We are unsure what we ate today to give us so much get-up-and-go, but we are energized. Maybe it’s something in the unripened food.
At 5:10 am and we are up to start the day. Why so early? Because our native roosters are telling us the sun is coming up. So up-and-at-‘em and we are off to the patio for breakfast.
Mayca has prepared us a nice breakfast. Breakfast consists of:
‘Bring it on sexy lady!’
… and off we go to the gym.
Music is pumping and Rose is jumping. I’m lifting weights while watching Rose bound about the room. I’m not sure if she is doing an aerobics routine or just dancing to the Latino beat. Nevertheless, I enjoy her demonstration and it motivates me to workout more.
Ninety minutes later, our bodies are drenched in sweat, but our minds and bodies are still revved.
‘Yaw-Yan?’ she challenges me. (Yaw-Yan is a Filipino mixed martial art - enjoy image below).
‘Getting my butt kicked by a beautiful lady like you will be worth the pain. Bring it!’
We don the gloves and I become the punching and kicking dummy. ‘You know we have a punching dummy for you to practice hitting.’
‘I know, but you’re much cuter,’ she teases.
Punches, strikes, round-house kicks, front kicks and the blows from my 4 foot 8 inch tall wife are beginning to take a toll on my much larger body. Lucky for me, Rose’s good friend, Jenny, shows up.
‘Yaw-Yan. Greg calls it Kick-Butt. Do you want to try it with me.’
Jenny agrees, dons the gloves and now I get to watch 2 lovely, sweaty ladies duke it out. Can you see me smiling?
Myca calls us for lunch and we are astonished that we have been in the gym for nearly 4 hours. Sitting down for lunch, we are overjoyed that Myca is an excellent cook. Today she has prepared us a Filipino National dish known as pork Adobo - cuts of pork, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and a few other ingredients prepared with care and love. Needless to say, it’s delicious.
‘Jenny, we’ve been invited to go hiking between Looc and Odiongan. Do you want to join us?’
‘Sorry, I can’t today. Can we go again later this week?’
Rose smiles, nods her head while teasing, ‘Yes… as long as you bring a pretty tuna fish so we can grill it on our next hike.’ Jenny agrees. Finishing our lunch, we clean the table, we thank Myca for the delicious mean, and we get liters of water our next event - mountain hiking.
We drive to Looc to collect a couple of Eds to join us (Eddie and Edwin). And because it’s hot in the afternoon sun, we suck down a few cool drinks. Since there is only 1 power-aid, I resolve to let Rose have it while I drink the old fashioned standby - Coca-Cola.
After gathering the Eds, we drive off to meet our guide. The road is twisty, but it’s in great condition. ‘Turn off the road here,’ Ed instructs us. Now the beautiful paved road becomes large chunks of gravel. ‘Go across that shallow river and turn right at the fallen tree. You should see our guide soon.’ And like Ed said, we saw our guide - Noel.
Looking like an elderly man, Noel is the same age as me… and he looks extremely fit. He’s clad in well worn shorts, tattered flip-flops and a machete - traditional local attire for a person living in the ‘boondocks’ (Filipino for Mountain). Rose explains that Noel looks older because he works in the sun everyday and he is probably malnourished. I nod and we begin our hike.
Our hike begins in the shade of the large coconut and big banana trees. The grade is slight and I’m thinking, ‘This is going to be a relaxing hike.’ Seconds later Noel asks if our hearts are strong. We nod. After we nod, Noel slowly smiles. He returns to leading us through the banana trees and into the sunshine. ‘Oh My Golly!’ Our simple hike has turned into an extreme challenge. Now the hill has a 60 to 70 degree incline, and we are in the direct sunlight in the middle of a tropical afternoon.
‘Let’s go,’ Noel smiles.
With each step, I can hear my heart pounding in my ears… but we do not stop for fear that we will fall backwards.
‘Son of a Gun this is hard! What was I thinking? This isn’t hiking. This is mountain climbing!’
‘Keep going!’ Noel cheers to us, ‘or do I need to come back there and push you?’
Rose looks back at me, sticks out her tongue - her silent message of encouragement. I just smile back as sweat flows across my face… and we continue to climb.
Struggling to put one foot in front of the other, Rose, Ed and I continue to climb while listening to Noel sing the disco song Im So Excited. His singing sounds good, the tempo is motivational and our climbing improves… and Noel reaches the summit.
‘You are almost here. I want to show you something when you get here.’ … and the singing continues, but now it’s the song It’s Raining Men.
Rose reaches the top and falls to the ground. I’m a few steps behind her and I join her. Panting and listening to our hearts beat, we look at each other. ‘We could have gotten this type of exercise in our bedroom.’ We laugh as we stand up.
‘Look behind you,’ Noel points. It’s a spectacular view of Looc Bay. ‘Now look further to your right,’ and it’s a road with a shallow grade leading from where we parked to our current location. ‘We didn’t take the road because The only easy day is Yesterday.’ He smiles and we agree. This was a hike. Something to challenge us. Something to make us realize that we can accomplish more than we thought we ever could accomplish. Noel had done what we asked. He took us hiking.
‘Now I have a surprise waiting for you when we get to the bottom of the hill. Follow me and don’t stray from the path. If you do, then you will get to the bottom much, much quicker than you want.’
Our rapid trot begins and we quickly see why Noel warned us. Venturing off the two to five foot wide path means a rapid drop to the bottom of a chasm.
Reaching the bottom of the mountain leads us into the farm land of Noel’s friend. Greetings are exchanged and we are given gifts of fresh vegetables - cinco mas (aka turnips). Why do the filipinos call turnips ‘cinco mas’? A story has it that when the Spanish inquired what the vegetables were, the local farmers thought the Spaniards were asking the price. So the farmers response was ‘cinco mas’ - five more. So the Spaniards began calling the turnips ‘cinco mas’.
‘Keep going, Noel encourages us. We offer the local farmer a few pesos, and he declines our offer. So we tell him ‘thank you’ and we continue out trek for another few minutes until we enter an orchard of banana trees… that soon become coconut trees… that leads us to a stone like altar that is surrounded by small stone columns.
‘Sit. This is my bar. Now it is time for my surprise.’
We wait wondering if he is going to be bringing beer or rum, but it’s… Tuba - Native coconut wine.
And the celebration begins and our bonding continues.
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Enjoy the Hilarious Adventures of my Move to the Philippines
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