Trips - Leyte
Nature Trekking in Baybay, Leyte

by Antoinette Go

   The judge promised a fun trip, a river trek. We got more than we expected. This trip that was to be a comedy of errors and one big miscommunication. (This is getting to be a habit.) Just the night before, at the pier ready to board the 10 p.m. boat to Baybay, Leyte, Judge P discovered to his consternation that he left our boat tickets in his other wallet back home. Vanessa and I were amused that a guy would actually have two wallets. "No, I have three," the wise judge clarified, "one for formal occasions, another for casual, and this one for trekking."

We arrive in Baybay, Leyte at 4:30 a.m. We were in high spirits. Judge P checked our gear at Jimbo's place, told Ross to leave behind the plywood he brought with him. "You're not bringing that," he echoed what he said to me in our Manunggal trek. He had visions of Atty. Ross Brillantes carrying this plywood to put up a sign "I was here" in this trek. Ross thought it would make a good sleeping mat.

After ensuring that we brought the right provisions and that these were securely packed in plastic, the judge gave the signal for us to leave. We crammed our backpacks and our bodies into a puny multi-cab for the 10-minute ride to the campus of the Visayas State College of Agriculture (VISCA) situated at the foot of Mt. Pangasugan. Judge took the time to buy plant hybrids and fruit tree seedlings at the school nursery, while Jimbo went to contact our guide. The rest had their breakfast of fish in clear soup at a more leisurely pace in one of VISCA's many eateries. At the kitchen, the teenage cook was already preparing our packed lunch, fried fish. 

From VISCA it was another short ride to Barangay Marcos. Our guide was a chain-smoking 67-year old farmer who goes around barefoot. He is subbing for his son who was indisposed, guiding a group of 40 researchers and teachers from VISCA on a cross-country trek in Mt. Pangasugan. His two grandchildren, 16-year old Tata and 15-year old Rachel begged their Lolo (grandpa) Erning to let them join. Looks like Tata is going to be the next in this three generations of mountain guides in the family. 

And off we go. We were in high spirits. We took a trail from Lolo Erning's house and headed off to the mountains in the interior, past coconut and banana trees as the sweetest scent of an unknown flower embraced us with its welcome fragrance. Around the bend of a stream this sweet smell was replaced by a more earthly one of carabaos! A family of the farmer's best friend -- there's papa carabao, mama carabao, baby carabao, yaya carabao and their cousins ...

Continued on next page ...

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Antoinette Go works for the San Miguel Corporation and is a member of the Green Earth Mountaineers in Cebu. She is also a journalist and you can read her work at Antoinettes Life in These Islands web site as well as her Southern Miss web site where she is currently studying.

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