Siquijor Island Tour

Siquijor Island Tour


Siquijor is an island province located in Central Visayas. Compared to other provinces in this region, only few people visit this humble island. Siquijor is also considered to be the third smallest province in the country. It’s small enough that you can tour the best of spots in the island in just one day. Regardless of its size, Siquijor still has lots of amazing island adventures to offer.




Getting there


If you’re coming from Manila, the best entry point to Siquijor is by flying to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have daily flights going to Dumaguete City, flight duration is about an hour. From Dumaguete airport you can rent a tricycle to take you to Dumaguete port. There are several ferries that can take you to Siquijor. Travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour, and fare starts at Php 160. Other entry points going to Siquijor are Cebu, Bohol, Dapitan, and Iligan.


Touring around the Island




Rebecca Weeks,


The best way to get around Siquijor is by renting a tricycle, especially if you’re traveling with a small group. The usual rate for chartering a tricycle for a day tour is Php 1000 – Php 1500 for 3 to 4 people. The tricycle driver can also be your local tour guide since they are very knowledgable about the island. For bigger groups, there are also multicabs you can charter for your island tour.


Best Spots to Visit


1. Capilay Spring Park



Capilay Spring Park is a public recreational park located in the heart of San Juan. The main attraction of the park is the emerald green spring water pool where people can take a dip and swim. This is an ideal place to chill and eat merienda while enjoying the province life.


2. San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent in Lazi


The 18th century church and convent is one of the historical landmarks you should visit when in Siquijor. The convent is considered the largest religious convent in Asia and has been declared as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine National Historical Commission.


3. Old Balete Tree and Fish Spa


Under the mystic balete tree in Lazi, you can find a shallow pool of water where you can enjoy a fish spa. Just dip your feet in the water and watch the fishes lightly nibble on your dead skin. In this spot, you can also shop for the best pasalubong treats and items such as bracelets, keychains, and Siquijor’s famous gayuma (love potion).


4. Cambugahay Falls


The turquoise waters of Cambugahay Falls will surely capture your heart. This waterfalls is famous for it’s Tarzan experience where people can take a swing and land on the cool water of the falls. It’s surely a fun experience you would want to try over and over again!


5. Salagdoong Beach


This beautiful beach is one of the main attractions in the island. You will admire the alluring sight of the sea with different shades of blue. Aside from swimming in the crystal clear waters, Salagdoong is also a popular destination for cliff jumping. This will surely be an exciting spot when traveling with your cool barkada!


Have you been to Siquijor? Tell us about your favorite destination!


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Bohol Countryside Tour

Bohol Countryside Tour

Bohol is an island province located in the Central Visayas. Its only city, Tagbilaran, is popularly known as the City of Friendship for the warmth and hospitality of the locals. The province is full of tourist attractions making it a famous destination for people traveling in the Philippines for the first time. A day tour of Bohol countryside is a trip you shouldn’t miss when visiting Bohol!




1. Baclayon Church


Baclayon Church is one of the many establishments that suffered from the 2013 Bohol earthquake. Since then, the locals worked hand in hand to rebuild the damages of the said religious institution. Today, you can visit the partly ruined church and a historical museum located on the second floor.


2. Python Sanctuary


Another popular tourist attraction in the municipality of Baclayon is the Python Sanctuary. An animal shelter that was home to the biggest captive python in the country, Prony. Prony was named after its captor, Sofronio Salibay. She measured 27 feet and weighed more than 300 kg (according to an estimate by DENR). Prony died last August 2013 but her preserved body is still available for viewing in the sanctuary. Bohol’s other endemic wildcats like the Malay civet cat, Philippine mongoose and a flying lemur can also be found in the sanctuary.


3. Loboc Floating Restaurants


Dining in the Loboc Floating Restaurants is truly a unique experience in Bohol. Savor a hearty lunch buffet while enjoying a soft cruise along the majestic river of Loboc. They serve the most delicious Filipino dishes and delicacies such as adobo, pancit, maja blanca, suman, among others. During the cruise, the guests will also be serenaded by a singer performing acoustic songs. A group of folk dancers will also make a performance as a form of welcome to the tourists.


4. Tarsier Conservation


Of course, you totally shouldn’t miss visiting our little nocturnal fellows — the tarsiers! These cute animals are considered as one of the smallest primates. The distinct features of the tarsiers are their small bodies, long tails, and wide eyes. Being nocturnal by nature, guests should be aware that silence is strictly advised during their visit in the conservation center.


5. Chocolate Hills


You will also see the world famous attraction in Bohol — Chocolate Hills! These unusual landforms are a treat to look at. There are over 1000 hills occupying more than 50 square kilometer land. The hills turn from lush green to chocolate brown during the dry season, hence, its name. You can climb a view deck where you can catch the best view of the hills.


6. Bilar Manmade Forest


On your way to Carmen where you can find the Chocolate Hills, you will pass by this picturesque road piercing through the towering mahogany forest. The forest is a 2 kilometer stretch of mahogany trees planted by Boholanos over a decade ago. More than just the magnificent view, Bilar Manmade Forest stands as a living proof of the strong value of friendship and community among the locals of Bohol.


7. Butterfly Garden


Just because a average butterfly’s life span is only 2 weeks doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate their beautiful existence. A butterfly garden by Simply Butterflies Conservation Center houses different breeds of butterflies flying around colorful flowers in their beautiful gardens. They also have educational exhibits about the life cycle of these beautiful creatures.


8. Hanging Bridge


The Tigbao Hanging Bridge will surely delight thrill-seeking travelers. Suspended over 80 feet over the Loboc River, this tandem bridge was built to aid pedestrian travel between two barangays. The bridges are actually made by sturdy metal but it’s covered with a layer of bamboo strips which makes the bridge look scary. At the end of the bridge, you can find a series of shops where you can purchase pasalubong goods such as tarsier novelties and peanut treats.


9. Blood Compact Shrine


The Blood Compact Shrine, also known as The Sandugo, is a monument found in Tagbilaran that stands as a symbolic landmark of the first international treaty of peace and friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. The monument has a spectacular backdrop of the blue Bohol Sea.


Have you been to Bohol? Tell us about your countryside tour!

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Travel Mini Map: Cordilleras Edition

Travel Mini Map: Cordilleras Edition

The Cordillera Administrative Region is a collection of historical destinations and places that exude the culture of its natives. Open your eyes and minds to the rural collective of sites like Batad and Banaue and grab the opportunity to get away from the fast-paced city lifestyle. Pottery, woodcrafting, and many more activities ingrained in local culture are available for you to try!


1. Banaue Rice Terraces



These terraces were claimed to have been built around 2000 years ago by the indigenous people of Ifugao — mostly by hand! It is believed that when these terraces are all connected in a straight line, it would encircle half the globe! Now we won’t spoil you with anymore of the rich history that thrives in these terraces, you’ve got to go check it out on your own!



2. Bacung Spider Web Rice Terraces



It is hard to see at first, but if you let your imagination run wild, you might just be able to picture a big spider from the contours of the landscape, hence the name of the terraces. The track is said to be a bit beaten, but it’s definitely a challenge you can handle!




3. Tam-An Village



The Tam-An Village is the place to be if you’re too excited for Halloween! For a hundred pesos, treat yourself to a surprise of bundled loose bones and skulls of human beings. The locals in the village keep similar skeletons of their ancestors as they believe that it serves as guardians and drives away bad spirits. If you’re not too hot on those, you might take an interest in the native crafts that they sell here (which are actually a bit cheaper than the crafts from the other shops down the road).




4. Tappiyah Falls




Just 500 meters away from the Batad Rice Terraces and around a 30 minutes hike from Batad Village, This is a beautiful cascading waterfall with enormous natural swimming pool. A visit to Batad would be incomplete without taking a dip in this irresistible waterfall!




5. Hapao Rice Terraces



I spy another UNESCO World Heritage Site! It is not a surprise how the Hungduan Rice Terraces have claimed the unofficial title of ‘8th Wonder of the World’! Walk around the rice terraces for that unique feel of joy from watching the people greatly engaged in farming. Maybe even go as far as getting a first hand experience on what it would be like to wake up in a native house — in the middle of the rice terraces! Would you dare staying overnight with the locals?



6. Batad Rice Terraces


Like the Banaue Rice Terraces, these rice terraces were also supposedly built 2000 years ago. Unlike others in the region that have mud walls, stone walls are dominant! Farming is still a widely practiced livelihood up here, making it an impressive inheritance for scores of generations. Just beware when journeying to the Batad Rice Terraces during the Ber months since the wet season can make your trip tricky — and less enjoyable!



7. Guihob Natural Pool



Take a break from all that hiking mountains and walking through rice terraces in this natural swimming pool (yes, that is a thing!). Only a 30 minute drive away from Poblacion, Banaue lies a crystal clear natural swimming pool that is perfect for a cool and refreshing swim. It can function as a waterslide and as an ideal spot for picnic venues in one!





Sources: Travel to the Philippines, Tamagotchi Travels, Lakas, Legendharry, Time Travel Turtle, Design Think Travel

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Things I Was Thankful For On My Second Hike

Things I Was Thankful For On My Second Hike

I’m back again, and I’m very excited to announce that I have added a new mountain to my list of conquered trails! Two mountains in a month? Just about a week apart? That’s right! Last Saturday, June 19, I had yet another opportunity to climb my second mountain.

A few questions might pop in your head.

Honestly, who has the time to hike a mountain every weekend?

Where do I get the budget?

Which mountain did you climb?

Sadly, I won’t be answering any of those questions directly. But once you finish reading, you won’t even be thinking of finding the answers — you will just want to GO! As soon as you can!

Even if you’ve tried hiking before and decided it “wasn’t your forte”, you will definitely think twice. Believe me, I never thought I would want to hike another mountain after my first, semi-awful experience at Mount Sembrano. It was all a matter of preparation and hitting those girl scout skills that made me enjoy a lot more this time. In my previous article, I’ve complained about what I failed to do and the lessons I’ve gotten from all my mistakes. This time, I came up with several things that I was truly thankful about, the things that kept me going in the long run.



1. Six hours of sleep.


Sweet dreams look like this.

I picked up my own advice from last hike’s error, and I completely willed myself to sleep at 9pm on the dot, in time to rise at 3am. Sleep has never been much of a hindrance to my performance on the trail — I never really felt fatigue because of my lack of sleep, but it was good to not have insomnia that night (and to not be singing Despacito till the wee hours of the morning).


2. Getting warmed up.


Yam, a first time hiker.

Last hike, the team failed to do this crucial step, which is why one of us got a cramp along the way. I led the dynamic stretching routine before we headed up, to which Jecel commented that it was harder than the actual hike. I think it paid off in the end — the first timers, the ones who haven’t hiked in a few months and everyone who joined the mystery hike were all in good condition and didn’t get any cramps along the way (although someone got cramps during the warmup and after the hike).


Nel, an experienced hiker.

At the top, safe and sound.

3. My outfit.


When fellow hikers would look at my so-called costume, they would scratch their heads and ask me if I was feeling hot. My reply: I would feel much hotter without all these protection. I was equipped with a cap, the most comfortable and baggy jogging pants, socks, my Track and Field spikes, arm warmers that looked like they came from iCarly, fluffy gloves, and my Tralulu shirt. It really paid off in the end because I was not getting irritated from any sunburns. I was able to focus on larger problems of the hike (which, in reality, weren’t a lot).


Me, the Pokemon Hunter Bunny and my master.

My wardrobe was also borrowed by Jecel. Here she is wearing my raincoat as protection from the deadly UV rays transmitted from the sun.


4. My 3 liters of water.


Yam has a stick in her hand. I have a water bottle.

I now brought 3 instead of 2! It made all the difference, even if it weighed more. There was a store along the way that sold water though, so I could have still gone without an extra liter. I was also thankful that I didn’t feel the urge to pee even after 7 hours of the hike. When I got a chance to use the bathroom, I didn’t expel much fluid; it was probably because I lost most of the fluid in my body through my sweat.


5. My sunblock.


I finally added this necessity to my backpack! Even though I was already fully covered, the rays of the sun were still fatal and could lead to skin cancer, so I made sure to reapply every so often. I didn’t mind having to take off my gloves every time I needed to reapply because the gloves kept my hands clean and saved the use of wet wipes or alcohol. My sunblock was a big help for those who didn’t even bring caps.


Jecel and I wearing matching skin tones, with Nel in the background.


6. The friends.


Proof that we made it to the summit together!

To be honest, I never expected to vibe with any of the new people I met. I thought we were going to be pure strangers throughout the hike, only interacting with the people we already knew. I was, fortunately, wrong about that. Even if all of us were amateurs at singing, we kept each other alive with our voices. Most of them were also way older than me and although we just met on the same day, but we bonded like we were childhood friends of the same age.


Tralulu airplane symbol!

Since we missed the other interns who weren’t present, Paolo decided to photoshop Micha and himself.

7. The photographer.


Zaine Barron.

Being a photographer sounds like no big deal — especially since every millennial is easily associated with a camera or at least a smartphone camera wherever they go. Add a mountain to the equation and you will realize that this type of skill is no easy feat. Unfortunately, even my fellow photographer intern, Paolo, couldn’t join this week’s mystery hike. I was so thankful that one of our mystery hikers brought a DSLR all the way to the summit. Only a few of us were willing to take pictures with our iPhones, which we could retract when we didn’t need them, but Zaine had to carry an average of 800 grams of camera all the way up, 627 meters to be exact. Although she is not new to photography, she never had any classes in the specific field of mountain photography, yet she took all the awesome pictures featured on this post!


8. God.


He is present all around us.

Now, I am not trying to advertise my religion or anything like that, but I felt God’s presence among me, especially during the times when I was alone. There were times during the hike where I had no one with me — no guide, no friends, no dogs. There was a group that was advanced and too forward while there was another group that was way too far behind. I


God’s beautiful creation.

was in the middle, yet I was with God. I found myself making the sign of the cross, whenever I would come upon a steep slope or a very narrow path that could cost you your life if you made one wrong move. It wasn’t that this certain mountain was hard, but anything could happen. I wouldn’t have made it without Him.


One of the dogs in the community, Darna.

The tradition of a before and after prayer.


9. The guides.


Kuya Rolan and Ate Mel.

Happy Ate Mel.

Serious Kuya Rolan.

We were so lucky to have this set of guides. They are senior guides who have been going up and down the mountain ever since they were children. Kuya Rolan was at the start of the pack, leading us towards the summit. Ate Mel on the other hand was the sweeper, making sure nobody got injured or left behind. They made a dynamic duo, and they also made us a more efficient team. I felt safe with their presence, especially whenever they would lend a hand (literally) so we could make it up safely. I would just stare in awe when I would see them running down the mountain like it was a flat surface.



Unlike Mount Sembrano, I didn’t think twice about wanting to return here. The only bad experiences I had during this trip were coincidentally all related to the van. Going to the place, I couldn’t sleep soundly and my head kept bobbing backwards. On the way home, I ate a pack of Stickos and ended up vomiting because fast moving cars and undigested food don’t go well together. That event aside, this was the best hike I have ever been on. I wonder where I will go next. I really do.



Have you guessed the mountain yet?

Photo credits: Zaine Barron, Jecel Manabat

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Travel Mini Map: Binondo Edition

Travel Mini Map: Binondo Edition

Do not underestimate the size of the oldest Chinatown in the world! If you ever get the chance to view Binondo from a roof deck, you will surely be too mesmerized for words! Explore the beauty of this “little” city by visiting the restaurants and uncovering age-old heritage sites!

1. Delicious Restaurant


The name of this restaurant is an understatement to describe its food menu! Chami, Spicy Fried Spareribs, Calamares and Spring Chicken are what you should definitely order for a tasty merienda. This place is cheap too! Medium servings for The Pancit Bihon Special good for 2-3 persons usually go for about Php120. Be warned though that its location is not the most pleasant in Binondo.


Location: 580 F. Torres Street, corner Gonzalo Puyat Street

Telephone: (02) 733 0401

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 10:30am to 12:00mn



2. Kim Hiong Food Garden

Delight in the Teochew style cuisine dishes such as Hot and Sour Soup, Pork Spareribs with Taro, Kangkong with Chinese Bagoong! The Stir Fried Beef Noodles is their bestseller, and a win-win for only Php175 yet with generous serving portions. You will notice that the meals have a similarity to Cantonese and Fujian cooking.


Location: 946 Ongpin Street

Telephone: (02) 735 3633

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 10:30am to 4:30am


3. Mañosa


If you’ve got no budget for good food, then you will like this resto! For only Php100, you can have a taste of the brown glutinous rice stuffed with pork and shiitake mushroom wrapped in bamboo leaves called Machang. Pair it with ketchup and hot sauce for that sweet yet salty taste. Another must-try in Mañosa is their maki, which is a thick savory broth with chunks of pork kasim.


Location: 926 Ongpin Street

Telephone: (02) 733 3179

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 9:00am to 10:00pm



4. La Zhou La Mien

La Zhou La Mien is home to the La Mien noodles, also known as hand pulled noodles. Order a bowl of the classic Beef La Mien for only Php80 and attempt to finish it or share it with a friend — it’s a huge bowl. We assure you that no meal here is priced over Php1000, but you just have to withstand the ambiance which is not for people who are used to eating at the cleanest restos in the metro. The food makes up for the place!


Location: 818 Benavidez Street

Telephone: (02) 244 5365

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 8:00am to 9:00pm



5. Diao Eng Chay

People refer to Diao Eng Chay as the “Santis Deli” of the Chinese delicatessens. Although their best seller has got to be their hopia, DEC isn’t just exclusive for pastries! Dine here one day and don’t miss out the perfect take-out foods like dumplings, chicken pie, siomai, chicken pies and lumpia made out shrimp, carrots, and other surprise ingredients.


Location: 845 Salazar Street

Telephone: (02) 244 8816

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 8:00am to 10:00pm



6. Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Food Garden


Orginally just Quan Yin Chay, an iconic place that shouldn’t be missed by vegetarians and vegans alike. The cafeteria style gives a comforting vibe of your old school days, eating hot meals on plastic tables for lunch in the canteen, only this time, healthier. Owned by Taoists, the restaurant uses no garlic or onion. A la carte menu features many mock meat dishes that are already cooked, such as the Shabu-shabu noodles, Pai ye (flavored tofu), and fresh lumpia. Feeling hungry yet? Maybe even try bringing your carnivorous friends!


Location: 739 Ongpin Street

Telephone: (02) 243 3357

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 7:00am to 9:00pm



7. Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant

Bento boxes in a Chinese restaurant, for only Php80? Yes, this exists in Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant! Round up the barkada because meals here are dirt cheap. Take the Sincerity Whole Fried Chicken, for example, which is Php300. Split it among your barkada! Caution yourselves with the unsatisfactory service and be prepared to wait a while for your food. To make up for that, Sincerity Cafe has one of the cleaner atmospheres among restaurants in Binondo. You should totally put this on your Binondo Food Crawl list. Sincerely.


Location: 497 Yuchengco Street

Telephone: (02) 241 9991

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 10:00am to 10:00pm



8. New Po Heng

Your Binondo food trip is not complete without visiting this stop! If you have Php60 to spare, go ahead and splurge on this restaurant’s specialty, the ultimate Chinese fresh lumpia, served burrito-style. It has everything you would look for in lumpia — veggies, lettuce, thai grass crisp, garlic, finished off with their sweet garlicky sauce. The peanut brittle inside the lumpia just makes this the BOMB! They even offer free delivery around Binondo!


Location: Uy Su Bin Building, 531 Quintin Paredes Street, Barangay 289

Telephone: (02) 241 8789

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 7:00am to 7:00pm



9. Ying Ying Tea House

Go ahead and pig out with the cuisine from this Hong Kong style resto! Taste their popular Peking Duck and their huge Special Pao. It is overloaded with bola bola meat. To think it is only Php70! The place is usually always full since there is a limited number of seats, but it will be worth the wait.


Location: 234 Dasmariñas Street

Telephone: (02) 387 2797

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 7:00am to 2:00am




10. The Original SaLido Restaurant

A very hungry tummy calls for a feast at The Orginal SaLido Restaurant! The place offers the typical Chinese comfort food you could think of, like Chicken Feet, Hakaw, Sharksfin Dumplings, and Pork Siomai. Here’s a tip: bring all your friends to help you try all their specialties!


Location: 2/F 839 Ongpin Street

Telephone: (02) 736 4569

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 6:00am to 9:00pm


11. Wai Ying Fastfood

Ready for the “most satisfying dimsum”? Or how about some teahouse specialties such as Roast Duck noodles, Siomai, Hakaw, Congee, and Curry Siomai? Since this is a fastfood chain, the food will reach you fast, the prices are crazily affordable, the seats may be full most of the time, but one thing is for sure — you will keep coming back!

Location: 810 Benavidez St

Telephone:  (02) 242 0310

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 7:00am to 9:00pm

12. Binondo Church

The Catholic religion still prevails against all odds, as seen in the Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish. Although the Chinese are known for being predominantly Buddhists, it is amazing how this Catholic Church is centered in the very heart of Chinatown. Upon arrival here, you will notice a park outside the church, where a statue in honor of Don Roman Ongpin, the Chinese businessman who contributed to the success of the Filipino uprising against Spain in 1896, stands.


Location: Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz

Telephone: (02) 242 4850

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 9:30am to 9:30pm


13. Chuan Kee Fast Food

After a hungry day visiting the Binondo Church, stop by for some energy at Chuan Kee Fast Food, since it is right across! We highly recommend the lechon kawali, as it is a house favorite. The Kiampong, or the Chinese Paella, is only Php40 per order! Just be willing to dine with ventilation from the electric fans, since you won’t be having the comfort of aircondition.

Location: 650 Ongpin Street corner Yuchengco Street

Telephone: (02) 288 8888

Operating Hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 6:00am to 10:00pm

                              Sundays from 6:00am to 1:00pm


14. Ling Nam

Since 1950, Ling Nam has been operating and going strong. Picky eaters will relish the Sweet and Sour Fish and the Garlic Spinach. Savor the flavors of the original recipes of Chicken Noodle Soup and Hakaw, the steamed shrimp dumpling. Fast fact: Ling Nam’s first branch is one of the only branches left in the Philippines, which is located in Binondo.


Location: 616 T. Alonzo Street

Telephone: (02) 733 5231

Operating Hours: Open Everyday from 10:00am to 10:00pm




Sources:, Our Awesome Planet, More Like Twins, Out of Town Blog, Zomato, Trip Advisor, Tara Lets, Munchpunch, Click The City, Looloo, Open Rice, The Closet Glutton, Happy Cow, A Not So Popular Kid, Tet Adventurer, Azrael Merry Land, Philippine Primer, Boy Plakwatsa, Kain Manila, Lette’s Haven, Foodie Station


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Everything I Learned From My First Hike

Everything I Learned From My First Hike

Hi! My name is Erin, and in case you’ve been wondering who “The Tralulu Team” is, that’s me! I’m one of the authors behind Tralulu’s blog posts. Just recently, I’ve experienced a milestone which needs to be shared with everyone of you, while it’s still fresh.

On June 6, 2017, me and my fellow intern friends at Tralulu woke up at dawn and set out into the wilderness on what is called an “Induction Hike”. You can think of it as an initiation; like a formal introduction to the internship. For your information, it is a tradition here for the newbies. The glorious Tuesday morning had the perfect weather conditions to climb a mountain in Rizal — it was not hot (it was actually windy), not humid, and not raining. It was extra exciting to not know the specific mountain we were climbing.

It’s funny how I’ve been assigned to write about quick weekend destinations, which mountains to trek, and even hiking tips for beginners when I myself have never gone on a true, legit hike. I might have seemed like a hypocrite, looking back at the listicle that featured hiking hacks, because I, frankly, did not even apply most of what I researched and wrote about in that article. Hey, at least I admitted the truth!

In the end, we eventually conquered the mountain after a reasonable time of eight and a half hours! Good enough for first timers, right? Saying that it was a great feeling to finish the whole trail would be an ENORMOUS understatement. Instead, I recalled all the memories and struggles of the trip for you. Also featured are the lessons I’ve learned about hiking and things I regretted doing (or forgot to do).



1. Check your private messages for unexpected updates.


Kuya Jimmy agrees!

I tell you now, if only I had done this first step, then the next three bullets wouldn’t have existed below. I promise, I was trying to get rest for the long-awaited day, but I was having insomnia! While I was awake, I should have at least checked the group messages on my phone, but I was too excited. I forgot all about possible changes to the itinerary and things to bring.


2. Get six hours of sleep.


This is how we looked when we were tired.

A day before the hike we were supposed to avoid working out. I followed that advice very well. But when I clocked into bed at around 8pm, I found myself twisting and turning and thinking too much about the day of the hike. It might also have been the lack of physical activity. I checked my phone again and it said 9:30pm. All I could think of was — Why do I have to have insomnia tonight of all nights? Obviously that



just kept me up even longer. I eventually fell asleep, but then woke up at 12:34am. What I’m saying is that you should try to calm yourself before a big day. It’s no excuse to be excited, because lack of sleep can cause you to be sluggish. You might not have enough energy to face whatever is planned ahead of you. Good thing I still had my adrenaline rush keeping me alive, but I can’t rely on that everytime.


3. Don’t wear shorts.


Getting ready … to fall!

Simply one of the biggest mistakes I’ve committed during this trip, if not the WORST. If I had worn jogging pants, that would have made the hike ten times easier and more comfortable. I would have had one less problem with fully covered legs. While there’s no turning back now, at least I have a lot of souvenirs (in the form of scratches) on my limbs for proof that I’ve conquered three summits of Mount Sembrano. A bonus is that I’ve managed to get a nice tan on the legs!


Good thing Micha was wearing leggings when she slid! You can see me to the right. I am holding on to dear life, on the verge of falling too.

4. Bring three liters of water.



You don’t want to get water-deprived like these plants.


And make sure to devise a plan of when to drink. I was not thinking about the future, I was only relying on the guide’s estimated time of arrivals. I brought two-liters of water. I was pretty stupid to have finished a one-liter water bottle when we weren’t even halfway up the mountain. I think it was because my bag was feeling too heavy for me to carry, but that shouldn’t have been an excuse. Good thing I realized


Memories of full water bottles.

this early, so I budgeted my water and managed to save a few milliliters of it during the last few meters of the hike. Can you believe Kuya Jimmy survived on one 500mL bottled water for eight hours? He didn’t have any breakfast or lunch, and he was actually drunk the night before. Hardcore! 

5. Bring hand sanitizer.


Unless you want to cleanse your hands with the scarce amount of water you brought, just like I did. Alcohol and wet wipes will do the trick to decontaminate your dirty hands from crawling, but they aren’t really recommended to use because of the chemicals they carry that can be harmful to the mountain.


6. Bring sun protection.



Sheltering ourselves from the sun.

I was surviving on the closest thing we had to sunblock, Andrew’s Nivea moisturizer with SPF 25 and a hat. That hat kept me away from deadly heat strokes that I couldn’t afford (since we hiked during bad hours). It also protected my face that had no sun screen, but nevertheless, the sun still established a bit of rosiness on my cheeks and mild sunburns on my neck, arms, and legs. I made sure to smother some aloe vera gel on the affected areas as soon as I finished showering. I should have brought an umbrella like my smart friend Micha did. It would work for both ways — rain or shine, while covering the entire body.


7. Wear the right shoes.



Sometimes, we need a helping hand when our feet won’t support us.

My Brooks rubber shoes (which I used for jogging on the track) were the least of help to my situation. It was built to be a cushioned when I ran, but not exactly like my spikes which could grab at the soil. It wasn’t helpful either that the ground was slippery. I felt that these shoes were a major factor to the hike. If only we hiked during the summer season, these shoes would suffice. Towards the end of the hike, I noticed the most painful part of my body were my toes. They were nearly protruding out of my four year old rubber shoes that have already been repaired once. I felt the padding of the shoe getting thinner and thinner. It really helps to know the type of terrain you plan to trek on so you can be prepared, but if you’re going on a mystery hike, it’s best to find actual hiking shoes first. Exceptions are people like Kuya Jimmy, who can wear slippers and not get affected. 


8. Physical fitness matters only fifty percent.


Even for someone like Jecel who doesn’t have much body fat, it was challenging.

I will be quite honest — I am physically fit. I workout at least five times a week. I engage in physical activity whenever I get the chance, from as simple as walking to rollerblading in my village, anything to keep my body moving. I even used to be a hurdler in my school’s Track and Field team! Seems pretty athletic, right? I have never expected hiking to be as challenging as it was when I first tried it out. Sure, I tried a mock hike, over five hundred steps of steep rock, but the thing is, those were stairs. They followed a form that would make it impossible to slip and fall. Hiking was a whole other story. I used a multitude of skills such as walking, hopping, stepping, crawling, mountain climbing,



Using makeshift walking sticks for keeping stable.


grappling, grabbing, falling, and sliding. Andrew always assured us that this was an easy path, but that just made me feel worse because I felt like an old woman, especially when we were descending. I couldn’t do anything about my painful joints (because of gravity) but to take everything slower. Being an athletic girl, I think the pain was only excruciating during the hike, but not so much after. I still have a bit of hip pain, but I heard it’s normal and it will pass. I just worry for those who aren’t as fit and who attempt to go on their first hike. I suggest that all you first timers strengthen yourselves as you would when preparing for a marathon. But even if you do that, get ready to face the aftermath of hiking. It’s inevitable. Just be sure to stretch it all out afterwards.


9. The other fifty percent is your mindset.



The mysterious Kuya Jimmy. Not a single word of complaints escaped his mouth.

Honestly, you don’t have to be the epitome of “physically fit” to conquer any mountain. You could be super toned and built, but you may not have the right attitude to overcome all the struggles that come with climbing a mountain. I fell guilty to this, when I complained about everything that annoyed me, even the slightest of things, like a small slip or an itchy twig. I realized it early though, so I renewed my mindset. This is all part, nothing different, nothing new.


10. Don’t waste your energy right away.


Barely making it up the narrow trail.

When we started ascending up Mount Sembrano, I was among the people in the front of the line. I felt good because I was first, I was ahead. But then I realized that I was just wasting my energy. We had seven more hours to go. Andrew also said that it really doesn’t matter how fast we go. Quoting one of the songs that the others were singing along the way, “It ain’t about how fast I get there, it ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”!


11. Check up on each other once in awhile.


Andrew attending to Paolo’s cramped legs.


Before we reached the first summit, our group was somewhat divided. Some people were left behind while the others just kept on going. One of our group mates, Paolo, even got a cramp going up, and I didn’t even stay with the rest of the group to check up on him. When we reached the last summit, we had what was called a facilitation circle. We took time to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses through the duration of



Summer interns!


the hike, and doing this made us more efficient as a team. We decided to switch the order of who was in front — the slower people in front while the faster people at the back. This worked amazingly, since we were all within reach of each other instead of meter sticks away from each other. We were so close that the actions of the person in front could affect the person behind, like if someone fell, so would the next person. It was the ultimate bonding experience.


12. Be resourceful.


Freshly picked Indian mangoes!

Using water as a wash for the hands was one way of being resourceful, but there were plenty others during this trip. Take Jecel for example. She was being resourceful in more than one way. When we were having lunch up in the summit, it was scorching hot. She didn’t even have a cap or sunblock, so she used her extra jogging pants as a makeshift cap. She was also feeling blistery in the neck on the way down, but none of us had an extra hair tie for her, so she took a piece of plastic and wrapped it around her hair. It was brilliant!


13. Just keep going.



“The summit is near!” 

Did I mention that I brought my sister with me to Mount Sembrano? (I was forced to by my parents.) It was fun with her, and she got to interact well with the team. There were times when she was feeling undetermined to complete the trail because she had numerous falls and ankle sprains. She felt like giving up, but she couldn’t or else she would get stuck on the mountain. In times like these, we just need a little push. Andrew was there behind her, giving her motivational boosts like, “You can do it, Iana!”



14. Enjoy the ride.


Taking a break for a picture.

I admit that there were times when I was too focused on moving forward and finishing the trail that I forgot to appreciate the once in a lifetime, breathtaking view. I was annoyed with the dogs that were following us, Brano, nicknamed “Favorite”, and her pup, whenever they would block


Brano, our photogenic guide.

the way or cut in front of me, but I should have let it pass. This tip also involves being respectful to the guide. It will be a while before I return to Mount Sembrano. More often than not we forget to savor life’s beauty when faced with struggles. But we should always remember that these predicaments will slide. What we will regret the most if that we did not enjoy the ride.


 Kuya Jimmy taking a breather.

Micha and her Favorite, Brano, sharing a laugh.

15. It’s so much easier to write when you have actually experienced something.


Left to right: Paolo, Jecel, Micha, Andrew, Doggie, Erin, Iana, Brano/Favorite

I literally breezed through writing this article! I didn’t even have to take down much notes or go through hours of research to write this post, and yet I remember most details of my encounters by heart! I think that experiencing things is the most efficient way to go about writing a



paper or explaining history or just plain learning. From whatever generation you are from, you will definitely agree that experience is the best learning tool. If not, try it out for yourself! Will you join me on my next hike?


The much awaited view at the top of Mount Sembrano.







Photo credits: Paolo Andre Pareno, Micha Villaroman

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