Monday, June 18, 2018

Mt. Puting Bato Guillon – Tayapoc Traverse Day Hike

My first stop for a long weekend on June 15 was a traverse day hike in Samal Island’s most popular trekking destination, Mt. Puting Bato. The hike was part of the training program for an impending major climb by my friend Ella who is set to take a Mt. Apo trek anytime between July and August this year.

I already visited this mountain 3 times as it hosted several trail running events in Samal, but this climb was the only legitimate opportunity for me to take photos especially in the summit area.

We took the Guillon entry point, the only trail with some upright tracks where Ella had a lot of enduring to do as a newbie in trekking although she said she had been doing outdoor hikes in her hometown in Malita, Davao Occidental. Unlike 3 to 4 years back, the trail head in Guillon is now very much accessible to any type of transportation modes. We started the trekking at exactly 8:00 in the morning where we met other weekend trekkers along the way.

After 30 minutes we reached the first campsite. This site serves as vantage to a great panorama of Davao Gulf and Davao City. Few minutes from Camp 1 is another part of the summit where the highest point is located. My GPS equipment recorded the highest point at 580 meters above sea level. And the third of the three stopovers in the summit of Puting Bato is the one accessible from Canibad trail. All in all, there are 3 collection points of entrance fees in Puting Bato at 20 pesos per site.

As we enjoyed the entire landscape of Samal Island at the peak, I saw two Brahminy Kite Eagles soaring around the canopy of farm lands in Samal particularly in Peñaplata and Babak District. Other birds I noticed were flock of Brown Doves in the stairway area connecting the first and second campsites. While not far from the trail going to Canibad I saw one White-winged Cockoo Shrike. Some butterflies also help embellish the peak of Puting Bato.

The route to Tayapoc is wide and established and is being covered with farm plants and bushes shading trekkers from the humid atmosphere of Samal. The beautiful site of beaches in Canibad is a scene to behold when descending via Tayapoc trail. In 45-minute time we arrived at the trail head of Tayapoc.

To some extent a day hike in Puting Bato can be a good start if one plans to climb a major mountain like Mt. Apo, Kitanglad or Dulang-dulang. After climbing it for four times I suggest one should do a traverse hike rather than a backtrack in order to appreciate Samal Island better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mt. Loay Independence Day Hike

Another good trekking destination in Sta. Cruz is Mt. Loay located in the mountain ranges o Barangay Zone 2 which I discovered on June 12, 2018 with some buddies from LOGSAC Jonas, Eidine, Julius Biala, Cholo, Cris, Froilan and Vertical to Sky Proprietor Doi Calbes who is set to hold a Vertical Kilometer Race in this mountain comes August 18, 2018. The trek, which happened after a short Independence Day celebration, was a sort of recovery workout for me after a 2-day Mt. Apo climb last June 9 and 10.

We started the trek at around 9:45 in the morning from the national highway of Barangay Zone 2, the familiar road going to Loay Elementary School. The total trail distance is 5 kilometers highlighting a 2-kilometer open road and 3-kilometer single track along a vast farmland of coconut, banana and fruit trees. While trekking we met several community members in Loay doing their daily farm routines.  

The total trail course has an elevation gain of 1,000 meters above sea level which definitely worn us all out prior to reaching the summit. Our only woman trekker Eideine Karla decided not to proceed to the summit because it was really very steep and the weather was extremely hot.

We arrived at the summit of Mt. Loay by 12:00 noon. The exact elevation in the summit is 1,040 masl, allowing us to view adjacent mountain ranges in Sinoron, Coronon and Zone 1. The most dominant peaks are Mt. Dioloy, Camotes Ridge, Pilan Peak and Mt. Bariraya which we all thought resembles Romblon’s Mt. Guiting-guiting at a far distance. The urban center of Sta. Cruz, including the huge Davao Gulf, are all visible from the summit.

A farm house owned by Mang Tony served as our rest area, also the very same hut where Eidine waited for us. An energizing buko break was provided to us by Mang Tony. After an hour of some fun convo we trekked down the same route at a faster pace we reached the trail head in 45 minutes. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tomari Day Trek reminds me of Tudaya Falls

It took me more than a week to write an article about my day trek in Tomari Waterfalls last May 17 because of several workloads which included a 2-day climb in Mt. Apo, among other things. This waterfalls, which have been in the list of explorable destinations, is an additional thing that substantiates our very own “Spectacular Sta. Cruz” tag line.

At a secluded location 32 kilometers northwest of Sta. Cruz lies majestic waterfalls settled some 400 plus meters above sea level. Locals call it Secret Falls, but we used to call it Tomari Waterfalls because it is where the Tomari creek springs out as a major tributary of the Sibulan River. It has a height of approximately 50 meters dropping to a 15-meter diameter pool of cold and crystal clear water.

The nearest jump off point is at sitio Cabarisan in Sibulan, Sta. Cruz. A moderate 40-minute trek is required to reach the falls via an open trail to Cabarisan HEDCOR Desander, and then another 20 minutes river trekking.  The waterfalls define the accurate border of three sitios in Sibulan namely: Mitondo, Mamaon and Cabarisan. Since the road going to Cabarisan from Sibulan Barangay Hall is not passable by 4-wheeled vehicles, we took a 360 degrees turn using the much easier road of Atan-awe and Sibulan City side in order to reach the jump off point.

Our trekking along the Tomari Creek also offered a distinct experience being brought by the pristine water from the creek. In fact, almost all parts of the creek water are potable.  Complementing Tomari Waterfalls from the other side is a cute waterfalls which also entices river trekkers as it is a welcoming site to also behold.  

It is very evident that Cabarisan is still decorated with huge tree species, some I think are natural forest while others are result of reforestation efforts conducted by HEDCOR, the place being part of their project area. While approaching Mt. Apo Elementary School I saw one Rufous-lored Kingfisher and as we near Tomari waterfalls I spotted a solitary Pied Triller. Indeed, the mountain ranges of north-western Sta. Cruz is home to several bird species.

What is more interesting about Tomari Waterfalls is its semblance to the now-defunct Tudaya Waterfalls. Aside from being located just distance away from sitio Tudaya, Tomari Waterfalls for me stood out as an attraction that somehow could transport us back to the magnificence of Tudaya Falls. It might not present the whole grandeur of Tudaya Falls but it resembles in certain ways.For those who are unfortunate to have not witnessed Tudaya Falls in all its glory, I recommend you try trekking Tomari Waterfalls.

With the untimely termination of Tudaya Falls as one of the collateral damages of the so-called development, there is this Tomari Waterfalls ready to be another appealing destination in Sta. Cruz. Its emergence lately manifests new courage for us to struggle for its protection. With Tomari Waterfalls now bent on providing another positive perspective for our beloved hometown, I hope that the people of Sta. Cruz have fully realized and awakened of the adverse impact of the thing they called development.

Monday, May 21, 2018

BEMWA Farm underscores healthy option and countryside Davao City tour

I was first introduced to BEMWA Farm in 2015 when I participated the Datu Salumay Trail Run 32-kilometer category organized by Team Davao Runners with fellow trail running enthusiasts Sir Marlo Yap and Jappy Pepito leading the organizing team. For three consecutive seasons I never failed joining the event because aside from being a passion, running in Datu Salumay enabled me to relax and commune with nature.

Over the weekend I revisited BEMWA Farm along with good friends from Davao City Tats, Maya and Meggy for a quick farm exposure tour. This time I appreciated BEMWA all the more because I had enough time discovering its unique identity.

Nestled in the cold and elevated location in barangay Datu Salumay, Marilog District; BEMWA Farm is a garden of more or less 2-hectare organic vegetables. It is a perfect example of a farm tourism site which is what the Department of Tourism lately aspires for especially with Secretary Bernadette Puyat at the helm of DOT leadership. The farm produce in BEMWA curtails health risks because all commodities in the farm are all 100% organically grown.

The vegetable garden in BEMWA is a flawless interlude to the beautiful highland ornamentals, most notable among them are the vivid yellow sun flowers. Other portions of the farm perimeter are planted with insect-repellent species of herbs like mint and basil (sangig), the latter I enjoyed smelling all the time. Organic agriculture simply connotes introducing variety of plants which naturally shy away insect pests rather than using commercial pesticides.  

Entrance fee of the farm is 50 pesos per person which is consumable.  Several unique food rations are also served in BEMWA Farm at a very affordable price with items like binignit, chicken pastel, sikwati, strawberry ice cream and native coffee, among others.

BEMWA farm is accessible via the Davao-Bukidnon highway. Approximate travel time from Davao City is two hours using public transportation mode. The common landmark before reaching the intersection to Datu Salumay is the Philippine Eagle monument.