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What it's like to open your doors to new adventures and retreat from a very busy life

January 21, 2013, 12:03 am | This story has an Influence Score of 722

By zybenzonan


The world is bright, and ready to be explored and treasured. There are plentiful of breathtaking sites which await to be savored.

Anne was hovering over her scattered things at her work place in February 2012 when her friend and co-worker, Rupert, suddenly surprised her with an invitation. She never thought he would consider her! He knocked on her door and asked whether she would be interested to join him and Aubrey, his girlfriend, on a trip to Kapatagan, Digos City.  This place is one of the few entry ways to the famous Mt. Apo; the highest mountain peak in the Philippines.

That question alone triggered Anne’s mind to imagine things she would do if she were to go along. The fact is, she wasn’t even sure whether she’d go. She just shrugged her shoulder and said, “Let’s see”.

A few days went past, and Rupert asked once again, but this time he insisted that she come because Anne's best friend, Jeane, wouldn’t want to go unless she went as well. The life of a best friend is really hard if you would just think of it, and so, she just said yes.

February 25, 2012 was the scheduled date. They were so excited. Another adventure awaited, and this time no one in the group was familiar with their destination. All she could do was to take a deep breath and wait. They entered the bus and settled in. It would take at least an hour to reach Digos City. She was seated with her best friend Jeane. In front of them were Rupert and Aubrey and seated next to those two were Rachelle and Ernie, the other two members of the group, also captivated with the idea of exploring a new place.

They fell asleep. When they arrived at Digos City, they needed to ride a tricycle to the van terminal so they could go to Kapatagan. Being out of breath, was the only thing keeping her from running on foot towards the all-so-famous Kapatagan. They were told by the van’s driver that they would be traveling for an hour or so. They proceeded to go inside the van and once again settled themselves into their seats for another extended drive.

While en route there, she couldn’t help but take in the beauty of the surroundings. The chirping birds, the sound of horses along the road, the mountains, and the sky made her drool. The cool air touched her face. There was something about the place that she had never experienced. It was nature at its finest.

After a travel of an hour and thirty minutes they finally arrived at Mt. Apo Highlands Mountain Resort -- an uphill holiday spot owned by Philip Dizon, the owner of Crocodile Park Davao.

Very cute cottages were all lined up for the visitors. Welcoming them was a very big fish pond where they could fish and boat. And just beside it was a natural spring pool with sparkling water.  This was heaven, far from what she had expected it to be. Who could ever imagine a place like that at a mountain side? And the best part was, they had actually the best view of Mt. Apo. Just a little tilt of your head, and you could now enjoy the very mysterious Mt. Apo.

They placed their belongings in one of the cottages and immediately went out. They waited for a “habal-habal,” a type of motorcycle improvised by Filipinos to be used in the mountains, just outside the resort. But, Mother Nature took them by surprise and called for rain, or at least that was she thought. Being experienced travelers, they all had prepared for this trip. Even Mother Nature couldn't stop their eagerness to explore the place. So, they just decided to go on foot!

Their first stop was the famous Agong -- the place designed and offered by Kublai Milan, a famous Filipino artist, to his beloved wife. Making it there was only a mild challenge. It’s a ten-minute hike in damp grounds under towering pine trees.

At the entry way, a bronze engraved imaged of the Agong welcomes visitors. It was free to enter, which was great.

There is a building inspired by a musical instrument called, "Agong". The circular-shaped ceiling gave anyone looking at it the feeling of being inside a huge ball. The tower in the middle provided our travelers a chance to view the overlooking scenery, a breathtaking view of the Mt. Apo Nature reserve.

There is also a sculpted image of the artist Kublai Milan and his wife playing the traditional guitar of the Philippine tribes.

Well, after feasting their eyes on the beauty of Agong, their next stop was the first zip line in the Philippines and the most breathtaking site so far, Camp Sabros. A family-owned campers’ paradise catering to people who are willing to feel the adrenalin rush from riding an 800 meter zip line. Arriving there, people need to ride a horse for 20 minutes. This was the challenge she had been waiting for. Well, enjoying the scenery was great but of course, horseback riding is a different thing. So, they rented 4 horses, two for the two couples who were with them, and individual horses for Anne and her best friend.

By the time they arrived there, she had had the time of her life. A twenty-minute horseback ride -- with bruises along the way -- can really provide an adventure seeker such as Anne with the happiness she had been prepared to experience. However, what is an adventure without disappointments along the way? They went to the camp’s reception desk only to find out that rides aren’t available for that day. So, they just contented themselves with picture taking.

After that, they decided to go onto another expedition. Kapatagan is famous for its many surprises of nature. Hidden among the thick vegetation of the Mt. Apo nature reserve, was a traveler’s haven. A one-tier waterfall possessing a very distinguishing shape, unique among other waterfalls found in the area.

Going there was not so easy, though. From Kapatagan proper, they would need to take a 20-minute exciting “habal-habal” ride going to the jump-off point. From the jump off point going to the foot of the Virgin Falls, another 45-minute trek would be required, and it would be the most difficult part of the journey. Cuts and bruises were inevitable.

After arriving at the jump-off point, they made the 45-minute trek. They had rolled their pants and prepared for whatever they would encounter along the way.

They passed by wooded areas with a thick vegetation consisting of different bushes and flowering trees. Huge ferns were abundant. Cogon grasses taller Ann could be found all over. Going further, the steep trails were becoming agonizing. Sharp rocks were nagging her feet and some dangerous cliffs were heart stopping. She had to pause once in a while to gain back her stamina. It was a hardcore walk but their gusto to see the beauty of the Virgin Falls was enough to keep them going. It was like being in hell on the way to heaven. She knew it would soon be all worth it. When they finally arrived at the foot of the waterfall, their efforts were rewarded. They were witnessing "nature’s baby": a 20 ft. waterfall cascading along the rocks, welcoming them.

While her companions cooled themselves with the water, she found a secluded corner and silenced herself from the external noise. She closed her eyes and started to feel the mist coming from the falls. The sound of the water was very soothing to her tired body. The hush of the trees, the chirping of the birds and the sound of the waterfall was all she needed. It was all worth it. This was heaven. This was life.

She gave up her solitude to join her companions in swimming. It was like giving herself to the feeling of hypothermia. The water was ice cold. They couldn’t last for long, so after an hour-long swim they packed their bags and headed for the Highlands resort. Going back through the same trail, everyone felt pleased of what they had just experienced. Although exhausting, finally seeing the unique beauty of the Virgin Falls had paid off. It had been worth it. It would be a memory worth relishing.

It was night fall when they finally arrived at the resort. Mother Nature wasn’t done with her blessings (it rained), so instead of being outdoors; they just contented themselves with the cozy evening air inside their cottage. Exhausted, they slept well.

The next morning, after eating their breakfast, they enjoyed the rest of the resort. Anne finally saw the scenic view of the top of Mt. Apo. The mountain appeared as though it was smiling at her with its pinkish glow and Anne couldn’t help but smile back. The view of the sun illuminating Mt. Apo was stunning and left her speechless.

Finally, they packed their bags and headed home. The trip gave her the quenching feeling. It was just the break she needed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Revitalized and refreshed, she was ready to welcome the days ahead. And when exhaustions comes her door again, she is certain that there’s always a nature’s baby just a two-hour travel from home.

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