travel

foggy mornings and battle wounds

had a truly great time up in la paz mountain in zambo. one had to go up the mountain for 30-45mins on a habal-habal (motorcycle). my project companion roland had to sit side-saddled in front of the motorcycle. i sat behind the driver with a sack of food between my legs, balancing a huge (heavy) mountain pack strapped behind my back, while holding up half a dozen eggs with one hand and on to the manong driver and to life with the other. every time we hit huge rocks along the way the bike would bounce and id hop and slide off the seat a little. crazy! i even burned the side of my right leg from the hot exhaust tube of the bike (tambutso ba!). ouch!

when we arrived up at the house of nong bering, one of the forest guards of la paz, it was around 1pm and the mountain was already foggy. thank God it didnt rain though. we had to cook what we brought for lunch (to be shared with the rest of the household). mang bering still wasnt home so we were accomodated by his son, jerry, who turned 29 that very day.

loved the mountain air, really cold and clean, presko kaayu lugar. that first day we walked around about 2 kilometers before heading back home, then visited the waterfalls nearby. in the evening we huddled near the hearth in the kitchen to keep warm and conversed in bisaya and chavacano (me bisaya them chavacano) with the people of the house, while sharing a few shots of rum coke. there was no electricity (or cellphone signal) we headed to bed around 9pm.

the next morning i made my notes for the intervews and shots i needed to get. cris, the project coordinator from KFI, came up to check on us around 7. there was to be a meeting with the locals at 9. another habal-habal came to pick me up around 8.30 and off we headed through that foggy, rainy morning.

took a bath nearby the street at around lunchtime. it was freezing! then we waited to take a trip through the virgin forest which didnt take place till the next morning. it was practically dark when we headed off 3 kilometers to some person’s house who supposedly sang songs native to the area. unfortunately we learned he didnt sing. our flashlight was dying on us so we trekked yet again through the dark in the mountain like little hobbits, guided only by la luz de estrellas y sheer guts. we got back to the house by 8.30 and feasted on yet another sumptuous meal of grilled fish, kinamot style. we made a bonfire, drank a little and got to bed by 11pm (still early by manila standards).

in the morning of the third day roland and i got up early to catch the farmers harvesting their crops. we walked quite some distance through yet another maze of mountain streams, mud and rocky pathways. finally got shots of farmlands, cleared forest areas, farmers harvesting and children preparing goods for the market. when we got back to the house we just ate breakfast and headed up the mountain again to check out the virgin forest (or at least just the kilid of the forest).

had a great time through the rainforest. felt like i was chasing the blair witch and being chased by ringwraiths at the same time! too much movies does that to you hehehe btw, while trekking i held on to this tree which give way, hurling me down the way a few feet on a split! got lots of scratches on my leg. but it does look interesting, my leg is like a map, some history book or adventure novel, marked by first degree burns from the tambutso and cuts from the forest ground.

anyway, when we got back at mang bering’s house, gemini was already there to pick us up. if it were not for the videocam’s battery almost draining out on me i would have refused to come down the mountain. oh well, im going back up anyway on tuesday for final interviews and last minute shots. although im nursing a bad leg and totally sore muscles (bagtak and all), im excited to go back up. cheers!

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