March 31, 2011

Palawan - Day 1: The return to the promised land

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock...RRRRRRIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!! Blag! I fell off my bed as I hurriedly turned off my alarm clock, it was 6AM. It was the day I was waiting for, the day I couldn't miss, Febuary 13, 2011 reads on my calendar and I was excited like a rooster singing in the morning.

We took off for NAIA Terminal 3 where we met the others were already at. While going in, a Nun cut me in line and took a straight look at me like "I'm a woman of cloth, so back up!" and I was just like "Ok whatever go first by all means". We were 10 in the group and most of them were the ones I went with during my Semi-Solo trip to Boracay.

It was a beautiful morning when something went wrong, the check in counter lost the ID of one of our friends and they couldn't find it. I believe that the driver's license was lost in the conveyor belt, but we wouldn't want our day to be ruined by a license so we carried on and hopped in the airplane for a 45 minute ride to the place I fell in Love 4 years ago.

Coron's topside view
And after 40 minutes of butt aching seating and non-stop reminiscing of my first time to Coron, the island revealed itself below the clouds. My eyes went as big as a Tarsier and I was breathless for a while and the first thing I said to my seat mate was "OMG! Here I go again!".

It was the first time I saw Coron in Bird's Eye View because 4 years ago I came to Coron via Ferry and it was 5am when we arrived so we were a little sleepy and all that.

I didn't know that Coron had unshaved green Mountains and the terrain was like entering the island of Jurassic Park. Most in my group were first timers in Coron but it looked like I was the most excited, as we landed I was so anxious to get out the plane.

There's the group just right after alighting the plane.
The airport of Busuanga, Croron is a lot better than the port of Caticlan (Boracay), it's more calm and spacious. We were picked up by a van of which we paid PhP200($4) each, the bumpy dirt road going to the city was well, bumpy, but other than that the view is glowing with greenery and it looked like we were in New Zealand. The vast field of grass greets you and the sun kisses your face oh what a wonderful day it was.

Bridges from the Airport to the City looked like this.
Surprisingly we don't see much private vehicles around the City, most of the locals were commuters and the tricycle is the most popular transportation as the Jeepneys around town were used for delivery of goods. I kept my eyes wide open and my eyes were rotating at every possible angle, I didn't want to miss every single bit of it. 

The 30 minute ride to Coron City felt really like being in a jungle and my imaginations ran really wild even thinking that I might just see a monkey crossing the street or even better, seeing a wild Lion. the lush green and the neighboring houses span miles away from each other, it was just a different experience and I couldn't even describe how I felt traveling closer and closer to my destination.

Our room @ Darayonan, and you know where I slept? Of Course, at the floor :)
11:38AM - We checked in at Darayonan with its theme "A place like Home" which lives up to what they say because the front desk literally looks like a house that was converted to a hotel. Only me, my brother Tommy, his girlfriend Faith and JP were housed in Darayonan while the other six were a few streets away in a Austrian owned hotel named "Princess of Coron", Princess of Coron had no other rooms left so we stayed in Darayonan.

We walked around and asked around what restaurant to eat at to have our first meal in Coron, and after hearing the local's votes, it seems that we have a winner. We walked towards "Kawayanan Grill Station" for our lunch.

12:34 - The Sun is at its peak and it hurts my eyes and skin, I get irritated when the Sun's rays is too hot and my sensitive skin gets dark really fast. One thing that makes it worst was the power rotation happening in the city, electricity is only from 6PM-12AM. 

Big serving for one order.
I ordered myself the "Seafood Bihon" which really had nothing special in it, I was imagining real squid and prawn and other stuffs to be in my food but instead I found Fish Balls and Squid balls in it and a whole lot of vegetables which I thought to change the name of the food to "Vegetarian's SeaFood Bihon". 

The serving was too big so I decided to pass it around to 9 others and when it was returned to me I still couldn't even finish it, it was just that big that I was so full and could no longer bite.

Here's a little monkey in a store across where I stayed.
With our stomachs so full, we decided to head back to our headquarters to take a few hours of rest and to settle things out for we will were set to conquer the highest mountain around Coron.

I like the rural setting of the town, it's not noisy and people walk around and children playing around and those little things make me feel a little bit more at home when I see those simple things that these people feel safe, why shouldn't I? In fact, they were used to seeing tourists, both local and foreign.

4 years ago I didn't get a chance to talk with the locals because first I was young then, about 16 years old and second was that we were staying at a private resort across the waters of the town.

We had two hours of rest before we take on the first destination of our trip which was the hike to the top of Mt. Tapyas.

I wanted to take Sunset shots at the top of the Mountain but I wasn't able to because we were a little earlier than expected and we had to go to 3 destinations. The first one was a souvenir shop, well that was kind of awkward because no one really buys souvenir on the first day of their trip, well at least I don't buy until the last day.

3:35 - I put my foot on the first step of the hill, and the hike begins! It's not that hard to hike because there are already concrete steps and hand rails to guide you but what's hard was that sometimes the steps were steep and my big legs couldn't catch up with the others.

The steps to conquering Coron
Our phasing at first was fast because we were excited to see the view of Coron, as for me, the thought of being in Coron hasn't sank in my head yet, I thought that all of it was just a dream because four years ago I vowed to myself that I will be back, and here I am hiking the highest point in town.

Everything was fun when you're full of energy but while going up, 10, 20, 30 steps later my calf muscles started to hurt and I was feeling heavier and heavier at each lift of my foot.

100, 200 steps later, we were slowing down, taking rests every 20-30 steps and two young locals selling beverages were a little bit of laughing at us while they kept following us because they know that somewhere along the line we will buy from them.

300-500 steps we were dripping with sweat and I couldn't describe the fast beating of my heart, it was intense!

at 600-700 steps I was literally, literally going up like a dog, using bot my hands and feet to go up the hill.

A photo of me at around the 500 step mark.
As I saw the last flight of stairs, me and my brother made a dash for it, the last 24 steps and with the adrenaline pumped in my veins I jumped at each step skipping a step or two and finally!

                                                            - 5 O'clock in the afternoon -
FINALLY! I WAS ON TOP OF CORON! I CONQUERED THE HIGHEST POINT IN CORON! Although I lost the dash to the top. I just lay on the ground trying to catch all the oxygen that passes me, taking breaths as deep as the ocean floor and filling my lungs with fresh air, "oh it's been four long years my love" I said to myself.

That's all 10 of us and yes we all were happy to make it to the top.
So we went around the giant big cross and we saw the region and it was just amazing, I pointed to the first timers where we will do island hopping and things like that, we took a lot of pictures (of course, we wouldn't climb 724 steps for a picture or two) of ourselves.

I call my pose the "Jump-Write" shot :)

Going up was hard, but going down is harder with tired legs. My knees were shaking and I had to hold for the railings to support my legs, everyone was slow and everybody was kind of tired. Going down was peaceful, we were all quiet trying to concentrate of not hitting the last step with our faces.


while I was at the top of Mt. Tapyas and was just staring at the awesome view of the hill and islets, I wrote a short poem for Mt. Tapyas:

"Climb thy steps, each painful step,
have courage and perseverance.
For at its highest peak,
Coron is yours for the taking."

March 10, 2011

My apologies dear readers.

First of all I want to apologize to my dear readers who have been waiting for my blog series "PALAWAN: THE LAST FRONTIER" travel last Febuary 13-16, it is due to my busy student life that I cannot find the right time and mindset to accomplish the said blog series. As a student and I know a lot of you will understand me that being a college student is time consuming especially for me as a Journalism major, I go to places and then write articles.

I am also been very busy with my thesis which takes two-thirds of my day researching and I get exhausted from it.

The blog series will be delayed and it might be continued when classes are over, I beg you to understand my situation as I don't want to present you a blog that has no heart in it. I've always wanted to present blogs that take you to the place while reading it.

Here is a photo of me in a class, yes there are only 3 of us studying Photojournalism.

This is an exhibit of our Photojournalism course, the photos you see at the right side are my works.
Again, I apologize for the delay but do not worry for I won't be away that long. Cheers!