My Great Wide Somewhere: Catanduanes

I remember one night, just a year ago, my lola and I are having some serious life lessons conversation type, then she was back at it again with the usual comparison of my life and her younger years life. She’ll always tell me how her hometown had taught her to live in simplicity because it’s surroundings has all that it’s have to be thankful and appreciate life at it’s fullest. She was raised and lived in the beautiful island of Catanduanes, and it has been a childhood dream to step my feet on that God-breathed place.

Catanduanes is an island found in the southwest Luzon and considered as part of the Bicol region in the Philippines. It is known as the door of the country to different typhoons that may enter the country. Geographically speaking, the surroundings of Catanduanes can be classified as typhoon-proof because even if it is an island facing the Pacific Ocean it is covered and protected by long mountain ranges that will serve as the shield of our country to different strong typhoons. Inspite of this, you are going to fall in love with the island once you had arrived there.

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Stop over at the boundary of Atimonan and Gumaca Quezon. Long drives gives you the perks of watching the sun rises on the road.

Going to Catanduanes is a dream come true for me. I haven’t gone there ever since I was a child even if it is my mother’s birthplace, I was so unlucky back then because I have the travel sickness that I have just overcome going up. Thanks to the family reunion that made the province as a venue,  we are able to gaze at it’s wonder, talk to some relatives and explore the root of our ancestors and the place they had been. The long drive, that I am definitely enjoying, is all worth it even if it a leg-numbing experience.

For our first day in Catanduanes, we had the opportunity to wander some of it’s hidden gem. We had gone to the capital town, Virac to buy some pasalubong, the province is known for it’s broom made from abaca, some other handcrated abaca stuffs and the very tasty Pili nuts. We also manage to gone through the port of Virac, my cousins tried to swam there. They are totally enjoying the freebies of the sea and waves.

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At the Port of Virac.

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My cousins are enjoying the waves.

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After that we went to Luyang Cave, which is found along the highway of San Vicente. Unlike my first experience of caving, inside has a really guided trail, inside you can see different stalagmite and stalactite, sleeping fruit bats, water falling from the top, and some deep excavation. It was told that the cave had served as a hiding place during the time of war. Passing through the cave is like passing to the road upward. It was afterall an experience even if it is not that challenging. I am expecting for some crawling and rolling so sad for me.

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Yow. Luyang Cave.

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They feel triumphant after entering the cave.

In the afternoon, we had one of my favorite activity even if I am the clumsiest person ever created; trekking, river crossing, chasing waterfalls. We went to Hicming Falls. On our way there, we lost our way, no, we don’t know the way so we asked the locals where it was located and some answered as tricky directions that end us up on the top of the mountain, with very narrow road and very deep cliff; the road doesn’t have very secure railings. In the end of course we had found it through the help of some youngsters, there is a language barrier though, they are talking Bicol we aspeak Tagalog, but as Paolo Coelho said, let the language of nature speaks and we enjoy the solitude of Hicming Falls.

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My travel buddy is ready for some river crossing.

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This is it. Let’s enjoy the rocks.

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I always love the idea of trekking and chasing waterfalls. It’s can be compared to life because no matter what hardship you may encounter. You may slip while hiking you may be sprained but in the en you’ll find solemnity by gazing at the wonders of nature. The sound of water rushing from the mountain shouts tranquility.

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Arrival @ Hicming Falls

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Can I be your type of wandress, baby?

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Hicming Falls

For our second day, we had attended the grand family reunion with the clan of Ceballo, my lola’s roots. It is a total struggle because they feel like talking like aliens, they are talking Bicol and my cousins and I can’t understand a thing, as for me I understand some words, just words. Total nose bleed, I really should learn it soon cause I want to come back. We had manage to get to know some relatives. It feels like we are long lost.

The venue of the reunion is at Panganiban, Catanduanes, and we are staying at Virac. We need to travel three hours to get there. The jaunt is really enjoyable, you can see the awestruck beauty of the island. The road we are heading is surrounded by cliffs, and it feels like going up and descending from the mountain. We also see some rivers that has many palm trees and wide plains and rice fields.

Our last day is a total last because it’s beaching time. We checked in at one of the place’s finest beach famous of it’s white sand, Twin Rocks Resort. We are totally enjoying the dryson (dry season) in the country by having the what they called Vitamin Sea. We swam at the morning and at lunch time during low tide we had managed to explore some little islands by walking in the seashore, it just feels so sinful to walk or slipped in the fishes habitat. I’m too clumsy that is why I feel like committing a sin stepping unto coral reefs. I’m totally sorry. That is why I prefer the mountain side. The sea brings tranquility tho.

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Presenting Twin Rock Beach Resort. Viewpoint from our cottage.

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Selca, cause I managed to swim in the balsa. Hahaha.

I realize that it also feels great to enjoy the sea and the island life. I am not fond of beaches and swimming activity because I’m a little bit scared of water. I know how to swim, but not enough for survival, just the swimming pool time of skills, and I am afraid to drown. In the sea when you fall there is nothing to keep you alive, nothing to hold on unlike in mountains you just need some survival skill. Some life hacks. This is my opinion.

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Cousins are forever. (Some our my second cousins)

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This getaway is sobrang bitin because I want to get to know more of the island so I just promise myself that I need to go back there. I had to. That was the place my ancestors came from to begin with. Add the fact that, the place had many things to fall in love with.

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Define Tranquility.

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My cousin enjoying the sun. He’s my only co wanderlust, so he’s my buddy in this trip.

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#ChasingSunrise

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Golden Sun.

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Long Drives and view at the back.

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Back View of Mayon Volcano @ Tabaco, Albay  #EnRoute

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Wacky.

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Selfie sa Tag-Init.

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Sinong mas nangitim sa tin type of selfie.

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Boarding and Going Home. Second Sunrise.

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Mayon welcomes us as we arrived at Tabaco Pier. #WayBackHome

Notes on Suicide

    Due to the trending series adaptation of Jay Asher’s bestselling “Thirteen Reasons Why”, suicide has becoming the talk of the town. From different perspective, people had been sharing their perspectives; rants, empathy and just everything we can tell about it.

    As for me, I have read the book but haven’t watched the series. When I had finished the story, I had take Hannah Baker’s reason as a light thing because of course I am in a perspective of an educator but I understand that to adolescence it is a big thing and a big deal. I appreciate the book being written because I too wants people to realize that suicide is not a joke. It may be something not serious for us to the person who had the tendency, it is hell for them. It is a talk of life and death so we might as well take this a big deal.

    I want to share how I view suicide because I want to encourage people to see the larger picture in behind to those who had a thought of ending their lives. Honestly, I have read a post by my student telling that it is non sensical and that we should have bigger faith to God, that moment I want to rush to him and explain things because that totally break my heart. The words he had just posted are those that easier to say than done, and that is not what depressed people certainly want to hear.

   Suicide is just an offshoot of the bigger issue that we have in this world. Today we are totally facing a dog-eat-dog society. Human beings are living like the prey-predator life cycle. We all want what’s best for ourselves that we are selfish enough to step down other people’s dignity. And some people, those that will have the tendency of ending their lives, got fed up of this community. They seem to don’t understand what is happening to our civilization. They are just people who are compassionate enough to long for what we all want, love and care.

  We are all victim of the society we are trying to create , and those people who are prone to demonstrate suicide are sick of this. They believe that maybe through their death they can touch someone to feel more, empathize more. They are curious enough who are the people who has a greater E.Q.to care for the lives they have lose. It is far bigger than attention seeking, it about caring, compassion, empathy that we all long for. So we cannot say to just have faith and accept life as it is, we need to offer our shoulders for them to lean on.

    After all, we are all the same broken people who just wants to bring vibrant in our beloved planet. We are all the same creation who long for peaceful life but happens to get blinded by the fame our society can offer. If this is the real case then why can we just create a culture of loving and sharing to prevent people to do the what they call “non sensical” thing. Easier said than done, but the question is what is more important out pride and ego or our love for humanity?

  Such a utopia, but I’m still dreaming for it.

Go High, Albay !

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     Serendipity is the word used in Science to describe those unexpected discoveries. Can I also use this word to coined our trip to Albay, Bicol? My colleagues didn’t actually planned to go here it just happen that in the middle of our department meeting, we talk about having a bonding time together to wrap up the school year , and then voila, our beloved and gorgeous coordinator invited us to her captivating hometown; Polangui, Albay in Bicol Region.

    For me, this jaunt was my first travel without the someone who belongs to my comfort zone. I enjoy being with my colleagues but I have trust issues and tends to be worrisome so this is totally taking risks for me, knowing that going to provinces in Bicol is totally a long drive. Also, this is  my first time riding a bus and sitting in the last row. I think I totally appreciate all the zigzag and bumpy roads we had encounter. Thank God, I’m not byahilo.

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    Albay signifies the famous perfect cone and very aggressive volcano, Mt. Mayon and the moment we had reached our destination, our coordinator told us to go there at the Cagsawa Ruins and gaze Mayon at it’s finest. The saddest fort is the cloudy day, Magayon (according to legend she is Mt. Mayon) seems like hiding from me. Of course being histroy and geography geek, I am at my happiest because lies in front of me, is one of the country’s leading tourist spot. During my Samar trip, I had already a glimpse of this mountain and I’m going to tell you that it’s different to look at it with it’s twin legend, the Cagsawa Ruins. I was really having a total moment of #FaceToFaceWithHistory

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Mt. Mayon at her finest with the Cagsawa Bell Tower. #TravelPH

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The Cagsawa Bell Tower, the only left remains of the Cagsawa Church. Years ago, when the volcano one erupted, the whole church except the bell tower was overwhelmed and the people believing that the church is the most secured place went there. #DepressingRight

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With the ruins. #PoseLikeAPro

    After our visit in this famous ruins, we are supposed to head at the Sumlong Lake for a better view of volcano, and experience sailing there under the sunset. However, the weather (it rains) doesn’t want us to, maybe in our next visit. We just went back to our host’s home, riding a tricycle from DARAGA to POLANGUI. T’was no joke and a challenge of leg endurance sitting there, us six like a sardines but it’s enjoying because of the scenery and the countryside vibes. Everything about it is very relaxing.

   On our way home, we had passed through the town that had been washed out by Typhoon Reming, due to some ashfall coming from the Mayon that led to a landslide. Our coordinator told us that the houses we see there was just dig by the owner so that they can still have home. As to my reflection, we, excursionist, dreamed of seeing Mayon but the people close to it suffers from the dangerous consequence of being near to the volcano. Some geographical dilemma, yet as my professor in that discipline taught us, there is always danger in every geographical landscapes, it’s a matter of surviving and adapting. And I believe, Bicolanos, are too resilient no matter what natural phenomenon shakes them. (I’m proud to brag this out because my ancestors are Bicolanos)

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   As per our second day there, a good Friday, we tried to climb the hill, called Kawa-kawa, a famous pilgrimage site. We didn’t actually do the necessary thing for a pilgrimage but for me I’ll count this as my first pilgrimage, (I am not a Catholic and it’s not our thing to do that but it”s my bucketlist) because we follow the path. Up there lies a very alluring view of Albay, the coconut plantation, the plains, the greenery, the still-blue sky and the shining sun. #Stupefied

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My Co-teacher delighting in the Albay scenery. #GiboWillBeFamous

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Part two. #GiboOnMyBlog

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Smile like the sunflower. We had found this as we descend from the hill.

       Our third and last day, is more adventurous experience (atleast for me, because I live in the city all my life), we had some Pili picking experience. Pili, is a type of nut which is popular on the Bicol region. The two male teachers we are with had the chance to climb the three and pick Pili, we only get what they had got. I just climb the tree for some photography purpose. After that, we walk to another hill, just right there, to get some coconut for us to drink and eat and during this time it is starting to drizzle.

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   I love that particular moment while we are drinking buko juice  then there are raindrops, there are also stray animals, trees are everywhere, below is a wonderful view. Makes we want to live in the countryside forever. I guess I can survive, just the thought of being in touch with the nature. Yayy, I am going to miss Albay.

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    The trip is totally enjoying but we have to go back to reality because there are students who needed our service so they can improve their skills. LOL. #TeamJuniorHigh

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Selfie while waiting for our bus.

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Le Favorite Shadowfie

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Aura Aura din.

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Part Two, Aura.

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Happie, Yippie, Yey. !!!!

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I need a photo of my favorite travel buddy.

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I’m enjoying the countryside. This seems anachronistic because of the shades.

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Pili picking. =D #Hwaiting

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Such a non-conformist, Z. Hindi ako nakatalon. LOL.

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Finally, my jump shot. #CestLaVie

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Nahiya naman sa akin ang Mayon. #DyosaProblems