Monday, June 27, 2016

Mt. Hamiguitan Trail Race heads me back to an old home

It has been seven long months since I participated a trail run. My last official trail competition was on November 2016 during the Datu Salumay Run in Marilog District, Davao City where I completed the 32-kilometer course in roughly seven hours given with the technicality of the route. After which, I have not been able to pound the trail anymore.

Last June 25 I saw myself hammering the trails of Mt. Hamiguitan once again in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. This is the very first trail event held in the area after its official inscription as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Mt. Hamiguitan is an important piece of Mindanao’s natural heritage because of its rich biodiversity, and racing within this beautiful mountain connotes incredible experience other trail runs could not emulate or even equal.

Another good thing about the race is the loads of international accreditation it got from different organizations all over the world. I salute the initiative of the race director of this run Mr. Doi Calbes, a good friend of mine who used to work short stint with me in Mt. Apo, for the patience and courage to have the event accredited to International Trail Running Association (ITRA), Asia Trail Master, UTMB Mont-Blanc and Go Run Asia. It was also co-presented by the Department of Tourism XI and Local Government of San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

I took the 25-kilometer category considering the very short training I had prior to the race. Four new faces of trail running from St. Joseph Runners joined me in the race. Mountaineer Ronnie Torlao was adjudged 3rd Strong Finisher behind monster racers Juanito Mahinay and Jonathan Pido, while Jeffrey Mil and Romeo Brace won the 5th and 6th place, respectively. I was at far 26th place among the sixty runners who competed with a time of 6 hours and 3 minutes.

The race route was practically unusual for a trail run. It was composed of 10% pavement, 40% river crossing/trekking and 50% single track with the highest elevation reaching 735 meters above sea level. The turning point was at Siete Alteres summit, which also happened to be the highest point. Almost half of the run was interrupted by slight downpour, giving us another factor to endure. Prior to reaching Siete Alteres, we passed through several landmarks of Mt. Hamiguitan such as the site where Philippine Eagle Pamana was released last year and the Mt. Hamiguitan World Heritage Park Museum.

The river-crossing stage reminds me of my first climb to this mountain in 2008 as we took the same trail to the summit. We crossed it like 12 times before hitting the 7-kilometer mark. The crystal-clear water of the river was an instant power bar for me. Natural potable water sources along the way were visible and I obtained my hydration from it instead of the usual ration from Aid Stations. The single track were all surrounded with lush and green vegetation.

My Mt. Hamiguitan experience has reconnected me to my auxiliary hub – MOTHER NATURE.  All ingredients of my love to trail running were presented to me by God in this race and I am proud to have called it a success. Personally I surmounted it at a given time favourable with my short preparation but the most challenging part of it goes to the local government of San Isidro and other agencies involve in the protection of Mt. Hamiguitan. While talking to some friends there I learned that this heritage mountain lured the attention of illegal loggers, miners and even owners of banana plantations.

I hope authorities would be able to protect this mountain and would always stand tall as Davao Oriental’s landmark of disciplined people and environment-friendly leaders.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Be still and learn in awe at Manilay Heritage House

Before we went off Gumasa in Glan, Sarangani Province for the Sarbay Festival, we had a valuable side trip in General Santos City on June 3 in the afternoon in Manilay Ancestral House. It was a perfect opportunity for me to visit the place as I was looking for places with historical value the fact that I am in an early leg of crafting a historical tour package for my beloved hometown.   

Manilay Ancestral House is a heritage structure nestled in a modern city known for its contemporary attributes. The collection of old stuff here shows the tremendous interest of the owner on numismatism. It also shows extraordinary exhibit of patience, especially since all of the materials are gathered all throughout the country.  

We met the owner Mr. Warren Manilay in a separate venue in Gensan because he was busy with enrolment as he also runs a tertiary school there. There we were able to ask him several questions about his ancestral house project. He said it was coined out of a hobby, him being into it ever since. The house was then tailored continuously using old materials obtained from as far as Batangas in Luzon.

From the looks of it the house really declares a throwback theme but it was only erected in 2007. The architecture was well-researched by Sir Warren to camouflage it with yesteryears, which according to him also one of the hardships in the construction phase.

And then after construction he filled the house with his wide array of collections – from currency, music, religious materials, old pictures, etc. He even said the collection process was also extensive where he had to buy some of it from friends. He also used to visiting junk shops to scout for more valuable materials that would be part of his pool of antique resources.  

Outside the house is a display of vintage cars and motorbikes. Mr. Manilay revealed the cars are among his most expensive collections. Some of them not really familiar to me but I simply love the White Vintage Car, a favourite selfie background to some- if not all. There is also a Manny Pacquiao-inspired motorbike in the pool with actual signature of Manny. Sir Warren said the motorbike simply gained popularity all over Gensan as it was exhibited in one of the malls in the city and was unveiled in the very day Pacman celebrated his birthday.

The Manilay Ancestral House to me is a revelation of the hard work presented by the Manilay clan in Gensan. It has become now an integral part of the city tours and a destination for those who love to throwback. As Sir Warren would put it, “I want to make this an educational tour destination.” And with more people visiting the place, he is now planning to put other structures like coffee shop and function hall.

Truly, the Manilay Ancestral House is the right place to visit for those who love to reconnect with the past and for those who would like to savour the stillness of life. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Concluding summer with a smack of Sarbay Fest 2016

The Sarangani Bay Festival has redefined summer. With just a week before classes officially starts, people have other thing in mind by flocking to Glan and experience the biggest and grandest beach festival in the country and extended summer to at least a couple more days.
I was lucky I made it this year after skipping the event last year. Once again, thanks to a very good friend from San Miguel Brewery, Inc. Meggy Macion for including me into the list of your selected personalities to accompany you in that getaway last June 3-4. Rounding off the members during that impressive weekend outing were Ian Garcia of M Magazine, Maya Padillo of Mindanao Daily Mirror, Vancouver-based writer Mark Guzman and Edge Davao Photographer Tats Daval.   

Unlike the previous festivities, this year’s Sarbay Fest was visited by fewer audience which to me a very good development. Organizers inserted a noble component to the festival which is to conserve Sarangani Bay, a declared Protected Area through its hash tag #ilovecleansarbay and the buy-and-plant-a-mangrove initiative. The advocacy was further reinforced with the collection of Environmental User’s Fee worth 30 pesos each. The money will be utilized for rehabilitation efforts afterwards like coastal clean-up.

We arrived in late afternoon of Day 1 as we still had to visit an equally interesting destination in Manilay Heritage House in General Santos City. We stayed overnight in Gumasa at Coco Beach Resort.

There were several activities highlighting Sarbay Fest this year such as beach volleyball, triathlon, sand sculpture competition, skim boarding competition, to name  a few. The search for Bay Bodies ’16 highlighted the first evening, as well as the foam party with the famous DJ Lunatics.  

Although we did not witness all activities, our team had some great moments witnessing the Bay Bodies contest, enjoying foods in the party site and some fair conversation over bottles of San Miguel Pale Pilsen and San Mig Light. San Miguel Brewery is one of the major sponsors of Sarbay Fest this year.

On the second day Meggy brought us to a cruise experience through Bangsi 1, a Sarangani Bay sail package featuring the beautiful seascape of Glan. It also allowed us to witness the other attractions of the place which includes the panoramic Sarangani mountain range, the towering Mt. Matutum, the perspective of Balut Island and some resort structures along the beach lines of Glan. Somehow, Bangsi 1 Cruise is a new product that will be very viable in the future and will augment alternative activity for Sarbay Fest visitors.

One thing is certain, Sarbay Fest has become one of the country’s most-sought after festivals especially since it is situated in a secluded beach lines with powdery white-sand features. And I am glad the local government of Sarangani has seen the importance of creating balance between mass tourism and environmental conservation.