Freedom Comes With Responsibility

My friend, are you aware of your rights?  You should! Everybody is entitled to it.  This is what we enjoy and given not only by our government but also by our Supreme Being (I tried to use a general term to describe Our Creator.  But do understand if I use “God” or “Lord” due to my Catholic upbringing).  Hey, free will is a priviledge man has but God doesn’t have.  I love keeping a blog because this is one way of practising my freedom of speech.

Whenever I need to fill out a form with a section saying “Religion”, I always write “Roman Catholic” because I am.  But I believe I am the unconventional one.  I love Catholicism and believe in its teachings.  I know all the sacraments, fond of saying novenas to the Immaculate Conception & St. Jude Thaddeus, and do the sign of the cross before and after I pray.  But I also not in favor of “second collections” during mass, support the RH bill and divorce, respect the rights of LGTB community & despise those priests who did not practice their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Though I believe in these things, I also try to understand those people whose opinions were different from mine not because I am close-minded but because I respect them as an individual.

Freedom and respect should always go hand in hand.  And this is something that most of us forgot.  These two were not only practiced during ancient times.  It also applies in the modern world.

This led me to the topic of Mr. Carlos Celdran’s issue.  Celebrities, his friends and other people said Mr. Celdran’s issue is about freedom of speech.  I just scratched my head and think many times why they thought about it where in fact it’s an issue of respect.

The website getrealphilippines.com said it all for me that I don’t have to further elaborate on this issue.  But to make it short, I say it again:

“Freedom comes with responsibility”

-Tinakits-

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Of Starting Over & Mt. Pinatubo (Part 4 – Conclusion)

The reason behind this trip is because of my friend Marie who wants to start all over again after a break-up.  Starting over means forgeting all the hardship she had endured on her previous relationship and enjoy life after.

That’s what we did upon reaching the crater of Mt. Pinatubo.  After the long and tiring trekking, we relaxed and enjoyed life.  And this is what the place reminds us:  that after the destruction lies beauty of a new life.

After resting, we opt to go closer to the lake.  Not because we want to swim, but because Marie wants to fullfill a dream of getting close to a volcano’s mouth.  And so we took a long stair going down to reach Mt. Pinatubo’s Lake.

DSC08958

For the adventurers, please obey by the rules.  It’s for your own protection.  Besides, you don’t want to be in the news the next day, right? 🙂

Obey

Obey

Based on our guides website, we can hire a boat & roam the lake for a certain fee.  But because of the recent accident that had happened, the management of the park decided to stop it until further notice which is fine with our group.  A part of me was scared and have this wild imagination that once we go on a boat tour, the water will suddenly boil & will toast us then the volcano will erupt.  HAHAHAHA! (Silly me).

After resting & enjoying the place for more than an hour, we decided to head back to our starting point.

Our groups photo before we go down and trek back to our starting point

Our group photo before we go down and trek back to our starting point

I don’t know why but I felt that going back to our meeting place was a lot easier.  Maybe because we were happier now with what we have achieved.  So in no time, we saw our jeep and head to Pinatubo Spa Town for our lunch.

Though we were 7, we ordered 6 Filipino lunch meals because our driver (Roger) said one meal is good for 2 people.  Since Mommy A and I are trying to go on a diet and minimize our carb intake, we agreed to share one.  But after trekking, we were thinking if our decision was correct since we were both craving for rice and we were really starving.

Lo and behold, our decision was correct!  We thought our lunch was packed in styrofoam but it was served to us on a sitdown family style.

Enjoying our Filipino Lunch

Enjoying our Filipino Lunch

Because we were so tired & hungry, I forgot to take pictures of our food before we dig in.  But for your info, our Filipino Lunch comprised of eggdrop soup, roasted chicken, stir-fry rice noodles, chopsuey, steamed water spinach (kangkong), potato salad, steamed rice & ripe latundan banana for our dessert.  Since we were billed for 6 people, we paid Php 1500 only.  That’s Php 250 savings 🙂

While eating, the mother of our friend Cynthia reminded us to bathe in lukewarm or hot water because of an old Filipino belief that we might get “pasma” (Sorry.  Don’t know the equivalent English word for that.  Your feedback is highly appreciated :D).  We asked our server if the Php 100 we will pay if we use their shower facility has an available hot shower & she said no.  So all of us did not took a bath and instead washed our face, brushed our teeth, settled for a sponge bath instead and changed our clothes to clean ones.

Since we were tired and excited to go home, we no longer avail of the spa services in the Pinatubo Spa Town.  We did not even avail of the Capas National Shrine Tour even if it was only for Php 10 which our driver understand.

 

CAPAS NATIONAL SHRINE FROM AFAR 

Out of kindness, Roger passed the gate of Capas National Shrine for us to view.  He even drove the van closer to the gate for me to take a picture of the monument!

Capas National Shrine Monument : this is the farthest that my camera can zoom in

Capas National Shrine Monument : this is the farthest that my camera can zoom in

For your information:  The Capas National Shrine is a memorial to the Filipino and American soldiers who died in Camp O’Donnell at the end of the Bataan Death March.  The shrine encompasses 54 hectares of parkland, 35 hectares of which have been planted with rows of trees to represent each of the deceased.  A 70-meter obelisk towers above the grounds of the former interment camp.  The obelisk is surrounded by  a black marble wall engraved with the names of the Filipinos and Americans known to have died.  

We were tired but happy at the same time.  Though sore, we have smile on our faces till we reach our homes.  Tell our families and friends about our adventure, reminded of our hardship, but the achievement we have accomplished was the most memorable.

My friend, any questions about the trip? I’m glad to answer them for you. 🙂

 

-Tinakits-

Of Starting Over & Mt. Pinatubo (Part 3)

My friend, what will you do for a friend who’s down because of a recent break-up?  Well,  cheer them up!  Since my friend Marie wanted to trek at Mt. Pinatubo, I arranged for it together with 7 of my friends making a total of 8 in a group.  And so I thought…

We moved the date of our trip because of Typhoon.  B wanted to move it again on another day since he’s suffering from flu for a week and not feeling better.  I told him to rest instead and not join us.  I’ve heard that trekking Pinatubo is not a walk in the park (haha).  With a broken heart, he agreed to it and wish us safety.  I have to tell this to our agency, Trekking Pinatubo, and to our friends because our fee will increase from Php 2,425 to Php 2,750. Hay!

 

IT’S A GO!!!

Karen of Trekking Pinatubo said our pick-up time will be at 3:30 A.M.  I told my friends that we will meet on our pick-up point at 3:00 A.M. Hehehe!  I really set the time 30 minutes earlier for us not to be late.  The travel agency said we need to be early as it gets crowded in the park on weekends.  My friends were very obedient and were early.  As for me, I was HONDA (short cut for “on-the-dot”) 😀

Roger was our driver and was very friendly and informative.  While on our way to Capas, Tarlac; he oriented us on what to expect on the trip.  He also gave us waivers to sign so that he can immediately forward it to the Tourism Office at Mt. Pinatubo Park and our group can go first.

Everything went smoothly!  We were all excited as our 4×4 jeep arrived.  Since we are 7 in the group, they got 2 trucks for us – one jeep can accomodate maximum of 4 travellers.  And off we go to the trekking area.

Jill, Marie and I inside our 4x4 pick-up truck

Jill, Marie and I inside our 4×4 pick-up truck

From afar, you thought you will go through flat terrains.  Wait till you get closer:

Muddy, slippery road going to Mt. Pinatubo

Muddy, slippery road going to Mt. Pinatubo

You will also pass by lots of rocky streams

One of the trucks crossing the stream

One of the trucks crossing the stream

It was a long and bumpy trip.  But the scenery will amaze you.

I think God combed his hands at this hardened lahar to create its shape

I think God combed his hands at this hardened lahar to create its shape

After a few minutes, the driver of our jeep stopped for us to have an opportunity to take picture of the scenery.

Our group comprises of 6 lovely ladies & 1 gentleman

Our group comprises of 6 lovely ladies & 1 gentleman

Along the way, we saw cows, carabaos & Aetas travelling by foot.  I can just imagine our Aeta friends’ hardship as they go through travelling without the luxury of any motorized vehicle which lend me to think of how I can help them in the future.

After our photo-op, we rode our 4×4 and continued our travel going to the starting point of our trekking.

Morning view from our starting point

Morning view from our starting point

Starting point of our 7-kilometer trekking

Starting point of our 7-kilometer trekking

And so our walking begins.  You will awe by what nature had carved out of its destruction.

There's beauty after all the destruction

There’s beauty after all the destruction

New mountains were formed after Mt. Pinatubo's eruption

New mountains were formed after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption

Even though the sun was shining, we did not feel the heat because of the cool breeze.  January is indeed the best month to go here.

Perfect weather: sIt was sunny but not hot

Perfect weather: It was sunny but not hot

There were signage every 2 kilometers indicating your achievement & how close you are from the finish line.  Small huts were built for adventurers to rest for a bit with Aetas selling refreshments.  Don’t expect that the price of their drinks were comparable to supermarket or sari-sari store.  All of it costs Php 100.  And for the love of mandkind, don’t haggle!  Just imagine they walk kilometers barefooted just to buy drinks downtown and carry it to the mountains to sell it.  Buying their drinks is a small way for you to help our Aeta friends.

Resting after finishing our first 2 kilometers of trekking

Resting after finishing our first 2 kilometers of trekking

Aldem, our guide, was very helpful.  He assited us and lend a helping hand whenever we cross a steep slope or slippery streams.  He was also patient in waiting for us but kept on reminding us that the longer we rest, the longer our trip will be.

Cynthia, one of my companions, was always behind.  She brought her umbrella to protect her mestiza skin :D

Cynthia, one of my companions, was always behind.  She brought her umbrella to protect her mestiza skin 😀

With some of my companions & Aldem, outr Tour Guide (the one wearing a shirt with white & orange)

With some of my companions & Aldem, our Tour Guide (the one wearing a shirt with white & orange)

After a few hours, we saw this one indicating that we are near!

Where do you belong? ;p

The wooden sign indicates the length of time each generation can finish going to the crater.  Where do you belong? ;p

The last few meters of our trekking was the hardest for me because the path was smaller, the slopes are higher and slippery.

My friend Jill climbing the stairs.  If you see this, it means you're very close to the lake

My friend Jill climbing the stairs. If you see this, it means you’re very close to the lake

After the stone stairs, you will be welcomed by this signage & scenery:

Welcome!

Welcome!

The hours of hardship we endured disappeared upon seeing the crater:

What a beautiful calmness.  To think that she was once destructful

What a beautiful calmness. To think that she was once destructful

All-smile with my latest achievement :D

All-smile with my latest achievement 😀

This is the longest post I’ve done with pics.  I’ll post another one to finish off my Mt. Pinatubo tale.

 

-Tinakits-

Of Starting Over & Mt. Pinatubo (Part 2)

My friend, what do you do after a break-up?  As for my friend Marie who just ended a relationship, she chose to travel every month & do something she never did before.   One of which is to trek at Mt. Pinatubo.

As per Wiki:  Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of ZambalesTarlac, and Pampanga.[3] It is located in the Cabusilan Mountains[3][4] separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains. Before the volcanic activities of 1991, its eruptive history was unknown to most people. It was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view. It was covered with dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during theSpanish conquest of the Philippines.

The volcano’s Plinian / Ultra-Plinian eruption on June 15, 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century… The effect of the eruption felt worldwide.

Today, the caldera formed and Lake Pinatubo as since become a tourist attraction.  Gateway for this is at Capas, Tarlac.  After paying our downpayment, our group of 8 were excited!  It was the first time for all of them except me.  I fondly recall that I have trekked Mt. Makiling before and went on top of it to see the lava lake.  But I am as excited as my friends because I haven’t really seen the volcano.  Besides, I want to also help my friend Marie in fullfilling her dream.

January 12 was the day of our trip.  But 3 days before that date, I was already nervous because the weatherman said we have a new Typhoon that will bring rains all over the Metro.  I brushed it off and just prayed that the storm will not hit nor affect Luzon.  Unfortunately, rain poured until Friday!  This made my friends paranoid especially with the recent news that somebody died there.

Mommy A, one of my companions, kept on calling me suggesting we move the trip.  Marie & Jill (my other friend) texted me if the trip will push through and from the tone of their messages, they were also worried.  Before I can decide, the driver who will pick us up called asking if we will push through with the trip even if it’s raining.  I have to think.  So I said I will call the agency to move the trip on another day.  I spoke with Karen of Trekking Pinatubo and she said it’s ok.  I was worried that our downpayment will not be refunded to us, worst is we will pay a rebooking fee.  Karen said she will just schedule us on another day without paying any rebooking fee.  So I called all my friends and agreed to do it on January 26th instead.

 

TIPS FOR THE TRIP

Know the terms and conditions of the trip you booked in an agency.  Changing the date and/or your itinerary may cause inconvenience on their part which might entail additional fees.  So ALWAYS READ THE FINE LINES.

Lucky for us cause we decided to change the date a day  before the event that is why we did not paid any additional cost nor our downpayment was forfeited.  Karen was kind enough to change the date for us even if I called her late in the evening.  Though I was heartbroken because I was expecting that B and I will do something this weekend, we still accepted it.  Besides, I don’t want to compromise our safety.

By the way, if you will trek at Mount Pinatubo and it’s raining DON’T PUSH FOR IT!  We found out that the Tourism Office at Mt. Pinatubo will not allow anybody to enter the vicinity of the park for safety purposes.  So if you still go there while raining, chances are you will not see it and you will no longer get the downpayment you have paid to compensate for the transportation that the agency arranged for you.

So much for the excitement.  But don’t worry, the trip pushed through.  Wait for my next post 🙂

 

-Tinakits-

Of Starting Over & Mt. Pinatubo (Part 1)

My friend, what do you do after a break up?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not broken-hearted.  It was a question that we kept on answering for a friend who just ended her 6-year relationship.  For anonimity sake, let’s call my friend “Marie”.  As a friend, we tell her so many tips like finding a new guy, going out with friends, find a hobby or go on vacation.  All of these she took note and tried her best to do it.  Another thing she have in mind is to travel every month and do something she never did before.  One of which is to go to Mt. Pinatubo and trek there.

As a friend and a travel-addict, I want to help her.  Besides, I miss her companionship whenever we travel.  So I fired up my lappie and researched on an agency to arrange for our trekking.  I haven’t been to Pinatubo nor a trekker.  Whenever I go somewhere, I usually do it DIY style.  But I don’t want to risk our groups’ safety that’s why I opt to inquire at Trekking Pinatubo‘s website.  Among all of the sites Google gave me, I chose this because of the great feedbacks posted on their site from locals & foreigners.  I contacted my friends and asked if they are up for the challenge.  After finalizing our headcount, I emailed Trekking Pinatubo and they responded immediately.

Our chosen tour agency arrange everything for us.  Thought they have a preferred meeting place, they will give you option on your prefered pick-up point within Metro Manila.  Their rate depends on the number of pax.  Of course the more the merrier and the cheaper ;p.  Their rate includes van pick-up/drop-off, hiring of 4×4 to go to the trekking area, fee for the Tour Guide, Driver & other fees (environmental, travel, whatever!).  We tried to form a group of 10 to avail of their promo of Php 1,999.  But because of schedule conflict and others opting for a more relaxing travel, we only form a group with  8 people which will cost Php 2,425/person.  Not bad.

Though you may bring food, the agency can arrange for your lunch after the trip for Php 250 (Flipino Food) or Php 350 (Korean Food).  If you don’t want to bring big towels & toilettries, you can add Php 100 for Shower Fee which includes every bath essensials.  A side trip to Capas National Shrine is also offered for Php 10 only.  We also thought of getting a massage for Php 500 & try the Volcanic Ash Spa also for Php 500.

TIPS FOR THE TRIP

Always do research before going somewhere for tips.  Travel blogs were very helpful.  A lot of them recommended January as the best time to go there because of the weather – it’s not too hot, temperature is cooler & the color of the lake is clearer.  We chose January 12th because this is a special day for me and my other half, B.  But for others whose schedule is too busy on that month, any cooler month will do.  I guess December to February are the best months to go there.  It can be scorching hot during summer not only because of the season but the temperature will be doubled because of the sand & lahar on that place.

As a fashion-conscious individual, I also want to wear the most comfortable get up.  For this trip, I was more conscious about the footwear I will use since I’ve had an accident recently in which my right toenail cracked.  You need something that will protect your feet from the sands, slippery terrain, rocks and water.  Bloggers suggested to wear sandals or heavy-duty trekking shoes.  The Tour Agency even suggested Crocs.  All these suggestions were too expensive!  A friend recommended the brand Sandugo as the best and the cheapest.  It’s a local brand that caters to the Flipino’s adventurous feet.  I bought an open-toe sandals named “River Crossing” and it cost me Php 650 only!

My footwear of choice and it did not disappoint me

My footwear of choice and it did not disappoint me

T-shirt, sports bra & shorts were my chosen get-up.  To have extra protection, choose  a get-up made of water & dust-resistant cloth.  You don’t want your shirts to get dirty and hard to wash after the activity especially if you’re going to do photoshoots to document the event, right? ;D

Trekking will take half-a-day so you need lots of energy.  Bring lots of water, snacks, energy bar or drinks for you to survive the trip.  But make sure to pack light.  Having extra load will make it harder for you to walk.

All’s set for our trip!  Wait for my post on what happened on the actual trip.

-Tinakits-