Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I am the most veteran of the four and I gave inputs and humor to our weekly undertakings while Boy T takes care of wiping out the integrity and character of a trail with his pair of clumsy boots. Sam, on the other hand, daydreams himself walking and sometimes take hideous snipes at Boy T and anybody he doesn't like and munches his endless hoard of chocolate bars and Ernie, well, he always shows off his weekly lucky “catch” from an ukay-ukay (pre-owned items) stall.
We, the four of us, have become the most well-versed walkers in this part of the world and we found our younger counterparts gasping all their darndest best pursuing us. Every week we changed our pace: from an excruciatingly slow and tarried climb to a crazy and imagined race with a tiger. Our slowest pace is designed to accommodate guests or time it to take lunch at Manwel's Place.
Our regular route is the Napo Main Trail which starts from the first river crossing and ends at the second river crossing and from there, the Butan Trail, which goes upward to the upland community at Sitio Butan. Ernie's Trail then take up the rest of the route passing by Manwel's Place then crossing a brook and then it climbed a steep route directly to Mt. Babag, the old site of the RCPI tower.
We would have not mastered this trail were it not for our young local friend, Manwel Roble. He is the jedi master of this trail and have shown to us the whims and caprices of the whole area as well as its secret chambers of precious liquid. What liquid? To me, it is either drinking water or young coconut water. To Boy T, it is beer – ice-cold beer! And Boy T loved very much the view overlooking Metro Cebu and listening to Papa Joe on an FM station.
The main route is Ernie's Trail and it is there that we suddenly became serious with our “work”. Every week we never deviated from the trail save, perhaps, when we accommodate “fragile” new beginners. The trail is a nice piece of work and we will share it to anybody who is sport enough to test his or her own self.
You know what, my greatest climbs are not found on the slopes of Mounts Apo, Pangasugan or Dulangdulang. It is just here in our own “backyard” and you would see the face of a happy man in me. I wouldn't trade it for no other mountain and I am not kidding. There's too much to explore around here.
Now back to the route, we four left Guadalupe for Napo at eight in the morning after our guests failed to come early. We took it slow and reached Napo an hour later then crossed the river twice before stopping by at Manwel's Place at 10:15 AM. I brought out a Cebuano Bible and the bread I bought for Manwel's family and decided to tarry a while and savored the young coconuts offered to us by Manwel's father.
At 11:15 AM, Vince, Wally and Ariel of bisdakcentral.com came, pale and greatly winded, after hurrying up to catch up with us. We took lunch altogether and bade goodbye to Manwel and his family at 12:00 noon. After an amazing 40 minutes of power climb we reached the tower area and walked the 300 meters to Boy T's favorite store to rest there. I suggested that we stay for just 10 minutes and forego of the beer-drinking session reserved for this occasion as we have to rush to a scheduled Cebu Mountaineering Society meeting later in the day.
During our early sorties here, we used to backtrack to Guadalupe through the Kahugan Trail and since we have discovered a new trail to Kalunasan (which we named No-Santol-Tree Trail) we decided to take another pass at that route. I led the group and applied a torrid pace. I could run the trails again, thanks to the weekly training here, taking short bursts of speed uphill and long bursts downtrail.
It was a beautiful cloudy day devoid of scattered rainshowers and I never heard a thud behind me or maybe I'm just too far away from my nearest pursuer. Running downhill I came to a fork in the trail where a lot of felled trees blocked the route that were not there last week. Some people just wouldn't care about trees anymore and I couldn't blame the poor folks either. Charcoal from wood is their bread and butter. The demand of charcoal is high during December and in January as the Feast of the Sinulog approaches.
Tempted to try a new route, I decided to test this branch of a trail which goes up a hill passing by an eggplant farm then a cassava plantation. It snaked among some solitary mango trees and stunted cogon grass until it vanished for a while and then it picked up again some meters ahead and then vanished again until this trail is found again some distance beyond. It is a ghost trail and it was meant not to be seen or followed. I name this trail the Coconut Ghost Trail in reference to a lone coconut tree growing strangely in a soil where coconuts are not supposed to grow along this phantom-like route.
This trail ended in a makeshift hut that afforded a view of the Napo Main Trail and the river crossing. People would walk the routes below and not notice this structure, or so it seemed. The hut could accommodate three to four persons and two poles are pierced in the ground outside holding horizontally another pole from where a pot would be suspended over a cooking fire. What sort of people are using this hut? It could either be a resting place for a farmer, a rallying point for a hunter or a forward base for red fighters?
An animal trail is located peripheral to the hut leading downhill along a scree slope that is very loose, slippery and quite dangerous if you miss your footing. There are sparse vegetation along this trail and these could not be depended upon for anchor as you go down. One or two guys took a spill just above the hut and the slope and everyone were now very careful with their foot placements.
Finally reaching stable ground below we found another trail fork. We decided to follow the leftmost branch and passed by a family of four gathering firewood. It was already 4:00 PM and I could feel the clouds starting to peel and drop drizzles of water. We pushed on ahead passing by a spring and, finally, the Kalunasan Road. The guys took time for a needed respite while I decided to continue walking along this dirt road and then into the asphalt street leading to Guadalupe.
I was the last to arrive, despite running on some stretch, at the Virgen de Guadalupe Church at 4:45 PM as Boy T, Ernie and Sam rode tandem on a single motorcycle and arrived minutes earlier. CHEATS!!! From there we went to the club meeting on board Boy T's KIA Pride and arrived fifteen past five. Ben Lao met us at the gate and we sucked the welcoming cold beer like a long-lost lover. And from there it was mayhem...
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
So, after months of waiting since September 2008, I finally received this heart-lightening news. Actually, I first tried registering at Ratified.org in June 2007 and was advised to re-register if I could comply their requirements of creating an account first with Page Rank and then with Alexa Rank and finally placing their widget buttons in my blog.
It took me a while though to register again until last year and now I am a bit overwhelmed to see my blog grouped along with fourteen other notable ones under Batch # 18. Along with that, I carried a Ratified Blog ID 795 and, initially, I got ranked at 590 out of 763 blogs.
Clicking on my details I discovered some interesting facts which I have not known before except those stats coming from Page Rank and Alexa Rank whose updated results are shown conspicuously on my blog. You know what, I never knew I have 23 subscribers in my Feedburner. Well, that is mouth-watering to me. But there's more!
My URL address is placed 28 times in 26 blogs of other people and that I hold a Technorati Rank of 231,813. Wow, I never heard all of the above and it's a good thing I got involved with Ratified.org. Presently, I have placed the red Ratified.org button showing my latest rank at 280, up at 310 slots.
Now, I got the chance to be rubbing elbows with the best of Philippine blogs with this highly-prestigious website that is a source of material for the annual Philippine Blog Awards. Their updated list of their flagship project - Top 100 Blogs – are impeccable and detailed showing these super blogs in their front page.
I guess, it would take a long time and a lot of SEO knowledge before I could gain a foothold of the top elite but, in the meantime, I have to bask with the shower of good fortune seeing me break into a new area of ratified horizon.
Nyak! Nyak! Nyak!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
WHILE THE CEBU CITY GOVERNMENT and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were asleep, anonymous termites armed with a chainsaw fell tree after tree in a remote hinterland of the city found either in the boundaries of Sapangdaku, Babag I or Kalunasan. It was in the early afternoon of February 8, 2009 when I chanced upon four stumps of newly-cut tamarind trees, their trunks and branches scattered about along the trail that I traversed from Babag Ridge to the barangay road of Kalunasan.
I was with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon and we just concluded an endurance climb session with my group, the Cebu Mountaineering Society, wherein we parted ways with Daddy Frank Cabigon, Boy Olmedo and Grace Ventic and guest Joel Cariño of the USC Mountaineers who decided to cut short their session by way of the Babag Ridge Road exiting to Garaje in Upper Busay. Boy T, Ernie and me, meanwhile, proceeded to explore further the No-Santol-Tree Trail which we accidentally discovered on January 4.
On that date and on the week after that (January 11) these four tamarind trees were still there. Each of the tree were bearing fruit as they were still in their prime and were a natural landmark along the trail because of their imposing location. In just a short span of time, these lovely tamarind trees were reduced to a pitiful assortment of lifeless cut trunk and limbs while their leaves and fruits withered under the heat of the sun, perhaps, all to be buried under a shallow dirt inside a fire hole where the slow ember of a fire would reduce it to commercial charcoal.
Everywhere, whether along the trail or across another hill, I would see spots of cleared hillsides, marked by dried vegetation and dead tree stumps, young and old alike. And located nearby are the charcoal-making holes, black-marked forever on the landscape, so obvious by its presence. A curse to the green living things wrought upon them by greedy traders who capitalized on the remoteness of the area, so wide and so hidden, and on the economic situation of the inhabitants. Another thing, these termites took advantage of the neglect and laziness of people in government tasked to oversee the protection of the environment.
It is a common sight for me when I trekked the trails from Napo to Mount Babag and back or traversing to Kalunasan to see people gathering and transporting charcoal. Most of these kind use minors to do the work for them. One pre-adolescent boy I talked to on the No-Santol-Tree Trail, who was carrying a sack of newly-collected charcoal slung along his forehead, said he disposed his cargo to a certain “Floro” for a measly fee of ten pesos (Php10.00)! It sucks!!
Boy T have been egging me many times to alert these activities to the authorities, but I don't know where or whom to talk to. I felt his rage and I felt mine too. So I clicked on my camera and blog this in the Internet, then pray and hope that someone would take notice of this. Just hoping and praying this will be magnified a thousand times...
...I am appealing to the Honorable Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his councilors, the DENR and to the barangay chiefs of Kalunasan, Babag I, Guadalupe, Sapangdaku and Busay to please get out of your comfort zones and take a look at our backyard which are now being decimated slowly back to the Cebu City of the '80s which were marked then by bald hills, overflowing rivers during a rain and droughts.
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1