Reef to Ridge Detour

Spilling few thoughts when my trip plans been shelved for awhile. Lately, there are few redirections to take on and I guess can not be taken for granted, mindful living is my new lifelong quest. To live in the present and be responsive to important matters that life threw at me. Of course, plans are still in my agenda because as they say, having plan (a good plan) is work half done!

Getting back in the mainstream after the pandemic is about catching up where I have left off, personal or official. And always, work duties get on the lead. It is necessary, very necessary. My trekking friends and I just accede without being disturbed or sad, we need to cancel the plan and stay grounded. Third quarter actually is critical, catching up is the general agenda of the whole force.

I was missing the depths, and so wistful about being in the great beyond. But before I could plan for another re-schedule, I got some injury. An ouch that can never be ignored. Diving requires fitness and balanced physical condition.

Nevertheless, there was an opportunity for a work trip – my first time to go outside the region after the pandemic subsided, just in time I got confidence to travel far from my abode. Again, it’s hitting two birds with one stone. Savoring nature’s best in the company of friends exploring new site without neglecting my responsibilities.

Trip to SOCCSKSARGEN was some breather. Actually, it was a reef to ridge detour.  Early trek and swim at Glan shores every morning was so relaxing.  Before we head back for an eight-hour drive to Cagayan de Oro, we spent a night in a farm at the foot of Mt. Matutum, a protected landscape. Indeed, peace and joy in the wide expanse of nature.

Last quarter would be more full I am so sure, but trips also comes with it I guess. I claimed 2022 as a year of healing for me so with the Lord’s blessing I wont let it end without getting into the depths. That’s my solemn promise!

Emerging from Cocoons!

Everyone is slowly, with caution and being very measured and very careful emerging out of their cocoons, now looking around and figuring out what they can do.  I guess for travelers like me, there has been lot of plans especially for trips – places to visit or revisit and activities to do – all of which everyone is dying to savor once again. For me, I’ve been missing the trips and the randomness of being on the road.

Slowly, I’m preparing myself to get back into the groove, those that would lead to where and what I love – the depths!  Also, I’ve been longing for those treks and being on top of heights.  Few of my planned hustles in the next semester is now in order, and I can’t wait! 😊

Dive in Mantangale and Camiguin

I have been dying to be back in my element, it’s unbelievable that it’s been two years since my last dive.  So for my quickie trip, my go-to abode for diving will always be Mantangale, Balingoan. And more than just for the dives, the place is perfect for other activities to unwind after a long week. One can sit quietly by the beach watching the horizons colored in perfect shades of blue, with the island born of fire at a distance!

Speaking of island, my favorite island of Camiguin is a haven for diving with thirty (30) dive sites all over, some of which are hard to beat. Aside from its natural wonders – falls, volcano, hot & cold spring, white beach, soda spring, so on – visit to the island is not complete without diving in its pristine reefs.

             Mantangale Alibuag Dive  Resort Inc. (MADRI)

             Balingoan, Misamis Oriental

            www.mantangale.com

            Mobile No. 0917 801 4560 or 0916 303 9415

            Camiguin Soul Divers

            Looc Tupsan, Mambajao, Camiguin

            www.camiguinsouldivers.com

            Mobile No. 0919 925 8453

Back to Isla

Busan Grande group has always been favorite get away, especially in those times when I just want for some quiet sojourn.  A place where one can find comfort surrounded with blue and green waters while listening to crashing waves, yet secluded from great structures.  Most importantly, its inhabitants are organized communities that are involved in protecting and preserving their invaluable resources.  They perfectly understood that nobody would do it for them except themselves and its protection is their ultimate mission if not sustain this nature’s gift endowed for their livelihood. The coastal communities around the islands believed in their heart that natural resources are always worth the effort in its preservation and protection as legacy for the next generation.

            Sohoton Grande Tours

            SAVE Sohoton Org.

            Mobile No. 0963 926 1426

Go Climb Once More

Just few days when I get back at work, my trekking group welcomed me with a trip plan and what a joy! So they were saying after 2ndQ hustles, we will go for a camping trip, They will make the necessary  arrangements with friends in South Cotabato.  The good thing is, I’ll tag along with them just leaving everything to their command.

Lake Holon trails just opened again for public after a lull during the pandemic, it was launched last March 12 spearheaded by Tboli Tourism Office and this was good news for all.  Actually, it’s like shooting two birds for this trek, climb Mt. Melingoy (Mt. Parker) and camp at Lake Holon. Another nature’s surprises await for this trip!

Lessons from the Farm

During the pandemic I was one of those who left the city for the farm, to succumb to quarantine orders. It was grueling, for the many sudden changes that need to be adopted in order to dodge from the deadly virus. Pandemic indeed have changed us all. At the same time, living in quarantine for months has offered us a rare opportunity to reflect on our lives and, potentially, to reset them. It was about slowing down, spending more time with nature and growing own food – and that’s what I exactly did while in the farm. Admittedly, growing veggies and raising animals helped my well being, taking some grasp to be productive and occupied during the crucial period. Spending more time with nature gave me lessons, reminding some truths if to live a life driven with purpose and meaning.

I have few stories about lessons learned while living in the farm…

The Missing Hen

One morning while cooking breakfast, my sister handed me her hat filled with eggs.

Organic eggs from our hen

“Here are eggs.” She said with some hint of sadness. “My hen is nowhere for a couple of days now. I didn’t know it has laid somewhere hidden in the barrel.” I stared at the eggs neatly piled on the hat. Poor hen. ”I suspect it died, There has been an epidemic of fowls in the neighborhood in the past weeks.”

More than glad for the organic eggs, I felt sorry for the hen, it could have been sick all along, yet it continued to lay ten eggs, good enough for 1 hatch season. It continued to do its purpose as a hen unminding of illness. It continued to carry itself with dignity for the last ten days to her nest.

We lost the hen, but I learned a lesson, it reminded me to do our mission till the end of our days, even at the point of death. To live life with purpose, to remain useful and productive till the end. And it’s not for our own self, but leaving a legacy for others. That is to die with our boots on, like a good soldier.

The Patola

The routine of doing garden rounds was more of pleasure as I got to see new fruits, new flowers or finding something to harvest. Few days back, I went over the plot occupied with the patolas, it’s been more than six months since it produces its fruits giving us constant supply of patola in the

Patola continued to bear fruits

kitchen. Its leaves started to wither, there are more browns than greens. I took this as a sign that it would soon gone for good. Surprisingly, there

Butterfly on its flower

were still  new fruits and even flowers! Again, it reminds me that being fruitful and productive don’t depend with my age, our mission will extend until our last breath. To live until we die, as Fr. Orbos said, “Inspire before you expire. “

The Orchid

The front yard had few mix match of ornaments that we maintained to give at least color not only for the household but also for passersby. At the far corner are few collections of ordinary orchids, most of it I don’t even know its variety. Few months back, we gathered all and replanted them on anislag trunks to give the plants a permanent place of their own.

Orchid leaves almost gone

They seldom give blooms and I could easily ignore them as they are tucked in between other plants. Couple of days ago, some fuschia flowers caught my attention and to my surprise, was the orchid which all its leaves were half-eaten by Lala, our calf! I remembered I was bit disturbed when I saw it and feared it will die.

But what an inspiration! Unmindful of the pain, it continued to bear colorful flowers to all. Just like in life – we experience pain, sorrows, difficulties.  If plants able to withstand hardships and even continue to live and share beautiful blooms, why not for us humans? Let us rise above our storms and be an inspiration to others. We are all called for a mission – to be a blessing to others…

Yes, even in plants or animals we can learn a lesson. 🌱

Grace in Uncertain Times (Reflections amidst CoVid19 Pandemic)

I always believe that everything happens for a reason, or reasons for that matter. Philosophically, I keep in mind and heart the advantages, never allowing myself to dwell in the negative ones. And again, this can only be possible if we chose to think outside the box, chose to be non-conformist and have keen eyes to see beyond the surface.

The pandemic experience has taught me a lot of things, those that were basic and we’re taught of as young kids.  I guess we all need some revelations, perhaps an epiphany to serve as guide in this life’s journey. Admittedly, it was during this episode that I learned a lot about myself, the people around me and life in general.

I have understood that in order to cope up with the demands of dodging the illness, I need to step back and re-learn the ropes of simple living or I must say, mindful living.    I was aiming to put things in order at the beginning of CY 2020, believing I must get it done to start a new decade afresh.  There were personal issues by then, a lot of them. At the start of March, I breezed through a panel interview for some consultative job in a nephrology clinic, churning figures again though I made it clear it’s not a 9-to-5 fare. Unfortunately, before I could finish up reviewing their existing financial system, covid19 pandemonium have overtaken the country and the world, in general.

Leaving the city immediately was just logical and I guess the only option I had, as lockdowns and border controls have surfaced for safety measures. I left for the farm because for me, it was the safest place to hid from the imminent danger of the disease.  The global pandemic has immobilized the life as we know it.

Living at the Farm

When I left the city, I had all my essentials in a backpack just like going on weekend trip. While I was clueless when its gonna end, my sole concern at that time was to leave immediately for safety.

There was much peace and total immersion in nature, and the assurance that the virus could hardly caught me.  I didn’t wear mask in there – inside or outside the house, got fresh air to breath, picked veggies for kitchen needs, ate fruits from our own trees, etc. There was total freedom.

It was the perfect quarantine episode, there was no telco signal in our home and so I was out of circulation from social media, gadgets do not consume my day and I was more mindful and doing other things that are enriching both physically and mentally.  I realize that one can truly survive without being online or connected to the net. 😊

I was missing my hustle and bustle while in the city, yet staying in the farm was altogether a learning experience, it was like a reorientation of simple living and understanding more about agriculture.  And I was grateful that we have a place to come home to, a place to run for safety and a community that wasn’t difficult to fit in.

Life Support Systems

During quarantine there were lot that has to be given up, we were all immobilized due to travel restrictions.  Obviously, my diving trips plan was cancelled and I was pretty dried up longing for my grand element.  But then, I went to focus more on activities that I have grasp at the moment – plants, animals, environmental advocacy, reconnecting with old friends, household tasks that were deferred for some time, so on.

I guess it was about refocusing my mindset to be productive doing tasks that were at hand and just set aside matters that were beyond my control.  Indeed, there is a time for everything.

Most importantly, Maxine & Bronson were always there for me (“mother & son” aspin tandem) whose love and loyalty can never be outdone, I never expected them both to be sweet and endearing when they are ferocious and aggressive to other people.  I guess they just gave back what they received and more. We had walks in the afternoon when it wasn’t raining and it seemed they had body clock that made them bark at me for our afternoon rendezvous!

Lessons and Reasons

We can’t deny that the effects and aftershocks of the pandemic have affected us all, no one is ever spared and obviously we all have survived the test.  If there’s one important lesson I learned was that the Almighty carried us through and He has reasons for all of these.  Our views may be different from one another, but I always believe the Author of Life will reveal in due time when we are ready for more challenges.  No one has ever imagined that we will experience the global pandemic in our lifetime, definitely it is a lesson to be larger than life. In life’s storms, we can all rise with the waves instead of swimming against it.

In between, I realized that even with the catastrophe – our needs were provided – food on the table, good health, love and support from family. Even with our limited resources, we were able to share to others in need notwithstanding the possibility that the situation might get worse in the next days. In those times, I was only hoping for the best.

In the end, we become better version of ourselves after we overcome our challenges. The pandemic was not our own choice, it came to us unexpectedly but life continues. 

The hullabaloo had quieted in the past three months. Everyone is slowly, with caution and being very measured and very careful, emerging out their cocoons and looking around and figuring out what they can do.  And, I got back in the city a couple of weeks ago for some unfinished business at the workplace. I looked back with fresh eyes, understanding better that in life there is no certainty but we could always carry on if we believe that what happened is for good reasons and trusting that the all-knowing God has in store for us latent resources that could prod us to move on wherever life would lead us.  His promise of graces is overflowing for all of us. Yes, and that’s the way LIFE is!

Madness in Mantangale 🐟

Coming back in this little paradise always felt like coming home, this is my residence for diving and will always be. More than a decade ago, this was where I braved the rigors of basic scuba skills. Donning the gears and with that sweet breath of oxygen underwater for the first time in its waters, was unforgettable. The staff always welcomed me like I am a family. The homey comforts in MADRI was just perfect for our year-end (2019)dive escapade.

That weekend was perfect timing as the dive resort was not crowded, and it was relaxing as there was no need to rush to Mantangale.  Sir Dodong assured that tides would be right for dives by midday, thus our commute was just in right pace. We chanced again Russians for that day, a couple from Moscow who was still arriving to join the day’s dives.

As we waited for take-off, we had pleasantries with Sir Dodong, and had my regulator for some safety check as its mouthpiece too was due for replacement. The cheery weather was perfect with blue skies as we watched Camiguin Island over the horizon. A sight to behold, so mesmerizing! Relaxing at the dive shop with this view is such a wonderful gift of nature.

Lapinig Island

The Russians joined us finally at the shop and we rushed for the boat after we geared up. In less than ten minutes, we anchored for our first descent.  The surf was bit up drawn by the tide, our descent went smoothly unto sandy slope. The spot is haven for Christmas tree worms, they were all over massive corals in various colors. I had fun watching as they flop down instantly but few stood their grounds. There were lot of linkia laevegata scattered around, culcita, choco chip stars, fish juveniles over the corals, damsels, chromis, angels, bannerfish, moorish idol and anthias in varied colors.  We found some trashes though, mostly sachets of coffee and milk, fishing lines and nylon rope which I neatly rolled and tied up to avoid tangles.  There were craters as we roamed around and spotted an alibuag too! I noticed a hairy shrimp over the anemone cohabiting with clownfish. As we roamed, we passed coral field with lots of fishes hanging over, those mysterious crevices too, chances are critters were just lurking in the dark.  This lowly uninhabited islet looks ordinary and desolate but you never knew how diverse it could be deep down!

We ascend after 52 minutes with my deepest at 28.7 meters, with nitrox 30%.

Banaug Shoal

After a relaxing lunch, we prepared for our last descent at the house reef –always my favorite here in Mantangale.  The surf didn’t wane, it was necessary to hold the rope until the bouy.  Yes, descending to the shoal needs a line or you could end up somewhere else! Halfway, the resident midnight snapper started darting around as if to welcome us. It’s a lot bigger now! As soon as we got on top of the shoal, a large swarm of fish came around and I guess the resident creatures have gotten used to human visitors.  The rhythm of colors as they swarmed and wiggled on this shelter was a sight to behold, its perfect diverse environs is a nature’s wonder. Black corals abound, so with soft corals, whips, feather stars and more. We found nudis, giant clams, scorpion fish resting on table coral, lionfish, and moray eel! We went around, this time I went slow so that after a full circle it would be time to ascend before my NDL gets done.  Other divers were gone ahead including Sir Dodong, while our guide went up halfway and waited for us.  I have wanted to spend my last available minute before I start to ascend, so when my NDL was down to 1, signaled Angel for ascent and slowly as I could went up still looking down the mound.  I went 33.3 meters with 49 minutes as bottom time, still with 30% nitrox.

We speed off over the afternoon surf to the shores, with happy smiles as we unload to the shop. Two wonderful dives in one of our favorite sites.  Just enough to warm my diver’s heart.

After for more than a decade of diving pursuits, MADRI will always be my go-to abode. Essentially relaxed, not crowded, environment-friendly and not distant from my base.  Ma’am Nana is just a text away, always ready to accommodate my request even sometimes an exclusive dive for me if there were no other guests.  How blessed to have stumbled this happy place for my diving escapades without traveling far!  Absolutely, there will be more diving trips here in this homely corner of Balingoan, MADRI is always worth coming back!