Monday, February 6, 2017

Sagada - Bontoc - Buguias: Tripping, Pondering through the Cordilleras

Heavenly light at Loo, Benguet
There's a reason why I keep coming back to the Cordilleras apart from the want to travel.  Hieing off to the boondocks, walking the terraces, hiking the woods are my ways to reconnect to the earth.  The older I get, the more I yearn to put my feet literally on the dirt after weeks of being hemmed in by concrete.  One long-running joke I share with friends is that they'd know I won the lottery if and when I leave the city and go farming - a half-meant joke really as close friends know that's really my dream.  In the meantime, I enjoy learning and exercising my brain in walking through fields and forests, identifying plants I recognize and adding to my know-how on the many more I cannot yet identify.

This year, I've spent the first two weeks doing just that, traveling for an ocular in Eastern Visayas and a guiding assignment for foreign guests in the Cordilleras.  The guiding engagement took us to Sagada, Bontoc and Buguias in consecutive days.  In Biliran, we were hiking everyday in between shuttling via tricycle to various sites across the island so I was quite tired coming home for a day before leaving again for the highlands.   Dunno, but there's something invigorating about going back to nature that makes all the long travels seem trivial.

Honestly, I wasn't so keen about going back to Sagada though for so many years, I kept coming back to it.  It's my personal observation that the influx of tourists have somehow diluted the initial feelings of serenity, quiet, solace that it used to offer me due to mass tourism.  I've recently written about my experience of seeing a sea of crowds instead of a sea of clouds in Kiltepan.  Sure, any place would want more tourists but I guess nature is not like a rock concert where the more the crowds, the better the experience.  I know this is happening in a lot of places that only mountaineers (and ex-mountaineers like myself) used to go to and in a lot of ways, it's sad.  Not to say mountaineers are faultless but then again, we know the merits of hiking far and wide, earning our equity in sweat to enjoy places seldom reached by people who chose to ride their vans and 4-wheel drive vehicles.   To add salt to the wound, Sagada was one of the places featured in a popular, local, rom-com movie which stoked the imaginations of a selfie-generation, wanting to go here even if just to brag on Instagram or Twitter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

VCO Matters: Why I take VCO daily and why I never leave home without it

It's perhaps providential that ProSource sent me a package of VCO products recently as I actually use their products.  I started oil pulling (an Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil first thing in the morning to pull toxins out of the mouth) 4-5 years ago on the advice of a friend.  Last year, I switched to ProSource VCO (virgin coconut oil) for two reasons: the more reasonable price, and because it's bundled with their Calming Oil, a lavender and eucalyptus blend using VCO as carrier oil.  Truth is, I hoarded their VCO bundles to get my hands on as many Calming Oil bottles as I can since I always keep one in my belt bag, another at home, and another in my backpack.

CALMING OIL.  The ProSource Calming Oil, which comes in a small roll-on glass bottle, is very handy specially during long bus trips up north when I easily spend the better part of a day on the road.  I don't usually suffer from motion sickness as I have a high tolerance for constant movement although sometimes, lack of sleep, hunger pangs or conversely overeating, among other factors, contribute to being queasy on the road.  I try to stay away from Bonamine/medications as I already take some for my sciatica so going the topical oil route is the way to go for me.  

I also use the Calming Oil to well, calm my head, especially after a long workday.  Lavender has a way of putting me on a more relaxed mode, and that really helps.   During out-of-towners, the oil does triple duty -- as soothing, all-natural oil for insect bites, deterrent for insects, and pain reliever after long hikes.   I like the roll-on bottle as I can apply the oil without making a mess or applying it with my bare hands.   Well, you can say I never leave home without tucking a bottle in my pocket or pack -- it's that indispensable for me.  I just wonder when ProSource is going to sell the oil in retail.  For the time being, it looks like I'm going to hoard the VCO bundle.

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