Thursday, December 12, 2013

Conquered the Hundred Islands! Just 7007 more to go! LOL.

Two days before my first mountain-climbing adventure, I went to Manaoag, Pangasinan with my mom and Nikko to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag and hear Mass. It was a 4-hour long ride from Manila to Manaoag. I told my mom that we should head to either Baguio or Alaminos after because it was a better idea than to travel back to Manila after staying for just two hours in Manaoag. Baguio City is just an hour away from Manaoag and Alaminos, where the famous Hundred Islands were, is just two hours away. None of us have been to the Hundred Islands, so it was the better choice.

We stopped by Dagupan City first to have breakfast at Silverio's, a cool restaurant by the lake.

It was noon time, when we got to Alaminos but surprisingly, it was not too sunny. The weather was just perfect for a day swim and island hopping.

We rented a medium-sized boat for the day. It was a Thursday so luckily, there were only a few tourists around.

The boat package included stop-overs in three major islands, Governor's Island, Quezon Island and Children's Island. It was on top of Governor's Island where you could get a good view of the islands. Meanwhile, Quezon Island's fine white sand and clear waters are what makes it ideal for swimming and sun bathing.

100+ steps to get to the awesome view!

The very courteous boatmen also took us to an enclosed area in the middle of the sea for snorkeling. What I love about this place is how the government and its locals are protecting and trying to rehabilitate the islands and the sea. There were still live corals and I saw a lot of cute and unique fishes.

Our last stop was the Cuenca Tunnel.

It was such a fun day with Mommy and Nikko. I remember when I was in grade school, Hundred Islands was always in my textbooks. Now, I got to see them in actual and they were really amazing. :) Seeing them made me realize how lucky I am to be Filipino and how special the Philippines is to God, the Creator.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hiking and Caving 101: Mt. Manalmon and Bayukbok Caves, Bulacan

I have always been a weakling. During my grade school to college days, my hatest subject was always P.E. not only because my lowest grade was for that subject but also because I dreaded sports and any other outdoor activity other than swimming. LOL. You can't blame me; I've been an asthmatic girl since I was seven and I have always had a weak immune system.

Nikko, on the other hand, has always been a healthy, athletic, outdoor person. In exchange for his continued support to my interests and girly activities, I would sometimes try out stuff that he says would help me overcome asthma and would make me a healthier person. During our second year together, I tried out going to the gym with him for some summer months but stopped because of school. He would always tell me to continue exercising, but I guess I was too caught up with Math, and then Law.

During my bar review at home, I realized that I have been missing a lot by staying indoors. After several months of just being inside my room with my books, gaining weight and having back pain, I decided to accept Nikko's offer to be my fitness trainer again. I tried swimming, water jogging and some other random stuff for a few weeks, in preparation for my goal of being able to do some cool outdoor activity.

So, when some friends invited us to go for a day hike, I got so excited but scared at the same time because I didn't know if I could make it. I recently just came from the beautiful Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan (which I will write about in the coming days), and the fact added to my anxiety that my body would break down due to over-activity. (Yes, that's over-activity for me already.)

We went to Sitio Madlum, San Miguel, Bulacan to climb the Mt. Manalmon and go caving inside the Bayukbok Caves. Our tour guide, Kuya Abel was very patient in waiting for the slow me and in taking photos of us.

Going up Mt. Manalmon
We passed by the Madlum Cave first. The figure below is said to have been there since 1800's.

The hike is supposedly easy with a 2/9 difficulty rating. However, I panted and struggled my way through. I even took a puff from my inhaler in between. When I got to the peak at around 10:00 am, it was all worth it. The view was majestic.

With Nikko

With our Jeyz Hiking Friends! :) Kenn, Aulvin, Diego

After the descent, we headed to the Madlum River to swim and have lunch.

Then, we proceeded to go spelunking. We had to pass by a river first (which we crossed through a bamboo raft the first time we encountered it) to get to the caves. There was a "monkey bridge" that consisted of only two cables, which you can use to get you to the other side. I, being the determined first-time-adventure-girl, insisted on crossing that bridge, instead of taking the bamboo raft again. Nikko was hesitant at first but I begged him and I prevailed.

It wasn't easy. One could easily fall down the river. In fact, I almost gave up when I approached the center of the bridge because my left leg was shaking. But I didn't and I reached the other end! Yay!

Just when I thought the hard part was over, we went inside the Bayukbok Caves. The path to it was scary but the one inside, it was deadly! One mistake and seriously, goodbye!

That day was really amazing. It was a day of firsts for me! First time to go mountain climbing, first time to go spelunking, first time to swim in the river, and first time to pass through a monkey bridge!

I am so proud of myself! :) Never thought I could do something like this. Thank you, Nikko for encouraging me to do outdoor activities and to the National Diegographic / Pol Binsent Hiking Group! Until next time! :)

As of writing this, I have an aching body but I am well and ready to go for another adventure.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." - Eleanor Roosevelt