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Exploring the Wilderness of Aklan: A Very Challenging Hike to Mt. Nausang, Aklan’s Untamed and Highest Mountain in Panipiason, Madalag

Tay Freddy, ma-éa-yo pa (is it still far)?, Ritch asked Pastor Freddy, our local guide, while we were walking in the middle of the night in the mountains of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan. “Ma-éa-pit éon lang, Ma’am, una éon sa unahan (we’re getting close, Ma’am, just few meters ahead),” Pastor Freddy replied. The rain was pouring and we started to feel cold so we stopped for a moment to get our jackets and rain coats. I pulled out my tarp and shared it with Ritchel and Tay Freddy and together, we used it as a walking shelter as we continue our hike to May Irimnan campsite. It was a struggle.

November 22, 2017

Pushing Through: Overcoming Mt. Baloy’s Challenges and Completing the Panay Trilogy

The Kinulitan trail of Mt. Baloy. As we go further up nearing the summit, the trail changed from walking to crawling under and over these plants called lagiwriw. Our crawl to the lagiwriws was seems never-ending. It took us more or less 15 minutes to cross completely.

“We advise you not to go,“ said PSI Jose Nemias P. Pamplona, OIC of the Calinog Municipal Police Station. Exactly 3:00 in the afternoon of April 16, 2018 when we arrived at the station for log in. We were entertained first by an officer who asked for our IDs and recorded our personal information in a sheet of paper. Afterward, he brought us to the room of PSI Pamplona who was still out for an official business that time. With the use of a topographic map hanging on the wall of the office, he oriented us about the geographical location of the trail we will take to reach Mt. Baloy from Calinog side. He told us of the dangers ahead which at some point, made me think of backing out. The whole area is considered as a ‘hotspot'. While deciding to proceed or not, Sir Pamplona suddenly arrived. We shook hands and introduced ourselves as friends of the 20 hikers of Higher Grounds Mountaineers-Iloilo who did the same traverse two weeks ago headed by Sir Jay Plantinos. We showed to him the photo of the map provided to us by Sir Jay and explained to him our goals for the hike. He then continued the orientation and upon hearing his negative advise, I turned my head to Richard and consulted him. Richard said he wants to proceed and convinced me to drop the negativity. After a while, we told Sir Pamplona that it is unethical for us to abandon the hike prior to meeting our host in Karatagan and we wanted to assess the situation personally when we reach the jump-off point. He then wished us good luck and even joked to send his office a copy of the trail photos after our descent. That lightened up our mood.

July 10, 2018

Open Letter: 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Stop Me, a Teacher, From Traveling

Reading a book story to one of the Aberling Tribe families in Sitio Baag, San Jose, Tarlac.

Dear you, yes you. Don't stop me (a teacher) from traveling. Why? Because wherever I go, I never forget I'm a teacher. "I will share this to my students," is a common line people I meet in my travels hear from me. The road has taught me more functional lessons than my degree, certificates, seminars, and training. Outside my usual environment, every place is a new experience, every moment is a learning opportunity, every person is a channel of new ideas, and every journey is a window to a new world. It seems to me that every time I decide to go out, I become a better person when I come home.

July 8, 2018

Boracay Closure from a Malaynon’s Viewpoint: How It’s Affecting the Locals and What Can Be Done to Minimize the Negative Tourism Impacts

The serene look of Boracay white beach accentuated by an array of coconut trees after two months of closure.

Boracay is every tourist’s dream destination popularly known as an “island paradise.” Not known to all, Boracay is not a town or a city but a small island composed of three barangays namely Manocmanoc, Balabag, and Yapak. It is a part of the municipality of Malay with 14 other barangays in the mainland, one of which is the barangay of Argao where I and my family reside. Argao is mainly coastal and my house is situated few meters away from the shoreline facing the 7-kilometer beach, aptly called White Beach. Every time I step out from the door of my hut, I get to see the entire stretch of Boracay’s front beach. At day time, the sand is strikingly white and at night time, the place is filled with party lights. Many people call it is an ‘island that never sleeps.”

July 1, 2018

Hiking Mt. Igduao in Valderrama Antique: A Tough Journey Full of Surprises, Sheer, and Serendipity

Mountains are more beautiful after the rain. Breathtaking view of Valderrama mountain ranges taken from Mt. Igduao in Valderrama, Antique.

“Hold on tight,” Ritchel said as she starts her scooter. “I’m ready, let’s go!” I said with full of excitement. Then she squeezed the gas throttle. We’re going on a road-trip and hike Mt. Igduao in Valderrama, Antique. It’s in the opposite side of Mt. Igcuron which we already hiked separately sometime ago. It’s an approximately five-hour drive from Malay, Aklan. We had several stops on some beautiful spots along the road which ate a lot of our travel time. It was already dusk when we reached Culasi, Antique so we decided to have our dinner in the next town, Tibiao. Knowing that we wouldn’t make it to Valderrama, we decided to stay for a night in Tibiao. We stayed in a college-run hostel. Nobody was around when we arrived so we requested the security guard to call the caretaker. The latter arrived few minutes later and led us to our room. The room was good and the price was very cheap but still, we longed for the comfort of the sand as a night ago, we camped on the beach in Bel-is with our friends. It was a lot of fun.

March 16, 2018

Hiking for a Cause: Reaching Out to the People of Idao Community and Discovering Mt. Atog and Its Unexplored Ranges in Barbaza, Antique

The summit of Mt. Atog offers an unrivalled view of Barbaza mountain ranges.

“I’ll come back,” I told Nanay Pangga as I bid farewell to her and her family. They accommodated me and Jackie in their house when we got stranded there a night before. They cooked us a very special meal for lunch and native adobo chicken and pinamalhan (fish cooked in vinegar) for dinner. “Ka-itsura mo akong bata (you look like my daughter),” Nay Pangga told me while eating. “Diin siya, Nay (where is she)?,” I asked. “Nagatrabaho siya sa Manila (she’s working in Manila),” she replied. I smiled at her and asked if she misses her daughter. I got teary-eyed when she said that seeing me somehow eased her longing. And that started a long evening chat over a glass of tuba (coconut wine) with Tatay (Nanay Pangga's husband). That night, Jayson (our guide) and the other kids went to the nearby river to catch some shrimps or patuyaw which they served for our breakfast the next morning.

December 19, 2017

Hiking the Formidable Mt. Nangtud: Our Epic Hike to the Second Highest Mountain in Panay and One of the Toughest in the Country

The knife-edge is one of the most iconic and scenic trails in Mt. Nangtud. The trail runs alongside the steep slopes avoiding the severely eroded side of the ridge.

“Ritch, your location please? I’m now in the bus, I’ll be in our meeting place at around 2:00 PM,” I told Ritch in Facebook messenger. We’re going for a major hike. It was an overcast Friday afternoon of May and a bit late for a normal hiking trip. For the record, it was our second duo-hike together. We’ve just agreed a night before. With quick planning and minimal time to prepare, time adjustments were expected to happen

December 8, 2017

Discovering the Indigenous Side of Aklan: An Immersion with Aklanon Bukidnon Community in Panipiason, Madalag

Locals dancing Inagong, a traditional dance.

During our Aklan to Antique traverse through Mt. Madjaas, we were invited by Tay Herminio and Tay Roming, our guides from Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, to come back to their vibrant community to experience their fiesta called ‘Pistang Kristiyano’ in the coming weeks. Without hesitation, we said 'yes' to them.

November 30, 2017

Experience the Pristine Beaches of Bel-is, Buruanga, Aklan; Hidden and Boracay-like Paradise with Fine White Sand and Clear Blue Water

A secret paradise with stunning white sand beach, picturesque little coves, lush green forest, azure water and amazing sunset.

Bel-is is a barangay in the outline area of Buruanga, the westernmost town in the province of Aklan. Bel-is is a home to numerous white beaches such as Hinugtan Beach and Tuburan Baybay. It is also where Ariel’s Point is located, formerly called Batason Point, a popular cliff-diving spot that is 30-minute away from the world-renowned island of Boracay.

November 29, 2017

From Summit to Sea: My First Paraw Sailing Experience

Paraw sails on the crystal clear water along the shores of Boracay Island

After our seven-day exploration in the mountains of Aklan and Antique, we went to Boracay Island via a sailboat locally known as 'paraw' for free. It was my first paraw experience and definitely, a remarkable one.

November 29, 2017

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