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Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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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

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 — 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
sun-kissed!

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! 😉

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

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)”

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 and when 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”

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.

Continue reading “Bohol Backpacking: Exploring Ubay and Alicia (Day 1)”

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”

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