Bye Summer

Summer is ending and after months of scourging heat, I’m really looking forward to the rainy season. But before I say au revoir to the Sun King, just a quick reminisce of this summer.

Escaping the city’s heat, most of my free days were spent at our favourite hang-out place– Bahay ni Lola in Mabini, Batangas. It became my second home and workplace also. Days were spent writing technical papers and grant proposals, reading books, sleeping on lazy afternoons, accommodating guests, and/or swimming with Sheldon.

Work also gave opportunities to explore new places.

First, a visit to Barangay Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal. This community and the adjacent indigenous peoples (IP) communities will be submerged underwater if the controversial Laiban Dam pushes thru.

Assisting the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, we also conducted an IP Summit for the Rehabilitation of the Kaliwa-Kanan and Agos River Watersheds which was held in Infanta, Quezon.  

The summit gathered almost 100 Dumagat tribal leaders from Quezon, Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan.

Another work brought me to the mountainous region of the country- the Cordillera. We visited the small scale mining communities in Barangay Virac of Itogon, Benguet - the site of the first commercial mining firm in the country. 

We interviewed small scale miners and documented their operations.

Aside from meeting new folks, also favourite part of these trips were enjoying native cuisines- tapang kalabaw with sinantol and lambanog (Quezon) and pinikpikan with etag (Benguet), yumyum.

Also highlights of this summer: spending lazy afternoons at UP Diliman and taking photographs of trees and shrubs in bloom; 

birdwatching in La Mesa Ecopark, and a recreational climb with friends at Mt. Gulugod-baboy, the highest peak of Mabini.

Goodbye summer!


 April-May 2013


Four Waterfalls of Siniloan

Nothing to do on a beautiful day, so why not re-explore the hidden gems of Siniloan, Laguna. Magtanggal din ng kati ng paa haha.  

The destination: Mt. Romelo of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. 

We started our trek at Barangay Macatad and after more than an hour of navigating the muddy trail, we reached our first stop - Buruwisan Falls.

Towering at the height of 180 feet, the picturesque Buruwisan Falls is the most known of the Siniloan waterfalls. Hundreds of tourists flock to this place especially on weekends.

Next - Lanzones Falls. 

This 70-ft waterfalls has mystique ambiance  After hours of walking under the sun, it’s rewarding to soak your tired body in its small and cold water pool. The surrounding sharp, jagged rocks are also ideal for practicing your rock climbing skills.  Too bad it’s high noon, so no birds in the area.

To reach the next falls, one must pass (and swim) this beautiful gorge.

And then... Batya-batya Falls. 

The name was derived from the deep catch-basin that separates the two-cascading small falls.

After another hour of river trekking upstream, we reached our last stop – Sampalok Falls. 

This is the most majestic of all the Siniloan waterfalls and very few visit this spot because of its distance from Buruwisan. It felt we have our own private water pool!

Late afternoon, we dragged ourselves out of the water and started our descent with smiles on our faces.


Mt. Romelo was a favorite weekend destination during our college years. However, incidents of robbery and hold-up became prevalent in the past years and we stopped visiting this place. Today, it seems local officials manage to stop (or contain) these crimes. Still, extra precaution and vigilance are advised when visiting this place.


Wildlife Week: Birding in the City (2)

On January 25, I joined the 2013 Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) spearheaded by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and Department of Environment and Natural Resources. An annual endeavor since 1987, AWC aims to identify and monitor wetlands of international and national importance. 

Our mission for this day: count the waterbirds in the Las-Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPCHEA).

LPCHEA hosts the few remaining mangrove forests in Metro Manila. It is a declared bird sanctuary and provides temporary haven for thousands of migrating birds taking the East Asian Flyway during the months of September to March.

We started at the break of dawn and instantly saw flocks and flocks of little egret, great egret, black-winged stilt, common greenshank, common redshank and whiskered-tern. We also saw flocks of black-crowned night heron, little heron, Asian golden-plover, Kentish plover and even endemic Philippine duck.

After four hours, we counted a total of 2,230 water birds!

LPCHEA is an important ecosystem and yet, it is besiege by different ecological problems such as marine pollution, solid waste and the threat of continuing reclamation project by the national government. If the project pushes through, LPCHEA’s mangroves, ponds and lagoons will be wiped out of the map.


LPCHEA is located along the Coastal Road going to Cavite. The WBCP and other environmental organizations, fisherfolk groups and communities continue to oppose the planned reclamation project at LPCHEA.