[Philippines] ► Top 13 Epic #TownExplorer Adventures in 2013

(The full article is posted below this discussion box.)

"So the year is ending, again. The year 2013 is a blissful one. Major life events came: there are milestones, there are crucial decisions, there are unexpected realizations."

It was full of adventure - medium, big and small. Much of them defined who I am today, that span of a year. 2013 was a turning point, and, it was a point of no return. Now, I would want to share to you these 13 adventures that I think the most epic in all my travels this 2013.


Longest Zipline in Asia

At a very mysterious village at the slope of Mt. Apo is the sanctuary of the Moncaditas. Moncadista is a religious sect who considers their village as the paradise. They also consider some parts of Mt. Apo as the final destinations of the dead, like heaven and hell.

The village is called New Israel; it is where the longest zipline in Asia is located. To note, this is my first zipline experience. I consider it epic because I directly experienced the longest without conditioning myself to try the short others. I am not really sure if a new zipline has arisen to break it's length record. But of course, that time, it was the longest. My local host brought me here. Thanks to her and I am sure she is reading this


3 provinces, 1 elf-truck, unlimited adventure

I was able to explore some parts of the 3 provinces in Mindanao by riding at the back of an elf-truck with a great group. At first, it was a hesitant decision being a great earthquake has just cracked and damaged the roads, bridges and other public structures in North Cotabato and Bukidnon. What else? There is a big rain (sort of typhoon or monsoon) flooding many towns the night before the adventure. Deadma, the non-stop inter-provincial elf-truck back-joyriding's excitement overpowered our fear.

Epic. We started before sunrise and went home after sunset. The joy ride went through, in spite of the cracked roads and flooded towns we have to pass through. So where have we been and what we did? Watch out for the stories on 2014.


We are brothers, and we are [bachelor] backpackers

This was my first time in Sagada. For that very first time, the chance to explore the place was limited to 3 hours. That precious limited time was a remedy and the result of a major decision over Banaue and/or going home to catch my schedule for the job I am committed to do.

I consider it epic because we were in a hurry as we hired a random guide we just met along the way. With my brother, we were able to climb the Kiltepan Peak, visit Bokong Falls, the Echo Valley, the Hanging Coffins, the Rocky Valley, the Latang Underground River and of course, to eat Halo-Halo before the last trip out of the town -- all within 3 hours! Fierce! We were fast and furios!


Sumaguing Cave in Sagada

I can't get enough with Sagada, after that short 3-hour adventure, I went back after 2 weeks of returning to my regular job. This time, with an ol' good friend, dates back to childhood, now a Canadian citizen after a dose of hard work and faith. We, both knew how it feels to have nothing because we grew up getting used with nothing. Now that we have studied hard, surviving the financial challenges of sending ourselves to the university, we met again; now, with 'something.' 

We reminisced those days when we drool seeing [more] fortunate children wearing their good clothes eating inside a Jollibee branch wherein that time, we can't even afford to enter. Since we are that type of grown-up children missing our careless childhood with dirty over-sized clothes, we decided not to get a guide. You know, we are get used of taking the risk because when we were young, taking the risk is all it takes to get a chance and fortune since we didn't have the wealth those times. We knew the risk, but we are born "madiskarte." This so-called diskarte made us were we are now - doing anything fair and wholesome to achieve our dreams.

So what's epic here? Of course we tried to relive our chilhood diskarte to achieve a goal within our means. We had the fund, but we opted to limit our budget and still achieve a goal. Hence, this spelunking without a guide. On how we survived safe and alive is the result of a diskarte we learned from our childhood (more of this story on 2014).


Muddy Trail

So it was my first time to ride on a tractor or kuliglig. At some point, we have to get off and push the tractor over muddy terrain.

What makes this adventure epic is the fact that this tractor was able to contain up to 15 people squeezed altogether for the love of journeying in spite of the direful road. Our destination? I will reveal next year, that's 2014. Well, 2014 is for Mindanao adventures patiently waiting in their queue.


Avenue Cave in North Cotabato

Another from Mindanao, so far, takes a part of my heart as I experience the most extreme spelunking I've ever done in my life. It was a total package for extremists. 

Epic extreme activities included inside this cave is walking through an above-ankle-deep mud, rappelling the deadly way (no harness + slippery wood and rocks), crawling through the stinky rocks covered with bat poops and sustaining at least one wound or skin cut (not required, but inevitable).


Stranded in the middle of the current.

So pushing it beyond the limits is all it takes for this group of adventurers where I hitched to reach a destination secluded by civil wars and insurgency. 

The river crossing was just memorable that we pushed beyond the limit. What happened next was epic. 2014 will reveal the story behind this adventure.


Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao

One of my favorite journeys in 2013 is my 15 days of backpacking in the Cordilleras covering Luna and Pudtol in Apayao, Bontoc and Sagada in Mountain Province, Banaue (includes Batad) in Ifugao, Bangued in Abra, Tinglayan (Bugnay ang Buscalan) in Kalinga and a road trip via the Halsema Highway all the way to Baguio in Benguet.

10 days of this adventure was solo-done, while the remaining 5 days was spent with a friend. There are more places to see in the Cordilleras, more surprising than the popular ones. 


Biking in a peaceful Mindanao Barrio to kill time

My 1 month stay in Mindanao in a laid-back barrio was a major enlightenment for me when I was drooling seeing some FB friends enjoying the good sides of being a Digital Nomad. This adventure (in life) has helped me chart a major decision, hence, epic.

This lengthy vacation-travel has taught me what I really wanted to do. At first, I wanted to become location independent. So this 1 month vacation was a trial-and-error. I realized, chillaxing, killing time, getting some adventures or simply biking around a place, continually, was not the kind of life I wanted. When I am in a vacation, I forget the definition of stress. But with this lengthy vacation, I realized that the things I am doing become routine-ary that I am missing my regular job. 

This time, I realized that the value of a thing can only be appreciated if it is gone. For that 1 month of pure traveling, I temporarily lost my job. From there, I started to realize the value of my job. I suddenly missed becoming productive and creative as a result. Whenever I see young professionals wearing their dignified uniforms and see myself purely having fun without being productive in an active job, I envy them and it makes me want to wear that uniform again and get back to my work as a professional. I came up to the realization that my job is as important as traveling. 

Non-stop traveling becomes usual in due time. So to get the excitement back to traveling, I have to attend my regular job until the thirst for adventure makes me weak again. To gain strength, I have to satisfy the thirst. I think, balance is important, of family, of work and of leisure.


Fang-od: an Epic Tribal Tattooist

The 4th spot is reserved for my solo hike to Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga -- the place where a ~93-year-old woman resides.

In all my adventures in 2013 from Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao, I have only written 2 towns: Bontoc and Tinglayan. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I believe you have already read my story about that solo hike to Buscalan to meet Fang-od and on how epic it was.


The 3rd most epic adventure belongs to a journey that I am not yet ready to disclose. There are things in life that make the world a better place if they are kept as a secret. Right? #SPG and steamy.


A family that travels together, stays together

This is something that I treasure traveling by land (via RoRo) from my hometown Vigan to Davao. What makes this adventure epic is the presence of all the members of my family. Yes, we traveled together by crossing straits in between islands from Luzon, Samar, Leyte to Mindanao. It was my suggestion, great thing the reception for that crazy idea of traveling was all-fun for them. So far, it is the longest time my family stayed close together within four corners and/or within the 100 meters radius. At home, we only spend up to 16 hours a day (during sleep + daytime chit-chat) and after that, we go to work. This time it was 3 days!

Epic. Just another family of contemporary vagabonds! Just this time.


15-days in Abra. One Motorbike. 22 Towns. Countless Thrill.

The scheme I employed in this wander-lustful adventure is the rain-or-shine-journey type of exploration. The monsoon that brought heavy flooding in Metro Manila last September extended it's power up north. So Abra was not spared, but the adventure must continue. Together with a new friend, we bravely hit the wet road, rough and harsh.

Epic. Indeed the most epic because this 15-days of exploring Abra via motorbike under the monsoon is giving rise to a book that will be published next year (2014). Fair enough right?

This is EDMARATION #TownExplorer's official entry for the December 2013 Pinoy Travel Bloggers' Blog Carnival hosted by Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue

To see the previous compilations, click the logo at left.

Happy New Year everyone and see you in 2014 for more #TownExplorer type of adventures. Bolder. Fiercer. Steamier./end

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Map of the Destinations Mentioned in this Post

Click to Enlarge Map Courtesy of Wikipedia


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comment 16 #TownFolks Commented :

Ervin I Schadow1 Expeditions on December 28, 2013 at 4:17 AM said...

You got a good year for travels especially at the North! More for you this 2014!

Edmar Guquib said...

Ervin I Schadow1 Expeditions | Thank you Ervin!

Pinoy Adventurista on December 28, 2013 at 6:13 PM said...

Endless Trill!!! Woohoo!!! Happy New Year!

Mai Flores on December 28, 2013 at 6:17 PM said...

Asteeg ang 13 #EPIC adventures mo friend! I specifically loved the one about Fang-od! Gusto ko magpaTattoo ulit, pero sana siya na... sana mahintay pa nyako! And sana makaTravel na tayo together in the near future. :) Happy New Year Bai! :)

Edmar Guquib said...

Pinoy Adventurista | Same to you Kuya Mervz! More thrill for 2014 for us passionate travel bloggers! Yohhooo!

Edmar Guquib said...

Mai Flores | Oo nga... All things become beautiful in God's time. Magkakasama rin tayo sa adventure! Thanks again sa gift! :)

Traveling Morion on December 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM said...

happy holidays bro! more travels and adventures coming on 2014

Edmar Guquib said...

Traveling Morion | Same to you bro. Hope to bump with you one of these days!

Pinay Travel Junkie on December 31, 2013 at 4:42 PM said...

Can't wait to see that labor of love which is the coffee table book! Sana matuloy na kami sa northern trip namin next year. I'm really looking forward to doing Abra and hope I could meet you somewhere along the way.

Edmar Guquib said...

Pinay Travel Junkie | Hope to meet you along the way ate Gay! Happy New Year po! :)

Claire | Traveling Light on January 1, 2014 at 2:47 PM said...

New Israel Village sounds fascinating. What does it look like? Were you able to talk to the locals there?

Here's to more adventures on 2014!

Edmar Guquib said...

Claire | Traveling Light | Hi there Claire, the village is not-the-usual. Aside from the people living here, real monkeys also dwell in this place. It is a kingdon of monkeys by the way, and this village serves as their territory.

New Israel looks so out-of-this-world where creepy to enchanting to mysterious symbolisms (like the all-seeing eye) are everywhere in the village. But the people are really kind, but mysterious, hehe...

Conclusion: It is a place of surprise! Like being transported to a different dimension of culture that is setting a line that separates us, the contemporary and modern world. Can't wait to blog this place this 2014 Claire :)

Christeen Cereno on January 2, 2014 at 6:54 AM said...

Edmar, your adventure is always to the ninth! Sana mameet kita in person! and oh! Thank you for nominating my blog sa PTB! Here's to more ASTIG adventure this 2014!

Paula O on January 2, 2014 at 11:49 AM said...

Ed, I love these rough adventures!

Happy 2014!

Edmar Guquib said...

Christeen Cereno | Hey Christeen! Mag-mi-meet din ang landas natin anytime soon! Happy New Year!

Edmar Guquib said...

Paula O | Yieehehh! Happy 2014 Paula!

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