Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alternative Wedding Anniversary Celebration: Conquering Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas, with Happy Feet Adventours

My sister, May, and my brother-in-law, Ferdie, hate boring. When they were married two years ago, instead of riding in a bridal car, they opted to ride in motorbikes from our house in Malinta, Valenzuela, which was 10 kilometers away from to Sandiego de Alcala Parish in Polo, Valenzuela. Celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary, instead dating in a posh restaurant, they chose to climb Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas, together. I was there to witness the fun - and love - as they conquered the (in)famous mountain.

Our first group photo with our team leaders

We climbed Mt. Maculot last August 30, 2015 with Happy Feet Adventours. The package cost us Php 1,500 per head, inclusive of transportation cost, permit cost, and local guide fees. Prior to the hike, May and Ferdie had customized shirts made which they would wear once they're at the peak. The shirts flashed the statement :"We have conquered the mountains together", which I thought, was rather romantic.

The call time was 3:00 am at McDonalds across from Meralco in Ortigas. We were there around 2:00am. Participants arrived one by one (you would know because of the outfit and the bags!) Our team leaders Justine and Raymond gathered 9 hikers, some of which were first-timers, while some were seasoned climbers already. Mt. Maculot, despite the news in the past about a mountaineer who got lost and later on was found dead, is still appropriate for beginners.

Our Starex van picked us up past 4:00am and we traveled to Batangas for three hours. I slept inside the vehicle so that I would have the energy needed for the climb. 

Ferdie, May, and me (sleeping!)

We passed by Lipa and picked up two more hikers, upping our number to 11. We reached Cuenca around 7:30am. We had our briefing and pre-hike preparations and started to climb around 8:00am.

Raymond and Justine briefing the team (LNT: "Leave No Trace")

As usual, the ascent would always be a challenge. But I have survived the dreaded Mt. Ugo already so Mt. Maculot would be easy. Meanwhile, May and Ferdie were adventurous and athletic, as well, so climbing shouldn't be a problem, too. While we progressed, I could see how they were enjoying the trek, especially how Ferdie ensured that May would be safe stepping on one sturdy spot to another. 

Obligatory groufie

The challenging ascent

The good thing about Mt. Maculot trail was that it's covered with trees (so it's not as hot compared to Mt. Batulao trail). Plus, at every stop, there's buko juice being sold for Php 10 per cup.

Buko juice for Php 10 per cup sold at every stop

However, one of our fellows got dizzy after 15 minutes of hiking so she had to return to the van with her friend. Justine accompanied them. We found out that she only had an hour of sleep the night before! (Thus, it's a lesson for beginners not to stay up late when climbing the next day, okay?)

We reached the Rockies after 2 hours, which according to our team leaders, was rather fast. That was good because as hikers flocked to the Rockies, they had to queue for picture-taking. It was hot up there during that time because as it was approaching noontime!

Ferdie and May wearing their customized shirts

The view from where we stood was breathtaking. May and Ferdie wore their customized shirts and had their pictures taken. The group teased them to kiss. They did kiss, and it was perfect!

How sweeter could they get?

That's me!

After leaving the Rockies, we had our lunch at the camp at the top. We just ate chips, cookies, and bread. Thus, we finished eating and resting in about 30 minutes. We also planned to eat rice on the way home.

The camp at the top

The descent was much faster and pretty much easier. We're able to get back at the base camp in an hour. There we changed clothes. They also sell food and t-shirts there. And if you want to use the bathroom .or the toilet, you just have to pay Php 5 to Php 15.

The base camp where you can change take shower and change clothes.

We capped the day by eating Bulalo in Tagaytay. Going there was dreadful because of the Sunday traffic. But overall, that was a fun day. And the celebration of my sister's 2nd Wedding Anniversary was memorable.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Emotions overflow in “Katha”, ALAB’s 3rd Open Mic at Black Kings Bar, Quezon City

For the third time, ALAB has staged another successful Open Mic held at Black Kings Bar in West Avenue, Quezon City last August 20, 2015. I co-hosted the event whose proceeds would be donated to The Storytelling Project, a non-governmental organization that goes to remote places to tell stories and teach reading to kids.

Me and my co-host, Faye de Leon

A well-attended event, ALAB’s Open Mic titled “Katha” was graced by guest performers such as Dia and Simone Sales of “Mga Apo ni Lola Basyang”, Palanca Award-winning children’s book writer and illustrator May Tobias-Papa, Spoken Word poet and playwright Juan Miguel Severo, and musicians Reese Lansangan and Ebe Dancel.

Ms. Dia and Simone Sales, interpreting "Araw sa Palengke", written by Ms. May Tobias-Papa
Award-winning children's book writer and illustrator, May Tobias-Papa

Kuya Rey Bufi, founder of The Storytelling Project

Musician Reese Lansangan
Spokeword poet and playwright, Juan Miguel Severo
THE Ebe Dancel!

The audience were wowed as well by those who volunteered to perform their original poems or played their own song composition. The stage of Black Kings Bar became the venue of a promising career for the first timers!

JC Deato, a first-timer who delivered his poem

In between the performances, ALAB also raffled off prizes courtesy of Poetry Magnets and St. Hale Cookies.
PoetryMagnets, one of our sponsors
It was an emotional night for everyone. The storm did not hinder the enthusiastic audience from coming to the venue. And they got their monies’ worth.

Black Kings Bar, West Ave., Quezon City, the venue of the event

We, the organizers of ALAB, would like to thank our sponsors who made the event possible: Black Kings Bar, RadioRepublic, St. Hale Cookies, PurpleBug, and Micara Land, Inc. We would also like to extend our gratitude to our volunteer photographers Ervin and Eric Avena, Arlo Lorenzo, and Ricky Adeva.

The organizers and the photographers

The next ALAB Open Mic would be held on October 3, 2015 in the 1st Katipunan Art Festival.

Visit ALAB's Facebook Fanpage for more updates.

What Gym For The Heart Performance Workshop by Sipat Lawin Ensemble Teaches Us About Ourselves

I’ve been getting in touch with Sipat Lawin Ensemble for quite some time because I’ve been wanting to join their Gym For The Heart Performance Workshop. I’ve been a fan of Sipat Lawin actors since I saw them perform in Virgin Labfest in 2014. I also love the performances that they stage and their advocacy of bringing “theater” to the community.

At last, last August 15-17, 2015, I was able to experience the workshop that has taught me to “dive in”, to be conscious of my surroundings because “everything is valid”, and to kill complacency by looking for “unsafe places” when the “unsafe becomes safe”.

Part of Theater-In-A-Backpack, Gym For The Heart Performance Workshop is a three-day workshop composed of activities that would help discover one’s self so that he can unlock his potentials, push himself to the limits, and relate well with others.

Held at Pugad Lawin Studio in Ermin Garcia, Cubao, Quezon City, the workshop would always start with a “check in” where one would just share his feelings at that moment and would end with a “check out” where he would express his thoughts prior to leaving the workshop.

After one or two activities, the participants would be asked to write on the journal and these realizations would be discussed during the sharing sessions. I appreciated this portion a lot because I was able to listen to how my co-workshopper, Ian, interpreted the learning from the activity, and got to compare my realizations with his. Our bubbly facilitator, Clyde, made us realize that all the activities that we did were necessary to improve how we perform. All the learning would be integrated in the recital to be held on the third day of the workshop.

My recital photo. I was the one who did the set design! 

My co-workshopper, Ian, delivering his intense monologue

I am personally thankful to the experience. It was physically and emotionally draining at times, but it’s the beauty of it. What I learned from the workshop was more than lessons on performance, but lessons on how I could become a better person as I work with others. I am a proud product of this workshop.

With our very bubbly (and strong!) workshop facilitator, Clyde