Friday, March 21, 2008

Tour of Mindanao Diary

Tour of Mindanao Diary
Planned for 14 April-1 May 1994-17 days
Happened 14 April-25 April-11 days

14 April Thurs 7 p.m. ETD Manila via Aboitiz Super Ferry. It was my first time to ride the ferry which seemed like the longest travel ever in my life. It took us two nights (close to 38 hours) to reach our destination. I was in the company of Nelson Malabanan, Joy Jesena, Joy Dawis, and Gregg Cordova in a 17 day Tour of Mindanao initiated by Gregg. At the ferry, we met Rodel Ibarrola and Jong Arancon of Central Bank Clearing House who will eventually be acquaintances.

16 April Saturday 6 a.m. Cagayan de Oro. The group arrived in Cagayan de Oro 16 Saturday. We disembarked from the ferry after having adjusted to sea travel. Now, we have to acclimatize for the long land travel ahead bound for Davao.

Saturday 8 a.m. We took the 8 a.m. trip, the last trip for Davao. I was left out by the group which boarded the Bachelor Bus line while looking for a telephone to contact CDO office. The group left ahead while Gregg waited for me taking the next available bus for another destination. We eventually caught up hours later at the next stop.

Saturday 5 p.m. Davao. We arrived at about 5 p.m. and immediately took a jeepney ride to Digos. Each one talked to someone at the bus. We found a jeep that brought us to Kidapawan at about 7 p.m. It was already quite late but we somewhat managed. At the jeepney, we met Rey Nigodola, a physics teacher of Davao Oriental State College who will eventually help us go through the Mt. Apo climb.

Saturday 7 p.m. Kidapawan. We were billeted at Kidapawan Lodge at Kidapawan, the gateway to Mt. Apo. There, we met Kenny and Bidjong Crisologo by chance who will eventually join us in the trek. Dinner was at an open-air restaurant nearby. Typical of backpackers, we got one room at the lodge shared by 5 bodies.

17 April Sunday 6 a.m. After breakfast, we shopped for rice and other stuff at the nearby market before the climb proper eventually leaving at past 7 a.m. in a rented jeepney arranged by Bidjong.

Sunday 9 a.m. Site B PNOC Barangay Ilomavis. I estimated arrival at the Barangay past 9 a.m. Instead of jumping off at the guard house, we started way before that mark as the national park was on security alert.

Sunday 10 a.m. Marbel River. Before crossing the river, we changed our trekking shoes with our rubber sandals. This early, we still did not yet feel the load of our pack. Arrival at the landmark which had the hot/cold spring area was past 12 noon. This area marked the end of the flat land. From hereon, it was ascent.

Sunday 2 p.m. Lake Venado. It rained sometime in the afternoon before reaching the 87 degrees. Exhausted, we camped a few meters before inclined plane. Because of the rains and the wind, we were chilling. The group has now been split into three with a wide time gap. At the lead were Bidjong and Kenny, Chito, Nelson and Joy D. at the mid pack and Gregg and Joy J. at the sweep. In the dark, we wondered where everybody was as no one appeared to be within hearing and sighting distance. Eventually, we met up with the rest the following morning prior to proceeding to Lake Venado.

18 April Monday 6 a.m. Slopes. Continuing with our trek, we still did not recover our strength that Monday morning. Our energy started to be depleted with each ascending step we made. Due to fatigue and weight of our pack, each step was done in a slow motion. Finally at about 4:30 PM after 2 days of climbing, we made it to the top. That was sufficient motivation for us to camp, then to inspect the surroundings. Together, we again trekked to the cross, prayed and said our appreciation not believing we made it to the highest point in the Philippines at 9,689 feet ASL. Night time was socials time with only the 7 of us at the campsite. It was a cold and quiet night. Our provisions and tents made us comfortable enough making us sleep soundly for the rest of the night.

19 April Tuesday 7 a.m. Break Camp. The following morning, Tuesday saw us refreshed and invigorated. After breakfast, we climbed to the highest point which was just a few steps away. The boys gamely posed for the photographers. Both the Kidapawan and the Davao side were not spared from our prying eyes. Reaching back to the exclusive camp site, we broke camp and said goodbye to the top of the Philippines.

Tuesday 8 a.m. Descent was light except for moments of sweeping the ladies who somewhat faced some degree of difficulty. Emotional state of the co-climbers and the strong rains added to the difficulty. We made it back to the hot/ cold spring at about 4 in the afternoon, at least 3 hours delayed from the lead pack. It rained so hard while negotiating the point between 87 degrees and the flat land. It was already dark when we crossed the rivers. Bidjong even overshot the exit from the river. Good thing we through Bidjong managed to see the trail back. Going up to the guardhouse, we were surrounded by fireflies all over as if leading us back to trail during the night. We reached the guardhouse at about past 7 p.m., too late to go back to Kidapawan. We took advantage of the guard’s hospitality and the limited guard space. Somewhat we managed. We stayed until 5 a.m. until a service of PNOC offered us a ride back in Kidapawan first in a land cruiser, then in a Pajero. The ladies played with the guards using aliases as Jennifer and another sexy name as a way of appreciation for the free ride.

20 April Wednesday 7 a.m. Kidapawan. We were back at Kidapawan Wednesday before 7 a.m. with just sufficient time to say thanks to Bidjong, Rey and Kenny and their entire family for making the expedition possible for us. They saw us off at an aircon bus to Davao. At the bus, we reminisced the past adventure and started to prepare for the next one.

Wednesday 10 a.m. Davao. We reached Davao before 10 a.m. Wednesday with hardly any time to linger in the city. We boarded a non aircon bus bound for Camiguin. We skipped sleeping at Davao. Instead we found ourselves in Ginoog Wednesday night where we enjoyed a good meal, an enjoyable boy's socials and a good shower in a fine old hotel near the shore. It was as if the Mindanao journey was over. We were just too pleased with the moments. Or maybe we asked, was the journey was just starting?

21 April Thursday 9 a.m. Ginoog. We left for Balingoan Thursday via bus from Ginoog eating brunch at the cafeteria by the port. We managed to pick-up the early morning ferry trip for a 1 1/2-hour ride to Camiguin.

Thusday Past Noon. Centra. Arriving in Camiguin before noon, we visited Gregg's friends at the centra where a good lunch was prepared for us by the host. After lunch was spent at the white island accessible by banca.

21 April Thursday 2 p.m. Camiquin White Island. Ardent Hot Spring. Thursday night, exactly a week after our departure from Manila, we slept at Ardent where we had a good hot spring swim, rounds of beer at the restaurant and a sound sleep to prepare us for the difficult hot climb to Mt. Hibok-hibok.

22 April Friday 7 a.m. Mt. Hibok-hibok Peak. Friday, we planned to leave early from Ardent to reach the top before 5 p.m. During the trek, we had a long lunch break and other recuperating breaks. Our leader Gregg was most generous with rests. It was difficult but worth it. Gregg, our most seasoned climber had severe headache and was not surprisingly strong for the climb. Night was spent inside the tents where there was switching of tenants due to the weather and the health condition of the climbers. Somewhat, the temperature appeared to be colder in Mt. Hibok-hibok at 4,369 feet ASL than Mt. Apo. As night fell, temperature dropped, mist sppeared and winds blew hard. Rains brought the temperature further down to at least below 10 degrees.

23 April Saturday 6 a.m. Morning brought us across the boulders which provided us an awesome panoramic view of the ocean. The sight was more than enough to make us forget the ordeals the previous day. Break camp was early to give us enought time to enjoy the hot springs for the balance of the day. On the way down halfway, I somersaulted losing my cap.

Saturday Mid a.m. To catch the ferry ride, we immediately negotiated for a private jeep that brought us to the centra, and then rode top loaded at a passenger jeep. At mid-day we were at the port saying our goodbye to the island.

Saturday 4 p.m. Cagayan de Oro Centro Sabado Nights after the Climbs. Saturday night, we were back at the city staying overnight in Palace Lodge Cagayan de Oro in an old lodge down town. Dinner was at the city hosted by Chito without Joy D. It was Joy. D’s turn to declare ill for the day after Gregg. Dinner was almost like a post climb when we talked about the struggles and the blessings we received along the way. Plan to climb Kitanglad was deferred in favor of Tinago falls. While it was a consensus, deep inside there was curiosity on what's in store in that part of Mindanao. A climber who was a member of NORMs even invited us to join their post climb meet of Kitanglad in a nearby outlet building interest further.

24 April Sunday 7 a.m. Prior to our waterfalls adventure, we prepared our plane tickets for Mondays departure for Manila, arranged Joy D. 's return trip before we proceeded to Tinago falls for a most wonderful water experience. Gregg and Nelson called long distance to Manila to say perhaps they were OK to concerned parties. Tinago was a picnic. Lunch was a feast from the shopping at the Tinago public market where we saw sights of fruits, flowers and nuts unfamiliar to us. Seeing the falls which was linked to the Maria Cristina Falls, we were awed. The volume of the water from a series of falls was enormous. It was cool and clear; swimming across the basin was invigorating. Luckily for us, the Tinago we experienced was at its natural, pristine state without the formal and commercial structure we've seen in other falls. Sunday night, Joy D. treated us to a farewell dinner at a Zamboanga based restaurant Alavar, our first formal meal since we left almost 10 days ago.

25 April Monday 6 a.m. Cagayan de Oro. Today we were off the airport to say goodbye to this Mindanao trek which we thought would never happen or we could not possibly physically conquer.

Chito Razon 15 Sept 94

Where Are They Now?

  • Rey Nigodola, Physics teacher at Davao Oriental State College
  • Kenny and Bidyong Crisologo who we met at the Kidapawan Lodge
  • Rodel Ibarrola who last we heard went into a joint venture in a Bataan Cable Company and took up Nursing
  • Jong Arancon, husband of Levi Lim succumbed to heart attack at a young age of 37 last 15 March 2008 while leisurely biking in Manila
  • Nelson, Joy D-A, Joy J-B and Gregg are active in their respective fields

-Posted 21 March 2008

1 comment:

  1. OMG! ang babata nyo pa dyan ah!