Sunday, January 22, 2017

MAN-SIZED HIKES XXIII: Nug-as to Liloan Point

IT IS ALMOST OVER. Just one segment more and the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT will be all over. The Year 2016 will always be a very memorable year for me. Kind of busy. Busy of doing things that I loved most like travel, teaching, blogging, humanitarian work and explorations. I had put to history Segment IV, Segment VI and Segment VII and, mind you, these were not easy walks. It resulted to an estimated total of 190 kilometers walked in just a single year, not counting Segment VIII yet.

Segment VIII is that walk from Upper Beceril, Boljoon to Cebu’s southernmost tip - Liloan Point, Santander. But, me and my Exploration Team will start from Nug-as, Alcoy instead and I gave just four days for this exploration hike. Can you dig that? It is not impossible, you see. When you are focused on something, everything can be done. I wished outdoorsmen with a purpose will be inspired by this and would develop the ability to replicate Cebu in their native Palawan or Negros or even combining Samar and Leyte.

Today, September 21, 2016, the Exploration Team composed of this writer, Jonathaniel Apurado and Justin Apurado are on a final mission. We are all pepped up and we are grim and serious. We know not what lies ahead after Boljoon but, definitely, we will try all routes where there is a good sense to walk. We know we would be at Oslob, at Samboan and at Santander a day or some days after but we know not if we will be at Malabuyoc or at Ginatilan. That remains to be seen.

We were all buoyed up by the success of Segment IV last January, of Segment VI last February and of Segment VII last month, even though we aborted this at a point when we were almost at the end. It was not a big deal. We could return any day to finish that short stretch. We were also on a high morale for our benefactors delivered when we needed it the most. Without them, maybe it would take another two years to complete this Project. I will deliver the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL in January 2017 and that is a promise that I will fulfill.

Notable among our sponsors who provided funds and very useful gears and equipment are Titay’s Liloan Rosquillos and Native Delicacies, Alvin John Osmeña, Aljew Frasco, GV Hotel Philippines, Silangan Outdoor Equipment, Jonathan Blanes, Glen Domingo, Alan Poole, Jose Neo, Tactical Security Agency, App Ops Philippines, Lester Padriga, Harold Butanas, Lavilles of Australia, Bakhawan Beach Home, Melo Sanchez, Glenn Pestaño, Amaya Montecalvo, Marc de Egurrola and Markus Immer.

Not to be outdone, the following had contributed to the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT in the form of services, perishable goods and their acknowledgments. They are Drinox’s Kitchen, the Quijano Family, Jeremiah Dayto, Matthew de Leon, Mountain Stories Blog, Ham Radio Cebu, the Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, PAC Gear, and the Philippine Mountaineering Blog.

All that is or what had been, with regards to the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAILS PROJECT, are chronicled in WARRIOR PILGRIMAGE as the Man-Sized Hike series. This is the blog that inspired the exploration and this is the exploration that exposed the blog to more readership following. Below is the itinerary of the days, time, events and other useful information where the Exploration Team boldly finished Segment VIII in three days instead of the four days allotted to it:


SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

04:30 – Leave Cebu South Bus Terminal, Cebu City for Alcoy by bus.
07:00 – Arrive Poblacion, Alcoy. Take breakfast in town proper.
07:15 – Leave Poblacion for Nug-as, Alcoy by motorcycles.
07:50 – Arrive Nug-as. Prepare gears, tighten straps.
07:55 – Leave Nug-as for Nangka, Boljoon. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Warm with cloudy skies.
09:15 – Arrive Nangka. Rest to repair external frame backpack of Justin.
09:20 – Leave Nangka for Cerdeña, Malabuyoc. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Warm with cloudy skies.
09:45 – Arrive Cerdeña. Chance meeting with village official and make courtesy call.
11:00 – Leave Cerdeña for San Antonio, Boljoon. Pace: Slow to moderate. Weather: Very warm and sunny.
11:30 – Arrive San Antonio. Rest and rehydrate. Coffee break with snacks.
13:00 – Leave San Antonio for Cansaloay, Oslob. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Very warm and sunny but with thunderstorms in the middle of afternoon.
16:10 – Arrive Cansaloay. Courtesy call on village head but we were refused audience. 16:45 – Eagle One decides to make a stealth camp in darkness on an unfinished house in vicinity. Dinner is crab meat soup, rice and fried chorizo. Strong thunderstorms east and west of us. Sleep on ground with shelter wrapped like blankets expecting both storms to pass over our camp.
20:00 – Taps.
Distance Covered: 15.3 Kilometers but only 9.7 Kilometers is officially recognized.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016


06:00 – Wake up call. Immediately break camp. Proceed exploration for another route to bypass Cansaloay and climb Mount Bandera instead. Pace: Slow. Weather: Cool and cloudy.
07:00 – Arrive at a natural spring on the way to Mt. Bandera to rest and rehydrate and to prepare breakfast of rice and egg omelet with sliced chorizo Bilbao.
08:00 – Continue exploration. Chance meeting with a village official of Cansaloay and decide to inform our presence and purpose which turned out very well.
09:00 – Arrive Mt. Bandera. Propagated VHF signal using a Cignus V85 portable radio with stock antenna at 5 watts power to a repeater tower of Ham Radio Cebu located in the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City, 118+ kilometers away. Communicated successfully with amateur station DY7EYN.
09:20 – Leave Mt. Bandera for Manlum, Oslob. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Very warm and sunny.
10:55 – Arrive Manlum. Rest and rehydrate.
11:30 – Leave Manlum for Can-ukban, Oslob. Pace: Slow to moderate. Weather: Very warm and sunny.
12:35 – Arrive at the Vincent de Paul Hermitage. Rest and rehydrate. Prepare meal of spicy noodles and rice.
14:15 – Leave Vincent de Paul Hermitage for Cañang, Oslob. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Warm and cloudy.
15:45 – Arrive Cañang. Make courtesy call to village head at his home. Invited to a fiesta dinner later. Set up hammocks and shelters at a copse of trees.
17:00 – Failed to propagate VHF signal this time to Cebu City even when a transmission coming from DX7CBU was very audible.
19:00 – Dinner at the home of the village official.
21:00 – Taps.
Distance Covered: 16.9 Kilometers.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

06:00 – Wake up call. Start cooking fires and breakfast.
07:45 – Leave Cañang for Monteverde, Samboan. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Warm with sparse clouds.
10:05 – Arrive in the vicinity of Monteverde. Rest and rehydrate.
10:30 – Leave Monteverde for Cabutongan, Santander. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Very warm and sunny.
11:45 – Stop at a crossroad of three rugged roads. Rest and rehydrate. Start cooking fires and lunch.
12:45 – Proceed hike. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Very warm and sunny.
14:45 – Arrive Cabutongan. Rest and rehydrate.
14:50 – Leave Cabutongan for Liloan, Santander. Pace: Moderate to fast. Weather: Very warm with sparse clouds.
15:30 – Strong thunderstorm overtook us at Bunlan, Santander. Fog caused whiteout and obliterated trails and landmarks at five meters beyond. Have to stop at one point.
18:00 – Arrive the national highway in Liloan. Proceed to Liloan Point despite pain in muscles and feet.
18:30 – Arrive Liloan Point. Rest and rehydrate. Dinner at port restaurant.
20:00 – Leave Santander for Cebu City by bus.
22:30 – Arrive Cebu South Bus Terminal, Cebu City. Terminate exploration.
Distance Covered: 19.7 Kilometers.


When darkness overtook us at a road corner fronting the national highway in Liloan, Santander, there really was no stopping even as we knew we still have a day on our schedule left, a day good enough to nurse our aching muscles and sore bones and our tender feet soles. We all felt the nagging pains and the obtrusive weight on our backs telling us to stop but it was just about a half kilometer to Liloan Point, the culmination of our collective sacrifices. IT IS OVER!

For me it was more than five years’ worth of painstaking planning and labor that found many skeptics and a few dissenting voices, overheard or not, from an older crowd who thought they were God’s gift to Philippine outdoors. Creating a route along the length of Cebu is not my original idea and it had been there for the taking right after Judge Menmen Paredes abandoned it. These same people could have taken up the slack but they did not. They were just busy building up their hype and making money from it. They have all the chance but they were not the resilient kind.

I have gained back REDEMPTION and ACCEPTANCE of my place in the outdoors with completion of this bone-jarring project called the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL. It is beyond my comprehension if I were to gauge this on the very first day I started this thing, which was a dayhike from Lutopan, Toledo City to Guadalupe, Cebu City on February 20, 2011. It was impossible, logistics-wise, but I have chopped this beast into segments and sub-segments at my own pace and tamed it and I have made history and there is no denying that.

Even as I sifted the sand along a shore in Santander, my mind is working on the unfinished 7-kilometer stretch in Daanbantayan that was denied me last month which I will cover on the next few days and that Test Hikethru of the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL in January 2017, right after the Sinulog Festival. The CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL is my gift to the Cebuanos, especially to the dozens of outdoor groups who are not under the yoke of one super organization. This is for you guys. This will be your playground soon.

The finished CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL is not perfect for it trudged on a lot of roads where it used to be trails. When I started on this thing, the Cebu Provincial Government was already clearing ground for their Cebu Trans-Axial Highway. A lot had been paved and I could do nothing about it and roads are a blessing to residents of these remote places. Although I am able to overtook and finished my project before they did, it was not what people expected it to be. It could be refined though in later years. I just made a template for the future.

Testing and propagation of radio VHF signals as a side event of the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT is a necessity since it gives hikers the flexibility of communicating to stations from places where it is deemed remote and beyond the coverage of cellular signals. As a licensed ham, this is a necessity. It places responders a better advantage of locating lost hikers and would hasten response time. My thanks to Ham Radio Cebu and to Mr. Ferdinand Mercado of the Municipality of Alcoy for allowing Eagle One to ride on in their repeater stations.

It was my first time to encounter unusual thunderstorms in all my exploration hikes of the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT and it happened to us twice at Cansaloay, Oslob and Bunlan, Santander. The first one on the first night, two storms were approaching towards our campsite coming from the east and west. Just when we were about to receive the full brunt of their furies when they clashed, it disappeared, leaving us a very peaceful night and starry skies. The second one on the third day came from the land mass of Negros and unleashed its wrath obscuring trails and landmarks in a complete whiteout.

The present provincial police director, PSSUPT Jose Mallari, is a very thorough officer who does not let this small activity let slip from his attention. I was provided assistance by his staff and I was able to liaison with all the police stations that has jurisdiction on the routes I would take. It was a very big help on my part and it removed the difficulties that I could have had if there was no such gesture. I did encounter a slight problem in Cansaloay but it was not a big thing compared to the ones I encountered in Mabuli, Tabogon and in Lanao, Daanbantayan during Segment VII.

The CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL is now open and ripe for the taking this January 2017. I would be bringing Jonathaniel Apurado again with me since he would be the only one available among the Exploration Team and it would be another round of looking for another set of sponsors. The Test Thruhike is a month-long activity, about 32 to 35 days, and demand resupply of food in designated cache areas. Someday you will walk the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL and you will be proud to walk in it. Someday.

Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer

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