Channeling Dolph Lundgren at Pulangui Bridge in Quezon, Bukidnon

When one mentions 'rappelling', I always remember the scene in the first Universal Soldier film where the characters of Dolph Lundgren and Jean Claude Van Damme attempted an Australian rappel assault down the Hoover dam. Though, our experience at the 155 feet high Pulangui Bridge at Quezon, Bukidnon ain't nowhere near a UniSol's feat, I felt a massive rat throbbing from inside my chest as our guide prepare my safety gears. "Are you nervous" he repeated it to me "Are you nervous". I give him a thumbs up sign betraying what I'm feeling, just before I kicked my feet and catapulted my body mid-air. With only a sturdy rope saving me from a 3 second free fall to massive broken bones or worse, death, I recited a short prayer. 

Shugah Pauline Gonzales and Marky Ramone Go

The whole thing lasted for about a minute and a half as I took my time turning my head to appreciate the scenery around me—in case the rope snapped at least I got to enjoy my last images of Earth. Once I got a hold of my nerves, everything went smoothly, but I still felt the rope burn on my right hand despite wearing thick gloves. Upon reaching the middle part, I felt calmer and more relaxed.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales with Marky Ramone Go

I heaved a sigh of relief once my feet touched the ground beneath the bridge. Trying to mellow my adrenaline, I sat down on the ground a stone throw away from the rampaging waters of Old Pulangui river. I looked up to see my companions up on the bridge. I can barely see their heads peeking over. Our belayer asked me how it went, I told him I became nervous at the start but once I started rappelling down things went out fine and the cool rush of rappelling sets in.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales

One by one, my #TravelMindanao friends rappelled down, after me It was Ching, after her it was Doi, then Ferdz then Shugah and finally Alex. Even though I've experienced rappelling before, first from the rooftop of a two-storey house, the other from a 50 feet tree at Camp Sabros in Digos City, this one was the highest and the most thrilling of them all. 

The activity left me exhausted and starving as we have been doing some thrilling things since early morning, but for a great cause in the name of exploration—my soul is full. Earlier we took a dip in a pool of water inside Blue Water Cave, the name aptly describes the color of the water inside. The hike to get there took us around almost an hour, negotiating through decent trail of mud then over large formation of rocks and unto the mouth of the cave.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales

Bukidnon is starting to become a hotbed of adventure destinations. There are a lot of outdoor activities that awaits travelers in this beautiful emerging eco-tourism province. This was just the start of the many muscle flexing and adrenaline pumping undertakings that we enjoyed in the Bukidnon leg of our #TravelMindanao.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales

As we waited at the side of the road waiting for a ride to our next destination; the tranquil Lake Apo, we congratulated each other for a memorable experience that morning. It's not everyday that one get to swim inside a cave and rappel down a 155-foot bridge. It was taking us some time flagging down a commuter jeepney, so we tried hitchhiking, but the trucks that passed by were mostly filled by either sugar canes or other agricultural products. We were able to hitch a ride at the back of an empty truck later in the night though.

So, did I successfully channeled  the UniSol version of Dolph Lundgren? the answer is a resounding no. I will be shot at quickly if I rappel down that slow as a UniSol. However, I was able to further conquer my fear of heights - while dangling on a rope. I have no problems being in the plane at 30,000 feet in the sky or at the peak of a mountain like Mount Banahaw, but hanging from a rope? I feared about it a lot before. After this experience, I think I will be able to deal better with it next time—without missing a beat.