Posted in 5k, 5km, adventure, guerilla race, Obstacle Course Racing, obstacle run, running, running event, ToughXRough

A Splashing Return! (Guerilla Race Splash)

The last time I joined an obstacle run or Obstacle Course Racing was 2 1/2 years ago and that was Men’s Health Urbanathlon. But, I am no stranger to the Guerilla Race series, and in fact, I am one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race. The last Guerilla Race I joined was the 10k category of the Panther edition in Filinvest City back in October 2014. After that, I wasn’t able to join the other Guerilla events because they were held far from my hometown and I have very limited resources when it comes to joining running events. Now that Guerilla Race has returned to the south with the new water edition, my anticipation is not just at an all time high, I feel ecstatic.

For this event, I was able to get an extra race kit and gave it to my officemate, Jaypee (a Guerilla Race first timer). We arrived at the venue before 4 am and took a warm-up, reconnaissance stroll around the area. For some reason, the race started late at 0530 (suppose to start at 0500).

Excitedly waiting. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)


Definitely ecstatic. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Talking about strategies that won’t go as planned, anyway. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Rock (Jaypee) and Roll (Me). Photo by Tris (Active Pinas).

I was surprised when the first part of the race route is inside Splash Island and even more surprising for me is the first obstacle…


Obstacle 1: the Kayak.

Me and Jaypee watching and staring at the first obstacle. Photo by Jhunejaved Mindana
Shock and Stunned! What are we looking at? Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)

To be honest, I was a bit shocked and nervous about this obstacle because I don’t know how to operate a kayak. I kept thinking that I can’t stabilize it and will likely be moving sideways or unlikely to make the U-turn back to shore. Thankfully, I was able to relax, focus, and move it straight. I did bump unto other participants and vice versa, one time four of us bump each other but was able to get free easily. The next obstacle is much easier though…

Obstacle 2: Balsa River.

Damn, it’s cold! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Refreshing! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
That time when water is more fun than beer. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
The water is cool, but if there’s a warm spot, you know why it’s warm. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Now there’s a warm spot =) Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Into the deep (ok, it’s not really deep). Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
Whatta watah! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas).
Jaypee crossing the Balsa River. Apologies for the photo, I used my old and rugged Sony Ericsson XPERIA Active (the only smartphone tough enough for this kind of race) and photos were taken with an old 5-megapixel camera.

This one is easier and relaxing. You just go into the looping Balsa River and you can swim, float, walk, or run. We decided to take our time and just walk this one to conserve stamina. The third obstacle does slow things down a little…

Obstacle 3: Barbed Wire Crawl

I wasn’t able to take a photo of this obstacle nor find a photo of us doing the obstacle, so I just grabbed an interesting photo from the Active Pinas facebook page.

One of the regular obstacles of Guerilla Race and it will definitely get you dirty and smelly. If you don’t go low enough and crawl, your clothes will get caught (see photo above) or the barbed wires will poke you like it did to me so I got down low and dirty the non-perverted way.

After the crawl, it’s a few hundred meters of trail running to the next and slippery-when-wet obstacle. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

4th obstacle, Handrail walk?

Difficult when wet (because it’s slippery). Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

I don’t know the official name of this obstacle, but this is one of the most difficult as it requires some degree of upper body strength and good grip because the rails are slippery. To add difficulty, you can only do this one time. As we approach this obstacle, we already saw some of the participants doing burpees as penalty for not passing the obstacle. When we started moving, it seemed very do-able, I was already halfway through when my right hand slipped and my foot touched the ground (as seen in the photo). Jaypee also slipped and we had to do 30 burpees as penalty. Doing burpees depletes your stamina more than the obstacle, so it is better to put effort in completing the obstacles than do burpees.

Jaypee giving the one finger salute for his dislike of this obstacle and wanted to have another try (same sentiment here) because it is do-able.

Obstacle 5: Window in the Wall?

This is very easy even in low stamina. Photo by My Run Time.
The only way this is hard is if you don’t fit through the window. Photo by My Run Time.
Thanks for this awesome action shot. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

I think this is called the military wall, but I’m not sure. Designed to just break your momentum, this obstacle is one of the easiest even if you lost some stamina after doing burpees. This will only be difficult if you don’t fit in the window properly, but I’ve never seen anyone having a hard time with this obstacle.

Taking it easy, taking our time. Photo by Active Pinas.
Walk like a boss! Photo by Active Pinas.

Obstacle 6: Bamboo Crossing?

Pain for the thighs.

Dunno what to call this obstacle. The only challenge here is if you feel pain on your thighs or that tight feeling of your hamstrings. It can also be painful on the knees when you’re already overfatigued.

Obstacle 7: Mud Crawl

Jaypee crawling first so I can take a photo of the obstacle.
Jaypee crawling out with a smile. Me? not loving the foul smell of the mud. Photo by Active Pinas.
Doesn’t smell like teen spirit. Smells like raw sewage to me. Photo by Active Pinas.
But, the water is cool… Still, the smell though… Photo by Active Pinas.
Don’t let it get in your eyes and mouth. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
Out of the sewer! Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
Everyone is smiling. Well, I did smile too after I got back to my feet. Photo by Active Pinas.

This is easier than the barbed wire crawl because of the watery mud and the cool water is refreshing and kinda soothing. But, it has a foul smell though, so you need to breathe wisely and close your mouth to avoid fresh dirty water getting in your mouth.

Slow jog to the next obstacle. Photo by Active Pinas.

Obstacle 8: The Wall.

I think it’s 6 feet high or more.
What I did is jump and hang on. Then Pull yourself up. Photo by Active Pinas.
You will struggle if you’re tired. Photo by Active Pinas.
But, it’s easier than it looks. Just ask Jaypee. Photo by Active Pinas.
You have to watch the ground before jumping though, to make sure you land properly and don’t slip or hurt yourself. Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.

The wall isn’t exactly as hard as the 1st and 2nd time I encountered it. In fact, I got it with only 1 try. I just jumped, hanged on to the top of the wall, and slowly push myself up. Jaypee who was very worried about this obstacle earlier got it in 1 try as well.

Obstacle 9: Inclined Wall.

The Marshal asked the girl to go for the middle part of the wall instead because this side (right) is slippery. She told Jaypee to take this side instead because she thinks he can handle it. I also lined up on this side.
It can be hard, but there’s a technique to easily climb up this obstacle. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
Proper footing and the grip or your shoes (or feet if you run barefoot) is a key factor in completing this easily. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

This obstacle is easy if you know how to position yourself and pull yourself up. Plant yourself properly, firm grip on the rope and then move your legs and pull yourself up gently and relaxed. You can also run up just gather momentum and with the right speed and it will be over faster.

Obstacles 10, 11, and 12: Sandbag Carry, Walk on Fours, and Tire Field

Show offs can grab 2 sandbags and help themselves with quicker stamina depletion.
Yeah on the catwalk. On the catwalk, yeah. I shake my little tush on the catwalk.

Before we engaged these obstacles, we took our time at the aid station to drink and wash off some of the mud on our face. Three obstacles in one go. First you grab a sandbag (grab 2 if you’re strong enough and want to show off the power of them guns) and then walk or run 100 meters (estimate) then U-turn back and drop the sandbag. After that, you run or walk another hundred meters to a point where you have to start walking on fours like an animal (I call it the catwalk). This is a bit hard on the thighs and can be tiring, so it’s better to move at an easy and steady pace. Thankfully, the distance is shorter and once you got up, you walk or run towards the field of tires. It’s better to look at your feet as you make your way through the tire field because there’s a chance that your foot will get caught by a tire and pull you down.

Obstacle 13: Tire Pull and Lift

I’m not feeling smug, I’m pulling. Photo by Active Pinas.
Doing it smoothly, feeling like a criminal. Photo by Active Pinas.
Wax On , Wax Off is how you do this. Photo by Active Pinas.
The lasso of lies. Photo by Active Pinas.
Tire? Tyre? Tired? Photo by Active Pinas.
Like a tire, I run on-road and off-road. Photo by Active Pinas

This obstacle can be done smoothly without affecting much of your stamina. First part of the obstacle is to pull the tire. Just relax and apply just the right amount of pulling power that it won’t affect your breathing. For example, pull with the left hand then breath in, now the right hand then breathe out. It’s that easy and keep your back straight. The second part requires you to lift the tire and put it back at the starting point for the next participant’s turn.

Obstacle 14: Money Bar

Monkey Bars are regular playground equipment and when I was a kid, it’s easy to do. It’s a different story when you grow up and add some weight. Photo by My Run Time.

This is the second obstacle that I failed to complete. I made I mistake of having my hands gripping one bar apart and it put me in the position of facing sideways to the left. I was stuck and hanging for almost 10 seconds, trying to re-position myself, but I couldn’t and fearing that I might lose my grip. So, I decided to push through and tried doing the monkey bars sideways, grabbing 1 bar apart , and it seemed to be working as I made it halfway. Then I lost my momentum (couldn’t swing anymore and my hand couldn’t reach and grab the next bar) and I fell to the ground. Unfortunately, you can only do the obstacle once, so I just accepted the penalty. Jaypee got it right and avoided the stamina-depleting burpees.

Obstacle 15: Over and Under the bars?

The added difficulty of obstacles that involves bars is that they’re slippery.

By the time we reached this obstacle, I still haven’t recovered some of the loss stamina from the burpees I had to do as penalty from failing the monkey bars. I allowed Jaypee to go first so I can observe how it’s done. You have to go over the first bar (you can jump if you want), then under on the 2nd (you can roll if you want), over again on the 3rd, and under again on the last one. When Jaypee did this his grip slipped and a 180 degree while still holding on to the bar, so he did not fall on his back. Same thing happened to me and it feels like a technique, just be sure to keep hanging on the bar and let your feet touch the ground to recover quickly.

Obstacle 16, Rope Crossing

As I pose for this shot, I just realized that those ahead of me are already off the rope. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
My kind of hang out. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

We refueled with cool water at the 2nd aid station (they ran out of cups, so Jaypee and I had to share with one that we cleaned before using) before initiating this obstacle. Balance with a chance of wobbling is best to describe this one. You step on a rope line with your hands grabbing another rope above you and then move to cross all the way to the end point. It’s easy until you end up in the middle with those ahead of you already got off the rope. As seen in the photos, I paused to pose for the photographer. I took my time for the photo that I caused a bit of a traffic and I’m the front guy now. Moving from the middle without any weight applied ahead of me made the rope wobble and it kinda threw me off balance a bit that I actually switched side (now facing right and the photographer on my six) just to regain footing. Once I got my balance back, it was easier to move again and finish this obstacle.

Obstacle 17: Cargo Net

How’s it hanging? Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.
Hang in there, baby. Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.

This is the one obstacle that really got me a bit of a scare and thought about doing burpees instead. This version of the cargo net is harder than the pyramid version. Once you make it to the top to cross over to the other side, that’s when the difficulty level goes up a notch. Once you look down, you have a good view of how high you are and then you realize how hard it is to put your foot to the other side. The net is wobbling when there are no participants on the other side to balance it and it makes you feel like you’re going to flip over and fall to the other side if you’re not careful. That is how I felt at the time since those on the other side already got down and there’s 3 (or maybe 4) of us left on the other side. In my mind I think I’m gonna flip over and fall and almost gave up. Until Jaypee and some other participant hold a part of the net to keep it stable and I was able to cross over. It was only until I saw the photos on facebook that there is a technique to crossover properly. Next time, I’ll be ready.

Obstacle 18: Hurdles

It’s very likely that you have seen her in running events. Photo by Active Pinas.

Fortunately, the last obstacle, the hurdles isn’t as hard as hurdling (running and jumping). You can just walk and jump over and over again. Take your time if you want, the finish line is just meters away.


The surprise of the event was the actual number of obstacles. There are 18 obstacles instead of the original (and advertised) 12. For me, 6 more obstacles is a bonus, it’s like getting more of your money’s worth. Jaypee and I finished with a minute left before the cut-off time of 1.5 hours. I know it’s slow compared to my first Guerilla Race finish time of 40 minutes and 42 seconds in Nuvali. But, the reason for this is because I wanted to pace with Jaypee to see if he enjoys this event and I really want to take my time and have fun. Also, my first Guerilla Race only had 12 obstacles and I can say that the obstacles in this event is more challenging (and fun) than what I encountered before. I probably would’ve rushed this event and finished the race faster if I ran alone. But, I probably would’ve not enjoyed it as much because in the end, the finish time didn’t matter to me, I was focused on having fun and running with a buddy, and that is both mission accomplished.

49 minutes slower than my first Guerilla Race, but I don’t care because I had fun running with a buddy. Jaypee finished at 01:29:27 at rank number 100. We made it at the cut-off time. Official results can be seen at

Guerilla Race Splash (as always) is an amazing, awesome, challenging, and fun event. It’s the best way to test your overall fitness level. Obstacle course racing is intimidating to some runners and fitness buffs, but Guerilla Race is the epitome of a balanced challenge. The obstacles can be hard, but they’re not impossible, and finally finishing the race feels like a big accomplishment mentally and physically.

A big thanks to the Guerilla Race Team and mam Nikka Ramos for this fresh and unique edition of the Guerilla Race. We, the fans of this wonderful race series, are so thankful that all of you keep innovating to deliver an experience like no other. You are all continuing the legacy of its founder, the late Lt. Col. Dennis Bumanglag and doing it with excellence.

Guerilla Race Splash is a strong contender for my pick of the best running event of 2017. Jaypee, a first-timer in the Guerilla Race love the experience so much that he’s looking forward to the next events. It got a lot of things right like a reasonable registration fee (which includes a day pass to Splash Island worth 499 php and discount coupons), a good venue (the right choice for the summer season), and a memorable experience (challenging, but fun obstacles). I want to see it grow with more participants and interesting locales in the future. The next Guerilla Race will be at Camp John Hay in November. Stay tuned for the complete details and updates regarding this event once the press release is officially announced.

Finishers! Photo by Jaypee.
The freebies and loot bag include 4 pcs of Mega Fiber, 4 pcs of Goutritis Herbal Supplement, 4 pcs of Brai Master Herbal Supplement, Black Mamba energy drinks, and 100 plus.








After the event, Jaypee and I decided to take advantage of the Splash Island day pass to maximize the day (especially since it was the long weekend for us BPO employees thanks to Memorial Day). It was also my first time in Splash Island (yes, I live in the South and I’ve been to Splash Island until this running event), so I have to see and experience the best things the place has to offer. Unfortunately, Splash Island was very crowded at the time with 2 company outings (NIDEC and Villarica Pawnshop) taking place along with the usual weekend visitors. But, I still got to experience the major attractions of the water park thanks to Jaypee’s encouragement (because if I was rogue running (solo) this event, I probably would’ve stayed in the pools) and 40 to 60 minutes of waiting in line for each slide. Tausug Trails is the first slide we took and after that, we lined up for Big Bamboo. Unfortunately, I don’t have an action cam with me to record the experience and I don’t want to hold my smartphone during slides. I was able to take some photos of the slides before I took my turn. Check out some of the photos I took before taking the splash.

Splash Island Map.
The attractions.
The River Calm!
The crowded Balsa River.
The not-so River Wild.
Using a water-proof pouch for my S7 Edge to take Splashing photos.
Jaypee getting splashed.
The twisting slides of King Pilipit.
Rio Montosa, more twists and turns than M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.
Before our turn in Rio Montosa. Normally this ride requires 4 people, but 3 will do. One person joined me and Jaypee. I screamed a lot during this ride because it feels like we’re about to tip over.
Seeing that dark and twisty tube of King Pilipit made my heart beat faster than running a 5-minute per kilometer pace.
Like Mario going down the pipes. My turn. No turning back. In the end, I loved it. Definitely my favorite slide.
Magellan’s Drop is our last slide. This is the tall and long slide you see along SLEX (coming from the South). Photo taken while lining up for our turn.
Last slide of the day. Took a photo before my turn. This is definitely the scariest for me since I can see where I’m going. But, I enjoyed it. We couldn’t repeat the slides because of the long queue, so left before 3 pm.



Posted in 5k, 5km, adventure, fun run, guerilla race, Obstacle Course Racing, obstacle run, run for a cause, running, running event

Running Soon: Guerilla Race Splash – The Water Edition


Press Release


Summer is all about having fun and creating extraordinary memories. This year, Guerilla Race, the first, premier and only obstacle race in the Philippines, will turn your summer moments into something offbeat as it takes an exciting yet audacious route, daring to infuse water adventure into the race.

Aptly titled as “Guerilla Race Splash –The Water Edition”, the race is a fusion of land and water obstacles.  Aldenver Marketing, Inc., the organizer of Guerilla Race, in partnership with Splash Island will hold a never before seen event, enticing both pro and neophyte runners and fitness buffs in the country.

This unconventional race will happen on May 28, 2017 in Binan, Laguna. It will not only provide extraordinary challenges but also exceptional enjoyment, as racers are expected to plunge into the water and get drenched in several water activities to test one’s versatility, strength and stamina. Fun is an understatement.

The Sprint Category will have the 5km run and 12 obstacles. It will be a combination of water and land obstacles. You can enter as an individual or as a team which has a minimum of four members to ten members. The cut off time is 1.5 hours.

The racekit costs Php 1,250 which includes a singlet, finisher shirt, finisher medal and giveaways from sponsors.

Like any of the Guerilla Race series, part of the proceeds of this upcoming race will go to Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO), an organization that supports education of the soldiers’ orphans. Therefore, your summer will be filled with precious memory because you have helped less privileged people through this race.

The race will not be possible without our generous sponsors : Dermplus, Regroe, Lifesaber, Atmost Fit Elite, 100 Plus, Black Mamba, Mega Fiber, Cranuti, Blackwater, Deuter, Grand Encore International, Iolytes, Curves, Anytime Fitness Fairview, Sta Rosa, Iron den Crossfit, Crossfit Mad Minute, Fitness Unlimited and support from our Media partners – Manila Bulletin, Business Mirror, Malaya Business Insight, ANC News Channel, Philippine Graphic, Pilipino Mirror, Health and Fitness Magazine, Travel Life, Food Health and Scined Magazine, Vanity Life, Pinoy,, V81 Radio and ABS CBN Sports and Action.

For inquiries, you may contact Veronica Ramos at 0927-8484533 , Also our facebook page: Guerilla Race



Haven’t joined a Guerilla Race before? why? I can tell you as one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race in Nuvali, it’s a challenging, but fun race. It tests you physically and mentally. And to preview the awesomeness of the Guerilla Race events, read my race report of GUERILLA RACE PANTHER in Filinvest City. So, if you have the guts to get off the couch and take on the challenge, see you on May 28.

Posted in 10 kilometers, 10k, 15 kilometers, 21k, 5k, 5km, 711, 7eleven, adventure, backpacking, best moments, City Run, Duo Race, Expo and Events, fun run, half-marathon, Marathon, Milo Marathon, Photo Shoot, Photography, run for a cause, running, running event, running locales, Running Photography, travel, ultramarathon, Valley Trail Challenge

2016 Bests!

It has been more than 3 years since I started joining the running scene. Some events never change, some got better, and some end their series run (pun intended). The most important thing for me last year is that I evolved and ran to the next level, by joining my first marathon and ultramarathon. Aside from running, I started blogging about the other things that I love to do like photography, video games, and traveling. I started this blog in late 2014 as a journal of my fitness journey, the chronicles of my running adventure. 2016 thought me that blogging can be a tool for even more experiences and can even be a source of awesome benefits. I received invitations from organizers to attend their events or press conference to write an article or cover the event and in return, I got backstage pass, some nice tokens, and even won prizes from raffles. So, I revamped the design of my page, new look for 2017, and will try to run, travel, and do more interesting stuff and activities worthy of blogging. For now, here’s the best of 2016.

======   BEST MOMENT   ======

Finishing my first Marathon (Condura Skyway Marathon 2016)

Condura Skyway Marathon 2016
You will never forget your first marathon. Photo Credit: Pinoy Fitness.

Though the event itself was just average, it’s the moment of crossing the finish line of your first marathon that makes it one of the most memorable and best feeling of your life. Running the marathon distance (42.195 kilometers) is the ultimate goal for serious runners. It’s like the last level of a video game, the last round in boxing, the grand finale of a concert, it’s the culmination of your fitness and running journey. And the bonus for me is that I became the first marathoner in the family (both father and mother side). I started it and hopefully, the future generations of the family tree will follow.

Honorable Mentions:

Running my first international run (11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon)

One of the biggest surprises in my life. Me, running my first international run in Phuket, Thailand.

Never saw it coming, never expected it to happen, it was a surprise that I ran my first out-of-country run in 2016. A surprise delivered by 7-Eleven Philippines. It was my blog article/race report that got me the ticket for an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon to cover the event as our country’s representatives give their best performances to win the race. I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5 category of the race (my first international run and first out-of-country trip) and we all had a rewarding tour around Phuket. We returned home victorious and had a great time, and that is the reason why this is so memorable to me.

Canyoneering in Cebu (Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu)

Glory of Love?… Loving what we’re doing in Cebu!

To set foot in Cebu for the first time is memorable enough, jumping 40+ feet off a cliff is just epic and unforgettable. It’s all about conquering your fear (especially if you have some degree of acrophobia and can’t swim) and the adrenaline rush that made it one of the best things I’ve done in 2016.

Finishing my first Ultramarathon (Altra Speed50 Tagaytay)

All smiles for another milestone. Photo Credit:

For all its shortcomings or failures, the event is below average (I love the first half of the race route though and the trophy and medal is good), but finishing a race that goes beyond the marathon distance is another milestone in my running life. Ultramarathons don’t have the flair of a marathon event nor does it focus on elite-level speed, it’s the experience and the validation that your body can endure and go the longer distance that makes it a special experience.

======   BEST MEDAL   ======

40th Milo Marathon Medal

milo medal
This year’s Milo Marathon medal is bigger and looks better than the previous years medals.

It’s gold in color, well-designed, big, and heavy. Should there be any other reason why this isn’t the best?

Honorable Mentions:

Batman V Superman Run Medal

Like a shiny Batarang.

The only way that a Batman v Superman medal could be better is if it was designed like a batarang with the S symbol in the middle instead of a round medal. But, this still looks very good, I like the cut of the BvS symbol and there was also an option to have your finishing time engraved behind the medal for a small fee.

Valley Trail Challenge VI Medal

It’s a Moo-dal!

It’s a cute medal and it’s not made of metal, so it’s one of the lightest medal I earned. I like the cow head design, it fits the theme of the trail run and it really looks unique compared to my metal medals.

======   BEST EVENT SHIRT/SINGLET   ======

Batman v Superman singlet

Feels like Batman on his non-brooding days.

This singlet is so good it makes you look like you have Batman’s abs. Color and design is modeled after the Batffleck costume, and I like it so much that I used it in 2 running events.

Honorable Mentions

Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry

Blue is the Coolest Color

I got this from 7-Eleven Philippines as our official team shirt at the 11th Laguna Phuket Marathon. I like it because of the nice design, the fabric, the light weight, and skin tight feel. Also worn this on my first ultramarathon.

Condura SkyWay Marathon 2016 Tech Shirt

According to sports studies and statistics, those who wear read in competitions and matches are likely to win. Not me though.

With ASICS as one of the major sponsors, this is just as light and comfortable as the Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry shirt (doesn’t have the skin tight feeling though). No wonder the registration fee of Condura Skyway Marathon is expensive, the quality of the tech shirt and finisher shirt is very good.

======   BEST FINISHER SHIRT   ====== 

Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 Finisher Shirt

If the red tech shirt is fire, the blue finisher shirt is ice.

It’s quite clever that the finisher shirt of the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon is blue in contrast with the red tech shirt. It’s like fire and ice or the yin and the yang. Like the tech shirt, the fabric is nice and comfortable. The back of the shirt also illustrates the race route, the map of the Skyway.

Honorable Mentions:

Financial Fitness Run 2016 Finisher Shirt

Purple Power!

The shirt has the right mix of colors, white on the body with purple on the sides and lime green on the back. And that running man on the front completes a visually appealing design.

40th Milo Marathon Finisher Shirt

Milo Marathon is like the Philippine equivalent of the Boston Marathon. The theme color is green (because of the Milo products) like the Boston Celtics.

This finisher shirt is very similar to the Condura Skyway Marathon finisher shirt. The fabric feels the same and it also has the route map printed at the back.

======   BEST FREEBIES   ======

All the stuff I got from 7-Eleven Philippines

My loot from the 7-Eleven Run 2016.
The Team 7-Eleven Philippines jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt.

Aside from all the free stuff (or should I say, grocery) that I grabbed from 7-Eleven Run 2016, 7-Eleven Philippines gave us a team jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt for the Phuket trip. Nothing can top that.

Honorable Mentions

Saucony Kinvara 7

For that green-minded runs

Not a freebie from a running event, I got this by joining a Saucony facebook contest. a free pair of running shoes means I was able to save money this year.

Stuff I got from the Special Force Online Press Conference

Contents of the loot bag include a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and Starbucks Card.
Just got lucky and won this awesome Razer Network Hoodie from the raffle. I checked for the price and it’s worth $79.99

I was invited by PlayPark to attend the press conference of the returning Special Force Online. So glad that I did. PlayPark is a very generous company, they provided us with good food, fun games, and a preview of Special Force Online before the closed beta test. I though the good stuff ended their, until they’ve given us the loot bags that included a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and a Starbucks card loaded with 500 php. And I also got lucky and won a Razer ‘Network’ Hoodie. It was an awesome night, so awesome.

======   RUNNING EVENTS RANKING   ======

This is it, the running events as ranked from worst to best. I joined 11 running events this year and this is how I rate them based on the experience and how the organizers handled their events.

11. Altra Speed 50 Ultramarathon Tagaytay

My first ultramarathon finish is memorable, the event itself is forgettable.

I joined this event because I really wanted to complete my objective of finishing my first ultramarathon this year and as the substitute for not being able to join the 50k category of Valley Trail Challenge. It was the ideal run for me because of the race route in Tagaytay, and the trophy and medal looks good. But, the event itself is below average because of the organizer’s shortcomings. The failure of the organizer to arrive early (before the participants) and prepare the event on time is their biggest mistake. The messy bib number (and the lack of it) distribution, the scarce supplies of the Palace in the Sky aid station, the absence of marshals and lighting/guide on the pitch dark part of the route going to Nasugbu, and the lack of trophies and finisher shirts for those who crossed the finish line at a later time (but still made it to the cutoff) all adds up to this disappointing event.

10. Manila Great Run Duo Road Race Challenge

10k run first and then 5k run after an hour. hmm….

The concept of Manila Great Run Duo Road Race is unique. It is a 15k run, but your first run is a 10-kilometer race. After finishing the 10k, there’s a 1-hour break before you start the 2nd round, the 5k run. Sounds simple, right? but it confused a lot of the participants resulting to an organized event with messy results. Some of the 5k runners started to run with the 15k runners because they were not reminded of their respective gunstart. A lot of the participants thought that they only signed up for a 10k run, unaware of the 5k run on the 2nd round. Some runners didn’t want to run the 5k run (because it was already hot at 7 am), so they just claimed their medal even without participating in the 2nd round (think about it, you got a medal for running just half of the race). Despite the mistakes of both organizer and participants, the event is at least well-organized with a lot of freebies and nice activities.

09. Eggciting Family Adventure Fun Run

It’s the November Easter Egg Hunt. Photo credit: Bicolano Runner

I was very interested about joining this event, but I was a bit low on resources (funding again) at the time (after joining Valley Trail Challenge and registering for Philippine Marine Corp Marathon 2). Luckily, I got a free race kit from the organizer for attending their media and bloggers conference and blogging their event. This is one of the most fun, family-oriented event I joined with lots of activities for the kids and giveaways for everyone. And the concept of searching for easter eggs along the race route for a prize is a nice addition to the fun of just running.

08. 40th Milo Marathon

Feels like I’m running the local version of the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops

Running the Milo Marathon is a must for most serious and seasoned runners. It is the longest running (pun intended) marathon event in the country. The best runners of the country run the Milo Marathon every year. It is a very special event and I want to be a part of it. Though my performance was quite disappointing compared to my first marathon, I enjoyed the experience of finally running in the biggest marathon event of the country.

07. Financial Fitness Run 2016

One is a rogue, Two is company, Three’s a crowd. Photo Credit: Active Pinas

I was able to join this event because to of my office mates finally decided to join and the registration fee is reasonable. I like the plaque for 21k finishers and the finisher shirt looks festive and good enough to be included in my best list this year. And another bonus is finally running on Bonifacio Global City grounds for the first time (because BGC is one of the most popular running event venues, so finally).

06. Batman v Superman Run

I am the day. Photo credit: Running Photographers

I only joined this run because of the singlet and medal. Little did I know that there’s so much more in store. It was fun to see cosplayers and runners wearing symbols of their favorite DC superheroes. This run is also memorable for my super delayed start (more than 20 minutes had passed when I started running) because I got caught in traffic and cramped like a sardine in a bus full of passengers at 5 am on a Saturday morning (first time experience).

05. Condura Skyway Marathon 2016

Achievement Unlocked: Reach Marathon Level. Photo Credit: Team Foot-Ah

Last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon is so much better (except for the tech shirt and finisher shirt), they have better presentation, more photographers, more runners (even creating a record for the highest number of participants in 42k category), and better medal. But, I joined this for the experience of running a marathon for the first time. It was the culmination of everything since the day I started running, when I become serious about it, and when I finally decided that it’s time. I planned it for a year and it finally happened, I’m a marathoner now. It feels so good to finally reach this level, to finally run the benchmark distance for runners, and to finally say that I have done it rather than just thinking about doing it or just ponder if I could have done it.

04. 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon

The non-elite runners of Team 7-Eleven Philippines.

This run I never saw coming, it’s a big surprise. Because of my race report of the 7-Eleven Runs, I got an invitation to join Team 7-Eleven Philippines as the blogger (and photographer). The winners of the 7-Eleven Run will compete at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon and I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5k category to experience the event as a runner. This is my first international run and I really liked it. It was a sunset run, but the weather at the time was very hot (kinda like summer in the Philippines). I like the race route is scenic and the event is so good there’s a lot of foreign runners (even pinoys) joining this race every year. The event is better organized than some of our local events, there’s even a buffet at the activity area. It’s a good thing my first international run was fun, because it’s memorable in a good way (compared to the other events I joined this year).

03. 7-Eleven Run 2016

Highway to the safer zone.

Anyone who read my previous 7-Eleven race report/review already knows why the 7-Eleven Run series is one of the best in the country. The freebies alone speak for itself. But, it is worth noting the uniqueness of the race, it’s the only race where you can hydrate with the best brands of drinks in the market. Tired of drinking just Gatorade or water? don’t worry, there’s also Pocari Sweat, Powerade, Summit, and along the way. And after the race, why not help yourself with the overload of freebies at the activity area, supplements, food, hygiene products, just go and grab stuff. There’s even free unlimited ice cream at the Selecta booth, so I didn’t bother going to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat. That’s how good 7-Eleven Run, it’s very rewarding to get so much stuff after a run and with all the freebies, it feels like you just got your registration money back. Let’s see if 7-Eleven can even do better this year, they don’t have to improve because their event it already great, but it would be awesome if they have some surprises under wraps.

02. Valley Trail Challenge 6

Wet and Wild, the non-perverted way. Photo Credit: Active Pinas.

Trail Running is my favorite genre of running, so it’s a no-brainer that Valley Trail Challenge will always place high on my list. The original plan was to join this event as my first ultramarathon by running the 50k category. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I had do pick the 25k category. It was the same route as last year but more than 4 kilometers shorter and with some difference on parts of the trail because of the current landscaping in Nuvali. What made it feel different from last year is that this time it rained hard and that added challenge as the trail became muddy and slippery. I enjoyed the experience of running the trail while raining, it’s challenging and refreshing. This year, I’ll try to join the 50k category and to finally explore the whole Nuvali trail.

01. Philippine Marine Corp. Marathon 2

Tough x Rough?

I wanted to join the inaugural Philippine Marine Corp Marathon last year becuase of the interesting venue. But, I don’t wanna join it alone because it’s too far away from home. This year, I finally convinced 2 office mates to join, and it’s finally a reality. Unfortunately, one of us wasn’t able to join because of some circumstance we don’t know and it was only Alvin and I who pushed through (feels like the first time I joined a half-marathon, Alvin is my first running buddy and it’s the two of us again).  The race starts and ends at the Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite and the race route is around the part of Mounts Palay-Palay–Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape. And the event did not disappoint, I love the race route, it’s the best running grounds for me this year. Sure, there’s like kilometers of uphills, but the beautiful scenery made the run enjoyable even if we just walk or jog slowly. We passed by the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, saw the wildlife (snakes, monkeys, hogs roaming free) and scenic side of Ternate, and it feels good to visit Boracay De Cavite again and finally take a dip at the beach. We only joined the 25k category, the full marathon is probably even more awesome and joining that category is already on my mind. Let’s wait and see if I can finally join again this year.



The year 2016 has been a great year for me. So many surprises and got a lot of free stuff. I also had my first time for a lot of things. I ran my first marathon, first time to run on BGC, my first out-of-country trip, my first international run, first time to run in Ternate, first time to set foot in Cebu, and ran my first ultramarathon. Also had a few non-running, blogging activities that I enjoyed a lot. As for my view of the running scene, I feel like there has been a drop in participation compared to last year. Some running series that had 3 or more seasons like Energizer Night Run, Salomon City Trail, Rexona Run, Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Greenfield City Run, and Outbreak Manila did not have an event this year. For this year, I look forward to new running events, the first in a series like the highly anticipated arrival of the Spartan Race series in the Philippines as well as continue joining the events that I love as my yearly tradition. I will also try to renew my interest in photography, my first serious hobby, and join other activities that is related to the things interest me and like to do.

Posted in adventure, backpacking, Photography, travel, Vacation

C’est la vie Cebu (Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu part 3.2)

Day 4: Plantation Bay

Save the best for last, the last day in Cebu is the best closing for our vacation. We stayed at the lavish and beautiful Plantation Bay. We arrived before sun down and the resort does not look impressive outside. But, once you get inside, it’s utopia in the real world.

Looks ordinary on the outside. Doesn’t look like a 5-star hotel. Wait ’til you get inside.
Entrance to the lobby.
Saying goodbye to our mechanical horse, our travel car for over 600 kilometers of driving around the city and South Cebu. You never gave me any problems during the trip.
This manual transmission Toyota Innova was rented from NGH Tourist Transport for 2,500 php a day. DIY travelling and adventure is best done with your own time and vehicle to use, so give NGH Tourist Transport a try.

A brief preview of the place en route to our suite (guests ride an electric-powered transport vehicle) was enough to make us feel excited. It’s just unfortunate that it was getting dark already and exploring the place is best done at daytime to see the grandeur scenery. But, it didn’t stop us to go out for a walk and a night swim. And before we get to that, let’s have a walk-through of our suite that got the girls ecstatic and the guys feel classy.

Don Raph looking at the massive pool area.
The light of the sunset shinning on the dining area and living room.
The light also shines through the blinds and balcony door of our room.
Our beds.
Relaxing and feeling the luxurious life for a day.
The Master Bed. The girls occupied this territory faster than we can react.
In case you want to feel like you have some business or studying to attend to. Internet connection at the time was 34 mbps.
The very spacious bathroom. The one in the master bedroom looks exactly like this.
It’s larger and cleaner than my old bedroom.
Complimentary sweets.
Imagine how cozy sitting on these chairs at sunrise and sunset. Even works for a siesta.
Currently lifeless living room. There’s a comfort room beside the window at the back.

The night scene in Plantation Bay is great, ambient and festive lights surround the area, there are diners and bars open, and there’s a place you can hang out near the shore with live bossa nova music.

The blue hour. From Dusk ’til Dawn… without the vampires.
Live acoustic and bossa nova music near the shore.
Because we arrived at a later time it was all Jay’s fault.
The Abductees… Photo by Alex.

After the night swim, we had a drinking session during dinner and we went to Alien Abduction Bar (sans Raph who decided to stay and rest) afterwards to consume our complimentary drinks (your choice of tequila, beer, whiskey, etc.) and some nuts. We left the bar around midnight. Jay and Lei decided to go for a night walk (2 girls walking at night, that’s a good idea, it’s just too bad there are no vampires, werewolves, or sea monsters nearby to spice up your life), me and the rest of the guys went back to the suite. I laid down on the sofa and passed out. When I woke up, it was already passed 1 am, everybody’s sleeping (just glad no one drew a penis on my face), and I went to the bedroom to sleep. Raph, Jheryl, and Alex have an early flight and will be leaving the group first. Too bad they didn’t get the chance to enjoy Plantation Bay at daytime. I took them to the airport where we also had to deliver our travel car back to kuya Neil of NGH Tourist Transport.

The outside of our suite (2nd floor) before Raph, Jheryl, and Alex’s departure.

Tsong and I (using GrabCar for the first time) went back to Plantation Bay to enjoy the last few hours of living like kings. Our flight is scheduled at 12:30, we originally planned to leave at 10:30 am (for the free transport service to the airport), but Jay and Tsong wanted to maximize our stay, so it has been decided to leave at 11 am. So, after a quick break fast, I went out for a barefoot run around Plantation bay to deliver the sights of Plantation Bay. Here’s my run-through.

A new day as the sun rises at Plantation Bay.
A walk to paradise.
I only found out during our stay that Plantation Bay is owned by Ellen Adarna’s family.
Imagine if this is your home and everyday you can do whatever you like.
Even runners need to take a break and relax.
Those suites have balconies that allow quick access to the lagoon.
11 hectares of nirvana.
Lonely Island.
Just behind our suite, there’s paradise.
Blue represents cool and calm. That’s exactly what you will feel if you stay here for too long.
Tired of walking or just too lazy? navigation around Plantation Bay is easy, you can call for an electric-powered transport vehicle like this to take you around. The driver can also give you a tour and they speak fluent English language. And there’s a no tipping policy.
So many things to do here. So little time.
Mini obstacle course for active kids.
There’s a mini golf course too.
A spa for maximum relaxation and rejuvenation.
Palermo Cafe is open for your breakfast and carbo-loading needs.
Kilimanjaro Cafe’ has a nice view of one of the pools and you can even swim near the sides.
Pool area around Kilimanjaro Kafe and Alien Abduction.
A small jacuzzi area.
Kiddie rock slide is very visible and can be seen from all angles to make sure the kids are safe.
Plantation Baywatch.
Volcanic Pool. Croatoan?
For your Beach Volleyball needs.
Warm morning at the shore.
The best area to hang out at sunrise and sunset.
Not sure about the theme or inspiration of this pool area, but it looks like a structure from Rome or Italy.
Run, swim, relax anywhere.
Most of the pools and lagoons are kid-friendly, the average is around 3-5 feet while the deepest was more than 7 feet.
Want a romantic moment? ride a gondola.
One of the suites that was designed to look like a house from a residential neighborhood.
And some are designed to look like something out of the cabin in the woods (or swamp).
In-water volleyball, anyone?
The landscape design of this area is awesome. Just look at that water coming down from that rock formation.
Too bad we had a limited time, this place is best enjoyed for at least 2-3 days.

And that wraps up the Cebucation Chronicles. I highly recommend Plantation Bay to anyone who plans to visit Cebu. The place is wonderful and the service is top-notch. Some of our colleagues from TravelCorp. stopped by to check out the place and the superiority of our accommodations. Tsong, Jay and I was going to leave at 11 am, but they couldn’t secure a GrabCar, so we decided to wait for the next free transport service to the airport at 11:30 am. The staff of Plantation Bay also took care of our check-in (service excellency right there) whilst waiting. I was a little nervous that we might miss our 12:30 flight because of the traffic. We arrived passed 12 at the airport and had to move hastily. Luckily, our flight was delayed again (first time I was glad about a plane being late) and we made it back to Manila and at home safe and sound. And unfortunately, we still have to go to work that day, so we only had a few hours of rest. But, it was worth it.

It was a memorable Thanksgiving vacation, we had a lot of fun, and i didn’t get to spend too much money (just being thrifty). I’d like to thank the people who made this vacation possible. Raph for making it easier for me to join. The man is a good samaritan in wolf’s clothing, he took care of some of my budget shortcomings, food, and provided me with the energy drinks to help me drive the long distance even without sleep. Princess for all the things that made this vacation happen, you’re a saint for giving so much and making sure that people enjoy the blessings you have given them. Thank you for everything. And for the rest of Team Bahala Na or DIY Travel, thanks for the good and fun times, I really enjoyed my first time in Cebu.

Posted in adventure, backpacking, Photo Shoot, travel

The Photo Shoot at Sirao Flower Farm (Thanksgiving Vacation in Cebu Part 3.1)

Day 4: Sirao Flower Farm

Our last day at Cloud & Xky Resort. We met the owner the night before, who arrived with his family. He’s a nice guy and we highly recommend his resort for having a very accommodating and nice staff and an excellent view of the sun rise. And being close to the Whale Watching area is a plus.

After packing up, it was another long drive from Oslob and back to the city. It was easier and faster going back, especially without the bad weather and a good night rest. We stopped by at the market to shop for some pasalubong (bought dried fruits, squid, and fish, and some refrigerator magnets).

As requested by our fashionista/queen of darkness planner, Jay, we headed to another mountain region to visit the Sirao Flower Farm. Jay wanted to have a photo shoot in that place and for the first time I actually used my Sony NEX-5n camera (it was so convenient to use smartphones and action cam during the trip that I almost forgot that I brought this). The guys decided to stay in the car and play Mobile Legends (and because it’s a flower farm), I was dragged along as the photographer (might as well maximize the experience, right? and they’re paying for my entrance fee). I don’t have a lot to say about this activity, there’s a lot of flowers, it’s colorful all around you, and it’s very girly. I’ll just let you see the photos instead. Since part 3 of the series has too many photos (especially Plantation Bay), I decided to do this article as part 3.1, focusing on the photo shoot in Sirao Flower Garden. Part 3.2, the real last part of the Cebucation series will focus on Plantation Bay. So, here we go, Jay and Lei’s photo shoot by the Rogue Rebel Photographer.

My idea of pollination is a lot more dirtier than this.
Welcome to Sirao Flower Farm. Colour Everywhere.
For prenup photo shoots and romantic photos, this is the ideal place.
I guess this place is a safe haven should a Zombie Apocalypse push through.
There are 2 flower gardens. This one has a mini windmill inside and other props to make you feel like you’re in another country.
If you love flower power.
And the photo shoot starts here… Photo Credit: Jay
For some reason, flowery places like this feel vintage.
Phase One: Testing Lei’s prenup shoot.
Red is the color of love, passion, desire, romance, lust, heat, action, and many more. Jay is…(create your own idea)
Pretty. Fresh. Smells Good. The Flowers.
This is how you professionally block the flowers.
That moment when you suddenly feel like the flowers are funny. Are they releasing something like from the movie The Happening? or is this flower flirting?
Did the horse got loose from this calash and went to the flower-eating party?
How can this calash move without the horse.
This is how I shoot (I’m packing a Sony NEX-5n armed with a Sigma 30mm f/2.8). Photo Credit: Lei
And this what I deliver.
Black and White is timeless.
The Wonder Twins. One has the ability to smile freely, the other is capable of holding back her smile.
It’s a colorful life.
If you’re used to seeing black and white, these flowers will add colors to your life.
Jay got drunk, wandered off in a flower farm. Lei found her and like true BFFs, she assisted her towards the camera for that memorable Kodak moment.
Looking at this photo, create your own emotion =)
They’re not AV Idols. More like Chinese-Japanese-Korean looking models.

That’s all, folks! Seriously, the whole experience made me feel like a photographer again. 6 years ago, photography is my first serious hobby, but when I started focusing on a more physically-demanding hobby like running and mountain hiking, I forgot how much I enjoyed photo shoots in the past. This experience reminded me of the joy of photography and I might do it again, a comeback to my first hobby. Jay and Lei are good models and Sirao Flower Garden is a great place for photo shoots. In fact, there was a prenup photo shoot at the time. But, it’s hard to get to the good spots of the location because of the place was crowded (and the parking lot is so small that traffic occurs within the vicinity pf the farm).

The last part of the Cebucation Chronicles is coming up real soon, it will be packed so much photos it will look like a walk through of Plantation Bay.

Like my photos? you can also check out and like my photography facebook page here: Rogue Rebel Photography and my Instagram of camera-timer photography here rogue_rebel_runner

Posted in adventure, hiking, mountain trekking, travel, trekking, Vacation

It’s not ‘Say Boo’ or ‘C’est Buu,’ just Seh-Bu (Thanksgiving Vacation in Cebu Part 2)

Day 3: Osmeña Peak, Ili Rock, Boljoon Church, Binalayan Hidden Falls, Mainit Springs

Osmeña Peak

      Our first destination on the 3rd day of our trip is Osmeña Peak. We plan to reach the peak before sunrise, so, we were suppose to leave the resort at 4 am. But, like most obedient Filipinos who strictly comply to Filipino Time, we left just a few minutes before 5 am.

The road to Osmeña Peak is curvy with lots of uphill, kinda like the roads to Baguio. Most part of the road is still under construction and some roads with the ‘dangerous curves’ don’t have safety barriers in place, so it’s best to drive carefully. We arrived at the market where the habal habal terminal is located. We don’t plan to take the habal habal ride since we have our own vehicle, so we just asked for directions. A habal habal rider followed us, and a good thing he did because we missed the turn by a few hundred meters and the habal habal rider signaled us and pointed the right direction. We followed him to a rough (rocky and muddy with a lot of uphills, not advisable to small cars), single-lane road to the tourism office (it opened this year) in Baranggay Mantolongan. After registering and hiring a guide (a guide is optional, but why not help some of the locals, the amount of tip you give is up to you), off we go.

It’s a good thing we didn’t try to catch the sunrise because it was a foggy morning with very limited visibility. So, we took our time for group photos instead.
Respect the Rules. Leave No Trace.
At 1,013 meters above sea level, the distance from the foot to summit is just around a kilometer. Depending on your moving speed, the hike may take 20-30 minutes. For trail runners, it may take 15 minutes or less depending on your skill level.
For some people, like Alex here, looking fabulous whilst hiking up a mountain is mandatory. And wait ’til you see what Jay has in store for us at the summit.
Going up on a hazy, foggy morning…
Almost… Halfway… There…
I can’t relax my feet while standing here. I feel stiff because of the fear of slipping. There’s a ravine just behind me. Photo Credit: Tsong Tero
Where I stood from the previous photo.

When we finally reached the summit, it was still foggy. We had to wait for almost an hour before the fog starts clearing up and the majestic view reveal itself. When it finally did, it’s photo shoot galore.

Selfie at the highest point of the summit of Osmeña Peak before the fog cleared up.
To avoid dizziness, don’t down or behind you. Just concentrate and firmly plant your feet. Let the screen of your smartphone be your guide.
The smiles of uncertainty. It’s foggy, cold, windy, and nobody wants to look down.
Look behind us… And the fog starts clearing up.
The non-selfie shot. Photo by our guide.
This is how we do it….
Damn, that’s a long way down… Photo by Alex
And that’s too far away to walk. Photo by Alex.
Beautiful morning. Is it the view or Lei?
And this is what Jay had in store for us. Proper attire? who cares! What to wear during hiking? screw that!
Dyosa ng Kadiliman (Goddess of Darkness) said David (one of our colleagues who was travelling with TravelCorp.).
Our guide taking photos of Jay. Me doing the BTS.
Think of Frozen, but instead of Elsa’s cryokinesis, Jay’s got terrakinesis and goth-like, dark outfit to boot. And let’s call the movie Rocked.
Wandering around the rocky summit. Photo Credit: Lei
When the background is finally clear. Photo Credit: Tsong Tero
Osmeña Peak is the 5th mountain (7th if I include Taal Volcano crater and Mount Sungay which is now known as People’s Park in the Sky) I climbed. Photo Credit: Tsong Tero
It’s like the spiky and deformed version of Chocolate Hills. Photo Credit: Tsong Tero
If you have time, you can traverse to Kawasan Falls.
Going down on a clear, sunny day.
Lush vegetation.
Just one more photo shoot with Lei laying down on some flowers before going down.
I can see our travel vehicle and the tourism office from here.
It’s more convenient to travel with your own vehicle. Drive wherever you want, whenever you want. Photo Credit: one of the natives.
Drop off point of Osmeña Peak. Photo Credit: Lei
Basta’t Driver (Runner, Blogger, at Photographer) sweet lover! XD Photo Credit: Lei
Driving around town. Photo Credit: Lei

We’re so lucky to have seen the surroundings of Osmeña Peak without the Silent Hill fog. TravelCorp, who visited it in the afternoon were not so lucky, all they’ve  experienced was a 360 degree view of nothingness, just the foggy fog fog, foggy fog foggy afternoon. The habal habal rider led us back to the market and we gave him a tip for being our road guide and guarding our vehicle. After Osmeña Peak, we ate merienda at Julie’s Bakeshop (free Pepsi for 50 pesos worth of purchase, how come we don’t have that promo here in Luzon), we made a quick stop at Ili Rock and Boljoon Church.

Ili Rock and Boljoon Church

Before going back to the resort, we made a quick stop to Ili Rock and Boljoon Church. Ili Rock is a natural rock formation (small mountain) that was once used as a watchtower in the 1800s, overlooking the Bohol Sea. After a strong earthquake hit Bohol and Cebu on October 2013, a project (which included pulverizing a portion of the rock) to make the road safer was initiated. The project started in 2014, but is still only partially finished. When we got there, only the stairs and hand rails were done, the top of the mountain looked like a rocky desert.

A process called Slope Benching was done to create this stairway to the top.
Imagine this natural rock formation without the stairs and hand rails. This would be the 8th mountain I climbed if it was still a mountain.
The cliff. See the rappelling board?
I did not count the number of steps, but fact-checking online said it’s 136 steps to the top.
And this is your reward for making it to the top. But, seriously, the future plans for this place sounds good. There’s rappelling board on the cliff side (dunno if it’s use-able). Other plans include a coffee shop, zip line, and other attractions for tourists.
A nice view of the surroundings. (ignore Jay)
Group selfie on top of Ili Rock.

We didn’t stay long on Ili Rock because it was very hot at the time. So, we went to Boljoon Church which is just a few hundred meters away from Ili Rock.

Boljoon Church is a Natural Cultural Treasure and under consideration for the UNESCO World Heritage Sits of the Philippines. Also, there was a wedding going on at the time we visited it.
Inside the church.
Ili Rock as seen from Boljoon Church’s main entrance.
Escuela Catolica was built in 1940 and served as a dorm for children prior to taking their first communion. In the later years, it also turned into a primary school and a meeting place for the religious groups of the parish. Photo Credit: Jay

We didn’t explore the church premises further due to the hot weather and time constraint. We then head back to Cloud and Xky Resort for lunch and rest before travelling to visit the Hidden Falls in Binalayan.

Binalayan Hidden Falls

After the much-needed rest, we went to Binalayan to see the Hidden Falls. Lei was so exhausted after the hike in Osmeña Peak and climbing up the stairs of Ili Rock, so she decided to stay at the resort and meet up with TravelCorp. group later (who will be doing their Whale Watching activity at the time).

The falls is hidden indeed, the path is surrounded by coconut trees and streams, it will take a 10-20 minute hike to reach the falls. You will pass by a pond with a tire-swing and smaller waterfalls.

Achievement Unlocked: Hidden Falls found!
The water is shallow, but the center is deep (probably around 6-8 feet), which is the target point for the jumpers.
There are some hidden caves behind the waterfall.
Another Achievement Unlocked: Hidden Cave found!
Raph waiting for his turn to jump the 1st level.
Raph on the first level preparing to jump. I think this is 15-20 feet in height.
Jumper! I wish you could step off from that ledge my friend…
Tsong also jumped the 1st level. The rest of us skipped the jumps. Not sure if it’s safe for me.

Tsong and Raph enjoyed the jumps, the rest of us just enjoyed taking a dip in the cool water. We laso enjoyed watching the guide doing their demo jumps, some do backflips, while others jumped from the highest point, the top of the waterfall, which is probably 50 feet or more. It was very crowded that day and we did not stay long since we also plan to go to the Mainit Springs for a relaxing time.

Mainit Springs Malabuyoc

Our last destination for the day was Mainit (Hot) Springs in Malabuyoc. We all had an exhausting day hiking and going up 136 steps of stairs, so it feels just right to relax and let the soothing, hot water rejuvenate our bodies.

Welcome to Mainit Springs.
At 42.6 degrees celsius, this is the hottest pool in the area.
You can hard boil an egg in this pool. I haven’t seen anyone take a dip and stay on this pool. No human males wants to have their eggs boiled here. People seem to just dip their hands or feet and then leave.
The 40 degree pool is also very hot, but tolerable to some people.
The 35.8 degree pool in the center is the ideal temperature for everyone. It’s like a warm hug from a loved one during the cold winter nights. It’s the right kind of warm. On the left is a slightly hotter pool at 36+ degrees. It’s when the warm hug starts to heat up and lead to something else… like hot coffee.
Taking a dip at the 35.8 degree pool. We also tried the 36 degree pool which had very little difference in temperature from the 35.8 pool.
Really need to work on skills with an action cam. It would’ve been awesome if I was able to capture the beautiful surrounding without water spots around the lens.

Feeling cleansed (from all the hiking dirt we picked up earlier) and energized, we went back to the resort satisfied, feeling good. And that ends Day 3 of our Cebu-cation. Coming up is Day 4, the last day of our Cebu adventure and it’s exactly the right kind of closing, by having luxurious time (living a classy life) at Plantation Bay. Part 3 is coming up soon.

Posted in adventure, backpacking, travel, Vacation

Yes, Thanks! (Thanksgiving Vacation in Cebu Part 1)

I usually say “No, thanks” when invited to join a a trip or a vacation. The problem? it’s always about the money. I’m not stingy, more on being thrifty, I suppose. But, most of the time, the reason is I just have very very limited funds for everything, including registration budget for running events. When an opportunity comes like an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand or a vacation with free lodging and food, I’d grab it like a claw crane without losing grip. So, when I was told about a planned vacation to Cebu by my colleague and I don’t have to worry about spending money for food and lodging, I just have to be the designated driver for the whole duration of the trip. It was an offer that I could’ve refused in favor of either joining the Splendido Sunset Run in Tagaytay or the 2nd Gatorade Run in Pasay. But, I didn’t, because it would be my first time to set foot in Cebu and I think it would be a better experience. And it was. This is part 1 of a 3-part blog series that chronicles our Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu.

Day 1:   The Travel

First day of the vacation (24th November) was more on travelling to and in Cebu. Without taking a leave the day before, we head straight to Terminal 4 after our shift at the office. We did not have proper sleep or rest that day and I was gonna drive for hours. There are 2 groups of Thanksgiving ‘Bakasyonistas’ from our office travelling to Cebu that day. We are the DIY Travelers or Team Bahala Na, consists of 7 persons. The other group calls themselves Travel Corp. with 13 persons in their team.

With travel buddy, Tsong.
The first to arrive in Cebu with Jollibee welcoming us (with a burger + fries + soda value meal that costs 120 pesos!).

Tsong and I arrived first. Our other mates, Raph, Jheryl, and Alex arrived minutes later. Travel Corp arrived almost an hour later, and we were still waiting for 2 more members of our group, the girls, Jay and Lei. We secured our travel car whilst waiting for the girls, while Travel Corp left the airport as soon as their party was completed. Jay arrived late because of the delayed flight and Lei was scheduled to arrive before nighttime. Not wanting to waste time, we decided to drive around and visit Magellan’s Cross and Basilica del Santo Nino and meet up with Lei at SM City Cebu later.

(From L to R): Alex (The Jester), Jay (The Planner), Jheryl (The Don), Raph (The Lead Man and Navigator), Me (The Designated Driver), and Tsong (The Translator) at Magellan’s Cross. Missing In Action: Lei (The Muse). Photo by Raph
“This Cross of Tindala Wood Encases the Original Cross Planted By Ferdinand Magellan On This Very Site April 21, 1521.”
The History of Christianity in the Philippines. Photo by Alex
The housing of Magellan’s Cross.
There is a place next to the basilica where people can light candles and pray.
It’s like a library of prayers. Be quiet and let people pray. I lit 2 candles myself.

After visiting Magellan’s Cross and eating at a nearby grocery store, we head to SM City Cebu to pick up Lei. Once the group is complete, we left and head south to Oslob. Driving to Oslob was a challenging experience considering the fact that I don’t have sleep for more than 20 hours, the road to Oslob was made up of a lot of curvy roads and uphills, and it was raining hard. It’s a good thing that I didn’t feel sleepy at all because I have to focus, it was a dangerous time to drive, and thanks to Raph’s supply of Sting Energy Drink to keep me awake. After more than 4 hours of driving and 120+ kilometers later, we finally found our home for the next 3 days, Cloud and Xky Beach Resort.

Finally here to rest… Photo by Lei
Getting comfy in one of the largest bathroom I’ve ever seen.. Photo by Lei
Jay writing a Dear John letter to a currently non-existent John. Photo by Alex.

That wraps up Day 1 of the Cebu experience. Day 2 is where the fun starts.

DAY 2:   Whale Watching, Sumilon Island, and Canyoneering

Woke up to a beautiful morning, that’s a good thing because we were very worried the night before that the bad weather might continue the next day and ruin our fun. Just thankful that it was a good day and a great start.

Woke up to this beautiful sun rise.
A view of Cloud and Xky Beach Resort. We got the best and largest room, the hut in the middle.
The pool with a clear glass on the front so you can see people swimming under.

Whale Watching

The group decided to go for the Whale Shark (also known as Butanding) Watching activity before breakfast. I stayed behind because the fee for whale watching is 500 pesos for 30 minutes. Since I don’t know how to swim and dive, and the life vest will keep me afloat anyway (losing the thrill of getting close to the whales), I decided to stay and rest a bit more. I gave my Yi Action Camera for them to use for underwater shots.

The spot where the whale sharks hangout. Sumilon Island seen in the background.
As early as 6 in the morning, the spot is already crowded.
The starting point of the whale shark watching is just 200+ meters away from Cloud and Xky Resort.
Selfie with Team Bahala Na before they board the boat. I’ll just skip the Whale Shark watching and wait for the Great White Shark watching…. as if it will ever happen XD
Looks like they’re gonna have fun without me.
Tsong seems very happy though.
Did you Know? Whale Sharks are filter feeders. They also have about 3,000 tiny teeth, but don’t use them to eat.
Whale Sharks are the largest fish on Earth. The average size of an adult whale shark is 31.8 feet and can weigh up to 20,000 lbs.
Whale Sharks are not really related to whales, they are a species of sharks with the size of a whale, and does not pose a threat to humans.
With an average swimming speed of 5 kilometers per hour, Whale Sharks are slow swimmers. They’re like the equivalent of a running Sumo Wrestler (actually, a running sumo wrestler is still faster).

According to my mates, the whale watching is worth the money. The sight of these amazing creatures and how close you can get to them was an awesome experience. After their activity, we had our first breakfast in preparation for our next activities.

Breakfast and service at Cloud and Xky Beach Resort is top notch. Photo by resort staff
Nothing beats a good breakfast to start your day right. Photo by Lei

Sumilon Island

Our next destination is Sumilon Island. After a short tricycle ride from from Cloud and Xky, we boarded a boat for a 15-20 minute ride to the island. It is privately-owned with a resort called Bluewater Island Resort, but tourists are allowed to visit the sandbar area.

A boat ride to Sumilon Island may take 15-20 minutes depending on the speed.
Journey to the not-so mysterious island.
Welcome to The Island’s…. Sandbar
Feeling like a king on this rock. Photo by Tsong Tero
The Mighty Tsong
This rock actually had a hilarious moment during a photo shoot with Tsong, Raph, and myself. After Tsong and I had our pictures taken on this rock, it was Raph’s turn. But, when he was about to pose, some guy who ties the rope of the boats on this rock, ran towards it and told us to move. Raph was bummed by this and did not have the urge to have his photo taken here. But, a 2nd session (because Tsong’s photos were not saved), prompted him to give it another try. In running gag-like fashion, another guy (can’t remember if it was the same guy) ran towards the rock to use it again, pissing off Raph for the unbelievable circumstance…
But, luckily (and not giving up hope) on the 3rd attempt, Raph finally got a photo on this rock…
And it made him go wild!
I roamed around Sumilon Island, even reached the restricted area where the guard told me the I shall not pass (he just told me that this is a restricted area).
It’s actually Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, not Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.
In case you didn’t know, there is a comfort room near the sandbar, it’s on the right side of this area.
It was a cloudy and windy day.
on the upper part of the sandbar with Raph. Photo by Lei
Bluewater indeed… Photo by Lei
Tsong’s photoshoot! Photo by Lei.
Photobombed! or Stalking Lei? and Lei will probably like being stalked by that guy. Photo by Alex.
Alex enjoying the view… One of the advantages of having a photographer is that he knows how to find a beautiful background. And it’s a bonus if the subject gets distracted because then you know you succeeded.
Sometimes even the photographer gets distracted too. Photo by Alex
‘Sea’fie… Photo by Alex.
Who does not love the beach? Photo by Alex.

After more than an hour later, we went back to Cloud and Xky to prepare for our next activity, Canyoneering in Badian. My Vibram Treksport was wrecked in Sumilon Island, the rubber peeled off and I had no choice but to use slippers. Luckily, Tsong borrowed an aqua shoes from our officemate and it did not fit him, so he let me used it instead. From Oslob to Badian, the distance was more than 60 kilometers. It was a long drive and we even encountered a long line of cargo trucks occupying more than 2 or 3 kilometers of one lane (I thought it was traffic, so I stopped for a minute before realizing that it wasn’t moving). That slowed us down since motorists need to give way every time a vehicle was approaching from the other lane. When we finally reached Matutinao Church, it’s time to get nervous.


Though I don’t really have a high level of fear in heights, the thought of jumping off from high ground is a different matter. To be honest, when we finally got to Matutinao Beach Resort and prepare for the Canyoneering activity, I suddenly had butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous, even thought about backing out. But, I’m here anyway and I don’t get to experience this on my daily, regular life, so let’s just go and do it. A habal-habal ride (it’s like a scooter or motorcycle taxi) to the starting point of the activity took about 15-20 minutes depending on the rider’s speed (and they run the curvy and uphill roads like pros, almost never slowing down, giving you the sensation that you’re about to fall off). After that, it’s a hike to down to the little canyons?.. I don’t know what to call them.

A hike to the mini canyons (as I call it). It was hot and it’s a good thing they provided us with umbrellas. There’s also a mini sari sari store midway during the hike just in case you need to buy some food and drinks. Photo by Canyoneering guide
We can look back, but there’s no turning back. Photo by Canyoneering guide
Going down the mini canyons. The path was muddy and slippery. It was also under construction.
Rocky path with cave-like structures around you.
Rest and Preparation for the first jump. Photo by Canyoneering guide

Unfortunately, due to the lack of experience in using an action camera by both me (my Xiaomi Yi Cam is attached to the helmet) and our young guides (who was using a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition), we don’t have nice photos to post. Most of them are blurry, and some photos have water spots and moist blur (because I don’t know how to prevent moisture build up in waterproof casing). So, I’ll just write and describe the experience. I was very nervous to do this activity knowing that I can’t swim and even if I have a life vest, I still feel like I’m about to crap my shorts. The first jump is probably 10 feet (about the height of a basketball ring), I was scared, but I have to do it. Jay, despite having done it before (this is her 2nd Canyoneering), hesitated to jump at first. She still did and I was gonna jump next. When I finally made that first jump, it felt good and awesome. Check out the video below to see the first jump.

A running gag every time I jump is that a guide will be waiting for me below to drag me to safety. A grown man being dragged to safety by a kid. My mates are having a laugh at this. I feel like that moment in the movie “Friends with Benefits” where Justin Timberlake can’t jump off from the Hollywood sign because of his fear of heights and he had to be wrapped up and pulled by a helicopter to safety.

The 2nd jump is probably 20 feet in height. My knees were shaking a bit, I was having 2nd thoughts about doing this, and I took my time before jumping (did not jump after the count of 3). First person view of my jump at 0:47 in the video below (apologies for the blurry, water-spots on the camera. It was caused by moisture build-up around the waterproof casing. But, hey, it looks like a dream where I’m doing cliff jumps, eh).

Then there’s this cool group activity where you have to float on your back, facing up, and create a human centipede-like (no, you’re not going to connect your mouth to someone’s anus) formation by lying back and holding on to your peer’s ankle. The funniest moment is when I can’t focus, relax, and stay floating on my back, so I was turning sideways (like a dying fish or about to do a slow barrel roll) and ruining our formation. Check out the video below.

There was also some short crawls in cave-like paths and a short water slide. There’s a food stall midway during the hike where you can buy some food like hotdog, barbecue, and more.

Slippery ledge walk. (Even a GoPro take blurry photos if not handled properly; photo by Canyoneering guide)
Enjoying the cool water. Photo by Canyoneering guide
After a short slide, we feel like champions. Photo by Canyoneering guide
Like being inside a cave with a sunroof. Photo by Canyoneering guide
The only good group shot during the activity. Photo by Canyoneering guide

After a long hike, we finally reached our finale jump, a 40-foot high cliff. It’s optional, all of us had a few minutes to think about doing this jump, we even took a peek below. You need some momentum to do this jump safely and you can also do it without a helmet (for maximum safety, don’t remove it). Then Raph made the first jump which also encouraged us to do it. Tsong jumped next (doing an unintentional chicken wing flap), and then Alex (who made a looney cartoon-like moment by braking at the jump point to look down below before finally doing it). Then it was my turn, nervous again and having second thoughts (I have a wife and 2 kids, you know), but deep inside, I really want to do it. So, without looking down below again, I just look straight, accelerate, and jumped. I was shouting something in mid-air, I can’t remember what I shouted, but I know it’s not rated PG-13. My YiCam ran out of juice and I was only able to capture Raph’s jump (check out the video below). Too bad, each of our jumps were unique and some are funny, and my jump could’ve recorded a first-person view of the action. Lei, Jay, and Jheryl skipped the jump and used a pathway on the other side and near the waterfall to go down the cliff.

It’s gonna be an epic awesome jump. Just look at the beauty down below.

After the last jump, we were very exhausted, there are still more jumps along the way, but we skipped it because we’re too tired, hungry, and it was already getting dark. We passed by Kawasan falls and had a few minutes to marvel at the majestic sight. Then walked more than a kilometer back to Matutinao Beach Resort where we had our post-activity meal.

It was a long and exhausting day. We had a great time, it was an awesome experience with the Canyoneering being one of the best thing I’ve done in recent times. Given the chance, I’d do it again and complete all jumps.

And that wraps up Day 1 and 2 of our 4-day vacation in Cebu. Part 2, covering Osmena Peak, Binalayan Hidden Falls, and Mainit Springs, will be coming up in a few days, so stay tuned.