Posts Tagged ‘summer’

#ARTambay cover

There’s always a place to call home.  It could be the place where we grew up, the school we attended, and even the state of peace. Over the last two Saturdays, I like to insert home is also in the company of others. #Belongingness.

The past two weekends I was fortunate enough to attend two events that’s close to my heart: Art.

The DE’s Artroom held two very different art meet-up events called #Artambay. First was in Cebu City last weekend and then yesterday in Maasin City, Southern Leyte.  DE’s Artroom is a distributor of Daniel Smith Watercolors paints and art supplies in the Philippines, and #artambay is not only their promotional events but also a way to reach out and create art communities in the country through meet ups and demos. The DE Artroom is actually composed of Singapore-based Maasinhon couple Dino Dante Pajao and Ethel Pajao, the former is one of the best water colorist I know and the latter is a marketing guru – a very formidable team. We’ve been friends with the Pajao couple for more than a year but I have not really met them in person because of geography. But I’ve been a proud recipient of their generosity and passion for art, may it be from discounts on DS paints and Escoda brushes, and in grass root Debujo events in our hometown.

#Artambay Cebu

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The Cebu edition was held on June 19th at Tazza Cafe and Patisserie. I happened to be in Cebu due to my academic obligations and seriously I didn’t want to miss the event and meeting the DE team.. Bisan pag baktason ang Colon padung Lahug. On the way to the event I rode a bogus taxi and almost got scammed by its fast-moving meter. I had to argue for the fare that’s so unreal, from E-mall to Capitol it was already P175 and we’re not even a third of the destination to Lahug! I probably scared the driver when I was about to call LTO that he dropped me off in the Capitol area for free.

I arrived in the venue 5 minutes past 2pm, a few moments before the event started. I spotted ate Ethel and Dino and was very glad I finally met the legends. I also spotted familiar faces in the Cebu art community like Wee Bong and Joan Florido. It’s a diverse group, most are hobbyists, some students, some full-time artists, youngest is a teenager, two from Leyte, and I believe those are good passionate people. I have to mention also that most brought their A-game brushes and papers. The whole attendees was about 25 artists that somehow perfectly fitted on the fabulous Tazza cafe.

(c) DEs ArtRoom

(c) DEs ArtRoom

by Des Artroom2

The first part of the event was introductory phase of the watercolor qualities by the master himself, Dino Pajao. I cant go on specifics but he did mentioned some key tips. He also performed two demo paintings first in a bond paper and in a proper watercolor pad. The group was tasked also to paint on bond papers to get a fresh grip on the qualities of water and the paints. I painted a sea turtle, and all of us we’re struggling on the spot like beginners. But the thing with watercolors is its a hard medium  to control that one can easily feel like a newbie anytime even if you been painting for many years already (*cough cough*). We were also tasked to paint the same subject boat on the water that Dino painted on his pad. I did picked some of his techniques. He was amazing and fast.

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The snacks, too, were great. After the demo and the individual assignments on the boat scene, it picture taking. And lots of talking and meeting other people. I think something great started that afternoon.

 

#Artambay Maasin

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Last Saturday, the DEs Artroom held another #artambay in our home province in Southern Leyte. Sir Dino and Ethel are both from Maasin City, the capital of the province, where I also took up my accounting course. The event’s target audience are students and young artists from the city. ‘Young’ as in like I’m the oldest. Haha. Unlike in Cebu, the meetup was held early during sunrise at the Espina Boulevard (one of Dino’s favorite inspiration in his paintings). It was a plein air session with pan de sal. Most of the attendees are members of the local art group called ‘Debujo‘ which I co-founded just last year.  I wish I was not elected to lead the group since by the start of last summer until I have been super busy with work and academics (I’m studying at SWU for a masters degree, and this August for an FA certificate in UP). It feels bad not to spend more time with them. Lots of plans but not enough time to devote to the group. #Artambay was one of our rare ‘physical’ meetup.

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(c) Rochelle Gerong/DE Artroom

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For the Maasin edition of #artambay, Ethel single-handedly carried the whole event as she introduced the Daniel Smith watercolors and the importance of using artist grade paints. Dino has to go back to Singapore for work. The goal of the event is not to sell these products but to allow the young people try and to hopefully encourage them to embrace the watercolor medium.

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#Artambay Maasin was a very different setting compare to Cebu. One, we dont have a competitive watercolorist in the group to demo. I’ve been watercolor painting for four years already, and ‘competitive’ is still a distant dream. I did the demo anyway haha. Two, the kids and Debujo people just dont have the materials. We had to share all the brushes, including the Escoda ones, that I brought to the venue. Three, it was a peaceful, laid-back, scenic and joyous learning experience with the young ones at least the space are unlimited.  At the everybody got to taste Daniel Smith and Escoda, and people passing actually stopped by to say hi and check our works. #inspiring

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The past two Saturdays spent in two cities and two very different groups has been a great experience for me as an artist. It gave me perspectives on where I should go, whom I should hangout with, and whom I should strive to help. Being with those great artists in Cebu inspires me to be like them, to try to make use of my time to practice the craft. The need to take that leap of faith in UP Fine Arts was only validated. I have to learn and improve, even if it means years of temporary unemployment. Thanks to #artambay I also met people in Cebu whom I can hangout with on weekends. And lastly, I believe there’s something to be done to the budding artist in Maasin City. They may lack the materials but they were there to meet Ethel, to try Daniel Smith and to really learn the medium.  Also to have fun, lots and lots of it. Their presence means a lot not just as an absentee leader of Debujo but as a fellow student of the craft.  Hopefully there will be more gatherings like this in Cebu and Leyte.

Because #Artambay rocks!

by Tazza Cafe

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Despite the unrelenting summer heat there are places on Earth where rain never ceases to fall. One of them is in a gorge at the municipality of Libagon in Southern Leyte. The place is called the Uwan-uwanan Gorge (‘uwan’ means rain in the dialect, and a ‘gorge’ is like a mini-Grand Canyon) named after the place’s enchanting quality of making rain-like experience from  fresh water dropping from above the cliffs. Rain literally last forever here. And that alone is one damn good reason to visit!

I’ve been to the Uwan-uwanan Gorge three years ago. However, I did not explore the whole area because we were in a big group and we just love to enjoy the place. This weekend, however, me and my life-long pal Ramil Melano who is on a summer vacation from Manila, decided to check out the ‘rumored’ exhilarating challenge the place offers. We had no idea what challenge we were really up against…

Reminders:

Uwan-uwanan is no walk in the park. It’s ‘canyoneering’ one of the most dangerous (and painful) summer adventure you’ll ever experience. It’s best to bring the following appropriate stuff: Comfortable or compression clothing. Durable Islander sandals or aqua/trail shoes. Helmets and vests are not provided but I really recommend to Challengers to bring their own (see below photo). Foods, lunch is good but you’ll need light carbohydrates rich foods. Water tumblers (water is fresh there). Money for the tour guides at P250 each, and environmental fees at P10. GoPro or any action cams (make sure it wont get wet). Dry bags are a must to store the stuff you don’t want to get wet. And lastly a huge dose of spirit of adventure!

(c) extremedominica.com

The Uwan-uwanan Challenge!

The challenge turned out to be an epic adventures filled with bruises, busted muscles, death-defying climbs, but ultimately rewarding with drop-dead gorgeous scenes. It’s a challenge unlike any others we experienced before. For a quick statistics its a four kilometer trek from the starting point to the grand finale, you get to become  frenemies with five waterfalls (yes five!),  climb on four of them,  cliff jump on three and we finished the challenge in 5+ hours. Uwan-uwanan Challenge is definitely not for the faint hearted and the weak. It was survival at its core. So #buwisbuhay mode on and GoPro out!

First Challenge: The Trek – Like almost all journeys it always starts with a single stride repeated a million times. From the starting area at the Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon the challengers must walk a 2-3 kilometer trail of rough roads, bushes, and river crossings. There’s no elevation gains and the river crossings are not a problem.  It’s only  foreplay, the easiest part of the challenge. Survival rate is 100%.

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Second Challenge: Hodor – As of this writing we already learned of the meaning of ‘Hodor’ in Game of Thrones, so there’s no proper way to name this small but very meaningful part of the challenge. After the long trek the challengers will see in a river bank and on its wall are the words “Welcome Uwan-uwanan Gorge”. It basically means Welcome to the main challenge you idiots! This is the passageway to suffering and fun. It is highly recommended to take selfies and full body group shots  in this area (while you’re still whole and fresh and innocent bwahaha). Hold the door and take your selfies.

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Third Challenge: Aqua Extremis – By the time you came out of Hodor only then you’ll realize what kind of challenge you have signed in for: a wet and wild adventure date with nature. And its real. From here on out the trek is purely a long and dangerous climb. Every inch of your body will be wet, every strides are potentially dangerous, every muscle of your body pulled out and yes every climb is non-negotiable! Remember this is a five-waterfall challenge with increasing climbing difficulty  and we ain’t got choppers. So man up and hold the door este the ropes.

WaterFall #1 – The first one’s the easiest one to climb. Just a mere 20 feet with ropes and old tires in the right side of the falls to maneuver. Just a left-foot up, right-foot up then push, and you’re there! After conquering this fall you’ll immediately see the second waterfall and a perfect resting place.

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WaterFall #2 – Let it be known that by the time the Challengers get to this point, chances are people are hungry and tired. At the bank of this waterfall is flat surface where everyone can relax and eat. The water is cold and deep, so swim to your heart’s desires!

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To climb this waterfall, the challengers must maneuver at the right side of the fall’s rocky wall. There are ropes tied like nets or spider webs so climbing should be a bit of a challenge ala Spider-man. But make sure to hold on to the ropes and not look down haha. Once you get over this part, remember This is the point of no turning back.

WaterFall #3 – Now this particular waterfall is a thing of beauty to behold… and a stuff of nightmare when you realize that YOU HAVE TO CLIMB THAT BIG BAD THINGY. To be honest I froze like a white-walker when I saw and analyzed my predicament. Yes its a beautiful body of water, quite high, at least 50 feet but then how in the world will I find the courage to climb it? To climb it using the spider ropes and old tires is definitely nuts. Under normal circumstances that is already beyond my fear threshold, but hey I got a willing soul in Ram.  And besides a group of four (three girls and a guy) was already ahead of  us and climbing it. So what the heck. Kat-kat!

This particular climb is absolutely one of the craziest thing I’ve done in my life. It just that scary and having no helmet, vest or climbing gears doesn’t help ease out the misery. Pro tip: just trust your feet. Make sure to step securely on the ropes in every strides. And savor that moment when you reached the top! High five!

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WaterFall #4 – This one looks noticeably smaller than #3 but make no mistake this is one tough waterfall to climb. In terms of climbing difficulty, this one is the hardest part of the Uwan-uwanan Challenge. Like WF#3, your life and success depends on the spider ropes. This time you are facing against the falling waters. Out there it’s Man vs Wild (vs The Ropes). What makes this climb difficult is not the height but on how you pull yourself to the top. The ropes are difficult to climb in because it tends to dance sideways and backwards. Balance has never been this precious. The Challengers must be ready to drain the living souls of their upper body muscles. They must climb with a strong arm and a strong pair of legs. May the Force be with them. Because me, I almost gave up on this one. Too tough, too hard, too tired. I guess it comes in handy to have pride and determination.

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WaterFall #5 – The Hallelujah Waterfall – after the punishing waterfalls in #3 and #4 behold this awesome sight, the Grand Finale! A grand waterfall probably at least a 100ft high that not even a camera can handle its beauty and grace. This is exactly what you came for. Just being there is a trophy moment already. No more climbing, only swimming, selfies and praises to up above. The Challengers must pay their respect and surrender theme selves to nature’s awesome beauty and raise their hands. Hallelujah.

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This is what the goPro can take. A good shot. But the real thing is divine!

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and we met new friends at the gorge finale!

(Note: The guides say there’s still a waterfall beyond, but sadly it’s not for tourists to climb, yet)

Fourth Challenge: Cliff Jump – When the Challengers have their energies refilled and selfies taken at the grand finale they must trace back the exact route towards the starting line. But home is still a long road ahead. Folks we’re not out of the woods, er rivers, yet.  And going downstairs might be faster but it doesn’t necessarily mean easier. Climbing down the waterfalls is actually scary because you can see how high you’re at and how far is your katagakan. But I have one pro tip to offer: cliff jump! All of the waterfalls packed in deep waters below. So jumping is a must try! I jumped at WFs at #4, #3 and #2! Jumping is an exhilarating and liberating experience to let go of the recent painful memories and celebrate thy conquests. And its way faster and more badass. (I almost give our tourguide a heart attack in every jump)

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from 2013. Last weekend I jumped more and higher!

End Game

Now that everything has been said and done it is very important to preserve and promote the Uwan-uwanan Gorge. I know its not going to be for everyone because of its physical requirements but for a Challenger to another please come, test yourself, and have a GoPro worthy good time. You will be challenged, and you will have fun. That I can promise.

There’s still a lot to be done in the area. The Libagon LGU must step in to promote by inviting travel bloggers (*coughs*), instagramers, prints and TV crews etc to take the Challenge.  That’s the easy part. The hard part is developing the area.  Challengers must register and be provided with safety gears. Safety ladders or tighter ropes should be installed in the climbing parts. Of course that entail costs, that’s why its the hard part.

But despite the inherent danger, nobody ever got seriously hurt in the area. Like, never, as what our guide Glenn Toledo assured us. Maybe the guides are good (which they are, so pay them good too), or perhaps in the recess of our civilization, someone or something is looking after the Challengers and the place. I did not have the courage to ask the guides, but Uwan-uwanan is really off-the-charts ‘enchanted’. It’s hard to explain, but I felt there is something beautiful, kind and paranormal in the area. But that’s for another discussion. Whatever it is I am grateful.

Peace Y'all!

Peace Y’all!

How to get there:

The Uwan Gorge is located in Brgy. Kawayan in the town of Libagon, Southern Leyte.

By Air: It can be reached from Manila through a flight to Tacloban City. Then from Tacloban hop in a van to the town of Sogod at P150. Travel time is 2.5 hours.  Then from Sogod hop in a multi-cab or a bus going to Libagon, make sure to ask the driver to drop off at Brgy. Kawayan Elementary School. You should reach the village in 20 mins.

By Sea: From Cebu you may take a ship to Hilongos, Leyte. Then from the Hilongos Port ride a bus to Sogod for an hour’s travel for P80. Then from Sogod catch a multi-cab to Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon.

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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

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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.

June 23, 2016

To my 21 year-old self,

It’s kind of weird writing to you but hey this is like a scene of Days of Future Past! So where were we six years ago? Ah you just graduated from college and you’re in CPAR Manila for your review! I’m so jealous of you because you’re so full of life, carefree of all the pressures in life and surrounded by friends; the old and the new ones. Please do send my regards to the Power Rangers and to your manyakis roommates at Room 205 in Glodenco Dormitory… I miss those guys! (Isama mo na rin sila Jean, Jen at Ginny..hehe). Don’t worry in my timeline all your friends are doing very well in the profession and we’re still friends!

I read your journal entries during those years and I remembered you really didn’t have much of a summer vacation at all. You stayed in the boarding house right after graduation to devote in studying subjects for the board exams, all summer long. You did not even come home to celebrate you psychotic idiot! That was our summers in college; full of sacrifices, eternal studies and perseverance because you want to become a CPA. Or is it because you want to go to Manila to see her? Hey you just went out with her right? Four years in business school all for that one fateful night with her… was it worth it? Hhmm, universe happened and it’s the last for the two of you and colorful people like cartoon characters will come pouring into your life. (She was hot and gorgeous though, then you fade away)

It gave you a new appreciation for The Smiths.

(c) popsugar.com

Well I have news for you, you will fall in love with a movie called “(500) Days of Summer” it should come out in a few months (btw don’t ask Jean, watch it with the boys instead!). But here’s the thing, the next few summers ahead of you will be, well, uneventful. It’s work, work, work. That’s why I’m writing to you that I finally got to experience a decent summer where I got to do the following stuffs:

1. TRAVEL – well, in between our timelines there’s going to be a lot of traveling on the road. I think you haven’t discovered the joy of travelling yet. But it’s in you because you were born to explore: you are young, hungry, brave and an adventurous bastard. I will not tell where I’ve been to all these years because you have to explore and experience it yourself. But I cant contain myself but to indulge you to two of the many places I’ve been to this past summer:

a. Davao City – Hurrah! I finally managed to visit Davao because I attended a convention, as to what sector I cant tell because you’d probably freak out. Just promise me you’ll stay focus and committed in your review and God will do the rest. I finally met Mayor Duterte, he still runs the city and still kickass than ever! The place was beautiful and peaceful. I was able to met up with my colleagues in the profession and we explored the city. First on the list was of course the museums and I was so inspired by the art scene in Davao  and the richness of their history. I also meet a lot of people there. And we made sure to see the tourist spots.

Tabatchoy in Dabaw!! I should really plan my running route around here.

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

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b. Dapitan City– Yup, it’s not a joke. I’ve been to that town where our beloved Dr. Jose Rizal spent the last years of his life. I retraced our greatest hero’s footsteps out there; I stood at the very spot when he went to Church, I climbed the ‘lover’s rock’, I saw the replica of his old house and the water system he installed. And would you believe me that I’m planning to visit his old place in Hong Kong? Don’t freak out. And oh boy, I got to visit the Dakak Resort which was really awesome

 

2. ART – You still have it in you. I know we decided to kill our artistic side because we failed our plan, we flunk the UPCAT where we could have took FA in Cebu as scholars. We were damned  and forced to chose the fine art of Accounting because it’s cheap, challenging, and lots of jobs opportunities. But, as they say, old habits die-hard. Through the years it’s been an on and off love affair with the Art side because it’s going to be a frustrating yet exciting journey, without a mentor I was lost, but people kept coming as they unconsciously inspired me to create. It only took one “I love your Art” to start it all, full steam ahead. I’ve taught myself some crafts from sketching, portraiture, painting in watercolors, coffee and recently acrylics on canvass. Im doing well in the Art side, I love it. And most of my stuffs are for my friends, and I never charged a dime because we’re just sharing our blessings the same way they are to us.

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And oh, do you remember that cute girl from Davao, Patricia Santos, in the Miss Palarong Pambansa you were crushing on? You really have to keep an eye on her. She’ll eventually become a popular volleybelle and hot like this:

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3. RUN – Don’t be shocked but somehow you’ll become a runner in your near future and I’ve been doing it for some time now. I believe people recognizes me more as a runner than anything (i.e. writer, artist, blogger etc). I’m not fast, but I am a strong one and with a big heart to it. Trust me the sport of running is going to explode in Manila while you are burning candles at the review. Soon you’ll be joining races for a cause starting in 5k, then 10k, 15k, to half marathons and yes, you’ll become a marathoner! And you’ll write about them and get to know many people in the running community.  This summer though I became an Ultra-marathoner and did a slow half-marathon in Matalom. You’ll realize you’re a stronger person than you thought (and more hardheaded and stubborn than you can imagine). You’ll go to places because you run. It will be a lot of fun. And oh, Bad News: you wont be able to play baseball again nyahaha (evil laugh).

 

4. DATES – Yes, you’ll be dating quite a few girls in the years to come. Be proud isa kang tunay na lalaki! But remember to respect the women you go out with the way you love and cared for your mom and you big sister. At this point in my timeline I have to be honest I am not exactly a lucky guy when it comes to matters of heart and in loving someone. This is one of the main reason I’m writing to you because I think I  made a mistake on the way we approach the subject.

After the board exam, whatever the result, you are going to ask God for a good woman to love and to spoil with your great big heart. He heard you and He will sent you someone the next day. What comes next is a great love story I’m sure I’ll be able to write into into a novel someday. But then He will take her away in a manner that will perhaps damage you, beyond repair. You wont look for love and relationship for a long time until you will  suddenly meet this really amazing lady suddenly appearing out of nowhere and at wrong time and at the wrong place. You’ll get to know her enough to realize she’s someone too precious and too fragile for me to handle. This year, including this summer, I started dating a few ladies perhaps for all the wrong reasons. I was really hoping that if I go out with other girls I’d be able to take her charms off me and that I’ll find other ‘right wrong person’ to love. It backfired anyway, it felt so bad. The charm got stronger. Now I’m ready to give her up than risk hurting her badly. I have to protect her because she does not deserve a half-baked love from a half-hearted person. Some people simply deserves more.

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This Summer I realize the finer details of my life. Yes it was really good one and very refreshing after all those years of hardwork. But somehow, somewhere in between our timelines I lost the capacity to fully love another person. I’m sorry and I don’t take pride on it. It’s either I got too selfish, too contented being alone and too in love with myself; or I learned to protect myself from another heartbreak. Or both. Let’s just accept the fact that this time our awesomeness have failed and your twenty-seven year-old self is simply Not Worth of something.

Perhaps you’ll ask me why am I saying this things to you? What’s the point since you’ll have to live every moment of it anyway? To tell you the truth, I don’t know either. I lost so much this past year my friend, even the drive to write. So please believe every word I say in this letter because they will eventually happen, the good ones and the nasty ones. I love you my dear younger self because you’re a good man with strong conviction with God (things I’m not sure applies to me nowadays),and I want you to know that I’m very proud of what you’ve achieved and the many great things you’ll accomplish in the future. I only wish to spare you from all the major heartbreaks and depressions that will come along. I can only Hope that should this letter finds you, you’ll be able to correct my mistakes and change the course of my timeline. This is how the X-men: Days of Future Past works in the movie adaptation. There’s no fvckg time machine in it (not even Cable) so I have to send this part of my consciousness and the secrets it holds. Learn from them, OK?

It makes downtown LA look romantic and beautiful.

(c) PopSugar.com

Whatever the outcome, you have to live and be of good courage!

Your twenty-seven year-old self,

Lapiskamay
(now that’s a really weird pseudo-name, isn’t it?)

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I don’t know if I can make this race recap shorter than what my title implies otherwise. For some months I actually lost the will to write so I will be rusty and boring in this post. But hey 50k is running 50-Im-not-kidding-kilometers! It’s an awesome experience I wanna cry, as if running it isn’t a tear-jearker that MMK can only dream of.
The Samar Runners’ Club’s 50/50 50k++ Ultramarathon is an intense ultramarathon challenge in the heart of Samar in Catbalogan City. I am not new to the running terrains out there since I already did (and struggled) a 32k prior to CCM 2014. But there’s a saying that when you run there you won’t need any marathon training plans. Samar simply got  tough and brutal roads, yeah pretty much makalag-lag kneecaps. I did have my reservations in joining this event especially with my general lack of preparations. But when I saw what’s in store for the finishers: well designed drifit tees, narra obelisk for trophies (Im a fan of symbolism), certificates as big as paintings (I’ll use that frame for a painting soon) and medals. And oh, heavy meals. I wondered why I even had second thoughts.

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Fast forward to post-race: I should have trained like hell! TAGAM part! Hahaha. But seriously, its not much of a choice, since I was coming off an already overstaying injury on my right knee after CCM. I rested for two months and came back running again by summertime. I thought my half-assed trainings in Davao and Dapitan would help and prevent it from coming back but my laag modus fired back anyway. Nganong mi.enterLami man jud. So yes, injured or not, 6-packs or daddybods, I offer no excuse to my performance.

I finished in 9 hours and with one knee on ‘autopilot’ mode. Not exactly a strong performance for a consistent 5-hour marathoner. I’m blessed enough to finish it within cut.off time. Also I developed an ITB on that same problematic knee. Apparently, ITB, is the new girlfriend I have to take care of on the next few weeks. “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”   Some lessons are just learned the hard way. I disrespected (again) the distance and the terrain so this time I have to pay for the consequences. What matters now are I’m still in prime for position to make a great comeback, with sufficient training and enough sunburn and knee pain to remind to work harder and train smarter. So the question is how many hours I can shave from that 9 hours (Hey btw: 9 hours is a pretty descent time, I have some friends circling that time on 50ks. No offenses are meant.)

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So now that I’ve share with you the uglier side of the story. It’s time to reward the readers about the good things I’ve experienced in this maiden ultramarathon journey. I actually love the whole experience. No amount of pain or injuries (or pricetags) can keep my love for running. For a guy who spent two months of recovery on dates I mean OTs at the office, the 50/50 was simply my ticket away from those dark days. Murag bag-o gisugot. hehe

So why did I really chose to join the a 50k Ultramarathon? It actually depends on where you look at. The short reason is, it’s already time for me to level up, though this summer was not really the right time based on my fitness level haha. Gara-garaon lage. If you want the borderline version, it’s because I do admire the Samar Runner’s Club from an organizational standpoint. I am connected with a few organizations in running art, business and in the accounting profession so I can distinguish a bullshit group from a great one. SRC, I believe, is a well-oiled organization of professionals and businessmen with an actual sense of mission for the sport and passionate leaders and yeah well designed uniforms hehe. That’s rare nowadays. The long version is my ultra running journey actually has an end game. I just want to do the 102 Bataan Death March as my own humble gesture to my fallen grandfather who died in that notorious Death March during WWII. BDM is something personal. After that, unfortunately, the plan is to quit ultra running because my lifestyle and the amount of training to prepare for an ultra is not really in good terms. Besides, I love painting and half-marathons too.

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Haruki Murakami one’s said that when you’re out there running you’re either thinking about nothing or about everything. I’m on the latter category because I really think straight and clearly when I run. Last Sunday was not an exemption and given the long period of time I walked and run I can’t help but think about these five people:

5. The Mothers – last Sunday was the Mothers’ Day celebration and I’m very very blessed to have a loving and caring mother who is absolutely nothing short of great at raising the four metahumans for children, thus the Fantastic Four.  Mom doesn’t really knew I was joining an ultra marathon in Samar because I never told anyone. I dont want them to worry and I dont want to travel and run with a heavy heart because I defied my parents, again. Lying is better this time. I believe she does not really approve of me being an ‘adis-adis’ on the road and I have long given up hope of making my parents understand why I do it and spend some spectacular amount of money for running. But difference is good. I love my Nanay no matter what.

4. CPA Examinees – last Sunday was also the start of the brain-busting May 2015 CPA Board exam. I’ve been there a long time ago and it was a good battle but never an easy one. Yeah with eight (8!) crazy demanding subjects that’s worth tons of books to study finally culminating into an epic 4-day 2-weekend exams, I actually have a reason why I’m crazy sometimes. That was fun though. Goodluck future CPAs and I really hope to meet you on the road and let’s share those experiences.

3. To her – OK this is mandatory (whether you guys admit it or not haha). Everyone loves to run for someone, I’m no different. Though some souls are better left alone and some hearts are just too broken beyond repair but sometimes accidents happens and someone will just come uninvited and wipe away that notions. It still a little early and there’s a good chance this is going to be an unrequited love but hey this one’s for her too. I am not sure if I can win her heart but I just prayed for her that she be continually be awesome, to not get sick and hopefully be strong enough to move out of the dark.

2. The Organizers – I wish they know how much I hated them out there haha. With that scorching summer heat and those torturing uphells and downhill suffering one will surely attest SRC are mad and sir Griv, the race Director, is really an evil man. Nganong mi.enter lage. But anyways I did enjoy the race. Hating is good during times of duress. I love SRC oi, they never really left us alone out there.

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What really amazed me is that the organizers made the initiative to come up with a real-time tracking app! It’s innovative but not everyone sees it that way. Someone said upfront that it’s invasion of privacy. How immature. I never saw that technology used in the country. I remember Dalagan Tacloban used timing chips before and, boy, for a bloated fee it failed miserably and I’ll never know my time of my first half-mary. Major international marathons uses tracking and timing technology and I’ve got to experienced in its glorious form during the Singapore Marathon. My sister just tracked me using her phone to saved her precious hours of sleep because she knows where I am on the course when she woke up (and realized how freakin’ slow her brother is haha). Kudos to SRC for that innovation and may they forgive me because I’d rather not have nobody tracking my fatass, especially that day haha.

1. Fellow Road Warriors – this is a dedication to my fellow running buddies who shared the road with me on that fateful Sunday morning. To my TOES brothers and running friends wow walangya kayo after a 107 kilometer the previous weekend you still have the face and strength to run a 50k hehe. Recovery run, apparently, and I cant even chase them. To sir Sidney, who never left me all throughout especially when I lost the ability to run at kilometer 28 due to that damn injury. Thanks for tagging along with me, you’re a good brother. To the Jotojot couple: Aduana Pacer and Violet Runner, who came all the way from Cavite just to run the event, thanks for sharing the road with us. I know the travel time took a massive toll on your performances but hey we meet and finished together! I will never forget your resiliency and friendliness. Congratz and see you again.

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Overall the race is a tough one, unforgettable in both levels of pain and fond memories. Oh of course I’ll be coming back again next year (or sooner). I really want to come back prepared and stronger. Again, big kudos to the no-mercy group SRC for one hell of a race! Not bad for a first time ultramarathon experience.

 

 

Photos courtesy from Samar Runners Club.

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

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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.

What I Did Last Summer

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Drawing, Journals
Tags: , , ,

trail summer2

If you think Summer is voer, you are wrong. You are lucky. Lucky to experience it at all. Life caught up with me, locked me in a dry place somewhere. I couldn’t get out, until now. I missed the beach, didn’t go to an island or two and almost all my plans drifted away. That’s life.

Now it’s June, tomorrow the start of classes at the University. Dark days ahead, even darker nights to deal with. I dont know I still feel lost. Perhaps I still lack a direction to follow. Would it be someone who will give me the answer? Or would it be another strange happening that led me to this path. We’ll find a way.

For now I can continue dreaming of that paradise island, to swim in its crystal blue waters, jump in its cliffs and conquer its trails.. with or without someone. I am my own show, the director of my fate, the champion of this soul.

Now let’s conquer the island! Perhaps Summer is there trapped like hell, like me.

– Lapiskamay