Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sam Milby Sings in Kannawidan

At the middle of the battle of the bands, the host then introduced Sam Milby the hottest matinee idol who is also a recordig artist. I was able to capture him on video about his rendition of the Filipino classical song Maging Sino Ka Man. The ladies and girls went gaga over him. Some were at my back and they shouted for Sam and my eardrum almost broke.

Here’s the lyrics of the song originally performed and composed by Rey Valera:

Ang pag_ibig ay sadyang ganyan
Tiwala sa isa't isa'y kailangan
Dati mong pag_ibig wala akong pakialam
Basta't mahal kita kailan pa man
`wag kang mag_isip ng ano pa man
Mga paliwanag mo'y di na kailangan
At kahit ano pa ang iyong nakaraan
Mamahalin kita maging sino ka man
Mahal kita pagka't mahal kita
Iniisip nila ay hindi mahalaga
Mahal kita maging sino ka man

Mali man ang ikaw ay ibigin ko
Ako'y isang bulag na umiibig sa `yo
At kahit ano pa ang iyong nakaraan
Mamahalin kita maging sino ka man
Mahal kita pagka't mahal kita
Iniisip nila ay hindi mahalaga
Mahal kita maging sino ka man

Kannawidan Ylocos Festival

I was advised by a friend from Ilocos Sur that Kannawidan Festival was ongoing especially a performance of tribal dances and rituals will be held in the evening of January 30. But it was a wrong tip for me regarding the schedule because on my arrival after a big rush from Laoag City, the said event was already finished. It was held in the afternoon. As I checked in the program of activities, it was also reflected to be at 7pm.

Anyway, there were several tribal groups who presented their practices and their music and dance to depict the lifestyle of uplanders. They wore their traditional costumes and danced with their traditional music. The event was held infront of the capitol.

This is the second time that this festival was held in commemoration of the foundation anniversary of the province. It was named before as Ylocos covering the whole of Ilocos Norte and even Abra. Kannawidan refers to traditions. This big affair was opened on January 28 and lasts until February 4, 2009. They have lined up various activities for this occasion such as the battle of the bands, concerts, calesa, caritela and vintage vehicles parade, pageants, horse race, fashion show, games and many others.

I was not keen to watch the battle of the bands but the people from the Office of Governor Savellano were kind to entertain me and they gave me a seat infront of the stage so I watched it anyway. I enjoyed watching since most of the bands were good performers. I liked the performance of the band called Frozen Fire. The other bands which I saw were Sundae Cone Band, Rhythm Section Band, Samiweng Iloko Band, Half Six Band, Sweet Taste of Defeat Band, and Half Age Band. All the 18 groups interpreted one alternative and one reggae song. The last piece was their original Ilocano composition depicting the theme. Their renditions of their original Ilocano songs were just amazing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Daklisan Festival of La Paz

La Paz is a fishing village of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. Daklisan refers to fishing. They just celebrated their fiesta in honor of their patron saint Nuestra Senora de La Paz, the Lady of Peace and Safe Voyage. The village was named after this patron saint. This is the only place I know in Ilocos that prepare and serve foods in most houses during fiestas. This is the best time for the locals to let their new babies be baptized and the weddings of couples to take place and so they just coincide their parties to the fiesta.

I just heard from a client that this village is celebrating fiesta so I rushed to the jeepney terminal to ask the drivers of the details. The jeep fare was Php14 one way. I went there in the afternoon to witness the parade of muses. These were little local girls in their gowns who were escorted by young boys who rode their respective floats decorated with flowers. They paraded from the village to the city center and back again.

Since I don’t know someone from this place, I went to visit the river immediately after the parade. I saw several motorboats anchored and some ply around the waters. Bilog is the term for banca. I saw two boys and asked to ride with them. We crossed to the other side. They informed me that there was an upcoming boat racing by the fishermen. I have seen some of them rehearsed. However, the event did not push through. When I saw a group of men and young boys readying their boats I asked to go with them. I had a free ride to near the Gabu area. They went to check the fish cage called bukatot and dived in the water to test or palpate the bobo that catches the ipon, a very tiny fish. We were not lucky since it was clear. Their catch becomes lesser and lesser after a week. This is seasonal and you have to count number of days before they appear abundantly by considering the appearance of full moon.

I had a great fun experience of their fiesta especially on the river. It’s a promising eco-tourism destination if only they develop a program adding events to their fiesta such as daklis or fishing on the river, river boating, fluvial parade of the muses with the image of the patron saint or a floating restaurant during fiesta.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Fascinating Eiffel Tower

The Effeil Tower has become the landmark and the very icon of Paris and that it symbolizes romance where Paris has been popularly known for. It is one of the world’s recognizable structures. It is actually an iron tower built at the Champ de Mars used as observation and radio broadcasting tower.

It was constructed for two years and completed in 1889. From then on, more than 200 million people and that includes me visited the tower. It has a height of 325 meters or 1,063 feet which is like an 81 levels of a conventional building. It is truly fascinating site. I can’t help but to jump and rush upon arrival from the MRT station to the site to experience its wonder when I paid a visit in 2007. Making it the most visited paid monument of the world. There was an entrance fee of 8euros going up using the elevator but on foot which I did was only 4 euros. So I climbed the spiral stairs braving the rain with my umbrella since it was drizzling at that time. It was an amazing feeling to be on top of the world at the very heart of Europe. I was stranded on top because of the heavy rain. From morning till early afternoon, it has not stopped. I got only one day to be around Paris so I did not have a choice but to go down, shot photos and get around. However the weather just got so unpredictable. The sun showed up few minutes after my descent. I missed a good lighting for my photos and only a cloudy background of the Eiffel Tower was taken by me.

There was a café and restaurant at the top where you can buy snacks at. But prices doubled up here. A souvenir shop was also open for you to buy miniature Eiffel Tower monuments and other items. A certificate of ascension to the tower was also available for a fee.

It was one of the finalists in the Seven Wonders of the World being voted popularly by the world in the year 2007. The said structure was named after its designer and engineer Alexander Gustave Eiffel. He also designed the Statue of Liberty in New York. These are the two very significant and popular works he did. Surprising to know also that he has works in the Philippines that include the San Sebastian Church in Manila and the two Quezon Bridges in Quiapo and Pasig River in Manila.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Backpacking in Europe

This article came out on the national broadsheet Manila Bulletin on January 17, 2009 issue.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Vigan Longganisa Festival

By virtue of Republic Act No. 8988 enacted on January 22, 2001, the capital Vigan of the province of Ilocos Sur became a city. It is now on its 8th year to cityhood. However, this is already an old city because it is now 250 years in existence since the royal decree issued by King Ferdinand VI. Its former name was Ciudad Fernandina. To trace back, Abra had been a former territory of Vigan until she gained independence. Thus, the government officials of the municipality of Bangued were invited to this occasion to witness the commemoration of its foundation anniversary as a city.

The city is famous for its variety of food products such as empanada, bibingka, bagnet, sinanglaw and many others. However, the Biguenos had paid tribute to the much well known product called longaniza or pork sausage. This sausage has a distinct taste of an Ilocano. The ground pork had been added with seasonings particularly of garlic and Iloko sugar cane vinegar that gives the native taste and the mixture is put inside the intestinal epithelium or sheath and being fried on a pan. It has been patronized by visitors and guests of the city. The celebration has the purpose to promote much further this food product.

In line with this, a street pageantry highlighted the fiesta celebration showcasing the Vigan Longaniza. There were 18 groups who competed in three different categories namely: elementary, secondary and open divisions. The dancers wore colorful costumes made up of the indigenous textile called abel. They accentuated their costumes with the beautiful headresses made of feathers and other indigenous materials. They held in their hands plates with longganizas. They danced to a uniform music which was a lively one. They have depicted on their dance moves on how to make or cook the sausage and even how to serve it with the presence of cooks and waiters in the dance parade.

The various groups started their dance from the city hall after the opening program following the speeches of Mayor Eva Medina and other important personalities. They ended up to the beautiful site of the Heritage Street. It’s truly a wonderful pageantry which I enjoyed so much. A feast for the eyes and not for the stomach since generally Ilocanos do not prepare foods at home as what people in the Southern Philippines are used to. People simply partake foods after the event eating barbeque, grilled longganiza, okoy, empanadas at the plaza just like what I did.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kurarapnit Festival of Pagudpud

Despite the hectic schedule from work, I was lucky to get the chance to attend and witness the Kurarapnit Festival. It is the newest celebration in the town of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. It is on its second year. According to tourism officer Pepe Morata, it was supposed to be held last December but due to an important event they moved to January 20 and coincided with the birthday of Mayor Marlon Sales.

A unique festival since most festivals would promote their food products but this time it’s an animal to advocate its preservation and for the protection of the environment in general.

It showcases the flying mammal bats. This is being held to promote the protection of the bats in the town which are endemic or abundant in the caves. There are various caves found in the town however there were only few of them explored such as caves in Saguisi, Pasaleng Bay and the Nabca Cave.

Bats are the only mammals that are capable of sustained flight compared to flying squirrel that can only glide for a short while. The bat’s forelimbs are developed as wings. It is believed that bats maintain a healthy environment. About 70% of bats are insectivores while the rest are frugivores and few are carnivores. Insectivores eat about 600 insects a day which the community gets rid of insect related diseases such as malaria. They help in the ecological balance. They have the role in the pollination of flowers and help in the seed dispersal. These are the reasons why they came up with this celebration.

The very highlight of the festival was the dance competition. There were eleven dance groups who depicted and portrayed the role of bats in the environment. Pupils of the different elementary schools in the province competed with each other all having the costumes of a bat. Their bodies painted in black, with black wings, suits and masks. They even displayed caves and trees as props. Prior to this, the release of a colony of bats to the air by the mayor and other officials opened up the ceremonies. It was fun to get up close to the bats for the first time and the children were amazed to see them fly out into the air one by one.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Adams: A Garden of Eden

Exactly 11 years ago when I visited the town of Adams in Ilocos Norte and this time was my second. It still awed me with its marvelous beauty. I remember that we crossed around ten rivers before we reached the town proper. We walked through the hanging bridges. From that vantage point I saw some adults and children swimming. I joined them swim. The children were quite shy but they showed off their skillful style of swimming. Despite the strong current of the river water they can still cross the river straight. However for my case I was almost taken by the flow of water.

I saw the picturesque sceneries. The green mountain ranges were so perfect accentuated by the rushing water of the river and the waterfalls. One can safely drink clear and cool water straight from the river or at the falls. This is the place where I first tried eating the delicious adobo meat of wild pig. It’s endemic to the forests of the town.

The lifestyle of people is so simple. Traditionally, they just live in a wooden and nipa hut. They use wood to set fire on their stoves. They make use of the clay pots to cook their foods. The vegetables they cook were so fresh picked from their backyards or fields.

Adams is a 5th class municipality and it is composed of only one barangay covering an area of 138.25 km2. It was founded on May 16, 1983. History says that there was no factual record of the town before 1918. But a legend was often retold that during the term of American Governor William Taft who was fascinated by Baguio’s climate, some of his American constituents would love to stay north of warm Manila and some landed in Pasaleng Bay.

The tribes folk thought that they were being raided by pirates and rushed to the deep forests climbing the mountain cliff and steep ravines. They reached a valley with crystal clear water cascading downstream which is referred to now as the Bolo River. It was abundant of eels and fishes. They harvest many fruits and vegetables and catch deers and wild boars. With the bountiful blessings, they branded it as Karayan ni Adan but its name was later corrupted to Adams.

Adams is another wonder of nature. It’s a site to behold. Truly one can say it’s a Garden of Eden.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Extreme Adventure Trek to Lake Linao

What a wonderful way to start the new year with an extreme adventure. I have just joined a very successful trek to Lake Linao on January 8 and 9. It was organized by Bishop Sergio Utleg and Fr Papus Dimagiba of the Diocese of Laoag with the purpose of exploring and appreciating the beauty of Ilocos Norte and developing friendship and team-building among climbers and nature lovers. I was informed late of the event and joined in at the last minute. It was indeed a challenging, exhausting but exciting and adrenaline-pumping outdoor activity wherein we went to trek for eight hours more or less.

Our group was composed of participants from the Diocese of Laoag, Sokisok Bikers from Bacarra and was joined by so called Alabang Boys from Manila. We had a total of 26 trekkers and there were only four women in the group. We assembled at the Bishop’s Residence in Laoag at 4AM then departed to Panziann, Pagudpud at half past four. We arrived at Panziann Chapel past 6:30AM. Left the vehicles and boarded an elf truck with all our things. It was a bumpy road going to the town proper of Adams. We crossed around ten rivers with makeshift wooden log bridges without side panels. We passed by two hanging bridges. We arrived in Adams after an hour and disembarked at the gymnasium where we met the coordinator and the people to guide us and the porters to carry some bags of our co-trekkers. We had two military escorts.

After a prayer led by Bishop Utleg we commenced the trek at 8:30AM. It was two hour trek to the base camp in Masasabog. We walked on the farmlands and sides of the hills. We passed by some ravines. Sceneries were wonderful to view. The nature is very green. We again crossed rivers and hanging bridges on foot. There were four hanging bridges namely Salowinab, Cawcawat, Anuplig, and Anat. We saw and passed by Anuplig and the Cadisan Falls adjacent to the Masasabog base where the Bolo River originates.

After taking our packed lunch at Masasabog and a short rest, we moved on to the most challenging stage that was climbing the Cadisan Mountain. This was simply grueling climb as it was very steep. Most of us have to take a break often as we were gasping and it seemed like a never ending climb since we don’t have idea where will it end. From a certain portion of the Cadisan Mountain one can have a glimpse of the beautiful view of the upper layers of the Cadisan Falls where I was told it was not accessible.

We trekked in the midst of the virgin rainforest where we saw varied species of flora and fauna. There were many species of plants. We have seen plants as pointed by the guides such as the wild strawberries, mushrooms, pitcher plant, cherry like fruit called bugnay, edible wild ferns, giant ferns, palms with torns, rattan that side hooked our shirts and bags, big kamagong trees and old balete trees where its roots and trunks in entangled shapes and forms. Some trunks carpeted with moss, algae and the bird’s nest plants. There was also an edible sour fruit called dagemkim which I tried. I was also shown by a guide certain specie of a poisonous plant.

We heard some chirping of birds. The sounds of koroko a pigeon like bird with red feet and varied colors of feathers. Kalaw bird sound was loud as they flew around the trees. We saw big centipedes, butterflies, big ants crawling on the bark of trees and of course the tiny leeches called alimatek in the Ilocano dialect. They just hop on to your skin as I experienced them on my face, legs and tummy. It was good that they were not that freaking dangerous. They just suck the blood then when they are full they just fell out. Many other insects can be seen in the forest.

The next level was that we have to step on the large rocks and boulders as we traversed the long stretch of a river. The water was so cool and clear. Due to exhaustion we gulped water from the river and washed our faces. That was so refreshing. There were instances that some of our members slid on the stones because it was slimy and slippery. Extra precaution was then taken. The surroundings started to dim as it was cloudy, covered with trees and that it was already nearing 5 o’clock.

After the river, we finally reached Lake Linao at 5:30PM. It was so rewarding to see our target after nine hours of trekking. It was a marvelous site indeed. I never thought that we can get to it. Lake Linao is 800 meters above sea level. To date, we were the fourth batch of trekkers who explored the place.

Three of us participants with two guides have taken the different path and arrived at the other side of the lake. We have not seen footprints. We have stepped on wimpy mud as likened to quicksand on the bank of the lake. My other co-trekkers went back and followed the original trail. I opted to cross the lake in order to get to our camp site much faster. My guide Brent tested the level of the water and so it was just up to the waist. I secured my things on my bag with plastic so as not get wet and took my shirt off and braved the water. I enjoyed the water and took a dip instead. I was refreshed after that long day of walking. I was cleansed of the mud and dirt and even acclimatized. I can say that I was the only one in our group who took a dip in the waters of the Lake Linao.

Since most of our veteran co-trekkers arrived earlier, they set up the tents and got ready for an overnight camp. I dried up myself and changed my clothes. I had a dinner of pork spare ribs sinigang and poached salmon. I had eaten so much and had a very good appetite, of course to compensate for the lost energy in the trek. I shared a tent with Eddie. After settling down, I watched Joel and Roselyn cook the pinakbet for our group’s breakfast. After which, we called it a night.

The big challenge we encountered for most of us was that we got wet during our sleep since it rained for the entire night. I got soaked since the water really penetrated on our tent. Both of us in the tent nevertheless survived the rainy night and lucky to get a few hours of sleep.

It was still drizzling on the following day and everybody started to prepare themselves and took breakfast. Our group had a breakfast of pinakbet and packed our lunch of adobo chicken which was cooked again by Joel. We disassembled our tents and packed our things and moved on. We took the same trail. The only difference was that the soil became very soft and muddy. Our trail became slippery. Extra precaution was taken by each participant. Some of the shoes have to be tied and later gave up and changed. Some of us got slid on the trail. It was advantageous to have a cool climate because of the rain. There was not much dehydration and sun burn worries.

It was ironic to experience Cadisan Mountain that in the assault we had so much difficulty but upon descent we got to slide our body since it was muddy and slippery. I enjoyed much the sliding since not much effort exerted and I saw the picturesque view of the Masasabog with its mountain ranges and hear the rivers flowing on its side.

I slogged through the mud after several hours and luckily reached the Bolo River and took an instant dip on its cool crystal water. It helped in removing mud on my self. I took my lunch at Masasabog base. Rested for more than two hours and waited for the others. We then took the last leg of the trail. We thought it was already easy and just wore my slippers but we were mistaken that it was even so muddy that we have to change back to our shoes. Along the way the dusk set in. We put out to use our flashlights for a night trekking. We reached the town proper at 7PM and the whole group was settled at the gymnasium and immediately boarded the truck back to Panziann. We reached Laoag at 10:30PM.

Upon arrival at home, I felt the pain of muscle sores at my legs but took a hot shower. It was very fulfilling to conquer rarely explored mountains and Im happy to say that I am now a full-fledged mountaineer.

How to get there

Take Manila Bus Aircon– Php 550 minimum fare, 8 hours ride to Laoag
Take Cagayan Bus – Php 100 minimum fare, 2 hours ride to Pagudpud. Alight at Brgy. Panziann
Rent Motorcyle – Php 100, 1 hour ride to Adams town from Panziann
Coordinate with the Tourism Office – Porter and guide service is available for Php300/day. Climbers provide foods for them.
Trek for 8 Hours to Lake Linao – varies on the weather, trail, and physical condition

Helpful Tips I Learned from Mountaineering

1.Physical and mental preparation is a requirement before embarking on a mountaineering adventure.
2. Be sure to have wooden stick. An improvised one can be made. This can help you propel you up a level and prevent slide in descending.
3. Gloves for both hands are necessary to avoid cuts and wounds especially when you grasp for plants with torns or sharp stones.
4. When its slippery with mud, its better to slide down with the butt or feet when descending
5. Travel light. Only necessary materials must be brought since it will add up a weight to your body.
6. On dealing with leeches, do not force to take it out since it will not close. Just let it suck the blood and wait for it to fall down. Or you can spray alcohol over it.
7. Bring a lot of trekking foods to replenish energy such as chocolates and candies.
8. Put all things in the bag and let your one hand handle the stick and the other hand free to hold on to whatever it can grasp in times of slide.
9. Begin and end with a prayer for guidance.