Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sagada Day 2: Sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint

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I'm no fan of waking up early in the morning, let alone, wake up in the wee hours of the morning.  Add to that the sore muscles I have been suffering from the spelunking activity and the condusive cold weather of Sagada for sleeping, I would rather stay in bed!

So waking up at 4am is pure agony to me.  But it is a must if I would want to experience the famous Sunrise at the Kiltepan Viewpoint.
Together with my friends, we loaded our van during the said call time.  Good thing we took a warm bath the night before, we weren't queuing up at the CR of our residential inn.  Armored with our jackets, and all the body heaters we could find (scarfs, mittens and socks?!), we went to the Kiltepan Peak, which is at the east from the town center of Sagada and has the height of 1636 meters above sea level thus making it a good viewing point for everyday sunrise.

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Pinetrees all over

After a rocky uphill hike of the van, we got off in an area full of pine trees while the rest of the greenery is enveloped by heavy fog.  We trekked for another 10 minutes towards other groups who are waiting for the cinematic view.
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Clouds over the Kiltepan Rice Terraces

When we arrived, the sun wasn't there yet.  While waiting, you'd be left to appreciate the clouds hovering over the Kiltepan Rice Terraces, made by the locals, the Igorots, as a source of food and income.   Me and my friends didn't waste time on doing our personal photo ops.  With the cold weather, the scenic view and majestic backdrop, no pictures are surely gone to waste.
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Waiting for the Sun

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Pisturesque view at the back.  Even beautiful foreground. =)

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Our group!

And finally, there it was!  The dark blue skies was strickened with the golden rays.  A mixture of yellow and orange, the sun peeked through the mountains of Sagada. Surely it was worth all the sacrifice of waking up.  It was such a blessing to be able to experience it.

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The sun peeking through the mountains.

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Sun's rays, all golden yellow and orange.

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Now, it is peeking through the clouds.

And just before going back to the van, we did another fun photo.
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Playful and young = us!
-o0o-
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Kiltepan Viewpoint
Sagada, Mt. Province

Photo Credits: Duckx Elsisura and Reyma Santiago

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sagada Day 1: Survived the Cave Connection

I have long been planning to visit Sagada. Last year, Jo, a colleague from Taguig, and I had numerous attempts to actually climb the province of Sagada but it never happened.  After so much planning and talks with friends Lei, Bhing, and Wena, we finally set foot into a new adventure.

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Reyma, Lei's friend arranged our participation with Roadtrip Pilipinas, a tour agency which caters to trips within Luzon.  We were joined by Duckx Elsisura, a travel and photography enthusiast.  After 10 hours in a van with a few hours of sleep in between, we arrived at Sagada, in Mt. Province for a much awaited vacation.

Our first on the list of activities is spelunking.  Our option was to go through one cave or go through the connection which is two caves all in one go.  Because we opt to make most of our experience, we signed up to the cave connection of Lumiang cave and Sumaguing cave.

I'm not really sure how I could write about the experience.  The four hours of sliding, crawling, climbing, trekking and clinging to rocks is simply out of this world.

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So what to expect in the Cave Connection experience?

Our pack was lead by 3 professional cave guides, with a lamp each.  They are from Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS), which not only gives you a hand in the whole spelunking routine but also gives you some information regarding some formations and images in the cave.  You could also hand them your camera as they know when to take photos in action.

We entered through the Lumiang Cave and was welcomed by a burial site inside.  Sagada ancestors used to bury their dead in a fetal position which explains why the coffins are tiny than usual.  Also, according to our guides, as long as light reaches a graveyard, then it is a good place to bury the dead.

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Just before the action, it is a good thing to have pictures taken... hahaha!!! You would probably get too exhausted that you could not smile at all...

After the burial site is a few short climbs and going down so we are still ok... but then when the first of the ropes were up, this is all the adventure began... I had a good experience at Palawan's Ugong Rock so this should be sassy and easy but I guess I'm wrong.  And I was branded by my friends a slow mo so I was first in the pack so as not to get left behind.  So, there I was through the ropes clinging to dear life.  It was somewhat slippery so I grabbed my slippers and braised it up my arms and off I go with the ropes with our guides assisting especially with points that are out of reach.   I think at this point, I have slipped a gazillion times but held composure.

There are a lot of stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. So as not to be confused, think of Ceiling for C in stalaCtites and Ground for g in stalaGmites.  So stalactites are seen from the top while stalagmites start from the bottom.  And when the two meet, they form a column.  And as a rule, we should not touch both, because the acid in our hands stops the growth and it takes years for it to add a centimeter in its height.

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There was a moment when we have to crawl with our butts down and have a tight grip with the rocks.  Poor thing, my leggings had 2 big holes by the time I got out of the cave.  What was funny was that, while climbing down, in a crab crawl, my friend ask "Uhm Reg, I think this is really unsafe."  And I just retorted, "Everything here is unsafe, even before we entered the cave."  I don't mean to be sarcastic, but I was only following the guide and true enough there is nothing safe in the place.   But the no safety is the thrill of the adventure.

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Another worth remembering is crossing a pool of water with ropes that we need to hold on to traverse.  It's like rappeling sideways.  I think that's one of the most athletic thing I did in my whole entirety.

Also, another thing striking that I could never forget is getting into 4-5C cold water.  The water was only armpit deep but the chilling cold was a nightmare at first but our bodies got used to it after 2 dips of our whole body, including our heads, it felt normal.

After 3 groups who got past us, and 5 hours inside the cave, not to mention the numerous slips, slides and crawls, it was time to exit the Sumaguing cave and end the spelunking experience. But the agony did not stop when the guides announced that we are exiting because we have to climb up more than 100 steps just to see the light at the opening of the cave.  But no light welcomed our exit because it was almost 7pm when we got out.
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I was dead tired when I reached the mouth of Sumaguing cave.  My clothes are full of dirt and I was hungry, I could eat tons for dinner.   My oh my, I think I found my Calvary at Sagada.  Not that I didn't enjoy the spelunking experience.  I guess, I wasn't able to prepare myself.  I've only seen pictures but never really read about Sagada.  So my guts and courage have been lost along the way...

But really,  I was quite happy and relieved that I got out of the caves alive. I am a Sagada Survivor!!!

-o0o-
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Lumiang Cave and Sumaguing Cave
Sagada, Mt. Province

Photo Credits:  Duckx Elsisura, Bhing Espina, and Reyma Santiago

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Understanding A - H*les and Emotional Nagging Shopaholics through Defending the Cavemen

A gazillion of talk shows have discussed male and female differences.  Books have been written on why both sexes is an individual in itself yet needs to interact. A thousand movies and tv series have depicted excerpts of each paradigm.  Why man act the way they do is a mystery to women and why women actually have"superpowers" is an amazement to men is a topic mostly discussed and used but we oftentimes failed to master.
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Once again, this bruised topic is the focus of the play Defending the Cavemen. What made it different was the entities of monologue and FUN all cooked into a great play.

A monologue and a stand-up comedy in one, Defending the Caveman talks about the cultural and historical aspect of the differences and conflict of genders.  It explores how men and women relate and interrelate to one another in unity or in chaos.

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The play started with a quirky marriage video of Joel Trinidad (main character) and his wife Emmy.  Then Joel came up the stage and started the monologue with an introduction of the the cave images of the Goddess of Laussel, which was discovered in 1911, and the prehistroic drawing of erected man and bison, found in Lascaux Cave.

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I stop here now about the plot of the monologue.  You must be there to understand and witness how hilarious this play is.  I think, there are a thousand times that I laughed so hard as Joel points out the inevitable unity and clash of the genders.  Couples of all ages, nodded to one another in guilty admittance or in realization of why their partner is such.

To avoid gender bias, there are 2 directors of the play: a male and a female.  Michael Williams sits on the director's chair alongside Cathy Azanza - Dy, to provide perspectives of both sexes making sure that it is well balance and nobody gets to be on the losing side.

If you are into a relationship, boyfriend-girlfriend or marriage, this is a must date you and your partner should share.  This is a great way to understand the opposite sex and and have a great laugh over such sensitive issue.

-o0o-
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Defending the Caveman
RCBC Plaza
Ayala Avenue, Makati city



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Milk+Tea and C's

Cafe and pastries have blossomed in Bacolod. Who would blame the country's sugar capital if it uses its main sweet ingredient to whip up a delectable treat for Negrosanons and tourists alike.

Our initial plan was to visit the famous Calea which is now housed at its new place at Balay Quince at 15th St., Lacson.  But we found it closed until the 6th giving its people the vacation it deserved.  So while waiting for Kat and her sister, Tisha, I went up at the second floor of Balay Quince to further explore the new place.

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I found Milk+Tea and was attracted to its interiors.  It is mostly a collection of eccentrically designed sofa sets and old telephones, clocks and cameras.  I'm not really into milk teas but I thought of giving it a try.
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A collection of chairs.

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Tea is a cup of life.

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Ring me up for a cup of tea

I tried the wintermelon milk tea, one of their bestsellers.  You could choose the sweetness of your tea between regular or extra sweet depending on your mood.  I chose the regular.  For the free add on, I got the nata de coco.
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Wintermelon Milk Tea, Php 100

When Kat and Tisha arrived we decided to check Cs just right across Balay Quince.  Cs stands for Coffee, Cake, Chocolate.  Food ranges from coffee, cakes, chocolates and the other C that we found is Crepes.

From their selection of cakes, Kat got Banana Coffee with Choco Streusel for Tisha and a slice of S'mores pie for herself.  She added White mocha and Mocha Frappe.  I got myself Intense cake.

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Intense - Php 120

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Banana Coffee with Choco Streusel  - Php 65

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S'more Pie Slice - Php 65

The Intense is a three layered cake of chocolate cake, sesame seed candy and mocha coffee mousse finished with a gelatine and topped with chocolate ball.  I found the mousse very sweet and with that surely added to the irritation my throat has been experiencing.  The sesame seed candy was too hard as well, I waited for the cake to melt for me to have a slice of it.  I love the chocolate layer, the chocolate is not too sweet nor too bitter.

I love the taste of Kat's S'mores Pie.  The bottom of the pie was smothered with peanut butter and then next to it is chocolate.  Peanut butter plus chocolate is always a good pair.

Tisha's Banana Coffee cake is banana cake loaded with cinnamon.  I could not taste coffee in it.  I find it delish because it is very moist in the inside.

I found it a relief that new establishments are surfacing in Bacolod to feed hungry soles and sweet tooth afficionados.  In Bacolod, you will surely not find yourself hungry and limited.

-o0o-

Milk+Tea
2F Balay Quince
15th St. Lacson
Bacolod City

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Cs
L'Fisher Hotel
14th Lacson ST., Bacolod City
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