Tukal tukal Falls


I have so many pending stories to tell, but I always get excited for the new ones, so I am writing an entry regarding my July’s leisure travel. I am not ditching those I promised to continue because trust me, I will surely find time.
Tukal-tukal Falls

This time, we didn’t go anywhere further and chose to visit the recently discovered Tukal-tukal Falls located only at Botolan, Zambales. We are teased from a post on Facebook showcasing what Botolan has to offer when it comes to Tourism and voila! Little did we know, our eyes were set on this magnificent natural wonder. We made the necessary preparations and marked the calendar for a 1 day time event. We went last Sunday (July 16, 2017). We are a group of 9 pax. Call time was 5AM, and this time I was the first to arrive (proud early bird haha). From Olongapo to Botolan it took us 1hour and a half since we rented a van. We stopped at the Botolan Municipal Hall to take some pictures before proceeding to the registration site. Camp Kainomayan, which was the registration site, was not yet pinned on any GPS maps like Google Maps or Waze so it took us a while to figure out the route by asking local residents. Yes! We finally reached Camp Kainomayan at exactly 7AM, so what’s next? Camp Kainomayan offers ATV rides on the main camp or on the vast lahar landscape, trek towards Tukal-tukal Waterfalls, and even visit the famous disastrous beauty, Mt. Pinatubo. We didn’t change mind and chose what we came for. Registration amounts to Php500.00 per head inclusive of a 4x4 ride. Riding a 4x4 we started around 7:30AM.
Camp Kainomayan, San Juan, Botolan, Zambales


To Tukal-tukal Falls

We had a fun, dusty and bumpy ride. We witnessed the on-going government project of Botolan-to-Tarlac road construction. The 4x4 ride was such a marvelous addition to the experience. It took us almost an hour to reach the jump-off where we finally started trekking. On our feet, we headed with eagerness. The surrounding was outstanding. The scattered mountain rocks along with fresh green grasses made the landscape appealing and heartwarming. I felt gladly lost again in nature away from all my obligations and this was indeed my much needed escape. Since the scenery was picture perfect, we had lots of photo ops along the trail. The weather was quite favorable compared to the previous days before this scheduled outdoor activity; no rain, no sun, just a pleasant cloudy day and the best day for swimming.
4x4 Ride @ vast lahar

Jumping forward, we finally reached Tukal-tukal Falls at approximately 9:30AM. Tukal-tukal, on their dialect was the term for staircase because it does resemble one, a huge one; like a stair made especially for Fee, Fye, Foe, Fumm and Fallon or for BFG, the famous giants from the Hollywood movies. It was a series of waterfalls consisting of four that comes in different heights and ample. Each waterfall has a pool like basin with a depth suitable for cliff jumping. The water was crystal clear as what the pictures and video depicts (see below). We tried cliff jumping and it was a hell of an experience. I was trembling despite the average height of the cliff and being capable of swimming. I thought that it would be easy at the drop of a hat, but that moment when I’m already on the cliff, and my feet were refusing to take a leap, I took a deep breath and let go. Letting go was never easy, unless you have complete trust with what you have, what you can do and what could happen. Cliff jumping was such a fun thing that we did it over and over. We chowed down earlier than noon time because the monsters residing on our tummies were already roaring. After having our lunch, we swam on all four basins undeterred by the ice cold water to our delight. I even tried rock climbing from the third waterfall going to the fourth waterfall basin, which was another first on my existence.
Tukal-tukal Falls
Tukal-tukal Falls
Tukal-tukal Falls


The Gate of Hell


Tukal-tukal Falls

Our guide said, he will take us to another waterfall that was just along the trail so he encouraged us to descend early. At approximately 11:50, we descended. It was indeed just along the trail, but we didn’t notice it during our trek to Tukal-tukal waterfalls because it was hidden down the slope. We reached it around 12:30. This one was also magical, it looks like a sanctuary. The locals call it “Bibig ng Impyerno (Mouth/Gate of Hell)”, maybe because of its depth, the cave like appearance and the creepy ambiance which I thought was perfect for a horror movie location. The water was also ice cold and crystal clear with a darker look due to its depth. We spent another 30minutes here dipping, chit chatting and taking pictures. We enjoyed taking underwater shots, but I didn’t swim here a lot compared to Tukal-tukal falls because I started feeling my legs are about to cramp.
Bibig ng Impyerno Falls


From the Gate of Hell going back to the 4x4 vehicle, it took us 20minutes then another joyride. We asked the driver to have a little stopover at the vast lahar for some pictures.
Vast lahar, San Juan, Botolan

At 2PM, we are already in Camp Kainomayan. We took turns taking shower while waiting for the van and at 2:30PM, we are already on our way back to Olongapo.
Tuka-tukal Falls

This adventure was truly not a dime a dozen kind of outdoor experience.




Tukal-tukal Falls Adventure on Vimeo

Way to Silanguin Cove via Mt. Cinco Picos Traverse

It feels good to be able to write an entry again. This time it is about our most recent adventure; Way to Silanguin Cove via Mt. Cinco Picos Traverse.
Silanguin Cove

Mate before I start, let’s gen up a bit. Here’s a little information about Mt. Cinco Picos taken from Pinoy Mountaineer page

MT. CINCO PICOS
Subic, Zambales

Major jump-off: Sitio Cawag Settment, Subic

LLA: 14° 47′ N 120° 9′ E, 881 MASL

Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days / 6-7 hours

Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 3

BACKGROUND

Mt. Cinco Picos in Subic, Zambales is a hiking destination that is attracting the interest of more and more climbers. Once a training ground for US servicemen stationed in the now-defunct Subic Naval Base, this mountain, like the nearby highlands, is home to the local Aetas who call the mountain “Tatlong Tirad”. The Spanish name ‘Cinco Picos’ represents the five peaks of the mountain. –Pinoy Mountaineer



The Plan vs. The Weather

We went last June 11 and 12. We’ve been planning on this for a month, to have a night stay at Silanguin Cove and since the Independence Day (12th day of June) falls on Monday, considering our day off from work (Sunday), it was indeed the perfect time so we marked the calendar and started preparing. We are a group of 11 pax divided into two teams, the team Bangka (composed of 4 pax) who bravely tamed the waves, and the strong-willed team Bundok (composed of 7 pax). Both teams decided to push through despite the threat imposed by the Low Pressure Area during that time.

Image source: www.panahon.tv

At first it feels so daunting; can we really make it amidst the forming storm? I am worried, especially for team Bangka. They will be sailing for one or more hours into the open sea. I don’t want to think about the worst case scenario, but I can’t help it. But we, the team Bundok still decided to go.
A post shared by Mon Laguatan (@kiksmon21) on


The Ascend

At 2AM on June 11, we, the team Bundok, was already on our feet at Cawag Settment (Jump-off) when suddenly it rained hard. All went crazy looking for raincoats. But wait, I don’t have one. Despite the preparation and the effort of my friends to remind me since we expect a moody weather, still, I failed to bring one. So that leaves me no choice but make do with what we have and make it work. I used garbage bags instead. The idea was brilliant but they were teasing me the whole time. (Savage right??). Moving on, we really had a hard time. The trail was slippery and muddy that our feet were sinking up to the ankle. Good thing this time we brought flashlights because the surrounding was still pitch-black. We can also see the lights of other hikers from neighboring mountains (Mt. Balingkilat and Mt. Bira-bira) We’ve gone to many ups-and-downs yet our guide says we are still far and the first peak was nowhere in sight, it felt like we’ve traversed two mountains already. Cheesed off, it really felt like forever. Due to the bad weather, we had little stop overs and rests on our way to the first peak, it helped on quenching our thirst. Imagine I am able to reach the site overlooking the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines without a single sip from my packed water. We stayed on that site a bit for some snacks and photo ops.
Cinco Picos


Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos

The Summit (First Peak)

As we continued our way to the first peak, the trail was becoming rocky, and from there we have already been greeted by the mist, kissing our cheeks and moisturizing our skin. Numerous rock formations can be seen which reminds me so much of Mt. Maculot Rockies, but it’s the mini and scattered version. Like our hike to Mt. Maculot, we had little chances of clearing to gasp the breathtakingly blinding view. There’s an element of surprise, like a theatre with curtains waiting for the show to commence. We stayed for almost an hour for cell phone signal because we need to contact and verify if the team Bangka could sail and if ever they were not allowed, they will try the next day. If the weather doesn’t get better till the next day, we have no choice but to traverse back to Sitio Cawag.
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos

Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos
Cinco Picos

During our stay on the first peak, we had fun taking pictures and videos. We managed to film a short Mannequin Challenge when suddenly, the warm, fun time we had turned into a cold terrifying experience. The rain started again with the wind blowing hard. We thought that it wouldn’t last like our earlier experience, but we were wrong. We secured our backpacks using garbage bags. Raincoats are no matched, we are all soaked. Our bodies were shaking with cold. We decided not to pursue the second peak even if it will only take just 15 minutes to get there. The second peak was higher and we witnessed from afar that it was covered with fog. We are petrified for what could happen. We sat still while waiting for team Bangka’s reply, and when the rain dwindled, we took that opportunity to descend towards Silanguin Cove.
Cinco Picos

To Silanguin Cove

On our way, we met a group of hikers from Manila who stayed for a night at a camping spot just along the trail. They are already gearing up when we asked them if they will also proceed to Silanguin Cove, but they were still undecided and were also weighing the chances if the weather will soon be better. It was a long rocky descending trail. The way to Silanguin Cove was full of river crossing. I wasn’t able to keep track of the number of rivers we crossed so I cannot declare an exact digit.
Silanguin Cove

We reached Silanguin Cove and everything was hunky-dory except of course that we do not know if team Bangka sailed and of that moment we don’t have ways to communicate to them as cell phone signals are no longer available. We are absolutely knackered after walking like forever, so we took our rest while worrying for the next thing to do.
Cinco Picos

Stay tuned to know how team Bangka made it...

13 Reasons Why: Why and Why Not

I recently finished watching the new series of Netflix about a teenage girl named Hannah Baker (portrayed by Katherine Langford), who committed suicide, thus leaving a series of cassette tapes confessing her reasons as to why she decided to end everything. This story escalated quickly on the internet like a forest fire and became a hot topic since the story revolves around social issues on a teenager’s life. I decided to write my thoughts about it since I find it disturbing and I am quite affected somehow. So before I start, I want everything to be clear that all the things I am about to say are purely based on my thoughts about the series. You can leave comments and express yours too, but please be respectful as we are all entitled to our own opinion.
13 Reasons Why Quote

Why?

Why watch? As I have said, the series tackled some of the most controversial social issues experienced by teenagers, a must watch for parents. It will remind parents how important it is to get involved with their children’s life, that they should be carefully studied how to deal with their children, especially during teenage years as this is the point where we are at our most fragile, sensitive and emotional state. Parents must discover the best way to reach out to their children, on how they can establish an open relationship with them. How important trusting your children are without making them feel embarrassed. It is normal for parents to be objectively reasonable and overprotective, but it is their responsibility also to make sure that their children understand. Assuring your children that they are and will never be alone is a good way to start.

The series can also provide healing to those who suffer similar issues featured on it as it exposes the root cause and possible redemption that could have saved Hannah. It opens the viewer’s senses about the reality that we are all social monsters, how we loved creating connections even through the most insane way. About how technology (yes, not just social media platforms, but the advancement of technology in general) turns us to be the biggest monster from the once we were.

It greatly showcased some of society’s most sensitive topics that serve as an eye opener.
The loud demon: bullying. How it can affect one’s life and the many forms of it, from the simple epithet that has an impact psychologically up to the point of physical abuse.
13 Reasons Why Quote

The issue of a greater evil: rape. How that greater evil dwells with the prey. It shows how afraid the preys are, to admit and confess how they’ve been molested knowing that the public will never forget, affecting their social status until their very last breath. 
13 Reasons Why Quote

The beast that feeds on loneliness: suicide. The series was very realistic on everything. Truly, it is something that could happen to anyone. It raises awareness and knowledge about the common reasons of throwing the future and deciding to end own life, an issue of which the society until today was not very much keen to. 
13 Reasons Why Quote

It teaches us the lesson of how important it is to make friends and to be cautious on choosing whom to trust. Clearly, we cannot please everybody and the ones we treated as friend could not be feeling the same way. In fact, the one we trust could hurt and break us the most. At the end of the day, it was you, only you can help yourself in this world full of theatre actors and actresses.  

Lastly, it was a nice viewing experience. The story was well written and played that it feels natural and realistic; compelling and dramatic. The cast portrayed well that you will be able to cope up with every character. The mystery, being the main ingredient, keeps the viewers from tuning in.

Why not?


Why you shouldn’t watch. The series was rated RP18, and is clearly not for everybody. Those who are 18 years young should watch with the guidance of their parents since the series was quite disturbing with scenes of gore, rape, violence and suicide.

The series is for strong willed individuals. Instead of healing, it could trigger those who suffer from loneliness, those who already thought of ending their own lives, in general, those who are not psychologically and emotionally stable. There are scenes that surely for some will be unbearable and just too much. So if you have thoughts of suicide and inflicting self-injury, I encourage you not to watch.

The series might also give the false idea of taking own life as an effective way of returning the favor to those who hurt you. It also lacks religious faith.

The series didn’t cut the most disturbing scene; they showed how Hannah committed suicide. It was a scene of inflicting self-injury until she bleed to death.

13 Reasons Why Quote


So if these made you feel excited and decided to watch it, just enjoy and remember not to take it seriously. Life is too sacred to end on your own. Remember that to live is a privilege. There’s more to life and never lose hope, we never know what the future hold. Be strong and always think about the good, the secret lies on how we perceived. Most of all, when everybody tries to pull you down, when you feel nothing’s left in you, remember, GOD is and will always be there.
13 Reasons Why Quote


Credits to the owner of the photos I used. (all came from 13reasonswhy.tumblr.com)

Overnight at Nagsasa Cove via Mt. Bira-bira Traverse Day 1

I really want to write an entry regarding our adventure to Nagsasa Cove via Mt. Bira-bira traverse since this was my very first experience of climbing a mountain up to its summit. As I am writing, the company I had during that climb are at Mt. Ulap (they are already posting photos on social media). I wasn’t able to join them because I need to report to work for our planned power shutdown and so now I have this perfect time to write.



The Ascend

We went there last October 30, 2016. We are divided into two groups, the team Bangka and team Bundok. We (the team Bundok), takes on the challenging path of traversing Mt. Bira-bira. All of us lack sleep due to excitement. By 3AM at Sitio Cawag, Subic (Jump off) we officially started the trek because we are aiming to avoid the heat during noontime. It was still dark when we started, so dark that nothing can be seen without an aid of any light source (Our surroundings were pitch-black). This gave us a hard time starting since most of us are not prepared, although we all have smartphones with LED lights, we are conserving the battery for we will be staying at the cove for one night. The starting trail was slippery, muddy, and full of tall grasses. It wasn’t long before the sky was starting to light up, seems like the man in the moon was annoyed of our complaints and gave way to the dawn already. By that time, we are already being soothed by the wind, as if it was singing; I guess that’s the call of the mountain, as mountaineers have this quote of “The Mountains are calling”.



The feeling of finally having the taste of the dawn, witnessing the end of darkness, and watching the whole place as the sun slowly lit everything was incredibly heartwarming. It feels like I’m eating sweets but through my eyes.


As we are approaching the summit, the trail became more dangerous. It was life threatening as a little slip could mean death. We are walking on a cliff-side, and with the wind blowing hard so as our heartbeat. We became at ease the moment we stepped on the summit.






The Summit

I can never forget the flurry of feelings I had during that time of seeing the view of the cove from up there, truly magnificent and satisfying despite the hunger and exhaustion we experienced throughout the climb. About how I feel diminished seeing something greater the moment my eyes were set into the scenic vast landscape. The accomplished feeling like I was Jack the giant slayer standing on a giant’s shoulder. I am glad I ventured on trying this wonderful experience with wonderful people and these made me utter ,“this is definitely not the last”. We took turns on taking solo and group photos with the awe-inspiring view and since we are also planning to visit Nagsasa Falls, we descended and didn’t take much time on the summit.





“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” —Edmund Hillary

The Nagsasa Falls


The descending trail was no longer muddy, but rocky which was painful to the foot. The sun was catching up to us, the temperature slowly rises, and it was a mountain with less to no trees so we headed full throttle. We reached Nagsasa Falls around 8AM and we spent an hour bathing and relaxing. The water was ice cold, crystal clear and greenish comparable to jade or natural emeralds. I think of this as a bonus for pursuing the traverse, and the cove as a reward. 





To the Cove at last!

Back on track, we continued walking towards the cove, by this time, we are already complaining about the heat, no escaping from it even with our early measures. The moment when I can already feel the sand on my feet, we hurriedly headed until we reached the camp site. The breath of “FINALLY!” has come. We are already hungry and we should probably start preparing for lunch, but the team who went by means of a boat is still not present. We put team Bangka in charge of bringing the food to reduce the load of team Bundok. While waiting, we setup our tents and some decided to take their nap. We waited for almost two hours for team Bangka before we finally had our lunch. After satisfying and stuffing ourselves with food we decided not to plunge yet to the sea and instead have our rest and wait for the sun to go mild.

When we are finally ready, we decided to have a walk on the shore. The cove was extraordinary, a place where the sea, river and mountain’s meet, and the rest was non-stop swimming, photo shoot, swimming, photo shoot, swimming…




Night came and there’s so much more to do.

One can still go midnight swimming, the water’s depth was tolerable, and very peaceful.

Ever believe in magic? Try stargazing, for the longer you stare the more stars seem to appear, catch a shooting star and have your wish, believe soon enough it will come true.

Gather and create a bonfire. The experience of sitting around a fire with family and friends doing some conversation and storytelling keeps the fire on every heart burning. For nothing beats the sensational warmth from the fire and company you have, perfect along with hot dogs and marshmallows too.




Looking for more time to write (#Day2 Up next)...