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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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Travel

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)”

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”

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….

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)”

Wrap-Up | February 2021

Monthly Blog Update

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.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of the month that was.

Things I’ve written…

Books I’ve read…

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. I did receive Lang Leav’s Love and Misadventure as a birthday gift from a friend.

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.

Read more of our trip here: Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date

I’ve also had my first day hike of 2021 on the last day of the month. James, Chiarra and I went to everyone’s go-to hiking spot, the Spartan Trail. What a way to end the very special February!

Now, let’s go march to March! 😀

Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date

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.

Peace and quiet. ©CJ Estrada
Continue reading “Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date”

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