Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Conquering Magdalena

Let me get this out before the memories fade like the rest of 2014...

Magdalena, Laguna - and I have no idea where it is until yesterday.

Because it is Memorial Day today and we have a long weekend, I kind of stuffed a whole lot in my calendar...I slept late on Saturday night...err not really. I just closed my eyes lying in the dark waiting for my alarm clock to go off a little over an hour after I set it. I came home very early Sunday morning after spending the night at the PETA Theater for Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady: The Musicale by Carlos Vergara.

So it was Sunday morning. The call time was 4:30AM  at McDonald's Taft. I had hamdesal and coffee to officially start my day! I met the team: Dexie (the ring leader), Jenn (the bully), Omie (the muscle man), Ron and Wendy (used to work with the same company) and Daryll (the payroll guy). the original plan was to take the second DLTB bus to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Well, things happen...we boarded the bus at the break of the morning light.

Because most of us were on the same theater last night...we all took that 2 hours of slumber...


Welcome to Sta. Cruz, Laguna!

We arrived safely at the DLTB bus station in Sta.Cruz. Because, we did not pack steamed rice for lunch, we had a little expedition to the town market taking every twist and turns to find an eatery to get ourselves some rice.  On the way, we also got a kilo of Indian Mangoes.

Heading to Magdalena, Laguna was a bit crazy.  The ladies took the trike (tricycle) with instructions to head to Magdalena Town Plaza. So the gentlemen took the second with the same instructions. En-route to Magdalena Town Plaza, just at the boarder of Sta. Cruz and Pagsanjan, we lost sight of the trike where the ladies were boarded. We called and were informed that they were let off at Sta. Cruz Town Plaza instead and they've taken the jeep to Magdalena. So when the ladies were gone, we kept going passing along the Pagsanjan Public Market and on to more coconut trees, cool and fresh breeze until we reached a town plaza across a beautiful, old Magdalena Church (sorry, did not have the opportunity to take a photo). The guys took shelter from the unforgiving morning sunshine under the Angel's Burger stand. And because the trip was rather long, I got myself a Hungarian sausage sandwich and a bottle of Mountain Dew!

About 15 minutes we met the ladies! Then we're picked up by our guide to their residence to get some briefing and paper works (waivers and all that).  After preparing for our journey to the starting point, we boarded the jeep along with the gears!

Loading up the Jeepney with the gears!
The trip to the starting point was very short! Made us all jittery all because "ate" from the briefing said we will be dropped from the bridge to get to the raft!...aaaaand nobody said the bridge was this high!

So this is the "drop off" point! 
The heat is on! Put those gears on and beat that summer init! The rappelling from the bridge would have been exciting albeit being scary (issues with heights) but we were not ready to get tied and dropped over a bridge!

Loading the raft!

Pre-boarding pose! 

Smile! That's Wendy, Omie and the ring leader, Dexie

and the raft is loaded! Push that raft Kuya!

Under the summer heat the river was calm and cool while the hearts of adventure seekers were restless and eager to meet the rapids. Nature trip can be both calming and exhilarating!  So we started rowing...err paddling the water...

smile smile uli sa camera before we hit the rapids! 

While the water  was still calm, the river guides told us that the helmets weren't just for protection against the rocks (they're huge).  They have another purpose! Unbuckle your hats and scoop some cold river water, splash it over your head or better yet, shove 'em to your raftmates! Orrr!!! paddle the water over the face of the one sitting behind you!It's fun!

No water rapids shot! Sorry! While we have water proof camera phones, we do not have a GoPro! Hands were off the paddles and on to the ropes! The rapid waters aren't at their usual angry mood during summer so it wasn't too much.  It was still fun though!

After some rapids we came to a rest stop...soaking in the river to cool off!

cam on cam! hahaha pa picture kay kuya while taking a shot of the photographer! 

selfie shot daw! 

Chill Chill si Omie while some adventurous souls decided to jump off a cliff

Helmet madness! 

Because we don't want to dive...err no talent in swimming
This is Omie chillin' 

At the end of the river, there's a "dam".  Well it was not so much a dam where energy can be generated.  It's an irrigation facility. It's where we had the water tubing activity! Well Daryl had the courage to jump off the irrigation canal...hahaha I was happy riding the "tubing".

What is water tubing? Well, you don't really get into a tube but rather ride a salbabida or a truck's internal tire or the airbag of a tire. Tubing is riding that tire's air tube down the mossy slope!

Wenn taking the first slide!

Dexie as the second victim! 

Ron, Omie and Daryl decided to slide without the tube! and because it's a concrete lined with moss, it's a slippery slope.  They got some super light dermal scrape that you can dismiss after you've seen it! Because I can be fragile (LOL), I decided to go down with the tube! I relaxed after that slide lying on the slope with water flowing all over...

Not the best photo but I've got the best feeling under the cascading water...

Omie is happy playing under the water!

After getting our own cool fix under and on the water, we had lunch in a hut atop a hill overlooking the river. We ate on banana leaves  with our packed chicken-pork adobo and mangga (mangoes) and bagoong (shrimp paste) c/o Daryl...

There is nothing more relaxing than hearing the water flow...it touches your body as it cleanses your soul..

Magdalena White Water River Rafting Adventure
Magdalena, Laguna

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hello! It's been a while

Things can get whole lot busy when you are chasing after time and money. ^_^  I has at least one major race per month making training a bit frequent and traveling totally in the bag. Stuff at work makes the juggling a whole lot difficult. In the end, rather than getting things easy, I get the big word S-T-R-E-S-S.

Before the end of March I made sure that I catch up with life before work swallows me in it's abyss. Air Asia Zest gave an opportunity. It was a split second decision. I clicked-clicked-clicked and poof! I reserved a round-trip ticket to Puerto Princesa - the gateway to the country's last frontier.

calendar:marked, ticket:paid

Now this is my second time in Puerto Princesa (PPS); and that story of my first hasn't been told...maybe I should start from there, where the dream of coming back began and the promise fulfilled...

The Backpacking Geek

Monday, December 30, 2013

what a journey it has been

Like the blank Starbuck Planner for 2013, I was wishing and hoping for more adventures. I planned trips that will definitely tickle my senses-visual, auditory and taste! I’ve written plans, browsed articles while waiting for that next big Piso Fare!
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."'

7-11 Run 800 Starting Line

January 2013 kicked in…and like a box of chocolates, I didn’t know what I was getting

Since I was diagnosed with hepatomegaly, I started running 30 minutes every early in the morning around the block. It was refreshing and it made me feel good that I extended the 30 minutes to an hour.

Then January 20 happened. Around 5AM I crossed the Starting Line that changed the way I look at running…at my health…at my life…

The 7-11 Run 800 - in celebration of the store's 800th outlet across the country. Run for a cause, as they say, the City with the most number of participants will receive medical assistance/aid.
We decided to take a plunge by participating in the 5Km category only because we liked the blue singlet. We would have loved the black one, but it was one hell of a distance (21K) to run for someone without any experience.

After the race...we went straight to Tondo for a feast of Sto. Nino!

Bawi-bawi lang din and na-burn na calories...

After the 7-11 Run 800, I saw myself running more races. I stopped traveling places far from the city…

but I certainly travelled kilometers on foot...

PhilHealth gave me the reason to explore Manila when it offered a run in celebration of it’s 18th anniversary.

After so many years, I got to hop in a Light Railway Transit again. The train's first trip from the South was 5AM. Dropping off at UN Station, I crossed Taft Avenue. And to get to Quirino Grandstand (starting line), I passed by Luneta. I got to see the Rizal Monument again…the last was during my elementary school field trip.

March came and I made a BIG leap. From 5Km, I ran 21 kilometers and crossed the finish line with the time of 02:42:00.
It was a fulfilling experience. It taught me the lesson of believing in one's ability. I found my strength...I saw determination  drive my pair of inexperienced legs to the finish line...

21 Kilometers was long...

It was tiring...

The experience was worth every muscle pain after...

A week after, I couldn't get enough of the hype brought about by running. March 24, I ran for all my friends and loved ones working overseas. I celebrated their heroism by running my first 10 kilometer race along Roxas Boulevard.

It was not all running...After my 10K run, I had to walk...

It was a different kind...a journey through the aisle of St. Joseph Cathedral...
No...I didn't tie the knot...I was the best man, though. It was my brother's wedding...First time kong maging part ng entourage. I've always been a spectator...

April 28 - National Geographic Channel Earth Day Run...I ran another 21K. I had my very first sports related injury - a bleeding knee...It hit a concrete barrier in an ill-lit part of Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue. I did not see the uneven pavement that got me out of balance and hit the barrier...
Funny thing was, adrenaline was rushing along with endorphin...I did not feel anything but a slight sting. A concerned runner asked how I was and I just said I feel good and kept running.

June 02 was Run United's second leg of the trilogy. Another 21K for me. I was putting together a 3-piece medal and I snagged the second one...

Before the first half of the year closed, I left again...My daily commute to Ortigas stopped in June 30. I left the company I have been working for for eight long years. It was a long decision to make. Took me about 3 years to finally draft and sign that resignation letter...

July 01, I met my new family at work. hahaha Walang pahinga...trabaho agad.

I accepted the offer of a US-based payroll and benefits administration provider whose office is a stone throw away (well, not really...but I walk to get home) from my place.


October came really fast. October 06 was a happy day! I get to run with an old time friend, Lea. She's a police office based in Pampanga. I've had tons of crams and muscle pain throughout the course of the Run United Philippine Marathon. It was one of the 'longest' race I've ever been. "longest" in the sense that it took me a while to get to the finish line...OVER 3 HOURS!

It was fun running with a friend. For the longest time I was running by myself. Well, Me and my phone...
Nice to see some familiar personalities too. I get to see Alvin Patrimonio and Benjie Paras.

November gave me the biggest challenge in my running history. It was a rainy day after the biggest storm in history ravaged Central Philippines. It was wet...it was raining for the New Balance Power Run 2013.

The NB Power Run really tested my endurance. I ran 25 Kilometers around almost all corners of the Bonifacio Global City. The race route included the hike of the Kalayaan Flyover all the way to LRT Gil Puyat station (well almost).

My shoes were wet and towards the 4 Km or so, the sun was shining "bright like a diamond". It was hard to see as the wet pavement reflected the sun. I finished the race in over 3 hours. It was appropriate to state that I "crawled" to the finish line...or, given that I have been in the round sise as my good friends would have called it "rolling (gumulong) to the finish line".

And because I was all spent after battling with the 25 Km road/track, I thought I deserved a hearty meal.

Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes - Carbo and protein loading.

Friends have been talking about it and I am yet to discover the place. I got a protein packed pasta of 3 types of meat and a huge banapple smoothie. The serving was just too much even for the hungry hippo! I had to take home half of the meal!

Before November finally closes, I received my final docs from the old employer. It was an opportunity to see my teammates and friends.
And speaking of old and friends, November 30 was the day for the Annual Poor Club Meet up. We had breakfast at IHOP, BGC. The pancakes were good. I had the Cinn-a-stack. Two stacks of fluffy and creamy pancakes, each topped with cinnamon spread... I also had their big steak omelet.
Then it's Christmas...
I didn't get to see my family for the holidays because I have work on Christmas eve. But I get to spend it with my other family, my HR/B family. We had dinner together and had fun at work... 

There 's a whole lot of things that has happened as I look back...2013 must have been one of my most colorful year in my 3 decades of existence. It was a long journey. I did not get to fly this year...I have not seen new places from magazines...2013 gave me the opportunity to reach out to my inner self. The journey was within. I discovered a whole lot about my self...
I tasted new flavors through the personalities I met while running, in my new job, in my new  work place...
2014, I am excited to meet you...I don't know what kind of flavor or color you'd bring, but I am looking forward to more surprises...
More travel...
More Run...
More Fun!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Running: New way to explore and travel

Traveling is fun...

Running is fun...

Running while traveling is twice the fun!

As I look back at 2013, I do not have anything to consider as "travel" activity. I was saving up for my "Great South East Asian Adventure" which I was forced to ditch because of work. It was the price I have to pay in exchange for the goodness of being accepted in the very stellar company. Nearly six months ago, I betrayed myself when I declared that I have no travel plans in the next six months. It hurts a bit as I have made the airline arrangements. It's a good thing I have not made any reservations for hotels and train rides.

With the recently discovered enthusiasm for fun runs brought about by encouragement from my medical internist, I have spent a my free time and finances in fun runs. I like the feeling of fulfillment in finishing a race/run like how endorphins give me that "high" while seeing and experiencing a variety of scenery, food and culture on a road trip.

I realized while running that it is somehow a form of traveling. It may not be as grand as flying out to another country or city, but it lets you see places worth discovering (at least for my self).

I've never seen the Rizal Monument since I was in grade school. I came back to see it flooded with lights in the early morning on my way to Quirino Grandstand for the 2013 PhilHealth Run. Another glimpse of Rizal along with the Km 0 marker and the Manila Yacht Club was during the second leg of Run United.

Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is a business district known for its contemporary design and running-friendly streets. It was not known to me until I started getting that "high" from running. I found the beauty in skyscrapers that seamlessly blend in the green patches and pocket gardens. I had the opportunity to go around almost every corner of the district when I ran 25 Km for the New Balance Power Run. It was really nice to discover the place.

Piggy-backing on the BGC experience, I was able to discover the uphill and downhill tracks on the Taguig side of the global city. I endured the climb and the fast downhill pavements around the military camp in Taguig, Heritage Memorial Park and back during the NatGeo Earth Day Run.

These places I've mentioned, I'm pretty sure were not in the bucket list, but I have come to realize that they're discoveries I made while running.

January 20, 2013, I crossed the Start Line that got me to run some more...discover myself and my passion for running. It's where I discovered what lies after Baclaran to the south. 7-11 Run 800 gave me that eye-opening experience.

On January 19, 2014 I will celebrate the run that started it all. This time, I will experience the sunrise, the salty and cool breeze of the Cavite coastal waters along the engineering feat that is CavitEx. I am running the 21 Km stretch of Cavite Expressway for the 7-11 Run 1000.

More Run, more fun!

The Backpacking Geek

Busy days are almost over

If you are in my position, you have to hate your company for not letting you get that holiday off you have been used to...then I realize that this is the company that picked me up when I was at my lowest...It just so happened that the company's most busy time is the year-end, much like most of the institutions we are supporting..hence, I perfectly understand why we have a block out for offs during this busy time.

On the brighter side, after the busy times, as I have received the list of my clients for the next batch of benefit enrollments, I am happy to see only six (6) compared to the 35++ for the year end...now this means I am more confident in planning a trip, a vacation--an activity that I have been longing to do for the last 5 months...

it's time to check those airline sites for some pretty good deals! Hello itinerary building tools...

The Backpacking Geek