Petra | Jordan. A rose-red city half as old as time
San Vicente | Palawan. Counting solitary strides.
Taj Mahal | India. A teardrop on the cheek of time
Catanduanes Island. Postcard-pretty slideshow.
Keep Kalm (at Kalanggaman Island | Leyte).
Nikko | Japan. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in this UNESCO heritage town.
Counting temples in Bagan | Myanmar.
Chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
Where to Stay? | Luxury, Backpacking & Glamping
Inaul Festival | Maguindanao. In homage of a weaving tradition
Rishikesh | India. a morning walk inside the Beatle's Ashram
Cairo | Egypt. a surreal moment at the great pyramids of giza

Habal-Habal Express to Osmeña Peak | Cebu



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 Club 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 done 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. 

UST Mountaineering Club

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.

UST Mountaineering Club

We rode over trickery slopes and winding paved and dirt roads while I try my best to take photographs along the way. One time, we ran over a pothole causing us to almost skid 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.
                 
UST Mountaineering Club

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 started to see the tip of the peak of my destination. 


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.

Jacob Israel Villaster

It took me a few moments before I took notice of my surroundings as I was busy feeling 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 the bounteous nature I'm seeing that time.


Soon, my exhaustion vanishes while the sensation on my butt normalizes, I pour the contents of my bottle of water on my head and felt the cool weather more as 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. 

Pepper Malimban

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. 



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.

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.