July 12, 2015

Looking For Bernardo Carpio (Mt Binacayan)

Upon arriving at Brgy. Wawa, I was fascinated by the wide horizon which was further distinguished by the mountains. This is it - the setting of the Filipino folklore, Bernardo Carpio!

Bernardo Carpio is the bravest, strongest man that lived in San Mateo, Rizal. He left his parents, and lived in the mountains so he wouldn't be a burden to anyone. One day, an enchanted man Bernardo defeated sometime ago came to him to make amends. The enchanted man invited Bernardo to his place, and then trapped him inside. Legend  has it that whenever there were earthquakes, it was Bernardo trying to break free (Incidentally, Montalban Rizal is part of the West Valley Fault.)

This is one version of the tale, others say that he is preventing the 2 mountains from colliding with each other, or it was the Spanish troops that trapped him with the help of a shaman, etc. No matter the back story, three things are similar. (1) The hero was trapped. (2) Someone trapped him there. (3) He struggled to free himself causing earthquakes in the making.

The Two Mountains

I like the version wherein Bernardo was a Katipunero, and he led the fight against the Spaniards. I imagined our ancestors telling this tale to their children, giving them hope that someday Bernardo will break free and save them from the oppressors. Such helpless people waiting to be saved by someone who needs saving himself.

I always wondered why (in the continuing stories) no one helped him out. I would have made a story like that, it would be Bonifacio. 

Summit of Mt. Binacayan - one of the mountains in the area | (c) Jirah

Bonifacio and his soldiers retreated to Montalban after failing to seize San Juan Del Monte. While searching for a good hideout, he chanced upon a dead Bernardo. Bonifacio's spirits were initially crushed, yet he still manage to lead the first significant victory of our Revolutionary army versus the colonial forces - no superpower required, just the same genetic make up each of us are already made of.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

I finished the story in my head while passing by the slippery and muddy soil, and then climbing rock formations after rock formations. Since the mountain was newly opened to the public, the trail wasn't that established yet.

Jirah and friends

This is definitely one of my favorite trails so far, because of the mix of rock climbing, trekking, and  folklore. And because it was only a quick hike too. Too bad we weren't able to explore the Pamitinan cave (where Bernardo was trapped) since the weather wasn't that good, and we were worried of getting trapped inside if the water suddenly rises. After all, I don't want to be reduced as the next character in some urban legend. My story is yet to be told.

Summit - Mt Binacayan | (c) Jirah

See you around!

Expenses & Getting There

1. FX from Farmer's Cubao to Montalban (50php)
2. Tricycle to Brgy, Wawa (20php each)
3. Registration (5php)
4. Donation (50php/group)
5. Guide (400php/group)

Some Notes

1. There are no water source in the mountain so bring lots of fluids.
2. There are parts with lots of mosquitoes so put on anti mosquito lotion. 
3. Wear thick shorts/pants and gloves as the rocks are sharp and jagged. Also, use rubber shoes too instead of sandals.
4. There aren't suitable campsites near the summit

June 20, 2015

Memories From My Freshman Year

I was looking for my algebra notes back in 2008, my freshman year, and saw this at the back of my workbook instead. No wonder I failed algebra, I was contemplating on much more abstract values than abstract numbers.

Written at the back of my workbook is below:

Mangarap ka at abutin mo. Wag mong sisihin ang sira mong pamilya, ang palpak mong syota, pilay mong tuta, o mga lumilipad na ipis. Kung may pagkukulang sa'yo ang mga magulang mo, pwede kang manisi at maging rebelde. Tumigil ka sa pagaaral, magasawa ka, magdrugs ka, magpakulay ka ng buhok sa kilikili. Sa bandang huli ikaw din ang biktima - rebeldeng walang napatunayan at walang bait sa sarili. (Bob Ong)

Naniniwala ako sa Diyos, hindi dahil sa kaya ko syang ipagtanggol at ipaliwanag. Naniniwala ako hindi dahil sa ako'y banal o hipokrito. Naniniwala ako dahil wala akong ibang magawa. Napakahirap maniwala na walang Diyos na gumawa ng mga napakagandang bagay sa mundo. Napakahirap isipin na walang dahilan ang paru-paro, bulaklak, pagibig, kaligayahan, katapangan, kagitingan, at siopao. Lahat ba ng ito ay walang halaga? Hindi ako nagsisimba o sumusunod sa bibliya ngunit nabubuhay ako ayon sa aking konsensya. Kung sakaling ito ay sira na, siguradong may pupulot sa akin at ito ay kukumpunihin. Maraming bagay ang di ko kayang ipaliwanag. Kung tatanungin mo ako tungkol sa Diyos ay maaring walang kwenta at walang laman ang sasabihin ko, dahil sa huli "basta naniniwala ako" lang ang sagot ko.

Suddenly all those stupidities I did in the past are flowing through my mind. And I'm thankful that I can now look back at those and happily say that it did work out in the end. I am in a much better place now (without saying that I was in such a bad place before.)

Andami nang nangyari, hindi na'ko leader ng mga batang hamog. Mas mabuti na akong tao, at kapwa. HAHAHAHA jk.


Joke lang, wala po akong kinalaman sa mga ilegal na gawain ng mga batang hamog sa EDSA man o sa ibang panig ng Maynila :D

May 26, 2015

Mountain Diaries: Zooming Out in Life (Mt Talamitam)

Work has been more exciting and stressful this past weeks that I temporarily forgot the need to go on trips. Well because I was sincerely focused on learning the ropes in my new post. And it worked! I quickly learned the language, arrangements, and challenges of our team - especially the challenges really.

I wanted to help so I focused on getting to the bottom of things, and dissecting the problems very carefully. That burned me out, and gave me unnecessary worries so much that I just had to go away from it all. I had to go. Never mind that it was already Friday, and I had no idea where to go or what to do yet. All that matters is that I will go somewhere.

Mt. Talamitam.

It was my sweet escape. The climb was successfully organized by someone from LUCP. Woohoo! Shoutout to Kenneth (and all the responsible hikers out there) for being well prepared, well researched, on-time, and encouraging throughout the whole day! You guys make the trek so much easier and less hassle for everyone.

The trail was easy, but the heat was unbearable. We had to take long rests and desperately look for a shade to avoid passing out. It did not help that there were no blowing wind at the time too. We were still on the ground, but I felt like the air was already so thin.

Peer Pressured Team

While waiting for a cloud to save us from the sun :D

Once we saw a big chunk of cloud approaching, we decided to move on to the assault part - quickly before the sun becomes high and almighty once again! This part is steeper and has big rocks, but it was still manageable.

The summit gives you a 360 view of the nearby provinces and mountains such as Batulao, Pico de Loro, and Makiling.

The Lead aka Hugot King in Prideland

At Mt Talamitam Summit

It was already an enjoyable hike for me, but it got better once we got to Layong Bilog River near the foot of the mountain. There was a cliff diving spot! HAHAHA I am sooo scared of such activities, but it amazes me endless when  people do it - when I do it!

Just for that fleeting moment, there were no more inhibitions. I was free to let go, to not be on top of things, to let things slip into my hands, to not control, to just be, and to just fall. 

For a while there, I didn't mind everything - my quota, difficult clients, family problems, etc. They all looked so small and distant, like the long forgotten past that couldn't hurt you anymore. The week before today suddenly seemed like a blown out of proportion picture. And my mind just zoomed it out to its proper size.

Such is common in life, don't get stuck zooming in your problems, works, etc. Make it a habit to wiggle your way out of it, and ask yourself how big of an issue is this in my life? A year from  now, five years, ten  years from now, will it make sense that I'm draining myself for this issue?

I realized that even if we run to the ends of the world, climb the tallest mountains, or swim the deepest oceans - it is ultimately our minds that we cannot escape from. Hence we have to make peace with it before we can expect to find gratitude in where we are and where we will go.

 See you around!

Getting There

Just hop on a Nasugbu or Calatagan bound bus at Coastal Mall Terminal, and drop off at Sitio Bayabasan (120php)

May 17, 2015

Bigger Than Anger

In movies, people have alter egos that think and act in different ways than the main characters would have. Remember The Mask? Incredible Hulk? And who would forget Tyler Durden? I think in our own little ways, we have these alter egos too - alter egos that behave in a manner that isn't aligned with how we see ourselves.

And really, how often have we lost our true selves in front of an intense emotion?

Imagine your friend Kat. She is a very amiable and unassuming person, but becomes overbearing when depressed. Or your friend Mark, a jolly guy that turns tactless when angry.

When we're talking, you're talking with me, Arlet. But when I'm angry, you're not talking with me anymore. You're talking with 'Angry', or 'Ecstatic', or 'Drunk.' This is not to say that I'm no longer responsible, because the words or thoughts come from me primarily. But I hope you can try and forgive me until such time that I am bigger than my anger, hatred, sadness, or confusion.

And for sure I'll try and forgive you as long as you're trying- whoever you are.


May 16, 2015

When The Truth Didn't Matter

Deep regret and guilt.

That was how I felt after seeing Emil and the other teams at the door. I just finished talking to management about the problems with Emil's team. The things I said were true, but I spoke bluntly and heartlessly- thinking that we were alone, only to find Emil and the others within hearing distance outside.

"Tell the truth, but be kind about it - especially when it's hard to hear." 

I've humiliated Emil by speaking ill of him "in front of" the other teams, and without giving him a chance to explain himself. I was such an asshole that night. And to be honest, I really don't know what to do about it...

Remember this, Arlet. And don't be such a jerk next time. Always speak as if the world is listening.

May 3, 2015

In Case of Fire

For less than a month, we've experienced 2 occasions of fire in the neighborhood. And on both occasions our family got very stressed - especially my mom. Firetrucks couldn't enter our streets because (1) firetrucks were too big, and (2) there were parked cars with no owners around. Some of our neighbors' home were also built with light materials that can easily carry fire. That said, I'm putting this out to (1) organize my thoughts on what just happened, and (2) serve as a reminder for everyone that accidents can happen - and planning beforehand can keep us in check and more prepared for such occurrence.


1. Plan two escape routes from each room
2. Plan where to meet outside
3. Save fire department's number
4. Confirm with insurer what will happen if the insurance policy gets burned?
5. Have a fire kit ready (backpack and list of things you need to get and can get in a minute or less ie money, car keys, important documents, computer back up, cash, etc) Include a whistle and flashlight to serve as signal in case you get trapped.
5. Have a fire extinguisher and water hose ready at home and everyone should know  how to use it.

Fire Prevention

1. Keep pets off cooking surfaces to avoid spilling/bumping anything
2. Unplug electrical appliances to avoid overheating and sudden explosion
3. Check for faulty wiring and cheap cords that does not follow safety standards.
4. Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
5.  Call the local fire department and request for fire inspection
6. Put smoke alarms in all areas of your home

In Case of Actual Fire

1. Practice low crawling - smoke is dangerous.
2. Stop, drop, and roll in case your clothes get on fire.
3. Never open doors that have warm handle
4. Make sure to know where your pet is and/or have a way of calling him/her

Keep safe.


April 12, 2015

The Weekend Warrior (Mt Gulugod Baboy)

I. Predicaments

A few days ago, I attended a meet up among travelers. The idea of leaving the corporate world to pursue a life of travel and backpacking was always brought up. While everyone was excitedly exchanging thoughts, I just heard my brain whisper, "Yeah, that was exactly how I felt before"


I couldn't believe myself. What have I become? I guess it could best be summarized by my post last March:


For the past weeks, I've been observing myself turn down all sorts of invites - mural painting, clean up hike, volunteering, camping, tour guiding, coffee, roadtrips, etc. (activities that usually delight me.) I felt no need to go out as much anymore, until I met a certain person in the backpackers meet up - someone I don't exactly know but have once bumped into. And without knowing it, made an impact to her life. She asked, in her most decisive way, if she could travel alone and see the world. 

I say, you go girl! You don't need any permission from anyone to see the world with your own eyes and feet."

Just a few minutes after, I saw another friend whom I met in a black market among artists. She was undergoing some kind of predicament herself. We all got to talk with each other and it was then decided that we'll hike together and prove whatever we have to prove. My declining streak was broken just like that. I remembered The Fraternity of Strangers, and the reason I enjoy traveling so much.

II. The Mountain Effect

We got to the peak after a little over an hour. It was supposed to be an easy climb, but I felt like passing out just before the peak so I asked for a break. It turned out that I was very low on sugar and carbohydrates - I was starving. I forgot that I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. I was so embarrassed of my poor judgment and carelessness. 

Boa constrictor digesting an elephant aka Sombrero island :)

The trail from Philpan was straightforward and easy to follow even without a guide. It's a combination of a steep uphill concrete pavement and rolling hills. It was challenging for my calves at first, but got used to the trail after a while. 

Kinto! Goku's flying cloud

Since we were the first to make it to summit, we had a lot of time to goof around and be candid about our circumstances - work, hobbies, and interests. We have different personalities, background, and view on things, but we share the same love for outdoors. That common preference made it easy for us to listen and try to understand each other. I couldn't believe at the depth of our conversations considering that we haven't known each other for a long time. The mountain is really good in stripping people off of their pretenses! It's the mountain effect!

After the trek, we went to Philpan Dive Resort for lunch and snorkeling. 

I figured that I'm giving my current lifestyle a chance. For now I'm contented with being just a weekend warrior. Heck I think I can even last a quarter without travel now. Nonetheless, the universe will always pull me back in, and when the universe calls, I'll gladly listen. 

The Weekend Warrior

See you around!

Expenses as of April, 2015

1. Bus from Manila to Grand Terminal, Batangas and vv- 300php
2. Jeep to Anilao and vv - 70php
3. Tryk to Philpan and vv - 60php
4. Philpan Dive Resort Entrance fee - 60php
5. Philpan Dive Resort Cottage - 150php from 300php  - we asked for a 50% discount because there was no one around anyway