Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sierra Madre Photojournalism Trip


Day 1:
Actually, it was more appropriately called ‘night 1’, but for the sake of uniformity let’s use ‘day 1’.
So after our last class that Friday we dispersed on our own ways to pack our things. We met at school at four, with some kind of bad luck prodding my friend Kianah when she lost 3k ( barely putting her on a bad mood—she’s still the goddess of demented laughs and expletives I always know. Thanks to kuya Jimmy’s sweet assurance through that phone call, of course).
When everyone’s boarded Professor Jimmy’s (not to be confused with Kianah’s Jimmy) highlander after couples of minutes waiting for our only male classmate, Pao, we finally rolled off to the roads. It was a fun ride, though it was me who was set as the laughingstock of the bunch. I was not certain, but I know they were making fun of me. Mamu’s, Debbie’s and Kianah’s evil laughter penetrated my earphones, which were turned on full blast. I shrugged them off for the first few minutes, and when I realized I couldn’t do anything about it I just surrendered then that it was “Pick on Airiz Night” tonight.
We stopped at SM Sucat to buy some groceries. Everyone seemed to be grabbing anything what they liked, from piquantly flavored instant meals (i.e. yakisoba) to large potato chips. By the end of the rolling cart frenzy, we have our cart chock-full of our excessive treats.
It was needless to say that the budget purse was drained.
We ate at Chowking after that. And of course the craziness never fades out. Sir Jimmy, upon ordering, said his name was “Wilson” and Kianah introduced herself as “Winona”. I have to smother my laughter when one of the waiters trudged to our table to announce that Winona’s order was finally here.
I, Eliza, and Abby were the ones to finish eating last. Because of that, we were sort of ‘kidnapped’ by a funny pudgy man whom we later came to know as sir Loi. We we’re informed that he, along with the other occupants of the car, would accompany us to Sierra Madre.
What did I just say? That this night was ‘Pick on Airiz night’? Of course! Apparently, even sir Loi found me as the best laughingstock he could pick on. So my curse went on (heh).
After a few arguments about who’s going to stay in which car, we drove off into the night, straight to Quezon province.
The ride itself was awesome. Even if it’s night, we still saw the beauty of the passing scenes, and slowly we could feel the grasp of the city on us loosening. Eliza counted how many ‘haunted houses’ she could spot while the car skidded in such a speed that almost everything went in a blur.
For the night, we stayed at Sir Jimmy’s residence at the Quezon province. Everybody sought for spots where they could sleep comfortably. Some of us rolled into the floor with their sleeping bags—I decided to stay away from the bunch and made the solitary sofa my personal bed. As if never losing any energy, Mamu and Debbie took pictures of us asleep and held the shots as something they could blackmail us with whenever they wish to.

Day 2:
I woke up frowning at the irritating call of ‘mamang naglalako ng pandesal’ that morning. Everybody lined up for bath. While waiting for my turn, I washed the dishes left ignored last night—and after that came sir Jimmy’s lesson on ‘working on the field’. After the sermon, it seemed like everybody were encouraged to move. Eliza was taught how to wash the dishes, while the others hiked to the market to buy food we could use as we climb up to our destination.
After sir Loi bashed my poor black-striped-white leggings (read as: zebra), we commenced the adventure. We trekked up the mountain, taking good care of our ‘sweethearts’ (the cameras) as we randomly clicked and boxed the sceneries we want to bring home.
We crossed at least seven branches of river, hiked up mud-slicked rock formations and stumbled here and there, rappelled at the steepest jutting parts of the mountain, while the leaders shouted shrill and long “Steaaaaaddyyyy!!” whenever someone tripped or sank through the mud. Mamu’s poor pink-and-white rubber shoes were victimized by the reckless hiking (peace!).
Once we arrived to that heaven-like place, we plunged excitedly through the green waters of the river. Boy, was it so good! It was like…well, like we’re in heaven. I remembered taking a shot of the riverscape up from a rock and later labeled it as ‘a basin of Adam’s ale’. I thought is an appropriate title for such an image. As we know, ‘Adam’s ale’ is the only source of water in Eden in which Adam could drink. That place was heaven on earth! Really! Though, I was quite perplexed later when one of our professors mistook my photo caption as ‘devil’s champagne’.
Anyway…so we bathed and posed and bathed some more before we helped ourselves over our lunch—tadaa, in boodle-fight style! Heh, it’s so memorable because it was my first military-style meal (which didn’t feel like military at all, as everyone were still the crazy group that we always were).
After that, we savored the beauty of nature while we do our work as photojournalists. We hiked some more and squeezed through the limestone beauty of caves, took shots, waddled through the dark waters swirling around brittle and somewhat slimy stalagmites. We have to rappel our way up to exit the cave. It was fun and exhausting, but very, very dangerous. Debbie was positioned in some kind of fear-factor moment while we climb—waa, snake! We couldn’t get to stop her sobbing while she was gripping for the rope. Anyway, we all 

survived the tantrums-of-sorts from Debbie and we were able to get back to the camp—only to realize that the caves have a shortcut from there. Apparently, sir Jimmy wouldn’t want us to have it the easy way. Which was precisely how we wanted it. *smirks*

Soon, the sky darkened and everybody packed up to transfer the tents up the ‘koprahan’. Mamu, Kianah, and Debbie slept inside the tent they built while I, Eliza, Pao, and the other mountaineers sought refuge under the roof of the lone nipa hut. Before sleeping, the others went to play cards under the meager light of a gas lamp. Elai and I were gushing about random things, laughing about stories we make from the funny stolen shots in our cameras, and watching the large spider clinging on the wooden wall of the hut. My sleep was fitful as I didn’t bring any blanket and the temperature kept on dropping as the night deepened. Sure I got Elai as my human heater, but that wasn’t enough. Our sirs provided us a blanket—we’re very grateful we’ve got such companions in trips like this.

Day 3:
We thought that we only have a few things to do that Sunday because it’d be our last day on Sierra Madre. Oh well. Assumptions lead to mistakes.
That was the day when we, probably, got to see the most beautiful part of the trip. That’s IMO only, of course. The large formation of caves that seemed to be floating above the emerald water was perfectly heavenly—you know, the very foams that accompanied the current, the cold embrace of fresh water enveloping you (YES, we did swim there)—they were that sort of things you’d want to be one with. I was more than glad that I managed to experience this.
After lunch, we trekked back to the town. There was a queue for a prope
r bath, apparently. We got to use all of the bathing services in sir Jimmy’s house (be it the bathrooms and shower rooms, the taps, and the artesian well). After that, we transferred all of shots to sir’s laptop. And then came our trip home.
To some, three days were pretty short; for us, one day spent with each other laughing, joking, coupled with an ample amount of bullying in a setting that was definitely one-of-a-kind was equivalent to the longest time we believe we could spend with each other. Make that threefold and you almost made an eternity.
Thank God we returned home safely, and thank Him again because we’re able to have another trip in a different location—Vigan.
(blog entry for Vigan soon to be posted! Hee!)


Another Gaiman flick! Yaaay! :))