2013 Odd-ventures: A Nomad’s Yearender

I saluted the rising sun atop Sanchez peak overlooking General Santos City and the hazy Sarangani Bay on the last Sunday of the year, on the last weekend. That was the last moment I drenched in the mighty Sun for 2013. I wanted to be silent inside but the memories of my odd quests and wanderings, like that fast-rewinding clips in movies, played on my mind.

I moved through 2013 like a child with hyperactivity disorder- almost restless.
But the last tramping was rather a call to pause, a recollection hike to reminisce the gains and the drawback of my journeys and ponder on what’s next. Where have I been? What’s to include in my new year’s bucket list? The famous mountains or the unnamed peaks? I got hitched, will odd-venturing solo become a thing of the past? Does this ring on my finger mean I shall “slow down”? Travel fund or Baby fund?

No mighty fireworks to cap the year of some of my best adventures so far. No medals to award myself of the bloopers and mishaps while on the road or some rugged hills. No beer or gin shots to celebrate each ticked-off item from my bucket list. Just a deep breath of gratitude for another year of bliss and blessings.

The First quarter 

Siok XXXtreme Adventure – The year started with the so-so extreme river trek to Koronadal City’s main hiking destination atop the highest point of Roxas Mountain Range via Siok River and the countless gorgeous waterfalls. The three XXX’s were rightly placed as prefix to the extreme adventure.

Cordillera Adventure and the impromptu Prenup shoot (Baguio, Pulag, Benguet) – We just wanted to scale Mt. Pulag, the highest peak of Luzon, and to greet the morning amidst its famous sea of clouds. But great things come unplanned. Our wedding day was up in 4 months and we easily convinced our mountain buddies, Von, Jay and Jerry to hold the cameras for us. The result was one of the funniest adventure prenup I’ve ever seen. Yeah, I have to say that. Haha!

Takladtamig Cinco – Our fifth climb for a cause with FHM group (Friends of Holon and Melebingoy). Takladtamig Cinco was done with a twist, ala Amazing Race style from the jump off to Linan Municipal Eco-park at the foot of Mt. Matutum. 70 children played with us with their new slippers while their parents were in gratitude of the assorted household items donated by the participants.

Visayas tour

Cebu City – Cebu remains to be one of the easiest city to roam around for me. I get to appreciate the city more as we focused on city tours. I got the chance to meet travel agency people and students as we hop on universities to let people know of the region called Allah Valley in Mindanao.

Ilo-ilo City – The old and rustic parts of the city are truly heritage wonders. Calle Real, Ilo-ilo river, JM Basa street, and Lapaz public Market, the birthplace of the famous Batchoy. It’s always good to tour with the locals as they share with you helpful infos from the home buddy’s perspectives.

Bacolod and Talisay – Ah, the city of smiles, yes. But our guide there, a local journalist spoke of things why Bacolod is not anymore the city of smiles but of its past that remains evident in the poor living in slums.

Yes, there’s The Ruins in Talisay and its story that truly is the best seller aside from the salvaged rotting old building.

Lake Sebu adventure trails exploration (Kofnit cave and Mahil Falls exploration) – Lake Sebu isn’t all the 3 lakes and the 7 falls. There’s more if you dig through.

Pico de Loro solo climb, Cavite – This was my third solo climb but first without a guide and first to be done at night until dawn. Crazy? Yes, I am. Thank you. It’s, Perhaps my craziest odd-venture of the year.

Ezperanza Hot and cold spring, Sultan Kudarat – You might not have heard of it before. Two adjacent pools; one is hot, the other is cold and it’s at the foot of the mountain.

Second Quarter 

Holy Week Road trip to Tacurong Baras Bird Sanctuary – We refrain from going to the mountains during holy weeks. People flock to the peaks and turn the summit area into open air mass toilet. Two months before our wedding day, we took the road trip aboard Yamaha Mio 115.

Takladtamig Seis – Our sixth outreach climb, this time to one of my favorite place to stand and see the world at 360 degrees, Mt. Melibingoy (Mt. Parker). It was my third to stand on top of the crown of the gods in Allah Valley. 300 children were provided with school supplies.

Caving in New Corella, Davao del Norte – It was the national caving congress and of course, everyone waited to explore the caves. By the time we were inside one of the biggest karst hole, the group led by Philippine Speleological Society decided that we be the last group to enter to preserve the cave and not to disturb the thousands, if not millions, of bats inside. I get the point. But I don’t think the authorities get it because until now as tours are still being organized to explore the cave.

Lake Holon Wildlife Assessment – Back to my favorite sanctuary for the nth time. But this time we documented the wildlife, especially birds, in the vicinity and helped the LGU assess the area for possible tourism development interventions.

Back to Lake Sebu for the Caves – Kofnit cave was declared as under category 2, meaning suitable for ecotourism under strict conditions for its preservation.

Wedding preps! – The introduction to the adventure of our lifetime must be well-organized. During this period I had to say NO to outdoors! Okay, I still said yes to some.

Adventure-themed Wedding! Got hitched! – And the Adventure of our lifetime together has officially begun! The months of preparations filled with sweat, tears and cheers come to an end for the new beginning. From that day on she has to change her German family name to my Spanish/Italian-sounding surname so she can travel with me freely wherever we both agree to go. (That sounds like a threat to my solo YOLO trips. hehe)

Hanoi, Vietnam – The honeymoon or whateveryamacallit! It’s my third stroll abroad and our first time together on an international trip. Hanoi’s memory for us is more than just its busy streets, the heavenly iced-coffee and the historic streets. You know.

Airport misfortunes due to harsh weather added spice to the adventure.

Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam - Honestly, One of the best places I’ve been to notwithstanding the flocking mass of tourists and the clutters at the port. Imagine some 1,600 islands and islets forming karsts and limestone pillars! Imagine yourself on board the cruise boats sailing in slow motion while holding the hands of the woman you’ve just married. Ughm! Halong bay is the second of the 7 New Wonders of the World that I’ve visited after the underground River in Puerto Princesa.

Third Quarter 

Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Allah Valley (South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat) – I was right to believe there are crazy travelers like me in the other side of the universe. Seven crazy travel bloggers (Edgar, Gaye, Lois, Dennis, Gael, Yoshke, James) responded to the call to explore the popular and off-the-beaten-trails of the region now known as the Valley of the Gods. The mash up was, well, fun (the safest adjective I can think of). It was after the trip that I was introduced to PTB group.

First Barefoot Climb – It was a 4.5-hour long sweet torture to my feet. Upon reaching Lake Holon I felt like a part of me was revitalized. I must do it again.

Takladtamig Siete – The seventh trip to the wild to meet the community. It was my first time to reach the outlet of the massive Lake Holon.

Philippine Travel Mart, Metro Manila – Fun in the metro helping in the promotion of Allah Valley to tourists.

School of Living Traditions/Homestay at Lake Sebu – Wifey and I spent my birthday night with the Tboli children and slept with them in their traditional longhouse.

Solo to Asik-asik Falls, North Cotabato - I never thought it would be possible to go solo again. Wifey gave the green light for me to explore the famous wall of waterfalls in Alamada.

Fourth Quarter  

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia – The Second Honeymoon? Not! We explored the city mostly on foot and reached places not on our initial itinerary. Oh, we miss Lucy of the Lucy Backpackers Lodge, Malaysian food and the mighty Mt. Kinabalu. Airport mishap number 2 for the year occurred before we left the country for KK.

My first 21K run! – I did it during the 2nd Takbo para sa Lake Sebu and took home with me a medal and a week of aching feet.

Takladtamig Otso – Eight times the mountain love to meet 25 families in Sitio Kangko, a famous birdwatching site at the foot of Mt. 3-kings.

Kalimudan Festival, Sultan Kudarat – A colorful fair of culture and colors of Sultan Kudarat. I must join the festival again next year.

Sanchez Peak, Gensan City – The yearend recollection climb with my two brothers. The view from the top was amazing and the silence amidst the sunrise and the sunset is a must-experience.

At the moment I don’t have the answers to my questions yet. I was blessed with the opportunity to see places and meet different people. Yeah, it’s been a year of bliss and blessings.

Peace and Light! []

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This post, a summary of my 2013 odd-ventures, is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December 2013 with the theme “The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living”, hosted by Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue.


  1. Dami kong tawa sa "hyperactivity disorder". Pareho tayong meron! So happy I met you this year. Sana we could do another trip in Mindanao next year! More adventures to you and your wifey, my friend.

    1. Haha! IKR. At nahahawaan mo na nga si Luna sa hyperactivity disorder mo, Gaye. Glad to have met u too. Til the next adventures. cheers to your nomad family!

  2. "Wedding preps! – The introduction to the adventure of our lifetime" --> I agree with this! I wrote an article about destination weddings last year and featured some PTBs. I feel sorry I didn't know about yours then.

    Happy and adventure-filled 2014!

    1. Whew! I should have known. Hehe. Well, thanks claire. All the best for 2014! Cheers!

  3. Huge list! but if I would envy one of those maybe that would be - Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Allah Valley - a perfect blend of culture, adventure and opportunity to meet people of the same interest.

    1. You're right, Christeen. At home with people of "same same" interest. You should visit Allah Valley sometime. Lemme know, will lead you to right people. :-) cheers!

  4. Huge list! but if I would envy one of those maybe that would be - Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Allah Valley - a perfect blend of culture, adventure and opportunity to meet people of the same interest. Happy New Year!

  5. You got married! I am so happy for you.

    That alone is one heck of and adventure!

    Happy 2014!

    1. Yeah! Thanks Paula. I'm feeling excited until today. Dapat sumunod na din kayo. Hehe. Enjoy 2014! Cheers to more explorations!


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