I'm back!

This entry is long overdue. I’ve been thinking about how to write it for a long time. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that this entry will be particularly profound or meaningful. It just means it’s difficult to write. :)

I’ve been in the Philippines for about a week and a half now. It’s been amazing… A whirlwind of familiar things and a lot of new experiences too! However, as much fun as I’m having seeing my dad and all my old friends (and eating a lot of good food!), I’ve also been struggling with my emotions towards this place I used to call home. I haven’t been here in about three years and I hate to admit it because I’d like to say nothing has changed, but… It feels like it’s been three years.

Sure it’s familiar and comfortable, but if I had to make a list of things that I thought were different, I would probably not get very far. I can’t really pinpoint what it is. It’s all the little things adding up. My room doesn’t feel like “me” anymore. I can blame the new coat of paint, my lack of stuff in here, rearranged furniture and whatnot, but it’s the feeling that’s different. There’s no more laughter of my siblings, the smell of sauteeing tomatoes and garlic wafting from the kitchen, the familiar clack of my mom’s heels from work. Maybe the feeling of home is not completely gone, but it’s fading. I don’t think I have a home-home now anyway.

I’ve been to all my old hangouts too. Katipunan road, my favorite malls, the grocery, random little places like that — and I’m searching for that homecoming feeling, and I get it in fleeting bits. But it doesn’t feel like quite the reunion I expected or hyped it up to be in my mind — it just feels like it’s been a long time.

Still, don’t misunderstand it. I’m very very very glad to be here. I love it here, no matter which place I call home. :D

* * *

Two days after I got back I went backpacking with Weggy Mountaineers – a fun bunch of people from my high school and students from UP – to the second highest peak in the Philippines, Mt Pulag at 2922 MASL (almost 10000 feet!) Here’s our actual itinerary care of master planner Carlo Timbol, in case you’d like to plan your own weekend in Pulag via Ambangeg.

Day 0
11:30 PM – Departure for Baguio (best if tickets are reserved the day before.)

Day 1
5:30 AM – Arrival in Baguio
6:00 – Mass in Baguio Cathedral, breakfast
7:30 – Departure for DENR
10:15 – Arrival in DENR (this with a 20-minute or so stop in that roadside diner), orientation, registration, settle fees, photos
11:30 – Departure for Rangers’
12:30 PM – Arrival in Rangers’, lunch
1:30 – Start hike
4:30 – Arrival in Camp 2
10:00 – Lights out

Day 2
3:00 AM – wake up, coffee
3:45 – hike to the summit
5:00 – summit, attempts to capture the perfect sunrise photo
6:00 – descent to Camp 2
6:30 – start decamp
7:40 – start descent
10:00 – arrival at Rangers’ Station, settle guide fees
10:15 – departure for DENR.
11:20 – arrival at DENR, log-out
12:00 PM – departure for Baguio, lunch on the road
2:40 – arrival in Baguio, purchase tickets
4:00 – Mass in Baguio Cathedral
7:00 – taxi To Victory
8:00 – departure for Manila

Day 3
1:45 AM – Arrival in Manila

It’s all worth it. We were so lucky to have good weather. The trail wasn’t too bad, but with our pack weight it was still a huffy-puffy climb up. Thank goodness for deodorant, right? Our local guide was very helpful and was a nice addition to our crew. Bring lots of snacks to munch on.. a bandanna for antigreasy hair, and Wet Ones. And Smores!

Sea of Clouds

Sunset at Camp 2

Gorgeous. I love the Philippines.

Next time: Food trips! And recipes.


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