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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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mountains

Mt. Madjaas: Aches, heartaches, and the steps we didn’t take

It’s easy to think and say “circumstances have been against me” when things don’t work for us. Easy to rationalize our actions and factor all the ifs and if onlys that contributed to our defeat. But, truth is, deep in our hearts we know that all these are nothing but just sugar-coated excuses.

Trust me, I learned it from experience. My recent climb to Mt. Madjaas taught me this.

Continue reading “Mt. Madjaas: Aches, heartaches, and the steps we didn’t take”

Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 3 (Lake Venado + Century-old Tree)

What goes up must come down, they say. So there we were, descending 740 meters from the summit of Mt. Apo to reach the iconic Lake Venado where we would encamp for the night. A short distance for many, but a challenging one nonetheless.

The trail to Lake Venado was evidently spoiled by time and people. It was steep and muddy and slippery. But for someone who prefers downhill over uphill terrain like me, it was honestly a little fun. Had we not been carrying our backpacks, we would surely enjoy running — even sliding — on the mire like kids. But nobody dared to take photos during those two hours of balancing our feet. Our minds and eyes were focused holding on to branches/roots/grass to avoid tumbling down.

My trail buddies downhill

It was 4pm when Shiela, Karl, James, Ate Sherlyn, Shandy and I finally reached the lake. The rest of our group went ahead and had already set up camp. For us, we took a quick breather and stared at our feat. We survived the Lake Venado trail!

That dirty butt says a lot… HAHA!
Continue reading “Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 3 (Lake Venado + Century-old Tree)”

Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 2 (The journey to the summit of Apo Sandawa)

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” This quote by Australian-born rock climber and mountaineer, Greg Child, perfectly summarized our three-day Mt. Apo climb.

As I have shared in Part 1, this climb was two years in the making. So with still sleepy eyes, but excited hearts, we woke up on the second day knowing that something important is about to happen.

It’s 2 am. Save the light from the night sky, outside was pitch dark. The air was cold but thankfully our guides prepared hot soup before we break camp.

break camp mode

From Tinikaran I, it would take an estimate of 4 to 6 hours to the summit — depending on your pace and your stops. Kuya Babu briefed us what to expect along the trail. He told us not to stray away from the group since there were many confusing forks ahead. He warned us of the steep ascent. That it would be long and grueling and somewhat endless. At quarter to 3 am, we began. To make sure that no one would drag the hike and none of us gets left behind, we decided on the lead, midpack and sweeper group. As for me, I chose the latter.

As I walked at the back of the pack, I saw the string of headlamps snaked to the sky. We hiked through a thick forest, passing by Tinikaran II. We used the roots of bigger trees as foothold and means to pull ourselves up the trail. Some fallen branches also acted as hurdles. We hoped and crawled our way through until we reached the forest’s exit.

4:30 am. The first light started to break by this time.

ang nawong sa excited sa boulder face
Continue reading “Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 2 (The journey to the summit of Apo Sandawa)”

Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 1 (A fantasy turned reality)

Luck — a force that brings fortune or adversity. One that causes good or bad things to happen. Some people get good luck handed to them; some get a second chance. Some get it by pure coincidence while others have to work their ass.


Most hikers, if not all, dream of climbing Mt. Apo. At 2,954 masl, it is the highest point in the country. The closest any Filipino could get to the sky. So naturally, my friends and I want to set foot on it too. But we all know what happened in 2019.


Fast forward two years later, with the lingering global pandemic and political turmoil, here we are back at the airport, on our way to the same land. We were one of the few groups climbing Mt. Apo before its annual closure. Save the best for last indeed.

A fantasy turned reality

Coming along were familiar faces from our Kala-Wiji climb, with the exemption of our two SMS (tito) heartthrobs, CJ and sir Arc, Zan (who was still hangover with his Palawan trip), and John (who found love in the sea). Despite this, the fun continued since we finally got to climb with the SMS big three, Chiarra, An and Sandy (who were back in Mt. Apo for revenge), Kim ( the munyeka behind thestrollingmind), Analyn (the songerist behind themountainpoet), and Karl (the passionate PT behind karliciouso).

Our original route was supposed to be via Sta. Cruz – Bansalan Trail. However, as it has been two years since our first registration, Bansalan LGU “lost” our papers and won’t honor our downpayments anymore. We thought we’re doomed for misfortune since we’ve had this this kind of plot twist before, but I guess it’s true when they say that “a bit of bad luck is a blessing in disguise.” Our new route was through the Sta. Cruz – Century Tree trail circuit. Finally, a chance to see the majestic Lake Venado!

Continue reading “Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 1 (A fantasy turned reality)”

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”

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)”

Quick and dirty tips to staying dry… on the trail

Most people like things wet but definitely not during a hike in the mountains. From slippery trails to soggy socks, getting wet might just not be one’s idea of fun. And while keeping up-to-date with the weather forecast has proven advantageous, nature has its own playful tricks.

But before we admit defeat and put on our sulky faces, there are actually many ways to face the cold spells coolly. It just requires a little extra precaution. As they say, staying dry is easier than drying out.

1. Before ticking off you gear list, take care of its carrier — that is you and your backpack. Take time to do research (bahala’g masuko si Cynthia Villar) on how to protect yourself and your backpack from rain cheaply and quickly.

Make sure you have your rain cover. If you do not have waterproof jackets and pants, you can always opt for the cheaper rain poncho.

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Team Buwad!

Continue reading “Quick and dirty tips to staying dry… on the trail”

Mt. Talinis: Where expectation meets reality

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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. Continue reading “Mt. Talinis: Where expectation meets reality”

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