(Backgrounder: For the last 55 hours prior to 3:00 in the morning, the only number of hours of sleep I had was 5
At 3:00 AM, Gay, Glen, Peach and I headed to the Manila Domestic Passenger Terminal. Our flight bounded to Cagayan de Oro via Cebu Pacific Airlines was leaving at 4:45. The flight left on time. For some reason, the pilot announced that we had to stay up in the air for about ten minutes prior to landing because we reached the City of the Golden Friendship before sunrise. We officially stepped on CDO’s soil around 6:00 AM. "It’s a very promising day," I whispered to myself until we realized that Jerome, the tour guide who was supposed to pick us up in the airport wasn’t there. "O-oh, are we about to face a big disaster on a trip we’ve prepared for months?" I brushed off the fear that was slowly surfacing. I decided to keep my optimism. We took a cab from the airport to Philtown Hotel (Note:
We paid the porter a hundred bucks for carting our baggages in less than 100 meters and P300.00 for the taxi. If you think this is fair then go right ahead. Otherwise, make sure to reconfirm your booking with your tour guide a day before the reservation. Hahaha). Anyway, I was able to get a couple of hours sleep in the hotel before our new pick-up time at 8:00 AM. First Activity: Exploration of Cueva de Oro Cave with Meg, Aldo and Kuya Ellie
There were a lot of trees
. The soil was wet. The slopes were up and down. There were plenty of times that I slipped and almost slided all the way to who-knows-where. For every slips that I had, laughters would surround the entire nothingness. (My gaz, ang lalim naman nito. Hehehe.) I would catch my breath for all the steps higher I had to take. (Would it had been easier if I were lighter? Naman! Hahaha.) By the time we were through, my faded green shirt and black jogging pants were almost brown. Go figure why. :-) Maraming salamat kay Aldo at Kuya Ellie na umalalay sa 'kin na parang beauty queen habang pababa sa maraming madulas na daanan at kay Meg na aming official photographer sa buong kaganapan. Bwahaha. 75-Feet Rappeling
To enter the cave, we had to rappel down 75-feet rock wall. Aldo and Meg helped us put on our helmets and harnesses while Kuya Ellie went down ahead of us kasi s’ya ‘yung hahawak ng rope sa baba habang nagra-rappel kami isa-isa. Aldo gave us a short briefing on how to rappel. Meron daw dalawang paraan ng pagra-rappel: belay saka di ko matandaan ‘yung tawag sa isa. Hihihi. Basta raw ‘yung belay eh s’ya ‘yung magkokontrol sa lubid habang bumababa kami tas ‘yung isa naman eh kami ‘yung may kontrol
. To go down, the second one was their method by default. I volunteered to go first but Aldo didn’t seem to like the idea. He wanted me to go last because he thought that it would be easier for me to be belayed. I went in third after Peach and Gay, respectively. Ang sabi ko, "Hay naku, mahirapan na lang ako ‘no. Basta ang gusto ko masubukan ko kung pa’no magkontrol ng lubid. Pero pag nahirapan ako sa kalagitnaan, pwede bang i-belay mo na lang ako the rest of the way? Hahaha." The answer was no. Decision… decision… Pinili kong pahirapan ang sarili ko. Hahaha. True enough, at the middle of my seemingly wrong choice, the rope swayed me inside a deep curve portion of the wall because I didn’t spread my legs well enough to control my descent. I was breathing deeply while he was asking me to stand against the wall. I couldn’t. My hand that was controlling the rope was nearly swelling and I was on the verge of letting it go. Pero bigla kong naisip, sayang naman ang ganda ko kung mababangasan ang aking mala-dyosang mukha da bah? Hahaha. Sabay sabi ni Aldo, "Just trust the rope, Ma’am." Nakalma ako. Unti-unti, pinilit kong tumayo habang hinihila nila ni Kuya Ellie ‘yung lubid pabalik sa mas patag na bahagi para maipagpatuloy ko nang matiwasay ang aking pagra-rappel. After that single setback, there was no looking back. I did it, I did it! It was a sweet victory, maski wala naman akong kalaban kundi ang sarili ko. Hehehe. To me, I surpassed a very challenging task and I couldn’t help but be proud of myself. O di ba?
We rested a bit while waiting for Glen, Meg and Aldo to do their turn one by one. When Meg set foot on where we were, she approached and told me that I did great. Natuwa naman s’yempre ako. Hehehe. Tinanggal namin ang harness, nag-picture-an nang konti at ilang saglit pa’y sinimulan na naming pumasok sa loob ng kweba
. Blooper # 1
First step inside the cave, the sole of my right-foot rubber sandal decided not to come with us the rest of the journey. Napagod siguro kaya gusto nang magpahinga. Hehehe. Walking through the Dark
We each had our flashlights to see what was ahead of us. We met a couple of baby bats that bailed out as soon as they saw some shed of light. We saw several amazing rock formations. At that point, I knew that we were one with nature. 9-Feet Deep Water Jump
We had to hurdle a couple of big rocks in the middle of our exploration. The first rock, I needed to step on Aldo’s right shoulder and left knee for me to go to the other side. The second rock, I had an easier time except when my right foot is already stepping on the ladder at the other side but my left leg was still resting on top of the rock and I couldn’t lift it to reach the ladder
. Imagine a split position, that was how I was like. The only difference was that I was standing. Nyak! He had to help me lift it to make it through. A few steps of the ladder was the 9-feet deep water. We had to hold a rope and jump into it to cross. Meg and Kuya Ellie were there to make sure we crossed safely. We did. Walking through the Water
We started walking through a knee-high water, underneath was a soft soil with pebbles and stones. There were times I had to crawl because the path was too low and not too wide. Blooper # 2
My right foot was stucked while walking through the water. When I forced it against the soft soil and water to take out my foot, guess what? The only thing left in it was the strap of my sandal. It was hilarious and we couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t continue walking though because the pebbles and stones were hurting me. Meg had to lend me her right shoe. Na-touch naman daw ako. Blooper # 3
Naglalakad pa rin kami sa tubig, sa gitna ng kadiliman
. Nainggit ata ang kaliwang sandal ko, ayun nakigaya sa kapalaran nung kanan. Bwahaha. Sinubukan kong maglakad, pero di talaga kaya ng powers ko dahil kung meron mang pinaka-sensitive sa pain sa buong katawan ko, mga paa ko ‘yun. Naglupasay na lang ako, huhuhu. Buti na lang to the rescue si Aldo, pinahiram n’ya ang pares ng tsinelas n’ya sa ‘kin. Hahaha. Binalik ko na kay Meg ‘yung kanang sapatos n’ya. Narrow Exit
The final stop proved to be as challenging, if not more, as the entry method. We had to take off our helmets because the exit point was too rigid and narrow. My friends asked me to go out first. I had to lie on my back, submerge myself in the water for three seconds to insert my whole body through a small hole. Meg was holding my head and Aldo was holding my feet. I took a dip too soon so I had to do it again. I almost drank the dirty liquid but I managed not to. Indeed, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt a big deal of relief knowing that I came out alive. Hehehe. 20-Minute Trekking
We had to trek again
. It was supposed to be a shorter route but given the exhaustion and fatigue we all had inside the cave, it took us longer - especially me. Hehehe. I had to stop for every 10 steps to catch my air. I even had to trek with my barefeet because Aldo’s slippers were too big and they were making me slip. By the time I reached the sidewalk where our service transpo was parked, I was almost crawling. Sleepless, tired and hungry - I was every inch of these adjectives when I rode the jeep. Second Activity: Lunch and 15-Minute Rest
Jerome prepared a very tasty meal. Pork and chicken barbeque that is. We wanted to wash our hands before eating and I was really overwhelmed by his gesture when he was quick to pour water everytime we were about to rinse them after soaping. He gave us choices of drinks: Coke, Sprite, Royal or water. I chose Royal and everytime the bottle was nearly empty, he would give me another bottle. I finished 3 bottles of Royal and a bottle of water. I also consumed 3 cups of rice and countless barbeques. Bukod sa puyat, pagod at gutom ako, masarap talaga ‘yung pagkain kaya naparami ang kain ko
. Asus, nag-explain pa. Hehehe. After lunch, we were given another 15-minute rest that I never really felt. :-( Third Activity: Pinoy Tubing with Jun-jun, Tibo and Kuya Ellie
Pinoy Tubing is Whitewater Rafting, Filipino-style. In one "raft", there are four inflated tires tied to each other. Each inflated tire has a net under, to allow the rafters to sit. Our group was divided into two. Glen and I were in one raft, together with Tibo and Jun-jun - our lifeguards. Gay and Peach were joined by Ipil, the group’s caterer, and Kuya Ellie. Below were the highlights of that heart-stopping water sport. Bridge Jump
The beginning point of the adventure was a bridge, where we had to jump off from it to a still water. Based on what I heard, it was 30-feet high from the bridge to the top of the water and the water itself was 30-feet deep. Glen decided not to do the jump but Gay, Peach and I went up for the challenge
. I took the liberty of being the first jumper. Naks! Jerome told us that if we really want it to be easy and fast, we just have to hold our lifevests, count 1 to 3 and take a small leap. A guide would jump seconds after us to help us pull ourselves from the water. Dahil wala na akong sandals nung mga panahong ‘yon, I had to borrow Tibo’s slippers. Everybody was counting down and it got me freaked out. Ayoko nang binibilangan ako, napi-pressure ako pag gano’n. Gusto ko, ako lang bibilang para sa sarili ko. Pero the first time that I did, I chickened out. I had to take a couple of deep breaths first then counted another 1 to 3 and BOOM - I jumped! The moment between the bridge and hitting the water was aaaaaahhhhhh - indescribable to a great extent. But I think I could give it a try. Maybe it was like riding the popular Turbo Drop at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong, where you thought your butt was left in the air after an abrupt fall and you only get to shout your heart out once you were on the surface. The only difference here though was the so-called surface was a river and I couldn’t exactly yell because if I did, I might have drowned big time. When I was down the water, I literally reached the bottom - believe it or not. I had to use my right hand to push myself up and then a few more seconds after, I was being pulled by someone else from the back. One of the slippers left my foot during the jump but I couldn’t really remember if it was the right or left one. I also inevitably drank water in the process but once I was on the river shore, the feeling was so liberating. Again, I couldn’t help but be proud not just of myself but also of Gay and Peach who jumped right after me. Ang sarap, ang saya, ang galing talaga. Yahooo!!! I gave back Tibo’s slippers and went barefeet again. Fall off the Rapid
Jerome said that the most scary but probably the best part of Whitewater Rafting was to fall off the rapid
. He reminded us that if the raft turned upside down, we had to let go. A guide would immediately come for us, might swim with us for a short while and pull us from the water back to the raft. And so we began the exciting journey… There was no paddles for both Glen and I. All we had to do was to sit tight, hold as much as we can and enjoy the ride. Tibo asked, "san n’yo gusto dumaan Ma’am, sa mild o sa wild?" "Sige, sa mild muna," I answered. And so we did. I wasn’t quite satisfied. "’Yun lang ‘yun? O sa wild naman tayo," I boasted. Then a big and strong wave hit us… I really thought our raft turned upside down and being a good listener and follower as I am (only when it comes to life and death situations though… hahaha), I let go. In a second, I was dumped in the wild waters. Maya-maya, nandun na si Jun-jun sa tabi ko. Hawak na n’ya ‘yung lifevest ko sa likod. Nakainom na naman ako ng tubig, mas konti kesa nung tumalon ako sa tulay. He told me to relax… In a more conscious effort fashion, I tried. Hehehe. We swam towards the raft and to my surprise, Glen and Tibo were there. Di naman daw pala bumaligtad ‘yung raft namin. Nagmaganda lang akong nagpatihulog. Bwahaha. Jun-jun asked me to turn my back from the raft and in a manner of seconds, he pulled me back in. He is just about 5 feet tall and maybe a little over 100 lbs. Imagine how he could carry me? I was really amazed. Pero nagreklamo rin s’ya afterwards
. "Ang bigat mo pala, Ma’am." "Nyak, oo naman. Tingnan mo naman ang laki ng katawan ko," ang sagot ko sa kanya sabay tawanan kaming apat. While I was struggling against the rapids, Gay and company’s raft turned upside down for real. I never really saw it until I saw the pictures because I was also busy keeping myself alive. Hihihi. Rock Jump
The distance between the rock and the top of the water was meters less than that of the bridge but the rock jump scared the hell out of me the most. You wanna know why? It was because we were jumping to a fast running rapid. It took me more than 10 minutes before I pulled all the courage I got altogether, it had me pray twice as much I usually do, I had to say "kaya ko ‘to" out loud several times to convince myself that I could really do it… and then I jumped! This time however, neither of the slippers I borrowed again from Tibo didn’t slip out from my feet and I didn’t get to drink unwanted water anymore. The feeling was awesome! Glen did jump this time too. He was the last one to do so after Gay and Peach finished their turns. Body Boarding
Body boarding was fun. We abandoned our raft to float in the water using a yellow board. I couldn’t last long enough as much as I wanted however because I was having a hard time balancing. Hmmm, ano pa nga ba eh di weight ko na naman ang dapat sisihin kung bakit nangyari o hindi nangyari ang gusto ko. Hahaha.
The activity lasted for about 2 hours or longer. We were met by Jerome at their self-assigned ending point. There was a small hut where we ate cassava and cheese bread. Ang sarap nung cassava, pramis! We showered and changed to dry clothes then we went right away to our next destination.
Cagayan de Oro has always had a bit special sound to my ears because Jolas, my most favorite PBA player, is from there. Other than that, I don't really know much about the city. Hehehe. Well, my friends and I heard how exciting the Whitewater Rafting Adventure was from our boss who visited the province in mid 2007. Then late last year, Cebu Pacific released one of those Piso Fare Promos to all domestic destinations. Immediately, we booked ourselves to a 5-day trip to CDO on the fourth week of February. We didn’t have any plans at hand then. We weren’t even sure if we all could file for vacation leaves at the same time. It was uncertain and threatened by the anticipated entries of a couple new accounts at work. I guess, the four of us prayed well enough to get on with our travel plans. Hahaha. So here’s the blow by blow account of our nothing but amazing escapade in the South.