I am Kiarra and this is my story
On the latter part of 2013, I was growing sick and tired of my redundant lifestyle. Basically, for someone who works home based online, surfing the internet would be the most probable thing to do. I indulged on reading blogs, articles or write ups about food, travel and other things that fascinate me.
How I came across Renante Mina a.k.a Manong Unyol?
One night, one blog caught my attention among the others. The page was full of places which I have never heard of. I began browsing and reading, stunned by the pictures I saw, FEAR embraced me. Who in the world would go to these places? …must be someone willing to die, or somebody who wants to be disconnected from the busy world. I don’t think I’m that extreme. I’m probably happy with a mouthwatering dish, an instagrammable café or beach bumming somewhere. But my last view changed everything. A man and a woman were standing on a mesmerizing monolith in autumn colors overlooking a breathtaking ambiance with the title: Pico de loro. It looked as if they were close to flying. Feisty! I honestly fell in love with it. And so I took a leap of faith and message the author of “Adventures of Manong Unyol”. (In other words, I invited myself, an extremely impulsive, insane act). Luckily, this man was very accommodating, humble and kind enough to equip thus assist a newbie like me. I pushed my luck just fine.
I couldn't sleep for days knowing I’ll be joining a large crowd of strangers and experienced mountaineers. How cool is that!? Stepping out of my comfort zone brings butterflies all over my belly. You know that feeling when you receive a present but are not allowed to open it just yet?
Panoramic view of Laguna
Should I cancel? I’m starting to worry. What if they leave me because I might be too lame and slow? Will I be able to jive with anyone and understand their mountaineering terms? At the back of my mind I knew I had nothing to lose but something to gain from this experience. True enough, fear paralyzes. I met not just nice people but interesting ones from different walks of life. There is life and adventure outside my computer screens and stories to hear, places to witness.
Adrenaline was flowing all the time. When I saw the jaw dropping falls; a hammock, a good book and something cold to drink crossed my mind and I would already call it heaven! I guess I had to savor my heaven by soaking myself in the invigorating ice-cold water, instilling picturesque memories in my brain, crouching on a flat 5-feet-wide rock and napping to the sound of falling water and chirping birds. Roofless wandering on a Sunday… PERFECT!
Buntot Palos/Hidden Falls
On my way up the steepest muddy path as we leave the Hidden falls, I literally felt FATIGUE, cramping legs, hyperventilation plus the desire to plunge! There were people behind encouraging me to keep going as if the path would straighten and the muddy track would be cemented. I was totally dog-tired and at the verge of giving up. I knew I looked haggard, all sweaty and messed up from the number of slips and slides. If I were alone, I would've given up and napped for awhile. It was way harder than it appeared on photos. It was like a never ending march! I needed a push…I believe everybody does. It pays to know that some people would give you a lift or a little drive. And just knowing that they have your back means a lot. I remember an old guy from another group of campers who lent his hand just so I could jump off the other boulder of slippery rock on the stream. Do I smell camaraderie? And Chivalry isn't dead yet!
Me and Manong Unyol
My favorite part? The entire trip costs ½ the price of a decent meal that would look palatable enough to be posted on Instagram. Can you imagine that price being stretched for an entire day of worthy experience and fun as compared to 1-2 hours of taste-bud-pampering? Don’t get me wrong, I do love being in a state of food coma.