three months three mountains: Mt. Isarog and Cabadisan

Malabsay Falls, Mt. Isarog

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~

Bacchanalia. Hahaha! Photo by Trixie Clemente

photo op. Wilkins ad?? Photo by Karen Cordon

picnic place!

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.

Jollibee trash at Malabsay Falls. WTF.

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.

dogieeeeees <3

This is Trixie Clemente, Ragay councilor extraordinaire and instigator of CamSur awesomeness.

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.

On the road to Cabadisan. We rode a top-down trike on rocky terrain for 17 kilometers, baby. See those mountains in the distance? Theyre called SUSO NG DALAGA. Photo by Trixie Clemente.

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

wait, what trail? Photo by Trixie Clemente

but the trek (even with all the scratches that came with it) was worth it. They have AMAZING falls!

scrambling to get to Binaliw Falls. FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN. Photo by Trixie Clemente.

Binaliw Falls, so named because it would drive you nuts trying to get there. Or trying to jump-dive from the top of the falls to the pool below. Photo by Trixie Clemente.

The wilderness is a wonderland. Scrambling to Pacolago Falls. Photo by Eric Gavino.

Pacolago Falls. Much, much grander than pictured. Photo by Eric Gavino.

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.


February 19-20: Mt. Banahaw
March 26-27: Mt. Pundaquit and Anawangin Cove
April 9-10: Mt. Isarog and Cabadisan

14 thoughts on “three months three mountains: Mt. Isarog and Cabadisan

  1. Pingback: three months three mountains: Mt. Pundaquit and Anawangin Cove « tenant on the top floor

  2. Pingback: three months three mountains: Mt. Banahaw « tenant on the top floor

  3. Brilliant!!! Wow tine i can’t even grasp how you wrote a superb impression of my hometown (and, of course, ME!).. Very few people knew about this place, I am so honoured you all came and enjoyed your weekend vacation, plus, I cannot even be more proud of this place. Most of our constituents are unmindful of the gems hidden in their hometown. You are truly gifted with making pictures more inviting.. Thank you for this! Come back soon..more alcohol adventures coming, lol!


    • aww, thank you ate trixie! pakisabi rin sa mga taga-Cabadisan, maraming maraming salamat. you have such a wonderful place, a wonderful people. at sana matuloy yung zip line sa may binaliw! yahoo! :D


  4. Hi!

    Miss Trixie, I couldn’t disagree with you more when you said most of your constituents are unmidful of the gems in their hometowns. Like most far-flung barrios, Cabadisan has been neglected by the government. Of course they know what “gems” they have, like the Binaliw Falls pictures here, but they do not have the luxury to just bask in its glory. I’m afraid the zipline mentioned here will turn this place into another tourist area. While it is not a bad idea per se, what Cabadisan needs is true development, and not only an economy that is anchored on bringing in tourists. What you and your fellow politicians should do is invest in industries that would help barrios like Cabadisan be self-sufficient.

    For the record, I also find the place lovely judging by the pictures. It is unspoiled and uncommercialized, therefore, very tranquil and soothing. :D


    • Hi, adaengkantada!

      Thank you for your insight. I think what Ms. Trixie meant was that many of their people still need to be more educated about taking care of the environment. For instance, when we went there, we saw locals bathing in the river using shampoo and soap, which contain chemicals that may inadvertently affect the river ecosystem. Plus, the widespread kaingin pictured above. The logging of mangroves in Catabangan is another example. Many locals sell mangroves because they are prized as good coal, without knowing the great environmental repercussions of depleting the mangrove population. Not only do mangroves protect and support various ecosystems — therefore nurturing biodiversity — but they also serve as a sort of guard against tsunamis. I’m glad to note, however, that through the efforts (education and policy creation and enforcement) of local officials and environmentalists like Trixie, many people are joining groups like Bantay Dagat and Bantay Gubat, which aim to protect the environment and educate the people about sustainable fishing and agricultural practices.

      It’s true that the national government has neglected Cabadisan, and many other far-flung barrios like it. As Nicanor Perlas has written, “Urgent issues in the village level hardly express themselves in the agenda of national development. Elite democracy secures the well-being of those who have the resources to protect their own interests.” I’m as mistrustful of the government as the next Filipino, especially now with reports of how local government officials handled the Sendong disaster. However, I have seen how Ate Trixie and other concerned citizens and officials strive to improve the conditions of their kababayans, and it helped me believe that maybe, not all politicos are bad and care only about enriching themselves.

      As for Cabadisan becoming just another commercialized “tourist destination” — I hate it when that happens too! Look at Boracay, especially White Beach, now. So grossly commercialized. It’s even happening to Anawangin Cove, which is becoming so popular the beach is often packed. But I believe there is nothing wrong with ecotourism per se — after all, don’t we all want to search for beauty and serenity in nature and travel, especially when one lives in the disgusting concrete jungle of Manila? Besides, ecotourism supports various industries — if you have ecotourism in the area, then the local food industry, the cultural/crafts industry, the transportation industry, etc. — all these thrive, and together, they may bring about “true development,” as you mentioned. Plus the locals become more invested in taking care of the environment if the beauty and pristine-ness of the place is what drives tourists to it. The thing to do is to intelligently and responsibly manage ecotourism so that it becomes sustainable — not make the area overly populated or commercialized, or damage the environment.



  5. Hi kristine!

    i was really surpirsed when you posted photos of cabadisan. I was there for a while too, for reasons too personal to spill here :)

    eniweis, i do agree on your views regarding environmental issues, people there are guilty of chopping down trees for commercial use, yes. but we also have to look at the other side that while it is ecologically harming, these activities also bring food to their table. you’ve been to cabadisan, you should know how poor these people are. what i’m saying is that while environmental issues have to be addressed, so should the economic bases of the people’s activities. Give them assistance to develop their farmlands. make sure their produce can be taken to the market through better roads. etc. the basic social services, like education.

    it’s true that more people should learn more about cabadisan’s gems and picnic paradise, and that it will spur the growth of its economy. but the question is, will it be beneficial to the people in the long run? what is the price the people have to pay for this “development”

    what i want is for true development to take hold in cabadisan, one that is not too dependent on outside factors.



    • Hi, adaengkantada!

      That’s true. When I went there, they didn’t even have electricity and the dirt roads were impassable in places because of landslide and heavy rain.

      I also agree with you that “while environmental issues have to be addressed, so should the economic bases of the people’s activities” — but I am curious, what’s your idea of “true development” for Cabadisan?

      Because, aside from the usual corruption, elite politics and economics, uneven development (and migration) between urban centers and the rest of the country, exploitation in the global economy, etc. — aside from all these sociopolitical factors, this is one big problem with Philippine development: we have to keep rebuilding from scratch because ecological disasters for which we are unprepared keep hitting us. Instead of being able to invest in more social services, funds (those that remain after embezzlement and debt servicing) get funneled into never-ending rehabilitation. Of course our geography and location make us more prone to calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, but while many ecological disasters seem beyond our control, human activity does contribute to the propensity of them happening, and the immensity of their impact. For instance, if so many people hadn’t settled in the CDO river’s flood plain (and if the government hadn’t allowed settlement there in the first place), would so many lives be lost to Sendong?

      I believe environmental and economic concerns are intertwined. We mess with nature, in the end we mess up our own livelihoods as well when ecological disaster strikes — for example, deforestation may lead to landslides and flash floods. In the face of such natural disaster, how could human development progress?

      And so, the state should fulfill its social obligation — it should ensure that citizens settle in safe areas (protect the citizens’ right to safe shelter), it should provide basic social services and educate the people and enable them to make a living. But this living must be sustainable, must conform to an ecologically sound framework, because such a framework is not only for the environment’s benefit, it is for the people too.

      But the thing is — and I think we agree here — the government –especially at the national level (which is woefully Manila-centric) — is not doing enough.

      I am saying that ecotourism could be a source of living that is sustainable — the operative word being could. It really depends on how it is managed. Again, I am all for an ecological approach to ecotourism and related industries. Again, I am all for government support. I am not saying that ecotourism is the ~only~ way to development, but that it can help.

      Just wanna share: Nicanor Perlas, in his essay in the book GINHAWA, writes that sustainable development involves:
      • Ecological Soundness
      • Economic Viability
      • Social Justice and Equity
      • Cultural Sensitivity,
      • Integrative Holistic Science
      • Appropriate Technologies
      • Awakening of Human Potentials

      I fully agree. :)


  6. yes, we do agree on that point — that the national government is not doing enough. :) I think we also agree that ecotourism, while it can help, will not be a barrio’s — or our country’s for that matter – sole way out of poverty.

    and yes, development should include providing them with electricity, water lines, health care, educational assistance and such.

    looking back I think we agree on so many points, actually.:D especially that social and ecological issues are intertwined. you’ve given very apt examples. I would just like to add that the government should exercise more muscle in fencing in private corporations that conduct businesses
    with very big ecological impacts, like subdivision developers, logging concessionaires and mining companies, for example. they contribute to our favorite whipping boy for every calamity — climate change. and while the people are affected by the landslides and flooding, these companies get away with it. the sad part is, the government lets them. :(

    it was good that you brought up nick perlas’ works, i’d have to look them up.

    What i’m afraid of in ecotourism is the intense commercialization that often comes with it. Indeed, the question is, how can it be managed. you’ve probably been to Sagada too, and that while that community has been very open to tourists, the people have managed to preserve their culture and the peaceful ambiance in their area. That’s where the charm comes from.

    Happy new year!


  7. Pingback: three months three mountains: Mt. Pundaquit and Anawangin Cove | tenant on the top floor

  8. Pingback: three months three mountains: Mt. Banahaw | tenant on the top floor

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