Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul



Mt. Talinis: Where expectation meets reality


Do you prefer hiking with a specific group of people or do you like seeing new faces? At its core, mountain climbing is not just about reaching the top. Most often, what matters most are the experiences and memories we shared along the trail. And admit it, when you look at those instagrammable photos, your mind travels back to the conversations, big or small. Those candid laughter, comfortable jokes and banters, little slips, unguarded expressions, and many more.

This is why WHO you go in the mountains with counts. Friends or strangers, each has its pros and cons that can make or break the success of any climb.

If this was two years ago, I would avoid any chance of meeting new faces. But the mountains had taught me the beauty of building connections… in nature and in people. So now I don’t mind — at least not much.

Where expectation meets reality

Mt. Talinis peeps!

What started in Alto Peak was followed by the Tres Marias climb. And now, we found ourselves reunited for another adventure. Hiking with me are familiar faces — Shiela, Jovy, Chiarra, Kevin, James, An Jurvel, Shandy, Shiekina, Ate Sherlyn, Hardi, Renson, Phil, Sir La Yell — with the addition of Maurice, Idas (Laag Sparkles) and CJ Estrada. Our destination? Mt. Talinis.

Towering at 1,903 meters above sea level, Mt. Talinis, also known as Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros), is the second highest mountain in Negros Island after Mt. Kanlaon. This complex volcano located in the province of Negros Oriental was given a 6/9 difficulty level.

Among its many routes, we followed the Apolong-Apolong trail, which is the second longest course going to the peak. From blogs and firsthand experiences, we set our expectation that the climb will be challenging. And indeed it was.

Hello, gorgeous ❤

We were blessed with a sunny day and it was quarter to 8:00 am when we started the hike. Since most of us are climbing Mt. Talinis for the first time, there was extra excitement among the group. The tall trees and rich biodiversity are nature’s natural cooling system, making it bearable for us to walk through the unlimited steep ascend.

Into the deep.
Happy faces. 🙂

We trekked towards the ranger’s station (the first water source) where we met our first setback. Shiekina, due to her excitement at the sight of the water (or was it the bebeboys), sprained her ankle. Gladly, we have two PTs, An Jurvel and Shandy, to the rescue.

The lead group proceeded with the hike, leaving Shiekina, An Jurvel and Shandy, to wait for the sweeper group so Shik can rest for a while.

We reached Rancho (the last water source before Lake Nailig), an established campsite by the Cuernos De Negros Mountaineers, where we had our lunch. But since the team decided on a same-day summit, our pacing was slightly brisk with less rest in between. We passed by Kaipuhan Sulfur River then continued to the monkey trail. Unlike Alto Peak, there were no ropes to hold on to and you only have to trust the roots to help you up.


It was past 1:00 pm when we got a glimpse of Lake Nailig and just when we got too close to our camping ground, James injured his knee. It was a mix of excitement and anxiety. Excitement for a guaranteed “clearing” at the summit and anxiety for our injured friends and those left behind.

Shiela, the #antigravitywarrior, was one of the first to arrive

Nacolon Peak

From Lake Nailig, the peak is accessible by a 30 to 40-minute trek through a forested trail. At the top waits a panoramic view of Negros Oriental’s natural forests. No wonder why it is dubbed as the province’s “last frontier.” All of us were in awe at the sight of the lake from above.

Happy faces because it’s a CLEARING! 😀
i left my heart down there…

It was almost sundown when the rest of our friends headed to the summit. As we descended back to the campsite, we passed by Shiekina and James — sprained ankle and injured knee — lagging behind the second group. Despite the threat of the rolling dusk and their injuries, these two braved the trials of the trails.

Team injured, Shik and James.
Happy faces despite having no clearing for the second group

The night and its terror
Night time and the two groups started cooking our meals. However, five of us have not gone down from the summit. Later on, Hardi and Renson arrived with faint headlamp. The two said that they lost track of Phil, James, and Shik. It was already dark and most of us started to worry. After what seemed like a lifetime, James came rushing into the campsite telling us to send people to assist Shik who met an accident. Our head guide, Sir Chris, along with Shandy, went and look for the two. With that mishap, plus the strong gust of wind, our socials during the night turned into a slumber party. We were too tired to stay up and decided to conclude the day.

Lake Nailig


Lake Nailig greeted us with a dramatic backdrop. The morning was cold and we were surrounded by thick fog. Personally, I regret that I did not give this Crater Lake a second look the day before when it was clear.

A cup of coffee on a cold morning is ❤

But despite our “bondpaper” background, the group was still in high spirit enjoying the breakfast (except for the lost tuna patty) and selfies!

Where’s the tuna patty? lol
Ganito pala sa Massachusetts!
Shandy and An posing with PRIDE ❤
Team Buwad 😀

It was past 10:00 am when we decided to trace back our trail. Another day of experiencing the straggle and struggle of Apolong trail — only this time, it’s the opposite. Yesterday’s unlimited ascent is today’s unlimited descent. And from arid forest path, we are faced with muddy track. *insert heavy breathing*


It started drizzling when we reached Kaipuhan Sulfur River but this did not stop us from enjoying its one-of-a-kind view. The sulfur vents, the dead trees, the bleached rocks — it was like being transported into a barren realm.

Kaipuhan and its melodrama.
Living among the dead.

As time passed, the drizzle turned into a heavy rain and we hurried our way back to the jump off. Hiking in the rain comes with extra threats: the trail is dark and slippery with a chance of landslide and getting sick. Gladly, we all reached the jump-off safe and sound. How was the experience? UNLIMITED. Unlimited ascent, unlimited descent, unlimited HAHA! Mt. Talinis is one of the places where your expectation meets reality. Definitely a place worth coming back to. 🙂

Rain or shine, all was fine 🙂

Also, check out CJ’s VLog in two parts: The Revenge & The Stormy Descent


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

In a quandary


She sails away in dreams and books
Finds refuge in every empty nooks
But when she saw the babbling brook
It showed her what she overlooked

Though she finds refuge in empty nooks
There is more to life than a storybook
And she finally saw what she overlooked
A laughter, a smile, come take a look

There is more to life than a storybook
More to boring likes and posts on Facebook
A laughter, a smile, come take a look
The mountains wait, lay down your books

More to boring likes and posts on Facebook
More to sailing away in dreams and books
The mountains wait, lay down your books
And heed the call of the babbling brook



In response to dVerse’s Poetics: your poetic hum hosted by Gina who introduced us to the Tanpura Principle in writing (the idea that much of writing occurs while doing something else). What is the poetic hum in your life? What hums in the background of your life that inspires you as you unconsciously listen while you work and live? Is the drone always there or do you have to cultivate the inspiration?

As I have found my passion and profession in writing, work does not take much of a toll. But if there is one thing that made me live a dual life, it is the happiness I found in nature. On most days I am torn between slouching on the bed with a book and putting on my bag to explore the outdoors. Sometimes, the book wins. Sometimes, the mountains. It’s like being torn between two lovers. 

Also, linking this up to Poetry Forms – The Pantoum. Other than Quadrille and Haibun, I haven’t written a piece with a poetry form. This is my first with Pantoum. 🙂

Head over here to join the prompt!



“Make yourself happy—
not to validate people but
because you simply want to.”

I hope you learn to enjoy the company of yourself first. To not cringe at the thought of being alone. To have the best days of your life in solitary walks. In sunrises and silence. Moonlit nights or perhaps lazy afternoons.

I’m not talking about the I’m-fine-being-alone-I’d-rather-be-by-myself kind of solitude either. I heard you countless of times. Still, I keep seeing that sad look in your eyes. That feigned smile.

Solitude is beautiful and you need not degrade it. It is a choice, not a defense mechanism. So go on and do what you’ve been itching to do. Make yourself happy — not to validate people but because you simply want to. Gain so much that by the time solitude leaves you at bay, you have a lot to give away. To them. To him. To her.




Perhaps love will find me one day


“perhaps love will find me one day”

you’ll probably say there is an error in that syntax
that i should find love from within, not the other way around
but that is not the case — at least not for me

believe me, i have milked courage for all its worth
but every time insecurity enters my room,
i was never brave enough to meet its gaze

some days it comes with keys,
knowing exactly how to open my vulnerabilities
some days it comes with hammer,
forcing its way to let in my anxieties

everyday i wake up a survivor
but truth is i never left the scene of the crime

so if there is love to be found from within
it is buried deep in a mass grave—
along with the what-ifs
and the could-have-beens

In response to dVerse’s OLN #238 hosted by Grace.

Perhaps love will find me one day — I once asked a friend if is she loves herself. This was her answer and I find it to be one of the saddest statement I have ever heard. </3

Head over here to join the prompt!


You know they lie

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

You know they lie
When headline reads, ‘Cops say he fought back’
You know it’s an execution—
a purge, a shortcut
To what you call a ‘better world’
In between sips of coffee
You convince yourself
of the new normal
of the new ‘right’


In response to dVerse’s Quadrille #74 hosted by Mish who challenges us to take the word “sip” beyond the obvious.

This one is inspired by a news article I read this morning. The Philippine government is still waging war on drugs. While this started with the right cause, it has veered into an unstoppable purge. And with the poor justice system in the country, the war has taken a toll on the poor. This one is for the dead who were summary executed and for living who shrug sympathy and justice away. These 44 words are not enough to save the country from further downfall, it needs the Filipino people to wake up and stand up against impunity.

Head over here to join the prompt!


Jalousie: A Vignette

dried rose flowers

be careful with jalousies
even locked doors are easy
to break into —
if they are half-open

In response to dVerse’s OLN hosted by Grace. Today, I spent the whole afternoon thinking about jealousy jalousie. I strained my thoughts trying to scribble something longer but I think this one summarized it all. Image: Unsplash

Head over here to join the prompt!




Over and over. Again and again.

At some point in this lifetime, your life will turn upside down. You knees will wobble in chasing your dreams. Your fingers will tremble holding on to hope. Frustration will try to claw out of your throat as fear strangles you by the neck. Your heart will break— terribly. Crushed and trampled on by circumstances or people. You will see life from a shattered mirror and trust me when I say that you will seek the comfort of oblivion.

I have been there.

I turned to silence and locked myself away from the awful world. Noise has also been my recourse to shut the voices screaming in my head. I gave myself an escape only to find I was building a cage. It was empty even when I was in it.

Coelho once wrote that life has a way of testing a person’s will: either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once. I hope when you reach this point in your lifetime, you take a time to breathe. To take a step back. It’s okay to not know all the answers. It’s okay to swim in the ocean of confusion. It’s okay to fall. So take all the time you need to get those knees back up. Those hands ready to grip. And that heart? Remember that it is everything broken and glued back together.

Over and over. Again and again.

TRES MARIAS: Finding Beauty in the Blur


Admit it or not, fear still creeps in your spine whenever you are faced with uncertainty. It is terrifying inasmuch as it is exciting. It takes your breath away for a second or two; it makes your heart skip a beat faster. Think of the last time you proudly called yourself brave — the day you stood up against your boss, the day you told your parents you’re gay, the day you told yourself ‘enough’ or the day you welcomed love. Whatever it is, you didn’t really know will happen next. But you did it anyway.

As for me, my recent hike with friends was nothing short of uncertainty… and yes, of fear and excitement.


After climbing Ormoc’s Alto Peak last May, we talked, with eager and hopeful hearts, about how we’d target climbing Biliran’s Tres Marias next. The thought dragged on but there was no definite plan or word from anyone to carry it out. It was not until a month before the event that we decided to make it happen. With a short time to prepare physically, mentally and financially, the our organizer Shiela looked for heads to join the fun. Of course, the casts and crews of Alto Peak were present, with the exception of some and addition of others. By November 23, fifteen fun-loving folks headed to Pier 3, all geared for another major climb.

None of us knows what awaits in Tres Marias. We’ve read blog posts, seen pictures, and heard stories but uncertainty still sits at the back of our minds. The first jolt came when we are still in Cebu. Unfortunately, for safety purposes, Cebu Port Authority no longer allows carrying of butane canisters. So, we are faced with a dilemma on whether we can find one in the province or we’ll have to go back to the age of campfires to cook our food. The second jolt came a little later. Most hikers would opt to reach Biliran via Ormoc but we decided to take the ship that sails straight to Naval. What we thought an 11-hour travel time became 13 and a half, kissing our fixed itinerary goodbye.

However, in the midst of the uncertainty, dawn breaks with a gorgeous sunrise. With it came a promise of a beautiful day ahead. And so we forgot our little mishaps.

Sunrise ❤

Expecting the unexpected

Biliran is surrounded by mountains which explains the province’s abundant rivers and waterfalls. While I have been to two of their waterfalls during my summer trip with friends, I am certain Biliran has a lot more to offer. Some of them are found on the way to Tres Marias. Continue reading “TRES MARIAS: Finding Beauty in the Blur”

Sugod sa Sogod

Lately, memes about Titos and Titas of Facebook have been making rounds in social media. In essence, this is a millennial term used to describe “old schools” who have embraced the domestic lifestyle and content themselves with nostalgia and throwback posts. It’s funny though that most of those who claim to be “titos and titas” nowadays are millennials (born between 1980 and 2000). A generation known for its vibrancy and zeal, what happened to us?

The easiest explanation is aging in the digital age. We tend to be drained by too much loud and crowd. In the height of social media, we crave for genuine connection — with a person, with nature, with ourselves. And until we find these, we’d rather stay in the comforts of our homes.

But just because we age doesn’t mean we have to settle into the doldrums of ordinary. As what Anne of Windy Poplars once said, “There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves.”

Starting off with this…

Away from the colors and grandeur of Sinulog, my friends and I (Team Buwad as we fondly call ourselves) went out of town for a weekend escape. Travelling 60 km northward from Cebu City is the municipality of Sogod. It is said that the town gained its name from the Cebuano term “sinugdanan” which means “beginning.” For its geographical and historical reasons, Sogod is where the stretch of white sand and the conversion to Christianity going north began.

As for us, it’s the beginning of a new adventure.

Bagatayam Falls
Getting to Bagatayam Falls is very easy. Just a few hundred meters from Sogod poblacion, we passed by the Bagatayam Bridge in Brgy. Bagatayam. Here’s a sneak-peak of the waterfalls from the bridge.

Continue reading “Sugod sa Sogod”

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