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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Habal-Habal Express to Osmeña Peak



My hiking days are long gone now. My legs will be the first one to stage a protest at the Tiananmen Square if I took em to another long ass hike, like I did during my UST Mountaineering Days. However, I'm working on getting back in fine shape as I've yet to climb Mt. Apo and Kanlaon. On this day though, I reckoned hiking to the highest point of Cebu, the Osmeña Peak - a relatively easy hike when started at the Mantalongon Market, and a bit more difficult if traversed into Badian and climaxing at Kawasan Falls, should be the easiest way possible. So I cheated my way by hiring a habal-habal driver to take me directly to the foot of the 1,100+ feet  Osmeña Peak. 

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Just a few seconds after alighting from the bus at the highway of Dalaguete in Cebu I was approached by a group of habal-habal drivers, I talked to the one with the Paquito Diaz smile named Stan and agreed on a 200 peso-fare going to "dulong Osmeña Peak". The ride was rough but the awesome scenery along the way made the almost half an hour trip worthwhile.

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We rode over trickery slopes and winding paved and dirt road while I try my best to take photographs along the way. One time running over a pothole and almost skidding on the side of the road, fortunately the habal-habal driver was able to take back control of the two-wheeled machine and we got up again and rolling along the high road.
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The trees of the dense forest that surrounds the mountain ranges reminds of the movie "Avatar" - the peak itself which I've seen in photographs before also reminds me of that world. I was feeling numb in my butt because of the lengthy motorcycle ride when I start to see the tip of the peak of my destination. 

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We arrived at the foot of Osmeña Peak and the habal-habal driver volunteered to guide me as well. Even though the way to the peak is only a few hundred feet away I still plan to pace myself and take things slowly. But because of my excitement we hiked as fast as we could and arrived at the peak after 15 minutes. I collapsed to the ground and quickly laid down my backpack and chased my breath like an escaping prisoner being trailed by a pack of K9 dogs.

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It took me a few moments before I took notice of my surroundings as I was busy checking If my heart is still beating inside my chest. I look around and saw pointed and rocky surrounding peaks and from a distance I could see a small island and the sea. Encircling me with a fantastic view I could not decide which direction to stare ahead first. Like a Japanese male porn star being reversed gang-bang, I delighted at what I'm seeing that time.

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Soon, my exhaustion vanishes while the sensation on my butt normalizes, I pour small contents of my almost empty small bottle of water on my head and felt the cool weather more and I drink it to the last drop , I feel the strong winds brush against my face. This, I told myself was the feeling I used to have during my college days, of conquering a peak, taking the long route, traversing, tiring your legs almost to surrender - but once I arrive at the top and marveled at the images below. The feeling often brings forthright shot to my senses. 

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We stayed at the top for almost an hour, just sitting at the lawn grass covered peak resting and thinking about the vast world which surrounds the peak. "I'm not in Kansas anymore" the voice from the movie "Avatar" keeps playing in my head. I reckon, a world like that is also present in ours, I am so glad that I have opened my eyes to the possibility of seeing similar places. 

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It starts to get cold and my legs aren't rubbery anymore. I could do more of this short hiking trips in the future in preparation for the longer ones. I definitely would like to be in tip-top shape once again. So I could give myself another chance, to see the world from above.  The habal-habal ride going back was smoother as there's more downhill. This time faster and wilder, but I don't have time worrying about a possible crash. The only thing I'm consumed at that moment was the experience of a new place, a mountain however smaller than most, but something which reintroduces me back again to what I love doing years ago.

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An hour later I was standing at the side of the road waiting for the bus which will pass by the town of Alcoy, in Tingko beach to be exact, to have a refreshing swim at its white sand beach - before proceeding to my final destination for that day where I would meet up with a friend, which is at Santander - the southernmost tip of Cebu.

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