letters to the future

Up, Up and Kupapey

I still haven’t written about my trip to Mt. Province on the first weekend of September to climb Mt. Kupapey.

You know those split-second decisions you made that turns out to be the best decisions you could ever come up with? Yes, this belongs to those. I was very hesitant to continue this trip, (1) I recently came from a Boracay trip and I am still tired because of the unexpected surfing lessons there; (2) I had loads of to dos at work; and lastly (3) my friend who’s supposed to come with me backed out. So there, I even hoped that it would rain hard so that the trip will be cancelled, with the looming rainy weather report just before that trip, just so that I can join when I am physically and emotionally ready to go.

But no, that evil plan was a failed attempt and I remember waking up on a Friday morning (decided that I will not go) and the first thing that looked at me is the picture of a very sunny Maligcong Rice Terraces …

…and from there I packed my stuff and decided straightaway that I will go – I decided already so I wouldn’t have any qualms about it later and God knows what overthinking does to me.

Going to the North has always been nights, because of the 12-hour trip, so there we were, 9pm at the meeting place with only my sister as the only person I know. We rode a van and slept to the whole ride, I mean the whole night while we’re speeding away from Manila.

And then I woke up into a sunrise , the van is in the middle of this vast field surrounded by trees but I can’t help the fact that I am awoken to this magnificent sunrise that I was not able to capture into photo. But remembering it – it seems nice to be awoken by sunrise moving in the middle of the road and not the buzzing alarm of your cellphone.

But that was still early. I slept again and I think we arrived at Banaue past 8am in the morning and we ate our breakfast there and then some of us bought food to be cooked for the next days. And we were surprised because the serving of rice is very large – no wonder – we were in the place full of rice terraces!

I think we stayed at Banaue Public Market for more than two hours. We negotiated with a tricycle driver to take us to the Banaue Rice Terraces view point.  And from here on in – I was amazed with the green green rice terraces. It was no wonder why it was called the “eight wonder of the world”.

I had said this before but let me just say it once again – it’s just really green green view but when you live in the city, all these nature – the very natural views in the provinces were very much appealing to me, maybe it’s because I don’t see it every day or maybe because I was denied of this view in my childhood – not that I don’t go to provinces but it’s just that when you’re young and all these people around you were feeding you thoughts of how amazing the city lights is, all these modernizations, etc. etc., you get sick of it. Sometimes though, it’s not that I don’t want to be in the city, I love being in the city, I am rooted there – but I guess my attachment to nature is a far cry of how I don’t want other people to dictate what I wanted or of how I always don’t want to be the same with other people, I always like to be different which maybe not the case since there are more and more people beginning to appreciate this lovable nature. Whew! That was long!

And then after going to the viewpoint – we were astounded to know that we will still pass in those viewpoints so there was no need for us to negotiate with the tricycle drivers to take us there!  We’re just too excited to see it we didn’t bother to ask if we were going to pass by it on the way.

Then another road trip – we’re still in Banaue, Ifugao whereas, our destination is in Maligcong, Mt. Province. We still need to go north.

And here while I was on road trip I was fascinated of the mountains all around us. So, now I know why it is called Mt. Province – it was indeed surrounded by mountains, left and right. The road was zigzagging and the mountains is all around you. I was so blessed that I didn’t have motion sickness and I was able to enjoy the left turns and right turns of the car we’re in. Not to mention the sky that is as clear as it once was. Humanity really should preserve this for our future generations.

When we were near, after crossing Bontoc and our car is going up to Maligcong – this is the thrilling part – because for mountaineers, the road was an assault, it is like 45-degree slope and I was guarded and monitoring if we will indeed make it and you can hear the roar of the engine that says driving was hard – I can’t imagine myself driving a car in that upward slope in the near or far off future – I guess I would never have the guts like our driver had! But we made it! We made it to the top and I was elated. Darn, I don’t know what word to use – relieved?

And after the almost 14-hour trip, we were in Maligcong – and at Suzzette’s homestay where they had this terrific view. Darn, I want to have this view at my home too.

After some rest – and settling in our rooms and resting again, we decided to trek or walk along the rice puddies – on Maligcong rice terraces. It was at 4 in the afternoon and a little bit cold but manageable and the sun is not too hot or warm so together with a guide – we walked into Maligcong rice terraces.

I just want to say that I’m afraid of open heights and it was really tricky on walking along the rice terraces when on the other side you might fall off while on the other side you might get in the mud. But well, I’ll take the mud anytime. So, it was a little bit tricky on my part but I didn’t give up – all you have to do is just think that you will not fall in which that thought always backfires, so no, all you have to do is balance. So there, it was nice to be surrounded by rice terraces and not just view it from above. I am kidding, it was more than nice after a few walks here and there and taking photos left and right, we found out that we were tired and so we headed back.

To find out that there was no electricity. And I really want to take a bath. So there was no heater and the water for sure is cold. My older sister even said to me after taking a bath that the water is so cold, “para lang sa matapang!”. And I was insistent on taking a bath so I took on the challenge that I can endure it _(flashback to three years ago in Sagada where I even boiled water so I can take a bath) _but now after three years I think I can finally nail it. It was nothing compared to the ice bucket challenge. But what was surprising is that I indeed enjoyed all the coldness and I was then freshened up. Oooh, best feeling in the world is after taking a bath with the very very cold water.

And then I was really feeling cold so I went to the kitchen where they were preparing our dinner and I stayed there because I thought that being in the kitchen with the fire in the stove would keep me warm. Haha. I helped them by slicing the garlic and others – it was the only decent thing I can do in the kitchen, really. But again, it was nice to prepare the food and not just wait for it to be served. And because there was no electricity – we used our headlamps as flashlights while cooking. (And here I discovered that you can put mayonnaise on fried rice and it will still taste decent! )

And then, with all the lights of – dinner is served! Fried rice, adobong chicken, tinola and it was delicious. We ate in the dark and there were so many of us. But I was full by the end of it – the food was delicious after being tired from walking.

Some of us stayed up late but I slept early – my body clock is so messed up that if I didn’t sleep before 12 midnight I will be awake until 3am and I wouldn’t want that because we need to be up by 3:30am.

And so I passed up the night socials but whatever. So in the morning, we were up by 3:30 and ready to go by 4am. But as we got to the start of the trek, we felt little drops of water falling and maybe it was going to be a rainy trek. Thank God for my shoes which is not slippery when wet.

It was the first time that I am going to climb a mountain in the dark – and while raining (but it was only very little rains, ambon lang actually). I think, the dark did help because I cannot see the sights or the view so I don’t really have to be afraid of falling which might work in reverse because it was dark all around me, I can choose on whether I believe those dark were fields or if they were cliffs and I am on the edge of it.

By the middle of it I was already tired and I kept on thinking where is the fields that they were saying? And I am thankful whenever we get to stop. I am not at all thirsty because it’s cold it’s just that the rain is making my glasses foggy and your temperature is fighting – it’s cold on the outside but it’s warm on the inside and you get what I mean right? And then there’re dogs that joins you on the trek.

And at last – we get to the top, a little bit early, maybe and so we sat down on this circle where I think they light up to make a bonfire. It was cold up there, very very cold and we were hungry and so we ate food up there also while waiting for the sunrise that we didn’t see because there were just too many clouds and the sun had risen at the back of the clouds.

But no time to be sad because, there was the view of the rice terraces in all its morning glory because when we head to the top, it was no longer raining! And then the sea of clouds passed by also. And the fine fine pine trees. I even lied there for emphasis on calmness.

And apparently, this is me and my sister being silly. 🙂 (silly with the sea of clouds and fogs)

Mt. Kupapey is the third mountain that I was able to climb (counting the Mt. Pinatubo because who says it is not a mountain?!) and it was I don’t know, calming? It was there that I realized that the world is vast and you can go on looking into every details of the world but you cannot know all of it. Just like how you can talk to a person every time and still not know him/her very well. Time limits you and of course your human mind. But how blessed are the people there that they can climb a mountain at will? Darn, you can do your devotion in there in the morning – and just sat and write in silence (if there were no us!) and marvel in the wonderful view. God really made an awesome world for us to live in. He isn’t a joke – He made it, He held nothing back because He wants to give us the best – if that is the case then who are we to not give the best to Him?

And so, this marks the end of the trek. Going down is a little bit easier. Because I can see and revel in the glory of the surroundings. It was greenish but maybe it’s all the oxygen doing in your head it makes you feel lighter and so I ran and hopped and jumped on the way down. A little bit bothered that I might slip or fall down but I got these trusty shoes that won’t let me fall down and I now know how to go down – you bend your knees a little so that the pressure won’t be on you knees (I made that mistake on my first climb and my knees were really shaking halfway across.

And then coming back to homestay inn and no better way other than to eat a warm champorado with milk powder toppings!  It was nice to have all these simpler but I consider grander things in life. I know I am always complicated that’s why I think I revel in all these simplicities to balance myself.

And it was only a little while after that when we also ate lunch – which is still delicious and with the kalabasa on sinigang. Mysterious ingredients on normal food is exciting, I think?! Or maybe not. Or yeah, I think it is. And we sat there after eating, me and my older sister and seeing the rice terraces on their terrace (you get the pun?) and me thinking how those rice terraces can feed the whole Philippines and that I hope that it will still continue in the future. Because I knew that people are not at all drawn to farming, to hard labor and etc. even me – because all of us or most of us – we think that in this modern age, we all should be doing modern work and farming does not appeal to us. Me included because my reason is a fail but I don’t know anything about it and I don’t have a green hand. But yeah, that reason is lame. But still I wish that these would not stop and that the rice terraces region would continue to produce rice that would feed the entire nation.

And so ends our little adventure in the north. I hope to get back someday – with new people. But going down has an amazing view.

We had a sidetrip to the highest point in Benguet and the strawberry farm in La Trinidad.

It was on the highest point where I met this very cute little kid that I want to be my dongsaeng. I originally didn’t want to go out of the van but I saw her from my window and I was immediately drawn to her cuteness and those little coat and boots she’s wearing and she’s thrilled to see herself on my camera.

It was a long trip.

Before I attempted to join in this hike, a lot of people said to me that it was very far, when I can just go into near places to climb a mountain. But it was worth it! And its not that I only like to climb a mountain – I also want to go into the rice terraces and well, one item marked off on my bucket list.

And here I also realized that I am made for long travels, on roadtrips and of sleeping in cars, of waking into sunrises and of the simpler things in life. I am blessed to have discovered another side of me – that the best part still is the feeling of yourself looking at the window to see the view – the world speeding away from you and you know that you destined somewhere and I like the time it takes to get there.

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