Short Ride to Mt. Banoy, Batangas Feels Like an Expedition

March 3, 2021

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Last February 27, we had brunch at the popular Father’s Nook in Ibaan Batangas. It is a cozy and rustic restaurant cafe owned by Don Luansing.

They serve delicious Filipino cuisine and Don himself manages the place. He said that they’ve been operating for more than 40 years already. It’s a pretty decent place, decorated Filipiniana style with old wooden furniture and capiz window accents.

My Father’s Nook

They serve the famous maliputo, Lechon kawali and other pinoy specialties. Too bad they didn’t have kapeng barako at the time.

My Father’s Nook, Ibaan Batangas

It isn’t a long ride going to our camp destination, Mt. Banoy. It is in Batangas near the City. We passed via Ibaan and the roads near the Fortune cement factory.

Filipiniana

I like passing thru Barangay roads. It gives you a feel of the provincial life where the vegetation is thick and the air is fresh.

We rode thru small barrio roads going up Mt. Banoy and as we went further up, the roads became narrower and steep.

And then the pavements became dirt and then as we neared the summit, the road became steep, rocky and rut-filled. And for big adventure bikes, it was difficult and challenging.

The more experienced riders Resty, Sael, Ruel, Mhar and myself twisted on the throttle and allowed the intelligent BMW GS do it work. Man these bikes swallowed those ruts and bigs rocks like small enduros.

GS

As soon as we parked are bikes at the Camp site, we hiked going back to assist the others. When I turned the first bend, there were 2 bikes down. And some waiting.

When this ride was posted on The Long Riders group in Facebook, they said it was “GS friendly”. If friends were this difficult, who needs enemies. But no, the big adventure bikes did make it up but not after many bloopers and bike drops. Luckily, nobody got hurt and it was all we talked about all night.

Speaking of friendly, we meta local who rides a Bristol 500 and who, like us, is also an adventure rider. This local is an all American white dude who stood bigger than his bike.

“A ready smile goes a long way” Erick Flickinger says. And despite his bulky size and towering height, he is quite friendly and he immediately connected with the group.

A 20-year US marine veteran, he lives nearby. He retired from service and is enjoying life in Batangas together with his wife who is a dentist.

“I’m tall and my bike is low. Perfect for any terrain.” Erick always says. This is why we like adventure riding, you meet all sorts of folks in the most unexpected places. Imagine meeting a local who is a foreigner.

Bernard Soriano and his gracious wife Rosalinda was our contact to Mt. Banoy. They know the owners of the tracts of land there. They’ve lived all their lives there.

Bernard runs a small carinderia down by the main road and he cooks a mean adobo. He took care of our needs. He prepared our food, brought lots of drinking water and tables and chairs.

Bernard made our camp comfortable and fed us well. He also sports a ready smile and is very hospitable.

It is amazing that just a few kilometers from the city is a mountain top, a perfect campsite that offers a 360 degree view of Balayan bay, the whole of Batangas City and farther you can see Mt. Maculot, Mt. Malarayat and also Mt. Banahaw.

The weather is cool in the afternoon even with the sun out. It gets chilly at night and the winds keep blowing.

We parked our bikes and set up camp. We marveled at the place. Mt. Banoy is not so high but high enough to get us a feel of being on a mountain top, with the fog and clouds floating around us.

And as the sun was setting it gave us a spectacular show of the golden hour. The orange sun set on the west side and almost at the same time the full moon started to rise. Magical.

It was exhilarating. A spectacular show of nature so beautiful.

Mt. Banoy may soon become accessible to more visitors as the roads get completed. Bernard says that it will connect to Lobo.

There are three towers near the campsite serving as antennas for radio, tv and telecom signals. That’s where the bath and toilets are. Bernard knows the caretakers who are kind enough to let us use the restrooms.

Erick liked The Long Riders group. He said “I like what I see. You guys are impressive. You ride well and I feel the camaraderie.” Guess we will see more of Erick.

Mt. Banoy is only a short ride. But with the scenery, the tough climb and downhill ride, the cold night and cold beer, it was like we rode faraway.

You have time for an overnight adventure? Mt. Banoy is it.

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Siruma in Camarines Sur Can Give Boracay and Palawan a Run for Their Money

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

February 12, 2021

Sael Requierme intimated to Randy and me how “fast good karma” was. We had just distributed toys, clothes and goodies to the poor children in Tinambac, a poor fishing town next to Siruma, Camarines Sur.

He was feeling good in giving charity and then he gets a text  message from a big client saying he bagged another project.

It is in giving that we receive, goes the prayer of St. Francis.

For The Long Riders Motorcycle group, it is part of our joy to share to the poor people we encounter on our moto-adventures. riding, giving and letting go. This is who we are.

Siruma is about 450 kilometers from Manila and the route is fun- filled with open highways, mountain twisties and intermittent rains.

There are many hidden gems in the Philippines. Natural wonders like beautiful beaches, mountains and rivers and water falls. One such gem is tucked away in the sleepy coastal town of Siruma, Camarines Sur, Bicol.

Our group didn’t go straight to Camsur though. We passed via Daet where Jojel Ecat and his friends met up with us. They again brought us to the Cory Aquino Boulevard in Bagasbas town.

It is said to be “Longest Boulevard in the Philippines”, about 9 kilometers long. It is a scenic ride along the beaches of Bagasbas and connecting towns.

One of them had a resto-bar along the boulevard, in front of the ocean. It was raining intensely, the wind blew strong and the waves of the ocean were rough.

From the South Luzon Expressway where we started, it was already getting late in the afternoon and raining hard when we got to Daet. Drenched and famished, it was such a wonderful surprise that Jojel and company had prepared a sumptuous meal for us. And we were not few. Hats off to Jojel and Company for their utra gracious hospitality.

The plan was to camp right there but because of the weather we decided to ride to Naga, which is a better jump off point to Siruma.

In Naga, we checked-in at the Villa Ceceres Hotel. It is good that Naga seems to be open for business, almost looking normal save for the mask protocols and controlled buffet meals. It is one of the better hotels in Naga. I like Villa Caceres. It is pretty decent and the staff are very friendly.

They also have a covered parking area where our bikes stayed along with our wet boots, jackets and other riding gear.

The following morning, we rode to Siruma. It’s only about 120 kilometers and this time the day was bright and shiny. It took us only about 2 hours to reach Tinambac where we ate at the local carinderia and that’s where we distributed gifts to the poor children.

The fishing village in Tinambac is so poor said the old lady vendor, that she doesn’t believe in government anymore. There is nothing. Some of the children didn’t even have pants on.

Siruma is just a short ride from there. But this is where our adventure riding got interesting.

Mostly riding the biggest and baddest BMWs and Ducatis, while some of us rode all sorts of bikes like Yamaha, Royale Enfields and KTMs. The ride became exciting and thrilling. From the paved road going to Angelica Resort, it led us to a dirt fire road.

And then, the path started to become muddy and bumpy. Some of us slipped, turned and tumbled!

And there it was. Siruma. A beach front with white sand and clear ocean waters. We occupied the end most of the island where there were pine-like trees. We camped there. It is where the river meets the ocean and where mangroves serve as fish havens.

With our big bikes, we camped pitched tents and sleeping bags. We held our usual fellowhip with some spirits. During such campfire gatherings, we get to know more of each other and bond like long lost adventurers wandering in the wild.

I told Doc Ron Sadang that we don’t see many people our age doing what we do. He commented that many young people would want so much to be able to do what we do. Ride, camp and let go.

I wonder why such a marvelous work of nature is not very popular in the country. Siruma would give Boracay, Palawan and other beach destinations a run for their money if it is managed well and promoted properly.

I’d certainly go back to Siruma when I get a chance and when COVD-19 finally leaves us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Riding thru the Backroads of Floridablanca on Big Adventure Bikes

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

January 19, 2021

One of the activities you can do during this General Community Quarantine is to go on motorcycle rides and enjoy the outdoors, away from the crowds and enclosed buildings.

Nature has a way of calming the nerves. Nothing beats feeling the breeze of fresh air as you ride your favorite big bike. For The Long Riders it does not matter wether you ride a Benelli, Royal Enfield, or KTM. Or wether you choose the biggest and baddest BMW GS 1200s and 1250s.

Edmar on his Yamaha Tracer 900

What matters is you enjoy the adventure, bond with the other riders and be happy for the weekend. What better stress buster is there?

Mhar Isip’s GS1200 HP
Paulo on a Himalayan Royal Enfield
Raj on a GS 1250

Last week we rode and camped in the wilderness of Floridablanca, Pampanga. Some also came on 4×4 vehicles.

It was good to have some pick up trucks and SUVs with us. They had the space to load all those camping stuff like tents, coolers, comfy portable chairs and tables.

Sael, Ruel, Albert and their 4×4 group Team Sabik came prepared, with nice canopies, solar lights and long tables for camping.

4×4 Campers

We couldn’t have hauled all those provisions with our bikes. Riding on motorcycles, we only brought our basic camp gears, a few canned goods and whiskey.

Restie Renia brought us up to Barangay Nabuklod, the Aeta community where Ka Lita is one of its leaders. She calls Restie “Kapatad”, meaning brother in their dialect.

Nabuklod

The barangay has grown ever since I first went there several years ago. The population has visibly multiplied and a lot of houses have sprung.

The community of Aetas is actually a resettlement place for the indigenous people of Floridablanca. They are sometimes called “kulot” because of their curly hair.

Floridablanca is just a short ride from Manila, especially now that the stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway has opened. Bye bye Edsa! We don’t have to suffer your heavy traffic every time we ride up north.

It only takes less than an hour to exit San Fernando and onto Floridablanca. We were composed of nine big motorcycles and another nine 4×4 vehicles.

We gathered first at Restie’s “kubo”, his home away from home. We had some coffee and bread before we started our adventure.

Group pic at Restie’s Kubo

First stop, driving thru some dusty dirty roads up to Sitio Liplip, up in Porac where we dropped off some toys, clothes and other goodies for the Aetas.

As we started to arrive at the Barangay, we were met by throngs of Aeta children who were cheering and running towards our vehicles. (Reminds me of scenes from Africa).

Carter with Aeta children
Brando and Edmar play Santa

It must have been a wonder to their innocent unspoiled eyes to see such big machines ridden by men in space suits.

The people there are poor. They live in utter poverty and squalor. Seeing them, being witness to their poor living conditions, it always hits me hard. It simply turns my stomach upside down.

Rodel Velasco, a TLR mainstay, once told me that whenever we encounter such poor communities, he gets the feeling of guilt. He said “ what we do is not enough, kulang.”

Gift giving and outreaches is The Long Riders’ humble way of charity. It gives meaning to our adventure riding. Actually, the feeling cuts both ways. In giving, we too feel happy.

Our next stop was supposed to be at Sapang Bayabas where we planned to setup camp beside the River. But upon reaching it, there were many other visitors and a bit crowded. So we decided to go up to Ka Lita’s.

It was late in the afternoon when we got there. The camping grounds is actually a local view deck where one can have views of the mountains and the city lights of Pampanga.

View from the Camp site
Carlo enjoying the view
City lights of Pampanga

We set up camp and it was getting chilly. While waiting for our prized home grown lechon, we started with some cocktails and storytelling.

Wern, Albert, Cris and Ruel

The weather was really cold. We wore our jackets and pants. Doc Von, who was not really planning to spend the night, had to make do with wearing a motorcycle back protector and some loose clothings to keep warm.

Carlo and Ricky keeping warm

Well the scotch helped.

The guys brought lots of food and pica-pica. Joseph Tan came fully equipped and even had some pork liempo barbecued. Albert brought some good ole Ilocano pulutan and Raj had some Indian chicken masala.

Jill, Brando, Jon, Restie and Joseph

The morning after was the real adventure. The challenge was wether big bikes and the TLR riders were going to conquer riding the rough dirt roads and several river crossings all the way to Sumuclab Lagoon where no other big bikers dare?

True enough, the dirt roads were challenging. We had to traverse seven river crossings, which were passable but tricky. The deepest water levels reached our engines.

Wet and wild

(Oh by the way, Wern, Capt. Tin and I had it easy because we rode our trail Honda bikes.)

Roughing it up on big bikes

After challenging trails, we finally reached up to the last passable stop going to the Sumuclab Lagoon where no other foolish rider has gone! Another first for this crazy bunch of adventure riders.

Restie Conquers Sapang Bayabas!

As our prize for the difficult ride, we got to swim in the cool clean waters of Sumuclab Lagoon. We refreshed ourselves and enjoyed the river, washing away our weary bodies and horseplayed like grade schoolers.

Cooling off
Sumuclab Lagoon

Can’t wait for our next adventure. I hope this COVID-19 pandemic ends soon so we can ride longer and farther.

Mhar on his GS 1200 HP

 

 

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Christmas Mission in Salacac

December 15, 2020

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Sitio Salacac in Malico, Nueva Vizcaya has been our home away from home ever since its Kalanguya tribe Chieftain Alfredo Segundo adopted us as their family last year.

Going back to experience its cold weather and warm people has always been a treat for The Long Riders.

The community in Salacsac is poor but rich in tradition. They live up in the mountains which they sometimes call the pine forest. The place is surrounded by pine trees and from the top you can have a 360 degree view of Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya.

We have a campsite on top of the sitio where we pitch our tents and where we gather for the night’s fellowship and sharing.

My wife Tina joined the camp, and she commented to me while we were driving back home that the experience was so humbling. She said that to be among the Salacsac folks, who live so simply, and who are so kind and hospitable, “gets you grounded”.

During dinner of the group at the small area of the Segundo Family, Tatay Alfie and Mommy Bita stood before us and in their native toungue, sincerely expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the friendship our group has extended.

While tatay Alfie was speaking, Mommy Bita just kept on rubbing her eyes as she shed tears of Joy. Some of us cried with her.

You see, we gifted them with a brand new 42″ inch HiSense Television. TLR Chief Restie Renia told Mommy Bi that now with a bigger TV set, she can see clearly her favorite Korenovela characters.

In the Kalanguya tribe, it is their tradition to slaughter and roast pigs as their special offering to friends. They cook them Lechon style or the local version “watwat”. For dinner we had lechon and saluyot with bagoong.

Going to Salacsac, we chose to pass via San Nicolas, Pangasinan, and drove through the scenic mountains roads. The Villa Verde trail is still about half paved and half rough roads. It gets tricky when it rains due to the slippery muds and sometimes even landslides.

Waze won’t advise you to take this route. There is another friendlier route through Santa Fe Nueva Ecija and the climb up is only about 20 minutes. But the travel time is much longer, more than 6 hours.

From San Nicolas, it takes about an hour to reach Malico and another 20 minutes going further up to Sitio Salacsac.

The drive is challenging but very enjoyable. One has stop to enjoy and breeze and the astsounding views for those facebook shots and tik-tok vids.

We camped and pitched our tents up the mountain. The weather was cold and the winds blew intermittenly throughout the night. There is something about camping that connects you to nature.

No matter if it is not too comfortable, sleeping in tents, hearing the sounds of the breeze and feeling the bite of the cold weather draws you, body and soul, to mother nature.

A couple of months ago, Tatay Alfie and Mommy Bita lost their dear daughter Julie to cancer. She also has 4 children.

I look at the Segundo elderly couple and imagine how deeply painful it must be to lose a daughter. Julie’s concrete tomb was built right beside their home and its cement is still fresh. A grim reminder of how recent Julie passed.

On Sunday, the morning after, we had brunch at their grounds where the pigs were slaughtered and being prepared. While waiting for the food, we gathered the children and distributed lots of toys and goodies. Christmas came early for the Salacsac little ones.

We also gave away lots of foodstuff, clothes and other gifts for everyone. For the poor and simple folks of Salacsac, The Long Riders family is very much part of the Segundo family.

Being there to share some of our stuff, to bring joy to everyone and getting to interact with them was our Chirstmas Mission for Sitio Salacsac. Merry Christmas!

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Moto-adventure Ride to Camarines Norte

October 27, 2020

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Gauging by the heavy traffic at the South Luzon Expressway on the way back from Camarines Norte last Sunday, the people from Metro Manila have started to travel on road trips to getaway from their homes and quarantine restrictions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, but the people feels the need to go out, travel and socialize or suffer from anxiety and depression. We are social animals afterall.

We just need to observe the basic protocols of avoiding crowded places, keep social distancing, wear masks and always washing our hands. This has become our new normal and is actually a small inconvenience rather than being locked down at home living a sedentary and lonesome life.

The Long Riders Motorcycle group or TLR secured the needed travel and health permits as we planned on a 3-day adventure ride to Camarines Norte. TLR founding member Jojel  Ecat, who has settled in Daet, Camarines Norte, was our local coordinator.

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Robert and our host Jojel Ecat with care Apuao island care taker

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Jojel on his BMW GS 800

He is a great host. Together with his childhood classmate and adventure tour group organizer, Nano, they arranged for our hassle free stay in Cam Norte. They booked us in the Palm Farm Resort in Cayucyucan town. For a very reasonable per head fee, we had two big rooms, dormitory-style with aircon, clean bunk beds and toilets and baths. Our accommodations were a big plus and made it convenient and comfortable for us.

Our tents stayed in our bikes.

Our package included all our meals, prepared bicolano style from dinner, fresh seafood, pulutans, breakfast and picnic lunches by the beach.

From Manila, it is about 350 kilometers to Daet. Riding on our elephant big bikes, it was enjoyable and fast.

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Carlo Escover on his KTM 990

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Sael Requierme on his BMW 1250 Exclusive

While we planned on this adventure more than a month ago, we didn’t foresee that Typhoon Pepito would pour heavy rains into Cam Norte on the days prior to our trip. Lopez town in Quezon was heavily flooded and two days before we took off, the highway was clogged by 6 kilometers both ways.

But we have guardian angels and the heavens smiled on us on the day of our departure on October 23. Pepito’s rains had gone and the floods in Lopez subsided considerably to allow us to pass. The waters were low enough for us to cross the flooded portion.

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Flood waters in Lopez, Quezon

Cris, who rides a Harley Davidson, was worried because his bike is low compared to the other adventure bikes. He rode thru the waters without hassle. All part of adventure riding.

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Cris Nulud’s Harley Davidson

Jojel and his rider friends from Daet met us at the military check-point as we entered into Calauag, Quezon. From there we rode to Daet, had lunch in a road side carinderia where we ate local food like laing, sinigang, and paksiw na baboy. The elderly couple owners were overwhelemed as we hungrily ate their food. Normally, they would serve by the saucers and just count them afterwards to be billed.

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Lunch break and some

We were so hungry that Restie, the leader of the pack, started to get the entire cooking Kalderos and served them to us. We had a hearty lunch, because we were so tired from the long ride from Manila.

And then the rains started to pour. Rain drops as big as coins fell and visibility became zero. We thought it was not stopping, but Jojel said that we just had to gear up and ride through it. He said that it was not raining in Daet anyway. And so we all suited up our rain gears and started to ride to Daet, which was still about 60 kilometers away.

Funny how fate plays tricks. In full rain gears from head to toe, no sooner had we got on the road, the rains stopped, making us all feel warm and suffocated. It’s like putting on your raincoats before going out of your of the house with rain boots. Then as you start walking, the rains stops and the sun shines. Again, such is adventure riding. You never know what comes ahead.

We arrived at the Palm Farm Resort just before dark. Jojel and Nano had prepared a welcome pica-pica spread for us, like VIP visitors. Dinner was also set-up consisting of fresh sea foods, and local delicacies. Nothings like fresh provicial food cooked local sytle.

They set-up a long table and chairs by the beach where we spent the night washing down our worries and city-stress over cold beer and high percentage alcoholic drinks. Enough to drown all seriousness away.

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TLR tradition. Kanpaiii!

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Cris Nulud with beer in hand.

In the morning, most of us were up early to catch the sun rise. The day was perfect for the much awaited island hopping boat rides. Cam Norte boasts of its Siete Picadas or seven islands in Mercedes town.

We rented several bancas, and luckily ours had all the cold beers on board. Sael Requierme, called our boat the “mahiwagang banca” and its occupants were like the students usually seated in the last row of classrooms, Roland, Ron, Ruel, Sael, Doc Glenn and myself. A cast of characters straight out of the movie “Hangover”.

We got to see two of the best islands beause we chose to stay long in the last stop, Malasugui island. First was the Apuao island. It is an islet with white sand beaches on both sides. The entire area is also filled with pine trees, making for a picture perfect scene.

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Apuao Island with pine trees

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Apuao Island dweller and caretaker

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Zach Renia

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Virgin and pristine Apuao

There is no resort there and it is being maintained by a private owner. Only the caretaker family lives there.

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Mike Yan yan and Restie

We also stopped by the nearby Barangay community, where the locals lived. We gathered all the young children in their multi-purpose basketball court to giveaway some toys, slippers, candies and some cash. Seeing their predicament, you can’t help but feel sad for them. So many poor children.

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Children of Barangay Apuao

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Rodel hands out cash gifts

We promised to return one day to conduct a medical and dental mission for their Barangay. We’ll just wait until all quarantine restrictions are lifted.

Malasugui was our second island. It is a sand bar with a small dwelling in the middle. Doc Von Evangelio had the bright idea of having our lunch fetched in the Palm Farm resort and brought to the island.

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Robert, Michael and Restie

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Mhar Isip and boodled feast

We enjoyed the clear blue water of the beach with white sands. While wading in the cool waters, we exchanged banter and laughter. Afterwhich, we had a sumptous lunch boodle style, while observing safety protocols.

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Doc Von Evangelio – Shot

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Doc Von

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Cris trying to recover from hangover

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Robert in Siesta mode

God was kind enough to grant us this one day of perfect weather, to enjoy nature, forget our woes and be away from our work and problems. Cam Norte is just the perfect place of moto-adventure riders like us to enjoy our bikes on the trip, discover the wonderous works of nature and relax. One day of fine weather was more than enough gift from heaven for us.

Before heading home, we went to see and ride along the Cory Aquino Boulevard in Bagasbas town. It is said to be “Longest Boulevard in the Philippines”, about 9 kilometers long. It is a scenic ride along the beaches of Bagasbas and connecting towns. Before the Pandemic, this is known as a popular surfing town. It might be a good idea to go back here once the surfing resorts and bars start to operate.

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Ruel on a BMW GSA in Cory Aquino Blvd

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Bagasbas “Longest Boulevard”

And as if making up for all the joy and good weather during our stay in Cam Norte, our trip back to Manila was as wet as can be. Typhoon Quinta had arrived and heavy rains accompanied us all the way from Camarines Norte to Metro Manila.

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Carlo Escover on a Super Moto

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Group prayer before heading home

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Heavy Rains from Typhoon Quinto

And just as we came nearer to home, the SLEX was jampacked with vehicles, making our ride home at night, amid pouring rains, quite challenging.

Still, all part of adventure riding.

Posted in #COVID-19 PANDEMIC, Experiences, Motoadventure, Motorcycle adventures, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Morning Breeze in Sariaya, Quezon

September 24, 2020

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

With all the quarantine lockdowns for the past 6 months, people just need to get out, breathe and socialize a little. Otherwise, we go crazy.

Morning Breeze Beach Resort is not too far from Metro Manila. The drive would normally take only less than 2 hours when you pass thru SLEX onto to Star Toll and exit via Ibaan.

Morning Breeze Beach Resort

From there you pass the  Quezon Eco-Tourism Road which starts from Rosario Batangas to San Juan and to Candelaria. Morning Breeze Beach Resort is located along the Eco-Tourism Road in Sariaya town, Quezon. A short trip.

However, The Long Riders or TLR did not take the easy short ride to Morning Breeze. We took the longer route via Los Baños, Pagsanjan in Laguna onto to moutains of Cavinti and exited in Tayabas Quezon.

For motorcycle riders like us, it was a longer, better and more scenic route.

We had brunch at the Tita Dels restaurant in Pagsanjan and surprisingly the food was terrific and priced right.

Tita Dels Fiesta Cuisine

Rodel, Carlo, Restie, Randy, Ricky and Bong

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Crablettes

We had Crispy Pata, Kare-kare, Crispy Crablets and Balaw-balaw. The place has rustic castillian design. It didn’t take long for the food to be prepared and the service was efficient and friendly.

Pagsanjan is a traditional tourist spot, because of the famous Pagsanjan Falls and its shooting the rapids ride, and maybe it’s the reason why establishments are used to giving good service and best native foods. Hopefully, when our not-so-friendly-ghost Covid-19 leaves, tourism will return to Pagsanjan.

Our ride thru the Cavinti mountains was pleasant and was a much-needed breather. It’s been months since we have ridden long enough. The fresh air and rich vegetation of Cavinti gave us a feel of being motorcycle riders once again.

The roads to Morning Breeze Beach Resot was paved all the way until we turned right into the dirt road towards its entrance. It’s been raining the past days and the road was muddy and had some water-filled ruts.

Muddy Trails

Restie Renia, TLR’s guru, who surveyed the place a couple of weeks ago kept this muddy portion as his surprise. A ride won’t be complete without some tricky dirt roads and this was wet and wild. Sneaky.

And so we proceeded with our big elephant adventure bikes on a quick and dirty pass.

Morning Breeze Beach Resort is a small resort with some modest rooms and bahay kubos. After several months of quarantine and no business, it is only now that they are starting to accept visitors. Covid-19 is still infecting people and Sariaya is being careful.

Rodel Velasco

There weren’t many people in the resort and it was tranaquil and peaceful. Some of the guys pitched tents and some slept in the small aircon rooms while others just occupied the small huts by the beach.

We parked our bikes near our quarters and the place looked like a Touatech Addventure event.

Jake and his Vulcan

Hippie on a Harley – Cris

The owners Ate Rose and Kuya Eugene showed us good ole’ provincial hospitality. They made us feel welcome and ensured our comfort and safety during our stay. The gracious couple and their staff prepared our dinner, some snacks and breakfast.

Ate Rose

Coffee and Corn with Kuya Eugene

During the afternoon happy hour and into the night we had some brotherhood bonding, sharing stories and joking around.

The beach sand is color brown and without any artificial Dolomite white sand. The waters of Tayabas Bay was calm during our stay and clean. We took an afternoon dip to cool ourselves.

The community still manages to catch fish from the sea for livelihood and family consumption.

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The children of Morning Breeze community were also delighted in receiving the toys, new slippers and other goodies from us. Children are magic and their innocence is always inspiring.

Children receives goodies

Beneath the bad-boy-macho image of motorcycle riders, we do have soft spots especially for the less fortunate. This habit of giving goodies to poor children whenever we ride is signature TLR.

Waking up to the fresh air of Morning Breeze, we strolled by the beach. There were fisher folks pulling their nets towards the shore. The air was cool and there was some slight morning drizzle. Two rainbows appeared.

Morning Catch

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Ricky with the rainbow

Feeling relaxed and rejuvinated, now we can head back home to our families. Thanks for the short but enjoyable ride with The Long Riders!

Atty. Paul Yusi

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The Hidden Baliti Dam in Arayat Pampanga

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

September 2, 2020

It was Araw ng mga Bayani or National Heroes Day last August 31, 2020, making it a 4-day weekend.

The National Capital Region is still under General Community Quarantine because of the game-changer COVID-19 pandemic. I haven’t been out riding my motorcyle for several months and it was the opportunity to breathe, even with a surgical mask, and get out in the open road again.

The Long Riders actually planned this trip earlier in August to celebrate the birthday of our veteran member Tito Peter Barrientos. He is well-known in the big bike commumnity and is well respected.

Tito Peter Barrientos and Jimmy Vidal

But towards the original date of the ride, the government reinstated the status of the NCR from GCQ back to the stricter Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine. So we had to cancel.

And so the Team led by “Bahala-na-si Batman” Restie Renia reset the ride for August 31 to Porac, Pampanga. We also planned to share some relief goods and gift items to the local Aeta community up the mountain where we were camping. More than 25 riders and friends signed up and several came in SUVs and 4×4 pick-up trucks while 8 of us brought our motorcycles.

It’s good to be back riding!

At the meeting place, Restie announced to the group the sudden change of plans. Apparently, the Aeta community requested to postpone our camping trip because many of their residents were uncomfortable with visitors, for possible in infection from COVID-19. We had to respect that. There’s always a next time.

Atty. Paul Yusi who is from Pampanga then suggested and offered his piece of property up at the foot of Mt. Arayat. So we all agreed to go there, raring to enjoy the mountain, nature and a bit of relaxing.

Arayat is not so far from Manila. It’s only about 120 kilometers and not even a 2-hour ride.

Before heading off to Arayat, Paul brought us to his favorite kambingan in Angeles Pampanga where we had brunch of kaldereta, sinigang and of course papaitan soup.

Doc Von starts the warm-up

Doc Glenn Latorre and Carlo Escover Enter a caption

At the karinderia, Doc Von, and Jimmy Vidal started to warm up with scotch whiskey to prime the day.

Some of the SUVs and pick-up trucks went ahead of us to Mt. Arayat. We arrived shortly after and learned that the advance group missed the spot and drove further up.

Doc Ron, George and Roland at Paul Yusi’s farm

Doc Ron, Ricky and Carter ready to camp

The problem was one of them, Jake Yu and his kids, got stuck in mud. The rescue truck, a fully equipped Toyota 4×4 Hi-lux, also slid down a deep rut of mud.

Jake Yu, “I should’ve bought a 4×4”

We had to go up in Restie’s Ford Raptor to rescue them. We hopped on the Raptor’s bed with Tiger beers in hand.

Rescue Team

Rut and Mud

After a couple of hours, all the stranded vehicles were able to drive back down to Paul’s property. But when we arrived, the caretaker said that they had left and drove down to the JJTan Resort.

Whew! The resort was a relief.Rather than roughing it up in the mountains with limited facilities, with mud and rain, JJTan offered rooms, a clean camp site, food, service and swimming pools. Paul and Carlo Esvover talked to the owners to accommodate us.

Baliti Dam, Arayat Pampanga

When you ride with the The Long Riders, such twists of fate, of good fortune happens all the time. Who would have thought that we would end up there? JJTan resort is owned by John Tanchueco.

The place right beside the Baliti Dam, which is a water reservoir, and also used as the local tourist spot. It is closed at the moment because of the quarantine but normally it operates as a boating and fishing place. It helps the local government raise funds,too.

And so the ride, camp and socially distanced merry making began and seemed to never end. I thought alcohol made people relaxed and sleepy but I was wrong. Between the antics of Jimmy Vidal, Roland L, Jake Yu and the rest of the gang, the energy was just overwhelming. We just kept going and going.

Let the games begin

Tito Pete, Ricky, Ray De Lima and Rodel

All those days in quarantine and the anxiety the pandemic has brought upon us must have stored all those laughter and plain good vibes expload. After all, we are social animals.

Green Label

Robert and Tito Pete

The Baliti Dam is surrounded by thick forests and has the view of Mt. Arayat. We walked early in the morning around the dam and the fog in the mountains and green forest, with the dam made for a refreshing walk.

The Long Riders at Baliti Dam with Brgy. Capt. Julio Puno

Pay Time

We met with Barangay Captain Julio Puno after breakfast and had our group picutre taken. We talked about a possible medical and dental mission for his barangay.

With Barangay Captain Julio Puno

JJTan Resort and the Baliti Dam in Arayat was what we needed.  A fun-filled relaxing day by the mountains, with dear crazy friends. Happy birthday Tito Peter, Sael Requierme and me too.

Till the next Adventure!

 

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Haay Covid-19, Sana Mawala Ka Na

July 23, 2020

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

God it’s half the year already and our not-so-friendly ghost COVID-19 is still very much with us. The numbers are staggering, with than 14 Million people worldwide infected and about 615 thousand deaths.

Here in the Philippines we have more than 72 thousand infected and almost 1600 deaths, if we are to believe the numbers. However, I suspect that there are much more infected than what is being reported.

People are dying by the thousands every single day. Friends, family, rich people, poor people, mothers, grandparents, fathers, sons and daughters, everyone. Nobody is safe.

My family is fortunate, so far so good. We are all healthy and we are being careful. My wife and I still have work and my adult children are all productive, safe and secure. God has been very kind to bless us.

Staying at Home during Quarantine

Pandemic Teaches Tina How to Cook

But I cannot help but fret and feel sad everyday, as I watch the news and read what’s happening around us, around the world. COVID-19 is really something else. What are you? Who are you? Are you the last of your kind? Where will this pandemic bring us?

The more I think about it the more I get distressed.

Driving along the Metro Manila streets, you see all those people walking under the sun wearing masks and going to work somewhere far without public transport. Notice the sudden increase of bicycles and the delivery motorbikes, too.

Try and look at people’s faces. You only see their eyes and they seem distraught and desperate. My heart goes out especially to the poor people. Life has already dealt them with inequality and a hard life. COVID-19 serves as a death blow.

You see our kababayans every morning lining up to the Palawan express, LBC or Western Union to get remittances from their OFW relatives to whom they rely on to survive. And then you hear of thousands of OFWs now stranded in foreign lands because they are being laid-off. Paano na?

Jeepney drivers are begging in the streets, while folks like me drive by in our SUVs. There is a news item about OFWs in Saudi Arabia selling blood to survive.

Covid 3

Like many, I also turn to our faith for solace and hope. I believe that things will improve because man is resilient and God is good.  Filipinos are survivors, too, able to smile and find something funny in every situation. Thank God for K-Drama, Netflix and Tik-Tok.

It also helps that the liquor bans are lifted.

My take away at this point, is for us to be grateful if we are okay. Jack Ma says that “To survive, is to win.” This rings true not just for business, but for lives as well.

The silver lining for me is being able to spend close quality time with my family. Because we are at home, we learned to cook, clean-up the house like never before and wash dishes after meals. I also believe the young generation, our children, who are experiencing this pandemic will come out of it as better persons.

Already, many young entrepreneurs are spouting on-line. There is a revolution happening among our youth. They are adapting fast to this new normal of social distancing and working from home. With not many jobs available, many are turning into creative business ventures starting with baked sweets, snacks, home-cooked food, culinary specialties to the many items for online shopping.

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The COVID-19 is bringing so much suffering, but those of us who survive, especially the younger generation will become strong independent minded persons who will make this world a better place in the future.

As for feeling sad in seeing other’s sufferings, let’s still be human and show our empathy and charity.

Haay COVID-19, sana mawala ka na.

Stay safe everyone!

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MOTO-SURVEY RIDE TO TIMBAC, BENGUET PROVINCE

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Mt. Timbac, Atok, Benguet Province

Mt. Timbac is said to be the 3rd Highest mountain in Luzon, next to Mt. Pulag and Mt. Kabayan. The locals plant vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cabbage. For many generations, the Timbac locals carved the mountains into terraces for vegetable farming.

Lately, adventure seekers and nature lovers are starting to discover the beauty of Mt. Timbac. Rather than going to crowded Sagada, visitors are trickling in to this cool and quiet spot on earth.

It’s a fairly easy ride by big bike. Timbac is only about 300 km from Manila via Baguio. From Baguio it’s about a 2 hour ride.

The route takes you to the long and winding Halsema highway.

Unlike in the past, Halsema is now busy not only with the small trucks filled with vegetables on its way to the Trinidad market, but also has a lot of tourist vans and private cars going to Sagada.

Good thing Restie, Mhar and I rode our elephant BMW GS 1200s, and with Mhar spearheading like a police escort, our travel time was faster.

Riding in the mountains is always a joy. The scenery is breathtaking and the weather cooler.

Visitors of Mt. Timbac are advised to register first at the Atok Municipal hall Tourism office. There the office can inform you of the van rentals going up and also the several homestay places for accommodations.

We didn’t know that. We just went straight up.

We rode along the Halsema until we saw the sign on the right going up to Mt. Timbac.

There is a steep access road going up that takes you to the Mongoto Elementary School. The road is narrow and steep and it would be good to be alert for on coming vehicles.

When we reached the Mongoto School we stopped to inquire with the locals where we could stay. The school was holding a meeting that day and there were a number of people.

Luckily, we were approached by Joyce Camsel, a friendly lady who pointed us to the house on top of the mountain where we could stay and camp.

Joyce and her husband Salvador own the place and they host many visitors most weekends. Their nephew Wilfredo and niece Aileen are the ones who will take care of our needs.

Willy
Aileen

The narrow roads turn into tire paths and become rather tricky because of has some tight uphill turns. This may be challenging for big bike riders. But hey, what’s an adventure without challenge.

When we reached the place we parked our bikes by the road side, unpacked and brought our stuff up to the homestay. The house is newly built and it can house a lot of people. They charge 400 per person a night.

We chose to camp further up the mountain to experience the nature, marvel at the 360 degrees views and feel the 10 degree temperature or maybe even colder.

We pitched our tents on the small campsite. We bought some canned goods for food and 4×4 Ginebra Gin to keep us warm for the night and to extract some truth to our storytelling. Some things maybe forgotten the morning after but that just means we had fun.

Willy set up a bonfire for us and joined us at the campsite. The site is about 100 meters up and quite a hike for matured knees. Yup no toilets. You’ll have to hike back down to unload.

The Gin washed away our tiredness and lifted our spirits 80 proof. Willy told us about life in Mt. Timbac. Their existence is simple. The men tend to the vegetable farms the whole day while the women takes care of their children at home.

Mhar nag iisip

They are Igorots. The local dialect is Ibaloy but many speak Ilocano and tagalog. Willy has three young children, two are twins. He said that hopefully their spot will be discovered by more visitors and so they can earn more.

We sat by the campfire with old pine woods burning to keep us warm. The night was chilly but the conversations and the gin made for a great combination until it was time to sleep.

First shot

Restie woke us up before dusk for us the witness the sunrise.

That was the experience of Mt. Timbac. Standing there at the mountain top with 360 degree views of the Benguet and Cordilleras mountain ranges, with the chilly breeze of the morning, we watched, took pictures and thanked the good Lord for a wonderful morning.

But no matter how great Samsung phones capture the scenes, the site is really “for your eyes only”, which means that nothing beats being there and feeling it up close.

That same weekend, some photographers were also there because they photographed the Milkyway.

Makes for the best memories, of wanting more of nature and thanking the universe for its genius.

Friends, go to Mt. Timbac. It’s just off Baguio, escape the city life and feel the healing powers of nature. And you get to ride your motorcycle.

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BECOMING PART OF THE KALANGUYA TRIBE IN SALACSAC, PINE FOREST

December 12, 2019

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

We fell in love with Salacsac Pine Forest when we first saw it a couple of years ago. In our first visit, we ventured to the place by hiking as we weren’t sure if we could ride our big bikes all the way up there.

Salacsac Pine Forest

Salacsac Pine Forest is in Sta. Rosa, Malico, Nueva Vizacaya. To reach there, one can take the normal safe route via Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, or the newly opened Vista Verde Trail via San Nicolas, Pangasinan. Normally the trip from Manila would take about 6-7 hours and depending on road conditions, it is faster via San Nicolas.

We rode and camped there early in 2018 amidst the virgin pine forest and gentle local people. We camped up the mountain surrounded by pine trees, with spectacular views of Nueva Vizcaya and Pangasinan. The weather is Sagada-like. We just fell in love with the place. It felt like it was made for us, The Long Riders.

Restie Renia with Next generation of Long Riders

While already passable, he Vista Verde is still under construction, and most of the roads are still unpaved and muddy especially when it rains. Adventure bikes and 4X4 pick-up trucks are best suited for the travel going up to Salacsac, Malico. It takes more than one hour from San Nicolas all the way up to Salacsac, Malico.

For adventure riders like us, it’s the kind of rough roads we love to ride.

We were so enamored with Salacsac that we held a Dental and Charity Mission there last September. Our group has two generous dentists, Doc Von Evangelio and Doc Glenn Latorre who selflessly treated the locals’ dental needs. They must have performed tooth extractions to more than 100 locals.

It was then, during our night of merry making at the Malico Inn, that we forged our bond with Malico’s chief tribal leader Alfredo Segundo. He is also the uncle of our friend, Malico’s barangay kapitan Lorenzo Segundo. Over food and drinks, it was agreed that the Kalanguya Tribe Chief’s family was going to adopt the group, to be one with the tribe and to be one with their family.

Doc Von Evangelio

Last November 23-25, to celebrate the birthday of Tatay Alfredo Segundo, he invited us to a celebration and also to perform the Kalanguya ritual of our adoption. The Long Riders sponsored three live pigs as our token offering.

Segundo Family with Restie
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As adopted brothers and sisters of the tribe, we can now call the Salacsac Pine Forest as our Home. “Ang amin ay sa inyo na rin” declared Tatay Alfredo.

Tatay Alfredo’s Birthday

The local tribesmen cooked the pigs, roasted them “kawa-kawa” style. The entire community attended the celebrations and we were made to wear the traditional Kalanguya costume and join their tribal dance ritual.

It was then announced to the entire community, that the Segundo family of the Kalanguya tribe was adopting The Long Riders as one of their own. 

Malico Dance Group
The Long Riders Elders

There was a sense of connection. They all made us feel welcome and we were humbled by their hospitality. 

The “Malico Dance Group” also performed for us, as did the local men and women folks, while the elders played their native gongs and drums. 

Who would have thought that this would happen? We are just motorcycle riders out for fun and adventure and as fate would have it, we are now part of the tribe. Strangers before, but now brothers and sisters.

Kuya Bong De Leon said it well while we were strolling in the camp site, he said that “like the seeds of the pine trees around us, they were meant by God to grow there. Where the seeds are planted is where one grows and blossoms. It is meant to be.”

Our wandering has brought us all to Salacsac Pine Forest in Malico. Maybe we were meant to call this place home and its people our tribe.  

The Long Riders Marking its Home in Salacsac
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