Corregidor Chronicles (Part 1)

Surreal.  The 1 hour and 15 minute ferry ride on a weekday early this year took me back to hazy Manila Bay and 48 kilometers west of Manila to a tadpole-shaped island at the end of the Bay. The island is called Corregidor, an historic small, rocky island that was a key bastion of Philippine allies during World War II. The ferry ride via Sun Cruises was not as exciting as when we landed.  The island takes you back in time when Corregidor was the site of two costly sieges and pitched battles between the Imperial Japanese Army and the U.S. Navy, the first in 1942 and the second one in January 1945.

 

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Photo shot at Battery Way, one of the gun emplacements in Corregidor Island.

batteryhearn1Battery Hearn’s largest cannon on Corregidor Island.  Named after Brigadier General Clint C. Hearn, its reach can go as far as 26 miles (flat trajectory range).

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The Old Spanish Lighthouse. Built and first lighted in the 1850s, it stands at the highest point in the island.  Imagine yourself standing on its peak during WWII and seeing warships from afar.

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What Lies Ahead

whatliesaheadIt is definitely a new year and as much as I would like to check the horoscope or every written account of what is in store for me in the coming 360 plus days, I would rather stick to the plan and live each day as it is and maintain focus on my goals.

So, what are the goals? Ummm…let me see.  First off is the physical goal, to keep fit.  Maintain a 55 kg weight, run 3 times a week, ride the bike every weekend and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Reality check: copied that from another person’s physical goal.  Nah! It may be a far fetched goal but at least I have one, right? It is a good thing that I still leave the couch and lace up whenever I can but I need to keep the momentum going this year, seriously.  

Ok, next in line is the financial goal.  Save at least $100 a month. Recently read an article from the Business Insider that one should start small when saving.  As mentioned, you need to keep a portion of your earnings right away before you even start paying the bills and spending on anything.  However, the article also reiterated that you do not need to save enormously at once, start small with at least $50 a month (I know, my goal is huge but what the heck – it is a goal anyway).  Once you acquire the saving habit, it could be addicting and your primary instinct would automatically tell you to increase the amount once you see how fruitful the practice has become.  Agree?  Well, let us see and I will definitely get back to you on that, maybe 6 months after, if not earlier.  

Emotional.  Now, why would I have any goals on my well-being?  Simple, when you have a positive outlook in life and if you forego petty quarrels or little things that previously made you become so sensitive, all good things will come back to you.  It is simple physics really.  For every action, there is a reaction.  For every good deed, there is always something good that comes out of it.  What comes around, goes around.  Ok, I’m blabbing now.  Anyway, are you digging what I mean?  If you keep your life simple, positive and bright, chances are everything will definitely be simple, positive and bright as well.

Deadlines. Ensure that I meet them every time and maintain quality to a ‘T’.  As I always say (but sometimes never do), it is just a matter of prioritising and making a check list of every possible task there is, even as simple as doing the laundry or walking the dog or making that check list!  I must admit, with the onset of technology in my hands, that is, having a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone somehow makes it difficult to keep tabs of every task at hand.  I guess I have to keep the reminders in the most stone age way possible.  Keeping a journal and writing everything down.  If you are like me, who finds it difficult to comprehend her own writing, suggest you sometimes write in capital letters.  No really!

Whew! Never thought that making a list of your goals can be tiring in itself.  What more in keeping these goals at bay?  Don’t worry, I’ll keep posts coming.  Otherwise, I’ll keep myself posted and grounded, if need be.

Happy 2015 Everyone!

 

 

The Trail Theory

The gods must be crazy when they invented the word ‘trail’. And they must have been crazier when they invented the words ‘trail run’.

Heck, I must have been the craziest of them all, when I decided to try what they meant, not knowing that I will be coming back for more!
With only four trail runs under my belt (and counting…) and a number of climbs up my spine, I may not be your best authority when it comes to this passion. But I will tell you my close encounters nonetheless – with no other than the stones, dirt roads, pits, hanging bridges, enormous roots, river crossings, boulders, slippery uphill, hungry cattle, ridges, leaping frogs, enchanted pathways, streams, fornicating crickets, tall grasses, wild horses, mammoth millipedes, and the mist as my witnesses. Seriously, I met them all.

Notwithstanding the heat that summer brings nor the flood, wind, and storms during the rainy season, ‘stubborn me’ still gets euphoric when hiking up a mountain or running through a trail. What is it about the trails that keep me coming back tirelessly? If not for the witnesses above, then it must be the absolute thrill that one gets from sheer exhaustion. Now where did I get that?

What is the first thing you must know before you go as crazy as the gods? Have yourself checked by the doctor – I mean it! And yes, include a visit to the psychiatrist while you’re at it because your decision to join a trail run or to go on a trek might be due to the need to forget a painful memory. So, just maybe, diverting it towards something more painful which could eventually become a lasting memory was what you might consider medicinal. Oh well, I believe that is one of the definitions of madness!

After the doctor’s appointment, it’s time to get the proper gear. The great thing about trails is you don’t have to care about how good you must look because by the end of the day you will all look alike!

Before you kiss that dirt, learn everything you need to know about the terrain. Will your running shoes hold enough pebbles from the river crossing? Will your CWX bear the cuts? Will your dri-fit top protect your arms from the thorns and the mosquitoes? Are you wearing enough sun block to keep you away from getting roasted? Or are you wearing too much that it stains your eyes and skin? Can your hydration pack provide enough liquids to last every 10 kilometers (or to last you through the hike up and back to the jump off site)? Are you bringing that garbage bag which can either be a trash bag or a raincoat? Or would you risk staining that new Columbia jacket so that you will look dashing for the lens?

Remember, the trail in itself is a test of survival. Not just endurance. Not just speed. Not just strategy. Most importantly, it is not Project Runway. It is being ‘self-contained’ – literally and figuratively.

After the shopping galore, the registration fee, the declaration of your craziness, and the physical and lingo training, the next best thing to do is to set your goal on the summit and the finish line and you’re all set! Be it a trail run or a trek, when it comes to the word ‘summit’, I may have different definitions from the next but this word is the only motivation that keeps me going. So, go get yourself your own happy thought before gearing up.

Oh, but wait, there’s more! Where are you going? What kind of terrain will you be getting yourself into? Will there be leeches? Mountain goats? Snakes? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scaring you away from the playgrounds, I’m just giving myself a head start *wink*. Seriously, whether they are just plain old plateaus or steep hills or rocky mountains or slippery peaks, each one has a smorgasbord of surprises – good and bad. Even the most experienced trail runners or mountaineers get lost, thus, a basic knowledge of trail signs still helps. Be sure to also check with the locals on what to expect because they are the best source of information when you’re talking about territory. Oops, did I just give away a secret?

Just when you thought that you had enough trail vocabulary to last a dayhike, you will never be ready unless you acclimatize. It may not be Mt. Everest or Kota Kinabalu but be prepared for the worst. When you’re not accustomed to the cold or the rainforest, hypothermia is your worst nightmare. Take it from me; I didn’t even realize what hit me when I was already sleepy. My acclimatization solution? Cold showers. As for the heat, our summers must be the worst there is. Getting into the sun in the middle of the day will give you an edge right away. I knew someone who even walked through it wearing dark tailored suits for 30 minutes in 36 degrees! Damn!

So there, I don’t want to keep you away from the trail with a lengthy piece when I know you’re already itching to be crazy. But before I end, let me leave you with these two advices: pack light and enjoy the sights. Race you to the top?

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Anything can happen

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Sometimes even the most hardened rules that you have set for yourself turn to ashes and are left aside like sawdust that stings your eyes and leave a bleeding scar of oblivion. On one hand you ask, what you have done. On the other, what you have not. As much as you try to answer either, it still comes right back as a question of expectation. Expectations are our worst enemies. It puts up bait that seem dreamy and hopeful that your adrenalin revs you up to a maximum. It clears you of reason and wonder and takes you rocket-straight to momentum. With all systems on a go, you are lifted and hyped, leaving everything else on hold.

To the Finish Line

While the moon guards over the mountain slopes and its beams drum up every heartbeat, I hit the pavement. Amidst the deafening and orgasmic sound of the crickets, my sweat drops beat the black earth pound by pound, ranting a rhythmic voyage to the unknown. Purposeful, mechanical, musical, each muscle hums a chord of existence that gives a joyous and vivid inertia equal to that of a melodic dance.
With the horizon far beyond my reach, I head on, crashing the wind’s armour and echoing its stubborn yet challenging howl. The numbers pressed on, methodically cavorting with my efforts to beat it, similarly setting its sights on the edge up ahead and keeping me diverted. Thoughts swirl in my grays, gently massaging its every nerve, giving enough spaces for reason, wonder, and capitulation to battle till death.

Photo of the Day: Deadly Season

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There is something about dead trees and dark, dreary buildings that inspire and create poetry, if not madness.  It could be that the darkness awaken spirits within them or within us…

Scarlet writings etched upon the wall

A reminder of that fateful day

Of hues and picturesque sights
On my canvas

Mystery. Passion. Fear. Angst.
Pierced and smeared with black and white

Capturing every space and turning it
Into a masterpiece

Blank. White. Pallid.

Photo of the Day: Winter


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As a first timer on anything winter, it was inevitable to capture everything surreal about this season.  The season may be dreary but the effects on the trees, the people and the surroundings give that picturesque ooomph to it.  Who could resist this photo?  As soon as my eyes saw it, I really had to capture it.

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