“So, are we going to share a single tent?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I replied, “but don’t worry. I’m harmless. In mountaineering, sharing a tent is for practicality.”
“Ah, okay,” she replied with a smile.
Apparently, I realized later on that I was far from harmless. During our first mountaineering experience together at Osmeña Peak, Dalaguete, the purportedly highest point in the Cebu Island, we exchanged pre-marital vows. On May 12, 2012, 9:00 p.m., Sheila and I became official sweethearts sharing a passion for adventure.
I aptly dubbed that day a Valentine’s Climb considering that there were sweet couples who climbed the majestic 1,013 meter mountain with us. Sir Jigz, lead guide of Mt. Kanlaon, and his girlfriend Ma’am April, went with us from Day 1. It was their first time to climb the popular Osmeña Peak, and I was happy to guide them. We planned to do a traverse to Kawasan Falls in Matutinao, Badian, but since not one of us is familiar with the trail (and I’m horrible at memorizing trails), I asked my fellow EWIT mountaineer, Sir Peri, to guide us. He obliged and arrived together with Ma’am Karen, and a few other EWIT mountaineers.
I daresay it was an adventure-filled but romantic weekend with three couples (me and Sweetie, Sir Jigz and Ma’am April, and Sir Peri and Ma’am Karen) doing a classic 7-hour trek that traverses two municipalities, cutting across the width of the Cebu island.
After buying our supplies at Mantalongon market, we danced the cha-cha. hehe!
After getting tired of our audience, we proceeded to the valley that precedes Osmeña Peak. That valley is dubbed as the Vegetable Basket of Cebu. Mantalongon’s high altitude and fertile land make it a perfect place for growing vegetables. To get to Osmeña Peak, we decided to cut across the valley and the farmlands.
Those are bukags or vegetable baskets. When filled to the brim, these baskets can weigh more than a hundred pounds! Every day, farmers carry these baskets from their farms to the market. And the way they do it is torturous; a farmer secures the basket onto his head with a strap. It is an arduous, back-breaking, neck-wracking work as they walk up and down rocky, slippery mountain trails for several miles to sell their produce. We have high respect for them.
We cut across the valley. If you notice, the soil exhibits a reddish tint in it, an indication that the earth is rich in irons. That huge landslide in the distance is the result of geological displacement brought about by the February 2012 earthquake.
Three-quarters of the way. It was here when we suddenly remembered we weren’t able to buy Coke, our survival drink. Fortunately, Sir Jigz and Ma’am April brought a 1.5 liter Coke. Hehehe!
A beautiful white, untouched limestone cliff at the side of a road at the right side of the valley. Someday, we’ll do a survey and check if it can be bolted for rock climbing.
After an hour of relaxed walking, we reached the road. Beside that road is the trail to the summit and campground.
Lovely babes! That’s Sheila and Ma’am April.
Start of the ascent. This was also where I began impressing Sheila. hehehe.
Going up towards the summit and the campsite.
The grassy trail towards Osmeña Peak. Be careful here. A misstep to the left will find you tumbling down a slope. Save yourself from injury and embarrassment by watching your step.
Spectacular sunset as viewed from Osmeña Peak’s campground. Seeing panoramas like this dissolves any thought or feeling of self-importance.
The sun began her slumber, leaving behind ethereal rays that cast mysterious shadows.
Night fell and the sounds of the night started to permeate through the cold mountain air.
After setting up our tents, we prepared our dinner. Now, here’s the thing. What do you get when you have two people—one, a top guide who prepares home-cooked meals and two, a single-mom who prepares gourmet meals—join forces? Well, what else? A sumptuous feast up there!
Our mouthwatering dinner. . . macaroni with Italian sauce, cheese and hotdogs, home-made lumpia shanghai, rice, fruits and Coke!
After dinner and clearing up our things, Sheila and I had time with each other while Sir Jigz and Ma’am April went to another dark corner.
It was during the night when fireflies witnessed our admittance of love for each other. Yes, you might think that it was pretty quick; after all, we’ve known each other for only a few weeks. However, we have so much in common that we’re practically versions of each other! And yes, I broke my promise of being harmless . . . partially.
Sir Peri, Ma’am Karen, and other EWIT mountaineers arrived at 10 p.m. After setting up their tents and having a few gulps of Tanduay, we all turned in to sleep.
The Tanduay got the best of us, and we missed the sunrise. We woke up to a foggy morning.
Then we prepared another delectable breakfast, consisting of scrambled eggs and mushrooms, leftover macaroni, skinless longganisa, crab and corn chowder, and fruits.
Done with breakfast, we cleaned the area and striked a pose.
I would love to spend each morning with a cup of cappuccino with you, sweetie! I love you! (Yes, we were drinking hot cappuccino).
Lovely ladies on Cebu’s highest campground.
We still have a long trek ahead of us, so we broke camp at around 7 a.m.
With our stuff safely stowed in our packs, we started a short, easy assault of Osmeña Peak.
The gorgeous view that greeted us when we arrived at the summit. A magnificent view like this makes you grateful that you’re alive to witness the wonders of Mother Nature. Those hilly karst formations are slimmer and rockier versions of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.
Ma’am Karen and Sir Perry followed us a few meters back.
Lovebirds enjoying our highest treasure as much as we enjoyed theirs, Mt. Kanlaon.
Quick pose with the adventurers before leaving the Peak for Kawasan Falls in Matutinao, Badian.
On our way to Kawasan Falls, which is a good 7 hours away on a leisurely trek.
These hills appear like sentinels watching over us.
We told you this was a romantic Valentine’s Trek, right?
Sparkle trail. Beside that trail is a well-terraced cabbage path.
When you see this cliff, you will know that you’re 2 or 3 hours away from Kawasan Falls.
Cebu mountaineers call this segment the Half Moon due to the crescent shape of the slope. The Half Moon is fully exposed to the sun, making it extremely uncomfortable to traverse. But once you cross this segment, Kawasan Falls is just 30 minutes away.
After almost 7 hours of leisurely trekking, we finally arrived at Station 3 of Kawasan Falls. Ma’am April’s face shows our story better than words do.
We can’t wait to dip in that refreshing, cool water.
Crossing the rickety bamboo bridge is a heart-pounding experience for some.
Station 3 where you can dip in Mother Nature’s very own bathtub.
Our sexy, lovely, beautiful ladies who eat mountains, caves, cliffs, and trails for breakfast. That’s Sheila, Ma’am April and Ma’am Karen.
After an hour of freshening up, we were clean and ready to go home.
While crossing a narrow bamboo bridge to Station 1, ma’am April is holding her hair for balance. Is that possible?
Officially sweethearts! I love you, sweetie pie! May we have more adventures together.
11:00 AM – meet at Caltex gas station beside USJR, take Dalaguete-bound minibus
12:00 PM – ETD Cebu
3:30 PM – ETA Mantalongon Market, buy supplies
4:00 PM – Start trek from Market to foot of Osmeña Peak
5:00 PM – Arrival at first water source
5:30 PM – Arrive at campsite, set camp, and visit summit
7:00 PM – Dinner and socials
5:00 AM – Wake up call
5:15 AM – Prepare breakfast
6:00 AM – Breakfast
6:00 AM – Break Camp
7:00 AM – ETD Osmeña Peak, Start trek to Kawasan Falls
11:00 AM – Arrive at second water source
12:00 PM – Lunch on Trail
3:00 PM – ETA Kawasan Falls Station 3, swimming
4:30 PM – Trek to Matutinao Bus Stop/Church
5:00 PM – Ride bus to Cebu City
8:00 PM – Back in Cebu City