Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul



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 β€” 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

The Boulder Face

An uphill and rocky terrain welcomed us as we regrouped at the starting point of Mt. Apo’s boulder face. We took the opportunity to take group photos since the next 3-4 hours will be spent on scrambling on all fours.

striking a pose for the official family picture

The boulder section of Mt. Apo was the trickiest, yet the best, part of the climb β€” at least for me. It’s a 4-kilometer assault hike (or crawl) on a trail-less path. There were yellow and orange flags that served as markings, but extreme caution was still a must. Some boulders were loose and unsteady so we had to make sure each of our step had a stable foothold. The wide open space added to challenge as we fought against the wind. And though we were unperturbed by the heat of the sun, we knew it was burning our skin.

on the way to Rock Tower

There were sulfur vents belching out smokes here and there too. Fortunately, I didn’t have to endure the foul odor since I had a runny nose.

sulfur vents at sunrise

An hour later, we reached the Rock Tower where we had our breakfast. The sun was up, exposing the vibrant landscapes below. The view before us revealed Davao del Sur’s beauty. Plain fields seemed miniaturized as we stood atop. Mountains rolled in the horizon from end to end. The weather was great and the sky was blue. We would have loved to stay longer and freeze that moment, but the “road ahead was long and winding.” And the fog was slowly setting.

hello, gorgeous!
who wouldn’t love this view?
team Philippines yarn?

We regrouped at the White Sand Emergency Camp at 9 am. Exhausted and burdened by our heavy load. Just when we thought we were close, our guides told us that the summit was still far ahead. Yet, despite all reasons to be frustrated, we moved forward to our the final assault.

finally, a quick stop!
back to our bags!

The Summit

Mt. Apo is capped by a 500-meter wide volcanic crater with a small crater lake and has three prominent peaks. As we headed toward the first peak where Santa Cruz and Kapatagan trails converge, we meet several other hikers from different groups. By this time, getting to the summit became more challenging. 1) Because the assault became steeper. 2) The fog became thicker 3) The gust of wind became stronger and unbearably cold.

patience is a virtue

It took us an hour to reach the crater lake which was almost invisible due to thick fog. Ten minutes away from it was Davao Peak. The weather here in the summit was the complete opposite of the sun-drenched boulder face. We knew we will get no clearing, but we still decided to get a group photo for memory’s sake.

the crater lake. or half of it.
kaya or kayamukat?

We then traversed to Mother Peak while taking several stops to catch our breaths. It was no different from the first one. If anything, the wind got angrier to the point that it was almost pushing our bodies from all sides. The blast of wind was so bad that we didn’t get a decent group photo in this area.

legit nga tugnaw diring dapita

As we descended from Mother Peak, we saw the Philippine Warty Pig of Mt. Apo. We did not stay long since it was crowded with hikers and instead regrouped at the Old Camp where we had our lunch since it was past 12 noon. Afterwards, we prepared ourselves for the last assault of the day. Kapatagan Peak has a signage which indicates the height of Mt. Apo. There were climbers queueing for photo ops despite the “bondpaper” background. We got ours too before heading down to Lake Venado where we will spend the second night.

gipangtugnaw, gipanggutom but smile gihapon

And just like that, we’ve reached the highest point of the country. Yes, it would have been great if we were able to get a clear view of the ‘world’ from the summit. How awesome would it be to stand on Mt. Apo’s crater? Yet, despite not being blessed with a clearing at the top, I could say that we were blessed with a wonderful experience along the way. The long hours of walking and scrambling are worth it. It reminded us of our vulnerability and our weakness. It taught us that what comes before the grand finale can also be the best part.

gunit aron di mapalid!

That’s it for now. What goes up must come down… but that will be for another story. Until next time! πŸ˜‰

For now, check out Remembering Mt. Apo: Part 1 (A fantasy turned reality)

Maayo San Remigio: Where Plan B gets as good as Plan A

We hate the feeling of being powerless. Every day, we fight to take control of our time, our choices, our freedom, our life. But, with the pandemic limiting our personal control in countless ways, winning has been an uphill battle.

That is why if β€” and when β€” we get the chance to make something happen, we seize it. Strongly and decidedly.

Last April, my friends and I planned a weekend getaway to Camotes island. Two months after our Tuburan Escapade, we could not wait to get a better taste of the sea. We paid our reservation, packed our bags and happily headed to Danao port. All was well until things took a sudden turn. Due to a typhoon, trips to the island were cancelled. And we had no backup plan.

It took us hours to decide and find an alternative place to stay. We had to let go of our expectations (and excitement) and get comfortable with the sudden change. It was, at first, frustrating but in the end, we realized that Plan B can be as good as Plan A. So here’s what we did!

From Island Adventure to Staycation Real Quick
Maayo San Remigio is an up-and-coming hotel resort that offers a refreshing escape in the northern part of Cebu. Thanks to Renson and his connections, we were able to get a last-minute booking for nine people. They have different accommodation rates during weekdays and weekends, and guests can choose from family villas to modular rooms. As for our group, we took the latter because it’s cheaper. No regrets since the buildings have colorful summer vibe, the rooms are big, and their vanity mirror is a crowd favorite!

Continue reading “Maayo San Remigio: Where Plan B gets as good as Plan A”

Let me have happy instead

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

Let me believe
In magic,
And fairytales

And if, in case, you can’t hand a happy ever afterβ€”

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. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’›

Finding Simple Joy: A Visit to AO Farm

January was a month for me-time, poetry, and crafts. In the past weeks, I have gone to places but have missed a lot of pages. Hence, I made a promise to laze around with muse.

But, despite the perks of solitude, some things are hard to resist. After an incessant request by Shiela, whose feet are giddy to get back on the trails, we headed to the mountains with Jovy.

Tres Marias out to be one with nature!

2 of 20 Spartan πŸ˜€

Continue reading “Finding Simple Joy: A Visit to AO Farm”

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