What Is and What's Not in Calaguas

Here's a little guide to help you manage your expectations on the island. Knowing what to expect, and not, will help you make the most of your trip to this paradise!

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Beauty Born Out of Destruction

As soon as I emerged from the trail, a magnificent beauty greeted me. Exhausted after a 1-hour-45-minute trek, the view was a pleasant reward. Who would have thought that this beautiful landscape was ironically created by destruction? It was simply beautiful.

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What is BRATpacking?

Everyone's familiar with the life of a backpacker -- those who live on a backpack to travel the world for long months, even years. They have the reputation of being grungy, spontaneous, friendly.

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Picking Our Way to Pico de Loro

I am not (yet!) a climbing enthusiast. In fact, this is my first real climb, as I consider my first two experiences of mountains as "treks" (Taal Volcano in 2005 and Sagada to Bomod-ok Falls in 2007). This is also my first camping trip as an adult, and I was worried that I wouldn't like it because of the absence of a toilet, shower, soft bed, nice linens, and all the other things that make life comfortable.

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Home Is Where The Heart Is

It was love at first sight. That kind of love that makes you feel lost, and yet you know you're home. That kind of love that overwhelms you with emotions, and yet you feel serene. That kind of love that makes you feel like a fool, and yet you don't care. This is my favorite spot on earth, where the place is enchanting and the people are endearing.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Goodbye, Robbi...

This brings me profound sadness. RIP, Robbi Sapinggi. You were amazing.

Photo Courtesy of Coalition Duchenne
Photo Courtesy of Coalition Duchenne

When I climbed Mt. Kinabalu in 2012, alone in a sea of people, I gave up just a quarter of the way towards the summit. I don't know if it was out of fear, exhaustion or sheer lack of determination, but I just couldn't push myself any longer. I was crying, and I never felt so alone. I was with a hundred strangers.

Robbi was one of the guides of our group. When he learned about my doubts in proceeding to the summit, he didn't encourage me to go on. He said there will always be a next time, and if I was not emotionally ready, we should just head back to Laban Rata. He also didn't proceed to the summit, and stayed with me instead. I felt ashamed of myself for being a failure, but he assured me that there's no shame in prioritizing health and safety.

I was shivering from the cold, and my gloves were wet from grabbing onto the rope. My fingers were almost frozen. Without hesitation, he removed his gloves and gave them to me. He kept me warm in a hut while waiting for sunrise, and calmed my nerves with his antics.

On our way down, he got my camera and took really good photos of me. We talked about Manila, Filipinos, and the Filipino TV drama series "Pangako sa Yo." Apparently it was shown in Malaysia, and he was a big fan! I told him I will come back to Mt. Kinabalu to reach the summit, and I will get him as my personal guide next time. Here are some of the photos of me that he took:

It is sad to learn that one great soul was claimed by the mountain during the earthquake yesterday. Robbi was a good man, and his passion to keep climbers safe and happy is unquestionable.

Robbi, you were a great man. Please know that you've touched so many lives. I'm sure that when I decide to climb Mt. Kinabalu again, I will hear your laughter resonating through the mountains.

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