Mt. Manabu

1st Month of the Year, 2 Summits, 3 Different Outdoor Activities and 4 out of the box experiences.

A university fellow and I started doing this (mountain climbing) since last year (2014) marking our journey away from the norms set forth by our challenging, dynamic and heterogeneous society. This is a series of entries about our lives, our journey outside our usual routine; however, as much as possible, we wanted to capture every single detail of our journey in a particular place. Hence, this entry about eat, swim and climb came into existence.

It was early morning of the 2nd day of the 1st month of the year and we started working our way to Batangas with my university friend. It heavily rained the day before our ultimate backpacking experience started.

Climb for a Cup of Coffee

Mt. Manabu is known for having free civet coffee for the mountaineers who would try to conquer it. As both of us were on our hype of trying out new things, we opt to take the challenge aside from the pile of mud that would stick on your shoes. Since I am a certified coffeeholic, I did not deprived myself to descent without trying one of the most expensive coffee in the world- the Civet. Once you reached station 5, you’ll going to see a humble hut that is open to all mountaineers, and you’ll meet tatay Tino who takes care of few alamids (civet) and will offer you an unlimited access to this amazing coffee.

Since it rained the day before we climbed this mountain, expect to have an unfavorable fog along the way aside from the trade winds that comes with the yuletide season. A cup of alamid coffee was the perfect thing to do once you reached the half of the hike, unless otherwise, you want to spoil the entire climbing journey.

Enjoying our first cup of Civet Coffee.

Enjoying our first cup of Civet Coffee.


Climbing is not about the Summits Conquered

Climbing buddy and I always takes time to climb a certain mountain. We don’t want to climb for the sake of climbing, but it is more of a personal thing. “it is not the mountain that you conquer but your fears” as what have been mentioned in station 2 of this hike. We were supposedly opt to descend on the 7th and 8th station, yet, since it was really foggy at that time, we opt to take the same path we had earlier and we don’t want to compromise our lives just for the sake of having an entry and pictures about this.

Unlimited Fresh Water

On our way descending, we decided to clean our shoes (muddy), in the running stream. It was like a melted ice water freely flowing to the bottom of the mountain. While trying to remove the mud that stocked on our shoes, we’ve seen how people were not able to maintain the “naive” feature of nature. We kept on practicing the outdoor ethics, yet there are still groups of people who don’t care about sustainability and development which made me think, it is just a facade to climb for personal reasons or it is just an implication of a more complex role?

The Summit

The Summit.

How They Met my Father…

It was one of a kind experience that I had when I finaly walking down the road to my Father’s office. Deja vu would say that it was pretty much more of seeing Makati again in different perspective, with more vibrant, enthusiasm and ‘bang it on’ attitude. I got mixed emotions when I approached the same person in the lobby of the building, saw the familiar face made me wonder, will I carry this ‘out-of-the-box’ attitude when I go back home? Or is this just a facade of my entire experience in the program? Familiar faces of my father’s colleague saw me and even asked what I’m doing in the metro? When time came and had my face to face approach to my dad, all the not-so-good things were washed away like a river/stream that keeps on flowing. I really missed my dad, and I was really excited to met him, share stories of what I’m doing for the past few weeks and months, and basically, the beaming smile of my father when he saw made me moved – as if I am a survivor who went to a warzone :). I kept on talking with him in English and most of his colleagues would wonder, why would I speak in the English language whereas,I am in a bunch of Filipinos? (I kept apologising as well to my father for speaking in the language that is foreign to him). We had a nice lunch and even told him that if he got an opportunity to meet HHC, probably he’ll gonna find HHC pretty much the same as me(the difference? She’s British!), too chatty, having her own ‘me’ time, a random thinker, doing ‘out-of-the-box’ things-pretty much the same as what I’m doing. 🙂


He asked a lot of questions like:

  1. How do I get my food? – well basically, as part of the host home agreement, volunteers have their food from host homes, luckily, we are with a very accommodating host homes(all host homes are accommodating!), I told my father that in a particular meal, we have at least a variety of foods(e.g. Prawns, veg. and fish), which I find thankful for!
  2. How’s your A-S-T-H-M-A?- proudly( with flying colors and honour)that I told my father that I am no longer having my allergies and asthma attacks. So basically I am free to do what I want to do and eat whatever I want to eat! I even told him that HHC and I went for an almost 20 kms. Walk and he find it weird and crazy(as always they would find me weird for doing random things 🙂 ).
  3. Still up for 500 peso challenge? Basically, he also asked me how well I am in terms of my finances(he knows that I know how to handle my money 🙂 ), I told him, I’m okay, still up for the challenge of living with an ample amount of allowance that I am getting from the program.
  4. What are you doing? He asked this simple yet intriguing question. All I got to say is that- I a happy doing work in the community, living with an ample amount of resource/s that I have, walking to and from work, working with the barangays, and the local government.


Opportunity came in and I invited my counterparts (Steve and Katie) to met my father (good thing about having a beyond ‘counterpart’ relationship with someone is as if they are part of your family, just having a mini-reunion); establishing an honest-to goodness relationship is as good as having a nice cup of warm cafe americano-so good and therapeutic. :).

I know for a fact that my dad is not that fluent in the English language, yet, as much as possible he tried to speak with my counterparts, how are they doing, and how he wished to have a nice chat with them. My counterparts even invited him over a cup of coffee-yet he declined and I found it hilarious! He sent me messages that he wished he did not decline the invitation and had a pretty much nice chat with them (seeing how indecisive Filipinos are, makes me smile 🙂 ). I find i funny as well that my HHC even asked someone to take a photo of us with my father (she even mentioned that we are having a mini-reunion! 🙂 ).

After that not so usual encounter/meet up with my father, I told Katie(HHC) that seeing my father is like having a nice gift for my birthday, I couldn’t ask for more. 😀


The Brits. Me and My Father. 😀

Deja vu! Tour de Manille

Saying goodbye is not as hard as having a bottoms up of hard liquor.

It was a fun fun fun Friday, UKV’s and ICV’s went to Manila for a day, and for UKV’s to renew their visa in the country, whereas, us, the ICV’s spent the day running our own personal errands.

Tour de Manille

A good friend of mine and I were asked to do some tour in old Manila together with our co-volunteers. It was a bit pressured, stressed and out-of-the-box thing again for us (me to be specific, because I need to talk pretty much how versed I am in the place), but don’t get me wrong, I used to live in the old Manila before that’s why I am pretty much well versed in the area. All the familiar faces, the places rushing back into my memory as if I’ve been here for couple of months ago and not years.


Churches here and there

One of the highlights of old Manila (Intramuros) is its highly influential yet, preserved churches built during the Spanish era(the country has been a colony of Spain for 333 years, from 1921 till ___ spanish-american war 🙂 ). These churches has been a witness of how influential the Spanish culture was in the country till now,(I can still imagine the population of students who would grab for Spanish as Foreign Language in uni.). We went to Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church (which is known for one of the oldest existing church in the country).

Challenge #:Romantic Coffee Date

HHC and I saw this good restaurant with in the old Manila(Barbara’s to be exact), and I told her, that it has a nice scenery(pretty much a romantic one) while having a nice cup of coffee, will make your day(I enjoyed staying at barbara’s before when I was in uni for coffee).

The challenge? In a year, I should send her a photo or even a blog/ a nice chat that I went to barbara’s and had a nice chat with someone(like a date 🙂 ). Am I up for the challenge? I don’t know. Pretty much, I can go to Barbara’s and have a nice cup of coffee with someone who I’ll meet along the way of this crazy journey- no one knows and can tell. 🙂

The not so usual walk around the historic walls

Walked through the walls of the historic landmark, made me realized that I’ve been in these places before, as if I am part of the  history! Living up the “International Relations”  mentality does not make any difference, it is a matter of again- going out – of – the- box!

Mt. Manalmon

Money should not be an excuse to enjoy life!

It was only a day hike but it was more than body aches that I’ve got- new friends, real-life lessons and a free cultural immersion!

Mt. Manalmon- bring it ON!

There were 12 of us with diverse lifestyle, but with same passion and goal for that day-to conquer Mt. Manalmon.

We met at around 7am at the Fivestar Bus station along EDSA in Cubao, and departed on the same for Brgy. Camias, San Miguel, Bulacan. We took local transportation-tricycle from the drop-off point going to Sitio Madlum. There were at least 3 barangays that you will need to pass by and would entail a 45 minute ride.


Reached Sitio Madlum! Hello Mt. Manalmon.

There are two ways to get into the registration office through the Monkey Bridge or the “balsa”.


The Monkey Bridge.

Before the real hiking, we were asked to do register which costs us around 70php per head. We have 2 tour guides since we need a front and back guides in case there will someone might get lost.

Upon the orientation, we were asked which trail are we going to take. My friend and I did the talking- we chose the hard one! as if we are already pros.

Our tour/trail guides are Kuya Dong and Kuya Carling who did an excellent job! No one got harmed, nor lost plus we’ve got some trivia about the Mountain.


Prepared to get wet!

We passed by a virgin stream which was so cold! as if you would like to spend your night there!

Since we took the hard one, we should expect it would be stiff and yes! it was! I thought my asthma would recur during our hike, but it was a mere reaction  that my lungs are working! hehehe..


The summit.

The hike to summit took only 1 hour and half depends if you have a lot  breaks and capturing moments. When you get into the summit, all the pain, the hardship that you’ve surpassed were all paid! As if you own the world! No one will tell you to do this and that in a snap of their fingers, no pollutants only the nature and the cool breeze!


Conquered Mt. Manalmon.

All of us were tired, but our adrenalin keeps on telling us we need more! So we indulged ourselves to Bayukbuk cave.


Bayukbuk cave.

We sweat as if we went to gym and burned some fabs, but we did not. 🙂  If  you are claustrophobic, I suggest try to do some closed-door encounter with your room, lights off, for you to get a glimpse of what is like inside the cave.

The Spelunking experience would start passing by the “male reproductive organ” room, you got the idea what it is like inside that room 😛

Next would be a rappelling down to the music room. It was a bit tough to do rappelling since it rained the day before our spelunking escapade, so it was muddy and the stalagmites and stalactites were slippery aside from the fact that they are sharp.


Getting ready for rappelling!

In rappelling, you should trust your guide and your body, if they say stretch do it otherwise say goodbye to the world! 😀

This is the music room, supposedly, if you try to tap one of the stones there, you will hear a drummed like echo . I have been longing to climb a helicopter-ladder, I only used to watch those in Indiana Jones movie doing this!


Helicopter ladder.

Lessons Learned:

It was my second time to do mountain climbing; yet it was another experience that was worth it! It was not a simple escape from urbanity but a mere enlightenment; to act on your dreams and work for reality. I learned it was not tough to change nor explore something new, it would entail courage – yes, but at the end of the day, there will be no regrets, no what ifs. What if I did not join my friend in this weekend getaway? I might regret, – definitely will; what if I don’t allow myself to get used to crowd? A lot or what ifs that I will surely regret or should set as a challenge?

I think this is just the start- that is for sure! There will be more weekend escapades, more mountains to conquer!