Monday, May 21, 2018

Mt. Purgatory Overnight Traverse: A Hike To Remember

When I decided to fire up my old laptop to write this short blog post, I found myself staring into a blank screen for long stretches of time. Like a bored ghost, the cursor blinked endlessly as the minutes went by. I was utterly clueless on how I should begin. Then I remembered a piece of writing advice I’ve read just several days ago. It suggested that if you’re writing about a recent trip, you should jot down the most memorable parts of it then create a narrative around them.

So I asked myself "what were the most memorable parts of my recent Mt. Purgatory climb?" Several ideas came rushing through.

1. The jokes we shared and the laughter that often came after.
2. The thrill of riding on top of a speeding monster jeep.
3. The amazing views of the great Ambuklao Lake as it wraps itself around the towering mountains of Bokod.
4. Savoring bottles of limited gin and brandy on a cold, cold night.
5. More genuine laughter.
6. The unguarded moments.
7. The taste of brewed coffee after a back-breaking trek.
8. The unbelievable temperature as dawn breaks.
9. One, two, Pack. One, two, Bakian.
10. The houses with heart-shaped windows.
11. The sea of clouds.
12. The mist.
13. The smell of pine trees.
14. My injury-prone knees starting to act up.
15. Running the trail from Purgatory to Bakian.
16. That satisfying feeling of beginning the trek as strangers and ending it as friends.

How am I supposed to create a narrative around such a long list. I don't know. It beats me. Maybe some other time. All that it matters (for now) is that it was a good climb among good company. I can't wait to go back and do it all over again.

Thanks for the memories. Hanggang sa muling pag-ahon.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tekip Falls In Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet

This is a quick guide for people who want to see Tekip Falls in the town of Bakun in Benguet. Tekip Falls is one of several waterfalls located in Bakun especially within the vicinity of barangay Poblacion. It's one of the most visited falls in the town because it's more picturesque and is much more accessible compared to the other waterfalls in the area.

Just a quick reminder:
If you are thinking of going all the way to Bakun to only see Tekip Falls, I suggest that you widen your itinerary so that you'll get to see more tourist spots in the area. I say this because going to Bakun takes 4 to 7 hours and there's only two buses plying the Poblacion-La Trinidad route. On any given day, one bus leaves La Trinidad en-route to Poblacion while the other one leaves Poblacion en-route to La Trinidad. Both leave between 6:00 am and 8:00 am depending on the number of passengers.

There are no bus trips in the afternoon. That said, your only choice is to stay in Poblacion for the night then catch the bus early in the morning. This is why I'm recommending that you plan your visit to Bakun so that you can spend more time seeing other tourist spots in the town. When we went there on a trip, we set aside three days and two nights. During our stay, we explored Tekip Falls and Pattan Falls and climbed Mt. Kabunyan and Mt. Lubo.

How To Get To Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet
There's a bus that leaves every morning for Poblacion. It's parked at the lot in front of Kenwayne Commercial along Km. 6. It's sandwiched between the Calajo Restaurant and Dap-ayan Restaurant. It leaves for Bakun between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. I highly suggest that you go there as early as 5:30 am to ensure that you are aboard the bus when it leaves. Always remember that it's the only bus that leaves for Poblacion. Bus fare is 185 pesos per passenger. Traveling time can take between 4 to 7 hours. You should take into account your traveling time when planning your itinerary. If you get there early at 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, you can make a quick visit to Tekip Falls since it's only a 30-minute walk away.

Where To Stay In Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet
The old municipal hall is currently being utilized as a base camp for hikers, climbers, and visitors. You can stay there and pay around 80 pesos per head per night. The barangay hall is also being used as a base camp if the old municipal hall is full. But the rate is higher at 150 pesos per head per night. The benefit of staying at the barangay hall is that you can use the kitchen to cook your food. You can use the plates, gas range, and other utensils there. The barangay hall also has a clean bathroom and toiler with a steady supply of fresh water.

Tourist Guide Fee For Tekip Falls
The guide fee is only 300 pesos. A guide can accommodate six individuals which means that you're basically paying 50 pesos each. You also have to pay an environmental fee of 100 pesos per head for the barangay. This is why I suggest that you widen your itinerary so that you can get the most out of your stay in Bakun. As I mentioned earlier, going to Tekip Falls will take you around 30 minutes. You can spend an hour there bathing under the falls and splashing in the pools.

7 Must-See Waterfalls in Benguet

Within a few weeks from now, the rainy season will be bearing upon us at full speed. As water cascades down the hills, mountains, creeks, and streams, our rivers swell to their highest levels. For those looking for a little bit of watery adventure, it’s the perfect time to go chasing waterfalls. So without further ado, I present to you some of the best waterfalls that the province of Benguet has to offer. [Note: This list only includes those waterfalls I’ve personally seen.]

1. Mangta Falls (Bakun) – You have to hike for about an hour from Poblacion, Bakun to reach this waterfall which also happens to be located in the foot of the mountain range that’s topped by Mt. Tenglawan. For thousands of years, the waterfall pounded on the solid rock below creating a small but deep pool of water. Swimming at the pool is not advisable during the rainy season as the waters turn into a churning cesspool of strong and dangerous currents. To get a full view of Mangta Falls, you need to make your way up Mt. Gedgedayan or Mt. Kabunian. You don’t have to climb all the way to the top. Just get to a point in the trail wherein you’re at least within eye-level with the falls.

2. Tekip Falls (Bakun) – Probably one of the best waterfalls I’ve ever personally seen. However, the waterfall is a hit-and-miss. During the summer months, it dries up to the point that all you see is a trickle of water. But during the rainy months, it’s a complete beauty. When bathing under it, you have to be careful because of the pressure and the chance that there may be debris falling along with the water.

3. Bayokbok Falls (Tublay, La Trinidad) – Just a few kilometres away from Poblacion, La Trinidad, Bayokbok is composed of one big waterfall and two smaller layers above it. The waterfall is located just a stone’s throw away from the Asin hot spring. Just make your way to the hanging bridge, follow the trail, hit a small road and ask the locals for the final direction to the waterfall. It’s nice going there during the summer months because the waters turn pristine blue. During the rainy season, the waterfall is a magnificent gurgling beauty but the blue waters are transformed into chocolate brown.

4. Badi Falls (Kapangan) – This is actually a series of more than four picturesque waterfalls. You make your way to the riverbed at the foot of a mountain then slowly creep your way up river. Each waterfall is but several minutes away from each other. We’ve been there a month or so ago and the river current is still decent enough albeit the absence of rains. I’d like to go back there when the rainy season is in full swing and the river current doubles or even triples.

5. Pattan Falls (Bakun) – We made a quick side trip to this waterfall after we summited Mt. Kabunian. The water here is not that strong but apparently it grows dangerously strong during a typhoon. In fact, the hanging bridge which runs across just below it is a mangled mess of twisted metal and wires. I can only presume that it got torn to pieces by the raging waters during a storm.

6. Cooldown Falls (Tublay) – Just like Tekip Falls, this waterfall dries up to a trickle during the summer season. When we went there, it was April I think so there was no water. All that was left was a great pool of stagnant water at the foot of it. Nevertheless, this is a nice side trip for those who visit the Bengaongao and Paterno Caves in Ambongdolan. The waterfall is just a few minutes’ walk away from the entrance to Bengaongao Cave.

7. Pajekpek Falls and Suyok Falls (Dalupirip, Itogon) – I didn’t personally see this waterfall but I’ve heard from a few acquaintances that it’s quite good. I’m taking their word for it. All I know of the waterfall are a couple of photos that I’ve seen online. We were supposed to go there a week or so ago after our hike up Mt. Pigingan but we didn’t have enough time. Supposedly, the waterfall is about an hour away from the section of Agno River at the jump-off point. Dalupirip would be the perfect place for a waterfall. Imagine dipping in the cool waters after a hot and sweaty hike.

So there you go. If you think I missed something or if you have something to add, feel free to chime in at the comments section below.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PayPal Ending Partnership With GCash?

One thing I completely abhor about the digital age is that all it takes is one disgruntled "tech user" to come up with a rumor and pass it off as fact. I woke up this morning with a lot of chatter among the Filipino freelancing community that PayPal has "officially" ended its business relationship with GCash. According to the rumor, PayPal got tired of the hundreds of complaints it kept on getting from GCash users. So they had to pull the plug.

So I did a little bit of digging. Nope, there's no official announcement that PayPal has indeed severed its relationship with GCash. All I know is that during the last several days, a lot of people have been encountering problems when they attempt to transfer their PayPal funds to their GCash accounts. People had been unable to use the service for days. When asked what's going on, Globe's customer support representatives usually parrot the following answer: "GCash transactions are temporarily unavailable due to emergency maintenance".

Some support representatives went as far as saying that the downtime will only be until February 20. Well, it's already February 21 and the service is still unavailable.

The bottom line here is that GCash is unavailable right now. It has been unavailable for days now. But that doesn't mean the service's partnership with PayPal is over. I say it again, there's no official announcement of the severance. As of now, that's just a rumor.

Here's a copy of a reply of one of GCash's support representatives when asked what's going on: "We're sorry but PayPal to GCash is currently under maintenance until Tuesday. Rest assured that it will be up the next day. Apologies for the inconvenience."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

3 Dead, 6 Injured In A Road Accident Along Halsema Highway In Cattubo, Atok, Benguet

Three people died while six others were injured when their van fell off a ravine along Halsema Highway on Tuesday afternoon. The incident occurred within the vicinity of barangay Cattubo in Atok, Benguet. The passenger van came from Bauko, Mt. Province and was on its way to Baguio City.

According to an incident report by the Atok municipal police station, the van tried to overtake a truck when it swerved off the road and fell off a mountain slope that's around 300 meters high. The van was owned and driven by Rey Carias Batong.

The fatalities have been identified as follows:
1. Lourdes Payacda Balog-ang, 69, senior citizen, native of Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province and resident of #03 Purok 6, Irisan, Baguio
2. Mateo Elector Loy-odan Ngade, 34, married, mechanic, native and resident of Tadian, Mt. Province
3. Rey Carias Batong, 38, married, native and resident of Guinzadan Norte, Bauko, Mt. Province

Those injured are:
1. Jessy Keth Cambolo Panisigan, 6, F, Grade 1 Pupil at Star Colleges, Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet;
2. Kyra Panisigan Batawag, 4, F
3. Glenda Panisigan Batawang, 41, Housewife, all native of Guinzadan, Bauko, Mt. Province and a residents of Lubas, La Trinidad, Benguet
4. Marilyn Pacio Tomayo, 41, housewife, native of Guinzadan, Bauko, Mt. Province and resident of Poliwes, Baguio City
5. Apolonia Pacalso, 68, native and resident of Bana-ao, Tadian, Mt. Province
6. David Ingaan Caoili Jr., 59, married, native and resident of Bana-ao, Tadian, Mt. Province

The accident occurred around 1:50 in the afternoon. Responders and rescuers included volunteers and personnel of the Atok MPS, Atok BFP, MDRRMC, and DPWH. Retrieval and rescue operations ended around 5:45 of the same afternoon.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Applications For SM Foundation College Scholarships Extended Until January 31, 2018

Don't ever let the lack of funds turn into a hindrance in pursuing higher education. If there's a will, there's a way. Proper education and determination - these are the two most important things you need to set yourself up for a better future. And it's great that we have organizations like the SM Foundation, Inc. offering educational scholarships for deserving students. You should take your chance with this one.

The application for the SM Foundation's college scholarship program was supposed to end on December last year but they've decided to extend it until the end of this month (January). It's open to public high school graduates in the areas covered. For all the information you need to apply, visit the foundation's website at: [].

a. Public high school graduates in the areas covered:
b. Private high school graduates with DepEd voucher after completing Grade 10 from public schools in the areas covered:

Areas Covered:
Luzon : NCR, Albay, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Tarlac, Zambales

Visayas : Capiz, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental
Mindanao : Agusan del Norte, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, South Cotobato, Zamboanga del Sur

c. Fourth year or Gr. 12 weighted average grade of at least 88% in the second or third grading period.
d. Total household income of at most P150,000 per year

Courses Offered:
a. BS in Computer Science
b. BS in Information Technology
c. BS in Electronics and Communications Engineering/ BS In Electronics Engineering
d. BS in Computer Engineering
e. BS in Civil Engineering
f. BS in Electrical Engineering
g. BS in Mechanical Engineering
h. BS in Elementary Education
i. BS in Secondary Education major in Biology, Chemistry, General Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, English
j. BS in Accountancy
k. BS in Accounting Information Systems
l. BS in Internal Auditing
m. BS in Management Accounting

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Vehicular Accident In Itogon, Benguet Claims 3 Lives (3 Others Were Seriously Injured)

Three people including two children died when their car fell off a 50-meter ravine in the borders of Tinongdan, Itogon and Ambuklao, Bokod on Saturday afternoon (January 6). Three other passengers aboard the Toyota Hilux car were injured and brought to nearby hospitals for medical treatment and observation.

According to local police, the car was traversing the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road when the car swerved off the highway and fell off the cliff. The car just came from Baguio City and was on its way to Nueva Vizcaya.

Those who perished in the incident were identified as Judea Layno (13 years old), Juleah Layno (9 years old), and Fely Layno (60 years old). Those who suffered injuries are Jeofel Berlito Layno (43 years old), Judith Layno (39 years old), and Joriech Layno (2 years old). They are all natives and residents of the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

Jeofel, the driver of the car, is a police officer and assigned at the Dupax del Norte Municipal Police Station in Nueva Vizcaya. The authorities are still investigating as to the cause of the incident. The accident happened early in the afternoon under a fairly good weather so road visibility was clear.
Rescuers and volunteers at the site of the accident. Photo credit: Bokod Municipal Police Station
In light of the event, motorists and tourists traversing the tricky roads of the Cordillera region are being advised to be more careful with their driving.