I’d scarcely finished unpacking the stuff I brought to Zambales when one of the people I trekked to Anawangin with, Ate Trixie, invited us to her hometown in Camarines Sur (where she serves as a councilor of the municipality of Ragay). Naturally, I went. Haha. Our itinerary included Mt. Isarog, CamSur Watersports Complex, Punta Beach in Catabangan Proper, and Cabadisan. After an 8-hour ride from Cubao to Ragay on the Isarog ~lazyboy~ bus, we rested a bit, then prepared for the hike up Mt. Isarog. I thought we were gonna try to reach the summit (AMBISYOSA!) through the Panicuason trail, but as that would have taken us 8-10 hours of trekking and we had other things to fill our day with, we just hiked to Malabsay Falls — and there we commenced ~shenanigans~
I pigged out on laeng and fried fish and squid (cue another whiny exclamation of “I’m so faaaaaat~”) and got drunk, but kebs, though the universe rained on our little picnic, it was one of the best meals of my life! I maintain that my waist line will forgive me because I had fun. Hahaha.
But some shenanigans, you just can’t condone.
I wouldn’t call myself an eco-warrior in the Anna Oposa sense of the word, but I do love nature (especially in the Romantic and Spiritual Naturalist sense), I revel in its wonders, its beauty and it sheer awesomeness. Also I HATE, HATE, HAAAATE TRASH and POLLUTION! Living in Manila has made me value the countryside and the wilderness even more. So it really pisses me off when humans desecrate it — especially when those who do are supposed to know better. Every hiker should discipline himself to “leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time; take nothing but pictures; keep nothing but memories.” People shouldn’t even be let into national parks if they can’t hike responsibly!
< / rant >
We next went to CWC, hoping to go wakeboarding (or my friends did — I, being a chickun, was content to pig out on laeng pizza. Because I just can’t have too much laeng. Haha). Unfortunately, the waiting list was sooo long we just chilled out, took pictures, and headed to Punta Beach in Catabangan Proper, where we spent the night. We drank Emperador and Poliakov and talked about love (among other things, yes), because all drunken conversations sooner or later turn to love. HAHA.
As usual, I spent the morning taking pictures.
I also listened to Ate Trixie talk about her environmental work in Camarines Sur — ordinance creation and law enforcement, waste disposal management, ecoutourism development, awareness campaigns, Bantay Gubat, Bantay Dagat, etc. This woman goes on raids against illegal fishing, reprimands the loggers of mangroves, explores uncharted mountains in the region, and still manages to report for work everyday and scoff at attempts to bribe her not to care. She’s so into her constituents, everyone knows her. She holds degrees in Psychology and Environmental Science. Also, she is funny and hot. And no, I cannot post her number here, but you may all bow down in adoration.XD
In Ragay, people segregate their trash, otherwise, garbage truck operators don’t collect it. Every barangay has a materials recovery facility (MRF). The recyclables, they sell to junk shops, the biodegradables they use for compost. The locals seem vigilant about conserving the environment; we saw signage about keeping Camarines Sur green all over the place. City people often think that those in the provinces are backward, but hey, look at Camarines Sur, look at Manila. It’s pretty evident which place has more people who are disciplined.
Ate Trixie also took us to Cabadisan, to this little village up in a mountain in Ragay, and while we went hiking, the villagers told us about how Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted to turn their place into a garbage dump for Manila because they didn’t generate enough income as an area. The locals fought fiercely against the proposal so it wasn’t realized, but still, hearing about it made me so angry. That is what happens when you care too much about economics and too little about people, culture, and nature.
Cabadisan is SO BEAUTIFUL (too bad my my camera ran out of batteries or I would’ve posted a barrage of pictures of Cabadisan), I can’t imagine anyone turning it into another Payatas! Ate Trixie is looking to develop the place into an ecotourist destination for trekkers and the like. So far, the trail has become like nonexistent because of kaingin—
but the trek (even with all the scratches that came with it) was worth it. They have AMAZING falls!
Aside from the epic sights (and I do mean epic. The view from the highest point of the village in Cabadisan looked like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings), what made the hike special was the company of the villagers. They are such warm, wonderful people. Their sense of community is amazing, especially to a city-bred individualist like me — as Kuya Dan said, they’re like one big family. They’re poor, yes, they have so little — they don’t even have access to electricity — and yet, they shared their food with us, took time out of their busy day to guide us to the falls. Living in such a remote place, they don’t get visited by outsiders often, so they wanted our experience of Cabadisan to be memorable. I found it touching when they said that they were happy with the thought that we would remember them even after we’d returned to Manila.
Indeed, I learned much from our visit to Cabadisan. There’s virtually no crime there, except for the occasional and easily resolved fistfight. The greatest trouble they’ve had was an encounter between members of the NPA and the military in their area. Although they’re poor and in a sense oppressed by a system in which development is uneven and does not “trickle down,” the villagers of Cabadisan seem fairly content with their lot. Some of them even used to work in Manila but ended up returning to Cabadisan because they found the pollution, corruption, ostentation, and the dog-eat-dog mentality prevalent in Manila to be distasteful. In contrast, the people of Cabadisan lead very simple lives and only aspire to make a decent living, to have enough to eat and to be able to support their families. They take from the world only what they need from it.
When people live on a mountain, where the sky seems close enough to reach, where one wakes up to the wind and a view of endless fields, it’s easy to romanticize their lifestyle. But though I felt I’d like to live there, I don’t think I can — I love technology and modern amenities too well. But I certainly would love to come back and visit.
For more photos of this CamSur weekend, click here.
THREE MONTHS THREE MOUNTAINS: