It was the turn of the year and I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to be in a place where people don’t know me. I wanted to greet the first sunrise of the year in a new landscape. The past year was filled with mixed emotions, I was hoping that being away would bring things in a positive light and hopefully bring me back to the right direction. The first morning of 2014, I found myself already climbing the mountain slopes of Maligcong for Mt Kofafey under a starry night with my two companions who used to be just strangers a few days ago and now I’m entrusting my life to them.
“Our priority is to get back to Tinglayan!” I said when we were discussing about our plans for the next day. We wanted to somehow include the falls and springs in Kalinga but it seems time isn’t on our side. It’s either we go back the same route to Bugnay or we go by Francis’s suggestion – a Kalinga Villages Traverse to the next two villages of Butbut and Ngibat then descending at Liyao for the main road to Tinglayan. We decided to go with the latter not really knowing what we’re getting into.
It seems I’ve been going back to a lot of places lately. At least 6 years after, and more air traffic lately in NAIA (our flight was delayed for more than an hour) I found myself bound for Francisco Reyes Airport in Busuanga. A new airport, wide paved road (and watch our for passing cattle) and a more bustling little Coron Town were some of the notable changes. We checked in at Coron Eco Lodge found at the quiet side of Calle Real (check my review here). With our time cut short because of the flight delay, we chose to forego the regular “City Tour” and head directly Mt Tapyas for the sunset I was looking forward to shoot again.
A magnificent disruption. The first thought when I saw this lone limestone jutting out from the vast rice field surrounding it. “Andyan yung cave? (The cave is there?)” I asked. “Opo! Nasa loob nyan. (Yes sir! It’s inside)”, replied Dyna, who was also another surprise as this lanky girl of 22-yo would be our guide. We traveled about 22 km out of El Nido Town Proper, east to the direction of New Ibajay to visit the Ille Cave, one of the most significant archeological site in the country.
I was thinking about what to write on my 1000th post and I was caught in a wind. Should I write something momentous and grand? Or something spectacular like listing down all the site achievements since it started? I wasn’t sure, really, so I’m just gonna write about the 3 questions I asked on my 1000th Post Giveaway to give not only the answers but a quick overview of this blog’s history.
The soles of my feet already felt very thick it would probably take a few foot scrub sessions to take out the dead skin and callouses from too much walking. By this time, after entering many temples and sacred grounds for almost a week, I’m already used to removing my footwear before entering temples. For Mandalay Hill, my next place to visit, I had to remove my slippers before climbing the 760-feet high hill. I really don’t mind the climb since after the two gigantic Bobyoki Nat guardian statues is a shaded stair pathway leading to the summit. What amused me was the footwear storage at the foot of the hill with a sign “Footwear not Allowed. Don’t carry shoes” clearly directed at foreigners where they’ll have to pay to store them. I saw a lot of locals carrying their shoes inside plastics so I just decided to clip my slippers to my bag and started the climb.
I never thought I would be excited to look for some cat poop in the middle of a forest. Here I am on a narrow trail in a dense forest of Mt Malarayat, Batangas, carefully watching each step mindful if there are any animal droppings in path. Not to avoid them this time but to take a closer look. Yes it’s poop! But it’s not an ordinary poop since each set of these cat droppings is worth some serious money. I found a small pile still stuck together. The stuck up beans isn’t as offensive as I thought it would look nor does it smell like ordinary cat droppings. So this is how a Civet Cat poop is like. So this is where the world’s most expensive coffee came from.