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.
Have I discovered the secret to long life? It seems the people living in this highland village of Buscalan in Kalinga have. It amazes me to see how elders living in the age bracket of 80-90 and above are still nimble, skillful and can still manage to contribute to work. I’m not just talking about the legendary mambatok (traditional tattoo artist) Whang Od (Fang Od), whom we wanted to meet when we went to Buscalan. While I was dumbfounded to find her working under the sun drying out some beans, then carefully carrying those in a small sack at the age of 93-yo, her peers in the village could still run around circles to any sedentary couch-potato in the metro.
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.
I still feel nervous when I hopped back on Wazit’s motorbike after that motorbike accident to Suku Temple but I really have no choice but to go with him. I did notice he’s more cautious now as I told him to be very careful after showing my nasty wounds to him. We were on our way to Jumog Waterfalls which is just 1.5km in the vicinity. I really wanted to squeeze this in despite the short afternoon we have here. I think I needed something like this to refresh my senses after all that happened.
It’s funny how naming conventions of tourist sites go as far as El Nido is concerned. When island hopping its amusing when people would say they’ll be going to a “Secret Beach” (which I won’t tell where because it’s supposed to be a secret) or the “Big and Small Lagoon” in Miniloc Island to name the sites based on size description. Now my new favorite waterfalls in El Nido, the less-visted Bulalacao Falls in Pasadeña, will also get the same treatment as the Miniloc Lagoon. Welcome to the Big and Small Bulalacao Falls, personally the most beautiful waterfalls in El Nido.
My carabiner thermometer was playing at a temperature of 17 and 18 degrees centigrade. The wind chill made it felt colder while I stand there on a rock at the viewpoint. It’s 4:45am on what seems to the edge of the Earth or how I imagined it to be. Waking up as early as 3:30am to hike the hill for Kiltepan Sunrise is something I don’t do everyday. Right now the view of the valley is blanketed with a thick fog with the moonshine setting behind us, only the outline of the pine trees sway like a dancing shadow at this hour were our companions.
“Nung dumating yung mga rescuers dito, di sila makapaniwala sa lakas ng hangin. Yng mga puno ng niyog di lang nabaluktot, naputol din sila at maraming nabunot. (When the rescuers came in, they couldn’t believe how strong the wind was. The coconut trees were not only bent, they were cut in half and many uprooted.)” Narrated our 60-year old forester guide with us, recalling the harrowing experience with the 2010 Typhoon Juan as if it happened only a few days ago in Maconacon. Almost a couple of years have passed, Maconacon is showing signs of revival despite the scars left by the typhoon. The houses and government buildings have been rebuilt and they now have electrical power (albeit only 7 hours a day). Nature however is slow to recover, the once bold wall of a mountain-face still shows significant scars and the landscape changed as we have discovered while exploring some Maconacon attractions.