On the third day, we made a very important discovery that changed our lives. While I was sleeping, BPNM and CM were busy ransacking the house for any use-full items and unearthed - a Rice Cooker! The most versatile appliance you will ever own! We boiled water for Milo and coffee, then we cooked corned beef,eggs,and pancit canton, before we cooked our rice! A heavenly breakfast for backpackers!
Having our stomachs filled, we decided to do an exercise. Mountain hiking was decided to be the best thing to do.
We originally planned on visiting my Tita at Bulusan, and hike the mountain and visit the emerald green Bulusan Lake. But it was not a very good time to visit, The Volcano was synchronizing its mood swing with Mayon just a week before we came. Luckily (talaga lang huh?), there is a mountain very very near our place. BPNM looked at the hill in front our house and underestimated it because it even have stairs going up. After all, she'd been to Sagada twice already. What could be harder than that? Plus, I have been running in a treadmill 30mins a day, and swimming laps with Bongers every weekend, I'd snorkel, and threaded waters for 1 hour nonstop the day before, I'm as fit as a triathlete. Grace as usual, is in meek-mode. The look at the mountain pass almost triggered her asthma. The mountain is called Maraot Banwa. As far as I know "Maraot" means Sorrowful or Broken in our dialect (depending on context) "Banwa"... I don't know, and neither does Bukoy, my cousin who is our mountain guide. Maybe Banwa means mountain. If that's the case, Sorrow Mountain or Mt.Sorrow sounds tragically romantic, while Mt.Broken or Broke Mountain just sound... fucking gay!
It turned out that we underestimated the "hill" (you think I underestimate a lot huh?) because just a mere 10 minutes of steep climbing we ran out of breath already! Another 10 minutes and our legs were about to give up. By this time, the steps were already gone, we are climbing in somehow loose, red mountain soil. Half an hour have not even passed when we signalled Bukoy for a rest. Nobody was talking, there were only heavy breathing, except Bukoy, who told us some engkanto stories (maybe to keep us alert?) We stopped at the Smart Tower where, some trees where cut down, and it gave us the breath taking sight of the land around us. There's Tikling Island and the Sawang of Balading, and the big waves of Ulango beach and the pacific at far west. More picture taking took place as we walk the mountain trail for 2 hours (hopefully no engantos or mumu appeared in our pics! Bukoy is scaring the hell out of me) Although we can feel the humidity, We were sheltered by the shades of big trees in the mountains, but when we came back to the roadside, there was only scorching heat! Fortunately, there was a batis nearby and I proceeded washing my head and neck. Much to the horror of BPNM and CM, undoubtedly due to a story told by Bukoy, where there was an instance when a Manileño once took a bath there and went home with a body part bloated. But I'm not just a typical Manileño, I grew up in Pasay. I breath chongki and bato fumes everyday, thanks to Totoy Topak our stoner neighbor. (again underestimating everything hehe) More picture taking at the road back home, where we saw some carabaoes and ducklings and some gawkers mesmerized by my pale companions.
That afternoon we decided to skip lunch and just take it at the next resort we are going to. Olango Beach. We rode a trike, and he sped off as soon as we are at the entrance of Olango Beach resort(note: there is a sari-sari store in front of the entrance). Nobody told us though that the resort has closed down a week before holy week! So there's no resort resto or cottage we could eat at. But we could still swim, we just have to find a location and lay down our malong and towels. We walked at the beach looking for other resorts, but failed. We walked for a good 10-20 minutes along the shoreline until we decided to go back up the road side. And since we are at the middle of nowhere, we can only see the mountain side of Maraot Banwa. We eventually caught up with some locals walking and asked where's the nearest sari sari store. We walked towards the direction she gave and after 15mins arrived at the entrance of Olango. The one and only sari sari store was located there. Good thing they have ice cold soft-drinks, bad thing they don't have a stove. Even pancit canton spread over bread will do for lunch, but they will have to start a coal fire first, and they don't even have coal yet, they have to fetch it up somewhere! So we just bought a donut and bread, the best ever tasting cardboard I have eaten!
After eating we headed back to Olango beach, again. This beach is more of a family beach, lots of pink and black sand, and no coral and seaweeds at all! The waves are kinda big though. I had a grand time swimming at the deeper parts too. Here BPNM and CM practiced snorkeling alternately, even if there is nothing to snorkel. For some reason, the water is saltier here too. We spent around 2 hours there before we packed up because the weather doesn't look to good. Another shock for me, Where there is beach there is sand and coconuts, but here there's also bermuda grasses. Soft velvety bermuda grass. A landscaper's preferred grass.
WE went to my Lola again for dinner (labyu mamay!)And my cousin was there, Howard and his wife Michelle, their daughter and guests stragglers. (interested in having a glimpse of the pale visitors from manila) Howard or Nonoy as every firstborn son is called there, suggested that we should visit Tikling Island. He knows a friend who could take us there in a motorized banca, but we just have to pay for the gas, which is a paltry 200php. He then proceeded in promoting Tikling Island, where the whitest white sand of bicol is, whiter than Balading. I mentioned that I prefer snorkeling, and he said that there's is also a deeper Sawang with more flora and faunas. He described the shore as if it resembled Leo DiCaprio's Beach. We were so excited when he mentioned that sometimes, just sometimes, there are also little whirlpools on the way there. CM started to have misgivings, Nonoy and BPNM and Me defended that we will be riding a motorized banca and will not be affected (we hope). Then BPNM asked how small is the little whirlpools and said it's just a size of batya. Hmmm.... we thought little whirlpools are little as in sink drain or toilet flush little. But still I urged them to come. Finally, Nonoy was so excited he said there are baby sharks as well, if I really want to snorkel. That made us hold the reign and called off the plan. Logically where, there are baby sharks, there's bound to be mama and papa sharks. Nonoy was still pleading that we should go, after all it's his first time to go there as well! Huwaaaattt?! All those talks, and he haven't been there?