Friday, September 1, 2017

What to Invest On - for Mountain Climbing Beginners

Right outwear ensures comfort, safety and good performance!  My team in Dulang-Dulang Bukidnon.

Long time ago, like +20 years back – finding the perfect and affordable outwear is like finding treasure in the middle of a hidden, dense jungle.  Well not exactly – but it was like an adventure in itself!

And it’s a lot more challenging if you’re looking for something that can be used for colder weather or high, snowy and windy altitude.
The practice back then is to hunt for surplus or factory ‘rejects’ – mostly in Cartimar or Cash & Carry areas, and SM’s Surplus Shop.   

I’ve bought a number of semi-functional but affordable items back then – enabling me to pursue my tropical mountaineering adventures, and even helped me survived the likes of Nepal Himalayan trek, Kilimanjaro climb (Africa) and K2 basecamp trek in Pakistan!

The last 10 years witnessed the big change in the outwear sourcing landscape - outdoor stores sprouted here and there, some selling top-of-the-line brands previously not accessible in the country.  It’s no longer a question of finding what you need – it’s getting the money to buy them!
Being in commercial areas most of the time – I’ve observed that even lifestyle brands started their own line of outdoor wear and sportswear, to get a piece of the pie of the growing active lifestyle market.  

And one such brand and store happens to offer a trove of treasures for the picky taste of hiking enthusiasts and beginners – UNIQLO!  To the newbies who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of proper outwear – here’s a quick guide on what items to prioritize and features that you should consider.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

History Con 2017

Eagerly receiving the award on stage.  
I watched shows in History channel and FYI so imagine my surprise when I got an email from their local PR asking if I can be part of their History Maker awards program.  Who would say no, right?

Just to be safe, I asked for a list of other awardees (I got a partial list) and seeing respectable names - I concluded that it will be definitely a great opportunity.

To be honest, I was not familiar with History Con event so getting there and seeing jam-packed booths and endless flow of people - I was both surprised and overwhelmed.  They promised 'bigger' and better - and seeing large halls of the World Trade Center filled to their maximum - it was really BIG.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Enchanting Hawaii

Diamond head crater hike, Honolulu (Oahu).  Only a short ride bus away from Waikiki, a simple 1hr (or less) hike - but with a spectacular view all around.  

I've always wanted to visit Hawaii to see its active volcano (no, not to ride their scary surf), and so finally booked my ticket, packed my bags, hauled my tour group and took off.

The good and bad news about the flight is that - it's relatively short distance from Manila (10hr 1-way), but there seems to be no reliable airline.  The local 'P' airline I used was delayed by 6hrs going out, and at least 4hrs going back.  A waste of precious time!

But Hawaii did not disappoint.  This is probably my most "chill" travel, so far - staying several days in one place, even 1 whole week in Waikiki.  I thought that spending a week each in my 2 target islands will be enough.

Big Island (Hawaii) was my first target, staying in both Hilo and Kona.  Hilo is quieter, more like a retirement paradise.  That is, if you don't mind frequent rains.  If you're after the volcanoes (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kilauea) - then this is a good jump-off place.
Kona is more vibrant with good beaches, nice restaurants and bars.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quotes to Live By


One and a half a year ago, I started with my Instagram –(yeah pretty late I guess) but discovered that I enjoy the challenge of inventing or relating a quote to each picture that I post.

In a way, Instagram – along with this mind challenge had become my quick mental exercise while waiting for my coffee, or beer – or someone.  (No, I don’t do FB or twitter or others with my smartphone – a deliberate self-spacing decision).

As I review some phrases or quotes, I realize that some of them were half-meant, some serve as self-reminders helping me stick to my own life philosophies, or some are meant as joke-with-a-sense.


So as not to forget and lose them – I compiled some of them in this blog post. For entertainment, or perhaps as reminders when we face some life challenges. 

1.      Don't always stop when the road ends. Sometimes you just have to make a new one.
2.      View a mountain to feel peace, climb a mountain to feel life.
3.      Flowers wither, chocolates melt, but true love endures.
4.      Keep calm. Have faith. Things will be alright.
5.      Eat good food to be in a good mood


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Eco-Living: Small DIY Furniture Projects


Carpentry is a real man’s skill.  Something I only partially learned from my Dad during my teen-age years.  But came the corporate life, and a busy social life – and the old-school skill was lost.
But it doesn’t have to stay ‘lost’ forever.  There was a time that I found it ‘painful’ to see wood scraps from my friend’s home project. After decades of not handling a hammer or saw, I just worked on it – intent of removing the scrap from sight – and producing something useful.

Alas, my first in the series of small DIY from-scrap projects – a small giraffe-themed short foyer table (that looks like a bench) of some sort.
My Giraffe table.  I only used angular to connect the 'legs' (back then I have not learned using wood glue), all parts were scrap plywood.  +5 years and still alive, recently as our home's Christmas tree stand.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eco-living: Indoor Plants for a Better Home

Snake Plant - a matured 'cutling' that I simply transferred/re-planted from an overflowing pot.  Decorative pot or vase (variable and changeable) adds beauty and positive vibe. 


I’ve been a reluctant garden enthusiast being in the Metro city with limited ‘garden backyard opportunity’ to tend do.  But visiting my home in the province more often lately (to visit my ailing mom), coupled by a good read of NASA’s top 10 air-improving plants - I’ve instantly became a hobbyist. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Eco-Living: Baking Soda for Home and Personal Care

Initially experimented adding stevia (for flavor) and sea salt, but later just use VCO mix.


Yes, sodium bicarbonate.   Food-grade, but also useful in many other things.   

I happen to watch this CNN episode on green living and saw this home-made toothpaste – which made me intrigued.  I’ve heard the same stuff before, but never tried it.  Yes, even after reading that fluoride is a known neurotoxin – an indispensable ingredient in every toothpaste that we buy.
Now NaHC03 (the baking soda, dude) – is simply natural with no harmful effects on human.  Food-grade! Used for baking!  But a very good cleaner and acid neutralizer.   It’s been around for centuries (actually ancient Egypt used the same substance for mummification)  – but distracting advertisement easily lured us all in buying bad brands and products.  So start the better alternative – DIY!

How I make my toothpaste
Get a small re-purposed glass or plastic container.  I used a very small candy jar, (and another small pickle-bottle to store my ‘deodorant’).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Year-Ender – my Top Picks



1.       (Sports) Padyak Palawan.   I was glad this pushed through even with little support and sponsorship.  Here, I clocked my fastest mountain bike ride (58kph – that’s fast for me), my longest tour (~700km), and longest travel by bike (11 ride days).  More importantly, it was good that we decided to make it a conservation ride, and was able to raise a modest fund for our partner NGO – CCI.  If there’s one problem with this, it is that – it could be addicting and we might do another trip! :)
First day of our 12-day ride.  Here pedaling from Buliluyan (Southern most pt of Bataraza), an escort of policemen and marines tailing the team (only in this section). 

2.       (Conservation) 25,000 Trees -  Reforestation program.    25,000 trees seems easy but I realize that inviting or bringing self-funded people to a remote mountain to ask them to plant in a steep and rough terrain is not particularly easy. But I’m glad my team from UP Mountaineers pursued this project (3 trips this year and more next year). We always say ‘give something back’, and there’s no better way for mountaineers to give back (to the mountains and community) than to rehabilitate a denuded mountain.
A selfie - showing off my first planted sapling (wilding).  I only planted 58 saplings that day, the terrain was really challenging. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

25000 Trees - Reforestation Project


Steep planting-site terrain in Mt. Apo.  Wildings are collected by foresters in healthy areas, and re-planted.  

As a mountaineer – it’s hard to just sit pretty and relaxed when a favorite mountain was suddenly raged by fire – its forest decimated.  Like 140 hectares of it!
While it’s natural for mountain forest to ‘die and be reborn’ as part of its cycle, just like human-caused environmental issue like climate change – a human-triggered problem is best managed by intervention.  To accelerate rehabilitation, if not to totally cure it. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Padyak Palawan 2016 – Top 10


Ready to go. In Caruray (behind is the bgy hall were we stayed for the night).  L-R: Uncle Bob, myself, Mon, Aris, Russ, Tin, Jilyan, Eng, Charm, Cess, Pen, Levi, Noky, Danny, LA. (missing: Bunny)

A bit of background, Palawan adventure was supposed to be a kayak tour from south end to the north islands of Palawan, an idea that was conceptualized 5 years back – but is a project that I found difficult to start for many reasons.  I mean, a 600-700km paddling trip, on measly sit-on top kayaks, on a country frequented by typhoons (never mind the pirates or terrorists) – is not an endeavor that can easily be pursued without serious challenges.

Now biking comes as a natural, more feasible alternative to the plan – knowing that ‘I can bike’, and there are many crazy guys who want to do this!

The idea is a bike tour, with a bit of rugged terrain (since we’re using mountain bikes), that will traverse the mainland from southernmost point to the northernmost point.  It is aimed in promoting Palawan as an eco-tourism destination!  But knowing how fragile the ecosystem and natural resources of the island, my team decided to make it ‘for a cause’ , and not just campaign for conservation – but to generate funds for our partner NGO – The Center of Conservation and Innovation.

Planning the route was relatively easy – using google maps! :)  I was lucky to have people in the team who know more about maps and routes and navigation – which not only ensured that we’re taking the right road or path or trail, but also gather useful data on the route.

Fast forward after ~700km of biking later, in El Nido – not only did I survive, but now inspired to pursue more bike-touring in the future. The entire team was happy about the trip and will surely be there if or when a second Padyak event comes to life.