Monday, July 8, 2019

July 15 (Monday) Declared as a Special Non-Working Day in the Cordilleras

July 15, a Monday, has been declared as a special non-working day in the Cordillera region. In a proclamation dated July 4, Malacanang made the declaration through Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea by authority of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The provided date marks the 32nd founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region. "It is but fitting and proper that the people of the CAR be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies", the document reads.

You can read the full document here at the Official Gazette website.

Daniel Feliciano / The Cordilleran Sun

The Cordillera Administrative Region was officially created on July 15, 1987 through an executive order issued by then President Corazon C. Aquino. The region is currently comprised of six provinces. These are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Eduard Folayang To Face Former UFC Champion Eddie Alvarez In One Championship: Dawn Of Heroes

At different points during the rise of Eduard Folayang as a mixed martial artist, fans of the fight game have always wondered how he would fare inside the biggest stage for MMA: the UFC. For the better part of his current career, the Team Lakay standout has fought under One Championship. With the recent spate of UFC fighters migrating to One Championship, fight fans are now seeing how talents from both promotions fare against each other.

The latest  in these interesting match-ups is the recent announcement by One Championship that Folayang will be facing Eddie Alvarez this coming August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena for One Championship: Dawn of Heroes. The two are at a very intriguing crossroad. They are both coming off losses. In the same card last March, Folayang got choked out by Shinya Aoki and Alvarez got stopped by Timofey Nastyukhin.

They are desperate for a win because it's their only ticket to being considered as a potential opponent for Christian Lee, the reigning One Championship lightweight king. Lee captured the belt when he knocked out Aoki last May.

Eddie Alvarez, the former UFC Lightweight Champion during his debut for One Championshio. Photo: One Championship
This is a battle of former champions. Folayang is a former One Championship lightweight champion. Alvarez is a former lightweight champion in two different promotions - UFC and Bellator. He left the UFC in 2018 right after losing to Dustin Poirier. One Championship signed him up and he made his debut against Nastyukhin in March of this year.

Obviously, Alvarez is more experienced and has faced much better competition. He has shared the cage with the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Rafael Dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Michael Chandler, the list goes on and on.

This is going to be a huge test for both fighters.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Kibungan Circuit: Hiking Through Benguet’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

No one would dare contest you if you are to pronounce that Benguet is the hiking capital of the republic. After all, this humble province is home to Mt. Pulag which is probably the most climbed and the most photographed peak in the country. But be reminded that Mt. Pulag is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly every corner of Benguet boasts of a peak or two which attracts consistent trickles of trekkers and seekers of momentary adventure.

There’s Mt. Ulap, Mt. Pigingan, and Mt. Ugo in Itogon. There’s Mt. Tenglawan, Mt. Lubo, Mt. Kabunian, and Mt. Gedgedayan in Bakun. There’s Mt. Timbak and Mt. Tabayoc in Kabayan. Let’s not forget lesser known mountains that are just starting to pique the interest of climbers. These new trekking destinations include Mt. Marikit in Itogon, Mt. Pukgong in Tublay, and Mt. Dakiwagan in Kapangan.

And then there are the utterly beautiful mountains of Kibungan. The mountain peaks in this far-flung province of Benguet are so numerous that climbing parties usually just use the general terms “Kibungan Circuit”, “Kibungan Traverse,” or “Kibungan Cross-Country” when describing their treks there. Naming every peak you’ve passed during a “circuit” or a “traverse” would eat away at your valuable time. You will need to create a list so as to make sure that you mention every single one of the peaks.

Kibungan is a hiker’s paradise in every sense of the word. Of course, this is subjective and you might think otherwise. I’ve been hiking for years and I’ve come to the point where walking through the trails is more enjoyable than reaching the summit. Even more enjoyable than being rewarded with magnificent vistas at the top. For most people, the apex of their experience during a hike is when they finally set foot on the summit. This is not the case at all with me. I think of “summiting” as just the icing on the cake. It’s nice but it’s not comparable to the experience of hauling yourself up through the trails for hours at a time.

Moving my feet over the trails is a form of meditation, at least for me. I find it very calming. The sounds that my shoes make as they crush dry pine needles or as they disturb puddles on the road are music to my ears. The monotony can go on for hours but I don’t mind it one bit. I’m most comfortable with myself and my being if I’m out there trudging through trails. Nature does something very positive to your well-being which is quite ironic because nature is the most insensitive and inconsiderate entity out there.

Planning and Organizing the Climb
You may not believe it when I say that I was supposed to climb the mountains of Kibungan seven times in the past. Since 2016, I’ve signed up with seven climbing events in Kibungan. However, every single one of these events got cancelled and never pushed through. The seventh cancelled event which was last year was especially memorable because our group of around 14 hikers actually made it all the way to Poblacion in Kibungan. But the tourism office there did not allow us to push through with the hike because of the rainy weather. Yup, we travelled for five hours all the way to Kibungan only to be turned down at the registration area.

But we understood the decision of the LGU there. It’s been raining for several days straight and it can be dangerous at the trails. In fact, on our way to Kibungan, we encountered a landslide near the Kapangan border. We got stuck at the road for an hour or so as we waited for the backhoe and bulldozer that would eventually clear the road for motorists.

Suffice it to say that Kibungan has been very elusive for the past couple of years. Every event there that I signed up with either got cancelled or the organizer simply disappeared without a trace. So throwing caution to the wind, I decided to organize a climb there myself. It has always been my personal policy NOT to organize an event to a place that I’ve never been to myself. I only organize hiking activities in mountains that I’ve climbed already. I broke this policy of mine when I decided to organize a Kibungan Circuit trek. That’s desperation, I have to admit.

What’s funny is that this event I organized nearly got cancelled. Just two weeks before the climb, people who signified their interest in joining the trek started backing out. A group of seven people who were supposed to come from Manila backed out, their reason being it’s been raining and that they are afraid of landslides along the trails. Fortunately, new people signed up for the trek and we were able to reach a comfortable number of hikers: 14. It was on. We were ready to roll.

The Climb
On a cold Saturday morning, the jeep we hired inched its way to Kibungan. I knew most of the people in the group. I’ve known them in treks and trail runs in the past. I was in good company. We reached the registration area in Kibungan earlier than expected so we decided to eat a quick breakfast before heading out. We then registered, paid the necessary fees, signed waivers, then headed to the jump-off point.

I learned that there are two routes on how you can finish the Kibungan Circuit. There’s the regular route and there’s the reverse route. We chose the reverse route. In hindsight, I’m happy that we chose the reverse route because it’s the easier route. That is in consideration of the fact that most of us were first-timers in Kibungan. In mountaineering, this is generally the most common approach when it comes to mountains with multiple routes to the summit. You take the easier routes before graduating to the more difficult ones.

The first section of the trail is a non-stop assault through fields, dirt roads, and community villages. It was hard but fun. The unflinching sun made the climb even harder. The trail featured quite a good number of forks and diversions so it wasn’t a surprise that some of us got lost once or twice on the first day alone. For group climbs consisting of more than ten hikers, it’s always the case that the group gets broken down into smaller sub-groups depending on individual pace. The faster hikers congregate at the head of the trail. Slower hikers congregate down the line. With just two guides, one at the front and one at the tail of the party, hikers caught in between can sometimes head the wrong way. This happened early on in our trek in Kibungan.

Getting lost aside, we all finally made it to a community church upon whose premises we ate our much-deserved lunch. Rested and energized, we pushed forward. After trekking through dirt roads lined on either side with vegetable gardens, we finally reached the trails that cut through Kibungan’s famed mountains. By this time, it was already afternoon. So it was no surprise that we got caught in a heavy rainfall. For several hours, we hiked under the persistent rain. It was a bit disappointing because you can’t enjoy the trails and views as much with the rain all around. We didn’t even stop at Mt. Tagpew’s summit because we’re all just thinking of reaching the camp site as soon as possible. We were denied of fantastic views courtesy of the low-lying and constantly moving clouds and mist.

Due to the rains, we had to change our itinerary. We have to camp at another place. Fortunately, one of our guides know a place deep in the mountains where a man lives. The man has a small house and a hut. Our guide suggested that we can set up tents and camp at his backyard. The Good Samaritan that he is, Manong Rogelio welcomed us with open arms and even helped us set up camp in his yard. He’s an interesting character. He lives alone in this place with his chickens. He also maintains several gardens and farms nearby. Bless his good and accommodating heart.

Pork Sinigang for Dinner
With just an hour of daylight left, we started pitching tents and preparing for dinner. Prior to the climb, we’ve grouped ourselves into meal duties. One team would take care of dinner, another for breakfast the next day, and yet another for lunch. Team dinner prepared pork sinigang and it was fantastic. Food tastes best when eaten in the mountains. There’s nothing more appetizing than a plate of hot meal after a long hike.

After dinner, we decided to retire and sleep early. Usually, for overnight climbs like this, there’s socialization which often involves drinking. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any alcohol with us. Honestly, I bought four bottles of 2x2 gin the night before. But when I packed my bags the next morning, it was too heavy so I simply removed and left the bottles at home. I didn’t want to burden myself with an unbearable pack considering the fact that it’s my first time to hit Kibungan’s famed trails.

Everybody retired for a good night’s sleep. Some pitched tents in the yard. Some slept at Manong Rogelio’s hut. Fortunately, it wasn’t that cold that night so most of us slept soundly.

The Second Day of Hiking
We woke up a bit late the next morning. We cooked most of the food we’ve brought for breakfast. The rest we packed for lunch. We broke camp, repacked our bags, and bid farewell to Manong Rogelio. The sun was already up in the horizon when we returned to the trail.
Photo credit: April Mae Patac
And boom, we got lost again. The first group with one guide moved ahead. Our group took a wrong turn and ended up following a trail that leads to the village of Tacadang. We got lost but at the same time it was also a blessing in disguise. We were treated to great views from Tacadang and the long hike to meet up with the others was in itself a nice experience.

Again, the weather decided to rain on our parade. It rained very early in the afternoon and our group decided to eat our lunch in a mountain waiting shed. The first group who was ahead of us at the trail ate lunch at a half-cave which is more of an incision on the mountain’s rocky wall. We finally reunited with them a half hour later and we embarked on the long descent down to the exit point in sitio Tanap.

Photo credit: Fheb Lynary

Photo credit: JL Tuguinay

Photo credit: JL Tuguinay

Photo credit: Fheb Lynary

Photo credit: Fheb Lynary

Photo credit: JL Tuguinay
Our descent was bogged by rain showers and constant drizzling. The views were still amazing despite the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to enjoy the scenes because of the bad weather. We got up close and personal with Kibungan’s famed crying mountains. Dozens of small waterfalls originate from the peaks and crash or trickle down the rocky mountain walls.

After several hours of knee-breaking descents, we finally made it to the river in sitio Tanap which means the exit point is just around the corner. We crossed the river, trekked across the Tanap rice terraces, and made it to the road above where our jeep and driver was waiting.

Another two awesome days spent in the great outdoors. Everyone washed up and we even managed to knock off several bottles of gin before we started on the journey back home to Baguio City. We capped the night with a nice little dinner at Kalei’s Grill in La Trinidad.

I don’t know about the others but I slept soundly that night. Happy for the two-day outdoor adventure. Thankful that nobody got hurt. And most of all, expectant for more adventures in the future.

To everyone, cheers! Hope to see you again at the trails.

3 High School Students Drown in a River in Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet

Three high school female students died in a drowning incident in Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet on Friday morning. The incident transpired at sitio Calew in said village. The three victims were students of the Blessed His Place Academy Incorporated.

The three students were identified as Kyla Mae D. Fernandez, Grade 9 student and a native of Ansipsip, Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya; Dickzy Mae M. Catos, Grade 7 student and also a native of Ansipsip, Kayapa; and Angel Hernandez, Grade 9 student and a native of Quirino province.

The three students reportedly went down to the river with a male student to find their companions who went down earlier to the river to gather wood. The three girls went swimming in the river leaving their male companion at the river bank. One of the girls started drowning. The other two students went to her rescue but they also got caught up in the river current. All three students drowned.

The students were in Dalupirip awaiting the opening of classes at their school on Monday. In light of the incident, students are being advised to stay away from the river especially during this time with the rainy season now in full swing. It can be recalled that several weeks ago, another student drowned when their group went swimming at a waterfall located in Tuba, Benguet.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Highest Point By Team Pinikpikan 50-Kilometer Road Run Post-Race Report

I learned a lot of lessons in this race. Probably the biggest realization is that preparing and training hard for an ultra doesn’t guarantee a strong finish on race day. Anything can happen and throw you off your game. I actually took the time to train for this race. In previous races, I only train and go for runs when I felt like running. There’s no cohesion at all. If I wake up and I feel like training, I’d go for a run. But if I wake up feeling lazy, then there’s no running for that day. But for HP, I ran and trained for a month. Woke up every single day and hauled myself to go for a short or long run depending on the week’s mileage target.

Then race day came. My only goal was to keep a conservative pace, maintain it without burning myself out, and cross the finish line in under 7 hours. If I can cross the finish line in under 7 hours, I’d be more than satisfied. I’d be happy. Ever since I started running, I never treated it as a competition. I run because I enjoy the process. I like the camaraderie among runners. And it’s my way of keeping my body fit and conditioned for upcoming hikes and climbs.

I felt great for the first 15 to 20 kilometers. My feet felt light. My breathing was good. I wasn’t getting tired that much. This race is going to be a breeze. Or so I thought. Then somewhere along one of the downhill sections in Caliking (or before Caliking, I’m not so sure of the geography here), I felt something twitch in my left knee. It didn’t hurt much so I was still able to run with it for a few kilometers. But the pain just got worse. I slowed down to a snail-paced jog. And then poof, out of nowhere, cramps started on the same left leg. This was my first time to experience leg cramps during a run.

And that was it. No more running or even jogging for me. Afraid that I might seriously injure the left leg if I keep running, I decided to walk and power-hike through the rest of the course. So for the last 20 to 25 kilometers, the ultramarathon turned into a walkathon. I became sort of a cheerleader for other runners passing me by. Finally crossed the finish line after 8 ½ hours. The 77th runner to do so out of 101 runners.

Finally, after eight and a half hours, we crossed the finish line. Photo credit: Sprite/Team Pinikpikan.
In a nutshell, it was a great race and a great experience with great people. A big thank you to Team Pinikpikan and everyone involved in the realization of this race. Congratulations to all my fellow runners. See you all again next year. Cheers.

A day after the race, I went to see a physician to have my left leg checked. Ayos naman, no injury or anything. Nabigla lang daw which I found weird and strange considering how I've been using the same leg to run for a month prior to the race. Anyway, the leg is fine. That's all that matters.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Geje Eustaquio of Team Lakay Wins Bout in Singapore

Geje Eustaquio of Team Lakay is back in the winning column with a well-deserved unanimous decision victory over South Korea's Kyu Sung Kim in Singapore in the undercard of One Championship: Enter the Dragon.

Eustaquio took the South Korean to school in the first two rounds of the three-round fight. Although he is much younger and with a significant height and reach advantage, Kim never found his rhythm until the third and final round. Eustaquio swept the first two rounds with his leg kicks and counter-punching. He effectively used his movement to tag the South Korean only to slip away just at the right moment to avoid the counters.

The third round was much more competitive with Kim increasing his output and aggression. He knew he lost the first two rounds so he knew he had to finish Eustaquio to get the win. Both fighters traded punches in the pocket. It was still a close round and could've gone on any direction. But with the take-down at the last seconds of the bout, Eustaquio secured the round.

With the win, Eustaquio is yet again inching towards the One Championship flyweight belt which he lost in January of this year to Adriano Moraes of Brazil. Who knows, the former champion might get the title shot with Moraes not yet penciled to fight anytime soon. Should Eustaquio and Moraes fight again, it will be the fourth time they lock horns inside the cage.

One Championship: Enter the Dragon is headlined by a championship battle between Shinya Aoki and Christian Lee.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

9 Dead and More Than a Dozen Injured in Road Accident in Tabuk, Kalinga

Nine people died while more than a dozen others were injured (some in critical condition) when a dump truck figured in an accident in Tabuk City, Kalinga on Saturday morning. The incident occurred in the vicinity of sitio Binongsay in barangay Malin-awa in said city. The group was on their way to a traditional event called "posipos" in the nearby barangay of Balawag when the accident transpired.

Based on initial reports, the open truck carrying around 40 passengers malfunctioned on a steep section of the road. The truck started backing down. The driver lost control and the truck eventually fell off the road.

Responders immediately rushed the injured passengers to the Kalinga Provincial Hospital and Almora General Hospital. Some were referred to higher medical facilities. One injured passenger reportedly passed away while in transit to Tuguegarao City.

Mark John Lazaro, the driver of the truck, has surrendered to the Kalinga police and is currently under police custody.

Source: ONE Kalinga

Reported names of casualties:
1. Ghelyn Kim Gallema
2. Rufina Dawagon
3. Jules Alvester
4. Edmund Mangagom
5. Crisanta Casirayan
6. Lucita Mangagom
7. Doming Matalang
8. Gaspar Edoc
9. Ngi-iw Gaano