30 January 2006

Camping out at Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal

Things here were turning rather routinary. Go to work and back, then if I feel up to it, I would haul the things hidden in closets and boxes and sort out those headed for the trash and keep the deserving ones. Still got lots to clean up, but when I get back from the office at 8 or 9PM, I already feel tired most of the time so I end up watching TV. I needed a break.

So when some friends invited me to go camping with them in Tanay, Province of Rizal, I only gave it a few minutes of thought before deciding to go with them. It reminded me of the times my friends in college (which includes Tina, now my wife) would go to the Mountain Provinces to visit the home of one of our peers and spend the night in the mountains. We did not have camping gear though. We would build a bonfire and chat under the stars, then head off to the house to rest.

Plus, my wife's Christmas gift of a year's subscription to National Geographic was also an inspiration to see the great outdoors again. It's been quite a while.


We were destined for Daraitan, the name of the sparsely-populated town at the foot of the mountains. Our trip would lead us to a camping site alongside the river.

There were six of us in the team. We converged in the corner of Buendia and EDSA, where a number of groups geared for camping with huge bags in tow were also milling about. The bus and jeepney rides took most of the morning. We arrived in the Tanay market at past 10, and everybody was in good spirits that we would be able to have lunch on time. What we did not anticipate was, Daraitan was so far flung a place that there wasn't exactly a lot of people going to and fro (we learned from the locals that on an average day there are only two rides: one in the morning and one in the afternoon). And so we waited. And munched on snacks. And waited. And munched on snacks. And waited. Until it was already half past lunchtime. At which point, the driver promptly warmed up the engine and off we went, a half hour earlier than the scheduled departure.

Another mountaineering group arrived at 11 and they disappeared for a while. They must have known that such is the transportation case in that area. At any rate, this group rode in the same jeep and we were comforted by the fact that we will have company along the way. Some rode on top of the jeepney as an added thrill to the trip.

The cemented pavement eventually gave way to rough roads as the buildings and houses were gradually replaced by trees and bush. I occasionally struck conversation with the local sitting next to me and he mentioned that the jeep is supposed to cross a river but since it has been raining for the past few days, the river has swollen to an unmanageable size so we will need to take a banca ride to cross. When we arrived at the riverbank, it was indeed still not permitting jeepneys to pass through. So take a boat we did, and hiked the rest of the way to town.

We dropped by the local municipal hall to register (with a fee of 5 pesos each). At this time the other mountaineering group of over 10 people were aware of our presence and they were glad to have additional company. They were, in fact, very friendly and eventually helped us along the way where there are boulders to climb and streams to cross.

And so we started on our journey, with majority of the mountaineers keeping a comfortable lead and a couple of their members lagging behind, serving as the tail (in case somebody lags behind, needs help, or drop something, they can call out to the others). There was a clearly-defined pathway, so we wouldn't exactly get lost even when left to our own devices. But it's always good to have company when in unfamiliar territory. It soon dawned to us that the path is frequently used as we occasionally crossed paths with some of the locals, some even with horses carrying people or various necessities.

We had our first 5-minute break near the town proper, with a breath-taking view of the winding river below (see topmost photo). The second 5-minute break was an even more pleasant one. As we rounded a bend in the narrow path with trees to our left and the river to our right, we were greeted by an open valley with a breathtaking view of a riverbank with the mountains beyond. Huge stone formations abound, a couple of which were quite flat on top that you can climb onto it and enjoy the scenery from there.

The other campers were already taking their rest while the others walked about, picking up a few roundish stones and throwing a couple into the river that skidded off the turbulent water surface a couple of times before finally sinking.

At this time we were quite tired and hungry (we only had potato chips, bananas and an odd assortment of tidbits to munch on for lunch because the driver kept saying we were leaving soon and so we stayed put in the jeepney) and were clearly enjoying this extended break that we were thinking of staying there and set-up camp already. The other group started hauling their backpacks and motioned us that the trek will be resuming.

Sensing that we would rather stay put, they said that the campsite was already quite near.
What's the terrain like?
Roughly the same that we have already passed through. We will, however, be crossing streams so it is advisable to switch to slippers.
How deep is it?
Knee high.
Come on! It will be fun!

Shall we continue the trek, or stay put and pitch camp? To be continued...

27 January 2006

Usapang Torta (Torta talk)

I've been searching the Net for an english equivalent for the word "torta" but was not successful. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent word for it! But the closest I can think of is the omelet, as torta's primary ingredient is also beaten egg and subsequently mixed or folded into something else.

Anyways, I was having lunch at a roadside food stand (more commonly known as Jollijeep) a while ago when a customer ordered torta.

Customer: Pabili po ng torta (an order of torta please)
Seller: Lalaki o babae? (Boy or girl?)

Eh? I thought to myself. I didn't know the torta has a gender. My curiosity was soon satisfied when the seller explained. Apparently I wasn't the only clueless person in the crowd.

Seller: And tortang lalaki ay Tortang talong at ang tortang babae ay yung may patatas. (Ok...this is more difficult to translate... The torta with eggplant is the boy, while the torta with diced potatoes is the girl).

You learn something new every day :-)

24 January 2006

Wave of the 80s

Last December was a time of 80s reminiscing for me as I received e-mails from high school friends, and then I was able to buy a Bagets DVD (copies were very limited!) One time we dropped by a music store in Glorietta to look for ... well ... music CDs. I did not have any intention of buying any, although I am on the lookout for some select 80s artists. I was not able to find CDs for Book of Love, Camouflage, and Red Flag (these are rather hard to find these days so I was already expecting that I would not find them there), but I did realize that 80s music is still very much in demand, as attested by these finds:

Lessons in Love
Bring out your mis-matched clothes and parteeeeee!
Tell me tell me, how to be, a milionaaaaaire...
Sail on the wings of a cloud, where to well nobody knows...
bizarre love triangle!
the killing moon
sweet dreams are made of these...

I am looking for CDs from these artists: Book of Love, Camouflage, The Care. Any help will be appreciated. I don't think I can afford ordering online, so any help with local shops will be appreciated. Thanks! By the way, have you noticed? 80s fashion is coming back. Big belts, colorful clothing. Yay!

20 January 2006

Freedom fries

I am a big fan of french fries. When I want to snack on something but not as heavy as a burger or a rice meal and not as sweet as the sundaes, I go for fries.

So I was really revved up to order the Cheezy Fries from Jollibee one day. It was, unfortunately, not as advertised. What was supposed to be a mouth-watering treat turned out to be a handful of fries topped with cheese and bits of dried-up meat.

I don't know if you have tried these fries before and you may have a different story. I just felt that value for my money is important.

At any rate, I did not intend to make you lose your appetite over this post, so here are some photos of goodies I snacked on last December. Enjoy!

Macaroni salad
Boiled bananas
Strawberries with cream
Macaroni soup
Fresh lumpia

16 January 2006

Shiverin' Shutter

I am a Science Fiction enthusiast, but I also enjoy watching suspense Horror / Suspense movies when I like to get the occasional goosebumps. But there is one movie that tops my list so far.

I have been hearing about this 2004 movie from Thailand entitled Shutter and how frightening it was, and so I did not pass up the chance to watch it last night. To set the mood, I turned off the lights save for a lamp and upped the surround sound volume.

The story starts with a couple driving from a pre-graduation drinking session with friends. They accidentally hit a woman crossing the road (this made me jump from my seat, and I knew I was in for a suspenseful couple of hours)! With no other witnesses to the incident they sped off, leaving the hapless woman sprawled by the roadside.

The story unfolds to reveal that there is more to the accident than meets the eye. Or , to put it more appropriately, more than meets the camera's shutter. For the photos they take (the guy is a photographer by profession) hold the key to a terrible secret.

I like watching horror flicks, but this one left me unnerved. So much so that I slept at the living room with the lights and the TV turned on for company. I don't think I will be watching another horror movie anytime soon. Need I say this movie comes highly recommended? Watch it with friends and let the screaming begin! Switching back to my sci-fi movies...

Photo credit: Beyond Hollywood - with a review from someone who's seen too many Asian horror flicks

13 January 2006

My 2006 goals

I'm back! Missed blogging for more than a week. I was in Baguio since Sunday last until yesterday, Thursday taking care of sick Jo-Lo. Must be the weather, which dipped to a reported 11 degrees centigrade. It was so cold that at 8:00 in the morning yesterday, I stepped out of the house and was surprised that my breath was still creating wisps of fog in the cold January air.

So I stayed at home with the baby for a week with no internet access. Fed him his cereals and milk, changed his diapers, gave his medication, put him to bed, briefly stayed out for his dose of sunshine, played when he is awake, watched TV while he slept. My babysitting week was slightly jolted only when we had an intensity 3 earthquake last Wednesday. It lasted only for a very short while but we were having dinner then and some dinnerware moved and we felt it. Earthquakes are of course, not to be taken lightly.

Jo-Lo is a bit better now, though I left him still with colds and flu. His new nanny arrived so I was able to return to Manila to work.

I haven't done my New Year's list of goals and resolutions yet, so here goes...
1. Clean up house. Start with the load of "flotsam and jetsam" under the stairs at the ground floor of the apartment.
2. Regularly visit the gym. This I have started already, though I had a little hiccup in the sched the past 2 weeks.
3. Cut down on my credit card debts. Eracidcate my debt will be the ultimate.
4. Save.
5. Volunteer my time at a charitable organization. I was a volunteer teacher a couple of years back, would like to do something like that again.
6. Diet. (wishiiing)

I will put these up in my account at 43things so I can monitor my progress. Sign-in for a free account too and list down your goals! I'll do this tomorrow.

Oh yes. For my final resolution, don't procrastinate. :-)

03 January 2006

Hello, 2006!

There are many things we wish for, and in my case I wished that everyone in the family can be together on Christmas eve. Our youngest sister, her family, and our older brother could not make it, however. But I am still thankful for having everone else around. Plus it's Jo-Lo's first Christmas!
We gathered round the living room and opened the gifts at midnight as is our custom . My niece Gretel used to be the gracious host for randomly picking gifts from the pile and announcing who the recipient and the gift giver is. This time around, my nephew Kyle did the distribution of gifts.

The gifts were opened with oohs and aahs! We usually give gifts to our older sister based on fashion trends. Previously it was this thing that you use to straighten your hair. They had a lot of fun with those after all the gifts were opened. This year, long skirts and curly hair were the fashion. So we gave them those. Straight hair yesterday, curly today. I guess I'll never understand these trends. :-)
That's my father at the back, all covered up. Too cold for him. I don't know what's with the shades, however.

My wife and I had a blast opening our gifts. With matching award-winner photo-shoot!
They had fun trying out their new hair-curling thingamajig. Don't ask why I did not join them :-).

It was quite a busy week for my wife and I, as we went to La Union to visit Tita Rem and distribute gifts on the 26th. We were supposed to leave for Manila on the 27th but wasn't able to because Jo-Lo was nursing a fever. We thought he was teething already, or it was way too cold in my parents' place.
We left on the 27th instead, arriving in Manila in the early morning of the 28th. After a quick stop in the apartment, we headed off to Dolores, Quezon (Tina's hometown) to visit her friends and relatives and distribute gifts. We left for Manila in the afternoon.

I reported for work on the 29th, and we left for Baguio that evening. Whew!

We visited the Cathedral on New Year's Day to give thanks.
My mother-in-law with Jo-Lo and Jay-R.
The Yuletide season is about family and about remembering the birth of our Lord and giving thanks for all our blessings and trials that make us stronger. All the best of 2006 from my family to yours.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...