Suddenly there was a startling sound from above the trees. It’s like trees breaking apart or boulders cracking. Then our guide, Jangin yelled “Run!!!”. From the mouth of Lang Cave, we tracked back a few meters towards the plank walk junction where the other path leads to Deer Cave. “What the hell is that?!” I asked Jangin as I was catching my breath. “Maybe wild monkeys!” he said looking up. For a moment there I thought I was in an adventure game or movie, running on plank walks while being chased by rolling boulders. I’m not sure if our young guide was jesting us. But what a start in our exploration of Gunung Mulu National Park.
The beach and the sea may be my playground but I always felt more at home in the mountains. The nippy air, being among trees and soothing greens is a balm to the senses. Upon learning that in my return to Antique, just barely after a month from my last visit, I would have a chance to visit one of the highlands in Panay Island. On the first night of our Antique Heritage tour, we’ll be located at 869 meters above sea level at Aningalan, San Remegios, south of Antique bordering close to Iloilo. It’s where clouds roll along hills, dramatic rock formations jutting out the cascading landscape and a glassy lake are found.
Tanay is becoming a hiking haven near Manila with several climbing destinations in close proximity with each other. One destination which has fascinated me for a time is the unique looking limestone platform of Nagpatong Rock at Barangay Cuyambay. When I got an invite for a day climb, I quickly jumped-in. Not only to satisfy my curiosity of the place but to support a cause. I joined United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and their ambassador Atom Araullo in climbing Nagpatong rock to spread awareness on their campaign “2 Billion Kilometers to Safety”.
As if we were not wowed enough by what we found up north Catanduanes in Pandan, we ventured southeast of the Happy Island to find more amazement in the municipality of Bato. From Virac, it’s an 11km ride to the municipality of Bato. A familiar route on my first visit are the numerous waterfalls in the area, including Maribina Falls. But I never knew Carorian Adventure off the coast of Bato was something to rave about. We just got a taste and I’m already thinking when I’ll be back here.
Just a short boat ride from Tiktikan Lagoon are three caves open for exploration. The popular Crystal Cave and Bolitas Cave are easy and accessible which are often visited by tourist. The third cave, Tundan Cave sees less visitors as it is longer and requires an extra fee for exploration. Since I have only limited time to explore I picked what the guides considered the best among them, Tundan Cave. It may be more than half a kilometer long but the cave formations are remarkable.
I could feel the heaviness and strain in my body already. I’ve been hiking almost daily around Batanes for the past week. My stamina is dipping. Trudging early morning on the grassy slopes of Mt Riposed in the dark, I told myself I have reached my quota for challenging tramps such as this. I deserve a pat for having finally visited Rapang Cliffs the day before. While I want to explore more, Itbayat can really drill a hole on your wallet if you’re travelling alone. While I welcome my guide, Jojo’s suggestions on other places to visit. I had limited budget. So why not end my Itbayat sojourn at the island’s highest point.
The day started with an amusing little chaos. It’s funny how logistics can quickly screw up at times. The plan was to spend time with relatives at La Jolla Cove not really Torrey Pines State Reserve. My sister and I took the AmTrak train from Vista to San Diego where our cousin picked us up at the Old Town Station to meet up with the rest of our cousins. A little misunderstanding went us driving around in circles at the upscale neighborhood of La Jolla. And when we finally got to meet heads with other relatives and laid our options did we get a clear direction where we’re going. Everyone agreed we’ll visit Torrey Pines State Reserve for the rest of the afternoon. I was excited as I’ve been yearning to do some trail hikes in San Diego since I came in the USA. That’s one of the things I like about in the country, the importance of parks and reserves and their accessibility in the city.