Monday, February 21, 2011

Davao Bloggers visit Tagum

Davao Bloggers were fortunate enough to get invited to the 3rd International Rondalla and 10th Musikahan Festival in Tagum this month of February.  Our experience in Tagum was a series of new and adventurous learning as we discovered what Tagum City has become.

We started off in a fun photo caravan with other Tagum photographers as the City Information Office (CIO) spearheaded by City Information Officer III Edwin B. Lasquite toured us around to take photos of the city and its spots.  Being located far from the shoreline and with no integral scenic spots to boast off, Tagum decided to create parks and festivals to attract guests and visitors.  Now boasting 14 festivals in a year and parks all throughout the city, so many that even the public cemetery has one, Tagum was able to create happenings to boost business and tourism.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Conquering Mt. Apo

Mount Apo is the largest active (but sleeping) volcano in Mindanao and the highest mountain in the Philippines. The mountain has three peaks , a flat top and it is capped by a 500-meter-wide volcanic crater (that contains a small crater lake).  It is also a source of geothermal energy and has around 270 species of birds.

Mt. Apo is the highest peak in the Philippines and is a popular climbing destination in Mindanao.  The earliest recorded climb was in the 1880's led by Don Joaquin Rajal. 

Down South, during our climb was led by Social Climbers, a climbing group that caters to crazy outdoor fanatics wishing to make their lives exciting and difficult by engaging in near-impossible outdoor activities.

Social Climbers arranged our climbing trip and had, because of our inexperience, chosen the easiest route they could map out for the group.  The easiest route via Kidapawan is by no means easy in my vocabulary.  The - ehem- easy route was a, more or less, eight hour climb, half of which you do by almost crawling your way to the top.

Mauro all geared up

I would have to advise newbies who wish to experience climbing for the first time, that it is important to never look back while climbing, especially when you are already on on your last four hours.  The girl in red stilettos made the mistake of checking her progress by looking back and almost instantly saw her life flashback in seconds.  Yes, it was steep and of course, it was was motivational as well.  I am sure, after that, Liam (the girl in red stilettos) climbed with a new determination of staying alive.

Mauro and Sherwin
on our way down

I find death in the mountain appalling... 
because it displays your stupidity, hanging on for dear life...

Reminds me of Catch 22 --only humans are stupid enough to climb crazy peaks to prove they can and by doing so,  proving they are not stupid but if they cannot and slip off the cliff breaking their neck in the process, it validates the stupidity that fueled the stupid idea into action, making them doubly stupid -- hmmm that gives new definition to the word force majure - we are inevitably stupid and cannot avoid if stupidity befalls.  But, because our team was able to climb the peak, you are free to negate our stupidity --no matter how stupid it seems to be.

Social climbers in the first camp site.

But no worries, we are all alive.  Social Climbers made us sign a waiver though...sheesh! But no...we were in no grave danger at all...the waiver was just proof that if, by any chance, something bad happened to us at all, it's nobody's fault but ours.

I did not worry, being blamed comes secondary after death.  Studies show that 90% of all accidents that result in death happen inside the house...and climbing is sooo outdoor, which means there is only but a 10% chance of someone dying to ruin the fun.  Yes, homebuddy, you are more likely in danger compared to us swinging from vine to vine, prancing from rock to rock, singing our hearts out because suddenly there are no neighbors ready to complain and fines to pay because we disturbed the subdivision's golden silence.

Sherwin and Mauro looking at the offering some mountaineers
leave for the spirit of the mountains.

The team's theme song while climbing is "I've finally found someone" by Barbra Streisand because of the "this is it'  line in the chorus and the conviction of tone when singing it.  "This is it!" we'd exclaim as all in the team were scared and the phrase connotes the fact that "this is it", we are in fact climbing now, no use to look for excuses to avoid this circumstance.  As for the other lines that follow-- they were rendered irrelevant hehehe!  Mauro Carmona of Motorcycle Diaries, finds Sheryl Cruz's Mr. DreamBoy comforting though...that is--- after he informed everyone that "Ice Ice Baby" had been running in his head for a while now. Yes the mountains can make you weird as well. 

There are five of us --- Mauro is that red patch behind sherwin.

The weirdest one in our group is Mark Limbaga with his crazy hair and one liner phrases.  We find him to be really fun and this high fashion member of the team was the only one, aside from the social climbers, who was able to climb Apo before this trip.  Mauro, Liam, Sherwin, and I were first timers...ok make it ignorant first timers. 

May I also inform everyone that Liam conquered Apo in black tights with neon colored splatters and she was also my clothing consultant who said that I wouldn't need a jacket at the top. Thank goodness Sherwin has a spare.  Being the girls, we were able to mooch jackets from Sherwin who was left to die in the cold.  Good thing he survived...he got back by keeping the people awake in the middle of the night putting us in forced watch as he slept.

good morning apo. sunrise was around 5.27am

But lack of sleep could not ruin the beautiful sunrise and the scenery that greeted us in the morning.  Nor did it dampen our enthusiasm and excitement to be on Mt. Apo.  Our near death experiences and the imagined epiphanies suddenly seemed so distant as we all fell in love with Mt. Apo.  The grass, the smell in the air, the sunlight, the beautiful rock formations, even the wild berries and the mud...they are all so majestic that you become humbled in their presence.  No net, no cars, no's just you --there, in the middle of nowhere, intimate with nature.

While climbing, when asked if we are ok, Mauro would say, physically yes, but mentally -- not sure...  We got our psyche scrambled as we found our way's like being torn apart while climbing.  You can never be composed while hanging on for dear life...and to survive you just have to sorta break down (except maybe for Sir Assler who managed to stay immaculately clean and posh while climbing up and back).We crawled in the mud, hugged rocks, slumped on the earth, rested on barks, and found comfort in the wet grass.  Dirty, cold, and privately dreaming of helicopters to take us to the peak, we managed to go up in shatters and come down with a whole new perspective of ourselves. It's suffering we wouldn't normally look for but its experience we know we would never trade for any other ^.^

Liam's partner advised her before we took off  that she has to take in the climbing experience as a spiritual journey because it is something bigger than her...And I guess he is right...  Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, we become no one.  

Told Liam that KT is very sweet to have sent the message...It's a far more romantic farewell message compared to my BWL and his glaring message of "are you having fun yet?"...  but my guy knows me too well... apparently he's learned that any romantic message makes me cringe...had he left one, I would have remembered it and cringed while climbing making me fall to my demise.  And in that sense, he has saved my life (silly goose, now you are in my post when you are not supposed to be included in here!).

This climb was organized by Down South Magazine, 
a magazine that showcases everything Mindanao from scenic spots, culture, 
people, and business, and by Social Climbers, an outdoor organization 
of professionals who render quality outdoor tours for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurous people.

our campsite at the peak
Mark Limbaga as he tried to capture the sunrise
cam.trekking shoes.gliders.
mountain backpacks...and five-toe-socks?
Lake Venado is the old crater lake in Apo
and one of the highest lakes in the Philippines.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tagum Photo Safari

Tagum City is more than a city known for its paved roads.  With 14 Festivals a year, it is surely becoming famous for its events and festivities.  Davao Bloggers was fortunate enough to be invited in the 1st Official Tagum Photo Safari last January 16-17.  I was excited to be with other Tagum photographers as the City's PIO Edwin L. toured us around the precious nooks and spots of Tagum City.

1st Official Tagum Photo Caravan Team with Mayor Uy

Upon entering Tagum, you will notice palm trees 
magnificently planted on the side of the road.  
Tagum has been crowned Palm City of the Philippines.  

Not far, you will see a wooden dock where boats are
available to take you on a 30km cruise to see the
river stretch and the wildlife it carries.  On this stretch,
soft-shell crab hatcheries and restaurants are available
to provide meals and rest huts.

Soft Shell Crab Hatcheries harvest every 14-18 days

the river is clean and full of life.

But Tagum has more to offer than a river ride

Their City hall boasts of grandeur in size and design

magnificently erected to 
encourage and promote a happy
working place

Tagum also has an energy park- a 3000sqm camping site with
an area for agriculture bearing facilities such as plant
nursery, hydrophonics, and soil &leaf laboratory.

Three offices are operating inside Energy Park, these are 
BFAD Satellite Lab for Mindanao, DepED Tagum City Division
and TESDA Provincial Training Center

Soon Satellite Offices of Pag-big, GSIS, SSS, and PhilHealth
will operate in the area.

The beaches are not to be frowned at in Tagum

Environment Friendly with their
Artificial Reef Installation

Tagum also has the only Beach Volleyball Court in Mindanao.

Say hello to the DavaoBloggers
Volleyball Team =P

by Olan Emboscado of
Tagum City streets are clean and traffic is never a hassle.

Even the public cementery is clean and orderly

Tagum Public Market is as clean and even has
a mini park on the side

Night life in Tagum

Sing your heart out in karaoke bars

Night Market for the shoppers to glory at

Friendly people serving good food

bbq for as cheap as Php 4.00 a stick!

Food at night market is sooo cheap! we can't help but indulge!

Tagum City is definitely a traveler's paradise.  Aside from being the Palm city of the Phil, Tagum is also known as the Music Capital in Mindanao and will be also hosting Musikahan Festival on Feb 11-20 with about 5,000 contigents competing in various musical contests and 13 International Dignitaries attending from different countries.

Tagum City is a about an hour travel from Davao City, approximately 2 hours drive from Mati, Davao Oriental and about 4 to 5 hours travel from Butan City. You may call Tagum City Tourism Office at (084) 370-1424 or 218-4727 for more information and related assistance. (getting there info by Olan Emboscado)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mt. Haven Trek

The girl in red stilettos woke me up around three am. I grunted and she relentlessly shook me out of my sleep...time to go, she said...and I groaned knowing death march is part of the itinerary for this day.  I feigned sleep, but the impending thought of having to walk for miles is keeping me awake...and yammy is not giving up...she comes back shakes me again and I woke up frowning ready to complain -- but changed my mind.  I took a glimpse at her and decided she is more scared of it than I am, and to complain might push her to the edge of worry and insanity.

But the worry of having to walk for miles slowly dissipated after we slowly dragged our feet up towards our destination.  Its not the climb, we both learned, that is scary, it's the things that happens to you while climbing. Liam had an epiphany of umbrellas and octopus and I was dizzy on the first part =( Chocolate and good conversation got us going.  Liam and I with nothing but time on hands as we did our trek, found things to talk about...important matters and not so very important ones.  We wondered about stuff like plants and somehow found ways to connect it to the wallpaper issues of our lives.  The scary thought of tumbling down was drowned by laughter as we try to focus our steps because we are more scared to having to do it all over again.

This is a practice climb, the social climbers said.  I call it a death march...ok a happy death march.  Mt. Apo is an 8-hour climb ordeal...I don't wanna name it. 

In case you are wondering what this climbing and torture is all about.  Liam is heading DownSouth mag.  A mag to showcase the treasures and spots of Mindanao.  And for this year's first issue, she confidently chose Apo.  And because Mt. Apo is not coming down to the office for a meeting, we are climbing to have a word with it. 

Social Climbers said if you cannot talk anymore while walking, it means, you are out of breath.  Out of breath is not something you would not want to experience while climbing.  They advised to take baby steps...long strides are more tiresome and you unknowingly uses energy that you should be saving.  We also have to get a walking stick...a third leg to carry 25% of our weight.  Chocolates and jelly will be our comfort food.   There will be porters, they shared..and they walk through the mountains barefoot.  I am sure my eyes gleamed in disbelief...but I remembered the indigenous community I encountered before in my immersions...I don't remember those guys wearing shoes either...

We reached our destination in more or less three hours.  After swearing off a lot of things, I found myself staring at a sight that is breathtakingly beautiful.  The water and the mountain is wonderful...and I can't imagine how beautiful it will be on Apo...especially during sunrise and sunset.

Yes, I'm tired.  Yes, I was complaining.  But yes, I'd do it all over again =)

they're happy that they dont have to drag a dead body.
liam and i are still alive
social climbers
social climbers
down south