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Matalom: Experiencing its ‘katahum’ for a day

It was said that the Spaniards once saw the flaming red of the fire trees that dotted the shores of Matalom beach. They asked the natives the local dialect for “hermosa” or beautiful and they were answered, “Matahum” or “Matalom.” This was the origin of the town’s name.

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Matalom proper (c) James

Matalom is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Leyte. A south western coastal town inhabited by peaceful and sea-loving people, it is best known for the scenic Canigao Island. But is this the only thing they can offer? The answer is a resounding no.

Fresh from Cebu, my sister, James and I took a PUJ from Hilongos to experience Matalom for a day. It was almost 7 am when we arrived in Brgy. Santa Fe. Originally, we planned on going to Canigao Island first but due to time constraints, we decided to head to the nearby Karap-agan Falls instead.

Karap-agan Falls
Karap-agan Falls, also known as Mahayahay Falls, is located in Sitio Mahayahay, Caridad Norte, Matalom. Along the Santa Fe highway, we found a habal-habal driver who agreed to drive us to the place for Php100/pax (roundtrip). The ride did not take long and we were dropped to a familiar riverbank where the jump off point to the falls is. There are no signages so it is preferable to have someone familiar with the trail or a local to ask directions. As for us, we have my sister.

We took the 15 to 20-minute trek guided by the stream. It was dry season, so it was not surprising to see the shallow waters. What’s surprising to see though was how still the river was.

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A glimpse of Karap-agan Falls

The first time my sister and I went to Karap-agan Falls was back in 2017. And nothing much has changed. It remains untamed, secluded and less touristy. When we got there, we had the place all to ourselves. 😀

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Finally, nakaligo na!

They say love is sweeter the second time around and I couldn’t agree more. I finally got to experience its waterfalls up close (no newly permed hair this time). Even though there was lesser water than before, we still enjoyed its two-tiered cascades.

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Fallin’
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The sister.

Hitoog Cave
Do you dabble your toes in the water or plunge right into it?

Creating another buzz among locals of Matalom is the Hitoog Cave and Underground Spring located in Brgy. Hitoog, Matalom. This has been a common side trip when going to Karap-agan Falls. For 20 pesos, one can enjoy swimming in the cave pool. A man-made pool also serves as a catch basin of the water overflowing from the cave. Whichever option you choose, an icy-cold treat awaits you!

P.S. This destination was part of my 2017 visit in Karap-agan Falls. I added the info here because I didn’t get a chance to write about it before. And it will be a worthy addition to your Matalom escapade.

Canigao Island
Coelho once said that everything is connected — that all roads meet and that all rivers flow into the same sea. And true to this, from waterfalls and spring, our trip led to the sea.

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Santa Fe port (c) James

Canigao Island, an islet just five kilometers off the shores of Matalom, has been a favorite inexpensive weekend getaway among locals. A former fishermen’s sanctuary, this little paradise has become a tourist destination sometime in 2005.

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Beach!!

After paying 120 pesos (80 php roundtrip fare & 40 php entrance fee) at the Santa Fe port, we boarded the ferryboat that would take us to the island. There was no specific time when the boat will depart but as long as the minimum number of passengers has been reached, we were allowed to sail. Big outrigger boats can transport up to 60 passengers.

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James 😉

Canigao Island is known for its white sands, turquoise seas, extensive coral reef ground and diverse marine life. The place is suitable for swimming and diving. An overnight stay will also give you the chance to experience the beautiful colors of sunset and sunrise, and the star-speckled sky at night.

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Nahulog ang piso pose.

As for my sister, James and I, we decided to stay just for the afternoon. When the sun’s heat is at its height. But what is a sun-kissed skin to a fun experience right?

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Crystal clear. ❤
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Guess who’s older?
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Nindot diay ning naay thirdwheel... 😀
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Sunod balik diri dapat camping na 😉

It has been the policy of LGU Matalom and Marina Coast Guard not to allow trips to the islet beyond 5 pm for safety and security reasons. Tourists who intend to stay for an overnight must cross to the island before the mentioned time, while those who don’t must sail back to Santa Fe port before at 4 pm.

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Leaving the island at 3 pm.

Matalom’s katahum is indeed priceless. There are far more secret havens this town can offer. All it takes is a mind set for an adventure, a heart humble enough to respect nature’s beauty and two feet willing to wander to far-off places.

Here’s to exploring more of Leyte. Carpe diem!


sdr

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

Negros Oriental Backpacking: Weekend Escape

From numerous mountains, lakes, waterfalls, beach resorts to historical places, sumptuous food and gentle people, the province of Negros Oriental continues to attract a lot of tourists each year. It’s close proximity to the islands of Siquijor and Cebu also played to its advantage.

As for James and I, our Negros Oriental Backpacking trip is not just a simple visit but an escape from the traffic, noise, dynamics and pollution of the city life.

IMG_20190217_070247.jpg Continue reading “Negros Oriental Backpacking: Weekend Escape”

What Happiness Looked Like

“What is happiness, Grandma?” four-year old Jenny beamed, her eyes filled with curiosity and wonder.

It’s year 2090. The unlikely symbiosis between humans and computers over the years lead to the creation of Hyperworld. Technology evolved in ways nobody believed was possible to begin with. Man, like God, has come to defy the natural law. And there is no need for such thing nowadays.

With little Jenny on my lap, I described what happiness looked like. Happiness came in different forms but always with leaves. They whispered day and night. Their color changed with seasons. Winds carried gay trills of song. They used to make the world alive.

“Does happiness still exists, Grandma?” she asked.

My wrinkled hands brushed the faded photograph. It’s an awkward picture of me walking amid what people in bygone years used to call trees.

“I hope it does, angel. I truly hope it does.”

Word count: 150


I remember the first time I joined Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a writing prompt hosted by PJ where we were challenged to weave a piece of fiction using 150 (+/- 25 words). It lead me to a (virtual) path treaded by the likes of Rosema, Jade, Mandi, Jessie, Davy D, Millie and Ali. Back then, we had all the energy and time create our own fictional worlds and let other writers in. Fast-forward to 2019, we found ourselves caught in buzz of the real. Some of us still writes (cheers!) while others hope to get back at writing (no, you don’t stop). Of the six flash fiction writing prompts I used to join in, only three are left active: Sunday Photo Fiction, Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner and Friday Fictioneers.

Anybody doing these prompts?

Fallin’ Down South: Waterfall Hopping in Barili, Badian and Ginatilan

Waterfalls are one of nature’s many gifts that touch us deeply from the senses to the soul. The sound of water splashing and birds chirping, backdropped with a lush greenery around, make up a transformative vibe for any traveler. There is something rather special about them, it feels a little more personal. Like a secret only you know about. This is why a hike that ends in a waterfall is considered pure bliss by many.

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A year ago (yes, it took my lazy butt a year to finally write about it), James and I headed south of Cebu to chase some waterfalls. Chase. Aside from the obvious reason that waters run endlessly, why do we often call the act “chasing”? Is it because waterfalls change with seasons and yesterday’s scene may not be the same as today’s? Or are we in pursuit of something intangible? I wonder how many waterfalls it would take for us to find the right answer. Continue reading “Fallin’ Down South: Waterfall Hopping in Barili, Badian and Ginatilan”

You like sad girls.

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You like sad girls.

You look at their faces and you want to save them. You think they need to be loved, that they should be. You want to make them happy.

So you take your step. With the air of a knight in shining armor, you walk up to the girl who is probably sitting alone on a table for two. Or wave to the girl who has been sharing memes and Bob Ong quotes.

You get a taste of her sharp tongue but you know deep inside, in all realness, she is just a sad girl. So you keep on talking.

Hours, days, weeks, months — you let her feel your presence. You let her see that you care. Know that you’re sincere. The sad streak on her face will slowly fade and you will find her passing a smile.

You get a sense of satisfaction. But that is not enough. You try to hold her, gently, but soon you realize you will have to hold her tight. You still have to get through her wall. Your ego will not let you lose, so keep doing more. More sweet talk, more care, more time, more effort.

Until her protective wall collapses. And you see her closing the distance between the two of you. That is your reward.

She starts telling you her story and history. At first you like it. You like to see how dark her world was and how much light you have brought into her life. You fill her heart with love and she gets better. She does. She no longer talks of heartaches or fears or ghosts from the past. She looks forward to tomorrow with her hopeful eyes glistening with joy.

But as time flies, you start missing your sad girl. You no longer see the pain. You realize your project is over. So you leave her. To look for your next sad girl. Another charity case for you to fix.
MS

 


A story one the radio reminded me of this piece I wrote a while ago. This one is inspired by a friend’s short-lived love story. Have you been through the same thing? Have you met someone who likes sad girls?

Negros Oriental Backpacking: Chasing Waterfalls

They say that the Earth has music for those who listen. There is a reason why we call it whisper of the wind, rhythm of the waves, song of the bird, and dance of a flame. Nature is one big concert hall playing a symphony in sync with man’s beating heart. If we only stop, we could hear them.

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An adventure begins

Negros Oriental for instance is home to several waterfalls offering visitors a one-of-a-kind music. The town of Valencia alone has 10 (according to Erwin of EnrouteNegros) and probably more. Of all these waterfalls, Pulangbato Falls and Casaroro Falls are the most sought after destinations. Aside from tourists, these natural cascades have been a common sidetrip for hikers who climbed the infamous Mt. Talinis.

As for James and I, it was part of our Negros Oriental backpacking trip. After enjoying the silence of  the Twin Lakes on our first day, we were up for some water splashes this time. Continue reading “Negros Oriental Backpacking: Chasing Waterfalls”

Mt. Pinatubo: A 42km Golden Adventure

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Sunrise ❤

“Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?”

The classic story of the phoenix is that of resilience and hope. For centuries, this mythical bird became a symbolic reminder of people who has risen from the ashes. Those who bounced back up after their world came crashing down. Those who built themselves after falling apart.

Most of us talk about the phoenix but rarely of the flame. Just as how in life we see more of the outcome and less of the process. That is why this entry is not just about standing above the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. It is about zooming in to the beauty of the disaster we found during our 42-kilometer hike. Continue reading “Mt. Pinatubo: A 42km Golden Adventure”

Share Your World – Summertime

Melanie at Sparks from a Combustible Mind hosts Share Your World Challenge. Here’s my entry for this week.

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Sunrise ❤

Are you a Summer person? A Winter person? Or one of the other seasons suits you best?
The climate of the Philippines is divided into two main seasons: the rainy season (from June to the early part of October) and the dry season (from the later part of October to May). Despite its melancholy and all its drama, I have never been a fan of the rain. It always makes me sad for some reason. This is why I prefer sunny days. It somewhat calms the chaos inside and makes me hopeful. Though, I hope it don’t get brutally scorching whenever I’m outdoors.

What is your favorite summer time clothing?

Nothing in particular. I’m a regular t-shirt/jeans/cuff shorts kind of human being.

Do you find yourself eating out more during the summer? Or making ‘cold food’ like salads and stuff you can heat in the microwave?

I always think big when it comes to food. I “think” that I can eat a lot but whenever I eat, my stomach can only accommodate a few. Recently, I find myself craving for mango float. Does this count?

Do you like watermelon? What’s your favorite summertime treat?

I like watermelon but I like mangoes better. As for the summertime treat, for me buko salad would be best! It’s a Filipino fruit salad dessert made from strips of fresh young coconut with sweetened milk or cream and various other ingredients. If you want to learn how to make one, check this out!

Are you thankful it’s finally (sorta) dry and warm?

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14 on my side of the Earth. However, I am still thankful because the country has experienced a severe drought and it took a great toll on our farmers. Farmers, in general, celebrate rain showers, but not typhoons, as a sign of good harvest in the future. Now is the time for them to get back on track.

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday – I have a question

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Or, rather, Lelouch does:

“What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil?”

Lelouch Vi Britannia

In the vein of last week’s WQW entry, Are there any questions?, here I am throwing yet another inquiry.

Just recently, I was thrown into an alternate world where a philosophical and moral battle strongly exist. The quote above is taken from the Japanese anime, Code Geass. I’ve heard of the series years ago but I never had the drive to watch it. James successfully lured me into the anime this time. No regrets. 😀

The story revolves around the Empire of Britannia who conquered Japan and now call it Area 11. Its residents lost their rights to self-govern and are now called Elevens. The Empire uses destructive robotic weapons called Knightmares to ensure control, but someone is about to stand up against it. Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian student, seeks to use the power of the Geass to build a world based on his ideals. Unfortunately he finds himself caught in a crossfire between the Britannian and the Area 11 rebel armed forces.

Back to the question, I have this weird feeling inside that has been weighing me down. As an INFP whose choices and decisions are tethered on emotion and idealism, I find it hard to agree with Lelouch’s ways. For him, the ends justify the means. This just doesn’t go right with me. However, by the end of the series, I felt like loosening up to his approach. It’s a dilemma still. Can’t one just remain righteous and destroy evil instead?

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