Our Northern Exodus Unlocked Our Hiker’s Compass | Liloan Highlands

While the highlands of southern Cebu become a trekking playground frequented by experienced and newbie hikers, the northern highlands remain humble and still. Although the latter is not favored with high elevation, it has trails and vistas you can compare to that of the known mountains out there.

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Recently, I joined a hiking group that aspires to discover the beauty of the highlands in the north. After that successful quest of visiting Mount Licos, I received an invitation from OMG to trek the mountains of Liloan, Cebu. For someone who came from the north myself, I couldn’t say no since I wanted to give my place it’s due recognition.

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The gang!

Our adventure started with a rendezvous in front of Gaisano Grand Mall -Liloan. As soon as we were complete, we walked to the old Liloan Public Market where we took a motorcycle to Barangay Mulao. Good thing there were only seven of us because it’s hard to get a ride. Mulao is 45 minutes uphill ride from the town, the motorcycles to the said place are very limited.

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Mount Licos from Lanigid Hill.

It took a while before we reassembled at the barangay hall of Mulao. So as soon as everyone had gathered, we immediately commenced our hike to Lanigid Hill. I had been to Lanigid last year with my friends and climbing this hill again brought back those memories. But scaling it with new people was different. The trail started with a steep ascent which made us catch our breaths. It was a strenuous warm-up.

From the top of the hill, we saw Mount Licos standing loud and proud. It was great to see her from afar. She’s such a beaut. I felt a sense of pride in surviving her trail.

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After taking a breather from the top, we trailed back to the barangay hall to head to Barangay Tabla to check out Mount Kolo (also known as Mt View). In the Google map, Mulao and Tabla are adjacent to each other, but there is no trail from Lanigid to there. We had to follow the provincial road that goes around Lanipga to Tabla.

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Have I already told you that I hate hiking on concrete roads? My legs easily get tired on cemented roads compared to rocky terrains. Plus the heat produced by the cement is energy-draining.

Yet, that was what exactly happened that day. After 3 hours of walking, we passed by Lanipga National Highschool. We decided to have our lunch at a nearby store since our tummies already signaled a refill. Tatay Raul’s mirthful spirit boosted our appetite as he entertained us with his hilarious quips. With a companion like him, no journey is dull.

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As soon as we had rested enough, we resumed our hike to Barangay Tabla. We had to ask some locals along the way about Mount View, but only a few of them know it. Most of them were more familiar with Mount Kolo because it’s a neighborhood name (purok). However, nobody could give us a specific way to get to that hill.

Knowing that we were already in Purok Kolo, we trusted our guts and adventurous soul to lead us to the right track. (Tatay Raul called it the hiker’s compass.) We looked for a higher elevation and followed a trail uphill. Fortunately, we were not mistaken. A taller hill stood in front of us.

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Lo and behold, Tabla’s Mountain View!

Seeing the sign that says “This way to Mt View” felt like we won a raffle contest. We did not waste time. We hurriedly climbed the hill. I didn’t mind my sore legs, I just wanted to reach the top. And I wasn’t disappointed. The verdurous panorama of Liloan and the Mactan Island from afar welcomed us. What an astonishing reward!

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The place showcased a 360-degree view of lush foliage. The mountain ranges of Compostela and Danao could be seen from there. In fact, we saw the Holy Cross of Compostela, too.

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We stayed there for a while as we savored the pleasant scenery in front of us. The cold breeze of the wind shooed away our weary feel. We wished to stay longer but time wasn’t on our favor. After an hour, we bid goodbye to the place.

I went home that day with sore legs but with and accomplished heart.

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When life feels like rut and jading, the mountain calls to rescue.

Personal thought:

Life happens! We have different ways to get through it. Some dance with it while others try to escape. Me? I seek refuge in the mountains. If Moana keeps going back to the water, I, on the other hand, go back to the mountains. Because that’s where I feel safe and at peace. It’s where I feel at home.

Over to you! How do you keep up with life? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me some words.

 

‘Til our next exodus!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi

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A Letter From Licos Peak That I Wished I’ve Read Before I Scaled Her.

We got scammed last weekend! It’s weird that we’re happy about it.

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Our expectation deceived us once again. But this time, it’s something we couldn’t resent. Last weekend, we scaled Mt Licos in Danao City. We had to admit that we underestimated her. Because we were so eager to meet her, we pushed through our plan even with scarce information. We ended up in a memorable mishap that became an important lesson.

From my firsthand experience, I want to share this letter for those who want to climb the Licos Peak. Read this when you plan to visit her.

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Dear you, 

Before you climb me, I have two requests.

“Don’t underestimate me.”
“Expect neither less nor more.”

When you are ready, I will open my arms for you. I will let you step on my soil. But I have to warn you. On your way to my peak, you will trip and fall. You will scream in pain, and you will feel betrayed.

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Should you decide to walk on me, I want you to understand the lesson of my trail. My height might be a joke because I only stand less than 500 meters above the sea. But my path is not easy. I have prepared challenges for you, some of which, you can compare to that of the mighty mountains out there!

So, now let me ask you again. Are you ready to face me?

Dear, don’t fret. I want you to visit me, so I prepared a sneak peek of the challenges along my trail.

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I will let you hold on to small and thin roots so you will learn to value small chances. I will teach you not to trust all the big roots because I want you to make careful choices. My loose soil and stones are the tiny things that will spoil your day. I hope you won’t let them affect you because they will delay your plans.

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Along the way, you will see trees of different sizes. Be careful which to trust.

These trees are like the people around you. Some of them will help and some won’t. Few of those will lay their branches and will pull you up even if they have to bend. Some will pretend to cheer you up but when you hold on to them, they will break and you will feel betrayed.

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Sharp rocks will welcome you near my peak. These sharp rocks signify your major problems. If you don’t pay attention, you’re likely to get hurt. But if you learn to focus and make careful steps, you will get through them with ease.

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My peak is your dream. You will feel accomplished and fulfilled. You will feel proud of yourself for passing my test. The verdant vista in front of you will be your reward. Savor the moment, feel the wind, and calm yourself. Soak into the luscious foliage in front of you. You deserve it.

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But when you think it is over, the wind will whisper into your ear, “It’s time to go down.”

I want you to contemplate on this. Before you continue, how long are you going to stay at my peak? Most of you will wish to stay there, but you will be left without a choice but to go down.

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Your life goes like that. When you are at the peak of your happiness, some things will drag you down. You will try hard to resist it because you don’t want your happiness to end. But, sometimes you will end up defeated.

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Please remember this, just because you have succeeded doesn’t mean your new road is wonderfully paved from there. Your test will continue. If you are lucky, it will be easier. What if you are not?

I hope the best for you. But I want to prepare you for the worse.

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On your way down, the challenges will appear tougher.

DSC05243This time, you will skid. It will hurt you a lot. You have to slide and learn to accept that you are going down. When it hurts so bad, stop and seek refuge to the trees you trusted in your way up. Hold on to them until you’re ready to move on.

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And finally, when you hit rock bottom, look up and give me your last glance. I will wave at you, this time, the pride will be mine.

You will realize that even if you’re back on the ground, you did a great job! You’ve passed my test, and you’re brave enough to go down.

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Only then you will realize that success is not in reaching my peak. Success is when you are finally home.

Now, my question is… Are you ready to climb me again? 

 

With love, 

Mount Licos

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Personal thought: 

I hope you heard her. Our climb to Mt. Licos was a wonderful misadventure that we’d love to do again. This mountain went beyond our expectations. Should you find yourself at her peak, send my regards. Take care of her because she’s a great teacher. 🙂

How to get there: 

From Danao City, hail a motorcycle in front of the City Civic Center to Barangay Licos. The fare is Php 50/person. The ride will take 30 minutes. From the barangay hall, ask the locals the way to the peak.

Special thanks to Mr. Ericson Batulan for the tips and information.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Demi.

Our Summer Story in Bantayan Island | Part 1

If the southern part of Cebu features the most explored mountain ranges, waterfalls, and also known to be home of the extreme adventure – canyoneering, the northern Cebu prides its stunning white sand beaches, paradise-like islets, healthy marine life and beautiful diving spots.

An impulsive trip brought us to one of the paradise in the northern part of the province — Bantayan Island.

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Get to know Bantayan Island:

Tucked in the west part of the northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is an island group that consists of small islets mostly uninhabited.  Bantayan is the largest island of the group. The towns of Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan lie here, too.
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Welcome to paradise!

 How to get there:

  • From Cebu, you can take a bus or a van bound for Hagnaya Port from the North Bus Terminal. Depending on what bus you’re riding, the fare is around Php160-180.
  • Secure a ferry ticket from Hagnaya Port (Php180) and pay the terminal fee (Php10). NOTE: If you are bringing your pets with you, don’t forget to get a local transport permit for them. No permit, no transport.)
  • Once you arrive in the port of Sta Fe, you can ride a tricycle to your preferred hostel. Some hostels arrange transport and tour, you may inquire from your host.
  • You can rent a bicycle or a motorcycle to tour the island. There are also motorcycles that offer land tours.

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Our summer story in Bantayan Island:

Our trip to Bantayan Island was unplanned. One day before our departure, Bantayan island never crossed our minds. Ace and I, in fact, were thinking of spending the weekend doing the laundry. It was around 8 pm on Friday when Niña and I talked about going there together. Without any second thought, I agreed. My class finished at 10:30 pm. Niña said we were departing at 3 am which was only a few hours away. Since it was an unexpected outing, we didn’t have Elliot’s transport permit. We had no choice but to leave him in my sister’s care.

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We arrived at Hagnaya Port and had our breakfast while waiting for Niña’s sister who lives in San Remigio. They arrived a little late, it was already 9:30 when we took a ferry to the island. Upon arrival, we wasted no time and immediately took a tricycle to Sta Fe Guest House which was our home for 2 days. Our friendly host greeted us at the gate. I like how our hostel is located just a few minutes away from the marketplace and few steps away from the beach.

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Lunch at Big Jel’s Restomeat.
The same tricycle picked us up at 1 pm for a land tour. Our first stop was Big Jel’s Restomeat for lunch. Ace and I personally suggest you try eating here because aside from the big serving, their food is delicious and affordable.

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After filling up our tummies, we headed to Oboob Mangrove Garden, also known as the OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association)It aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves and the role it plays in the ecosystem. The mangroves serve as the home of different underwater species.

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Ace and Demi at Oboob Mangrove Garden.

This mangrove garden has an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php20 for kids. They also have this big sign showing where the entrance fee go. Now, that’s what you call transparency.

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When the tide is high, you can tour the area by kayaking. We, on the other hand, chose to walk into the bamboo boardwalk.

Few meters from the entrance, there is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and refreshments.

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Ace and Demi in Oboob Mangrove Garden.
The kids bought some fish food in a small store along the way. We rested in the bamboo hut while watching them feeding the fish.

We also climbed the makeshift bamboo tower to see the entire mangrove garden from above. Only 3 people are allowed to climb at once for safety purposes. Because many visitors lined up to climb the tower, you can’t stay there for more than 5 minutes.

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Ace and Demi
Soon after we explored the place, we headed to our next stop — the Paradise Beach. It was supposed a secluded beach area but due to the influx of tourist, the place became crowded.

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Niña is enjoying the sun, the sand and the waves. 

 

But that didn’t make the place less of a paradise. The long strip of powdery white sand was worth its name. The beach has the finest sand we have seen.

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Ace at the diving cliff. 
Our next stop was the Diving Cliff near a building ruin. Niña and I were eager to jump in the cliff. Yet, our spirits hid somewhere upon seeing how deep and high it was.

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The Ruin is completely ruined. 
We were supposed to drop by Ogtong Cave in Sta Fe Beach Club, but we agreed to skip it and went to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.

Everybody was tired, especially Ace, Niña and I because we didn’t have enough sleep. (It’s right to say, we didn’t have sleep at all.) We scheduled an island hopping the next day, so we decided to call it a day.

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Stay tuned for the story of our Virgin Island adventure!

‘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.

Discover Catmon | Chasing Waterfalls and Trekking Rivers

The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. ~~ Roald Dahl

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Tinubdan Falls, Catmon

Catmon, Cebu — home of Cebu’s second highest peak, Mt Kapayas. Despite being flocked by outdoor enthusiasts and the like, this town remained self-effacing and humble. And lately, with people’s never ending quest of discovering wonderful places to visit, Catmon, in all fairness has another reason to boast.

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Behind the tall mountains of the municipality hides a wonderful haven full of nature’s bliss. A mysterious river slithers through the valleys of the town and divided it into the Old Catmon and New Catmon.

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This place is not known to many people not even to most locals. Some of them knew the place but never dared to visit it because of the creepy stories that circulates around the town. Not even the kids in the area are fond to play in this river.

Rumors have it that there were mysterious disappearances in the area. Sometimes, locals nearby hear uproarious sounds coming from the river but there are no people around. Our guide forwarned us to leave the river before 5:00pm to avoid any untoward circumstances.

Hmm? That sounds really creepy!

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We trekked for about five minutes before we caught a glimpse of this beguiling watercourse. Just the sound of the water cascades was already inviting. As if nature’s telling us to leave the worries behind and commune with her. And that, my friends, we couldn’t resist. Before we knew it, our feet were already in the water and we’re ready to plunge into an unknowingly great adventure.

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There’s something with rivers that we like so much. We love the beach but we always long for the streams.

It gives us the thought that life is indeed like a river. It keeps flowing.

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Ace and his emotion.

There are times that life is calm and peaceful. Times when life is steady, just the way you like it to, like nothing wrong could come its way. The water maybe placid but it is vulnerable. This tranquility won’t stay that way.  

 

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Struggle pa more!

Sometimes, this life could be harsh that you struggle and fluctuate. The flow could be strong that it could drown you, that it could wash you away forcing you to leave your comfort zone. These times will come when you least expect it, it’d slap you on your face and you couldn’t do anything to stop it.  

 

 

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Kapit lang, bes!

Yes, you’ll have a lot of struggle, a lot of holding on, a lot of letting go, too. But one thing is for sure, all of these things will lead you to a better place. All of these struggles will lead you to something great. Really great that you also did not expect it. 

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Tinubdan Falls

Yay!!! I couldn’t believe I just wrote that. hahah

Let’s get back to reality, everybody. 😀 And after that musing, Tinubdan Falls finally! Look at that isn’t that worth our struggles? Waterfalls everywhere.

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Ace and Demi cheesy moments. 

Hubby and I were very astounded. Tinubdan Falls is not as tall as the waterfalls in the Southern part of Cebu, but it’s stunning just the way it is. It’s unique in its own way. Albeit its height, it would never disappoint you.

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We also learned that during the Second World War, this place was developed by the Americans in order to supply electricity for their camp at combat in Agsuwao, Catmon. However, there were no trace of that.

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River trekking in Catmon.

We saw more mini falls as we continued trekking downstream. We climbed more rock boulders along the way which tested our balancing skills. It was one great adventure indeed!

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Ace and Demi trekked Catmon river.

Before we conclude this post, I’d like to mention few wonderful friends we met during this jaunt. Nhagz of Nhagzventures, who invited us to join this trip, Padz Lai of The Little Lai: Beyond Limits, and Gly of Chasing Potatoes. We look forward to having more adventures with you. Until next time. 🙂

 

What is life but one great adventure!

P.S  We had a wonderful time in this place and would love to come back again. Let’s help keep this place the way it is. Practice responsible tourism. LEAVE NO TRACE

Until our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi