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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Nature Photography

Tinagong Dagat: Into the heart of Mt. Mandalagan

The question is not at what age you want to retire, it’s at what stage. After my Mt. Apo climb with friends, I seriously considered “retiring” from hiking and mountain climbing. RETIRE. Such a big word coming from someone who has not seen it all. Someone who has not reached that far. IKR!

At some point, I just thought it’s the next logical step. Nature has witnessed us growing together on the trail, and it seemed like time has come to for us to grow separately. To find our own niche. Forge our own paths. As for me, maybe it’s time to rekindle an old love. My first love, poetry.

But it turned out easier said than done. So there I was, on another boat trip to an unknown land.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has recently approved the reopening of the Tinagong Dagat, a two-kilometer caldera which is said to be the old crater of Mt. Mandalagan. And when Jharm of Lakwatserong Engineer posted that he was gathering 15 hikers for a DIY climb, James immediately reserved our slot. Jovy, Kim and Shiela also decided to come along and join the fun.

New Faces, New Stories

The group met at Cebu North Bus Terminal for the 5pm bus trip. It was mostly shy smiles and few nods at first since most of us were stranger to each other. If this was six years ago, I would have paled to the thought of meeting new people. But experience — and probably age too — changed that fear to thrill. Well maybe still a little anxious, but definitely an improvement…

Continue reading “Tinagong Dagat: Into the heart of Mt. Mandalagan”

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)”

Ka Treasure Water Terraces Mountain Resort: A humble place to de-stress

Making a name in social media is Argao’s very own Ka Treasure Water Terraces Mountain Resort. The place is known for its natural water terraces formation that resembles Abra’s Kaparkan Falls. With its picturesque tiered pools backdropped by nature’s greenery, one could not help but say their oohhs and aahhs.

But more than its immersive view, what makes Ka Treasure interesting — at least for me — is its humble beginnings. What began as a couple’s farmland dream led to the discovery of a hidden gem. The young owners, Sam and Mary Ann, are ordinary Argawanons who once decided to trade urban living for a life in the mountains. Who would have thought nature has more in store for these two?

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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
Continue reading “Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date”

Let me have happy instead

Change my mind
Melt the strand
Of icicle that pierced
This chest

Let me believe
In magic,
Mermaids
And fairytales

And if, in case, you can’t hand a happy ever after—

I’ll have happy
Let me have happy instead.
I’ll take it any time,
Any day.


Facebook memories reminded me that I wrote this piece three years ago on this day. A lot of things have happened since then, but one thing remains: I’d still choose that happy any day. Sending virtual hugs to those who need it. 😊💛

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.

Continue reading “Durano Eco Farm and Spring Resort: A retreat for escapists”

Whispers of the Wind

I wish the wind whispers you the secrets
I’ve been trying to keep.
I hope it tells you that you are not alone—
That I, too, am afraid

Afraid to make another mistake,
Afraid that this is a mistake

Afraid to get wounded all over again.

But for what are the hearts that beat louder than drums
If they can’t be brave?
What’s the point of having hearts that beat?

So, here I am, wishing for the wind to whisper my plea:
Just as the waves stroke the shore,
Just as the setting sun kisses the sea,
Just as the darkness embraces night,
Let us give in to destiny
Without having the fears of the past.


Three years ago, I wrote the Tagalog version of this poem. Back then, I took a writing hiatus too and it was going out in the natural world that awakened my muse. This year, I can’t say how long this break will be. I guess I need another dose of the outdoors! 🌻🍃

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