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Soleful Thinking

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BROW-BROW” AND THE STORY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIP

Mt. Tibig has left a special mark in my heart. Not because of its challenge  that  made me run out of breath the entire time. Nope. It got nothing to do with how colorful and sweet smelling were the flowers abundantly growing in her lands. Not even with her unspoiled beauty and the tall grasses obscuring the trail. Nah, it completely got nothing to do with how wonderful and fulfilling our day was spending great moments at her peak.

It was all about this furry fellow we were so fortunate to be friends with.

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

He appeared behind us out of nowhere just as we were about to kick off the hike. Upon seeing him walk pass me, I jokingly remarked towards my hiking buddies, “Hey, we have a guide dog!” and we all looked at him allowing him to sniff each one of us while we burst into laughter. At first we thought he was just passing by just checking on strangers in his territory. However as the hike progressed and as we went deeper into the woods, we noticed he has never left us. He continued to walk along side us as if he was all part of the herd. There were even times when he would wait in a spot and wait for us to pass him by as if he was doing a role call and he was making sure everyone was safely following his lead. In a short while of him being with us, we developed fondness of him.

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

We asked Michael (our guide) if he knew who he was but he denied and even said it was his first time to see our little furry fellow. Realizing none of us knew who he was and how to call him, we decided to call him “Brownie” derived from his brown coat. He seemed to go with the name with ease. We started asking him questions like “Where he lives or Who his humans are?” as if he was going to spat us back the answers. We even came up with stories about him being a fairy or a guardian of the mountain in disguise. He never seemed to bother about us pestering him with too many questions as he continued to trek alongside us.

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

If we would stop to take 5, he’ll stop and lie down beside us. If we would nibble on our trail food, he gets fed as well. Him being with us somewhat made the grueling hike easier. Lighter. Happier. There were times when he would get off the trail and run into the woods and we would call him to rejoin us. He would playfully run down coming from the top of the trail, abruptly stopping in front of one of us as if he was trying to startle us. If we lost sight of him, we would just simply call out to him and he would appear from wherever just to reassure us of his presence.

Brownie sounded a little old fashioned to me. The name reminds me of someone ugly or nasty so instead of calling him that, I called him “Brow-Brow”. It sounded cute and he seemed to take it better than Brownie.

We have gone from the foot of the mountain to the summit and he has stayed with us through the good and the bad and despite the heavy downpour. He would even venture into beautiful spots as if telling us where it is best to have our photos taken. There were instances when all we can do is gasp and hold our breaths whenever he would try to pull off a daredevil stunt like standing at the edge of a rock 500 meters above sea level as if he doesn’t mind falling. We would scold him, he would just sigh but he will do it again. (Face palm)

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

We thought he was gonna leave when it was time to go back but he didn’t. He followed us down to the registration site. There he lied flat on the ground, barely moving. Not because he was tired but probably because he was kinda sad. Perhaps he knew we were leaving. As I waited for the others to finish washing up, I sat in front of him, teasing him by playfully calling his name, disrupting him from his sleep. I knew he was feeling down simply by looking at his face. I played with him to console him. I scratch his back, his neck and his inner belly. He seemed to really love it. I spoke to him bidding him goodbye while I continued to scratch the inside of his thigh. I was a little worried about him though as we were told his human is a gambler and often leaves him alone to attend cockfights. I wanted to take him home with me but it seemed really inappropriate. I just hoped his human would do him better the next time.

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

Our ride back to town arrived and as each of us bid him and the other locales goodbye, his wary face became more evident. One of the locales held him up playfully waving his hands towards us but his face was unchanging. It was so sad. I looked away. I didn’t want to see him as we ride farther away from him. After few minutes, I looked back in his direction but they were no longer in sight. We might have already covered several meters of our ride back to town but just as we were about to turn further away, he popped out of the blind curve running after us. We were so surprised that we immediately asked the driver  to stop. As the jeep pulled into a halt, we could see him still running towards us.

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

His breathing was heavy as if he had run quite good. We urged him to hop onto the jeep but he didn’t do it. Instead, he went to the side of the jeep where I was seated. I looked at him and he was looking up at me. I told him to go back but he didn’t seem to listen. The driver said we should just let him follow but we worried about him getting lost so we asked him to start the engine and speed up so he wouldn’t be able catch up. We told him again and again to go back but he won’t. He still followed us. As we sped up towards the highway, he was still running after us. We stopped the jeep again. It hurt us but it was the only way. We threw him stones with no intentions of hitting him. It was just to make him go back and stop following us. He didn’t budge. He still ran towards us. I froze as I didn’t know what to do. It was so sad to see him that way but we didn’t have a choice. I was about to cry but I tried so hard not to show it. I thought it was embarrassing. And when we thought our efforts were hopeless, a locale helped us in sending him back. He was still determined to follow us even when he was pushed away not just by us but by the locale who was so kind to help. Ian asked me to go down and talk to him. Said he might listen. I blurted “Why me?” He was just as close to him as he was to me. Ian might have seen the sadness in my eyes cause he asked and started teasing “Why do you look as if you were about to cry?”

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My tears fell down as soon as he said those words. I could no longer contain my emotion. They laughed at me while I burst in tears. I was still crying as we sped up towards town while looking back to where I last saw Brow-Brow. The locale woman was still trying to stop him. I wondered what he was thinking. I knew dog’s loyalty to their humans knows no limit even when their humans fall short of taking care of them or even when they are taken for granted. I was puzzled why he ran after us. Was he intending to go home with us? Has life been too cruel to him that he was willing to leave everything behind? A lot of things were running on my mind surrounding his circumstance. All I can do is pray for him and hope him a better fate..

BROW BROW IN MT TIBIG

It was a bittersweet ending but I definitely would cherish every minute of it in my memory. I would again one day journey the roads to Lobo not only to hike up the marvelous summit of Mt. Tibig but to see Brow-Brow again. Someday.

PS. If you happen to come across Brow-Brow when you hike Mt. Tibig, please save him some bread and lots of water. I would really appreciate it. Thanks

Kindly share this post to spread good vibes to the rest of the mountaineering community. 🙂

For a comprehensive guide for this hike, check out my post MT. TIBIG and Getting Lost In Its Off-Beaten Path

50 Songs I Travel Along

What is there in my iPod that whenever I hit the play button and put my earphones on turning the volume into full swing blasting my ears with that song I’ve played in repeat for a hundred times that makes me lose myself and uncaring to the world? That not even the slow-moving line to the check in counter at the airport or an hour or two of delayed flight frustrates me. It even makes that 8-hour backbreaking bus ride with too many stopovers which normally pisses me to my gut as nothing to give a fuck about. I don’t know with you but whenever I have a song that I can readily sing along or headbang to at anytime, things become somehow easier, more tolerable.

So what are the songs that’s worth every byte on my iPod? Here they are. (In no particular order)

THE CLASSIC’s

This to me are the rock bands of the 80s and the boy and girl bands of the 90s. Like who haven’t burnt their throat singing with Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Metallica? And who haven’t swayed to Backstreet Boys, N’sync, Westlife and 98 degrees and their soothing ballads or danced with All Saints and Spice Girls with their baggy pants and pop songs? Lo and behold for my Classic top 10 picks.

  1. Wannabe
  2. Never ever
  3. Quit Playing Games with my Heart
  4. This I Promise You
  5. If I Let You Go
  6. I Do (Cherish You)
  7. I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing
  8. Sweet Child Of Mine
  9. Bed Of Roses
  10. Nothing Else Matters

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POP PUNK ROCK | EMO PUNK

Some say this is the era where rock was at its lowest and rock music was nothing but skinny tight jeans, chuck taylors, thick black eyeliners and teenagers cutting wrists. So yeah.. I was probably one of those idiots who have worn dark eyeliners, polished and dyed my nails and hair black or cut my wrist for loving this awesome kind of music.

11. Savior
12. Make Damn Sure
13. All That I’ve Got
14. Sacrifice
15. Tears Don’t Fall
16. The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
17. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs
18. Fatlip
19. I Don’t Love You
20. It Ends Tonight
21. All The Small Things
22. Basket Case
23. From Yesterday
24. Papercut
25. Hands Down
26. Waiting
27. The River

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THE ROCK CHICK’s

In a field dominated by men, would it be nice to see girls stealing the show? From Alanis Morissette to Paramore’s Hayley Williams, women have proven that being badass is not just a man’s thing.

28. You Oughta Know
29. Ska8r Boi
30. Misery Business
31. Don’t Speak
32. Linger
33. Zombie

THE MUST HAVE’s

Every person has that one song or a band that they listen to and couldn’t live without. As for me I can manage to lose everything else on this list but my INCUBUS playlist. I grew up with this band and I’ve watched their style changed from the time I started following them in 1999 until now but still love them the same, or even more. Here are my top 5 picks.

34. Drive
35. I Miss You
36. The Warmth
37. Pardon Me
38. Megalomaniac

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THE SWIFTY ATTACK

I am a lover of music. I appreciate all the genres but sometimes to me a genre is just another label that if you won’t give a heck about, it doesn’t really matter. I suppose by now you realized that I am more of a rock person and to be hooked with the catchy T.Swift songs is a far cry from what I normally listen to.

  1. Love Story
    1. Safe and Sound

POP DIVA’s

I was once a little girl who have dreamed of prince charming and happy endings but instead of Barbie in tow I had bumblebee. But a girl will always be a girl and she can only be a little girl once so yeah I was one of those tiny souls in ponytails who went gaga over Britney, Christina and Mandy.

  1. Baby One More Time
    1. Genie In A Bottle
    2. Cry
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OPM’s

As much as I love foreign acts, there is no denying that Filipinos are equally as talented. Bands like The Eraserheads, Rivermaya and Parokya Ni Edgar were basically my early influences and few of the reasons why I believe in Filipino music. They have set the bar high and have ruled the 90s yet bands and artists of the 21st century have proven to be as good. Better even.

44. First Of Summer
45. Song for the Suspect
46. Mr. Clay
47. The Boston Drama
48. Queen Paranioa
49. Gemini
50. Martilyo

This is pretty much my playlist essentials. What about you? Do you have a playlist you travel along? Tell me about them on the comments box below.. Also if you find this post interesting, don’t hesitate to share. I could always use a hearty chat with you guys. See ya. 🙂

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10 Kinds Of People I Met During My Travels

One of the most interesting parts about travel is meeting people. Strangers you get to say hello with and the next thing you know, you’re already sharing hearty conversations with them over a cup of coffee. Or partying with them nonstop until one of you drops. Best is when you see yourself planning for a trip with this once stranger you now call a friend.

In the world of travel, it is just common to come across with thousands of strangers everyday. Building connections is easy but making it last… (Crickets…) So let me share you some of the people I met during my travels for the past 18 months.

10. The Know-It-All’s

They always have something to say about everything. They like to strut their own stuff to the point of being obnoxious. While I love talking to people who know a lot of things, I hate false pretenses. Believe me. I accept opinions and respect them. There’s no need for them to be forced into me. The moment people walk into the room, I know who are the smart ones and those who pretend to be so. There’s really not a need to act smarter than what you truly are because the more you try to look the smartest, the dumber you seem to people who really know. It turns people off and drives them away.

The world is a diverse place and so are people. We are all different and each of us still has plenty of opportunities. To learn. To improve ourselves. To gain knowledge. We need not to envy those people who went ahead of us. They too still have a long way to go. Probably you know something they don’t and that’s the essence of having a pleasant conversation. It enables people to share their knowhow which other people can learn from and vice verse. A conversation is not supposed to be driven just by one person or people who make a fool of themselves by trying to act smart and hoping people would believe them.

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9. The Rip Offs

These are the kind of people you better have nothing to do with. They are those people who will try to squeeze out your pocket empty for their own personal gain. They aren’t really concerned how much you’ve worked your butt off to save up for your travel as long as they make money out of you. They can be some tricycle drivers, tourist guides, travel organizers, commissioners even peddlers. While I don’t say they are rip offs in general, I’ve always come across with one from this particular group of people. It’s inevitable to chance ourselves with one of them. It’s just up to us to be cautious, more so reprimand them of their wrong doing in the nicest way possible.

While I don’t hate them, I just don’t understand why they do what they do. It may be due to their circumstance. Perhaps, they’re going through some difficult times. But we all are. Everyday we fight our own battles. Our own demons. Haven’t these people realized that? No matter how hard life gets, it is not enough reason for anybody to exploit other people. In fact, no one should take advantage of other people. Period.

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8. The Retirees

 

Oh…. I love these people! Coming across one of them is such a delight. These are the people who have endured the hardships of life and have survived their greatest battles. Some of them have served in the armed forces, in government offices or private institutions. They have spent their lives in service and dedication trying to protect the country, raise their families and send their children to the best universities and they’re simply taking the pleasure of rewarding themselves. I adore seeing them playfully posing for a groupie using their GoPro cameras as if they’re teenagers. I just love to see their fulfilled, worry-free faces. They have so many interesting stories to tell. Their knowledge and wisdom were molded perfectly by experience and it reflects in their actions. How they’ve stood the tests of time and overcame them is something we all can learn from.

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7. The Business Minded

People such as myself travel to discover new things and get brand new experiences. We travel for adventure or to pleasure ourselves. But these people make travel their business. They are those who make money just to travel the world. They get discounts coupons and freebies from renowned brands and establishments. They get free passes to luxurious hotels others don’t get the chance to. I don’t know how they do it but it amazes me.

6. The Daredevils

“Cliff Diving? Check! Skydiving? Check!!! Bungee Jumping? Not yet but maybe when we get to NZ.” says a daredevil. Daredevils is what I call the people who travel for the sole purpose of feeling the rush of adrenaline all over them. It’s like they keep a checklist of adrenaline-induced activities for a certain place they visit and take it from there. These people have no qualms whatsoever with being spontaneous. They don’t have an itinerary nor do they bother to plan where to go next. They just do what they do in the most exhilarating way possible. Trekking up a mountain and down, crossing rivers and walking for hours don’t bother them as long as a promise of great adventure awaits them at the end.

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5. The Bookworms

These people care to read as much as they care to see the places they travel to. It’s just awesome how they make room for one or two hardback books in their luggage or backpack. As much as I love to read, I find it hard to make space for one medium size book inside my backpack but these people bring with them an entire library (I’m exaggerating of course). I remember vividly when a white girl approached me asking if I can exchange my Game of Thrones book over her Fifty Shades of Grey set. I found her really pretty it almost made me say YES but the book wasn’t mine. I was just lucky the hostel (where I stayed) owner’s daughter happens to read good books.

4. The Go-To Guys

Scissors. Swiss Knives. Wet wipes. Pegs. Flashlights. Gloves. Hammock. Meds. Name it! These guys often have extra available. They’re like boyscouts and we all know boyscouts. They’re always prepared. They have the tools. They know how to go about things. While we are still trying to figure out the puzzle, these guys already knew what to do. These are the people you’ll love to be around with when you travel especially if you happen to be the kind who always screw up. Like myself.

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3. The Young Ones

I’ve noticed that most of the people who travel nowadays are very young. Some of them are in their early 20s or not even in their 20s but surprisingly they already have 3 to 5 countries to their names. Whereas I. I haven’t even been out of the country yet and I’m 28! I find the idea of going overseas intimidating (but it is something I plan to do. Soon.). But to these young souls, hopping from one country to the other is just a piece of cake. Their enthusiasm is infectious. I hope I can say that they remind me of myself but heck no coz when I was their age, I was all cooped up in my room watching non-sense from the idiot box. But THEY. They are just amazing. At such a young age, they’ve already exposed themselves into the realities of the world and the people around them. I admire their courage. I hope more and more young people would dare themselves to travel and see that not everything can be learned in school but most of them are taught outside of their comfort zones.

2. The Jesters

These people know the funniest thing to say at exactly the right moment. They know the door to your funny bone. They don’t have to resort to sarcasm and cheap insults to the point of letting someone down to make other people laugh. They joke a lot but still can keep up with intelligent conversations. They are the life of the party. Their punch lines are just about what you need when you’re too tired to climb up that mountain or too scared to jump off that cliff (into the water). A good hearty laugh with them can take all your worries away. It fuels you to keep on going. Travel isn’t the same without them and all you could do is miss them or hope hard to bump into someone like them along the way.

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1. The Good Samaritans

These are the people I met along my journey whom I least expect to be the people to lend me a hand when the situation gets dire. These are the people I was so wary about but they turned out to be the good guys. These are the people who went off their ways to help me in all ways possible. Driving us to and fro our destination and making sure we arrive there safely with all the things that we need in place. Like what Nestor Caunan (of Calatagan Batangas) did. Or granting us free entrance to Maria Christina Falls upon learning we run short of money and even offering to lend us a few bucks to make sure we could head back to our hotel in Cagayan De Oro as did the head of NPC Nature Park and his staff.. Or it could simply discounting our bus tickets, letting us pay P60 for each of us instead of P145 as did the bus driver of Rural Bus Transit in Iligan. Such act of kindness no matter how small is really appreciated. It makes me believe there is still hope in humanity after all.

***Lets talk about the people you have met during your travels. Share your stories in the comments box below. 🙂

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28 THINGS ON MY 28TH YEAR

I’m a sucker for bucket lists! That I admit. I spend hours contemplating what to do and where to go or where to fly to the next time I  get a time off from work and I write them down on the first thing I get my hands on may it be a tissue paper, a sticky note or a scratch pad which later I would mindlessly throw away along with the other garbage. I don’t keep a diary nor a journal. I think they are for little girls or for lonely people. I also find myself too old for that stuff. When I don’t have a pen, I write with my fingers in the air, on the dinner table or on my dad’s back everytime he asks me to scratch the itch off it. This. Folks… is probably the reason why out of the thousands of things written in my imaginary bucket list, I only have ticked off a few. I’d be lucky to have ticked off 20 but I doubt it.

With the emergence of technology, things got a little better. Plenty of apps round the internet which are readily downloadable and most of them are free. Got me a couple of them installed in my phone. I finally got something to do the task of organizing my thoughts which often times are all over the place. Gone are the days of writing in the air with people staring thinking I’m retarded. Items on my bucket lists are just a few clicks away now. Whoosh. Sweet!

Tech may have made things easier but me growing up into a full blown woman with my bad hair, unshaven underarms  and other womanly mundane coupled with my 9-5 job taking much of my time and posing a seemingly insurmountable challenge in the fulfillment of every one thing in my bucket list. Today I am saying goodbye to my 27th year and welcoming my 28th. Along with a year added to my age is the pressure of not being able to fulfill all of my dreams before I enter a new chapter in my life which is marriage and settling down and have bunch of kids which would also mean no more selfish ME-time.

Heck, I did this list to remind me that I have a whole 12 months ahead of me to tick off some things on my list I have been wanting to do all along. After the 12 months is over, I only have another 12 more to give it one last shot and the rest after that would be lost into oblivion. So here they are. Things that would keep me occupied from today until next year’s July 19.

EXPLORE MY BACKYARD

You wouldn’t believe I have been living in Metro Manila in the Philippines for more than 7 years now but I know so little about it. I fear one wrong turn into an unfamiliar alley would get me panicky and lost for hours. So I thought it may be time I get to know this place which have been my home for quite a while. Here are some things I felt was long overdue.

1. Visit Rizal Park
2. Visit the National Museum
3. Visit the Spolarium Of Juan Luna
4. Roam Around Intramuros
5. Food Trip in Binondo
6. Visit Trick Art Museum in Quezon City
7. Visit the Cat’s Cafe
8. Dinner in a yacht at sunset in Manila Bay

BECOME BOLDER AND SEEK MORE MIND-BLOWING ADVENTURES

I want to keep challenging myself. I just love that wonderful feeling of overcoming something I thought I’d never be able to do all along. This time it’s going to be more extreme that I would feel that tingling sensation of adrenaline rushing all over my body. You might find it a little exaggerated but I like to describe my thirst for adventure with this very captivating statement that goes, “You are the most alive when you are closest to death.” 😀

9. Sand Boarding in Ilocos
10. Go on an adventure in Porac Pampanga’s Sandbox
11. Swim with Whalesharks
12. Canyoneering in Cebu
13. Go Whitewater Tubing
14. Surf in Baler or La Union
15. Scuba Dive

SHARE MORE SPECTACULAR VIEWS ON A MOUNTAIN SUMMIT

Just this 2015, I rekindled my romance with mountains. I first fell in love with them during my high school senior year when I was most free. Then college took all the freedom away. Four years later, my 9-5 job made it even worse. I’m just glad that now little by little, I’m starting to figure things out.

16. Mt. Pinatubo
17. Tarak Ridge
18. Mt. Makiling
19. Mt. Pulag
20. Mt. Apo

TRAVEL FARTHER

21. Visit Batanes
22. See the Mayon Volcano
23. See the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsiers.
24. Admire those white sands of Kalanggaman Island

GET TO APPRECIATE OUR CULTURE EVEN MORE

I am a Filipino and I am proud of it. Despite the way things are in the country right now, I still believe that there will come a time our land will prosper. The world may see us as just another poor Asian country but little do they know our wealth is not something determined by numbers. It’s our rich culture and traditions that set us apart from the rest.

25. Witness festivals (Dinagyang, Moriones, Penagbenga)
26. Get a tattoo from Whang Od

GO INTERNATIONAL

I am an OTAKU and the people who knew me well can attest to that. This is the reason why on my first travel abroad, I would want to see Japan first. Other than my love for anime and everything about the land of sushi is the funny truth that before I knew there was China and Thailand or Malaysia and Indonesia, the only country I know outside our land is Japan.

27. Spring Time Tokyo & Kyoto

BE KINDER AND GIVE BACK

Given how my life is now, I can never be more thankful. Despite what I had been through and how much I struggled in the past, I have always thought I am blessed. I think it is just right that I give back that kindness this world has bestowed me.

28. Do charity (Feeding program to kids or Medical Mission to elders especially those located in remote areas)

There you go. I hope you’ll join me on my journey as I fulfill each one on my bucket list. Thank you for you all for sticking with me up until now. See ya. 😀

10 Reasons Why I Travel

I haven’t been far. Neither have I been to many places. In fact, I just started on this journey not so long ago, but since then my thirst for adventure has not wavered. It grows even stronger each passing day. Daring to get out of my comfort zone has done me well and has let me see things differently. It empowered and gave me an even better perspective. To top it all off, TRAVELLING has given me a brand new purpose.

Allow me to share 10 REASONS WHY I TRAVEL.

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