Dec 22 2014

a Solo hike to the hills of Naupa, Naga and an overnight with friends.

June 19, 2014

I originally planned to go solo on this overnight backpacking trip. Later on the day, some friends decided to catch up but I still hiked the trail solo. It was a rainy day and there was a tropical storm. Luckily, it only glanced the northern part of Philippines.

As they say, there is always a first time for everything. And today, I somehow managed to reach the bus terminal, only to realize that I left my tent back at home. That was really stupid. I had to go back to home and get it.

After getting off the bus, I took a motorcycle ride to the jump off point.

The road was muddy and slippery.

By the time I started my hike, the rain was already pouring. Good thing I had my poncho. Approaching the first fork along the trail, take the one on the left.

More rain ahead

The second fork along the trail. Go right.

This is the last fork along the trail. Take the left path.

This area is your last water source.

approaching the campsite!

After an hour of hike, I got to the campsite. Setting up the single wall dome tent in the rain was a bit messy. Good thing I had dry clothes with me. After I settled in, I switch to my smaller pack and went out to do some scouting around the area. That yellow rain fly is my poncho which I setup as a rain fly so I would have some dry area where I can store my muddy boots and do my cooking.

Scouting the area, I found some good sites for tents and a small area for hammock users.


Back at the tent for dinner!

A love chilli beans!

I’m warm inside my tent. I love lighting up candles when I go out camping. They serve as a light source and they help get rid of the insects that fly around at night. I stayed warm during the night. At 560masl, I can get by using an insulation foam as my sleeping pad, no sleeping bag needed. Just some dry clothes on. I stayed dry, warm and comfy inside the tent despite the strong winds and rain outside. Condensation was minimal during my stay was minimal.

Good morning! Just an advice, be careful when leaving your boots outside your tent overnight. You never know what kind of creeper crawlies that might end up staying inside it. They might find it really comfortable. I know I should have wrapped this in plastic before leaving it outside overnight.

Breakfast and a cup of hot coffee!

I forgot to mention that I have neighbors in the campsite. My friends arrived around night time just around the time for dinner. They had their tents setup next to my tent. I didn’t bring out my camera anymore because it was raining. Anyway, here’s the campsite at day break.

We did a quick scout around and had a group photo at the top of one of the hills in the area.

Of course a self portrait is mandatory.


Break camp!

I’ll end this post with this rendered photo of a tree I found while scouting the area during day 1.

Until the next one, Thanks for dropping by!

Dec 19 2014

the Osmeña Peak to Kawasan Traverse

With the fast approaching holidays, I’ve been grounded to my daily routine of work and home. It has been 2 weeks since I last put on my hiking gears. I guess this is a good time to go through some backlogs.

This backpacking trip happened last August June 28, 2014. The trail is commonly called the O. Peak Kawasan traverse. Or at least that’s what I commonly hear from my peers. The trail we took was a moderate one and it was mostly downhill. My gps logged a total of 14.03km starting from our group photo at the O. Peak to the highway past Kawasan Waterfalls.

Day 1

We started the day by taking the bus that’s parked at at the gasoline station at corner Magallanes and Panganiban Street.

The bus left the city around 830AM. The bus ride from Cebu City to Mantalungon was about 3 hours and were full of interesting photo subjects.

We arrived at Mantalungon at about 11:30AM. Just enough time for us to buy supplies from the local market and have our lunch before we make the final hike to the campsite.

Osmeña Peak is a well known place for backpackers and it’s really important to be at the campsite very early so you can get hold of the prime areas for the tents. There are no trees in the area for hammock users. We decided to split the group. 1 smaller group to go ahead and secure the campsite while the main group stays and buys supplies.

I decided to join the lead group. This will allow me to setup my tent early so I can focus more on scouting for photo opportunities.

It’s nice to see wild flowers blooming in the area. Too bad the day was overcast. It would have been perfect if we had blue skies.

The main group arrived, setup their tents and get to prepping for dinner.

I decided to take the opportunity to explore the less taken areas. I’ve always wanted to climb this peak.

The view up the peak was different than I expected. It gave a panoramic view of the farming areas below.

A selfie! Don’t worry, this area is totally safe. The camera angle just made it look as if I was at the edge of the cliff.

Here’s KG, my photo buddy in this trip. He joined me in climbing to this area.

Turning to face west, this is our view. It’s similar to the view from the site they call Osmeña Peak, but without the crowd. We had this area to ourselves.

Turning to the Southwest, you can see the campsite and the Osmeña Peak in the background. It’s almost sunset and I really wanted to wait for golden hour. Unfortunately the fog has covered our view and is slowly creeping towards our direction. Time to descend now since the trail back to the campsite is not easy.

When we got back, everyone was has already settled and just waiting for dinner.

The fog cleared up. I should have stayed up there. Oh well, I just have to settle with this generic shot and try my luck later for star trails

Back at the campsite for some socials.

After a few rounds of drinks at the campsite, when most of the group has decided to call it a night. KG and I went back to Osmeña Peak for the stars!

Day 2

Being a landscape photographer is never easy. You rarely get enough sleep. Up early for the sunrise!

Group shot!

Now we are off to the main hike, the traverse to Kawasan Waterfalls. It was the humidity and the heat of the sun that was really wearing me down. The trail was mostly easy to moderate since it was mostly downhill.

We already had a designated stop at the water source. Here we had our lunch. We were already half way the trail.

Last break before we tackle the last few kilometers for the trail.

The last part was easy. Mostly paved roads.

Finally reached the Kawasan Waterfalls!

Overall, I had fun. I would like to try this trail in reverse next time. I bet that will be more challenging. There also a few areas along the hike that I wish I had more time to spend taking photos. Maybe a 3 days 2 nights hike would be better if it’s a group of hiking photographers.

For those interested, here are the technical details of the trail from Osmeña Peak to Kawasan.

Aug 6 2014

A long hike at the Babag Mountain Range 2014-07-06

I always wanted to try a different trail. After studying topographic maps of the area, I can see there are plenty of interesting places to go to. So after setting a route, I invited my hiking buddy Siopao to join me in this long trail. Of course, I always get a local guide when exploring new areas. That’s just common sense. At least that’s how I was taught back in the province. It is always important to have someone with you who is local to that area for a lot of reasons, most of which are for your own safety. Ignore those people who try to be bad asses and blaze through so called “unfamiliar areas”.  That’s their version of fun. :-)

Anyway, let’s start walking…

The Napo-Babag trail

After around 30 minutes we got off the common trail and started following the towers. There are obvious trails but foliage has grown back and started to reclaim the path. Good thing we brought the right tools to cut down a path. Here we are taking a quick photo near one of the towers.

My hiking buddy Siopao and I near one of the power line towers along Mt Babag

As we hiked further it was obvious that this path is regularly used by the locals. We can see patches of farmed lands. Some of them were just recently cleared. This trail gives you a better view of Cebu City and a lot of cool breeze of fresh air.


Someone left their toy here. :-)

Someone left their heavy equipment.

We got free mangoes from one of the workers in the area. :-)

Freshly picked mangoes!

We have reached our planned destination. This part seems to be a junction for a lot more trails to try. But most importantly, a very nice spot to observe and photograph the landscape during a sunrise and a sunset.

Our destination was the 6th tower. Here we took a break and had some snacks.

Here’s the view from this location.


We had some quick snacks since we still have a long hike ahead. I know, these are instant food, not the freshly cooked ones. But we have other plans. There’s always a time for “gourmet” cooking and a time for quick insta meals.

Our snacks/early dinner at the Babag mountain range

From this point forward, it was already raining and it quickly got dark. I was no longer able to take a lot of photos but it was a long ridge hike. There were parts that our guide Manwel was no longer familiar with the area. Some parts we began cutting paths through thick vegetation.

The path we made through the thick bushes. Trail blazing through thick vegetation in Babag

After an hour of cutting our own path, it was becoming obvious that Manwel was no longer familiar with the path. I decided to take over and call the directions. We eventually got back to an established trail and went back to hiking the ridge as planned. Along the ridge hike I spotted some boot prints of other hikers. Some breaking off trail and some going the opposite direction. Happy exploring guys! Sorry no photos here.

As we got nearer to RCPI, our path was blocked by a raging bull. Like a final boss fight in a pc game, he was in our path. Lucky for us, the bull was tied to a tree and wasn’t free to chase us around. It gave a try though. We passed RCPI and walked straight down to Babag and continued on to Mountain View area where we took a motorcycle ride back to JY Square.

We ended our long hike with a dinner at AA Bbq.

Hike details.

DISTANCE: 11.86km
DURATION: 7:18:43 hours (This includes our breaks)
More details here:
All photos are geo tagged for reference.

Until the next one.

My trusty combat boots.

Jun 9 2014

A day hike through the Napo-Babag Trail with my buddy Jake & Haiz

Just the usual trail taken by hikers. Packing light this time. I decided to ditch my main tripod for a smaller “gorilla” pod. That really cut down the total weight down to 12Kg.

A quick shot at the jump off point.
Off to Napo-Babag Trail

Not much photos to take. The day was really cloudy and light was not on my side.

The goal just around a kilometer away.
the RCPI towers at Babag Mountain Range

The Queen City of the South as viewed near the RCPI towers.

Mandatory group photo before hiking back down to the city.

On our hike down through the road to Babag Uno, two gentlemen from RECON group offered us a ride back to the city. Thanks guys!

It was a good hike.
Dirty combat boots


Jun 2 2014

Star trails – Chalet Hills, Busay never disappoints a landscape photographer

After almost 2 weeks of staying at home for recovery, my body finally healed and was ready to go outdoors again. After posting an open invite in the social media, I only got 1 response but he can only meet up at the campsite and could not join me in the hike along the Napo-Babag trail. So I decided to just push on for a solo hike and meet up with him at the camp site.

My pack weight 19.4Kg this time because I needed to bring more water, meals and the tent. Just when my mind was set for the solo hike, a friend texted that she wanted to join in the day hike. Well, it is always better and safer than a solo hike so I told her to meet up with me at the church gate.

I really need to buy a 1 person tent for my solo camp outs. This should cut down on the total weight of my pack.

After 2 weeks of being inactive, the weight of the pack turned out a bit too much for me. I got totally exhausted when we arrived at the Roble’s residence. I asked Manang Emem if her son could carry my pack for me up to the RCPI towers but Manwel was out working. Emem offered to carry the pack for me since she was going the same route to buy meds for her daughter Juliet who was having a fever.
For Manang Emem, carrying the 19.4Kg backpack was nothing. She didn’t even sweat carrying it.
Here’s Haiz who joined me for the day hike.

We reached RCPI towers around 530pm and it was getting dark. We rested for awhile and continued on the trail to Babag I. Emem and I parted when we reached the store where she could buy the meds. I paid her for the help and gave her extra money for the meds she needed to buy for Juliet.

Haiz and I continued the hike to Chalet. From there I setup the tent and joined Haiz by the road as she waited for a motorcycle ride back to JY Square.

I went back to my tent to start cooking dinner and setup my photo gears.
Dinner time.

I really thought I was going to be alone up there. The only hope was that Chris would continue his plan in camping overnight at Chalet. But around 8:45PM people started to arrive and occupy the place. 5 people arrived and setup 2 tents in front of me. Then two more and was followed by another large group. I was now in the middle of their group. They were a friendly bunch and in just minutes I was already chatting with them. The most common trait you will notice about campers/mountaineers/hikers is their friendly attitude to strangers. And they won’t hesitate to help you if you need it. I was really glad for their presence or it would have been a lonely and depressing night. I have to admit, I can’t remember all their names but I definitely remember their faces. I hope to meet you all again in the future camp outs.

Of course I didn’t just go up there to get some fresh air and reflect on things. There’s always time for photography. The northern hemisphere was really cloudy but around 2:30am the clouds cleared out so I started snapping series for the star trails. I left the camera for 1hour and 30 minutes. When I got back it was already cloudy and I think I was only able to salvage around an hour of 30sec shots. Here’s the output. Some of the campers were still up having some drinks.
Star trails at Chalet Hills Busay Cebu City.

The next day we had our breakfast and break camp around 7AM. We started our hike back to the main road around 8AM.
Hiking back to the main road.

I was actually in a depressed mood the other day (personal reasons). I was hoping the solo overnight stay at the campsite was going to be a time for self evaluation for me or it could have turned out to be a night of feeling really sad and depressed. I’m very thankful for the campers who arrived that night. Their presence really lighten up my mood of what would have been a lonely and depressing night.

Also a big thank you to Haiz for joining me through the day hike. Thank you for the company.