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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Philippines

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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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!

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Wrap-Up | March 2021

Monthly Blog Update

We marched into the month of March to celebrate the true beauty and strength of women. Yet, across the world, the number of oppressed and abused women continues to climb at a fast rate. Here in the Philippines, incest and rape soared high during the pandemic. The culture of mysogyny and sexism is an all-day meal. It’s tiring.

And who would have thought, we’d have a dejavu of last year’s trauma. While the rest of the world is trying to move forward, my country — guess what — is still in chaos. There’s too much politics, greed and miscommunication. I could rant and list how fucked we are now but that won’t change a thing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that March has not been too great for me. Here’s a quick look back:

Things I’ve written…

Creative writing has been hard for me lately. My one and only poem this month was triggered by a recent issue about our Tatay Digs who was seen trying to touch his maid’s private part during his birthday. The palace, of course, defended the man and claimed there was “no malice.” The maid “laughed” and besides, the president’s wife was present. FTW.

Books I’ve read…

I’ve only managed to finish three books this month:

  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav (re-read)

As for my book haul, I’ve finally got a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (Php390 @purplephcloset)

Some bookish thoughts:

Places I’ve been…

My friends and I had another sea to summmit experience this month. We spent a weekend camping in a not-so-know mountain in Naga. Though I have nothing against sharing beautiful hiking/camping spots with others, I think it’s not ready for everyone yet. Like it or not, there will be irresponsible people who abuse nature. We need to continue reminding ourselves proper outdoor etiquette.

Respect nature and wildlife. Take your trash with you.

Now, moving onto April….

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.

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We paid the price for a bite

Photo by Giovanni Calia on Pexels.com

We paid the price for a bite
Rejected, cursed, forever blamed
When a predator creeps on an eerie night
Our voice is drowned with shame

Even sunlit fields bare witness
To starving lips that taste of lust
Every place we go, awake or asleep
Cross our legs, hide our breasts — we must

Bodies pried open in plain sight
With jokes, punchlines, lecherous gaze
And the lawman denies our every right
Hope is a meteor that never stays

What use is vox populi
When to power and money it fades?
Do I have strength within me
To bathe them in blood orange stain?


Written for MLMM’s Photo Challenge #322 and Wordle #197.

This one is a sequel to the poem I wrote last March, A Woman’s Bite. I need not go far to see the worsening plight of women when it comes to abuse, sexism and misogyny. I live in a country where those who have sworn to serve and protect the people blame women’s choice of clothes for sex crimes. We have a broadcaster who thinks the way women dress could led to inviting the beast. We have a lawyer who would bitch-slap a woman for having a mind of her own. And just when you thought nothing could go worse, we have a president who have a long list of sexist and demeaning remarks.

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”

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