eve of the storm

calm waters, cloudy sky and bountiful harvest... the laguna lake before typhoon Pedring made its landfall in Luzon visited the birthplace of my friend Tata Leo and spent a very relaxing weekend with the people of Barangay Tabon in Talim Island*, Laguna Lake. the said barangay have two sitios, malamig and mainit. the distinction comes from the temperature of the water coming from the poso or water pump, amazing hehehe
but the highlight of the weekend is enjoying the fresh harvest from the lake
servings of sinampalukan at inihaw na kanduli, yummy. the kanduli (catfish species) of laguna lake was so famous during the last decade that they said it costs almost P300 per kilo. i'm wondering why Manilenos always prefer tilapia? inihaw na ayungin. ayungin (silver perch) is one of the threatened fish species in the lake because of pollution and proliferation of exotic aquatic species such as: knife fish (sp unknown) the tilapia and mamali. mamali (bighead carp) is a giant (an adult may weigh almost 13 kilos), scary looking fish.
exotic fishes were introduced by our so-good government to boost the country's food production. eventually these exotic species, intentionally or by accident, got introduced in the wild. without any natural predators these species proliferated in our lakes and freshwater bodies, threatening to extinction many of our natural aquatic species such as the ayungin and biya.
thank Bathala the mamali only eats planktons and plants. at masarap syang iihaw hehehe.
morning, drinking coffee while watching the lake, Mt Makiling and the early fish trade in the barangay.
another hour boat ride back to the mainland, and finally, jamming session in EarthDance Manila to cap the weekend :)
* located in the middle of our largest lake, Talim Island got its unique name because it's shape (or looks) like a "balaraw" or fan knife. the terminal of the boats going to the different barangays of Talim Island is located in Pritil, Binangonan, Rizal. you can also catch passenger boats to the island from Calamba, Laguna.
Laguna Lake


ala eh

passed by my former house (and office) in Lipa City last weekend and can't help but reminiscence. i lived for more than 3 years in this well-known city of Batangas, my birth province, while working with an environmental group and as an editor/journalist of a multi-awarded Tagalog-based community newspaper.
named after an itchy, poisonous wild plant, Lipa City was famous for its kapeng barako*. since we have regular supply of brewed coffee at my current office, it still feels (or maybe smells) like home. however, i really missed my favorite dishes such as:
gotong batangas. a beef soup that uses innards (from tripes, internal organs to exotic cow parts like... butt and balls hehehe) as main ingredients. yumyum...
the thick, creamy and tasty lomi. no lomi in the world can compare to Batangas-style lomi.

inihaw and sinaing na tawilis, the only commercial fresh sardine in the world. tawilis is endemic to Taal Lake. 100% ala eh fish.

i miss swimming in the mysterious Taal Lake. eventhough the city proper is few kilometers away from the lake, the mighty city was once a flourishing lakeshore town. but after repeated obliteration caused by the eruption of Taal Volcano, Lipenos finally decided to settle away from the lake. currently, the city has one lakeshore barangay.

i miss my old home, my old office, my former cats named friskies and scarface, and my ala eh friends :)

don't forget these delicious dishes when you managed to visit Lipa. a very wonderful city, more dazzling than Gov Vilma Santos : )

*Lipa was the center of coffee production during the Spanish occupation period. it's citizens accumulated huge wealth because of coffee industry. however the city's bourgeois lifestyle ended when the price of coffee dropped in the global market while wide infestation destroyed many coffee plantations. even though most of the coffee trees grown in lipa today are already arabica and robusta, the city is still associated with the authentic kapeng barako or Philipine liberica.


natural high

my 2nd visit to the highest mountain/volcano of the country, and this time, were mesmerized by the beauty of mt. apo :)

unlike my first trip, which expectedly, was battered by terrible weather, nasty winds and almost zero visibility, a curse with all my maiden climbs (for another story hehehe), we were blessed with fine weather, nice and butt-freezing temperature, fascinating view and thriving fauna and flora.

joining me is my friend Willie and activists/punks/mountaineers buds Jumar and Balong.

lots of entrance and exit points to our highest mountain. for this climb, we took the shorter but steep trail via Barangay Ilomavis, Kidapawan City of North Cotabato. trek started for almost 3 hours in the great Marbel River. after several river crossing, then all uphill for 5 hours to lake venado (2283m), one of the highest-freshwater lake in the country. we camped beside the lake.

started the second day with a view of magnificent profile of mt apo, songs of montane birds and swim in venado. trek to summit camp, with occasional picking (and eating) of wild dark berries, lasted for 4 hours. winds aggravated the coldness but luckily it rained hard in the middle of the night, temperature gained few celcius higher. nice slumber again for me but for Willie, still another long, sleepless night.

last day, view of sunrise while eating our cooked oatmeal. since the mountain consists of several peaks (highest – 2975m), we hop from one vantage point to another. the view was simply breathtaking- old crater and the massive boulders spewed by the volcano, upland lakes, massive clouds looming above Davao City and Samal Island, the Davao Gulf, peaks of Davao Region and Bukidnon, and the wide flatlands of North Cotabato.

sadly garbage left by mountaineers littered across the campsite. true mountaineering is not a showcase of one's strength or machonism. it's about upholding responsibility and experiencing meekness under the grace of our Nature.

ended the climb with a visit to steaming lake agco and relaxing dip in the hot springs of a nearby resort, cold beer with marang as pulutan and a mad dash to catch my flight back to Manila.

a wish came true for Willie. gagaling din yang mga paltos at patay na kuko hehehehe. congratz! :) special thanks to Jumar and Balong for guiding us. sa cordi naman next climb...

Mt Apo

Kidapawan City, North Cotabato