Boracay 2018

Boracay is a paradise. One of the most popular in the country and one that has fallen victim to its own success.

The island has been our retreat of choice for the last xx years during holy week and one inescapable change that you notice is the over-crowding and over-development year after year.

Don’t get me wrong, I like development and I like progress. I love Boracay precisely because it is developed. I am not a fan of virginal beaches where you would have to take several rides just to get to a restaurant or a decent place to stay. By decent I mean an air-conditioned bedroom with a private bathroom and a bidet at the very least. A Starbucks nearby is also a nice bonus. I like the comforts that come with Boracay’s development but it doesn’t take a genius to see that it has gone  overboard in that department.

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Going back to Batanes

Our decision to go back to Batanes was mostly driven by a tempting seat sale by Philippine Airlines earlier in the year. I did not realize until today, a few hours before I go back to life and adulting, that I badly needed that time to disconnect from the rest of the world.

2017 has been a year loaded with changes – mostly unplanned and unwelcome; both at home and at work. Going to a place that is seemingly frozen in time is somehow comforting after all that.

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Hiking Mount Maculot – A beginner’s tale

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Ever since That Thing Called Tadhana, I have made it my mission to go emo while staring at the sea of clouds at Sagada’s Mount Kiltepan. Turns out, if you are not in your twenties anymore, you can’t just go to Sagada on a whim. While Kiltepan is supposed to be an easy climb, you have to do it at dawn in freezing weather which makes it challenging for first time climbers. Some preparation is needed and setting the incline on the treadmill at a higher percentage just won’t cut it.

The closest and easiest option for first time climbers is Mount Maculot in Batangas. The place is only two hours away from Alabang Town Center and smacked equally between Nuvali and Tagaytay in terms of travel time according to Waze. It is rated 3/9 in difficulty by Pinoy Mountaineers which should mean that it is fairly easy to hike.

Registration is required but your guide can take care of this for you. You may park at an area right before the start of the trail that has public bathrooms for rent. You would need to come back here and take a shower for sure unless you’d want to ride home all sweaty and muddy. It would also be prudent to bring an extra set of clothes and shoes. The toiletries, you can just buy from there.

Now, I am not exactly the fit – sporty type and my doctors (note that it is plural) have told me that I have a weak heart. Going up was pretty challenging for me but there were several set stopovers.  In most of these there were stalls where you could get water and/or food… if you went on a weekend. We were there on a Monday which meant that we had to carry enough water to sustain us until we get to a campsite at the top where only one store was open on weekdays.

It wasn’t really that the trail was difficult. I just ran out of breath faster than a normal human and my heart kept pounding in protest so I had to rest at least twice between each designated stop. Luckily, our guide was very patient and Jae kept me company (surprisingly) on my unceremonious stops. They also managed to endure my Justin Bieber playlist and my ‘Cathy Garcia Molina-verbally abusive because I am tired’ moments.

Speaking of tour guides, rate is at P400 for every five people. I think we got one really cheap though because the sites I checked out before our trip quoted P500-P700.

After about two hours –  you get to have this amazing view. I remember a friend who hikes regularly mentioned something about having a sense of accomplishment when you get to a mountain’s summit. I think I prefer my accomplishments better when I don’t have to sweat or get sunburnt.  But one thing I won’t argue against is the view. It sure is prettier when you are on top.

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All images © 2015 Dale Bacar.