May 26, 2012

Iloilo-Concepcion's Hidden Paradise, Southern Iloilo, Panay Island

Concepcion town is located at the southern part of Iloilo in Panay Island, Philippines. It can be reach through a private van or a public bus from Iloilo City, Roxas City and Kalibo for an approximately two hours drive. Major airlines has a regular flight schedule daily. A perfect combination of Island and Mountain escapades. Climb Mt. Manaphag's 600 meters above sea level and be amazed with the breathtaking view of the neighboring islets that this mountain can offer, and do not forget to taste thier local crabs and various sea foods that will for sure make you fell in love with the island.  Considered as the steppest mountain in the Philippines. As you climb vigorously, a rewarding-magnificent views will make your senses awaken plus the 180 degrees panoramic view of various pristine islets that lure's you for an island hopping escapades-take a refreshing dive or a snorkeling perhaps on a crystal clear blue water. You can follow the links below for more photo references. Below is my suggested itinerary for your convenience if you want to explore this hidden paradise in Panay Island. 

For more photos: follow these links below:
MT. MANAPHAG DAY CLIMB ITINERARY:

Day 1: In Iloilo Airport/Sea Port:
  • 7:00 AM: At Iloilo Port/Airport, taking a metered taxi would be a very convenient way & fast to reach Tagbak Terminal, estimated fare around 200-250 pesos. (please tell the driver to take via coastal road coz it faster)
  • 7:45 AM: At Tagbak Terminal, please find the orange bus HPQ Transit bound to Concepcion Town, fare is estimated at 100-150 pesos. Travel time is about 2 hours. (please take note that you need to catch up the 10AM passenger boat only trip to Tambaliza-foot of Mt. Manaphag fare is about 35 pesos one way. Other option is to charter a bangka for 1,500 pesos cruising along various islets.          
  • 9:45 AM: At Concepcion Town, you need to register at the Tourism office, no fees will be collected then buy your pack lunch at the market.
  • 10:00 AM: The passenger bangka depart to barangay Tambaliza, estimated travel time is 1 hour.
  • 11:00 AM: At barangay Tambaliza, the jump off to Mt. Manaphag. Rest for 30 minutes while waiting for a guide. Rooms available for rent at 500 pesos per fan room good for 4 persons at Barangay Kagawad's place. To those who would prefer to pitch a tent at the beachfront. You can pre-order your menu for the night, option would be "lambay/Crab and Fish for PHP 150 per kilo inclusive of cooking already.
  • 11:30 AM: Start trek-ascending to Mt. Manaphag- light pack with trail foods, water and camera-dont   forget. Clothing: must be long sleeves, a thorny trail because of the presence of so much wild rattan on the trail.
  • 02:30 PM: At Mt. Manaphag Peak including rest and picture taking along the trail.
  • 03:30 PM: Start descending, one stopover to taste thier fresh buko at the shoulder of Mt. Manaphag. You have the option to see a real eagle in one of the barangay during your decend. Then a coastal trek back to barangay Tambaliza.
  • 05:00 PM: Back to camp.
  • 07:00 PM: Socials at the beach front. Lights off at 9:00 pm.
Day 2: At barangay Tambaliza:

Option: To those who opt not to go with the island hopping. There is a bangka trip at 6am going to Concepcion town for Php 35.00 fare.
  • 06:30 AM: Breakfast, you can cook or you can order from the small resort, they charge very cheap price (Lutong bahay) owned by a Councelor of Tambaliza.
  • 07:30 AM: Break camp and start island hopping. Bangka is available for charter for Php1,500 pesos good for 10 to 15 persons.
  • 08:30 AM: First stop, Agho Islet
  • 09:30 AM: Second stop, The Sand Bar
  • 11:00 AM: Back at Concepcion town for lunch.
  • 12:00 NN: Heading back to Iloilo City via HPQ bus.
  • 02:30 PM: At Iloilo City
                                                                               


March 31, 2012

Cleaning UP Mt. Manunggal in Balamban, Cebu, Philippines

Mount Manunggal is a mountain located in Barangay Magsaysay in Balamban, Cebu and rises to a height of 1,003 meters above sea level. 
 It is the crash site of the presidential plane Pinatubo which carried and killed President Ramon Magsaysay and seventeen of his presidential staff and some news correspondents during that unforgettable event on March 17, 1957 where an annual trek is held to commemorate his death. 

It is accessible through many trails but the trail from Tagba-o and at Cantipla in Tabunan, Cebu City is the main route from which the yearly Pres. Ramon Magsaysay Death Anniversary Climb is held.
Mt. Manunggal is within the enclave of the Central Cebu National Park and is protected by Republic Act 8457, otherwise known as the “Central Cebu Protected Landscape Act”; which also covers the Mananga-Kotkot-Lusaran river system, the Sudlon National Park and the watersheds of Buhisan, Mananga and Lusaran. The trail to Mt. Manunggal from the jump-off point at the river that separates Cebu City from Balamban is quite steep and could be achieved in about four (4) to seven (7) hours for first-timers, depending upon your physical conditioning, and about two (2) to three (3) hours to those who are now very familiar with its terrain. The trail to Mt. Manunggal from Tagba-o is absent of forest canopies and wildlife and traverses through many upland farms planted with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, eggplants, cabbage, carrots, etc. It is wide enough to let two persons pass by each other at its narrowest part and there are no prominent barriers which impede movement save for the lack of shady areas to rest from the penetrating heat of the sun.


Water Resources abound within the foot of the mountain like rivers, springs and waterfalls and a cool spring near the camping site give visitors a respite from thirst which never falters in water volume even in extreme drought and the El Niño.

On the campsite is where the monument of Pres. Magsaysay is located and the cylinder block of the Pinatubo's main engine is housed to remind visitors of the historical value of Manunggal in Philippine history. A chapel is also erected nearby during the height of a communist insurgency in the '80s to guide the local inhabitants' spiritual yearning.(text source: wikipedia.org)
 
 Mt. Manunggal clean up is a yearly activity initiated by Cebu Mountaineering Society (CeMS) in coordination with the Local Government Unit of Balamban- a western town of Cebu. It was started seven years ago by Ramon Vidal and the team with just more or less seven (7) people who has the passion and the noble heart to take care the environment- the mountain-the mountaineer's playground. This is usually be done on the third week of March, a week after the annual Magsaysay climb. 
 This year's clean up were participated by the different mountaineering organizations in Cebu with the SK federation of Balamban Town. Various personalities and age bracket shall I say but united for one noble purpose. And this time it was not just seven people who has the passion to give their share in caring the environment but more than a hundred people who took timeout from their respective families just to join this activity.  
It was an awesome experience to give your share in this very little way to protect and preserve the environment for future generation. 
This year, we were able to accumulate 247 kilos of mixed trash, a bit lower than last year of 375 kilos. I myself has picked 7.7 kilos
I hope in our respective homes, we will educate our respective family members to be responsible with our garbage. We should teach them the proper waste management in our layman's term, because it will start always in our own home. 

Our heartfelt thanks to the Local Government of Balamban, especially to the SK federation who pledges our sumptuous pack lunch with so yummy lechon. We are so grateful for the support. To Sir Ramon Vidal and CeMS for making this activity a legend through the years that every mountaineer can be proud.

Some photos in this page were taken from Sir Ramon Vidal's facebook page. Thank you Sir Mon for the nice photos. 
 

November 20, 2011

The Road Less Traveled: Ring Falls & Igtughangin Falls, Brgy. Panipiason, Madalag Aklan, Panay Island, Philippines

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED:

MY PANIPIASON STORY: Extreme is a word defined as an activity purposely to seek dangerous or even life-threatening experiences and Adventure however is an undertaking involving uncertainty and risk. If you combine it altogether as one, it is an EXTREME ADVENTURE. 
This was what I did on my Wild River exploration leading to last barangay named Panipiason of Madalag town bordering between two provinces of Aklan and Antique, where you can find the most pristine waterfalls ever explored in my adventure history so far.
It was a beautiful experience. In my own perspective as a local traveler, It was an adventure filled with enriching life experiences on what is like to live in a very far place away from a hustle and bustle city life where good transportation and roads were being deprived for the people. From the various river crossing with almost everything can be loaded on a tiny "bangka" made of wood processed into a canoe or a collection of bamboo to create a raft, to the narrow trail going up and down to the very jagged-rocky terrain almost impassable by a motorcycle but it was, down to the muddy and wobbly streams, that sometimes you cannot really imagine how the locals inhabited the place we're able to cope with this means of transportation. However, if your looking for serenity,quietness & peace, this place is perfect to visit.
Indeed, it was a very nice journey to discovering a place that is very nice, simple and plain yet full of life, hospitality and generosity, rich with untouched natural treasure. The four hours roller coaster ride on a motorcycle under the rough terrain along the riverbanks with outmost risk and uncertainty was ended up worth it; promise you will not regret it.
This place is worth visiting if your are really that into nature tripping. I hope Barangay Panipiason can preserve their natural treasure for this will for sure attract more local and international tourist around the world. It’s not about the luxurious ambiance that we nature-traveler are looking for but it is the genuine life changing experiences, various ways of life to thrive and nature wonders that are still kept and preserved on their natural beauty.
It was my second attempt though, that I made it to explore this place. Limited information really touches my curiosity to uncover the potential of this place.Gut feel and common sense drives my journey to the highest level of risk. It was just started when I saw a little frame of a very nice photograph being sold at one souvenir shop at the airport. I got the name of the town where it was located but I don’t have the details on how to reach it. The beauty of the photograph seems captivated my inner being and keeps on coming into my subconscious mind, as if, I am in loved with a woman.  I did a little research in the internet but no information even little hint leading to the place. Of the entire place-shortlisted to explore in the Visayas area, I got very curious about this place really. One Sunday morning, I visited the town and did some research of firsthand information from the locals and police stations, this was actually my first attempt to uncover the secret of this place but I decided to postpone it since the weather was not ideal and I had limited time considering the uncertainty of my planned destination. Instead, diverted it and asked some locals for the nearest waterfalls within the area as an alternative adventure for the day to make my day sulit naman.(soon to be uploaded here)
Two weeks had past when I really that decided to explore this place and this time, I am really decided to embark this adventure whatever it takes alone. Things had happened according to my plans. Thanks God! The weather condition was great. On Sunday morning of Nov. 13, 2011,where every people were very excited to watch Pacman's fight over Marquez, I did things in my own different way. I woke up early excited but had apprehension though of the plans that I had. Going to barangay Panipaison of the town of Madalag Aklan, is basically commence at Kalibo Town public terminal where, you can take a ride through a minibus going to Libacao Town for  Php 30.00 -fare one way. Estimated travel time is about 30 minutes.
Just tell the driver to drop you off at Barangay Dumaguit , where you can take your first river crossing through a little Bangka for Php10.00 .  Madalag town is just right across the river. Crossing the river is one way of going into Madalag town easiest possible as of the moment since the bridge connecting the two towns are still under its finishing stage. Once this infrastructure is done, access to both towns is just few minutes away by then.
Alternative way is via the town of Numancia to Madalag but it’s quite a long travel, estimated travel time is about 1:30 hours from Kalibo Town, fare is approximately Php60.00 one way. In Madalag town, you can hire a motorcycle going to Barangay Panipiason for Php 150.00 one way. Php 500.00 if you chartered it the whole day, back and forth. Estimated travel time is about 2:00 hours on a rugged terrain. This young mind below was earning a living through this way and its already part of their or his daily lives.
But before embarking on your adventure, please do register first at the police station for security purposes.  The best person who can take you to Barangay Panipiason is Rjie Navotas. He is such an experienced driver on that route and very familiar with the terrain and the river crossing. You can contact him for early reservation at this mobile no. 0907-7328138. Please take note that only smart & globe network has a strong signal in the area.
ON THE ROAD TO GET THERE: After registering at Madalag Police Station, we immediately left the town to the destination. The road going there, on the early stage was manageable, it was rough but  passable until we arrived at barangay Mamba, the last barangay accessible by four wheels. By the way, Dieter Ocampo and his team {Kids Foundation} were there at the remote river barangay of Mamba for their second day- medical mission for the kids. They even slept at the mountain barangay along with his team on their first day, according to some locals. I salute you on this Diet, good job. This is a very good example of good deeds. I really love to do this also. Hmm…can I be a volunteer of your foundation Diet? ahaha, I want to share the same passion as you do. 
photo: www.kidsfoundation.org.ph
Someday, God’s willing and in God’s time, I will  build my own foundation too, to help the needy. I will love to do it very much. It is a very wonderful feeling being able to help others who are in need especially the children and the oldies. The naïve smiles on their faces with true and genuine intentions invigorate my whole system to serve.The road ahead was getting narrow and difficult as we drove along the rocky riverbanks. Various scenery has been seen along the way. The crystal clear flowing water from the river will really struck your attention plus the stunning mountain ranges with houses stood on the hillside, that made me realize how fortunate we are.
The scenery were awesome but I have difficulty capturing those since we were moving on the rugged terrain. I cannot count anymore the number of times we have had crossed the river. I often close my eyes in order not to witness for a split of seconds the difficulty of the path we are following into. Sometimes, I went off from the motorcycle on those very difficult terrains because I am scared that we might fell off the rift. 
For a first timer like me, riding on a motorcycle was a heart punching & breathtaking experience though I enjoyed it a lot since it was my first time have something like this despite the fact that what i have been doing was very dangerous. But for the locals, it’s a normal to them already because that is already part of their daily lives.
It was almost lunch time when we arrived at Barangay Panipiason. We went directly to see Hon. Barangay Captain Arnaldo Gregorio to have a courtesy call and get a guide to the falls who at that time preparing to watch the fight of Pacman. You can contact him through this mobile number 0920-3742969, if you wish to go there and inform them ahead of time of your intent visit.  Along with my guides, we finally off to the mountain side to see the pristine rivers and waterfalls that the place were bragging of.  
As we moved up the mountain ranges, you can see a panorama view of the little community of Panipiason, it was splendid! On our way to the falls, we have met a number kids roaming around the mountain side and decided to go along with our adventure. Yahoo! The more the merrier.
Until we reached the first falls called the "RING FALLS" it is wonderful! A very fine and marvelous waterfall, very unique of all the falls had been through, why? It’s very obvious, from the name itself, a ring was created by the constant dropped of water in it.
{It goes with the saying that I have got from my Lola when I was just a child that in courting a girl you love, be patient and wait for the right time because even how hard the heart of a woman is, it will soften as the time pass by like a huge rock made of limestone with the constant drops of water in it, will eventually soften and breaks}. It was beautiful and quiet, less visited place that made it so pristine, no garbage, bluish water and cold, very alluring for a bathe, it was really wonderful. 
Rock formation and boulders has been spotted also in various colors.  We were not able to resist the welcoming charisma of the place and took off my shirt and plunged into the deep and energizing cold water with my newly found local friends. The place is really amazing! 
After spending more than an hour at the RING FALLS, we finally headed ourselves to the most highlight of my journey, the IGTUGHANGIN FALLS. It is located up in one of the mountain ranges. The slope was a bit sharp as we did our final assault. On the ridge, you can see the river and Ring Falls from a far down the valley.
On the other side of the ridge, you can already see behind the canopy of leaves, the amazing 150 feet IGTUGHANGHIN FALLS as it cascades its water beautifully on a very high cliff filled with thick vegetation. We took some shots before finally proceeding down the hill to see the full view of magnificent waterfalls. 
It is really magnificent “IGTUGHANGIN FALLS” beautiful as it was in my imagination. It was just a dream to witness its charm but now, its real already. I am very fulfilled as I gazed longingly at it for more than an hour, all I said was WOW this place is amazing, how I wish to spend whole day some other time.
Heading back to the barangay proper, we stopped for a while at a native house on the foot of the mountain to taste their fresh buko meat and juice. 
Take note, anywhere in this place buko is free, you just have to get it down to your mouth. ahaha, we eventually took a few minutes rest at the house of Tatay as I called him {an oldman alone in his house} who was then busy making “duyan” made from rattan and sold it for Php100 pesos per pc. Aside from “duyan making” he also processed abaca fiber used in various clothing-barong materials and sold it for Php50 per kilo. Then on, we finally bid our smiles and goodbyes to Tatay very refreshed  with the fresh buko juice and paid Php50 for the four (4) pcs we ate.
We opted to do the river trekking on our way back. Huge boulders and fascinating rapids has been seen and very ideal for water rafting. I managed to cross the river several times with extra care since I have had my camera with me and other belongings.Some of my adventure buddies had fun rafting using a piece of bamboo paddling using their hand along the streams.

We ended up our trek at the hanging bridge. It was scary for me to cross that bridge but for the locals it was just a “chicken feet” to cross without even holding on at the railings. The path walk-panels were just made of bamboo splits, that when you pass through it, it will swing as you move your steps towards the other side. But there was one local mother who crossed the hanging bridge with her daughter on her right arms and groceries on the other side. She just walked gracefully without any fear.I was really amazed looking at it.Nevertheless, it helps the local to cross around and connect the other side of the river a bit safer than crossing down the river itself.
We finally arrived back at barangay captains house with few number of locals around including my motorcycle buddy who just waited me and spent the whole day with me in the mountain, intently waiting for our comeback since we were out for 4 hours already. They were very curious of what had happened to us up there, then finally asked some questions to us. I immediately shared our beautiful experiences with outmost enthusiasm. Other locals were intrigued on how beautiful really the place is.  I showed them some of my shots to further testify the beauty of nature they possess. Most of them shared that, they themselves has never been visited the waterfalls. I told them to take a glimpse of  it and they must have to preserved this for future generation. I felt in them the innate sense of genuine intnetions and hospitality, very nice people. Indeed a very nice community. I offered to take a souvenir shot with them and I finally gave my smiles and bid my heartfelt goodbye's to everyone and thanked them for their warmed welcome and out-most generosity being  a complete stranger to their place. Thanks Captain & his wife for the banana that was given to me for free. Thank you so much.  
I hope I can find time to re-visit your nice place and probably stay there for a couple of days to learn the “aklanon dialect”. Thank you also to my motorcycle buddy Rjie Navotas for the safe travel. And to my ever loyal guides and my travel buddies-kids that made my entire adventure worthwhile. 
At the end of the day, lying in my bed,all i can say that I don’t have any hint of regret despite how difficult the way it was. With the smiles of my companion's above, without any doubt, I will surely visit this place again someday. See you soon!