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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Nature

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.

one of the mountains of Bung-aw

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.

Didang River

Didang river gained popularity because of its yellow stone boulders. It was named after the woman who lives nearest to the river. The cameras and naked eyes did not lie. Didang truly was and still is Instagrammable. Its beauty is nature’s very own masterpiece.

What bothers me is hearing people say that it has now gone unpreserved. That the locals gave less value to those Insta-famous yellow stones and that they should have made the place tourist-friendly to boost its status. “If only this… “If only that…”

yellow stone boulders

True, Didang looks different than it was on the onset of its fame. It looks even more different when it didn’t have a name. But locals know that after being worn and rounded by the action of moving water, the river always change.

Didang River in June 2016
Didang River in September 2018
Didang River in January 2020

There was no need to protect Didang. At least not until outsiders started disrespecting the place and leaving garbage behind. They carved on stones and littered the riverbed with plastics. So who’s at fault again?

Cousins

Despite this, my people started adjusting to the long complains. They no longer wash laundry near the river to avoid photobombing shots. They built makeshift huts to offer guests shade. They even placed multi-colored flag banners along the trail to welcome onlookers. The rest is history.

Didang now

If only these “tourists” follow the river that snake through the foothills of our mountains. They will certainly find other scenic nameless spots.

A personal favorite spot.
Nope. Not Didang

But today’s generation is naive. They travel more for photo sessions than learning about the place – not knowing there’s more to Bung-aw than Didang.

Home ❤

They didn’t know the story of our hanging bridge. How it made the local’s lives easier as they cross it carrying their farm produce, charcoal and root crops for sale.

We used to play in the water all day

They didn’t know the story of our kanal. How it sustained the rice paddies and at the same time carried our fondest childhood memories as we bathed and washed laundry here.

My go-to place whenever I’m home

They didn’t know the story of our mountains. How, despite the digital era, people still have to climb higher up the hill to get a better cellular connection to check on their loved ones.

Horseshoe bend

No, these are not tourist spots. These are part of our lifeline. They were not created to please other people but to cater the basic needs of its residents. We do not have fancy names for such places even. So if you only think of doing it for the ‘gram or racking up Facebook likes or being the first word-of-mouth, go away.

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

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.

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Hello, gorgeous!

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.

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Kalatungan Mountain Range

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

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Iron and Ironies

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Today we are surrounded by man and his creations. Man is inescapable, everywhere on the globe, and nature is a fantasy, a dream of the past, long gone.

Michael Crichton, Congo

My first foray into the written world of Michael Crichton was Congo. James, who loves the man as much as Dan Brown, never missed to mention his works whenever we talk about books. So I guess this is where curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back comes in.

The 1980 sci-fi novel centers on an expedition searching for rare blue diamonds and investigating the mysterious deaths of a previous expedition in the dense tropical rainforest of the Congo. At first I was worried that I’d be stuck in the complicated science and technical jargon but as it turns out, Crichton is a great de-jargonizer. I found myself immediately engaged in the story that capsulized science, history, and geography in each and every page.

Which brings me to this week’s WQW, Iron and Ironies. Congo left me emotionally, mentally and morally disturbed. In a simple story it raised provocative questions that I found hard to answer.

To what extent is animal cruelty? Is it limited to performing experiments/animal research? How about throwing lobsters on a boiling pot? Sticking pigs on bamboo poles? Exterminating rats? Do ALL animals have rights or just a selected few? Does man get to give them the reason to stay alive as a species?

These questions led me to reflect on our deeply ingrained habit of meat eating, on the equality among animals, and man’s idea of speciesism. I know there are multiple sides to these multifaceted issues and I would love to hear a thing or two from you. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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Hello, gorgeous.

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”

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. Continue reading “Matalom: Experiencing its ‘katahum’ for a day”

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?

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