreciate how the management try to preserve its natural ecology by limiting the number of structural changes in the resort.

What I found interesting in Durano were their homestays. In this day of skyscraper buildings, the sight of treehouses and nipa huts is a breath of fresh air. They have an option for visitors to pitch their own tents too, but I personally would not recommend it. Not the best camping spot.

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Mt. Kalatkat: The things we give and take

The pandemic has opened our eyes to a world that seems to always take. Lives and livelihood are lost. Every day feels like another step away from time, opportunities, relationships, connections, sanity and peace of mind. It’s the ultimate survival test — and the animal in each of us is out.

I honestly never thought we’d get this worse. Our panic and fear turned to greed and selfishness. There is a me-first mentality that runs on a global, national, local and personal scale. We push and shove one another, determined to keep our spot of existence. This is not a health threat anymore. This is a threat to life.

As I started doubting the future, I looked for comfort from the past. I came across old photographs from last year’s hike for a cause that we held in Carcar City. It not only reminded me of our exciting experience in Mt. Kalatkat, but it gave me the much-needed assurance that there is still goodness in people’s hearts. That we are capable of caring and giving, too.

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Fallin’ Down South: A weekend of feast, fog and falls

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?

Continue reading “Fallin’ Down South: A weekend of feast, fog and falls”

There are no such thing as tourist spots in Bung-aw

Having spent seven years in the concrete jungles of Cebu gave me a pair of eyes that looks at province life with extra appreciation and love. Like most people around my age, I started craving for the simplicity and warmth that rural places have to offer. Going home for me has become more than just reuniting with my family. It has now become a form of healing.

At the height of ticking off #bucketlists and #travelgoals, more and more places are “discovered” each day, topping the trends on Facebook and Instagram. While this is essentially harmless, I personally don’t like the idea of calling every place a tourist spot. I believe that, in a way, we rob it of its personality.

To set an example, let me take you to my hometown.

Bung-aw is a mountain barangay in the municipality of Hilongos in the province of Leyte. We do not have something elaborate to boast apart from our simple way of life. However, a few years ago, people from far off places started coming. The reason? Didang river.

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Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 3 (The Beauty of Mt. Wiji)

From a number of plot twists to finally reaching Mt. Kalatungan, our three-day climb culminated with a traverse hike to Mt. Wiji.

Mt. Wiji stands at the height of 2819.78 meters above sea level and is located at the southern part of Kalatungan Mountain Range. The mountain is named after the first Japanese who made it into the peak, but locals refer to it as Mt. Lumpanag or Makaupao.

The early morning wind greeted us with a chill and by the time we sipped our coffees, we were wearing layers of clothes and jackets to counter the very cold temperature. We were supposed to start the ascend at 8 am based on our initial itinerary, but Kuya Babu and the guides suggested that we start early for us to witness the sunrise and [probably] the sea of clouds. So there, in the darkness of the dawn, we started our trek.

It was 5 am when streaks of light started painting the sky with shades of pinks and purples. Although Mt. Wiji is less than a kilometer away from Bamboo Camp, the trail going to the peak is very steep. But despite our huffs, pants and coughs, the gorgeous view made it a whole lot easier.

We didn’t mind our aching muscles or joints. We didn’t mind our heavy loads. We didn’t even mind when our knees and chin almost touch with every step. We were just thankful for a blessed day.

Continue reading “Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 3 (The Beauty of Mt. Wiji)”

Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 2 (Surviving Mt. Kalatungan)

Have you ever got that feeling when you know exactly you’re about to do something big? It’s like all the small moments pile up into something bigger and you find yourself saying, “No going back now. This is it.”

That was how we felt on the dawn of November 22. After all the plot twists and yesterday’s rain, we’ve probably seen the worst possible scenarios. Things seemed less daunting now and we’re ready to do what we’re meant be doing. That is to climb Mt. Kalatungan.

Kalatungan Mountain Range has an estimated area of 55,692 hectares that is bounded by the municipality of Talakag on the north, the municipality of Lantapan and the city of Valencia on the west, and the municipality of Pangantucan on the south. Mt. Kalatungan, it’s highest peak, is now officially the 5th highest mountain in the Philippines at a height of 2880 MASL.

Continue reading “Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 2 (Surviving Mt. Kalatungan)”

Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 1 (The Plot Twists)

We all handle plot twists a little differently. There are those who sit meticulously to plan their next steps. Others don’t give a second thought and just hope for things to work out. There are those who stop dead in their tracks and try to muster the courage to make things happen again. Others can’t handle the change and run away. We can be planners or takers. Drifters or runners. We all put ourselves out there. Sometimes it’s full of regret, but most often it’s full of surprises. Just like this recent hike.

To end the year 2019, my friends and I decided to climb the Philippines’ highest, Mt. Apo (via Sta. Cruz – Kidapawan Trail). We had our activity booked, our itinerary mapped out. Everything was in order for the coming November 21 to 23 — or so we thought.

After months of rehabilitation from the recent El Nino, Mt. Apo reopened its trails for climbers. However, we received a news that travel agencies, guides and tourism office reached an agreement that there will be no more exit to Kidapawan Trail starting October. LGU Kidapawan has declined all exits from Davao. This was our first plot twist. We were given two options instead: 1) opt for the Kidapawan entry and exit [backtrail] or 2) opt for the Sta. Cruz – Bansalan Trail. Despite our anticipation of the majestic Lake Venado in Kidapawan, we chose the latter for a better experience.

And just when we thought there’ll be no more hurdles, a series of shocks followed. By mid-October, an earthquake swarm struck the province of Cotabato. This raised our initial unease because it might trigger the active volcano that we were planning to climb. Unease turned to fear when successive tremors jolted Davao where Mt. Apo is. That was the last straw. By November, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Davao Region and Davao LGU announced the closure of Mt. Apo until further notice.

When you’re in a bad situation, are you going to back out, wait or figure out a solution?

Continue reading “Kala-Wiji Chronicles: Part 1 (The Plot Twists)”

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