November 25, 2013

of late posts and major disasters

hi all,

i posted late since i had the greatest disasters of all time -- my macbook white retired and my oly dying a heroic death. 

i've stored way too many things in my white that it did not work anymore. when i say too many stuff, i am talking about hi-res photos, school papers, and client projects. good thing they were still recovered. nonetheless, i'd still bet my soul on mac os as it has done great feats, which windows would habitually crash on. 

as for my camera, the software was faltering during my last shoot that i thought it was already a goner. i was quite lucky that it sustained an entire set! of all my belongings, it is with my cam which i have the greatest emotional attachment as it documented a lot of my traveling firsts with it.

it's quite common for electronics to expire as they reach their 5th year. that's the reason why extended hardware care is only up to 3 years. electronics companies know that already and that they've already formulated ways on getting our bucks.

i recently bought a new macbook pro so i have to catch up with all the posts i promised. my camera is also coming soon (i will reveal the model and make later). for the mean time, i value everyone's patience and understanding for the long wait! i am looking forward to the throwbacks to catch up!

ps: btw, thanks for the 10k views! who would've thought that a crazy person like me would reach this kind of stat!

September 20, 2013

halcon: in a space between a blink and a tear (pt3)


the "love letter"

that night i had a dream. someone was saying for us to go back home because we don't have food. the words "we don't have food" was on infinite loop in that dream. i felt colder and colder as i was hearing it again and again. then it dawned on me that it wasn't a dream. my back was cold and wet due to the condensed water dripping at the sides of our tarp. i kept my cool as i hear the silent snores of the tired ladies next to me. i continued on listening to the men's conversation and i found out that someone from camp 1 sent us a "love letter" through one of the guides. i slept again hoping it's just another one of those bad lucid dreams.

i woke up as soon as i sensed sunlight. one of the boys said that we should pack up because we're not aiming for the peak anymore... at least that day. they informed us about the love letter and how our team mates at camp 1 were worried sick about all of us who were beyond dulangan river. together with the "love letter", they brought a pot of rice and fried viands for our breakfast. as soon as we finished our meals, we broke camp and headed back to durungawan to meet the rest of our team mates.

as we started walking back to camp 2, migs was shocked to see his rope, the one he left for the other guides and the other mountaineers to cross, gone. we stopped to look for it. then he saw it under a shrubbery, muddied. "hindi ko na magagamit to!" (i can't use this anymore), he said. "hindi ko alam kung pano nila tinanggal pagkakatali o kung pano nila nilapag 'yan 'dyan. ginagamit ko to sa rapelling ewan ko na kung mapagkakatiwalaan pa to. tunaw ang fifteen thousand!" (i don't know how they untied it and how they dropped it there. i have been using it for rappelling. now i'm doubting if it's still safe to use. fifteen thousand pesos down the drain!). he further explains that the rope, in it's perfect condition, is calculated to endure a certain amount of pressure. any micro-fracture in the rope already means death to the one using it so ropes should be handled with hyper care. another team mate said, "isipin mo na lang na ginamit 'yan para magligtas ng buhay pero sana lang iniwan na lang nila kung pano nila nakitang nakatali sa puno!" (just think of it this way: it was used for someone else's safety. but then, they should have left tied to the tree as how they've seen it!)

when we reached camp 1, we were greeted by one of our guides, sir zeus. he told us that he's been worried about our safety and was already preparing for rescue. the camp 1 team were preparing a meal for us thinking that we have not ate enough for breakfast. we had our fill of second breakfast and lunch then joined the rest of the team for socials. while we smothered ourselves with laughter and, for others, with wine, half of our thoughts were on our team mates who we were all hoping for the hopeful were safe and have already taken their summit shots.

later on, sir zeus was cursing because of the lack of coordination. he told us that he ordered everyone to regroup at camp 1; thus the reason why the mangyan guides stayed aside from the very heavy load they are carrying (one mangyan even showed us his blistered shoulders from the heavy pack he was carrying). when we met the lead pack at dulangan river, the lead told us that they are already pushing for the summit. the rest of the mid pack assumed that was also the command until the heavy rain poured and tore us apart. "eto ang kauna-unahang grupong nasamahan kong radyo. pero kahit wala, dapat inisip man lang nila na maghintay!" (this is the first group i have handled without a radio but even if there was none, they should've been cautious enough to wait for everyone) [mistake #13 - no formal means of communication i.e. 2-way radio; mistake #14 - lead team did not mind whether the group behind them is within sensible distance]. only a couple had a walkie talkie, dennis and matelle, but they're only using it for themselves. dennis' walkie died on him on camp 2 pushing him to follow matelle with zero provisions. i cannot blame them. that's what lovers do. they risk everything. i could see myself doing the same.

in the mountains, food is gold

at 17:00 while we were preparing for dinner and zeus and some mangyan guides were planning their rescue, we heard a series of howls from familiar voices. we howled back in excitement because they are safe. we counted all who ascended to camp to know who could be missing. none. everyone complete. the expedition lead came in last. i was happy to see rose but she dislocated her ankle when they were trekking back to camp. i tended her ankle with a few chinese medicines i have to somehow alleviate the pain. after dressing her ankle i went to zeus, who was having some sort of convocation with 3 other sweep team mates. "takte ang yayabang! buwis buhay na iwanan mga kagrupo makakuha lang picture sa dive board. tapos tayo andito umiinom ng mapait na alak" (damn! they're all too proud for risking their lives and leaving their buddies just for that dive board photo they want to post in facebook. while we're all here drinking wine and savoring its bitterness.) zeus replied, "walang masama kung buhay ang kapalit. posibleng mamatay sila. posibleng mamatay din tayo." (nothing's bad when you evaded death. they could've died there. we could've died there.) the expedition lead suddenly came in saying sorry. he then offered a discounted rate if we wish to join a second round on august. "pag-isipan ko, sir. habagat pa rin niyan e baka matulad nanaman dito. tsaka wala na akong leave. no-pay leave na tong ngayon" (i'll think about it, sir. it's still habagat season by that time. it might be the same as this. and besides i'm on no-pay leaves as we speak), i said. he jokingly replied, "nurse ang trabaho ko. ako bahala sa medical certificates pag kailangan 'nyo" (i'm a nurse, i'll be in-charge of everyone's medical certificate when you need them). "sasama ako para sa recon climb" (i will join you for a recon climb), the one who cried last night said sounding so eager for a vengeance climb. zeus broke his litany to the expedition lead. "sa susunod, ayoko na 'tong mangyaari. wala pang namamatay sa sa grupo ko. hindi pwedeng may mamatay sa happy team!" (next time, i don't want this to happen. i haven't had anyone die on my team. not my happy team!) said zeus. "hindi ka superhero. ang tanga mong magrescue nang wala kang dala! mas may equipment pa bisita mo." (you are not a superhero. you're so stupid to attempt rescue without equipment. good thing your guests have equipment). the expedition lead replied back with "sorries," nods, and head scratching.

as they all settled in camp, they were telling how hard it was for them to reach the summit. they had no clearing. one couple was pissed off at the personal guide they hired because they weren't able to follow. all their safety gear were with that specific guide. one person from the sweep team replied, "e pano? e ang bigat ng dala nilang mga gamit niyo samantalang kayo ang gagaan makapag summit lang!" (his load was heavy because you left all your gear with him so you can hit the summit). the atmosphere of excitement suddenly turned to heated arguments. why they did not wait. why they did not follow commands. why most people on lead had light loads. why they weren't carrying safety gear: their tent, their sleeping back, stove, food. why they all went ahead of the mangyan guides. "pwede bang kumain na tayo? lahat tayo dito pagod!" (let's just eat already! we're all tired!) someone said, which brought frowns, waving eyelashes, and whispers. zeus broke the commotion and shouted, "good vibes! good vibes" as if he did not blurt out bad comments about those who made it to the summit.

after dinner, i stayed at the same spot under the tree where we waited for everyone. the guy-who-cried called my attention to come to his tent. he wanted to tell me something, "sabi mo di ba nakaleave ka pa? tingnan mo kung anong tinago ko." (you said you have extra leaves right? look what i hid). he unwrapped a plastic bag full of canned goods enough for the entire team to last for two more days. even enough to have fed us at camp 2 so we could push forward the next day and even send provisions for gp and the rest of the guys at the summit team to endure the cold night. why would someone do this? "oh my..." one of the ladies in the mid team said in shock. he hushed all of us. he told us that when they were packing at jump off, the canned goods wouldn't fit in one of the guide's bags so he offered to carry all of them. "bakit 'di mo sinabi 'to nung nasa camp 2 tayo?" (why didn't tell about this when we were in camp 2?) i asked trying my best to bottle-up my anger. "'di na importante 'yan. ang point ko e pwede tayo mag push bukas. ngayon, gusto kong malaman kung sinong mag-oo. kung walang pera, pwede tayo maghiraman pambayad sa guide tapos saka na tayo magbayad pag nasa bayan na o sa susunod na sweldo." (it doesn't matter anymore. the point is, we can push for tomorrow. now, i just want everyone's 'yes'. we can lend each other some money for the guide fee then we pay back when we reach the city or when payday comes). people were giving back their 'yes' answers. zeus and migs came in curious about what we were huddling about. "gusto niyo magsummit bukas?" (you want to push for summit tomorrow?) whispered zeus and everyone nodded. "imposible. walang bituin." (impossible. no stars). he then points at the cloudy night sky. "agresibo pa ang tubig. bahala kayo kung gusto 'nyo mamatay. mas alam ng mangyan 'yan." (the waters are still raging" he then points at the white puffy lines that scratched halcon's dark massiveness. if you want, you can go ahead and die. the mangyan's know better), zeus continued. the guy-who-cried said, "e 'di kukuha kami ng isang mangyan para i-guide kami. magsimula kami ng alas tres ng umaga. malalakas naman kami sa mid. walang maiiwan. 'yung sweep pwedeng umuwi kung gusto nila. wala namang mawawala kung sususbukan namin." (then we can hire one to guide us all. we start trekking at 3am... the rest of us mid pack. we are all strong. no one will be left behind. the sweep team can go home if they wish. there's nothing to lose. at least we're trying). "hindi kaya. may iba akong lakad. kelangan kong umuwi. 'sensya" i can't. i have other commitments. i need to go home. i'm sorry), migs said. "pwede naman sa ibang araw. andiyan lang naman ang bundok. makapaghihintay 'yan" (i can try another day. the mountain can wait), he added. "kung determinado talaga kayo magsummit, suggestion ko lang maghintay muna kayo ng signos. pwede ko naman pakiusapan ang isang mangyan na bumaba sa bayan para bumili ng dagdag pagkain. kulang 'yan." (if you're that determined to summit, i suggest you wait for more signs. for the mean time, i can ask one mangyan to go back to town to replenish your provisions. that won't be enough).

later, the word about our second attempt reached the sweep team. a few people approached me to tell me that they want to join. i doubted one, the guy who was the cause of delay in the sweep team, murhab. zeus told him not to join us. our exped lead lend some of his equipment to us and offered to stay a few more days to await our return. we huddled again at the tree and repacked our stuff. our strategy was to have the mangyan guide as lead to set our pace and to ensure that we all have our safety lines. we only packed 2 tents, 2 stoves, and the canned goods which we equally distributed among ourselves. everyone is required to carry a sleeping bag, trail food, and jackets. the rest of our provisions will be packed as soon as the mangyan zeus assigned to buy our provisions arrives. 22:00 the mangyan guide and zeus were drunk. he said he'll go to the village later. the guy-who-cried and i exchanged stares. later i was having second thoughts. i slept my thoughts away.

03:00 i believe i was the first to wake up. i poked tents to wake up the members of the recon team. the guy-who-cried approached me and whispered, "wala tayong dagdag na provisions. hindi pa gising ang guide. lasing sila ni zeus!" (we have no additional provisions. the guide isn't awake yet. they're all drunk including zeus!) the rest of the mid pack came in prepared for an early trek that never was. another lady in my team said, "pwede naman tayo mag tipid. tingin ko pwede naman tayo mag push. hindi naman nakakaligaw yung trail e. kung nakayanan ng mga bata 'nung naunang team, kaya din natin" (we can budget our meals. we push, i think. the trail isn't that hard to find. the children from the other team did it. so can we). a few moments later, zeus woke up then joined us. "sigurado kayong susulong kayo na walang guide?" (are you sure you want to push without a guide), he said then points at the sky. "ulap. naghihintay pa ako para sa safety ng lahat" (clouds. wait for signs. i am waiting for more for your safety). "dini-discourage mo naman kami e. kaya namin 'to" (you are just discouraging us. we can do this), the guy-who-cried said. "kakaalis lang ng guide 'nyo para bumili ng pagkain. hintayin 'nyo na" (your guide just left to buy your provisions. just wait for him), zeus left. two hours later, the mangyan guide hasn't gone back yet, some people started to wake up and preparing breakfast. some were packing their bags. the rest of the mid team except for migs, who stayed at one corner. "mag push na tayo kung gusto niyo! walang iwanan." (we can push now if everyone wants! let's just stick together), the boy-who-cried said, "nag aaksaya tayo ng oras. makakasummit na tayo ng 11 am pag nagsimula na tayo ngayon!" (we are wasting time. we could make it to summit by 11am if we push now!) he added. "pano ka nakakasiguro na magiging mabuti nang walang guide. hindi ito batulao. hindi ito basta basta lang na bundok sa batangas. halcon 'to." (how are you so sure we can go on without guides? this isn't batulao. this isn't just any other batangas mountain. this is halcon), i said. "hintayin natin 'yung guide." (let's wait for the guide), suddenly popped murhab. "ang sabi ni zeus 'wag ka na sumama. umuwi ka na lang kasama nila." (zeus said you can't join us. you better go home with the rest), said the boy-who-cried.

sunlight slowly pierced the clouds, the rest of the mid team broke their fast with the sweep team. zeus approached me, "'yan ang sign na hinihintay ko. andito na ang guide 'nyo!" (that's my sign. your guide has arrived!) "talaga?!" (really?!) i said in glee. "i'll be joining you." zeus marched at the center of the camp and shouted for huddle. "'ayokong may naiiwan. gusto ko lahat makasummit. eto ang happy team! nag pa dagdag na ako ng pagkain para sa dalawang araw. 'yung mga gustong magpaiwan, sumama na kayo. 'yung mga gusto nang umuwi, sumabay na kayo sa pagbaba ng summit team. this is a good day for happy team!" (i don't want everyone left behind. i want everyone to reach the summit. this is the happy team! we've replenished provisions enough for two more days. those who want to stay, join us! those who want to go home, you can leave with the summit team. this is a good day for the happy team!) everyone clapped and cheered. everyone in camp was happy. everyone in the sweep team stayed and prepped up while the summiteers cooked another batch for our packed lunch before they left. we gave our manager's and supervisor's numbers to the ones going home so they can call each of them that we were all stranded soon as they reach the city. we all repacked our stuff for the new group we're in. since zeus was joining, we had our spark of hope. it was a very sunny 06:00. 


September 16, 2013

halcon: in a space between a blink and a tear (pt2)

  • before reading this post, it is highly advisable to read my hoping my HALFcon will be whole someday blog entry so you'll know what my previous halcon adventure was like.
  • part 1 is halcon: in a space between a blink and a tear (pt1)
  • annotations on learnings are highlighted rather than adding more side comments.
  • some names have been omitted per request. should there be more names that needs to be deleted, feel free to message me.
  • i am not on adsense so i am not cheesing for hits.
"failing to plan is planning to fail"- alan lakein

more bad omens

"hoy gising na!" (hey! wake up!) shouted someone while clanging his cookset. i took my other phone and it was still 01:30. bad. it wasn't 02:00 yet so i attempted to snooze back but the sound was way too annoying you'd be forced to wake up. "anong oras kaya yung mga lasing natapos uminom?" (what time did the drunkards finished drinking?) rose asked, "pero sana gising na sila kasi sila may plano nito." (i just hope they're awake now. this was their idea.) i told her.

dennis was already cooking our rice while someone else from the mid team cooked our viands, menudo, hotdog, and sausage. those were our packed meals for breakfast and lunch. gp was my food buddy that time so we doubled up our packed meals for breakfast and lunch with myself in charge of the former. although we'll be eating our breakfast en route camp 1, we still fed ourselves a bit for our early morning trek. rose told us that they are still curing some spoiled meat as adobo so their meals weren't prepared yet. later, one of our buddies from the mid team started calling our guides to get their packed meals.

as soon as our team disassembled our tents and about to leave the place at 0300 as planned, the organizers were still preparing dinner. we also got advise from one of them that we'll all go together so we laid dennis laid his ground sheet and we all took a nap while waiting for them to finish up. we started trek at 04:30 [mistake #8 - did not follow planned revised itinerary]

i have always enjoyed starting trek at dawn. at this time, while your energy is still at 100% you can walk as long as you can without worrying about heat which primarily causes dehydration and exhaustion. actually, dehydration is not a problem in halcon as there are springs and rivers along the trail. the second timers only brought with them small nalgene jars while the first timers, like myself, brought a larger container. 

we reached the forest line in less than an hour. limatiks (leeches) began attacking most of the people. one of our female buddies, the most fully covered of all as a defense against leeches, started shrieking at the creepy crawlers, which she sprayed with alcohol as soon as they landed her skin. she then comforted herself by saying, "pero ok lang kasi sabi nila hindi ka mountaineer kapag hindi ka nalimatik!!" (but it's ok because they say you're not a true mountaineer if you haven't been bitten by leeches yet). yet she continued shrieking. at 05:30-ish, the sun lit our path.
lunch at aplaya
at exactly 11:00, gp and i reached camp 1. we noticed 2 of our porters resting near the bushes. these were our lead guides. most of the guides and porters were behind us. i greeted and asked, "nasan na po sila?" (where are there?) "nasa dulangan na po sila kumakain nanananghalian," (they are at dulangan eating lunch) said the guide.  our conversation continued:

"ah, nagpapahinga po kayo?" (you're resting?) 
"ang bigat po kasi ng dala namin," (our load is heavy) 
"ang dami niyang dalang tent" (he loaded a lot of tents), the second porter told me [mistake #9 - guides and porters were overloaded].

then, there was silence. all the while i was thinking: did everyone really trained for this climb or am i just with a bunch of pampered tourists? i know matelle and rose have their tents and thermal clothing and are almost self contained. is it safe to assume that the reason why others were hiking fast is due to their ridiculously lighter loads? 

"tara, kain tayo!" (come on, let's eat!) gp invited the guides to join us for lunch so we could all go together at dulangan.
"wala po kaming pagkain" (we don't have food) [mistake #10 - no packed meals given to the guides and porters]

gp and i stared at each other intuitively sending each other a message that there's something wrong. overloaded and hungry guides and porters will never be a humane act! i didn't ask anymore form which team they belong. gp still has some left overs from breakfast while i opened one of my emergency foods, a can of tuna paella, so we could offer our packed lunches to them. gp went head as soon as he finished his lunch. i waited for our guides to finish eating so i could get my mess kit. then shortly, dennis, doc, cy and the rest followed. dennis  did not rest but joined me to dulangan river to chase matelle, who can't be reached through their radios.

separation anxieties

we reached dulangan river at 12:00. as told by the guides, we still met the some of the people from the lead team. actually, our line-up is already messed up. some people who were from the mid went to the lead, then there were also members from the lead team who went to the sweep or to the mid, and so on [mistake #10 - uncontrolled shifting of groups]. i would understand if these were team leads changing their posts to check on every team member or to set the entire teams pace. during the climb, people were beating time by overtaking everyone the could, if not, enjoying it way too much taking breaks for more than 5 minutes. at the sight of the lead team, i thought of joining them since i already had lunch and would be able to move forward. yet, i was also thinking of safety within the proximity of the mangyan guides (who i thought would be there in a few minutes), so i removed my backpack and swam in the calm crystalline waters of dulangan river. 

the mysterious dulangan river
selfeet at dulangan and my sock raising the bird.
other climb buddies washing their soiled clothes
a few moments later, there was rainfall. everyone packed their stuff and immediately crossed to the other side hoping they could find better covering there. however, the rain drops grew bigger that no tree could shelter us better. we decided to take advantage of the rain and proceeded walking. after threading the trail of vines and branches, we crossed another section of the dulangan river going to camp 2. as soon as the last person crossed the monkey bridge, dulangan proved to us why she was every mountaineer's 1st qualifying test before reaching the summit. in less than 2 minutes, camp 2 became an island to be engulfed by raging waters.

my dslr was foggy at that time. i tried recalling what the color was like through adobe raw and this was the best i could get. from the emerald green-like color, the dulangan river's color became similar to coffee. you will also see in the photo that the 3/4 of the monkey bridge is already submerged in water.
"naku! sana di na tayo tumawid! ganitong ganito yung nangyari sa amin sa zambales!" (we should not have crossed! this is exactly what happened to us in zambales!) migs said. the spectacle was not new to me too. 3 years ago, during my neighbor, benj, and myself first mindanao 321 (mts kitanglad, dulang dulang, and apo), the organizer that time was trying his best to boost our confidence by telling everyone that the rain was only brought by a passing cloud and would be gone in a few minutes. yet, truth prevailed by manifesting as the mud colored agco river knocking down the first monkey bridge. we waited for 5 hours chilling in our wet clothes until the river was waist high and somehow safer and manageable to cross. i almost said good bye to the world when a loose rock hit my left shin during our 3rd crossing, which caused me to fall on my knee and almost got swept by the raging current. thanks to a buddy, who calls himself "master morya", for proving to me and the rest of the world i'm a bad seed. remembering all these, i said, "wag naman sanang ma stranded tayo ulit." (i hope we won't get stranded). "pero wag kayo mag alala," (but don't you worry) migs said, "this is an actual survival situation! i'm gonna show you how to survive!"

we did our mini logistics check and to our surprise, most of the people we're with were not prepared for this kind of situation. i then figured out why the guides were stuck at camp 1. their tents, warmers, and sleeping bags were with our guides. [mistake #11 - people's equipment were mostly with the guides] if it's not for migs and myself, we wouldn't have ropes, carbiners, emergency food, and thermal blankets. moreover, without us, some of us would've pushed through unequipped against the wilderness (although some did). i had a very quick realisation that the new batch of mountaineers now don't care about safety. they are numb and blind to what their uncalculated risks may impact the people around them on a larger scale. they only care about the value of money and how it could give them awesome selfies, peak shots, shares, and likes in social media. this is not a question on generation gaps since i am part of the majority's age group. but for us who have already risked the untimely season of climbing halcon, it's already a lack of common sense to forget your survival "lifelines" and leave them with the guides instead.

our little shelter
shit happens
as for the question of whether we are pushing through, migs decided to wait for the guides to cross. we thought that they'll cross in less than 30 minutes than how we did. yet, 2 hours have passed, there were still no signs of mountain guides only heavy rains and the ever rising dulangan river. for safety, we moved up and searched for flatland to eat and pitch our emergency tarp. our food that time was some orange chewies migs was supposed to bring home to his son kidlat. gp then decided to scout a location at a higher place. moments later, we heard a whistle sound. our instinct told us that the sound came from the guides, we tracked back but we did not see them in the trail but on another side where the waters were a bit calmer but deeper. we were right after seeing our lead guide hailing and shouting to notice us. he didn't bring with him his pack. only a jungle bolo and a small drysac. obviously, he did not have the intentions of pushing for the summit. instead, he only went to check on us and ensure our safety. shortly, our expedition leader came. he brought with him migs' equipment - his carabiners and ropes [mistake #12 - organizers solely relying on participant's equipment]. we exchanged shouts to communicate and we agreed on setting up a safety line for them to cross. the mangyan guide inflated the drysac, clipped it on himself as a floatation device, and then he jumped into the deep waters. everyone was silent mostly fearing for his life. a few strokes struggling with the current. the scene was like those in the action movies then our thrilling shifted when he lifted himself up showing everyone that the water level he is in is just half-shin high. then he shouted that he knew the place quite well that he already knows where the water is deepest and where to stand to make his grand entrance. when he successfully crossed the river, our exped lead hurled at us migs' red rope. everyone helped in pulling in and tying to the rope to the tree. after the rope was secured, he took his turn in crossing the river.

setting up the rope
our e-camp. the place is the midpoint between camp 2 ang balugbog baboy

err on the side of safety

of course, he told us that we won't make it to the summit considering how we are and how we're lagging in the itinerary. and since we're secured at where we were, we decided not to back track to camp 1. instead, he'll have the mangyan guide return to camp to bring us dinner and breakfast so we could push the next day while he (exped leader) would be chasing the people ahead of us. dennis, at that time, was desperate to contact matelle, joined our exped leader. "sigurado kang susunod ka sa kanila nang yan lang dala mo? (are you sure you're moving ahead with only these?)" migs said. so we prepared to pack him a few stuff we had which will help him survive the night at least. i also had him bring the half of my tent so rose can have shelter. that night, i was only worried about her safety since most of the lead team had their tents, food, sleeping bags, and clothes with the guides. it was so depressing that it took only minutes of rain for us to be separated from each other. at that point and time, i was having thoughts of joining them already. then again thinking of the worst, if something happens to my buddy, who would communicate to her loved ones, friends, and the ground support about what happened if i would be hurt too? i decided to stay.

after our exped leader left, we settled in for the night. some of us were just enjoying the company. some were crying over at the loss of his "summit sunrise". we greeted the climbers ahead of us who were passing by to reach camp 2. we informed them of our situation and of dulangan river for their safety since we noticed that there were children with them. that night we were thinking of plans of whether to push through or not since most from the e-camp team are working for bpo's and we can all afford an entire day of stay compared to those working at day. that night, i had a lot of things in mind -- going home, my buddy rose and the entire lead team, dennis, gp, and our exped leader, and the team at camp 1. thinking of them were like counting sheep. my night, i thought, ends.

August 05, 2013

halcon: in a space between a blink and a tear (pt1)

  • before reading this post, it is highly advisable to read my hoping my HALFcon will be whole someday blog entry so you'll know what my previous halcon adventure was like.
  • annotations on learnings are highlighted rather than adding more side comments.
  • some names have been omitted per request. should there be more names that needs to be deleted, feel free to message me.
  • i am not on adsense so i am not cheesing for hits.

"When you're at the bottom -- Tony once told me -- at the foot of the wall, and you look up, you ask yourself: How can anyone climb that? Why would anyone want to? But hours later when you're at the top looking down, you've forgotten everything. Except the one person you promised you would come back to." - Luise Fellner, The North Face

my feet and my foggy dslr
moving on

per statistics, one of the most read articles in my blog was my HALFcon misadventures. being the dangerously determined person that i am, there definitely will be a sequel but i did not expect for it to happen way too soon. the good thing about this sequel is i am now able to match places with their correct names. for instance, i've mistaken lantuyan for dulangan. i was also able to meet some familiar faces -- the lady who served me kapeng barako while she discouraged me to climb; and, if i am not mistaken, one of our guides was a former mangyan chieftain. the greatest change i've seen was calapan. before, there was only one jollibee in the area. now, there are two jollibees and i think i saw a mcdonald's too. indeed, calapan has progressed way too fast!

then of course, there's what everyone's been waiting for in a sequel -- the final conclusion to my adventure. did i reach the summit?

to tell you honestly and proudly, no, i did not. but that doesn't mean i would be sulking over defeat and would be posting bitterly for failing after the very long wait. after i reflected on what happened during our climb, i realized that my climb was not a defeat after all. i had to be there. everyone had to. mt halcon will always be there (not unless the government would legalize its quarrying) and i can always come back anytime [mistake #1: climbed during habagat season] and with the right people [mistake #2: no comprehensive profiling of organizers was done]. the lessons we've learned during those 6 long days was what motivated me to come home; thus, i write further.

halcon's opening

the philippine mountaineering community knows that halcon was closed for 5 years. for those who haven't read my previous post on halcon yet, we were the unlucky team who gambled to climb as soon as it was closed. the moratorium was due to two things: 1) to rejuvenate the mountain after the many massive climbs it had endured and 2) as dictated by the mangyan diwatas (elemental gods and goddesses) fearing that they (the diwatas) would take more lives if they fail to ban the visitors from desecrating their sacred grounds. 

there have been silent exploration climbs last 2011 and 2010, which i have rejected fearing they were illegal backdoor entries. i disciplined myself from being tantalized by the offers as a respect to the mangyan chieftains i spoke with. when i received a halcon climb invite from a facebook friend, i gave him a "go" after he showed me a scanned copy of the permit from the municipal council. coincidentally, i was about to cancel another hiking trip plotted on the same dates due to landslides up north. then there's the thought that there may be no chance for me to climb it again next year since my plans to emigrate the country are in the works. with all the synchronicity, i believed, the climb was meant for me. 

when we arrived mindoro that friday morning, we found out that halcon officially opened last february 2013, with the blessings of the mangyan chieftain. however, they are contemplating on closing the mountain again on 2014. reason is, after neptali lazarro died of hypothermia on 1994, prana escalante drowned at the dulangan river on 2004. since there was a 10-year gap in between their untimely demise, the people fear that someone will die next year. i wouldn't know when this will be confirmed but i am sure someone will let all the mountaineers know when the time comes.

the guides and porters at the lantuyan jump off and some of our team eating breakfast

kambal na bato resort and lantuyang bridge. 
by 07:00 we arrived at the lantuyan jump off. as far as i can remember, there was just one hut with one lady with whom everyone registers to before they enter the lantuyan bridge. she was also the same woman who barred us from climbing halcon 5 years ago. perhaps the resort was built as an alternative to those who were planning to climb the mountain but wasn't aware of the moratorium. or maybe, the local government was preparing for the influx of mountaineers on its re-opening that building a small resort would generate a lot of income. normally, the common side trip after a mt halcon cimb is puerto galera, which is a 2-hour jeepney ride from calapan town proper. with an entrance fee of 35.00 php per head, the place is definitely the quickest stop for a very tired person looking for a decent place to rest. 

while the organizers were setting up the guides and the porters, most of us took our breakfast. in this climb, i had some of my facebook buddies as part of our team, dennis, matelle, and gp. the 4 of us, the main organizer, and some others who i have only met at the event consisted the mid team. rose, who was supposed to be my climb buddy and my tent mate, was accommodated by the blaze team during the last minute. the 5 of us were long time chat mates and dayhike buddies but halcon was our first time to become camp mates. i also met as part of the lead team, sir migs, one of yabag's leaders, an expert in jungle survival. at the sight of him being member of the blaze team, i was confident that our climb will be in good hands.

matelle, dennis, gp, and rose at the lantuyang jump off
cross training with gcc
after my back injury, which happened on the second quarter of 2012 and some change in priorities mostly related to getting a side-job in the arts, i had a hard stop in climbing. the idle time we had prior to starting our trek was spent on catching up and telling stories of past adventures and how we all prepared for this climb. most of my buddies joined the training climbs the organizers prepared. as for myself, juggling among 2 jobs, my fiance and myself's out of country and in country trips, photography seminars, and family, i had to train on my own. i did a series of dayhikes at pico de loro, batulao, and talamitan on sundays with 3kg load of pebbles on top of my normal dayhike load as i cannot do a full camp training. i needed the load to simulate as if i was carrying a long pack but i determined myself to finish a dayhike. then, when i was in china, there have been a series of dayhikes at the gubeikou great wall ruins together with my fiance, who at that time, didn't know i was preparing for halcon. while not climbing on weekends, gcc (before i quit - long story) was my steady training as i needed to sustain a 10000-step count by jogging. if not, i swam at the village pool ensuring i accomplish at least 50 laps or just bike around if my feet hurt from past days' activities so just to beat the competition's weekly mini challenges. 

matelle, told me that this climb would finally conclude my halfcon. however, knowing the feedback heard from old school mountaineers and accounts read over the internet, i shouldn't be that confident. mt halcon -- they say -- is a place not to be trifled with. while nested in the philippines, it has its own weather, own hardships, and mysteries. but then again, there have been mountaineers who died or got severely injured recently in minor mountains. adrian alba died at wawa on 2011; this year, victor ayson died at maculot, a lady was lost in a back door climb at banahaw, then, joey vergara was shot to the shin with a hunter's trap at malarayat. why would and should i be that confident? my first ascent to mt guiting guiting, despite being at my best climbing condition, also wasn't a success due to weather conditions. i told her, "let's see. i just got back to mountaineering." whatever i'll be getting from this experience will be a good experience. after all, halcon will still be the best judge of one's preparedness and she is not a lenient one. 

an anticipated delay

preparing for the trek
after almost half an hour of chit chat, the climb organizers huddled everyone. there was a problem with the guides and porters of lantuyan according to the head organizer. he told everyone that what he knew was the ratio of the guides and porters was 5 is to 1 but he was told lately it should have been 5 is to 2 as a new rule with only one of the two guides will be the porter. he added further that if we follow the porter assignments as discussed online, instead of having 6 porters we would be climbing with 9, which is far too many considering that some would be paid without carrying a single load. he then decided to call a new jeepney to carry us to another jump off, mayabig, where they previously climbed [mistake #3: we should've proceeded by sharing load or cashing out for extra guides. or we should've already proceeded to mayabig. itinerary was 6 hours delayed]. he then cheered us up by saying that mayabig is quite easier compared to lantuyan. the latter's trail is a drastic ascent from 0 masl while the former is a gradual ascent from a higher jump off point but quite longer. what i knew back then from the silent climbers of 2010 and 2011, they were proposing a ratio of 3 is to 1. perhaps during their secret invitationals, many people have already rejected the proposed rule being too expensive, thus the 5 is to 2 ratio at lantuyan. obviously, it is expensive but good if you're talking about safety. the majority agreed to the organizers decision and proceeded on taking a or eating more for breakfast while waiting for the chartered jeep.  

another half an hour passed, our jeepney came. it was smaller compared to the first one we rode so we had to squeeze ourselves together with some of the bags inside, or go for a top load adventure if ready to be sun-kissed (or charred). as we were about to leave, the lead organizer escorted a very familiar lady to the front seat of the jeep -- the same lady i met 5 years ago is now lantuyan's barangay chairwoman. i heard her name is cherry. according to some sources, she was the one who organized the mangyan community at lantuyan. all frequenters of mt halcon knew her very well as she was the one securing the permits and guides prior to climbing the said mountain. i also heard from some of the people who climbed the mountain, she also owns the new resort at the jump off. as we were all about to leave, she kept on nagging at us to be aware of the local government rules moving forward. i can't believe that at that point and time, she was still hindering me and everyone from climbing mt halcon. yet, being some sort of authority at mt halcon, everyone has to follow. at that time, the head organizer was sending an sms to sir minic, who was our main contact person at halcon.

the long ride commenced in our cramped transportation. clueless about what's going to happen while cherry was with us, we talked about aborting the climb and going to mt malasimbo and puerto galera instead so as not to waste the filed leaves and recover some extra days. malasimbo also has a brood of limatiks (leeches) and coming from malasimbo, no one wouldn't know we skipped halcon as we could always lie about running out of battery power, jinxed by the earth elementals, or forgetting to bring a cam. a limatik bite scars plus coming from mindoro is all it takes to tell everyone we've climbed halcon without posting a single photo on facebook *wink*

by 09:00, we arrived at the police station where cherry dropped off thinking we're really heading for puerto galera. we also registered at the police station while waiting for sir minic. then lately, we found out that we are to alight to be transferred to the smallest jeep we rode in the series of transfers. the small jeep took us to mayabig jump off where we'll meet our new guides. during the ride, i overhead some conversations from minic and the organizer. at that time, we were supposed to be at the first river stop from mayabig [mistake #4: advise from a contact person to take the mayabig jump off was not followed by the organizer]. he (minic) did not expect that he would meet us at the town proper. counting off the hours lost, we were 6 hours delayed from our original itinerary as the plan was to start trek at 0430. he added that the 5 is to 2 issue has always been like that at lantuyan and we should have had our itinerary to start at mayabig in the first place to avoid delays.

we arrived at the mayabig jump off at 10:00 where we met the guides. the organization of guides and porters at the mayabig trail had a 5 is to 1 rule. some of us had their early lunch while the rest took refreshments at the nearby sari sari stores after the long exhaustive ride transfers. as soon as the guides and porters took their load assignments, the organizers and sir minic huddled us. as his send off to the entire team, sir minic said, "kapag mangyan ang kasama niyo, nasa mabuti kayong mga kamay." (when you're with the mangyans, you are in good hands). the plan was to reach aplaya by 2100 at best case scenario and 2300 at worst, depending on the pace of the entire team. if we reach aplaya (camp 1) at night, we would be commencing with the normal day 2 itinerary as posted in the invite. if not, we'll have to wake  up very early in the morning to chase the lost time. after our small huddle, one of the climbing leads, dan, led a lengthly prayer. as everyone positioned themselves to form a circle, i slowly realized we were a very large group, more than what was posted in facebook which was 20 [mistake #5: massive climb - too many participants]. at facebook, not everyone who clicked "going" really joined. maybe i was just too focused at the friends i will spend my climb with that it was only at our prayer that i actually counted. 

children playing at the mayabig river

we started our trek at 10:30. the weather was humid. the clouds signified rainfall; yet, by how i felt the heat, i sensed that we'll first endure a long excruciating afternoon walk. looking at the children doing summersaults then diving into the evergreen river of mayabig taunted us not to proceed and played with them instead. yet, there's a greater and promising playground across the river and that's the path we took.

as we threaded the trails further and further, my load became heavier and heavier as the heat pierced through every cell of my body. i loaded myself 1.5 liters of water and had been noticing that i kept on pacifying myself with my bladder's mouthpiece frequently. so far, that's the worst heat i have encountered. mayabig is an open grassland with no portions of shading from trees. the forest line is approximately 3-4 hours from the jump off yet it seemed like i've been hiking forever. what made my hiking worse was someone's body odor. i apologise but no matter how hard you try to respect and accept your climbing buddies, there will always be something you wouldn't like so excuse me. i stayed longer at the lemon grass patches for aroma, which kept my balance a bit longer. yet as i  tried fighting the heat and the stench, my sight became duller and duller that i abruptly stopped, removed my back pack, then told the hikers behind me to overtake. someone from the mid team stopped to wait for me to get my senses back. after a few minutes of of our mini socials (and after learning that he is also a bicolano who lives in the same place as my father), we proceeded to trek after 5 minutes when the rain suddenly poured. 

as soon as the rain took away the heat from my body, i dashed my way. seeing a few of my fellow mountaineers, i asked permission if i could over take and proceeded if they approved, then i stopped again after a seeing quite a number of mountaineers who stopped for a break. i couldn't help myself but asked if they also smelled the same stench and, good heavens, i wasn't the only one! one of them told me that it was the very same reason why they rested. they thought it came from one of the guides, which is quite understandable and acceptable. but if it came from one of the mountaineers, i'd react violently on post climb! 

after almost an hour of hiking, i saw a few huts, which signified a small mangyan community. i was told by some of our climb buddies that everyone will have to regroup at the biggest hut, the iglesia ebanghelika, where the the locals gather for school or for worship. at the hut, i met gp, matelle, dennis, and rose who were feasting on coconuts. the mangyans sell coconuts to mountaineers for 10.00 php as an extra source of living. while we were having our mini breaks, a few children came by to greet us. cheng, one of our climb buddies and a photographer as well, told me that we are allowed to take photos of these mangyan group as the ones who would not allow visitors to take photos of are in farther places of mindoro. the children posed in front of our cameras as if many visitors have taken too many photos of them already.

when rose, gp, dennis, matelle, and myself noticed that we have been hanging out at the hut way too long, we asked the head organizer if we could proceed with a mangyan, which he approved. i asked if they would join shortly but responded that he still needs to cook food for the some of the guides and would be joining shortly. at 14:00 the 6 of us, a mangyan guide, and a couple proceeded to start trek. a few blessings in manifested as drizzles. walking further was a flowing stream. i helped myself remove the remaining heat by washing my face, my chest, and my back. if mountaineering was an rpg game, say ragnarok, rain and water have always been my mana and healing potions. taking a quick splash at the stream helped me rejuvenate. later, i saw our head organizer at the tail of the team telling us to relay that we needed to regroup at another small hut after the small fence to wait for the sweep. at that time, the head of the lead team positioned himself at the tail to assist someone... assist someone. 

so we did as told, after reaching the fence, we stopped by one of the huts to rest while waiting for the sweep team. at that point and time, we sensed something isn't right. someone said, "maling mali 'to! hindi dapat nangyayari to," (something's wrong! this should not happen.) "may bilin na daw pala na sa mayabig dapat tayo e," (the advise was we all should be at mayabig) a few people seconded seconded. technically, if it wasn't for the mix ups and the confusion of the guides and porters ratio, we're almost at aplaya or we've already settled at aplaya. true, but i didn't care anymore. some things happened already. we're stuck in another mangyan village still overlooking the town structures and main roads, way too near the jump off point and barely at the forest line. we can't rewind. for me, what if's and should've's didn't matter anymore. what i needed to hear at that time was a sound solution to what we're in right now. however, until i am not yet aware of the status of what's happening at the sweep team, i myself, having organized a many climbs before, i can't think of any.

moments later, the team lead of our blaze arrived together with the sweep. once they've settled, the main organizer gathered us again for another huddle. to make things short, he informed everyone that someone was injured and could not push further so we need to e-camp at a an open field just a few meters away from the very hut we're staying. to make up for the lost time, we need to start our trek at 04:00 the next day so we could reach camp 3 by night time. after the huddle, we picked up our packs and proceeded to our e-camp, a grassland plateau overlooking the cities of oriental mindoro. just a few meters below the plateau was a flowing stream where everyone could drink or take a quick bath. rose positioned our tent the highest part of the ground near the trail which leads to the forest line. since the weather has not been that good, she did not wanted us to get flooded while we're sleeping.

the trail leading to the forest line 

as soon as we've set up our tent, i immediately messaged my fiance to inform him that i am ok. the signal at the e-camp is receptive enough to get a decent 3g for continuous communication through imessage. i informed him that this may be my last message as the reception at the other parts of the mountain is unsure and unstable. walking out of the tent, i overheard conversations from the other team their plans for the next day. one even mentioned that if they (the organizers) did not wake up early, they would go ahead and start hiking with their guide. at the sight of the organizers hurrying to finish a bottle of brandy than preparing our hosted dinner, all from our side of the campsite agreed to the proposal. we need to wake up at 02:00 to pack quickly, eat breakfast, then leave at 03:00. 

i went to the organizers to ask about dinner. when i arrived at their tarp, the head organizer was removing pre-cooked meals sealed in ziplocs. the the foul stench that the came from the bag, the tint of pink at some of the meats, and how his faced irked at the smell, wasn't a good sign of a meat cooked well [mistake #6 - badly done pre-cooked meals. should have canned goods as back up]. i asked when dinner will be served but i was offered a shot of brandy from one of the sweepers instead [mistake #7 - too much influence of alcohol during the climb].  i told him i stopped drinking. he accepted my denial and said that they'll have to sort out some of our food first. i went back to our side of the campsite. some were already preparing rice for our team's packed dinner and packed breakfast. they finished earlier than our organizers and went ahead to eat a few portions for dinner. rose and myself had left overs from our packed lunches, which we ate for dinner. i glanced at my mobile phone and set the alarm the sound at 02:30. at the sight of my fiance's message which arrived at 18:00 confirming the one i sent -- that he'll just contact me on monday -- i went to sleep.

July 03, 2013

travel visas link... yey

so yeah, i have been posting late and it's all my fault. reason is i have been doing a lot of traveling lately and accomplishing major projects at work, then falling sick in between. the good thing though is those were amazing travels which are worth month- (or even more) long posts. one of my travels recently was mainland china.

in relation to my latest travel to china, i thought of adding a "travel visa" section in this blog to guide my readers the wheres and the hows of entering countries and of course, the pains of holding a philippine passport. lolz.

just recently, i was told of the latest hoax that japan is lifting all visa requirements for filipinos. it made me all giddy when i read it through a hacked connection in china. then the saddening news broke in when inquirer retracted what they've written saying filipinos still would have to pass visa requirements but would get multiple entries valid for 3 years as a "relaxed" rule. thus, this misconception made my s.o. and myself's thought of adding a visa section in my blog. 

as for visa requirements for macau and hong kong, i'll post it all together when i am done with my china trip entry.

happy traveling!

June 12, 2013

kota kinabalu trip

we were told we can go on "cowboy" mode at kota kinabalu. but after hearing tales of locals and even fellow filipinos taking advantage of tourists, we decided to contact an agency for our convenience. everything in this trip were arranged by har chow wong and jui chan leung, the mother-daughter owners of green world tt/w & w adventure.



we were lucky to get the 700.00 PHP sale in airasia. plus in-flight food, our flights costed 2799.00 PHP. our climb package costed 1500.00 MYR, which is approximately 22000.00 PHP last 2011. the package includes the following:
  • mt kinabalu hike (mesilau-timpohon traverse)
  • walk the torq by mountain torq
  • all hostel accommodation at asian adventure hostel
  • all transporation
  • pendant hut lodging (w/ free breakfast and lunch and drinks)
  • buffet dinner at laban rata
  • canopy walk
  • rafflesia garden
  • poring hot spring and nature reserve tour


[as of 06-12-2013] malaysia grants 30-day tourist visas to all filipinos visiting kota kinabalu upon entry. they'll stamp you one as soon as you're done with biometrics. just don't look suspicious for them to mistake you as a smuggler or whatever which would be an easy ticket to your deportation as they would interview you of your reason for travel. there's no need to pre-apply for one in the malaysian embassy in the philippines unless you intend to travel for work, business, or for more than the period stated. you may visit the malaysian embassy in the philippines' website for more information.


everything was arranged by har chow wong. we were transported by a van in our kota kinabalu trips and a private car by our guide on our way to mt kinabalu.


to avoid ballooning bills, i turned off my phone. hehehe. but if you wish to communicate with your friends and loved ones in the philippines, you can always call your telco for roaming services. 

June 05, 2013

kota kinabalu: my dreams of manila

after our lengthy road trip trip at ranau, we had kota kinabalu as our last trip. surprisingly, there was traffic at 18:00. madam wong was apologetic at the sight of such "disgrace" and told us it only happened at this time of the day when everyone goes home from work. well, we told her, manila main roads are free parking spaces during rush hour that edsa deserves a place in the guinness book of records.

as soon as we landed in kota kinabalu, she had us land first at the "signal hill observatory tower" for us to have a view of the city at night. kota kinabalu is a young progressive city and did not have much high rise buildings just like filinvest in muntinlupa. however, compared to manila urbanity, kota kinabalu is clean, both literally and figuratively. i'll tell you more about it later.

from tomas' cam
from tomas' cam
if there's one thing i love doing whenever i go to places, it's eating. when my colleagues in the office told me about "blue wave," i was more ecstatic. to most people, "blue wave" is known as the night wet market where everyone gets to buy fresh seafood. the place is quite similar to our very own dampa but with a twist of malaysia -- cultural diversity. around the market, you can choose which type of country-cooking you'd like to have for dinner: malaysian, indian, thai, chinese, or philippine. at that time, those were the major countries which were represented by the restaurants there (or we have not been looking around thoroughly). since some members of our team had trauma with some food they've eaten, tomas chose to eat at a chinese restaurant. why not at a philippine restaurant? we're filipinos and we want to taste something else! chinese was the safest since most is not comfortable with malaysian or indian food and haven't and won't dare thai cooking. most of my team mates don't like spicy food. i am actually ok with any food as long as i am not eating any bell peppers (which i am allergic to) or liver (because looking at a blob of liver is gross).

of course, nothing's better than free meals! it was the november boys' birthday climb and tomas volunteered to treat us! all in all, he spent 400 myr for the food (as far as i can remember). not that expensive considering we had 6 viands in large servings! madam wong gave us chicken satay as an additional viand to the birthday boys' dinner. and, as you can see below, i am the worst food photographer. 

"almost before"
"absolute after"
after 2 hours of lovely gluttony, we walked around the city. madam wong told us that there'll be a festival next week so some streets have been closed to set up mini market stalls. despite the divisoria like scenery, the government did a stellar job maintaining the place clean. in 2009, according to her, their baywalk was a whore strip. when the authorities found out the anomalies happening there, they wiped the place clean in less than a month's time. since then, kota kinabalu was prostitution free, at least at face value. i am imagining a lot of ways of how the government would punish the perpetrators according to the sharia law. i must say, the same thing should be exercised in our country less the unfair treatment on women. in most implemented moslem laws, women are victims of unfair treatment instead of being protected as stated in the q'uran... but that's already a different story. 

from tomas' cam

we were astounded by the city's cleanliness when we visited the place in the morning. i can't help but compare the place to our very own manila bay. instead of us seeing all kinds of cockroaches, garbage, and rats as huge as pregnant cats, there were cranes, crabs, and crystal blue waters at the kota kinabalu baywalk. yes, crabs (sorry we didn't take photos) and cranes. although the baywalk has too many crabs walking along the breakwater and fishes as seen through the crystal clean waters, only registered fishermen are allowed to capture them. you will never see a civilian or a foreigner attempting to capture a crab! 

ricky, madam wong, and myself doing our thang!
from tomas' cam
oh... a crane... hmmm...
from tomas' cam
with our non-stop comparisons of the city to manila, it gave me a love-hate stand on the sabah claim. love because by right and by law, the place is truly ours which some of our very own government officials did a perfect job of disowning it. the tausug has full rights to their land and should not have been pushed aside by the aliens "leasing the place". hate because, after all, malaysia has done a great job in maintaining the place. i could only imagine grotesque ways on how our corrupt government officials would take advantage of sabah's natural resources! mt kinabalu would definitely become a victim of illegal logging and mining. in fact, one of my travel buddies was told to raise a "sabah claim flag" at the summit of mt kinabalu during our climb. he didn't after seeing what sabah is. i pity my fellow citizens who have not been there but relentlessly fighting blindly for the claim through facebook and other social media sites *insert laugh here*

like a love story, it just breaks my heart to give up on something you love, which you know, someone else will love more. we left for manila that afternoon with a heart break.