Flight chronicles of the backpacker Tutubi, with travelogues, pictures/photos/videos, travel guides, independent and honest reviews, affordable, recommended resorts and hotels (including inns, guesthouses, pension houses, lodges, hostels, condotels, bed and breakfast and other cheap accommodations), commuting guides, routes (sometimes street maps and GPS coordinates/waypoints) and driving directions to answer "how to get there" questions, information and tips on tourism, budget travel and living in Philippines, Exotic Asia and beyond!
Backpacking, independent travel, and flashpacking are cheaper than the "cheapest package tours" and promotional offers around but you can also use travel information for family vacations, even romantic honeymoon destinations.
More than the usual tourist spots and "places to see," this blog advocates heritage conservation, environmental protection, and history awareness for Filipinos, foreigners, and ex-pats wishing to explore Paradise Philippines and Exotic Asia!
The photo contest turned out to be a poorly organized field trip. I readily noticed the timing-- we had to shoot during the hours regarded as unholy by photographers. Biak-na-bato itself was disappointing with evil yet unknown intentions of vandals whose despicable legacies are highly visible
the organizers were highly prepared-- ironically of course -- where some of them joined us with heels as if they're going to the mall unaware that they'd go trekking. They didn't have an idea how far we're going or where we're going. In short-- they really didn't have the faintest idea of the place 'cause they've never been there. They even assumed all participants were aware of the perils and pitfalls of the place and didn't do their homework.
My superkitlens gang chose to visit Mt Manalmon said to be blasted away by minions of Rosemoor Corporation, with the blessings of the Bulacan Provincial government-- again ironically -- the benefactor of this trip puportively to raise awareness and gain support for saving the historic national park. Made me wonder the event could've just been a PR event to regain "lost ground" (background here and here)
We're hauled into a truck, they call tora-tora, that ferried us to the site looking like hogs hanging on to ropes as the truck navigate the torturous trail of muddy pools . With bad luck hounding us, the truck broke down so we had to trek about 2 kilometers more which the guides told are just 20 minutes away again having no accurate sense of time aside from distance.
The worst is yet to come!
Along the way to Manalmon, 2 inebriated army soldiers and a man, identified as a teacher on board a red pickup truck, questioned us short from an interrogation on our purpose. "Ano ba purpose nyo dyan" (what's your purpose there?), followed up by "pinapatay ninyo mga tao" (you're killing the people) presumably referring to the people who lost their means of living by closing the mines as ordered by the DENR. The teacher, by standard of their income alone, can't possibly afford the red pickup truck. The threesome even invited us to their camp to discuss things but we declined sensing danger. We opted to just continue trekking in spite of their continued “requests” to hop in and join them in their vehicle and apparently eyeing two of my lady friends. We caught up with the 3 again a few hundred meters away taking a cool dip in a deep well with running water with their military uniforms and boots dripping wet maybe to wash away their drunkenness.
At this juncture, we already lost interest in what we’re doing and wanted to go home but we’re left behind by the other participants except for the guide (the sweeper) and two men who were apparently photojournalists working for local newspapers moonlighting as contestants
We arrived at the supposed site to see for ourselves the havoc brought about by blasting the mountain side in search of rose marble where people unaware of the dangers of possible catastrophe
Biak-na-bato: one man’s luck can turn to other people’s misfortune
With our undaunted spirits, we just made fun of our adventures and opted to smile and enjoy ourselves rather than wallow in fear of our close call.
On our way back to the capitol, all the participants voted to divide part of the pot among ourselves as some sort of consolation for our ordeal and suffering due to their incompetence in organizing events much more a photography contest.
The two thousand pesos I received is much less a compensation to defray what we’ve experienced but the friends I met at Kinabuhayan café became closer--- that’s what matters most!
How to get to Biak-na-bato, San Miguel, Bulacan
Commuting to Biak-na-bato is not easy so it's recommended to visit the place by private vehicle.