Just when I thought I’ll just be enjoying December mostly at home, I was ecstatic to receive an invite to AirAsia Zest inaugural flight to Miri, Malaysia. A city west of Sabah and home to several natural wonders like the caves in Niah National Park. It wasn’t supposed to be my last trip for the year and was excitedly expecting another one but plans change. As I write this entry, I am off to a detour and go with some good old friends instead to another destination. That seems to be the theme of the year 2013 for me, changes and adjustments, making most of what we have. Looking at things in a positive light.
I must admit, 2013 had been a rough year for me. Sometimes long-term plans end up failing, projects not bearing fruit, heartaches, headaches and Google earnings dropping (because of hummingbird). It’s the year I had to make a lot of adjustments to unexpected changes. While some can be slightly disappointing and others to the point of heartbreaking, there’s no other choice but to carry on. Much like the major Typhoon Yolanda survivors, there’s no way to go but up.
Despite some misfortunes though, I’ve always seemed to find away to rise above it all which I’m still thankful for. Take away the sad experiences, there is still a lot to celebrate about this year especially in travels. Here are some of Memorable Moments which personally seems to be my highlight for this year (in no particular order), travel moments rather than the destinations itself.
Journey to Asik-asik Falls
This must have been the most gruelling journey yet for me 2013, not really in terms of length but in terms of the difficulty in the ride experience. From Midsayap, Cotabato, taking about 1.5 hours habal-habal ride on an unholy terrain then another 30 minutes habal-habal to the jump off in much more merciless trail just to reach Asik-asik Falls in North Cotabato. But all of that was totally worthwhile as Asik-asik Falls is probably one of the most unusual and beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen in the country.
Freediving the Enchanted River
I must admit, the Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur, left a bad taste on me when I first visited the place. This time it was totally the opposite. We had the place all to ourselves and we not only got to appreciated its beauty from the surface but also enjoyed exploring its depths while freediving.
Inked by Fang-Od
It’s always life changing to have a new permanent mark on your physical being. It was a no-turn-back decision. I had been interested in the art of batok in Kalinga for a time, and the 94-year old Fang-Od, who personalizes what remains of this traditional tattoo art is just the right person to see. I’ve managed to converse with her while having a piece of their culture inked on my shoulder. Not once but twice this year.
Living in El Nido
It’s one thing to travel to one destination for a few days and it’s another to actually live in one. I had long-term plans to stay in El Nido when I stumbled upon work in this piece of paradise in Palawan. But sometime things doesn’t work out so I was only there for a few months. But it gave me opportunity to explore off-beat places in El Nido.
An event organized by Iligan Bloggers Society in the city of Majestic Waterfalls, Iligan City, was too hard to pass for a waterfall chaser like me. Five days and 7 waterfalls (not to mention the Kapatagan sidetrip), it was a fun experience along with like-minded adventurers. The event became a springboard for better things to come.
I’ve never thought I’ll be able to explore a lot of Mindanao in almost three weeks. #TravelMindanao was borne through WAT 2.0,an advocacy to promote the much maligned island of Mindanao. With a group of travel bloggers with the same zeal in mind, we ventured from Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Tagum, Davao, General Santos, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Bukidnon and CDO. It was adventure filled with climbs, river trailing, caving, waterfalls, white water and more while sampling some delicious local cuisines.
Photography Talk in Singapore
Not really much of a travel but work but it was quite an experience since I get to have a different audience this time. I’ve done some photography talks and workshops locally but the Filipino audience is quite different. I thank Sony Singapore for trusting Backpack Photography to do a couple of sessions on Travel Photography alongside introducing the wonderful destination of Batanes to Singapore audience.
Ironwulf En Route Changes in a Decade
Let me also take this opportunity to thank everyone, the readers, the people who I have traveled with, the people I’ve met in my travels, the generous sponsors and the organisations who have recognised this site. Yes! Ironwulf En Route has been online for more than 10 years now. A feat I never though I would realize. With this milestone, I’m introducing some changes in this site. It will still have the same old style blog but will add something that has been missing in this site for a while. I’m taking my time because I wanted to do it right. You’ll find out soon enough. For the meantime, thank you very much for keeping me company throughout the years and hopefully more years to come.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.