Baguio, 2006, Through the Mirror's Eyes



Noel is my friend since college. We actually met in one of UST Scholars' Association's general assemblies. I dunno how it happened but heck, we ended up as good friends. You'll surely know that this guy is inside a room if you'll here chortling of all sorts, for he was the org's all-time resident comediante. I was quite surprised that he already got married last year. 'Was even surprised that he's a Dad now.

Tifa Mari Cabacungan, that's the name of this charming angel. At once I thought it was Fifa, parang tunog soccer. Hehehe. They told me that the name came from a Jap anime. I wonder if it's from Noel's collection of toot toot...hehehe.

Oh well, congrats bro! The baby's a cutie pare. Ingat sa mga manliligaw nyan.. Hehe


11th Annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

If you actually need to get somewhere, a hot air balloon is a fairly impractical means of transporatation. You can't really steer it, and it only travels as fast as the wind blows. But if you simply want to enjoy the experience of flying, there's nothing quite like it. Many people describe flying in a hot air balloon as one of the most serene, enjoyable activities they've ever experienced.

Although this is the 11th time that the International Hot Air Balloon Fest is being held here in the country, I am still an archetypal greenhorn in the event. Clarkfield, Pampanga is again hosting the over eighty (80) massive hot air balloons which came from all parts of the world.

This event is highly recognized amongst the cluster of HOB oganizations worldwide. I wasn't able to make it in the last 10 years and almost not this year save for Stippy, who drove all the way from Batangas to Tagaytay then to Pampanga (hehe). We agreed if there is nothing to the interest of our palate, we might as well dig a chow trip in this famed Mekeni province.

The last day is when all of the fun finales can be seen. In store are the much-awaited aircraft acrobatics and para-military exercises. I am not a fanatic of this event, but the moment you see these immense bloats, you will surely be transposed with a gamut of overbearing eagerness to scream for a free ride on each of the balloons.

We're probably in luck that time for of over a thousand spectators inside the Clarkfield hangar, we were among the few who were allowed to enter the balloon grounds and have close encounters with four corporate sponsored balloons. Thanks to our friends from Total Gas, we were given a free pass to ride their HOB, otherwise we would end up taking pics 50 meters away from the fenced balloon grounds.

Cruz-Kuizon Wedding


Mt. Cristobal Conquered....Almost

Armed with only a pair of old chinelas and a spare pair, a 7.5 ltr water load (4 of which with rehydration salts), a pair of vintage sunglasses and a full-packed gear, I joined twelve (12) expert mountaineers in an attempt to climb Mt. Cristobal aka The Devil Mountain.

The gurls


A photo enthusiast herself whom I considered to be one of my fotog gurus. She's the team's mountain tinola connoisseur. The woman who chose to bring the caldero instead of her camera. Tsk Tsk Tsk....Ya missed that awesome moon girl...Joke.


The ultra-devout kapatid who knew my buddy's bud VERY WELL...Peace! Ang lumalakad na rolex. "2 minutes to 1 pm; Let's go!; Si Geland pumepetiks pa e!; Tang-i-toot, where are we na ba?"


Ang tanggera ng tropa. "ops ops 5 seconds na, you missed your turn. Next pls!"


The pseudo-grade two baby of the group hehe. Slept when all scampered for an emergency camp. Ang natulog ng alas syete ng gabe...Basta tawagin mo nalang si Val na "Ang Babaeng Walang Pahinga...sa Pagtulog"



Buddy sa pagpupu wehehe


Ang first love ng grupo...wahahaha.

Leo the Dad

The pathfinder. Ang kaututang dila ni Jayson. The dad with a 6-mo old bebe....

Leo Tangkad

Ka laugh-tripan ko. Reminds me of Kuya Mario of Batibot whenever he laughs.


Our team leader cum preacher. Always mabenta kay Tinog ang jokes (kay Tinog lang hehe). From Kat to Ron "Talaga palang matatalino ang unggoy dito sa bundok"


My good friend from Shell. Ang tutor ng gurls sa pag-akyat sa bundok.

Ang mga Guides na Pasaway - Members of Malayang Mamumundok para sa Kalikasan (M2K); Sabi ni Leo, kapamilya rin ng Maalaala Mo Kaya Movement

(NOTE: kaya siguro anim (6) ang anak ni Manong dahil member sya ng M2K, mahilig mamundok!)

Manong 1

The reincarnation of Rene Requiestas. Quoted "Ayusin mo ang buhol ng tent, baka maging Aklan yan"...ayos talaga 'tong si Manong!

Kuya Alden

Si Manong tagahukay. Class sweeper.

Alexson alias Tinog

The MAN! This grade 5 todd made our trip more memorable. He's more eager to climb than everyone else. Real name of Tinog is Alexson - Alex from their lolo while the -son is from their ninong someone. Isang hirit ni Tinog "Pag mahirap may galos, pag mayaman may scabies (with twang)".

The Climb

The Mt. Cristobal ascent was my first official climb in 2007. This will probably stick inside my head for it is by par the hardest task I've done in my 28 years on earth. I was hoping it'll be too easy so I was convinced that my dependable sandals would do its trick again. I almost bailed out when I realized that of the thirteen (13) fellows, I was the only one in sandals (chinelas sabi nga ni Blos). Hikbi.... But I remembered what my Lolo once told me "Son if you've got brains, you should have guts no matter what, to claim glory and victor". Hell yeah Lolo. Let's get it on!!!

According to the United Trekkers Club of the Philippines (UTCP), Mt Cristobal is considered to be a minor climb based on altitude and degree of difficulty. Mountains below 2,000 meters ASL and treks that take a day or less to complete are generally considered minor. But I can tell you man, what I experienced was far from these claims.

The trails are nowhere to be found. Even with our local mountain guides, we found ourselves lost in the middle of a cogon-laden spot of this cunning mountain. We settled for an emergency camp 350 meters short of the target summit. No wayward attempts was pursued, as for five (5) enduring hours, we still are creating our own trails. Perhaps God saw us during that day for the spot where we're at is actually not bad.

To the mountaineers, Mt. Cristobal is always referred to as Banahaw's alter ego. Banahaw is revered to possess tons of positive energy whilst Cristobal is supposed to be the opposite. Probably, in one way or the other, the mountain celebrated when he defeated us in claiming his peak. In fact, a double celebration, for another group of climbers were also lost and settled in a spot, 50 meters above ours.

After a cold 15 degrees night, we descended the mountain via the trail we have created. In about 2 hours, we reached our starting point. I was surprised we completed our task safe and sound. I personally am proud to have climbed 1,150 meters ASL. Something to also brag about was the chinelas I used. I'm still using it but I would definitely not recommend them up the mountains (andami kong sugat wahhhh).

Barangay Kinabuhayan

We weren't planning to go to Kinabuhayan as it was not in the original itinerary. But since our descent was faster than we thought, the group opted to reward themselves with a dip into the famed river of this secluded barangay. It took us about 15 minutes in reaching this revered Dolores, Quezon sanctuary. As in almost all the surrounding barangays beneath the mountains of Cristobal and Banahaw, here, you can likewise tell that various sects are in command of the river's free flowing water.

In one part of the river, I saw three middle-aged women taking loads of water directly from the river's edges. It was believed this waters can cure any kind of disease. One manang even told me that she has problems with her kidneys and almost died, but eventually recuperated due to her devotion to God and to the Tubig ng Buhay, the locale's infamous regard to the river's water.

I was amazed with the claim that I instantly asked the manangs if they could get some from me (2 liters of fresh water) for my lola who is now sick in bed. Of course, I also took a sip. Not that I am too superstitious but it indeed tastes better than the bottled ones. The manangs told me that some would taste it bitter, and for others, not good at all. Some are rejuvenated after a few sip. Luckily, I belong to the latter. Siguro mabaet ako. Hehe. Peace Lord!...

The Cristobal trip unexpectedly ended with me giving back what is worth of HIM. I never felt exhausted during or after the whole 2-day trek. Although, we weren't able to get to where we wanted, I'm glad we have surpassed Cristobal's clever ridges, played our part as good friends and will be seeing our family with all our body parts still intact.

Of my four (4) mountain climb targets this year, I can say 1 mission is accomplished!