because life is a journey.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. ~ Terry Pratchett
I’ve travelled the world and now I’m back home. This time I want to go explore the 7000 islands in my own country. Perhaps you’d like to join me?
9 – 11 November 2012
helubong (n.) – a native T’boli word which translates to ‘never ending joy’
The T’boli is a highland tribe of South Cotabato, known for their colourful traditions. As a quick introduction to T’boli culture, I will be visiting Lake Sebu during its foundation celebrations. On the agenda are performances of indigenous songs and dance, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a traditional horse fight. The T’boli are also known for their colourful T’nalak fabric, patterns of which are inspired by the weaver’s dreams. But for me, the best part is getting away from the busy city life and immersing myself in the tranquility and seclusion Lake Sebu. Nothing but the mountains, lakes and waterfalls – and the occasional tourist, I suppose.
If I start itching for adventure, I might just take a ride down highest zipline in South East Asia (a dizzying 180m off the ground). Or go for a trek and discover the magnificent beauty of the seven waterfalls nearby. Me time? Paddling to the middle of Lake Sebu at daybreak, to watch mother nature wake up from her slumber.
23 – 25 November 2012
higante (n.) – Tagalog word for giant, or a legendary man-like creature of great size and strength.
The Higantes Festival in Angono is celebrated in honour of St. Clement (San Clemente), the patron saint of fishermen. Central to the celebrations is a parade of papier mache figures – usually two feet wide and ten feet high – made to look like anything from St Clement to a balut vendor.
Being a culture vulture (or perhaps just an aspiring one), Angono sounds like my kind of place for a weekend away. Home to a thriving art scene, wall murals by Philippine National Artist Carlos Botong Francisco line the walls near the local parish. Other local artistic giants include Nemiranda and Blanco – both of whom have museums dedicated to their work.
I may just make an entire road trip out of it, and explore nearby Laguna de Bay. The Viaje del Sol group has establishments in neighbouring towns that are hosted by local artists. I always look forward to experiencing Filipino hospitality first hand – that is, get plied with copious amounts excellent food that make it impossible to leave.
07 – 10 December 2012
I’m heading for the hills, and I’m taking three of my girlfriends with me.
The Ifugao rice terraces have captivated me since I was a child, a spark of light in the middle of lectures on Philippine History and Culture. I’ve seen the photographs, climbed the miniature version, and watched the documentaries. Now it’s time to get up close and personal with what Filipinos liked to call the 8th wonder of the world.
A UNESCOWorld Heritage site, the rice terraces are truly feats of engineering. Indigeous peoples carved the terraces into the mountainside 2000 years ago, complete with an extensive irrigation system for the rice paddies. Some of them are still being used to this day, though many have fallen into disrepair. Along the way we’ll visit some local Ifugao communities, whose way of life have remained largely unchanged through the years.
I’m excited to go on a rough trek and commune with nature once again – a chance to go back to basics and just be with friends, without the distractions of daily living.