Into The Woods To Reconnect | Bacalla Woods Campsite

Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. ~John Muir

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The infinity swing. (Photo by Hailey)

I can start this post with a cliche about how time goes by so swiftly but that’s probably going to ruin everyone’s interest in reading this. Hence let me just ask, how did you spend your first two weeks of the year?

For Ace and I, the first two weeks had been fairly challenging and fun. We started the year with big risks, with him quitting his job to start a business venture soon and me starting a part-time job in the morning in an offline academy (which both the offline and morning part I haven’t done for four years). So, the past few days was a whirlwind of the adjustment process.

Perhaps that’s enough excuse to spend a weekend away from everything.

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Catchy signs made from the bark of a coconut tree.

There’s this campsite that has been the talk of the town this week. Actually, Ace and I had been eyeing it since last year but never had the chance to visit it. I’m talking about Bacalla Woods Campsite. Fortunately, last weekend our plan finally came to life. Elliot’s celebrating his 8th months and we took him with us.

What made our adventure special and unique were our companions who came from four different countries. First was my offline student Hailey from Korea, joining with us were her friends, Airi from Japan and Yir from Taiwan. Later on the campsite, we were joined by Ian from Malaysia.

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The ASIAN gang! (L-R) Ian from Malaysia, Ace, Hailey from Korea, Airi from Japan, Demi, Yir from Taiwan.

Our escape started in Mandaue where we agreed to meet up. After we bought some provisions, we immediately headed to the South Bus terminal to take a bus to San Fernando, Cebu. Not too long, we found ourselves inside a mini-bus. The view from outside the bus while we passed by the South Road Properties signaled a fine day ahead contrary to the rainy day forecast the other night.

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Our view from the mini-bus while we passed by SRP. (Photo by Hailey)

The campsite is tucked in Libo, San Fernando, Cebu. As soon as we got off on the bus, we took a motorcycle to the place.

For those who are going on a private ride, looking for the campsite might be a little tricky since there aren’t any signs or directions along the way. But you can always ask the locals. Motorcycle drivers are also very familiar with the place.

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Welcome home!

Arriving at the place felt like home. As I stare at the log cabin, memories from my childhood when we used to visit my grandparent’s place in the countryside came flashing in. The campsite has no hint of lavishness nor a touch of modernity except the rice cooker. Everything is pretty basic.

I thought of it as a perfect opportunity for my foreign friends to get to know more about the Filipino culture.

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Hammocks and happiness! That’s exactly what there is!

We were welcomed by the friendly host of the campsite. We instantly felt like a family. I talked to the lady owner who kindly asks about our reservation. I like her! She did not flash a big smile on her face to make me or us comfortable. It’s just that, she didn’t need that, the place IS already comfortable. I was like casually talking to my aunt or my grandmother about something.

(Funny fact: I actually found it amusing because I am always cognizant about people welcoming guests with big smiles and colorful words to the point that they become “overly accommodating” and well “scripted” if you know what I mean. Personally, I don’t like people who keep asking if I’m okay or if I’m comfortable or anything like that. It really annoys me.)

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The rustic luxury. (Our tent is the orange one.)

So, Hailey, Airi, and Yir chose to stay in a hammock on the second floor of the cabin overlooking the mountains. While Ace, Elliot and I stayed on the tent that we brought with us. We were free to pitch the tent anywhere, and we decided to just put it near the entrance so we can easily look after our things.

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Our friend’s hammock.

Let’s go back to what made the fuss on the web recently.

Bacalla Woods Campsite is touted as the “Bali of Cebu” because of its infinity swing fronting the verdant mountains of the town. Its ropes are tied on a branch of the tree and it is suspended in the abyss.

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Swing like there’s no tomorrow. (Photo by Hailey)

Another thing that I love about the place was the fact that they are animal-friendly. Gosh, they have a lot of pets. Elliot had a great time running around and socializing with other dogs. He even chased chickens in the woods.

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The most photogenic cat in the campsite. (Photo by Hailey)

As the evening came close, the campsite already ran out of tents and hammocks for rent still more and more campers arrived. Some persistent ones agreed to find their own way to get through the night.

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Life is indeed better in the mountains and in the woods!

While Ace was busy preparing our dinner, we, on the other hand, were busy talking. It’s not every day you get to be in a circle of people with different nationalities, you know. So, yeah, we had a lot of talks — from cultures to languages. The talk just got louder and funnier when Ian who’s from Malaysia joined the group.

As soon as dinner was ready, we happily shared our food together. After eating, Yir and Airi volunteered to do the dishes.

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Everybody enjoyed the rest of the night just listening to each other’s stories. It rained that night. Most campers especially those who stayed in hammocks gathered in the cabin for shelter. Hailey, Airi, Yir, and Ian had fun talking and having a drink with a group of call center agents. The night was filled with loud laughter going along the beat of the raindrops.

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(Photo by Hailey)

Almost everybody woke up early the next day hoping to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, the sky was covered with thick clouds making it impossible to see the sun. Nonetheless, we were still excited because after breakfast we went trekking to Bugho falls.

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Elliot and Ace in Bugho Falls.

We trekked on paved road and muddy trail for two hours. I am so proud of Elliot for surviving the hike, although, we had to carry him sometimes. When we arrived on the river, Elliot was at first afraid, but when he saw the flow of the water making bubbles as it hit a rock, he tried catching it. Eventually, he was enjoying. Ace and I did not swim because we had so much fun watching Elliot playing on the water.

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Visitors falling in line to try the infinity swing. (Photo by Hailey)

We came back to the campsite in time for lunch. We changed clothes, packed our things and prepared to go home. We agreed to have our lunch at the town center so they can try Filipino dish.

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Ace and Demi plus Elliot. (Photo by Hailey)

Staying at the campsite was a wonderful experience for Ace, Elliot, and me. The disconnection made us reconnect with ourselves and with each other. Our foreign friends who joined us also made our stay worthwhile.

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How to get there?

  • Ride a bus from the South Bus Terminal and drop off at the Hidden Paradise Mountain Resort corner in Pitalo, San Fernando. (1-2hrs)
  • Hail a habal-habal or motorcycle to the campsite. (20-30mins) Fare: 45/person

Other information:

  • You may bring your own food or cook at the campsite. You can also order from their menu but make sure to call them for reservation.
  • There is NO SIGNAL in the area.
  • If you’re not bringing your own hammock or tents, you may reserve in advance to avoid inconvenience.
  • Php200 — Overnight entrance fee with breakfast
  • Php100 — Day use entrance fee
  • Php50   — Trekking to Bugho Falls
  • Php150 — Hammock rental
  • Php300 — Tent rental
  • Don’t forget your insect repellents.

And lastly, ENJOY a life unplugged!

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Over to you, when was the last time you have unplugged your life from modernity? We’d love to hear from you.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi plus Elliot

 

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Trailed The Spartan Ground.

Being widely known as the most challenging track in Cebu, Spartan Trail is not new to every hiking enthusiasts in the city. In fact, from being the practice ground for those who are up for a major climb, this trail has gone from being famous to infamous. Gone were the days when this treacherous terrain is only for experienced hikers. Recently, there are already first-timers who bravely track this trail despite their inexperience. Don’t get me wrong. I actually admire their courage and determination. 😀

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Whilst its popularity, Spartan Trail was very elusive to Ace and me. Every time we set a date to try this trail it gets canceled due to uncontrollable circumstances. But we remained positive that we’d walk this ground one day.

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Until the wait became over and the patience paid.

During our hike and discovery of the biggest cross in Cebu, Sir Aldrich (The Bisaya Traveler) told me that some members of the team were planning to tramp Spartan Trail the following weekend. I was ecstatic!! I couldn’t say no to that.

So the said day came. I was worried about Ace because he had not been trekking in the past two months. But he was persistent to see what makes this trail challenging. So off we went!

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The first wave of ascending was tough. The sun was burning our skin, the slope was very steep and seemed never-ending. I saw myself catching my breath and even started doubting myself if I could survive the next wave.

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Soar high! 

One step at a time. Until we came to a plateau. I looked back and whooaw! It’s the city below me. It’s not like it was my first time to see such sight, but the feeling of being on top was incredible. (That’s why I love the mountains.)

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As we continued our journey to the deepest part of the trail, I began to understand why they dubbed it as the most challenging and treacherous training ground. Spartan involves a steep ascend, a march into thick and prickly bushes, a long walk through a rocky river, and another dangerous descend.

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The dried river. 
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Ace acting like Kuya Kim of MatangLawin. 

Although everyone was starting to doubt if we could make it, our will to be victorious in this quest was stronger. Like a real Spartan army, we marched through the rigorous path not minding the danger ahead. Instead, we entertained ourselves with stories of funny experiences. 

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Demi and the river. 

We had to make a few stops to regain our energy. As we shared stories and snacks during our short breaks, we were also getting to know each other better. This is always my favorite part when traveling with new people — making friends. 🙂 

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The dried Buhisan River. 

It was a long walk through the slithering river. The water was shallow but the rocks were slippery. Therefore, we had to be extra careful and vigilant with our steps.

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A small waterfall along the trail. 

We arrived in a small waterfall where we took a long break to prepare ourselves for a formidable battle. A soldier, no matter how brave and strong needs to take a break after all. 

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Climbing boulders. 

Walking on the Spartan ground actually taught me a lot. It made me discover more things about myself, my tenacity and my limitation. It helped me understand my body more and it taught me how to listen to my deep breaths. 

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Kapit lang besh. 

The last leg of our adventure was a walk in a canopy of trees. I think it was the hardest part of the trail because of the abrupt inclination. I felt my legs trembled and tightened in my every step. My companions were already far ahead but I couldn’t keep up with their gait anymore.IMG20171105112415

My husband was already running out of words to encourage me. No, I did not stop, but my pace was slower. I did not plan to quit either. I had come a long way, why should I? Well, even if I want to, I didn’t have the choice. I was already on the battleground surrounded by the enemies. I had no escape. It was a do or die.

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We heard roaring sounds of motorcycles which signaled a nigh road. That added encouragement to my already exhausted legs. Like magic, my steps suddenly became faster and this time I was even the one trying to encourage my friends to move. 😀

I guess that meant I won my battle.

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We arrived at Barangay Pamutan on time for lunch. As if we did not have enough combating Spartan Trail, we carried on our adventure to find the abandoned cult cave and Tulong Krus. But that’s another story.

I must admit, Spartan Trail is indeed very treacherous. At first look, it seemed easy but wait when you set foot on its battlefield.

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Ace and Demi survived the Spartan Trail.

Over to you, have you survived your Spartan ground? We’d love to hear from you.

’til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

Mangitngit Falls in Middle Earth Spring Resort | Discover Carmen

Carmen is known to be home of cold springs. If you need a quick break from the heat in the city, Carmen is your place to go. Head to Durano Eco Farm if you want to swim in the midst of a rainforest or you can simply take a dip in Uragay Spring Resort.

Not too long ago, another cold spring resort opened its home for the public. It is the Middle Earth Spring Resort.

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So, the misadventure that we had brought us here. Wait, did I say it brought us to Mangitngit Falls? Yeah, I did. And yes, we’re here!!

So what happened to Mangitngit Falls? 

Just a quick lookback in 2007, the falls met a tragic fate — a landslide that took two lives. It resulted to the closure and the prohibition of going or coming near the falls. 

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Mangitngit Falls, Carmen, Cebu

Years had passed… the public are now given a chance to see the beauty of this infamous waterfalls again.  As Mangitngit Falls opened its door to the people, so as Middle Earth Spring Resort which serves as the living room of the place.

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Middle Earth Spring Resort

Middle Earth Spring Resort is tucked in lower Natimao-an, Carmen, Cebu. This is the gateway to glimpse Mangitngit Falls.

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The resort has three swimming pools. All pools are filled with a free-flowing, non-chlorinated water from the spring where the water from Mangitngit falls was also coming from.

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The water is ice-cold. But my niece Ahkirah really had a great time despite shivering from the cold. She really had a great resistance with cold temperature.

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While waiting for Ace to finish grilling the fish for lunch, we soaked this bottle of softdrinks in the flowing water.

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And, voila!!! That’s an instant chiller! 😀

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So, while the hubby was preparing our lunch, I explored the place and looked for the waterfalls. Because admittedly, I was not after the spring resort, I was much more interested with the falls.

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I was hoping to get a close shot with it, unfortunately, fences are being put to keep the visitors off and from getting near.

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I learned that the falls have three tiers. As much as I want to get a shot of each tiers, it’s not possible not unless you’re willing to take a risk and pay a fine for punishment. 😥

 

As I continued exploring the place and looked for a nice angle to see Mangitngit Falls, hubby joined me. We went down a stairway that leads to the middle of the forest.

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But, the forest is completely tamed, as the stairs was concreted and a viewing deck was made. This is where the visitors could glimpse Mangitngit Falls.

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This is already the closest shot one could get because the rest of the area is off-limit. It was like, Mangitngit Falls is dropping proudly. (So near, yet so far, eh?)

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A proof that the place is a landslide prone area. 

Just few meters from the basin of the falls, we noticed this eroded soil. The erosion looked fresh as if it happened just few days ago.

I researched about the closure of Mangitngit Falls several years ago. Geologists had inspected the soil and found out that the rocks surrounding the waterfall are phorus — a soft kind of rock that is prone to landslide.

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As much as we wanted to go near, keeping off is for our own good and safety. Perhaps, Mangitngit Falls is made for our eyes only. We personally thought that the prohibition is also beneficial for the falls itself because in this way, the falls would remain safe from the cruel hands of the people.

Nonetheless, we were glad to see the beauty of the falls even from afar. For now, let the visitors just see it this way and settle for the same water in the spring resort. 😀

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How to get to Middle Earth Spring Resort? 

Ride a bus from the North Bus Terminal. Any buses bound to north will pass by Carmen. Ask the driver to drop you off at the town’s public market. (Fare Php40.) From there, you can hail a motorcycle that will take you to the resort. (Fare is Php35/person.)

Fees and Amenities: 

The resort has an entrance fee of Php50 (adults) and Php30 (kids). There are cottages and kiosks for Php400-500. There are tables and chairs for rent for Php200.

The resort also have a karaoke for rent, although I haven’t asked the rental fee.

There is no restaurant in the area. We suggest you bring your own provisions.

 

We hope you find this post and guide helpful.

Over to you. What do you think about the falls’ prohibition?

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.