Memories of Puerto Galera

As we grow older, we realize the importance not only of our friends and loved ones but also of collecting memories with them.  After all, nothing beats the feeling of reminiscing the good times.

Just two days after the new year, my highschool friends and I packed our bags and headed to Puerto Galera off the island of Mindoro for some unforgettable time of our lives. The trip was something we had anticipated for a long time not just because of the place’s rumored beauty, but also because with more than a decade of friendship, it was our first ever bonding experience in such a far away place. And mind you, it wasn’t easy to find the perfect date for our little adventure what with our busy schedules and one was even going back to the US in just a couple of days.

Getting There
Puerto Galera is a municipal in the province of Oriental Mindoro and is one of the beautiful tourist spots and developed beach resort communities in the Philippines’ biggest island, Luzon. It is 130 kilometers or 81 miles away from Manila and going there requires travelling by sea.

With its location and the fact that none of us has a car, five of us decided to meet at 3am in Shaw Blvd, then the other three outside the Kabayan Hotel in Pasay City so we could ride the bus to Batangas port early, then to the boat that would bring us to Oriental Mindoro. But the time didn’t go as planned as our friend, Jocelyn, arrived at around  3:45am.

Puerto Galera 01

Yuko on the left, Ernestine on right, and I in the middle, pose for the camera outside Shangri-La Mall at the intersection of Shaw Blvd and EDSA at around 3 in the morning while waiting for our friend, Jocelyn.

Everything was still cool though, as we’re not a bunch of hot-headed individuals. We just laughed the matter off ’cause something like that does happen all the time. And besides, we reached the bus terminal in Buendia, Pasay and rode a Jam Liner bus to Batangas still quite early at around 4:05am. The bus left at 5am where people like me who didn’t get the chance to sleep–as in I wasn’t able to close my eyes even just for a bit. It was still a weekday so I had to finish a task for work to avoid anything else to think about while on vacation–to take some nap.

Puerto Galera 02

Meet the gang while in the bus: (From top left) Yuko, Meynard, Rajiv, Me, (Bottom left) Lover Boy (Magie’s boyfriend), Magie, Ernestine, and Jocelyn. 😉

At 7am, it was time for some stretching at the Batangas port. As obvious tourists, a couple of agents came to us convincing us to choose their ferries over the others. In the end, we chose Father and Son Shipping Line (FSL), which we thought had the best price and would drop us at a Puerto Galera port nearer to our accommodation. The round trip fare each was 450 pesos, plus 50 pesos terminal fee, 30 pesos Environmental fee, and 10 pesos for the Terminal fee going back. The ferry was to leave at 7:30am, just a few minutes after we arrived. Not bad. Or so that’s what we think.

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Photo opportunity at the Batangas port.

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It was while waiting for our boarding time to the boat when Rajiv started receiving endless phone calls from co-workers which made us call him the “Call Center Agent”. 😛

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Meet the Father and Son Shipping Line boat.

Puerto Galera 05.2

Inside the ferry. Quite spacious and the white paint gives it the air of being clean.

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It was all a hoax if there wasn’t any evidence. SMILE multiple times! 😀

The one-hour ferry ride was quite smooth according to my adventurous and dare-devil standards.

Hello, Puerto Galera!
We arrived at the Muelle Pier in Puerto Galera at around 10 am, where FSL gave us a free service to our resort at Palangan Bay View Beach Resort, which is about 30 minutes away from the go-to places in the area. It was Yuko and me who chose the resort from the two options we found at the group-buying site TCAT. It was valued at only 599 pesos for a two-day-and-one-night stay each person so both of us were very much elated and proud when we saw the place and it was actually very beautiful. And since it wasn’t peak season, we had the whole place all to ourselves like it was a private resort.

Puerto Galera 07.1

WE’RE HERE!!! Another evidence. 😛

Puerto Galera 07.2

The resort guy, that one wearing a red orange shirt, checking the vouchers which Yuko handed him.

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Look! There’s that wild but friendly-looking boar which stayed with us at the resort. 😀

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CHECK OUT THE RESORT! NICE, ISN’T? OUR EVERY PENNY WAS WORTH IT. (Yes, all caps to emphasize that I’m very happy with our chosen resort!)

Because we only had two days in Puerto Galera, we made sure no time was wasted. So after some picture-taking, we started changing into our swimwears so we could immediately head to the white beach. The resort was far from it so the resort personnel offered its round trip transportation service that costs 600 pesos. There was no other way we could get to our destination so we agreed with the price.

Puerto Galera 09

Sexy red lips for all the girls! I’m in love with lipsticks! And since they’re my friends, I “inspired” them to wear red lippy by lending them my tube! haha 😀 LOVE IT!

Puerto Galera 10.1

This is the Palangan Bay View Beach Resort service.

Puerto Galera 10

We looked like refugees with red lips for the whole 30-minute ride to the white beach. No, actually, make that an hour since it took another 30 minutes on the way back. 😛 It was a fun-filled ride, nevertheless.

We were starving when we got to the place so the first thing we did was look for the perfect place to eat at. Which led us to the White Beach Resort Bar and Restaurant. I can’t remember the food we ordered there, except for the sweet shrimp dish that I totally disliked (I love shrimps but I don’t have sweet tooth), so I guess nothing’s remarkable in that restaurant. Yikes. hehe

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Having fun includes eating, too! 😉

Puerto Galera 12.1

My friends decided on what to eat, while I had a world of my own at one side, resting my head on my arms every once in a while, since I was still feeling sleepy. If Rajiv was the “Call Center Agent”, I was called the “Zombie” of this trip.

Puerto Galera 12.2

Pretty girls in shades! B)

After the lunch meal, we finally headed to the beach that was just in front the restaurant. The weather was a bit rainy since the week before we went to Puerto Galera so it was cold, but of course, it didn’t stop us from having fun!

Puerto Galera 13.1

A beach without the Sun is still a beach. :3

Puerto Galera 13.2

We felt so cold because of the rain. We were, in fact, shivering even before we soaked ourselves in the water, but we didn’t let the camera capture the discomfort. hehe

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Ain’t no rain is heavy enough to stop us from having fun and enjoying the white beach! By the way, Puerto Galera’s sand isn’t as white as that from Boracay, but it’s still white, nevertheless. And it’s the closest we could get in Luzon. 😉

Puerto Galera 15

Funny thing about our little group is that no one knows how to swim, except for Mr Lover Boy, so we were like that on the photo the whole time, just laughing and talking and reminiscing about the good old times. Then we would panic whenever the waves would seem to bring us somewhere deeper.

Remember that part when I had my girl friends wear red lipstick? Well, Yuko and I still had it on our lips when we went into the water, and at first, we were so proud that it didn’t get erased while we ate until… until the worst happened. The tube I lent everyone–that which I also used on my lips–is a red matte lipstick with a good staying power despite it affordable price. So what happened was maybe because of the saltiness of the water, the lipstick smeared, but it made sure to stay on the outer part of our lips no matter how hard we tried to rub it off. It was an embarrassment and was the cause of our endless laughter! Especially on my part since I have sensitive skin, all those brushing with my hands left the lower part of my face red even after I have finally removed the lipstick stain. Lesson learned: Never wear lipstick when going to the beach. hehehe.

Anyway, a little later after we decided to rest, a group of guys came to us, offering their adventure package for eight people for only 1,500 pesos. Covering the activities snorkeling and island hopping, we thought it would be great so we agreed and Magie decided to pay for the whole package.

Puerto Galera 16

On the way to the snorkeling area. Little boats like that on the right photo followed us for some unknown reason.

Because of the weather, the boat ride to the snorkeling area wasn’t peaceful. But then again, the adventure-seeker in me enjoyed the experience and in fact, I wish there was more. hehe

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Caught on cam: Yuko’s priceless reaction from the boat disturbance caused by the sea waves.

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The love birds’ couple shot. 😀

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Pieces of evidence: (L) Just had our life vests on; (R) Goggles on this time. HAHA Every move was documented. :))

Then while we were finally having fun at the snorkeling area, the boat men kept on suggesting that we ride the smaller boats that went there with us so they could take us to those places with more corals and fish. The price per small boat, which can accommodate only two passengers, is 200 pesos. The love birds readily grabbed it, leaving us people with no enough resources. hehe

We also rented an underwater camera to capture our moments while in the water. But since no one knows how to swim and we had life vests on, none of us dared getting photographed underwater. Pffftt. haha. We still had nice shots above water, though.

Puerto Galera 20

Some of our shots above water.

“Na-Sea Urchin Ka na Baaaaa?”
(“Have You Been Stung By A Sea Urchin?”)
It was extremely fun, being able to laugh and bond with close friends that already treat each other like siblings. In fact, it was really fun ever after the slight horror that happened.

The boat men finally persuaded us on taking the smaller boats since they promised to take us to a beautiful island where there’s this little underground cave that once became part of ABS-CBN’s TV Series Marina. But while I was on my way to the boat, Jocelyn grabbed my right shoulder telling me with a panicky voice, “Kapatid, sandali lang! (Sister, wait!)” and she held her right foot close to my face.

I was in shock when I saw not just one but many sea urchin spines on the sole of her biggest foot finger. And it was really close to my face that I couldn’t help but laugh and be worried at the same time for her. I didn’t know what to do, it could be fatal and there were too many spines!

Good thing one of the boatmen volunteered on removing those needle-like stuff on my friend’s foot all while I was holding her ankle. Whew. And apparently, sea urchin’s spines are really soft that’s why they break easily leaving those parts that pierced Jocelyn’s foot still planted under her skin. Relax, though, relax. Medical help wasn’t needed. According to the boatman, the spines eventually dissolve with the help of nothing else but… Urine. Ewww, but yes, or so they said.

I find it really disgusting to take a pee on the sea so I never do it no matter how hard people tell me it’s perfectly okay. So even if I really, really needed to and my kidneys are about to explode, and take note, I had to do it for a friend, they couldn’t force me to take a leak even behind a rock on the island. But thank goodness Yuko needed to take a pee, too, so the issue was solved immediately. Another Whew! for that.

Puerto Galera 22

Jocelyn pouring Yuko’s urine on her stung foot. Unhygienic, but according to the boatmen and what we all heard before, it’s what really treat it. She also treated it with calamansi when we got back to the resort.

The Adventure Continues
Anyway, so we were taken to an island with a small underground cave. It is literally small, as in we could go in and out in just a few minutes if not for the picture-taking we did–with one of boatmen as the director of photography–inside.

We got inside by entering a small hole in a wall of rock. Then after this little obstacle, we were then welcomed in the marvel that is the cave. It’s rocky and the clear water keeps waving inside creating that peaceful seashore sound or whatever that is called. A boatman borrowed our rented camera and we were surprised when he called us from above for a photo and there’s this hole where he was peeping. It’s really beautiful!

Puerto Galera 23

There’s the entrance.

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Inside the underground cave. It’s so beautiful!!! :3

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Crystal-clear water…

The view outside the cave is also fine that’s why we took advantage and had our photos taken there as well.

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Group photo. :3

Puerto Galera 27

Photo opportunity with the big rock and beautiful view.

Then it was time for the island hopping! … Which didn’t turn out good. It was on the next island when Magie and Yuko realized why we had to pay 200 pesos each for the smaller boats when those who came to us earlier said the 1,500 payment already comprised every activity we would be doing. And Meynard also said that we didn’t need those smaller boats, anyway, so why? No one raged since we’re all not that type but we decided not to continue with the island hopping anymore and to just go back to the resort instead.

We still had great photos there, anyway.

Puerto Galera 28

On the way to another island. SMILE! 🙂

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The sun was setting. Great view that the camera couldn’t miss!

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Meynard couldn’t resist the elegance of the place, too, so he asked me to take a solo shot of him.

Puerto Galera 31

While we were waiting for the service which would bring us back to the resort.

Back to the resort, we took baths immediately as we were already starving. The resort’s food servings are good for two so we divided ourselves into four and ordered two viands each pair. In all fairness, the food are all scrumptious and Rajiv and Jocelyn’s Sinigang na Hipon were unbelievable because it seemed bottomless and it is true to its name, it had a lot of shrimps unlike those in Metro Manila where there are more vegetables than the shrimps!

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While waiting for our dinner…

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Funny moment: (Top) We had Meynard lie on our laps for some photos and it was all cool; (Bottom) Then for Rajiv’s turn… Look at my facial expression on the picture! hahaha Rajiv is really heavy that we decided the attempt won’t work. hahaha V^_^

Puerto Galera 34

Dinner time! But first, the evidence! 😀

After dinner time came what else but Filipino’s favorite past time: Videoke! But the night was still young when a resort personnel told us it was time’s up at 10:30pm since a government official is a neighbor. Pffft.

Puerto Galera 35

Singing our hearts out!

The Second and Last Day
Our vouchers were good for a two-days-and-one-night stay, so the next day, we had to get ready to go back to Metro Manila. For breakfast–which were complimentary–we had fried rice, egg, hotdog, and coffee. Not bad for the start of the day.

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Never miss breakfast. 🙂

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One last photo in the resort.

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Group photos on the other parts of resort. It’s really a nice place! 😀

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How about for some solo shots? :3

Then it was time to go…

Puerto Galera 40

Refugee-ish again as we headed to the pier.

We were supposed to buy souvenirs when we get to the Muelle Pier, but the ferry would be leaving in a few minutes. The FSL crew promised that we could go shopping at Sabang pier, though, and we were relieved. Until we reached the said pier and we had to run and buy fast for we were only given about 15 minutes to buy stuff. I felt like we were contestants of Amazing Race. :\

Anyway, at least we were able to buy some Puerto Galera souvenirs, and mind you, I loved the adrenalin rush.

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Oh, hello again, Father and Son Shipping Line ferry!

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Time’s up for the 15-minute extra challenge! :))

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Tired but still picture-ready. 🙂

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Back to the Batangas port!

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Next stop: Shopping for some edible souvenirs!

Bulalo Break!
Our little adventure didn’t end at the Batangas port. For lunch, we ate at Jorjhane’s House of Special Bulalo, which is kind of famous in Batangas City and we understood why. Its Bulalo, a Filipino beef stew made mainly of beef bone marrows, was really delicious starting from the soup which can be refilled whenever we wanted to! YUM!

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At Jorjhane’s House of Special Bulalo! Lunch time!

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Jorjhane’s Bulalo is indeed special!

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It cannot be denied that we loved the bulalo. hehehe

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The round trip tricycle ride from the Batangas port to the Bulalo restaurant costs 300 pesos per vehicle.

Then it was time to really, really face the metropolis again in a few hours.

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At the Batangas bus terminal.

 

This Puerto Galera trip with my high school friends, though really short, definitely deserves a special place in my heart and memory. It was a time when I had the ultimate fun with my dearest friends, in fact, I didn’t care even if I burned my wallet with this getaway. Every money I spent was worth it.

I’m looking forward for more out-of-town trip with them! 😉

 

 

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Photo Credits:

Jan Meynard Nualla

Yuko Konishi-Legaspi

Photo collage by me:P

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Toward Mt Daguldol’s Summit

I am never the sporty type. I don’t get to stretch and use my body the way others do.

I tried playing volleyball back in gradeschool only to prove myself I was a total shame in that field so I stopped right then and there and never tried another sport, except for those needed in my Physical Education subjects. Up to this day, the only physical activity I am into is walking, and walking I do as part of going to places and back home, and whenever I have to think hard.

But when Des, a friend and former co-writer, chatted me on Gtalk inviting me and two of our other friends, Mao and Champy, to join her and her friends in their upcoming minor climb at a mountain called Mt Daguldol, I got really interested and accepted the invitation. It might be a crazy idea for someone like me who isn’t exactly in shape, but I was up for an adventure and something new, so I thought, why not try it for experience.

First-time hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

First-timers all set for the hike (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

The Mountain, the Neophytes, and the Adventure

Established by the UP Mountaineers as a hiking spot in the 90s, Mt Daguldol is a small mountain range located in San Juan, Batangas.

The adventure started not from mountain itself but from the 30-minute trek at the Laiya Beach, a nice beginning if you love the seashore and the sunrise, if you’re there very early in the morning. So we walked on the sand, which either entered our shoes or sunk them, saw other people taking photos and having fun at the beach, then passed by the rocks, then more sand, until there it was, the mountain to climb.

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! :)

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! 🙂

A walk at Laiya Beach

A long walk at the Laiya Beach

Walk at Laiya Beach 2

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

:)

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

Walk, walk, walk

Fellow hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

Mt Daguldol has a difficulty level of 3/9, but although they say that numbers are precise, the hike wasn’t as easy as was claimed. And I am not saying it just because I’m new to the activity. Des and her friends aren’t part of any mountaineering groups but they’ve been climbing mountains as a hobby since 2006, and they sure had a hard time with this, too.

We were a group of around 20 and were divided into subgroups, and ours was at the tail. We only had an hour of sleep before the big day that’s why the climb was extra tiring. So we took the time and stopped for some rest every time we felt like it, and which made the usual five-hour challenge to the summit longer. But just like what Tito Fred, the eldest in the group, said, we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves too much by rushing to the top, we should just take it easy to save more energy. And so that’s what we did.

Des taking some rest.

Des taking some rest.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. :)

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. 🙂

I was actually quite cool about it at first, Champy was even joking me that I walked like I was on a runway and was wearing high heels. But come our first real rest at the first waiting shed, after we all stood up and started hiking again, the sides of my vision went dark and I had to ask our little company to stop again because I was feeling nauseous. Champy gave me a candy, but instead of making me feel okay, I found my breakfast on the ground after a few moments, and I didn’t allow anything else, except for some gelatin and softdrinks, in my tummy the whole day. I was afraid to puke again and it was one of the things I hate, so it was better to be safe. The humiliating  scene made me much better, though, and my effortless stride on the runway continued.

Trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

Our trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

I think everyone in our group would agree that aside from the peak, it were the resting areas that we were all waiting for. They were the oases in a desert of trees, grasses, rocks, and soils. Among them is Mang Lizardo’s where Halo-halo and Mountain Dew are sold. Since I was already exhausted and I was taking care of my tummy, I didn’t order a Halo-halo, but it would have been refreshing if I got to taste it.

At Mang Lizardo's. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

At Mang Lizardo’s. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. :P

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. 😛

What I learned about this day event is that hiking is really a test of endurance. There were a lot of times when I thought of throwing in the white flag along with my treasured pride, because I couldn’t do it anymore, and just go down and wait for them to come back. But it was proving myself I’m not a wimp that kept me going. ‘Cause I’m not. I am not the type to give up easily, so I persevered, though the back of my mind was pleading me to do otherwise. That’s the spirit.

Hey!

Hey!

Perseverance

Perseverance

is

is

the

the

Key :)

Key 🙂

Then at last, we reached the summit. The vast area is covered with green grasses, is windy, and perfect for picnics and even overnight stays if one would wish to. Being there was the time when we all felt all our efforts paid off. Too bad we left our lunches in one of the resting areas, that’s why we had to cut our blissful relaxation and proceed in going back.

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised--an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised–an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Des' jumpshot at the summit....

Des’ jumpshot at the summit….

... Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

… Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! :)

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! 🙂

From our experiences in stairs, we learned that it’s easier going down than up. But with Mt Daguldol’s case, it was the other way around. With every step I made on our way down, all my weight would go to the foot that made the move, and with repetition, it became quite unbearable, and so we had to stop more often. Tito Fred said it was because I was wearing sneakers, not rubbing shoes. He said that the latter have cushion at the sole, thus, it isn’t so painful when the shoes hit the ground. So a friendly reminder to you, dear reader, if you’re going hiking for the first time: Rubber shoes, not sneakers. Again, rubber shoes, not sneakers.

For me, the best part in all of this, aside from reaching Mt Daguldol’s peak, was the next day when I woke up anticipating the tell-tale aches all over my body, especially in the legs, but I didn’t feel any. I even asked my sister’s boyfriend if it was possible to feel the pain the day after next, but my brother just interjected and teased me that maybe I was born for the mountains, and they both laughed and sang Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.

It was when I realized that all the walking I love doing actually made me fit for such physical activity. Good thing I was unconsciously trained for this. hehe

I swear, we're not fond of photos.

I swear, we’re not fond of photos.

We just love to smile, that's all. hehe

We just love to smile, that’s all. hehe

Yes, even if we're very much tired. :P

Yes, even if we’re very much tired. 😛

My first hike was tiring and frustrating in the process, but looking back… Hey! I’m very proud to announce that I survived my first hike at Mt Daguldol!

Will I do it again? Well, I guess so. My door’s open for invitations. 🙂

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REFERENCE:
Pinoy Mountaineer

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All photos by Champy Cachola–who didn’t get tired of taking all our hiking pictures–unless otherwise stated.