February was indeed a month of love. I’ve had 28 days of happiness and momentary peace despite my writing and reading life turning not as productive as I originally planned. From Valentine’s Day to my birthday to my best friend’s wedding — life has been great overall.
I intend to read all three books in my vintage classic box set (Secret Garden, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland) this month, but life happened wonderfully so I only got to finish Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
I have started Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland but that will have to carry over this March.
And, who would have thought, I got no book haul this month too! HAHA. My pockets are smiling from ear to ear.
Places I’ve been…
Maria finally went out of town to get a taste of nature’s best this month. To celebrate Valentine’s Day and my birthday, my friends and I went to the northwestern part of Cebu. It was a sea to summit experience, filled with laughter and joy.
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.
It was past noon when my friends and I checked in. Had we been younger, we would be quick to scan the place. Take pictures of whatever Instagrammable spot we find. Chase the sunset. Run straight into the high tide. But, inevitably, time has turned us into titas and titos ─ a little older yet still young at heart. We have a new priority on top of photographs now.
And that is none other than food.
My friends and I quickly turned on our kusinera and kusinero modes. Everyone got busy with slicing, grilling, cooking, with punctuations of lots of laughter and banter in between. As usual, we had a feast enough to last throughout our late-night conversations, swimming, and Tiktok marathon by the beach.
It was only during the morning that we got to explore Eve’s. The beach is lined with tropical trees which also makes it an ideal spot for hammocks. They also have a camping area for guests who opt to pitch their tents.
A spring of hope and a ‘hole’ lot more Tuburan is also known as a “spring of hope” with its abundant water sources. One of their many springs that is recently making rounds in social media is the Blue Hole Spring located in Brgy. San Juan.
Locals and tourists alike visit this natural pool to take a quick dip and enjoy its mesmerizing blue water. On a great day, one can bask in nature’s best with the sun shining warmly over the surrounding green trees and refreshing spring.
But aside from the picturesque view, what makes Blue Hole Spring likable is the kindness of their locals. Kudos to the LGU for the good tourism management. The entrance is free and there are locals and tanods who oversee the order place and the safety of the people. Tables and chairs or cottages are available for rent at a reasonable price. They also have bamboo rafts that you can ride above the blue waters.
What goes up must come down Of course, our sea to summit experience will not be complete without a taste of the mountains. We headed next to Brgy. Marmol where the infamous Atabay Peak is located. From the circulating pictures we’ve seen, its limestone rock formation could be likened to that of Mt. Mauyog and Licos Peak.
But trust us when we say that Atabay Peak is much scarier than those two.
Not sure if it was the rainy weather, the slippery rocks, or the delicate scaffolding that pushed us to fear but the experience was literally breathtaking. Only a few of us braved to go on the edge and we all came down hurrying away from the intimidating cliff.
Our kind habal-habal drivers offered to take us to a nearby open hill instead which gave us a 360-degree view of the town’s coffee-scented highlands. This hill is located in the Plantation 1 part of Tuburan’s coffee farm which offers the Cebu-grown robusta beans.
Centennial Dao Tree (Dracontomelon dao) The last part of our round Tuburan escapade is a trip to Brgy. Jagbuaya where the centennial Dao tree is. According to locals, this giant tree is approximately 200 years old and could possibly be one of the oldest trees in the country. Years of rain have eroded parts of the bank yet you could see how this Dao tree continues to thrive and survive.
Overall, this weekend was a wonderful celebration of Valentine’s Day (and birthday). No fancy dates or flowers and chocolates, just pure fun. Here’s to more moments like this! ❤
Check out CJ’s vlog during our Tuburan escapade on YouTube:
How time flies! I cannot say that January was a great start for 2021, but it was definitely a good one for me. I’ve had my own share of ups and downs, and I’m glad most of us made it through the month safe and healthy.
But before I welcome the very special February, here’s a quick look back:
Things I’ve written…
When I started the year, I promised myself that I’d go back to writing poetry. And I did, though I haven’t published any of them yet. In the next few days or weeks, I will gladly share them to my little community here in WordPress. For now, here are throwback posts from last month…
I have spent January with one book: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume II. For the whole month, I have been Sherlocked and have rambling about this fine detective and his adventures. YAY!
More books have been added to my growing “shelfish” family too. My December order (a treat from my 13th month pay) arrived this month and I couldn’t be happier. I got these some awesome novels from Book Duke:
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
Vintage Classic Box Set (Secret Garden, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland)
Meanwhile, my official book haul for January are:
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Here are some bookish thoughts from last month, too:
My hiking friends and I were finally able to spend the weekend in the mountains of Toledo. We camped at Tagaytay Hills, the very first mountain I’ve visited in Cebu. It was very foggy with light rain, but still we enjoyed our quick escape. Here’s a short video from CJ Estrada to give you an idea:
An that’s it for the recap! See you again after a month. May February be in our favor. 😁
I believe my recent post, Book Talk: Stuck in the mood, explains how my reading life was during the month of December. Again, thanks to LibriVox for their free public domain audiobooks. I was able to quench my thirst for a good ol’ Sherlock Holmes adventure. For those who would like to give it a listen, here are the links:
For the first time in my lifetime, I have spent Christmas day away from my family and the comfort of our home. Thankfully I have James to rely on. Since both our vacation leaves at work were practically useless with the strict travel restrictions and requirements, we decided to just spend a few days on a nearby mountain resort here in Cebu. And it was indeed a well-deserved break.
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.
I remember this climb. In the darkness of the dawn, we hiked in full packs between huffs, pants and coughs. I remember asking myself, why did I have to bring so much load? I should have left that extra shirt. I should have left that extra jacket. Did I really need an extra pair of pants? As the earth gradually piled up under my feet, I realized that climbing mountains is not so different from living life.
Truth is much of what weigh me down are not mine to carry — the troubles of the world, other people’s problems, inexistent futures and such. Like how I pack for a climb, I also tend to carry things that does not fit. Things that I should have outgrown and moved on with. Like emotions and memories.
Some nights, my knees and chin almost touch as I lay curled on the bed. Tired of living. But just like mountain climbing, no matter how hard the climb (and life) is, the peak will always be worth it. Those moments of ups and downs will not be wasted if we take every step by heart.
And I hope what I felt when I ascended 2819.78 MASL to reach the summit of Mt. Wiji — that pure happiness and bliss — will be just the same when I reach the summit of my years. I want to be able to let go of all those extra baggage in the end. Arms wide open, surrendering to the beauty of nature. To the beauty of life.
The pandemic has opened our eyes to a world that seems to always take. Lives and livelihood are lost. Every day feels like another step away from time, opportunities, relationships, connections, sanity and peace of mind. It’s the ultimate survival test — and the animal in each of us is out.
I honestly never thought we’d get this worse. Our panic and fear turned to greed and selfishness. There is a me-first mentality that runs on a global, national, local and personal scale. We push and shove one another, determined to keep our spot of existence. This is not a health threat anymore. This is a threat to life.
As I started doubting the future, I looked for comfort from the past. I came across old photographs from last year’s hike for a cause that we held in Carcar City. It not only reminded me of our exciting experience in Mt. Kalatkat, but it gave me the much-needed assurance that there is still goodness in people’s hearts. That we are capable of caring and giving, too.
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?
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.
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.