For a coffee-lover like me, riding to the coffee capital of the Philippines, Amadeo, Cavite was more than just a trivial endeavor. Just being at one of the country’s largest coffee producer and tasting it’s famous “pahimis” blend was enough to pedal my way to Amadeo. Besides, it’s just short of 30km from Biñan where I’m staying. For this ride, I took the Davilan road to Silang, Cavite to Amadeo then a sidetrip to Tagaytay on my way back.
I catch my breath as it escapes me. It’s getting shallow. I knew I’m almost at the edge of my capacity to pedal. So I stop. They call this stretch “2 kilometers of Pain”, now I know why. First time I passed through REVPAL was coming from Tagaytay side. I was screaming with exhilaration as I descend these slopes from Mt Sungai. Going the “reverse” way and negotiating up to 15% gradient (9 degrees) incline was a different experience altogether. But hey, we’re here for the thrill right? Like any other cyclist, we’re always trying to test our mettle. Am I? I’m really here for the sightseeing.
Staying in Biñan, Laguna offered a more pleasant provincial scenery than I was staying in Metro Manila. While not entirely rural, our side of Laguna borders Carmona, Cavite which still have plenty of open spaces and nature spots. It gave me opportunity to explore nearby areas by bike. One biking destination here enjoyed by locals is called Davilan. Still part of Carmona, the place has challenging uphills called Davilan Ahon, the wide open wilderness-like Davilan Park and a rough trail leading to a refreshing pool of water at Pasong Buhangin.
It is when getting soaked under the rain while road biking doesn’t completely matter. It was fun actually riding through a squall as we made our way back to our base in Microtel by Wyndham South Forbes in Silang Cavite. My GPS tracker logged in 8.6km one way coming from a bike trail in Nuvali using the colorful road-bikes we rented from the hotel. It was a nice gesture from Microtel to have a few towels ready by the entrance door as we were soaking wet.
It’s amazing how these pilots can figure the knot speed of the wind, the direction and the incoming weather disturbance on the horizon just by looking at this simple flying device flapping in the wind and hooked on the pole. “The conditions are ideal for flying” I heard one of the pilots say that morning. “Window is open. We’re ready to launch!” I heard another voice from a handheld transceiver radio. Soon I saw a wing spread up to the sky from a ridge and soon I saw some guy soaring high. He was paragliding! We were at the Carmona Paragliding site to witness and experience the joys of flight just an hour away from Manila.
June is always an exciting time as I get to join and become a part-time guide to a Jim Cline Photography Tour in the Philippines conducted by international photographer Karl Grobl. It’s nice to know that the Philippines is gaining ground as an international photo tour destination. They were telling me it was unexpected that the Philippines Tour was filling up fast. And this year we had a full house so it was an exciting 6-day North Luzon leg from Vigan to Sagada (via Cervantes) then to Baguio and Manila. It’s great to be with different photographers and see their photographic styles and vision.
Corregidor Island is a fascinating destination close to Manila. It’s replete with history in all corners, magnificent ruins as testament to the island’s former grandeur and nature that thrives. I’ve talked about Corregidor Island before as our macabre version of an ancient ruin (like the Angkor Wat) but this time we go deeper in the dark recesses of Malinta Tunnel and learn the story hidden in its pitch-black environs. With our friends from Columbia Sportswear Philippines leading the way to test the cool factor of their Omni-Freeze Zero technology, I found myself venturing to the island again to discover more.