Monday, September 21, 2009


THE TENTH DAY OF May 2009, Mother's Day to all mothers, found me again training with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon along the trails in between Guadalupe and the Babag Mountain Range. We three just had a successful night navigation training on April 25, 2009 wherein we followed the Babag East Ridge Pass for the first time and stayed overnight at Manwel's Peak.

We three decided to go by that trail again, this time in daylight, to investigate the destruction wrought by unknown culprits during our nighttime sojourn where we discovered hillside vegetations and along trails blatantly cut. With us during our ascent were guests Nathan Cannen and Myla Ipil of Kompas-Lakaw and member-applicant Edward Pugosa.

I tested for this trek a black Lake Baikal 35-liter backpack which I bought from Ernie last April 19th and stuffed inside were a shirt packed inside a dry bag, a digital camera, food containers, fork and spoon, a one-liter Nalgene bottle and a 50-peso worth of bread for my young friend in the hills, Manwel Roble and his family. The pack fit snugly upon my back and it replaced an abused school bag of my son's which I borrowed repeatedly on previous trips.

We all met at the back of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu Parish after I heard a Holy Mass and left at eight in the morning to start our warm-up walk ritual from Guadalupe to Napo, a distance of about 2.5 kilometers. From Napo, we crossed the first river crossing and followed the meandering trail along the Sapangdaku River until we reached the second river crossing at 9:13 AM.
After watering up, we climbed the trail to Sitio Busan and we were met by playful children playing and swinging along the resilient low-hanging mango branches. They are a strong lot and they converted what they had into a children's park and they were all smiles their laughter echoing in the mid-morning. We left in high spirits and proceeded toward the house of Manwel.

We arrived on the hill at ten and rested on the long cool bamboo benches at Manwel's place. We were offered young coconuts and green mangoes which we all helpfully digested. We tarry some more enjoying the sight of Metro Cebu on an advantageous height and the cool breeze lulled us to stay for awhile. Just the same, we took our packed meals out and enjoyed our early lunch at eleven.
At twelve noon we bade goodbye and left our token of thanks to Manwel and family and we ascended the Babag Range by way of a trail at its eastern ridge. In clear view, the hillsides and trail were cleared of trees and vegetations and we saw four charcoal-making holes being recently unearthed of its produce made from the burnt trunks and branches of the cut plants. Here and there were numerous bits of charcoal that blackened the ground around these holes and I took pictures of these hoping it will rouse the lazy government people administering these areas around here.

Left behind by the charcoal gatherers on their makeshift camp are three sleeping cots with blankets and pillows, water containers, shovels, cooking pots and utensils, tarpaulins and a speaker baffle made from a steel drum whose electric cord illegally tap power from an overhead electrical wire. From all indications, these cockroaches have not transferred camp and I could surmise that they will be back and have a great feast with more of these trees to cut.
At this juncture, the heavens seemed to growl in anger as bolts of lightning and thunder shattered the darkening skies above and then the rain fell in sheets of torrent. It came from the southwest and I understand the western monsoon started to make its presence felt and knocked on the door that signaled the end of another season of summer.

I always loved these moments when the cool touch of rainwater ran in rivulets from the top of your soaked hair and down into your shirt and shorts then into your arms and legs. The monotonous squish of the shoes on the water-splattered trail sort of make you claim your right to be a part of the earth. I disdained wearing rain-protective gears while on the trail and Ernie, Edward and Boy T followed suit. Nathan and Mylez thought otherwise and donned raincoats. They both were not in our zone, I think?
We arrived at Babag Ridge at 12:42 PM and walked a few hundred meters to a store to take a rest there. At 1:45 PM we continued on our journey and walked a kilometer ahead to follow the No-Santol-Tree Trail that would take us to Kalunasan and back to Guadalupe. The trail here, after a rain, is very slippery and I found myself spilling over thrice despite careful placements of my steps.

We noticed a place where there is an ongoing processing of charcoal along the trail. Thick white smoke bellowed from below the soil from where a slow fire consumed wood underneath, slowly turning it into charcoal – commercial charcoal, that is. Nearby were a man and a woman clasped in a classic embrace on a cot in an open makeshift hut, their attention on each other instead of the fire hole. We tiptoed by, feeling embarrassed of our sudden intrusion.
We walked on down and down into cleaves and ridges and crossing dry gullies. We passed by beautiful pockets of second-growth forests planted with teak and tangguile trees and flower farms. The trail snaked among ancient mango trees, papayas, shrubs and other vegetations growing wild and free. Big boulders, sometimes block the trail and we climbed over it. The trail is so narrow and wild indicating that passage is very rare. Meanwhile, Mylez complained from far behind that this is not a trail while Edward shouted ahead that he enjoyed this great adventure!

We walked on ahead and passed by Turtle Rock, a big rock formation on the right of the trail covered by a pocket forest where there is a crack in the middle and a good area for training bouldering and rappelling. Beside it, on the left, is a smaller rock formation that took on a form of a turtle's head with a neck and humped back.
Without resting, we trudged on, up and down, curving to the left and to the right, balancing on a few steps, running sometimes in short bursts. Pockets of grassy areas also abound where trees are absent and offer a different view of a part of Metro Cebu. Finally, we arrived at a trio of beautiful tamarind trees that marked the final downhill stretch for Kalunasan Road. We regrouped here and took a quick rest.

We reached Kalunasan Road at around 3:37 PM and walked the unpaved road for Guadalupe in an hour. We regrouped again at the parish grounds of Guadalupe and Edward parted early for a trip home to faraway Danao City while Nathan and Mylez hopped on an Isuzu Crosswind and bade goodbye.
Meanwhile, Ernie, Boy T and me stayed behind and refreshed ourselves with four one-liter bottles of San Miguel Grande by a store in the vicinity of the Guadalupe police station. We three concluded that the different set of trails we used recently will be offered open and free to all comers irregardless of their affiliation and standing and we will gladly accommodate anybody who is sport enough to test the trail and themselves. 
We have concluded another perfect day and a Happy Mother's Day to all...
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Friday, September 11, 2009


AREA 1 OF THE CEBU PROVINCIAL Government is now safely gripped in the hands of Tactical Security and Detective Agency, Inc. after assuming their task on April 1, 2009. Operations on the Cebu Provincial Capitol, the Cebu South Bus Terminal, the new Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, the Cebu International Convention Center and other peripheral areas went on smoothly as it is ably steered by the new professionals in the security industry today.

Periodic troop information and education as well as the constant monitoring and inspection of all security personnel, equipment and security procedures were conducted and implemented on all big detachments and single posts. On-time release of salaries and prompt action of requests, personal and work-related, have motivated all security guards to perform well and placed them in a state of high morale and a pride of belongingness with an agency who knows how to take care of them.

It could not have been possible were it not for the dedication and hard work done by the current crop of security officers and office staff who made extensive effort to accommodate every concern of each security guard and to the areas where they are assigned. Tactical Security's two telephone lines and eight cell phones under the Sun network have been ringing regularly accommodating such requests. Also, the “Big 4” have been giving extra support and motivation to the former when crunch time came.

Elsewhere in other fields, Tactical Security were able to assume its brand of security service last June 1, 2009 to the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in Lapulapu City, to include its satellite casino inside Dakak Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte; and deployed twenty-seven (27) male and female security guards, eight (8) assorted firearms, five (5) UHF radios and other security equipment.

Tactical Security were also able to snare another rich trophy in taking the security functions of the prestigious Sacred Heart School-Jesuit, located in Canduman, Mandaue City, into its area of expanding responsibility. Nineteen (19) security guards, nine (9) pistols and revolvers and five (5) UHF radios were deployed and used during the takeover on June 16, 2009. Security officers voluntarily patrolled all access roads every day directing traffic and gave support effectively to the guards manning their posts.

But the biggest buzz came with the awarding of Area 2 of the Cebu Provincial Government to Tactical Security after a competitor fell short of its contract to provide an able security service to all its province-wide operations and properties. On July 1, 2009, Tactical Security absorbed all the security operations of Cebu Province's district hospitals starting from the north down to the south and in the islands of Bantayan and Camotes.

Besides that, Tactical Security assumed control also of all province-owned lots in Cebu City, Minglanilla, Naga and in Malapascua Island plus the governor's patrol boat currently moored in Olango Island. A total of one hundred and nine (109) security guards were added to the troop strength of Tactical Security wherein twenty-seven (27) revolvers and nine (9) shotguns were issued.

Tactical Security have never been in a position before in it's history wherein it rode the helm of the tiger's back. This year is a banner year for Tactical Security. A time of good bounty from its marketing hunt backed up by unquestionable service and able control of its existence. It had sparked great pride among its ranks. It had spawned a yearning to reach the plateau of excellence. It had given impetus to be a top-notch security agency worthy of its name. Tactical Security does all things for your security needs.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009


ROAMING AROUND AND anywhere is something that my physical body is well attuned to. My genes, for a good part, might have dictated my love for walking and hiking on trails; but it is the value of my personal freedom of movement that have goaded me to climb mountains where, upon its ridges, slopes, forests and crags, I become one of its myriad elements.

There is no description, whatsoever, of the joys I have experienced on the trails and in the wilderness; accepting the hardships and dangers as mere challenges that never lull my desire to feed my burning spirit within. The love of the outdoors is just a reflection of the love and acceptance of the self just as my unhampered movement is an echo of my first steps of a long journey.

Ever since the mountaineering fad had bitten me during the time when I attempted my very first climb at Mount Daraitan in the Sierra Madre in 1988, I could not anymore still the urge to reach more of these same dizzying heights and gawk at exhilarating sights which few eyes have seen. Just a few, because not all can afford to give their time to tackle difficult and ruthless terrain and not all possess a sturdy body and mind to withstand the rigors of climbing a mountain.

Formally, in 1992, I joined the Cebu Mountaineering Society as a means to exercise my love of the outdoors. My first climb with them was in Mount Pangasugan that ended in near-disaster when the guide lost the trail. That difficulty gave me the chance to prove my worth to the club through my stability and calmness under pressure. However, our overall strong resolve to survive brought us home safely and from there it created a great bond amongst ourselves. From there we became even better mountain climbers.

Although affiliated with a group, I never lost my sense of individuality and the desire to take the trails by my own lonesome self was developed. On several occasions, I just walked away from civilization on my own and find the silence justifying and a good elixir to finding the answers of troubling problems.

From there, I would treat each climb as a campaign. I would prepare myself physically back then by running 10 to 20 kilometers up a steep road twice a week and another weekend trail run - all before a climb. In between I would squeeze in cragging and rappelling. And, once on the trail, I would set a blistering pace and be the first to arrive at the campsite. Then I would claim the privilege of setting up my tent on choice sites.

My preparations were once tested on the trails of Mount Apo in 1994. Members of a popular club from Manila have this rude habit of overtaking everybody on the trail. They were very noisy and loud and and have no qualms whatsoever about trail courtesy. Yes, they were fast and strong but they were not agile. For two days I raced with them uptrail and I find them lacking in imagination and flexibility and left them behind many times over in the ruts of their own conceit.

Those were the days when mountaineering was a free-wheeling and attractive hobby and sport. Those were the days when the grass were taller and the trails wilder. Days when free-spirited men and women blaze the trails and preceded those BMCs and LNTs by years. Days when the heavy load you carried are nothing behind your back and drowned by the chance to shout at the top of your voice on the apex of a peak!

After Mt. Apo, my climbing sessions with my club became few and far between. On the average, I would climb with them once in every two or three years but never have I slowed down on those few occasions I rejoined with them. In between those few sessions, sometimes, I would lead a group of tourists or be side by side on the trail with a guest. Free-lancing as a mountain guide back then have taken hold of me and I deduced to myself where would it take me. The last thing I would ever do is turning a hobby into a stable source of income and that defeated my prejudice against commercialization of mountaineering. So I let it fly away and I vanished from the scene.

Fast forward to today, many people and groups have made mountaineering a lifestyle and shackled it with a set of rules. A venue to showcase branded gears. A chance to remember exercise only when their image in the mirror are not of their liking. Now everybody loves the outdoors and soup-alphabet groups sprout like mushrooms here and there and vanish from the scene without ever touching our consciousness.

Watching from the sidetrails, I could already see the order of things to come and they are not too good for my own comfort. I am used to doing things on my own and have despised anything or anyone's dictum that would hamper my freedom of movement. In many ways than one, there are others like me.

My thoughts are basic and straightforward, yet, too elemental to be tamed by a system of rules. I am a warrior who yearned of the old ways. I will walk my own trail in my own good time and pace. I will light my own fire in a campsite of my own choosing. I have done this before and will do so again. I am a free mountain climber!

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