Bakasyunan Resort in Tanay, Rizal: Refreshed and Satisfied

We had come to know Bakasyunan Resort and Conference Center in Tanay, Rizal while watching GMA-7′s morning show Unang Hirit. What caught our fancy were the big Infinity Pool and their thrilling outdoor activities. For our twentieth anniversary, my hubby surprised me a weekend getaway in this famous resort. Together with our kids and my mother, we will drive a two-hour trip in getting to the province of Rizal.

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the Infinity Pool, the main attraction in Bakasyunan Resort

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2017 Cebu City Tour

My flight with my office mates going to Cebu via Cebu Pacific was delayed for six hours due to maintenance repair work of Tagaytay’s radar which we thought had ended the day before our flight. It was a stressful day seeing lots of people complaining, shouting and some were fuming with anger to the ticketing employees. I commend these employees for dealing with them wish so much patience.

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Major Climb No. 1: Surviving Mt. Pulag

Aside from Mt. Pulag’s famous sea of clouds, its uniqueness is its different vegetation in different elevation. Not only that, it is home to unique species of flora and fauna and is the natural habitat of the endemic dwarf bamboos and edelweiss that feast to the eyes when trekking the 500 hectares grassland. Sounds exciting right?

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and so we survived Mt. Pulag!

Trivia

Mt. Pulag stands at 2,922 meters above sea level (MASL) where its peak meets the borders of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. It is the third highest mountain in the Philippines next to Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-Dulang and is Luzon’s highest peak.

For a casual trekker like me, climbing Mt. Pulag is a rewarding experience I achieved this year. Thanks to my officemates Janice and Joyce for organizing this climb. I can’t sustain my happiness because right after my unforgettable adventure in Masungi Georeserve last November 30, Mt. Pulag came next.

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the golden brown grassland

We were all eleven and since most of us were casual trekkers (except Janice), we chose the Ambangeg Trail or what they call Artista Trail. It was the easiest trail and is perfect for beginners. But mind you, it was a major climb with difficulty of 3/9. To make things easier, we took a package tour for P2,700 per head courtesy of organizer Sheena Cmer. Van transfer was provided with two trail guides, dinner, breakfast and lunch. We were headed by Abby, the coordinator of this tour.

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a lovely sight going back to Camp 2

We left McDonalds Visayas Avenue, our meet-up place around 12:00 midnight. We reached Baguio City by 6:20 am and ate breakfast (with choices of tapsilog meal) at Daddy’s Restaurant along Abanao Street.

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mine was bangsilog with hot coffee… yummy breakfast

Side trip

By 8:14 am we head off to Benguet. We stopped at Jangjang Eatery in Brgy. Ambuclao to settle for lunch and for bio breaks. Shortly after an affordable meal, we went to Jangjang Hanging Bridge, the longest hanging bridge in Benguet. It was narrow and shaking, but still, we were able to capture memories in the middle of the bridge!

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thanks to Masungi Georeserve for helping me lessen my fear of shaking hanging bridges…

The sun was hovering in the clear blue sky. Indeed, the weather was so cooperative. Everyone was highly spirited.

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lunch time…affordable price

The journey

We were traversing picturesque scenery, but the journey to the sinuous and treacherous road was so fast. I felt quite giddy that I want to vomit. We told the driver to slow down a bit. He was driving like he was flying on air.

The Orientation

Orientation at DENR office is compulsory to anyone who will climb Mt. Pulag. We logged our names before we enter the function room. We watched a short video and later the facilitator shared insights about Mt. Pulag and explained well the guidelines.

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before the short orientation

The four trails: Ambangeg Trail (the easiest), Akiki Trail (the extreme 12-15 hour trek to steep ascent), Tawangan Trail (the bloody trail because of the presence of leeches) and the Ambaguio Trail (coming from Nueva Vizcaya).

I was so elated that I’ve learned a lot about Mt. Pulag and here are the two great things that top it all: to respect the mountain and leave no trace.

Medical Certificate

Everyone who will climb Mt. Pulag is required to submit a health certificate for safety reason and best interest of the trekker.

Camping in Ranger Station

We pitched our tent on a hilly side of Ranger Station for the night. I was sharing with Janice and Joyce. The view from there was breathtaking. There were lots of pine trees everywhere. The fleeting clouds and clear blue skies were sights to behold! I was so amazed seeing for the first time, a full arched rainbow. It was so beautiful and amazing! It was so wonderful taking photos of the wonderful things our eyes perceived.

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everyone is busy pitching tents… girl scouts and boy scouts before… now, climbers…

And the temperature? It was Amihan season (northwest monsoon) so the weather was so cold. Woooh!  In Manila, we escape from the heat of the sun, but in Benguet, we seize the sun! Hahaha! Amid the cool temperature, we had our happy photo ops.

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my very first time to see a beautiful full-arched rainbow

When night came, we were like soldiers dressed in full battle gear. I had several layers of clothing, but despite the number of clothes I wore, I was still shivering.

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the beautiful Benguet Pines

 Dinner Time

When we got out from our tent for dinner it was freezing outside. There were spatters of rain and the wind was blowing so hard as if there was a storm. This is where I experienced the coldest weather in the country. I was worrying, with this crazy icy cool breeze can I trek the summit in a bewitching hour at 1:30 am? Bahala na si Batman.

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sharing room… este tent with Jan and Joyce… you see us smiling… later you don’t… blame it to the cold weather… hahaha!

The three of us were the first batch to eat at Abby’s kitchen tent. We huddled inside and were delighted to eat nilagang baboy Abby cooked for us. Aside from the hot soup, we had coffee too and lakatan for desert. Nilaga was delicious. Just perfect to warm our chilling bodies.

After our dinner, we stayed outside for few minutes. Surprisingly, amid the stormy wind and spattering rain, the night sky was so clear. The full moon, the stars… I was thrilled by the beauty of the night in Benguet.  It was perfect for some social activity, but since we were getting wet, we decided to stay inside the tent and sleep.

We awoke rather late the next morning. Blame it to the cold weather. Brrrrr!!!! Since there was no time to eat our breakfast, we were given a packed meal each. By 2:35 am we set off for the climb.

Camp One – flat trail 

This was my first time to trek in narrow trails and in total darkness. We wore head lights to light up our way. We were advised to be extra careful because we will be walking beside dangerous cliffs. Since it was raining, the trail was slippery and muddy. It was really really cold that I felt the initial numbness of my hands. Later, I had a hard time catching my breath on the steep incline because of lack of oxygen. Despite my clothing, I was still freezing cold. The cool weather lingers into my veins. We reached Camp 1 by 3:50 a.m. We rested for ten minutes and moved on.

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the wondrous sight of rich vegetation in Benguet…this was the cliff we passed by at 3:00 am going to Camp One.

Camp Two – gradual not so steep trail

The trail to this camp was even more slippery. At times there were no stones or woods to step on so we had no choice but to walk in puddles of water in the softened earth. Thus, our feet were soaked to the skin. The thin air, the lack of oxygen and the cold weather made the trek harder. Again, I was catching my breath so hard on steep parts.

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the water source, a spring water near Camp Two

Seeing water sources along the way marked the proximity to Camp 2. We had several stops before we reach this camp. It’s good that there was a latrine in the area for bio breaks.

The Summit 

We now prepared for the hardest and coldest part of the trek. But before we move on, I ate first my packed meal. Though it was cold, we were advised by Abby to drink water so we will not be dehydrated. By 5:50 am we headed to the last leg of our climb!

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happy jolly guys but shivering inside hahaha! preparing for the Summit climb!

It was a downcast morning. The sun was hiding from thick clouds. Though it rained profusely, we continued walking on an ankle-deep mud. It was slippery and at times we hold on to tall grasses. I was mesmerized seeing for the first time lots and lots of bamboo dwarfs. It was definitely beautiful! But as we went along, it was an eyesore to see trails with damaged foliages. Poor bamboo dwarfs.

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the lovely presence of the endemic bamboo dwarfs we passed by while we were on our way to the summit

I made frequent stops to catch my breath as the altitude increased. Looked like my heart will get out from my body. It beats rapidly. After what seemed like hours of endless walking, I decided to quit. I had a hard time catching my breath and the weather got extremely cold. But then, I told myself, if I quit, I will miss seeing the famous sea of clouds and I will never have a picture with the iconic wooden signboard of Mt. Pulag. Well then, I proceeded.

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raining… freezing… I could not use my cellphone because my hands were numb… thanks to Joyce for this picture…

There were two colors of mud, one is brown and one is black. You may choose which will discolor your shoes because you have no choice where to step on. But I noticed, black is much slippery so I went on walking on brown mud.

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there’s no other way going up and down the summit but through this slippery black mud beside a cliff

When at last by 6:10 am, we were on the summit, the highest point in Luzon! Yahoo!!! I can’t describe the feeling. It was overwhelming and amazing! I felt so proud that I want to shout to the world, “I survived Mt. Pulag!”

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So proud of myself, I did it mga beshies! I survived it! I almost quit, but thank God, I did not or else I will regret not having this photo with the iconic wooden board of Mt. Pulag.

But there was no Sea of Clouds in sight or a beautiful sunrise! Nonetheless, this climb was truly worth it. Picture taking with the signboard was jam packed. It took several minutes before our turn.

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It’s good that the sun came out to open as we trekked back. And because the sun was shining, it was then I appreciated much the beautiful rugged terrain of Mt. Pulag. The golden brown grassland was dominated by dwarf bamboo. Next in sight was the mossy forest with bonsai shaped trees, brown and green ferns, the red flowers locally known as “lolong” and the edelweiss.

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locally known as “lolong” an eye-catching flower in mossy forest

According to Abby, the beauty of mossy forest was magical. Certainly, it was. Philippine Oak Trees were prominent in mossy forest.

From ten minutes rest from Camp 1, we now headed to Station Ranger. Another wonder along the way is the presence of Benguet pine which dominated the picturesque trail. It was getting hot but as I’ve said, here in Benguet, we seized the sun! Hahaha.

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me with these cute red-cheeked kids

The journey going back to where we started was enjoyable and relaxing. Thanks to one of our trail guides Mercy, for helping me eased the trek. Conquering Mount Pulag is an amazing feat. No wonder why fervid climbers kept coming back to this beautiful mountain in North Luzon.

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By the way, Mt. Pulag is named after the local term called Pul-ag meaning bald.

My meaningful adventure with Mt. Pulag had finally ended. Will I return or not? Certainly, I will. Wait for my revenge climb! Hahaha!

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Part 4: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Venetian Macau and Galaxy Macau

I will not leave Macau without visiting its grand casinos which make the city famous for. After a hefty lunch with Day Leen, Jelo, Kimmie in a restaurant near Real Casino Hotel, we boarded free shuttle service going to Venetian Macau in Cotai Strip. This is the first casino in my bucket list to visit. Surprisingly, after all the walking from Senado Square down to Golden Lotus Square, we were all still giddy with excitement to proceed to the last leg of our Macau tour.

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Part 1-Day 1: Hong-Kong and Macau Trip: Senado Square and St. Dominic’s Church

My mind was so preoccupied with a lot of things prior to my Hong-Kong and Macau trip for this is my first time to travel alone out of the country. I made my own DIY (do-it-yourself) itinerary and coerced myself to include Macau in my schedule as this is one-hour apart only by ferry from Hong Kong.

Luckily, Dayleen, a new friend of mine based in Hong Kong offered herself to be my guide. I was so thankful to her because this will cut a lot of time roaming around Macau for she knows this place so well. Our plan is to explore around until 2 pm and we will proceed to Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong thereafter. Oh, I just can’t hide my excitment. Woah!

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the stunning Grand Canal of Venetian Hotel and Casino

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