How to Batulao (when you’re a total newbie)

The last time I did some solid hiking/climbing was this one and ONLY time I did it– way back 2011. It was this intense 5-day pilgrimage during World Youth Day, moving from town to town, trekking through mountains, hills, and loooong remote roadways. A collective distance of over 100km. Yup. And it took me 4 years to recover hahaha.

Obviously I really don’t do this often and I’m not in the best shape, lol. I’m no mega adventurer but I do get these surges of enthusiasm to take it on once in a while. So this time, when the itch came around and an invitation to go and try Mt. Batulao coincided, I thought… Game!

(c) Sheena Tengco

(c) Sheena Tengco

SO, Mt. Batulao is in Nasugbu, Batangas, a quick 2 to 3-hour drive from Manila. Just go the same route as Tagaytay and follow the road to Nasugbu. Look out for Evercrest golf course along the road as this is the jump off point for the trek.

I went with my brother and a bunch of his friends. All of us were newbies who had little to no experience! We just did all our research online, through blogs and other sites, trusting that this was gonna be a chill minor climb good for beginners. We set off early morning, reaching Evercrest at about 7am. Lugging our backpacks lightly packed with essentials, we just looked for a guide to hire for the day and then were off!

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The group at the first rest stop. (c) Sheena Tengco

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Our super maaasahan guide, King! Notice he had nothing but a trusty pair of well-worn rubber slippers. He goes up and down the mountain at least 2x a day. No biggie. (c) Sheena Tengco

The first hour or so went easy enough. We were psyched to find out that it was a great day to go up because it was the mountain’s “anniversary.” There was free food at one of the camp sites in celebration and our guide, King, said we could be there right in time for lunch. Yay!

It’s no wonder why Batulao is one of the more popular day hikes among mountaineers. I can see how it can be relatively easy (operative word: relatively) if you know what you’re doing.  The views are incredible as well. You get a choice between the old and new trail for your ascent and descent. This varies in difficulty. We went up the new trail then went down the old as this was the most advised for newbies.

The new trail is a quicker but narrower path, so walk very carefully and just try not to look down on either side. It’s an easy drop down, nyay. Here you go through the up and down “spine” of the mountain to get to the summit more directly. This also has the more picturesque views of Batangas on both your right and left side.

IMG_7674Just a short way before the summit, I got cramps!!! A little bit of panic, but thank goodness for our guide and the kindness of people along the way. Some would lend you a hand–literally–or direct how to grab hold of rocks/plants or where to put your feet. We even met some students from our old university, members of the mountaineering org, who helped us and gave tips (thanks for the hydrite & salonpas, LM guys! haha). Pretty cool when strangers help each other out. Common practice along the way was to warmly greet fellow climbers “Magandang umaga/hapon (good morning/afternoon)!” or “Ingat po (take care/be careful)!”

We reached summit at around 11am, which gave us a beautifully clear and bright 360-degree view of the area. Awesome. This country’s natural beauty never fails to amaze me. Beaches, mountains… the Philippines is gorgeous.

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We stayed there for about an hour, then started going down the old trail. Supposedly, this was easier because there were more rocks to hold onto and step on… but it was super challenging. This was where plain courage came in, hahaha. Even if you wanted to quit, you knew you just had to do it. Otherwise how will you get down?? Lol.

After the initial rappel downward (long rope, rock wall… fun!), things got steadily more difficult. The soil was much looser and it was getting really steep. We ended up climbing down on our butts for a huge chunk of the descent! It was kind of scary, especially with the dust flying everywhere and seeing how easy it was to fall off. :-s We would slide a bit at times just to get through. There were about 3 or 4 steep, rocky inclines to pass before getting to the trail where you could walk normally back to base camp. Of course we were very tired by the time we got there so we had to stop at every rest stop along the way. We were also quite sunburned– Batulao doesn’t have much trees so you’re very exposed. Had to be really patient and positive, hahah. And well, at least I got a tan. Lol.

I guess you have to really think it through when you do something like this, and make sure you’re fit enough to do it! Never over-exert yourself. Take your time if you have to, and just have fun along the way.

Overall, it was worth it!

Tips at a Glance:

  • What to bring: Water, a change of clothes, lunch, valuables, sunscreen. Pack light!
  • What to bring money for: Parking (P100 for the day); Hiring a guide (P300-400); “Registration fee” for ascent & descent (P20 each); Fresh buko juice (P40); Gatorade/Mountain Dew/water (P50); Bath for at the end of the hike (P25)—> makeshift bath area at the jump off point! :)
  • What to wear: Decent rubber shoes w/ good traction or proper hiking shoes (much better!); comfortable workout clothes (leggings/shirt/climbing shorts or pants)—> I wore a dry-fit shirt and simple gym shorts with long football socks, cycling shorts, and a sportsbra. Did me well! But my shoes broke. :| Use good shoes!
  • A walking stick would be useful
  • How long does it take: 8 hours max (going up, stay at summit, going down, rest stops along the way) Many have done it for half the time though, haha.
  • Difficulty level (for non-mountaineers!!! haha): I dunno, 5 or 6/9? Not much frame of reference haha but it felt pretty dangerous.. If you’re an absolute beginner who doesn’t have a very active lifestyle, don’t believe internet reviews that say it’s just a 3 and perfect for beginners. Still takes EFFORT.
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but yeah, i’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Bless the people who’ve got your back

Just finished re-reading one of my favorite childhood books– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince– and just got washed over with feelings because of this:

“…I’ve got to track down the rest of the Horcruxes, haven’t I? That’s what he wanted me to do… then I’ve got to go after the seventh bit of Voldemort’s soul… and I’m the one who’s going to kill him…”

“We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron. “…We’ll go with you wherever you’re going.”

“No–” said Harry quickly; he had not counted on this, he had meant them to understand that he was undertaking this most dangerous journey alone.

“You said to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”

“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron.

Cue: AWWWWWWWW. These three. Such friendship.

What’s my age again

Not too far back I wrote a positive, peppy post about turning a year older. But a few months in, and with the year about to end, I’ve come to realize that, really, nobody likes you when you’re 23. It’s just a very weird time.

1. Your being ‘college clingy’ is kinda sad. It’s been almost 2 years since college, but when you’re still not quite over it, it’s difficult. Maybe the all-nighters, finals, oral exams, yeah, but the novelty of living in that safe little bubble where everything is just possible and you’re basically free to do anything you want… that’s what still reels you in. I once said that graduating feels like breaking up, haha. It’s a big change that you just have to do.

2. You have so much more to let down… despite the apparent menial nature of things haha. In college it was much easier to fail and get back up again without feeling too bruised by the circumstance because it was just yourself you had to make it up to. Now, so much more is riding on whatever you do. You don’t just let yourself down; you let others down if you mess up. And you’re bound to mess up, ’cause you’re new to it all. I guess it’s why they say the things you take on at this time of “growth” is what ‘builds character.’

3. Making/keeping friends is hard. At this point, you have your different groups of friends established. Childhood friends. Highschool friends. College friends. Work friends. You have different important experiences with them that will bond you forever but the closeness won’t always remain. You’re lucky if you have a particular group constantly there but sadly it won’t be the same with most of the others. And you can’t really blame people, especially at this time when everyone is branching out and “collecting” experiences. Again, growth.

4. Your love life’s DOA. To quote The Rembrandts. Hahaha. Some at this age are already in serious, steady relationships but most others are going about single (and happy and free lol). It’s hard to get with someone because guys older than you are either too “grown up” or are only looking for, uh, one thing, and then guys younger are probably still in college so they have an entirely different world from you. The guys around your age… Well, they’re just malabo. They don’t know what they want. And you never know what they’re thinking. Haha. It’s not really a bother until you keep getting “Ha?? Bakit wala kang boyfriend?” questions at family reunions, random work convos, hangouts with old fam friends… Ugh. Gimme a break po, haha.

5. You’re too young and too old at the same time. Your professional resume pretty much reflects the reality of your life. You’ve done many things by now, but not a lot counts for much when you take in the bigger picture. At least, not yet. You can’t keep clinging to past experiences you felt were actually significant because when it comes down to it, they were pretty juvenile. You just really need more experience. But that doesn’t come easily either given how you’re stuck doing the little things since you’re not that trusted yet to hold much more. And you don’t know how to handle them yet anyway. But how do you learn?? Hahaha.

6. There are weird new battles you have to fight. Won’t get into specifics, but I’ve learned that you can find yourself pinned up against certain things you don’t really care much for but have to fight against haha. It’s ridiculous and annoying but you have to stand up for yourself because nobody else will. Welcome to the real world baby, it’ll all say. Lol.

Bonus #7- you end up constantly evaluating your life and the choices you make. You put this incredible amount of pressure on yourself when all you really want to do is watch Friends and Gilmore Girls reruns, hang out into the wee hours of the night with your friends, feed your emotions with berlin-artparasites posts on Facebook, and answer Buzzfeed quizzes.

Hahahaha. Sigh. Actually, maybe we should just stop fixating on age altogether. Would probably do the soul some good.

Ace of–

I think i have a legitimate fear of not being truly excellent at a particular thing.

That whole ‘jack of all trades, ace of none’ thing. Sucks. It always leads to questioning even the good qualities and skills and talents I’m already pretty sure I’ve actually got (at least, based on experience and what other people have said… *sheepish*), which then spills over to aaall these things you have going on in your life– work stuff, relationships, etc. It’s just that when you see others do the exact same things… or just… y’know… be, but in a much better/grander fashion, you end up looking at yourself and thinking, “And you thought you had that...”

I don’t know, is this just a classic case of insecurity? A cliche young-person drama llama struggle? Haha. I always strived not to compare myself to anyone and to not care much what others would think (at least not more than what I’d think), but lately, I admit it’s becoming a bit more bothersome. I guess it’s true that, these days, our generation is just constantly ‘taunted.’ It’s annoying.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html

 

“Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”
― Immanuel Kant

A Year++ Out Here: A Life Status Report

There’s a reason why T-Swift’s 22 resonated with everyone at that age. You’re really happy-free-confused-and-lonely at the same time. Really truly. It’s been almost an entire year of being 22 (leveling up to 23 in a few days!) and I am hoping my hardest that this new year won’t reflect that other confused but downer anthem that goes ‘Nobody likes you when you’re twenty-threeee!’ Haha.

Well hey, I want to like ME when I’m 23. :) So here’s a bunch of my Lessons Learned from the past year and change since college to move things upward.

  1. Don’t take things personally. Go out of your unfiltered, heart-on-your-sleeve, personal self for a bit when a situation demands it and believe that it’s not really about you (unless it is). Don’t stress. If you feel like you’re being attacked or put down, just don’t take things to heart too much. Others may suck, things may suck, but remember, it’s not always about you. Which leads me to–
  2. Don’t overly care about what other people think. It just takes up too much energy! Don’t get insecure especially if you know within yourself that you’re sincerely trying your hardest and doing your best. If things go less than perfectly, and it miiight be because of you (but it might not be either, think about that), well, it’s not like you meant to screw up on purpose. Take it in stride, smile, and just do better next time. You don’t suck. Nope.
  3. You’re in charge of your own happiness. Just because something’s happening that doesn’t go your way or messes everything up doesn’t mean it has to consume all of you. You don’t have to be defined by it. You can choose to focus on the other okay things and be happy.
  4. Sometimes you just have to let things play out. You have to go hands-off. You can’t control people and you can’t control everything. They may be confusing/hurtful/annoying but when you’ve exhausted all your efforts… hakuna matata.
  5. When people are mean and condescending, pay them back with kindness. Yeah you can get worked up feeling all, “How dare you treat me like this. Do you have any idea who/what I am? I am awesome!” And it’s especially annoying when it’s people you already know who are suddenly like this to you, but think of it like “Oh you. Seems like you don’t know any better. So I’ll just smile and humor you.” It’ll make you feel better, trust me. And eventually, they start cooling it anyway when you get extra nice to them.
  6. Always be considerate. And don’t be afraid to call out people who aren’t! I remember the wise parting words of my old philo professor in college when we had our last class for the semester– “Wag kang kupal.” Translation: Don’t be an ass. And he was right. Seems like if there’s anything to remember about navigating the world, it’s that.
  7. Foster a spirit of inclusion. Rather than exclusion. Especially when you have no choice in having to be with the person. Yes it’s true that you just might not like certain people in a group but it just makes sense to try to get along and be inclusive rather than push them out for whatever personal reasons. You don’t have to be besties. Just be polite and open and fair if that’s what will keep the relationship okay.
  8. Don’t let the routine drain you empty. Keep a little (or, actually, a lot) for yourself. Don’t let the routine stuff be everything to you. Even if nothing of consequence is happening, some everyday to-dos & interactions really just do drain you but it’s important to not let them get to you. Allow for a solid amount of me-time to relax and recharge.
  9. When your values & principles are challenged, hold your own. It’s very important to blend in (don’t expect others to adjust for you, cmon), but you don’t have to change those fundamental things about yourself just to fit into their mold. Reality is that you just won’t have the same background as everyone. You have different standards, understanding of norms, mindsets. Don’t make judgements but be understanding while still standing for what you believe. So then, you won’t be afraid to…
  10. Assert yourself. No matter how young/naive/inexperienced you are about the variety of things you encounter each day in this freaking world, if something doesn’t feel right or if there’s something you don’t agree with, know that you can say something about it. Don’t be too worried about offending them, hey, they’re offending you. You don’t have to be pushed into it if you don’t want to.

Anyhoo. There. I’ll just keep looking back on this for myself when things get sucky… Haha. Ooop. Positivity, positivity! Cheers to 23!

Runaway

Trying something new!

 

I would occasionally post cover videos for fun on YouTube, but SoundCloud’s a bit different. Seems a little more legit. People sound so good there, it’s kind of amazing. How they get to sound so pro, I don’t know. It’s like everyone has perfect equipment, geez. Haha. Oh well, not humble-bragging, given that I just posted my own tracks there lol, but just sincerely sharing! Nowhere near as good as those Soundcloud peeps- I really just joined to listen to new music- but do check out my stuff if you feel like it! ;) Steady naman, I think. HAHA. Although I have a feeling this new online space is gonna be filled mostly with my self-indulgent (read: feeling) musical theater dreams haha! Just sound, no visuals eh. I can emote to my heart’s content. And no one will ever know. Sweet.

Btw if you’re not familiar with this song and the musical it’s from, it’s called Run Away With Me  from “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown” by Kerrigan-Lowdermilk. Here’s one great performance of the song by ultra hottie Aaron Tveit (can’t remember how many times I’ve shared this video hahaha). Get ready to fall in love.

Werq it

deskIt’s a funny thing– getting your first real job.

The interview phase is okay. It’s doable. You can practice for that. It can even be exciting. But not much prepares you for what it’s like when you actually get the job. It’s like waking up one morning and then… Oops! Have to be a grown-up now, bye! Overnight transformation. I bet it’s one of the most unsettling things a person has to go through in life. But it’s a rite of passage. It’s just that it seems like something you can never fully prepare for no matter how much research, practice (and meditation?) you do, especially if you’re someone like me who terribly overthinks everything. How to dress, how to enter the door, how to greet the first person you face, what to bring, where to eat lunch, where to place your bag on your desk, etc. Yup, I’m crazy.

I just have the worst change anxiety problems. The eve of my first day at my new job, I was tingly and pale, even nauseated. I had this stomachache too and eventually I threw up a little, lol. Then I kept squirming and twisting and turning in bed as I tried to sleep. Watching Devil Wears Prada to get into the mindset probably both helped and made the anxiety worse, I dunno, haha. The next morning, my brain was going on overdrive just trying to recall all the mental notes I had of what to do, how to be, etc. But the moment I got to work, it all just flew out of my mind as everything became a blur. Instinct kinda took over. Didn’t make a fool of myself much, thank goodness. I think. I hope. 

The whole week went by and before I knew it, it was the weekend. And I realized it all went okay. The initial jump from household bum/all-around errand girl to sprightly first-jobber young professional was more manageable than I thought! You just have to be game. No one expects you to be perfect. You just have to be a sponge. Take it all in. Ask questions. Be receptive. Don’t be stupid.

I still have to work on relaxing a bit and trying to find a rhythm. And I have got to stop being shy! Lol, shy. If they only knew. Well, here goes nothing!

And here’s some Paramore with a real-life anthem for this new part of life,

#Haiyan

I haven’t updated this blog in a while, but now seems like the best time to put up a new post. Especially since there’s something happening in the world right now that needs to be shared to as many people as possible.

My dear Philippines has just been hit by one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall in recorded history: Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, as it is known locally. I’m based in Metro Manila where we weren’t much affected, but in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, and Cebu south of here… the death and devastation is just harrowing. :”'(

It’s been a tense and depressing past few days, seeing the images on the news and reading about the many stories of what happened, both from local and foreign media. Rescue and relief ops have also been a struggle. But it’s been extremely heartwarming to see the throngs of aid coming in from everywhere around the world. We are all so grateful how our friends and neighbors in the international community have been so generous in so many ways, given how our local capabilities have been overwhelmed by the enormity of this tragedy.

We are so touched knowing how we haven’t been forgotten by everyone else. Thank you, World, for not leaving us behind.

For those interested, here are some information on how to help locally and from abroad:

http://www.gov.ph/2013/11/12/donate-to-yolanda-relief-effort-information/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/09/philippines-haiyan-how-to-help-_n_4247106.html#slide=3100665

http://www.ateneo.edu/how-donate-ateneo-de-manila-university-disaster-response-assistance-november-9-2013

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And some reminders:

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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2013/11/how_to_help_typhoon_haiyan_survivors_in_the_philippines_the_only_donation.html