Jan 31, 2011

a first: Winning an Online Raffle Contest!

And I was like OMG this morning when I confirmed my suspicion that I won!

For quite sometime now I have been immersing myself with travel blogs to compensate my frustration with foiled, botched or no travel days. It is wonderful to just read about the places that these people went to and daydream about them.

In searching for Batanes info I came across Ferdz' site: ironwulf.net. I subscribed to his page via FB, and before new year I saw his congratulatory post to the Philippine Blog Awards winner, Nina Fuentes of justwandering.org. Out of curiosity I checked out her site, and from there she became a regular in my everyday blogroll.

Sometime early this month Nina held a contest were she posted questions about her travels. Of course, I hopped onto the band wagon, I will lose nothing by joining. I subscribed to her RSS and twitter. I painstakingly researched her questions throughout her blog. After weeks, what do you know?

I won!

Jan 19, 2011

Outdoor Orientation and Survival

I have been a follower of the Upward Trail site from the start of my peakbagging career (lols at the term). I always read survival and backpacking articles of which I used as my basic mountaineering course. I would like to share one the articles in my mountain climbing bible from the Upward Trail site.

How to Pack a Survival Bag

It fits in a one-gallon Ziploc. It weighs just a couple of pounds. It costs a fraction of what one of those GPS-equipped cell phones costs. But this survival kit could save your life. While more complete kits could include everything from fishing gear to first-aid supplies, the 12 items of this one can be used to address all your basic nonmedical needs.

Shelter: Large plastic garbage bags make excellent ponchos. (The bright orange ones used by the Department of Transportation are even better, if you can find them.) With an 8-by-12-foot [2.4-by-3.7-meter] plastic drop sheet and 25 feet [7.6 meters] of parachute chord, you'll be able to build an emergency shelter. (Hardware stores stock all three items.) A pocketknife can be used to cut the cord—and for myriad other chores.
Fire: Double wrap waterproof matches in Ziploc bags, and carry a lighter or flint-and-steel set as well. Cotton balls dipped in Vaseline (store them in a film container) are handy fire-starting aids.
Signaling: The reflection of a signal mirror can be seen up to a hundred miles [160 kilometers] away on clear days. You can purchase one at any decent outdoors store, as well as a whistle (something every child in your party should carry).
Water: One bottle of iodine-based purification tablets can treat up to 25 quarts [23.7 liters] of water. Navigation: Carry a compass. Enough said. A mini-flashlight is useful in many ways—and having light also boosts morale.

Whatever is in your survival kit, says expert Byron Kerns, the fundamental rule is: "You've got to keep it with you." Put it in the bottom of your daypack; put it in the detachable fanny pack from your frame pack. Just put it somewhere.

Jan 16, 2011

Route Recon: Condura Skyway Marathon 10k

January 16, 2011
Ayala-Osmena HW- Buendia- EDSA-Kalayaan-BGC

Actually I should put as description to this post... "Legaspi Sunday Market to Mercato Centrale traverse". Lols. 

Recon - (short for reconnaissance) a mountaineering term used to describe an act of climbing a mountain by an advanced party to assess the trail and take note of water source, campsite capacity. logistics etc. to help plan the group climb. This is usually composed of a few individuals to facilitate the activity, usually a week or more before the actual climb.

I am not a runner, not a novice even. Simply because... I cannot run. When I was young, I run in every opportunity I can. I love racing with friends. As one grows older (yuch the term!)... it is unavoidable that health concerns get in the way we enjoy life. I am no exception.

I have gained more than the healthy amount of pounds to weigh more than the normal with my height. It put a lot of strain to my shins who supports my full weight when I run. Hence... every time I run, in a few steps, 3 to the max, I start to feel that burning sensation in my shin bone, threatening to break with the continous pressure. So I stopped running and turned into mountaineering instead, which requires slow-paced walking. 

Know your adversary. One of the few gems that I am trying to live by that's why I did a recon of the route To gain assurance that the distance is within my capacity. For quite some time now a friend (special mention Dahlia) and I have been discussing this upcoming Condura run nonstop. We are a bit giddy for  our first run, and we were ambitious enough to try our maiden run @10k. Good luck with that. So I concluded after the botched jog with my mother that I cannot run... I hatched a plan. 

I will register on the last day, to be certain of my capacity during the run. I cannot sign in for 3k when I have hopes of doing better. So I studied the trail map for 10k and resolved to do a walkathon on the actual route. I want to get the feel of the trail distance.

I hopped on a jeepney bound for Ayala and alighted at Insular Building. I crossed the street and assumed that the route is along Herrera St. so I turned around the corner. As I was walking on... I felt some burning sensation in my toes. Ingrown nail. And paltos. This early in my walk. BTW it is already past 7am.

My Backpack Family

Well not all of them are backpacks but I collectively refer to them as such since... well they are a family. I promised myself that my Deuter ACTLite 35+10 will be the last, and I would go on backpack family planning, lols. But then I was so wrong. Meet the family:

Conner, Sped, JR, and Mon (first family)



They will be expecting another family member, once I get some extra cash I will buy an assault pack. I am eyeing Deuter Wizard, which I will name Izzy. Izzy's a guy, in case you are wondering. All of them are.

Jan 15, 2011

Hip Pack: Deuter Pulse One

When I try to jog (which usually ends up in brisk walk), I am always on solo. My jog/walk essentials are hydration, cellphone, cash, comb and another vanities. And with no one to look after my things, I first tried using a small sling bag. It felt uncomfortable, with the sling bag bouncing back and forth keeping me distracted plus it wouldn't hold an average-sized water bottle.

For the longest time I have been scouring Landmark in Makati or any malls that I have been to (when I remember) for water bottle bags. Even belt bags I could not find one in the malls that I went to. I used a belt bag as an assault pack back in 2007 Mt. Mayon knife ridge attempt, and the cost of it was around php300-400, unbranded. I set my budget at php500.00 for this.

Pulse One

Jan 12, 2011

Surigao City: It's Restday, and the Rest is History.

Northern Mindanao Solo Roadtrip: Part 2 of 3
November 28, 2010 

Part 1 of 3 - Gingoog City: Climb-turned-roadtrip

Back in Manila, Sunday  is considered as everybody's restday but it doesn't mean that people do actually rest. The streets near the malls and most establishments are bustling with people who wants to spend restday....not resting.

So I wokeup before my alarm went off. I sat there in the bed droned in the white noise of the telly, and contemplating on my plans for the day. I was already dressed, ready to go mountain climbing, but was having a heavy heart on the matter. There are few things to consider like my remaining resources a.k.a. CASH, and I was a bit torn between spending another day in Gingoog City or setting out to explore another land. I made my decision as I went back to sleep. Lol.

Gingoog bus terminal

Jan 10, 2011

How Do You Connect the Connecting Flights???

Parang inception lang.... kaloka!

Back in August 2010, I came upon this tempting seatsale from AirPhil, the walang customer service na air carrier. I booked flights to Naga for my planned January 2011 climb, and paid less than 150php all-in, each way. The cheap fare I saw was for connecting flights, and I toyed with the idea of undergoing the connecting flight experience for the first time. The flight that I got were as follows:

Original outbound: Manila to Cebu + Cebu to Naga, 2 flights - one airbus and one turboprop
Original inbound: Naga to Cebu + Cebu to Manila, 2 flights - one turboprop and one airbus

Change of heart prompted me to divert my climb to my family's hometown of Cebu. So I called their customer support (who will answer an hour at minimum of being on hold) a few times to make sure that it is permitted, me cutting trips. When I called earlier today, I got confused, and the customer support as well. There seemed to be a lot of flight changes that happened without me knowing it! When the smoke cleared, we were able to sum up my new itinerary as follows:

Revised outbound: Manila to Cebu + [Cebu to Manila + Manila to Naga], 3 flights - all airbus
Revised inbound: [Naga to Manila +Manila to Cebu] + Cebu to Manila, 3 flights - all airbus

Turns out, the turboprop connecting flight bothways was replaced by two airbus connecting flights. Had I been game enough with so much time to waste, I would literally play along with this. I mean it's not everyday that you get to ride 6 flights for a roundtrip destination only. Right?

Ang gulo nila! Hahaha...

Jan 7, 2011

Run for the Dolphins: Condura Skyway Marathon 2011

A friend had asked me to join Condura's Skyway Marathon 2011. I declined at first, that was before I listed down my bucket list. Now that I saw an FB contact tagged with the race map, I got interested, and thought what better way to jumpstart crossing out my bucketlist than actually.... doing the things in my bucket list!

I am thinking of starting from 3k run or gunning down the 10k rightaway. But wouldn't it be sweet to finish the 10k the first time I tried running? I still have one month to practice.

i am always hypnotized by maps

Here are the race details:
The Condura Skyway Marathon
The Premiere running event in the Philippines
Sunday, February 6, 2011
10km, 16km and 21km : Ayala Triangle Start and Finish at Bonifacio Global City
3km, 5km and 42k : Bonifacio Global City Start and Finish 

For cash payments – registration closes on January 31, 2011.
For online credit card transactions – registration closes on January 22, 2011.
Please note, however, that each race category has a limited number of slots available and may close earlier than the deadline once the limit is reached.
Onsite Registration: Greenbelt 3

race fee


MORE GIVEAWAYS in the booths of the following SPONSORS :
1. Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars
2. Century Tuna
3. Cenovis Joint Guard
4. Lactacyd
5. Ponds
6. Clear
7. Unilab


Taralets run!!!

Gears in Mind, Not on Hand

noThose persons that I have climbed with, and those who have followed my Multiply posts, all know that I am not a gears person. It was only in the year 2009 that I bought a decent backpack (Deuter ACTLite 35+10). It is that time also that I decided to buy a local tent (Apexus Tadpole - red), and my reliable trek shoes (TNF Plasma Gtex XCR Boa II). I bought all of these necessities, after 2 years of climbing, just in time for my Mt. Apo climb. 

Now that another biggie climb is in the picture (Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia), I need to upgrade my other gears, or that I need to buy those that I don't have yet. As of the moment, I have my eyes on these babies....

Petzl Tikkina 2

We all know that one of the most important part of a mountaineer's survival kit is a headlamp. During my 3 years in mountaineering, I have seen different types of headlamp used. There are cheap headlamps (like what I usually use) which you can buy from hardware stores at the mall, or from tyangge stores ran by the Chinese, lols. They are priced somewhere in between 100-200php. Also there are headlamps that are somewhere in between cheap and expensive, like Energizer or Eveready which ranges about 300-800php a piece. And of course there are branded ones, like the most famous Petzl, Black Diamond etc. which is priced from 1000-5000php, Philippine distributed. You can procure these branded items through the internet but the price range is almost the same if you will include the shipping cost.

I have been using a cheap generic heavy headlamp before I upgraded to Energizer, which I haven't used yet since it is relatively new. What I don't want to happen is the headlamp dying on me just when I needed it the most. So I decided to get a cheap and decent Petzl Tikinna 2 headlamp in my favorite color, orange.

Tikkina 2 is priced at $19.95 last time I checked, shipping not included. If converted to Philippine peso that will be roughly around 900php. Locally distributed, it is priced 1400php almost. It has two lighting modes, and a battery life of 190h at economic level. It has two LED that can light up to 23 meter range at maximum level. Not a very good choice for search and rescue, but just enough for normal climbing condition. Just pray you don't get lost in dense jungle, hehehe.

Originally, I dreamt of getting a high powered headlamp, Petzl Myolite (with Xenon bulbs and can light up to 100m range in maximum power) which costs around 5000php. Climb trip priorities inifinitely delayed the purchase. So I am settling on this not so pricey torch.

Deuter Wizard

Aside from the regular packs that we climbers lug to the campsite, there also cases where assault packs are needed. Assault packs are small bags enough to carry our basic necessities like water, food, and med kits usually for hikes from campsite to summit. One good example where this is needed, is Mt. Guiting guiting in Romblon where you need to camp at Mayo's peak then assault to summit the next day bringing as little as you can to help you maintain balance as you negotiate the ravines and slippery ridge terrain.

I haven't bought one eversince I started climbing, and I considered buying one for the sake of the Mt. Kinabalu climb, since we are taking the Via Ferrata and we need to have both our hands free in scrambling down the boulder face of the summit. 

I have checked Altrec.com, and saw that this is priced at $28 or something. 

Deuter Futura 24 SL

I have been using a 45L overhead pack since late 2009. Although I have other packs for lighter loads, this has been my staple for overnight climbs. I realized that the larger the backpack, the more stuff you will bring, ergo the heavier your load will be. Whereas when you have a small one, you will be forced to leave some of the comforts at home. I still don't know if all my necessaries will fit this 24L bag, but this is still for consideration and not needed immediately just like the previous 2. 

I haven't checked the price of Futura 24 but I bet it is around $100, an amount which I could use for something more important.

I am still on the budgeting phase where I try to balance my personal expenses, my travel expenses, and my gears expenses. It is only now that I realize that this hobby is much more expensive than others. That I realized when I passed by a golf shop and saw that a club set (main gear in golf) of Calloway is only 14,000, which is same price to a branded foreign tent (just one of our necessities). I cannot imagine how I survived this hobby, with just a meager amount left for my travel expenses. Because I don't buy gears, maybe? Lols.

Jan 6, 2011

Lonely Planet Philippines: Modern Baedeker with Local Flavor

I was in Powerbooks today, passing time reading travel magazines when a friend texted me. She is going my way, and she was asking for the price of Lonely Planet Philippines. I saw a Lonely Planet mag in front of me and thought this must be it. Php 250.00, I texted her. She didn't believe me for it costed more, as she said.

I want! I do not want!

So when she arrived at the bookstore, she showed me it. Wow, the book costs php1,300.00! I browsed between pages to see if the content is really worth that much. 

Yep, the contents are well worth it alright. I got curious as to the author, and found that it was a compilation from 6 or 7 different foreign travelers who went here in the Philippines. It made me sad the fact that we Filipinos didn't come up with books like this or better... since we know our country well than those foreigners? Or do we?

Some of the comments on the places to stay and dine are amusing and witty, although with the places that I have been to already I noticed that some infos are missing for the places to dine and stay. And mostly, the indicated price of transport and accomodation there seems to be the rate for foreigners. The content is very detailed but not that comprehensive, just enough guide for foreign backpackers going to the Philippines whom had lots of dough to spare.

106 maps...giddy!

What I really like about the book is how organized it is, information are arranged from northern to southern destinations. Also, there are maps! Yes a map for each place! What I cannot find in the internet, I find in this holy piece of book!  I am definitely going to borrow it if I can't buy one. Lols.

Powerbooks-Powerplant is on sale, and my friend got the book for 20% off or php1,040.00. Still a lot of money, but if you have some to spare, this book is a very good investment for your future travels.

Jan 4, 2011

Outdoor Bucketlist for 2011 Onwards

The past years have been full of hold-backs for me. The great outdoors promised rush of adrenaline, promises of which I ignored on my countless out-of-town trips because I wanted to focus my time and resources to my mountaineering activities. Concluding the year 2010 with no bigbang year-end climb, it made me reconsider what I really want to get from Mother Nature.

In response to that reflection I have listed the outdoor activities that I wanted to try this year, and in the coming years ahead. I might not be able to do them all at once, but I got the patience to wait for the proper time and place for each of them. And they are listed in a particular order, from the easiest to grab and do to the most nearly-out-of-the-question-but-still-I-will-try list.

1. Run a full marathon (and actually be included in top 10)
2. Learn to swim (in a pool only)
3. Snorkle (perfect for the Bora trip) 
4. Rappel
5. Rock-climb (with no harness)
6. Zipline 
7. Wakeboarding (might turn to surfing)
8. Ride an ATV
9. Ride a jetski
10. Be in a parachute while being dragged by a motorboat.
11. Caving (in Vietnam)
12. Kayaking
13. White-water rafting (want to reach level 5)
14. Bungee jump
15. Paraglide
16. Sky-dive (in South Africa)

Lols, some of the phrases in the parentheses made it almost farfetched. Well, I also envy those people who get to swim with the dolphins or the whale sharks. But that is still far for me, until I learn to swim.

Still hopeful to cross-out one or two before this year 2011 ends, technically almost 12 more months to go.

Edit to add:
1. Ride up a hot air balloon!
2. Fly in a 2-seater plane.
3. Sandsurf in Ilocos Norte.

UPDATE (1/2/12):
1. RAPPEL - had a half-hearted attempt to do a jump... managed twice on a very humiliating manner
2. ROCK CLIMB - did a rockclimb in Atimonan, with harness and very much unsuccessful
3. ZIPLINE - I zipped my way in Mt. Manunggal area... with my heart skipping a beat
4. RIDE an ATV - well I rode an ATV in Mt. Mayapay for the sake of the photo ops, I was offered for a free ride but I declined.
5. FLY IN A 2-SEATER PLANE - I rode a 6-seater plane from Itbayat to Basco Batanes. Not even close to being the pilot.

I will do better this year! =)

Philippine Tropical Mountaineering - General Terms

This post is also a condensed article from the site of Singarong Backpackers, who I consider as a reference in climbing during my newbie years, together with the Upward Trail site. I extracted this from my Multiply archive from a few years back.

Tropical vs Alpine Climbing

The Philippines has no alpine mountain peaks because the country is situated in the tropical belt and, at least, none of the peaks in the country exceeds 11,500 ft in altitude to be able to acquire alpine conditions like Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia and Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) in Indonesia. As such, Philippine Mountaineering (mountaineering in the Philippine setting) does not have to contend with alpine conditions – extremely low temperature, ice, snow and barren rocks – that makes mountaineering life extremely difficult and hazardous. Hence, in the Philippines, the use of protective gear for very low temperature and the use of crampons are not necessary. Much less, Philippine Tropical Mountaineering is free from the debilitating effect of very high altitude – the deficiency of oxygen supply in the atmosphere.

Jan 3, 2011

Traveler Status: My Lakbayan Grade

My Lakbayan grade is C!
How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!
Created by Eugene Villar.

I really need to improve my traveler status this 2011! Too many places to explore. See, many areas that my feet haven't graced yet. Hoping by the end of the year I could made it at least B grade. Lols! It made me remember a post by Ivan Henares of Ivan About Town, how he set foot on the last Philippine province that made him claim that he had been to every province in the Philippines! Wow I would want that title someday.

A few years ago, I first saw this Lakbayan app which calculates your traveler grade. I was a bit scared to take it because I haven't been to places back then. I was afraid that I would be graded as lower than F. Now, although I am a bit disappointed by the grade C status, I am at the same time proud of how I have elevated myself from below F to C. It was truly an achievement for me.

Jan 2, 2011

Goats: Ultimate Climber

Yep, they are....

You'll never know where they are getting that curiosity for heights and the love for altitude. I saw from a window once in an office while on fieldwork in Laoag, several goats on the streetside happily hopping up the mini-mountain of sand and pebbles. The higher they get the jollier they are. Makes one wonder.