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 family group and took off.

The good and bad news about the flight is that - it's relatively short 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 alive with good beaches, nice restaurants and bars.

Oahu to the north is a must-see,  assuming you somehow heard of 'Waikiki' and Pearl Harbor.  I wish to hike the Haiku stairs - but not wanting 'trouble' I opted for the simpler hikes.

All in all, a great family trip.   Easy, relaxed and as I said - Chill!

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.   

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Palawan Eco-travel and Exploration

Illegally trafficked Palawan forest turtles by the thousands! (pic c/o Katala Foundation, from Traffic.org site)

Palawan is the Philippines' equivalent of Galapagos or Madagascar.  Unique endemic species thrive in this elongated, narrow strip of island in the West of Philippines.  Geologically, Palawan is a ‘break-off’ from Asia mainland unlike the rest of the Philippines and this geological difference contributed to Palawan’s eco-diversity not seen in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, continued illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction threatened most of the species and many are in critically endangered status.

It is for this reason that our team from UP Mountaineers decided to do a travel exploration around Palawan before the end of this year – to raise awareness on wildlife and nature conservation, and to raise fund for our partner NGO – The Center of Conservation and Innovation.   We’ll travel in the most responsible and sustainable way while discovering the various sites of the island, and while campaigning for its conservation.

Center of Conservation and Innovations is a biodiversity conservation NGO that aims to promote the development of new biodiversity conservation approaches and regenerative livelihoods- by developing partnerships and building capabilities for science-based, nature-inspired, and socially appropriate conservation strategies.

One of the long-running program of CCI is Tandikan (Philippine pheasant) conservation.  One of the most beautiful ground birds that I’ve personally seen.  Others include hornbill and pangolin conservation studies.  It’s common in our local news that forest turtles, exotic birds and pangolins are heavily poached and trafficked – a sad reality of our wildlife threat.

My team will document and publish interesting stories about various sites, the travel or other matters as we explore various places in the island.   

How can you help?

ICC will need a lot of help – from the local community, from volunteers, and from the local government.  The other crucial factor is support; from us – mere spectators but future beneficiaries and stakeholders of their work.

Any contribution big or small – will definitely help us both in the awareness campaign and in actual conservation effort, with the hope of preserving our natural treasures for our future generations.
We encourage cash donations sent directly to ICC (details will be shared as needed).  Or in the meantime – post your pledge for this worthwhile endeavour.  Will post more details of this trip as we get closer to the date.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Survival Camp for Kids

Here briefing the kids on the mechanics of the obstacle course.  The parents will of course be everywhere with ready cams.  

Start them young.  Kids need to have fun, exert physical effort, hone their motor skills and creativity, socialize and learn a lot.

My first attempt of organizing a kids’ version of survival camp turned out to be more fun than expected – even the parents loved it, but managing a chaotic environment full of excited kids (and parents) made it difficult to properly execute each activity.  Nonetheless, I will rate this ‘successful’ in many ways especially when funding is low and resources are scarce.