Monday, February 13, 2017
IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CALLED a man-sized hike for it is just a little over seven kilometers in length. The route could not even cross municipal boundaries and is only confined in the Municipality of Daanbantayan. It starts from Lake Lanao going to Maya and up to Cebu’s northernmost tip, Bulalaqui Point. A mere dayhike. This is the same route that was denied me and my Exploration Team last August 20, 2016 during the Segment VII Exploration Hike.
Today – November 3, 2016 – I aim to finish the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT. I am alone. I hope I will not be denied again. I timed this hike when everyone comes back home to Metro Cebu after spending All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day in municipal cemeteries and where I have all the bus to myself. Well, not quite, but I do have an almost empty bus to ride in and it feels better when you have rows of empty seats and silence for company.
It had rained in Cebu City for days, including the whole night, and the forecast for today is not that encouraging. It was raining when the bus left the Cebu North Bus Terminal and it was still raining when the bus stopped at Carmen. As we went far north, the rain seemed to slow down and gone completely in Medellin. The skies are dark gray and quite grave for comfort. I just hope it stays that way for the rest of the day!
I arrive at the bus terminal of Daanbantayan and proceed immediately to the police station to make a courtesy call. Everyone knew me from last time and that is an advantage. But I did make a letter to their superior, the Provincial Police Director, days before so I would not be inconvenienced today. The local police are very accommodating and seemed to know that I am coming. Very good.
From the town, I hired a motorcycle and the driver whisked me to Lanao, the village named after their Lake Lanao, a lake that most people outside Daanbantayan never knew existed. I have known it when I saw an old map and found a hole in northern Cebu. But you will be disappointed. It is better that people not know this existed for you will find no lake. It had been converted into a big rice paddy.
I arrive at Lanao and made a courtesy call to their village head. There was no atmosphere of fear and anxiety when I arrived unlike the first time. The old lady was apologetic about my past troubles. They were just instructed by the mayor to be on the lookout of strangers and suspicious persons. Yup, we fit the description right and we have the name of the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL PROJECT on our jersey uniforms announcing our suspicious presence.
Anyway, after scribbling my name and purpose in their visitor’s log, I went on my way. I followed a dirt road. I see part of the lake on my left and low hills on my right. If I were to choose where I would want to walk, I would opt for the hills. It just happens that I am a stranger here and so I confine my activity on the road for the safety of residents. My presence still invite suspicions even if I have properly checked in with the authorities.
After an hour, I took my chance on a trail when I find that the dirt road starts to be paved in concrete. The brief respite led me to the national highway. I am now in the village of Tapilon and, sooner, I would be in Maya. This road would lead to the Port of Maya, the gateway to Malapascua Island. On my left are small roads. I am curious of where it led to and I have locals who were just as happy to help me.
I found a backroad that led to a nice beach which might be a good place to celebrate after a hikethru. I marked it as Sandoval Beach because a local says so. I still need to walk more so I would know more of the places that I am ignorant of. An arrow on a road sign says Malapascua. I got perplexed. I do not know that there is another wharf. I followed the arrow so I could satisfy my curiosity. It was not difficult to find and I am at a dock under construction.
Looming beside it is a part of the cliff leading to Bulalaqui Point! Questions begot me answers and I am now following a trail which led to a small community of Damba and the same trail veered left to higher ground. A local herder guided me to the flat ridge and showed me the way to Cebu’s northernmost tip. My adrenaline rose at the prospect of finally ending a quest that have had its first steps taken more than five years ago from Lutopan, Toledo City.
The trail led to more higher ground and I stopped at a high location to propagate a VHF signal to a repeater found 136 kilometers away on the Babag Mountain Range of Cebu City. As I opened the Yaesu FT270R portable radio, the frequency was instantly besieged by worthless radio traffic that I have had no time to send an important milestone that would have benefited Ham Radio Cebu and any emergency responder for that matter.
Disappointed, I proceed to Bulalaqui Point. Ahead is a thick forest of pygmy trees and bush. There are trails going left and right but, right now, I just want to be at the tip of Cebu. The tip would be marked by a slice of rock that had fell on the sea eons ago which you could see if you happen to be on a boat bound for or coming from Manila. I followed a very scant trail under a low canopy of foliage.
Then I heard a loud explosion! Showers of water can be heard afterward indicating that the explosives were placed on the sea. Dynamite fishing! I peeked carefully among the foliage and saw a small boat with four people on it. I do not want to be discovered and I do not want also to slip off the cliff. Then another explosion and water spraying back to the sea. Then voices of people as a small boat engine comes alive.
The illegal activity is irrelevant to my activity today. I do not want to derail the CEBU HIGHLANDS TRAIL because I am too nosy. It is not my problem. Let the authorities solve it themselves. Just below me is the rock itself. I am now on Cebu’s “finisterre” or “fin de tierra” or the end of land. I am at Bulalaqui Point! I unfurled the tarpaulin banner and tied it to branches. I would begin a simple celebration to mark a capping off ceremony.
I retrieved my Swiss Army emergency stove from my Lifeguard USA rucksack and begun the process of making a small fire in it with broken-off twigs and crushed dry leaves. I will boil water in a cup and stir instant coffee. When coffee’s ready, I eat a simple meal of two pieces red pie. This is my breakfast and lunch and coffee is great during a windy day with overcast skies.
I took the pebble that I collected at Liloan Point, Santander last August 23, 2016, already labeled and dated, and sealed inside a small plastic and placed it in between a small tree that has two trunks. It shall stay there temporarily until a permanent holder can be acquired housing soon handcarried souvenirs from Cebu’s southern end. As they say, it is a happy ending. Not really. It is just the start of a new trend of adventure tourism. The explosions are an added bonus celebrating the culmination of a pilgrimage.
Now I ask you: Would you consider this as a man-sized hike?
Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer