This is my attempt to recount the details of my 4-day Mindanao and Visayas trip that felt like two weeks.

Due to a(n) (un)fortunate event, Typhoon Biring blew our plane bound to Cagayan de Oro City and landed us in Cebu instead. At Mactan, the crew gave the passengers their options: either disembark at Cebu, wait until the weather clears up then take a ferry to CDO or travel back with them to Manila.  
Back to Manila? No way!
What the crew didn't tell the passengers was, if you'd just go to the CebPac office, they'd gladly book you a Cebu-CDO ticket for free.  
Arriving at Mactan at 6PM on a Friday night was a problem too. There's nothing to see at night, plus nobody wanted another city tour of Cebu the next day. 
We decided to go for a quick trip to Bantayan (though quick is not a word to describe the almost 6hr-bus ride).
At 6PM Friday, from Mactan, we went straight to the bus terminal. Had dinner at one of the bus stops, and by 11PM we were at Hagnaya port.
And here are the "how to keep it cheap" lessons we accidentally learned on that trip, aside of course from the fact that sometimes you've got to hand it to Mother Nature to amuse you with her ways:

Cheap Treat#1:  Sleep where it's free. The first RoRo bound to Sta.Fe leaves at 5AM. What will you do from 11PM-5AM? Sleep of course! But no you don't waste money by sleeping in a pension house for 4 hours. You sleep in the RoRo instead.

So there. We went up the RoRo and were surprised.  We were going to spend the night with other passengers who were stranded for the last two days.  Apparently, the weather was bad a couple of days ago and no one knew if it would be safe enough to sail the next day.
Good thing the waves calmed down.  The ferry made its way and by 6:30AM Saturday, we were in Bantayan.

Cheap Treat#2:  Haggle. Budyong Resort agreed to take all 4 of us in for only PhP 500 because we weren't sleeping anyway. We just needed a shower and a place for our bags.

The plan was to go around Sta. Fe, then be back to catch the 3PM ferry back to Hagnaya Port.  
Sta. Fe shore line - a long stretch of white, sandy beach
Overcast - it was still rainy in the morning
Ogtong Cave
I heard they no longer allow swimming here now πŸ™
At 10PM we were back in Cebu.

Cheap Treat#3Get in touch with relatives in the area. What will you do if you just got back at 10PM with a 4:30AM flight the next day? Hotel? No. Pension house? No. If you've got relatives around the area, ask if you can crash for 4 hours of sleep.

My aunt who lives nearby the airport took us in for the night.

We said hello to the City of Golden Friendship early Sunday morning.
First in the agenda: rafting.
Basic rafting. Bitin. Next time I'm going to get the advanced package!

Cheap Treat#4:  Still involves relatives. Relatives who know you are coming by for a quick trip will most likely invite you and friends for a quick meet-up.  For us, it was my CDO-based aunt who invited us for a sumptuous lunch.

After having lunch and a getting quick shower, we were back on the road to catch the last ferry to Camiguin. 

Cheap Treat#5:  Find a fun bunch of people. We met a group of friends from Cebu who were also going to Camiguin. We agreed to go together, so from 4 people, we were 10. Everything divided by 10 is way cheaper!

Checked in at Seascape Resort. Just because you get to a place at 7PM Sunday doesn't mean you shouldn't go exploring. We spent that Sunday night having dinner and exchanging stories with new friends then capped it off with a swim at Ardent Hot Spring.

Cheap Treat #6:  Talk to the boatman/locals. Ask if someone can cook your meals when you go island hopping.  Chances are it's a lot cheaper than if you ask the resort people to do it for you.

Monday morning. Up early to catch the sunrise and have breakfast at White Island. Breakfast taken cared of by the bankero's wife. 
White Island
With the fun bunch from Cebu
Back at the resort before lunch.  Had a quick rest, and by lunch time, we were back on the motorella for a swimming tour around Camiguin. (Because Camiguin has all sorts of bodies of water and you won't be able to resist taking a dip!)

Seeing the ruins at the Sunken Cemetery
Randy at the Katibawasan Falls
Sto. Nino Cold Springs
Around 5:30PM, the group dropped the 4 of us at the port to catch the last ferry back to CDO while they were all bound to Mantigue Island.
At 7PM, we were back in CDO. It was the only time to that we didn't have any agreed call-time to follow. We met with a couple of friends for dinner, went back to my aunt's place by 11PM, and rode the plane bound to Manila at 6:30AM Tuesday.
9AM Tuesday - Back to work. πŸ™‚
And that's how we did Bantayan-CDO-Camiguin in 4 days.

Total damage: a little less than five thousand pesos and tons of energy.  The 4 of us were all up to it, stealing sleep whenever we can and running all the way to catch all the last trips we took.  In the end, we were a happy and proud group who's luck happened to come with the typhoon.

My goal is to beat this trip on the cheapest category, but hopefully, not as tiring. πŸ˜‰

It all started on that trip earlier this year. No one mentioned that we were going around in a bicycle until we got there. Up to that point  I didn't think that knowing how to bike was such an essential skill. The ending? I went around in a carriage which charged 10 times the rent of a bicycle and made me feel like a total wimp.

Back from that trip, I knew I had to learn how to bike.  Luckily, I had a teacher who researched biking for 'advanced' ages! At that time it was his personal goal to teach an adult to bike.

It took three 1-hr sessions, a patient teacher, and a borrowed mountain bike to finally get myself on those two wheels:

First Session - Practice Take-off and Pedal a Few Turns
   It was a grueling and frustrating first session.  I was falling in less than 2 seconds.

Second Session - Find Your Balance
   Got my prized wound on the second session.  Note to self: Wear leggings.

Third Session - Go Freewheeling!
   We found a gently sloping road.  The first trick was to just roll down the slope and use the brakes as      necessary.  Next was to put one foot on the pedal and roll down the slope.  The next thing I knew, I was biking down the slope with both feet on the pedals! 

August 10 was the day I learned to bike here. The closed road in front of HSBC with Aaron's bike, my "training" wheels.
The next few days were spent biking on closed roads, trying to get used to the feel of the two wheels.  Then came the day I was finally given the go signal to bike on the roads and go past the traffic lights! 

After a couple of sessions, it became lonely biking alone.  When one is on the bike, the other one had to walk/jog and we could never get too far.  It was time to get a bike of my own. Good thing a friend told us about a surplus shop where she just bought her bike.  On that Saturday, together with a hipster friend, we got this folding bike which I aptly named Foldie.

Since October, Foldie and I have been out almost every weekend.

I will not bore you with the details of how it felt the first time I went for a night ride or how I bitched everytime a jeepney stopped in front of me or how I felt the first time we got to Magallanes and stopped for shelter when it rained so hard.  I'm just happy that I learned how to bike! Quite a bit late but still, I'm glad I did.

I have big goals in my budding biking career but the one that I want to do the soonest.. go biking in Vietnam! πŸ™‚

PS: This sticker on Foldie sealed the deal.

Switch to bicycle life!

I have never cooked an omelette in my entire life until that Tuesday.

I have no penchant for cooking unlike my friends.  I'm the one doing more of the eating/tasting and I'm not even good at that. One example: I can't tell which is the best tapa.. I just know which ones I like and which ones I don't. They're all good for me.

In an attempt to outdo myself that Tuesday, I decided to cook an omelette. I figured the easiest thing that I could probably cook with eggs on it without being too simple as a fried/boiled egg was an omelette. Thanks to Google I found what looked like an easy recipe.

     1 can of corned-beef
     2 medium red potatoes, cubed small
     1 cubed tomatoes
     salt and pepper
     eggs, 2 for each person
     1 tsp of milk for each beaten eggs(2)
     oil for sauteeing the filling, butter for the omelet
     shredded cheddar cheese
     Cook the cubed potatoes in oil until tender. 
     Add the corned-beef. Stir, and let it cook for about 3 minutes. 
     Season with salt and pepper.
     Set aside, while making your omelet.
     Whisk your eggs and milk. Season with salt. In a skillet, I used my iron skillet by the way, melt butter over low heat. Pour in egg mixture. 
     As  the omelet cooks, tilt the pan and draw the edges in toward the center with a fork. Shake pan gently to distribute the uncooked portion.
     Add corned beef filling on one half of the omelet, add some of the tomatoes and sprinkle shredded cheese.
     Loosen the edges of the omelet with a spatula and tip the pan forward to fold the omelet in half, covering the filled half. 
     Slide the omelet onto a plate.

Woke up early Tuesday morning and it took me 1.5hrs to finish 3 servings. I never tasted the stuff until the whole thing was done. I was crossing my fingers and toes, hoped not to burn the entire thing.  I'm notorious for burning eggs and even hotdogs. That day must have been my lucky day as the omelette looked perfect to me.

It turned out that it didn't just looked perfect, it tasted good too.  At least that's what the critic said. He may have been a bit too kind though πŸ™‚

Now I think that MAYBE I'm not so bad in cooking after all. But the outcome is only as good as the motivation..kaya pang special events lang ako.☺

Until the next birthday dish!

Back in college, I thought I wanted to be part of the group who seemed laid back and looked like they had most fun. I attended a couple of meetings with my university's mountaineering club but I didn't stay long enough to get to the application phase. I couldn't see why I needed to run 5 times around the campus perimeter with a time limit as preparation to a climb or why I needed to bring a backpack that's a dozen inches over my head when hoisted.  

Fast forward to 2005, our Theology professor required us a to do an outreach program. And while we all just wanted to grab a kid from the neighborhood and make him pretend to be a beggar so we could take pictures, our class president that time proposed to climb up to Sitio Mabilog instead.  Sitio Mabilog is UST Engineering's adopted community. It is a small Aeta community in Bamban, Tarlac located in the middle of the mountains. It was a 2-hr trek from the jump off point and a lot of times I was gasping for breath.  Thank goodness for the nice view that we had to stop every 10 minutes or so to snap a photo. I climbed up because it was a requirement I needed to complete.

The next year I joined a couple of Radio Club friends who went back to Sitio Mabilog to build houses.  I climbed up because the idea of building houses seemed fun.

The year after that my first official climb happened in Mt. Batulao, Batangas.  A couple of my friends and I joined a group who apparently had a knack for misfortune.  We arrived at 6pm at the jump-off point and when we finally started to trek, it rained. I wasn't prepared for anything more than a sunny day hike. I didn't have a raincoat with me, a rain cover for my bag, a headlamp, or extra socks for my wet feet. Thank goodness for garbage bags.. they make excellent makeshift rain coat/ bag rain cover. I slipped a couple of times, panted like I was having an asthma attack, and cursed every single minute in the uphill trail. It rained the whole night and the wind blew hard on our tents. I remember laying on my back in the tent dead tired with my feet wrapped in plastic bags. I couldn't even drag myself outside to join the socials.

The next day, my friend hauled me out of the tent and I was immediately overwhelmed with what I saw outside. Lush greenery every where I looked. We climbed up and saw the ocean on the other side of the mountain. All the memories of the difficulties I had the night before were gone in less than a few minutes. That day I climbed up because I wanted to be with my friends and see what the fuss was all about.

Mt. Batulao camp site
As of writing, I have only climbed 3 summits. I've chickened out a couple of times for fear that I'm not technically adept to go up and get myself going on the trail. I fear that eventually I'll run out of breath and drop dead. Those two other times I climbed up for no other reason but to reward myself with the view at the summit.

The grassy hills of Pulag
Mt. Ugo's summit
It's a cycle between me and the mountains. I know I will never stop gasping for breath or cursing myself every time I'm in an uphill trail but I also know that feeling of pushing my limits and seeing the world from several meters above leave me in high spirits long after the descent.

"It's a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory." (Ed Viesturs)