Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

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My colleague loves the saying ‘the best treasures on Earth are hiding in plain sight’. I knew he meant about some girls I should be dating. At 28, people really want to marry off, but I’m not the marrying type. I have to endure the pleasure of being single guilt of skipping past candidates a bit longer.  TBH I prefer travelling, reading and painting more than dating a person. But hey, it’s summer I believe there’s always something to discover and there is something definitely hiding on plain sight I wantto share. It’s not a girl, it’s an island – the great Limasawa Island.

Limasawa, now an island municipality in Southern Leyte province, was the place believed to be where the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed and held the First Mass in Asia en route to discovering the Philippine archipelago in March 1521. The conquistador might have loved the island port then called ‘Masua’ that he decided to rest his Spanish fleet to recuperate. There’s some serious history in that island. Unfortunately, in present time, there’s still a big chunk of our youth here in Southern Leyte who has never visited Limasawa Island. Just at the mere mention of big waves and tales of sunken boats, people are discouraged to go there. They are missing a lot about nature, adventure and their cultural heritage. This time it’s really the destination not the journey that matters.

A painting of the First Mass at Limasawa  by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

A painting of the First Mass at Limasawa
by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

I’ve been in the island a few times before. The first one was a mandatory one-day pilgrimage during college – a Religion subject. The second one I was out of breath because I literally run the whole island! My latest one was a soul-searching adventure. I wasn’t just looking for a place to cool down; I was looking for myself and perhaps a reason to write again… #deep

I live three towns away from the Padre Burgos port going to Limasawa Island, so I was confident to I’ll catch the 9 AM boat trip only to find out that they changed the departure time to 8:30am. I had to wait until 1pm for the next trip! With the free hours, I was able to visit Tangkaan Beach a few kilometers from the port. It’s my first time to visit that beach and was surprised to see white sand beach and rock formations. The place is so peaceful I painted there To pass the time off.

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We boarded the lantsa towards the coast of Limasawa right after lunch. The boat was carrying my motorcycle, some thirty other passengers and crates of Coca-cola! After an hour’s crossing I saw the familiar cliff the overlooking lighthouse. A sparkling white beach greeted us upon landing at the port. And that moment, I knew I’m in for an adventure.

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Kings' Landing Limasawa

Kings’ Landing Limasawa

Accommodation

I immediately went to my home stay near the Triana port at the residence of Annilyn Billiones. She is a workmate of my college classmate and the island’s Municipal accountant Eldie Laurejas Jr. They have a nice house with comfortable rooms with the basic amenities at a much cheaper cost of P200 per night. There are actually two resorts in the island. One is Dakdak Resort at Brgy. Lugsungan and the newly established Evashore Resort very near the Triana port. The resorts are beyond my budget but for tourists but these are the go-to places to stay. Each have front beaches in their lawn from each sides of the island. Dakdak on the west, Evashore on the east. More details at the end. But here’s an un-updated 2014 map on my moleskin.

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Totoy-totoy

After settling in my bag I looked for Eldie to deliver my pre-loved watercolor materials and to ask for directions to the hill called ‘Totoy-totoy’ that overlooks the whole island. He gave me confusing landmarks and alternative routes which I have zero idea about. So Plan B was to blend in and go local.

One thing every tourist should do in the island is to meet and befriend the locals. People in Limasawa are gentle and friendly, and they won’t mind walking the extra mile (or hill) to help. It happened that afternoon when I asked one local fellow and the next thing I know I have 6 local kids as my tour guides to  Totoy-totoy hill! I’m grateful for their hospitality, really. We climb immediately the nearest hill and told me they are taking the ‘shortest’ and safest route. However, they didn’t tell me the degree of difficulty of the route and the steep elevation the climb. Look, I’m no stranger to trails and hiking hills but they made me look like an amateur. They are fast climbers as if they’re just walking on a flat road. And I’m like, “Can we stop here again?” Under the burning afternoon heat, we finally arrived at the summit. The kids all look fresh and I was drained the living soul out of me. But the view there is nothing short of spectacular! Totally worth the pain (and humiliation).

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And the kids be like, let’s party party at the top!

This kids knows how to party. High na high at Totoy-totoy. #limasawa #summer

A post shared by Lester Glenn Tabada (@lapiskamay) on

We climbed down fast and furious because halo-halo is waiting. My threat for them!

Limasawa Sunset

It was a fun to have the kids around even after we devoured our halo-halo. We decided cool down at the nearest resort to try out their new stand-up paddle and kayak. The rent for stand-up surf board is at P150/hour, the kayak at P250. We chose the former. I haven’t swam in a while so it was vindicating and refreshing to be back in my element. The stand up paddling is actually easy and definitely a new experience. I used to see tourists in Boracay riding those but never considered renting one. While we dive and swam our hearts out, the sun gloriously set in the West.

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Dinner Time.

The last time I was in Limasawa I had a hard time looking for dinner. Fortunately this time Evashore Resort now operates their restaurant for the tourists for lunch and dinner! Dinner is always a great time to catch up with old friends and Eldie was game for the food trip. We talked about art, our profession and our plans this year. I kind of ordered too much food for both of us. Blame the low prices!  The must try menu are their Limasawa Express, Shrimp Sinigang and mango shakes. And oh, don’t forget their wicked special halo-halo!

Sunrise in Magallanes

We have to remind ourselves about the historical significance of Limasawa Island, we’re talking about the cradle of our nation and the Catholic faith. I’ve already visited the place whenever I’m there. But I must admit I went to the island in search for summer adventures. It is the part of the island where Magellan landed, made friends with the locals, and most importantly held the First Mass in Asia in 1521. Though up to this day, the exact location of the mass is still claimed and debated by other provinces.

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After running in the shores of Dakdak resort in Brgy. Lugsungan I decided to go to Brgy. Magallanes for my morning exercise at the ground of the Shrine of the First mass. When I got there, I saw some improvements in the area. There is now a replica of ancient Masua house, improved landscapes and finally a local historian even on a Sunday morning. The area houses a Parish, the actual Shrine of the First Mass, a wishing well and the punishing climb to the replica of  theCross that Ferdinand Magellan put there to commemorate that event. There were other tourists staying in Dakdak resort who are enjoying the views of the place.

Limasawa v Butuan

Most importantly, I met sir Sam Galvez who is the caretaker and local historian of the area. I even found out the he once studied in my hometown’s agricultural college with my father. He’s quite the energetic guide and always game to entertain us of tales about the place. I believe I must get those history books from the cabinet and dive deep to the 1500’s.

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with Mr. Samuel Galvez

Mr. Galvez told me about the recent visit of the Butuan congresswoman bullying her way  into the island claiming that her province is the rightful claimant of the first mass. Mr. Galvez however was able to explain and hold them off, based on his knowledge of the chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s expedition scholar. Limasawa is safe for now, but for how many years has this debate been going on? As much as we need to defend Limasawa, it is also our obligation to revisit and learn our history.

(I found Butuan’s claim does not make sense since Pigafetta clearly stated they docked in an island, and Butuan is part of huge Mindanao area)

Lighthouse

I had to skip breakfast because I overstayed at the shrine because I cant resist intellectual and historical conversations. Lol. My next destination was the Limasawa lighthouse that I mentioned earlier. The cliff and the valley are located up north in Brgy. San Agustin is one of the most photogenic aerial view of the island. The high cliffs in the area are quite a high drop, but sea below is crystal clear. Please don’t jump there. There’s not much there than bushes and solar panels near the lighthouse but it’s like a metaphor on life: we see bushes and boring problems in life below but if on a bird’s eye-view above our lives are so much beautiful than we give credit.

I met kids in the area and told me they were going to dive for fishes. In their hands are ‘pana’ or long fishing rods to catch fish and they wore wetsuits.  I had to resist temptation of diving with them since I brought my phone.  Hopefully next time I could bring a goPro to document their hunt!

Hidden Beach

One thing I love about Limasawa is that there’s always something new to discover in the island. It’s only lately that I realized I accidentally discovered the hidden Bitoon Beach two years ago when I got lost on the road finding the lighthouse two years ago. To get there one must trek a rocky trail and unpaved roads. It’s exciting and the beach is quite a catch! I swam like a kid and dived in the blue waters. I heard there’s a fish sanctuary a kilometer away but I still saw some coral and school of fishes in Bitoon.  As a far as my count goes I’ve been to three really good beaches of Limasawa: the one in Triana, the one in DakDak resort and Bitoon beach.

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Uncharted territories

My two-day stay was almost done when I came out of Bitoon. It’s a really quick visit but that is how my vacation always goes. There’s still a few places I haven’t been to like the Fish Sanctuary and diving spots, the underwater caves, the ancient clams in some hills, the pagatpat area and I haven’t eaten their famous ‘swake’ (sea urchin paste) and ‘buwad nukos’ (dried squid). Another activity that I should do next time is to rent a boat and go island hopping. I heard there are whaleshark and dolphin sightings now and then, so crossing fingers!

Tourism Promises

The problem with the current powers that be of the province of Southern Leyte province is that they are focusing so much in developing the tourist spots in Maasin City when we have an island paradise hiding in plain sight. Millions are spent developing the Danao Eco Park that also houses the Maasin Zoo. Roads were built to get there, and landscaping took a big chunk of the budget too. But people only go there during jamborees. However, after visiting the island, I believe there’s a clear and present need to talk seriously about Limasawa Island. One is it’s history and one for its tourism promise.

It’s the election season and I hope whoever sits in the Capitol will pay close attention to Limasawa. The destination is there for the taking but the main problem is how to attract tourists there. There’s marketing works to do. The historical claims must be decided once and for all.  The roads must be repaired and completed. The government must strive to attract investors to put up resorts there. And sadly, the island only has electricity from 1pm to 1am (an improvement from the 5pm-1am before). Hopefully these problems will be addressed in the coming years.

With a heavy heart I left the island after lunch. Two days of stay in paradise is just isn’t enough. So much to explore, so much to see. For my mission, I believe I was able to spend time with myself to ponder on my future. I decided to pursue something I should have fought for a decade ago. They said no man is an island, but it took an entire island to find the man that I should be. Limasawa with its beauty and soul-searching power is a paradise worth fight for. And as far as cliché goes, I shall return!

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Seascape in Dakdak Resort

How to get there:

By air:
– Book a morning flight from Manila to Tacloban City. (Tacloban airport only caters flight from Manila and Cebu).
– From the airport go directly to Abucay terminal via motorcycle or jeep.
– Ride the V-hire or Van for Maasin City. The price is around P150-200. Travel time is 2 hours
– From Maasin City terminal, ride a bus or a multicab for the town of Padre Burgos.  Fare is usually P50-70. Travel time is 20-30minutes. Makes sure to drop off at the port, not on the Municipal grounds.
– Ride the ‘lantsa’ or passenger boat to Limasawa island. There are daily trips to the island at 8:30am and 1:00pm. I’m not sure about special boat trips. Travel time is 1 hour. Fare is P50 only

By sea: (especially if you’re from Cebu)
– ride a night trip to Hilongos, Leyte at Pier 3.  Shipping lines like Roble Shipping and Gabisan departs at 9am and arrives in between 3Am to 4:30Am. Fares starts at P250-400 depending on accommodation type.
– from the Hilongos Pier, you must ride the boat service buses going to Maasin City, or ask for the buses that goes directly to Padre Burgos (via Maasin). Travel time is 1hour+. Fare is P70-90.
– Once in Padre Burgos, ride the ‘lantsa’ or passenger boat to Limasawa island.  daily trips to the island are at 8:30am and 1:00pm. Travel time is 1 hour. Fare is P50.

 

Where to Stay:

Dakdak Resort – Contact numbers 0915-520-3660 and 0906-642-6868. I am not sure about the price range but it’s definitely P1,000+ minimum. They have huts and room accommodations.

Evashore Resort – Contact number 0917-874-1302. Price of rooms are P2,000 good for 6 persons.  You may visit their facebook account here:

Billiones Residence – (where I stayed) Contact number 09169261266. They have rooms for accommodation at P200 per head a night.

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I believe that the best stories are written on the stars and things happen through a grand scheme of plans. We may be divided to this idea but we do agree that we are destined for something greater, right? Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we look up at night to see the stars. It has the power to make you think, to meditate and to plan for grander scheme of things our souls want.  But Last Sunday morning, before the great John Pages fired the starting gun I saw the stars and thought “How on Earth am I going to finish this race?”

Preparation (or the lack of it)
                The stars made a sick joke out of my decision to back out of the race.  I registered in the 42k catergory because I was eager to break the Sub5 barrier and that chamba PR of mine in last year’s CCM. But no I wasn’t really supposed to run that one.  However things got complicated when I joined the Singapore Marathon (or SCMS) last December 7th where I hurt my feet and broke my eternally-invincible-kaya-ko-yan persona. To be  honest I was busted and toasted out there, by KM34 I found myself lying on the ground exhausted and depleted. Super init grabe. After SCMS, I knew I hurt my legs that after three weeks of rest I still can’t run beyond 15k without grimacing in pain.  I have to give up CCM. It’s the most logical thing for me to do. No run, no training, no gym.  Apparently my running career ended in Singapore, well, almost!

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“Arang inita pre!” taken at the SCMS last month.

I sold my slot to one of Cebu’s most popular runners, DJ Fortz a.k.a. the Michael Jackson of Cebu!  I figure CCM will always be CCM with or without me, but it’s quite weird not to see Michael Jackson running the SRP!  But with only a few ‘days’ not even a week, the Joke came when I learned that DJ Fortz won a 42k slot from Aktib.Ph and RunRoo.com for the most viewed article in 2014. My 42k slot came back to me like a psychotic protégé raised from the dead, “Master I’m back!” And I have no way of selling it.

Good Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me. I have to run this marathon with practically next to nothing training! And by the way the feet was still injured.  Tabang Lord.

Lechon Pa More

                At the starting area I feel like a baboy aslonon surrounded by wolves in a pig pen. The Joke keeps getting better and nastier on my expense when I realized the Finisher’s Medal is, guess what, a lechon (roasted pig) ! I’ve only started running Marathon distances in 2014, completed three (CCM, RUPM, SCMS) and DNF-ed one (KFM). The way I disrespected the distance by putting up half-assed trainings in each of the listed races, I knew I set myself up for an epic suffering. Untrained, injured, and uninspired odds are likely going to be me declaring DNF at SRP.

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Hey you guy in blue.. you are so into trouble mate. Oink oink!

 

Tha Game of Life

But somehow when the starting gun fired, I heard a faint whisper which says: “Welcome to the Game of Life..” Either it’s just a random runner’s spoken mantra or another divine joke-slash-intervention, somehow things got better after that and the universe was finally cooperating. I felt strong, the pain on my foot was gone, adrenaline started to pump up and I was back on my old reckless self.
But before I narrate how my race went, let us analyze what a ‘Game of Life’ could have possibly meant? Is it a spin-off of the smash-hit TV series Game of Thrones where good guys lives and King Jeoffrey roasted on the iron throne? Or maybe it was just random words that somehow calmed my nerves and directed my consciousness to the stars above telling me.. Life is not a fairytale. It’s as hard like running a marathon. So man up and prove your worth.

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taken by sir Reynan Opada on a runner who literally have to crawl to the finish line. #respect

 

My running life is not easy either. My job takes a lot time and sanity to perform so it’s really hard to train as much as I love to. Then my CCM experience started in telling my parents  I’d  visit Cebu to look for a school for my Master’s degree (which is not a lie). Running is tolerated at home, but I don’t think it’s accepted. At least its not even a topic at the dinner table.  To them it’s just a child’s play made so small by repeating the root word “dagan-dagan”. Their son must just has a weird way of wasting his youth through dagan-dagan on marathons, perhaps equivalent to vices on drugs, drinking to death and pregnancy spree. Again, it’s tolerated but never accepted.  I pay for my trips, my registration fees and I usually go home like a dude from the beerhouse found guilty. All the medals, singlets and bibs I earned through the years, I keep them under my closet beside the socks on top of the shoe box, I guess for being the only runner in town that’s a worthy place for my spoils of war. Hidden away.

The Antonios

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With sir Antonio Valles from Catbalogan City.

By the time I reached SRP I was running with the two Antonios who both gave me important lessons on life. Sir Antonio Valles is a good friend of mine who is old enough to be my father from Catbalogan City, we were pacing each other in the first half of the race. He told me he is running CCM for the first time and to say thanks to God and Sto. Nino for being alive. By the time I conquered Singapore Marathon his home in Catbalogan was flooded waist deep to Typhoon Ruby and head-deep during Typhoon Senyang. When I sold my CCM slot to DJ Fortz, Catbalogan was struck by a landslide that killed 20 lives. He’s just glad to run CCM alive.

The other Antonio I met at the SRP is sir Antonio from Australia. Like the marathon distance, he is 42 years older than me. He arrived from Sidney the very previous night for a three-week vacation. And boy look at that, a man nearing his 70’s nursing a nasty jet-lag but there he is still kicking the road. He is so  amazing! I wonder if I’d still be running 42 years from now. We parted ways at the turning point as I have to outrun Sir Antonio Valles the same way Antonio from Australia have to outpace the rest of the pack. Life goes on.

Finish Line

I crossed the finish line on a calculated 5 hours and 53 minutes, by no means not a fast one but for something I had to suffer through 42 kilometers hey that’s incredible diba! I think I followed the classic formula for undertrained runners, strong first 21k, then a slowing steadily in the next 11kilometers and the last 10km a combination of power walks, short jogs and mighty runs if there’s a cameraman haha. It’s my 3rd marathon in 4 months. I’m thankful I did not aggravate my injury since I can still walk. I’m thankful for God’s loving strength He gave, to the never-give-up attitude throughout the course, to the opportunity to meet friends in the running community and most of all teaching all those valuable lessons in Life. My wish for a rainy race-day was not granted, instead it was one heavenly day to run a marathon. And of course I would like to congratulate sir John Pages, the Cebu Executive Runners Club and RunRio for bringing to us one successful marathon. We were entertained, we were fed and fully hydrated and we were challenged. It was fun! I’ve run so many races already and I’m happy to be a part of CCM, which I consider the best race in the country.

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I’m very happy I came back to Cebu where I can run with so many happy runners. Only now I realize my life has indeed revolved in Running. It has become a Life. Since running a marathon is after all a game to enjoy, to be free, to explore and to meet new friends.. I guess that’s whay it’s called the Game of Life. We all have our reasons and intensions on why we run and joined the CCM. We, the runners, all played the Game of Life. All of them written in the stars. How was yours?

 

Photo credits to: sir Rey Opada, sir Antonio Valles, Fotosmile and Paksit Photos.

Limasawa Chronicles cover

“We do swear under pain of friendship lost to never speak of this enterprise to any adult and to never betray its location or its participants and from this day forthwith to boil our own water, kill our own food, build our own shelter, and be our own men”
The King of Summer

On the pages of our childhood history books there’s an island that is said to be the cradle of the Christianity in Asia and the place where a sacred blood compact between Ferdinand Magellan and the king of Mazaua as sign of friendship. It happened more than 400 years ago in an island called Limasawa. It is located in my home province of Southern Leyte.

Limasawa is an island municipality of the province of Southern Leyte. (c) wikipedia

Fast forward to present time,  summer just came and gone already this year. To be honest I never did anything related to summer. I got busy and got stuck in a boring place somewhere. So I decided to stage an uprising to escape somewhere. And I know exactly which place it is: Limasawa Island.

There’s just so much on that island I wanted to see, stories I’ve been told, tales of big waves and mystical creatures.

The reason I want to run the whole island is pretty much because of the picture on the cover above (photo credit from Wow Philippines’ flickr page). I simply want to be on that valley on that of a high cliff. I’ve been to Limasawa before 8 years ago on a Theology subject requirement. We only visited one particular site of the island and left for the mainland that very afternoon. That wasn’t much fun. But this time around I made pretty sure I’m be the actor, scriptwriter, cinematographer and director of this cinematic solo travel adventure back to the island. Remember, this is my only shot at summer.

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Due to lack of detailed maps of the island, a friend from Limasawa drew the schematics for me. Its the best I could find. The right side is taken from my Runtastic app.

After lunch, I caught a boat found for Limasawa after visiting Maasin City to receive my second Blood Galoneers Club award for past blood donations. Yey! I already plotted the course of my adventures in Limasawa. I had my itineraries figured out the week prior. But nothing could have prepared me on what’s waiting for me in the island. It was simply amazing.

I stepped on the island around 2.30 pm in the afternoon, and after settling down on a homestay (I was not able to book on a nearby resort) the first thing I did was to immediately hit the road up north. Let us conquer the North! Sugod sa San Agustin! I hit the road rampaging  for adventure. I brought my Salomon hydration pack as my only means of survival against the heat and the uncharted roads of Limasawa.  And here’s the result of that afternoon run:

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Day 1: covered the northern part of the island on foot. It’s around 12 kilometers.

 

 

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Inita bai oui… dagan dong, dagan!

At first glance the performance indicated on the map was an OK manageable 12 kilometers of fun around the island. But if we take a closer look at the northern tip of the island, you’ll see my stupidities. Lol. (Dotted numbers are the mileage of my run) I got lost somewhere at kilometer 4.8 that by the time I reached kilometer 5 it was an all out trail run at the wrong direction!  haha

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Okay, you’ll be laughing out loud that it took me more than 2 hours and thirty minutes to run a 12 kilometer course, but I have my excuses (or palusot):
Excuse No. 1,  it was really really hot. At 3pm it was the hottest time of day in the island. I was exposed to the elements and the only prior heat training I had was.. two months ago. It was virtual suicide caps lock STUPID. But it was fun anyway 😛
Excuse No. 2: I got lost (I wondered, since the valley is on top of the cliff, why am I going down hill to the sea?). Excuse No. 3: I had fun bumping into the trails of nasty spiky rocks and climbing vines that will make Tarzan jealous.
Excuse No. 4: I got chased by dogs somewhere.
Excuse No. 5 My camera is slowing me down, blame the island’s beauty. Not me haha.

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I thought these guys are cute and warm, until they start chasing me like hell. :( Animal!

I thought these guys are cute and warm, until they start chasing me like hell.  Animal!

But at the end of Day 1 what’s important is I completed the course in one piece and made it to the valley and the cliffs! It was nice up there. There were lots of tall shrubs which were annoying sometimes and the ground is quite tricky because of limestones everywhere. But hey the views are to kill for, as long as you dont jump on the edge. Btw, its not jumpable;  too high and too fatal. I have to settle for a selfie overlooking the long drop below.  Here’s a few pics to look out for when you visit that part of the island:

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By the second day I was heading off for the lower half of the island. But unfortunately, I ran out of batteries in the middle of my run so forgive me for not giving you the complete details of this leg. The scene were scenic. Perhaps you shall discover it yourself mga idol! I started trip down south started as soon as the daylight broke out. I was heading to the white beaches baby! See the map on the south eastern part of the island, yup that’s kilometers (plural) of fine white sand beaches!

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It’s the better leg to run at with breath taking views especially the unspoiled beach front plus the added historical landmarks that made Limasawa on the World Map.  It also happens to be the more painful part. It was not as hot like the day before but the muscle pains it caused to my feet was really taking its toll.  There were killer uphills to cross to the other side of the island (I slept in Triana on the west side,  and I was running to the east side for the beach). And I was dead hungry, I ate a little for dinners and none at all for breakfast. But I persevered. from this day forthwith to boil our own water, kill our own food…

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I knew I have to get to the beach by sunrise to get to that spot, to take a picture of the scene

monkey king

From the Dakdak Resort where this picture was taken, I head to barangay Lugsungan where my college classmate and now a colleague in the public sector, Eldieflor Laurejas, lives. He’s the municipal accountant of Limasawa. He offered me breakfast. Thanks God!

Then about three kilometers away is the barangay Magallanes, home to the Magellan Shrine, the wishing Well and that infamous cross Magellan believed to have put and held the first mass in Asia 400 years ago.  But to get to the cross is a long 450 stares of uphill climbing. The stairways to heaven seemed to go on forever and my knees were picking me apart. Fortunately, I meet three boys at the top who offered me buko juice fresh from the tree! I was offered generosity in the most unlikeliest of places.

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Just up ahead of the cross come this very beautiful valley of grass that overlooks the entire island and the crystal blue seas. It was simply beautiful, the pictures just dont do justice to the beauty of the place. There are trees nearby so I gathered myself there and rested under them. I wish I could bring my friends here in the islands and experience the amazing in Limasawa. And before I knew it I began to worship with nature. It was a  Sunday.

Looking back, I’m so glad I made that solo trip to the island to train, to experience the island life and see for myself a hidden gem just waiting for others to discover. I was there, man, I was there. I love every moment of my stay in Limasawa. It’s something I’m not going to forget for a long  time.. both the great ones and the painful ones (including you doggies). I made peace with myself that I never missed Summer at all. She was after all just there waiting for me in the island, a place I can safely call a Paradise. For sure this wont be the last I’m going there, I’ll be tagging along as many friends as I can convince. I’ll do the MTB challenge next time! Because  in this island I am the King of Summer!

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HOW TO GET TO LIMASAWA: 

If you’re from Manila:
Manila to Tacloban City via Plane
Tacloban City to Maasin City –  van transpo for P220
Maasin City – Padre Burgos. You’ll arrive at the Bus terminal, then go to the buses/multicabs going to Sogod via Malitbog.  Drop off is in Padre Burgos town proper. Bus fare should be P30-40.
Padre Burgos – Limasawa Island– this time we ride a lantsa to paradise! Fare should be around P50.00.

 

If you’re from Cebu:
Cebu – Hilongos at Pier 3 ride a Roble ship around P280-400 depending sa accomodation 
Hilongos – Maasin. After arrving in Hilongos, there will be buses and shuttle services waiting sa Port (tip: pareserve daan sa barko palang). Cost around P60-70 for a 45-60minute trip to Maasin City.
Maasin City – Padre Burgos. You’ll arrive at the Bus terminal, then go to the buses/multicabs going to Sogod via Malitbog.  Drop off is in Padre Burgos town proper, and you’ll see the pier. You wont miss it. Bus fare should be P30-40.
Padre Burgos – Limasawa Island– this time we ride a lantsa to paradise! Fare should be around P50.

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It’s becoming obvious these days that ‘trail running’ is definitely the new fad in the running scene. Evidence is on my running friends’ Facebook posts, and yeah successful events like the recently concluded Runnilla Eco Challenge, the Mapawa Trail Marathon in CDO and who wouldn’t want to go to the extremes at the TNF100 in Baguio? It’s natural for Runners to get out of their comfort zones and explore new environments. Some go into multi-sports like triathlon and other cross training sports. But the one area that really got my attention is the trails; into the off-beaten paths, the mountainous area, the muddy tracks, the river treks and the crazy uphills. Thanks Gody my hometown, the Bontoc town of  Southern Leyte, offers plenty of trail options. However, the tough part is finding the trail that will capture the hearts of my running friends to go here and experience a trail on my backyard. I’ve searched far and wide and at short last, I found it!

It’s not a regular rock, it’s a gem so rare only a few souls know about it.

Funny though that I wasn’t trying to look for a good trail when I discovered the route. I was chasing waterfalls.  I saw a picture of a beautiful waterfall on the internet a few weeks back and I was surprised that the falls is located right in my very hometown! Amputa, how come I only heard of the place? I learned there are two falls out there in Brgy. Pamigsian, a remote northern village on my hometown. I thought it needs to be promoted!

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The Botong Falls and the Tag-abaka Falls Photo taken from Point and Shoot Asia, or from these guys in this video: http://vimeo.com/17456726

Me and my running buddy, Kuya Herbie Galdo (the only other marathon in town), decided to pursue Pamigsian  last March but we fell short on time, we started late and the place is just too far when we arrive in the nearby village of Hilaan. So we came back with a better game plan: go out early. It was not a regular trail run, it was an expedition to the unknown of unprecedented dangers and untouched grandeur.

From my place at the town proper we walked more than 20 kilometers off-road on foot into the interior barangays of Bontoc, Southern. I think we practically walked the entire length of my town that day. The roads are mostly dirt roads packed with broken cement roads, stony roads, muddy roads all flavored with killer uphills and constant ascent leading to God knows where. I love to train on these road sometime.  We had to make a pit stop at the Brgy. Hilaan, the second biggest barangay of the town, located up northinto the KM12 of the expedition. There we got ourselves some puto and sikwate for a quick breakfast! Yummy.

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From Hilaan we push for the remaining 8 kilometers towards the Pamigsian village one of the northernmost  places of the town. From a subtle dirt road, it suddenly became a road constantly going up and up. By the time we were in Kilometer 15, I really thought we are on top of a mountain already! The air got thinner and if there’s another sign we were at par level with the nearby mountain which looked so high already.

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Finally we saw a village up in the mountain! Party party!  It took us around four hours to reach the new village of Pamigsian.I really felt like we crossed the finish line of Cebu Marathon all over again… only it wasn’t, not even close.  We only just started. Trust me, the long trek to Pamigsian is just a foreplay, it’s completely optional (heck we could just ride a motorcycle to get there).  We immediately dived into the village and ask the locals if they know the waterfalls or know someone who can take us there. The people are friendly out there and very accommodating as if we are see some foreigners (or aliens). The tambays in the bilyaran volunteered to take us to the falls but they ended up giving us the finest of guides they can offer: Julius and Edward.

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What happens next completely blow all my expectation away!

To get to the falls from the village we have to go through an initiation set into motion by Mother Nature. To get there, one must be tested and challenged to measure one’s worth to get her treasure. Suddenly I found one of the most beautiful trails the province has to offer. The trail was long and really hard to traverse, but the experience is an absolute Eureka to a trail runner’s inner being.

The first challenge comes in the form of a mind-blowing downhill trek. The village is on a really high place and you can see the old village on the ground that looks really small. The catch is the down hill is so steep and so muddy, one misstep could mean 200 meters of rolling in pain and broken bones.

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At the foot of the hill we went through the old Pamigsian village which is surrounded by hills from the north and southern part. Right after the infamous 2005 Guinsaugon Landslide tragedy the authorities decided to relocate the entire village to that high place that we  just passed through. It was like a ghost village with ruins and empty houses, abandoned and forgotten with only wild animals roaming around.

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The next challenge is the exciting river trek! Man, I love passing through rivers. This is the point where I said to myself  “I finally found the trails I’ve been looking for!” I was really having a good time traversing and balancing myself through the rocks and waters. All the climbs, the jumps, the crawls and the occasional wipeout. I cannot wait for my running friends to experience these trails. And I’m still a long way pa.

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Perhaps the most dangerous part of the trail is the final stage of the challenges which are the ravines that leads to the area of the falls. It’s the point where we have to hang-on and crawl on for dear life on some steep cliffs near the river. It’s only around a 50 foot drop, so one miss step and a certain dose of bad luck is some serious trouble below.  We had no choice but to climb and get pass through the ravines because the river rock formation below is too high and slippery to climb (I swear to God that if ever there’s another way to the falls, I’ll take even if it means another 20 kilometer hike).

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This is the hardest and most dangerous part of the trek. This image is taken at the foot of the ravine that leads up to the falls. It’s the only one I managed (we were crawling on all fours), up there is a struggle for life and some leverage.

I guess what makes these trail so beautiful is that not only is the journey so epic and beautiful but the destination itself is a view worth fighting for. In like 6 hours of pain, sweat,  and dangerous journey we finally reached the Botong Falls. It was beautiful. Any words to describe that experience is beyond my abilities, basta nindo jud! I love the experience as if falling in love at first sight and definitely all my body pains and exhaustion vanished. The falls is surprisingly taller than the pictures but hey that’s one really gorgeous lady out there. Only then that I finished my swim in the pool at her foot did I noticed how freaking hungry we were. Look we did not have our breakfast, only ate a cup of puto three hours ago and perhaps a few lives later. So we have to save the Tag-abaka Falls on the next trip 🙂

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Isn’t she beautiful?

 

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Looking back into that epic adventure two weeks ago makes me want to hit that trail right now, but I’m not going back there without bringing a few friends to experience the hidden trails of  Botong Falls has to offer. I’m just happy I found a trail I can boast of to anyone who is addicted to trail running and nature trekking. Life definitely is more fun out there on the road and on the woods where nature is beautiful at its finest, asserting its glory over the mortality of humans.

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with Edward and Julius, our two fighter guides to the falls. Thanks buddies!

The last post was about a month ago. Sorry I got distracted with life, work and love. (char)

So how did the Unity Run 2 fared? I think it was wildly successful. I cant write a total full scale epic event review  but trust me it will just not now, and just not here in my blog… watch-out! But here’s some pictures:

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I’ve been busy (screwing up) at work after the run. It was like an epic uphell battle. Man, I suddenly missed going back to school. But the payday’s a beauty I cant give up yet. hehe

So as an outlet (outside running) I became a rapist. I practically violated my phone’s replay buttom the whole month of February with this song..

“How long will I love You” a soundtrack from the indie film About Time, which is so damn good too.  Man, despite my chickboy reputation, my love life is still coke zero. But who cares, I’m very very happy and I’m awesome! hahaha. So that song goes out to all the girls I’ve meet, been meeting and will meet in the near future.

And just lately, I had my second rape victim. YouTube’s replay button  hahaha. Still the same  crime motivation though, a freakin’ heartwarming love song! And here’s the scandal:

The title is “Duyog” by Jewel Villaflores. I think Duyog is melody in English. It’s a modern Visayan lovesong. The song got some powerful lyrics that captures the heartstrings inside the soul. Sweet, hopeful, poignant and just beautiful beautiful music. Man, how does it feel to love again? Listen to this song, and pray to God you understand the Bisayan dialect (or you guys can comment below and I’ll translate the whole song into English).

And not surprising we go back to running. I’ve had this dumb topic when I spoke to a CCM friend named the Warat Runner  about the personal evolution as a runner. Btw guys,  she’s the ‘girl’ every guy should kill for. But perhaps what amazes me most is that she somehow evolved as a runner. We started both in 2010. I screwed up and hopped around the country rendering my love affair with running as infidel like hell. I did not evolved at all. She on the other hand stayed and never stopped running.. from jogging, to joining races, to marathon and ultramarathons.. from rubber shoes to running shoes until resorting to wearing full time a pair of… tsinelas.  Wtf!? Yeah it’s badass. I should try Kais sometime.

But for now, allow me to abuse my Asics Nimbus 14 bye running and treking the various hidden gems in my backyard here in Southern Leyte. This weekend I re-found two routes. Here’s my trending facebook posts: (lol)

Route number 1:

Confession of the Day:
I literally Run two provinces to this place today just because ‘she’ was there last year hahaha. Kamabaw!
16k Uphill/cross training to Gunhuban Falls in Bato Leyte! (truly a hidden gem on my turf)

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TOES family visit me here this summer ha!
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Route number 2:

18 kilometers of heat/off-road/uphill training to Libas village.. done!
Man, it never gets easy going out there. But still a special run to be out there to a place linked to one of Philippine Literature’s treasured masterpiece “The Witch” by Edilberto K. Tiempo.

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(c) Dominic Jualo
full story on the place: http://runroo.com/2013/10/21/running-in-libas-the-gateway-to-southern-leyte/

Man, Life when it seems to settle back to subtlety yet  never fails to surprise me. There’s just so much  Love to find in the Lapiskamay’s journey in life.  Thank you Lord!

Waiting For Summer

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Drawing, Photography
Tags: , ,

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Save me from this cold nightmares and disappointments because I know you can. Just thinking of you is Hope enough for me, better and warmer days will come.

It’s been a long long time, perhaps we should finally meet… beloved summer.

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The legend of the first marathon didn’t go too well. The soldier and runner named Pheidippides dropped dead flat on the ground after mustering the words “We Won”. The Greek just won the Battle of Marathon and the poor dude had to run like hell to deliver the news of victory. Now, 2,500 years later, runners doesn’t have to die to finish a marathon because sometimes they must live to tell their story!

I came to the race pretty much unsure what to expect from my first 42k because of my broken training after Yolanda. Of course I’m not making Yolanda as an excuse should I fail this test, it was a decision on my part to volunteer that should have been spent on weekend long runs. My road to CCM probably started the moment I conquered my first half-marathon in the first Tacloban City Marathon last June. Man I’ve trained for this year’s CCM for months with three more half-marys, a couple of 18ks and even a hellish 32k uphill challenge in Catbalogan. I saw it coming that it is only a matter of time that  I could finish a marathon.

But then again, Yolanda came and it changed everything out here in Eastern Visayas. I’d be honest I screwed up my training plans. I’d  be honest also, it also almost wiped out the Marathon Dream of my comrades. If it not for the help of the people like John Pages of CERC, the Jopson power couple of the The Brick and Nino Abarquez of Three of Me, Joes Matias of A Runners’ Circle – Los Angeles and many others who supported to pursue the Dream back, it would have meant a lot less. Leyte would have sent 10-15 individual runners, not a united 70 plus dream-team of runners! I know running a marathon is something that is very personal to a runner, but for my CCM2014 it hardly mattered. I was running for something bigger than my dream. I was running ‘with’ my brothers in TOES  Tacloban who are in this great mission of improbable show of strenght against adversities. We ran to show how strong we are, we ran to say how thankful we are to Cebu for all the help, and we run pretty much because we need to continue HOPING. That one was for Leyte!

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Brothers, we need you to Hope again for our Province!

During the race it rained all the way. It was nobody’s fault and runners have to settle for that. A lot of PR will not be broken but a lot runners will have a fighting chance of finishing the marathon. The gun start was at 3 o’clock so I was awake by 1 AM to prepare and pray to God for a safe race. I saw my fellow TOES and said ‘God I love our team colors we’re wearing’, that bright orange singlets with a meaningful logo in the chest and we can be spotted from a mileaway! It was Sir Nino of Three of me who gave that singlets to us, we call it pride.

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Happy TOES! This is why we are literally wearing pride. You can spot us from a mile away with this singlet form Three of Me!

The gunstart blasted as we all counted down the clock, it was the start of what could be a  long, wet and wild race of a lifetime! Right from the start it was already a party out there. I was amazed by the race’s entertainment a long the way as we pass by Sinulog dancers in the beat of the music. My favorite part came in to that dreaded SRP tunnel, man that was where the loudest and liveliest of Sinulog beat I’ve had. We stayed in the middle pack and I pretty much had an easy and relaxed first 67kilometers going to the tunnel. By the time we entered SRP I knew I have to choose a decision should run alone or pace up with somebody. I picked the latter.

Blane Lamoste, a Sillimanian graduating student, who hails from Tacloban City and also a part of the Leyte contingent rode along with me. Look he’s a more agile, faster, leaner and taller running machine nearing an elite level, but he tagged along anyway despite the disparity of our skill level. He loves speed, I love strong pacing. The rain united as anyway as went to take on the long road of SRP. Both of us are not targeting any finish time and just wants to run and represent our island. We both screwed up our training, so we’re the perfect looseball canons. I think the SRP  course is a 25-27 kilometers stretch so we had plenty of talking along the way. We went to philosophy schools, then a bit of history of the marathon, then our running style, then we talked about Yolanda and our future endeavors. But for the most part we run in complete silence. And he’s a real fast runner, I cant believe I stayed up with him on his normal speed for that long.

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with Blane, my running buddy at the SRP part. you don’t want to chase this man!

Our plan was to separate on the tunnel with him running on top speed to the finish line and me back on my normal pace for the remaining 7 kilometers. Unfortunately on that last part I’m pretty much laspag already. I still got the gas and stamina but the pains started to show up all over my lower body flavored with blisters and chafings. I was also very near from cramping,  should I push on with my normal pace I’d get the cramps for sure. The last 6k was an absolute grind. I didn’t care about my time (I actually dont know how long I was running) , I just wanted to finish uninjured. So I have to run smart, my dear friends, by simply embracing the WALK. There’s no shame in walking as long you run when the photographers comes in!  hahaha. No, it’s only a 3:2 run-walk minute ratio during the last kilometers. And it pretty worked, but trust me I was physically hurting all over.

But all roads lead to the finish line. Thanks God I did it. I cross the line with a ROAR! And somebody captured that moment.

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photo from Dandansuy Enriquez.

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I’m very happy I finished, at least all the heartwork and heartbreaks paid off. My time was 5 hours and 11 minutes, I can beat  that time next year, hopefully on a sub5 fashion! I don’t know if that’s a good time but I sure did have an ever greater time enjoying my first full marathon.  I love the experience of  running in the streets of my beloved Cebu City. Despite the rain, it is absolutely clear how organized and how grand the Cebu City Marathon is. You don’t see street parties in your ordinary marathons, you don’t see the local government and the private sectors make a marathon that BIG, you don’t see a traffic shut down because there is one remaining runner out there. That my friends, happens only in CCM. And it was indeed a party out there, super lingaw!  Kudos to the organizer, congratulations fellow runners and big hug to my fellow runners from Leyte. This is our Marathon, this our story.

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CCM was such an amazing experience for me and the rest of the Leyte runners I was with. It was indeed our stage to show to whole country how strong the Filipino resilience is. Yes, most of us are severely under-trained and got mountains of problems back home, but we persevered and thankfully everybody finished. We are all Yolanda survivors and we are not letting any storm rob us of our Marathon Dreams!

That was the day we crossed the finish line and mustered the words “We Won”, and we lived to tell the story.

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A great many thanks to these people who made the CCM2014 happen. Coach Rio dela Cruz and Sir John Pages!