Mapita Falls Adventure

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

August 01, 2019

Mapita Falls in Aguilar, Pangasinan can be reached via its newly built roads up in the mountains of Aguilar. However, not all the portions are already done and there are some dirt and muddy parts.

When we got to the foot of the hills of Aguilar, in Labrador Pangasinan, we rode the muddy portions at the start. It was already in the afternoon and the rains had started to pour. We were riding our big and heavy adventure bikes and some of the guys were hesitant to proceed.

Owing to prudence, and in consideration of the other riders, we decided to turn back and re-sked our ride to Mapita Falls for the following day.

We were already a bit tired and famished after riding from Manila which is more than 300 kilometers away.

Weeks before, The Long Riders head Restie Renia surveyed the area and found the Olana Bed and breakfast in Labrador, which is a seaside resort. Olana Bed and Breakfast is owned by Nelda D. Mari and her British husband, who bought the resort from its former foreigner owners.

They spruced it up and made some improvements. It’s a nice and quaint place to stay when in Labrador, Pangasinan. It has four rooms and it is clean and the staff are very friendly and helpful. We met Nelda herself and she is very accommodating and hospitable.

There were 11 of us who checked-in and we had a pleasant evening of booze and banter. Laughter is really the best medicine coupled with Black Label and cheap Alfonso I. The riders are Restie Renia, Randy Ypon, Brando Rosales, Wern Asprec, Glenn Peñafiel and his sons Miguel and Pax.  Capt. Tin Nolasco and Kuya Bong De Leon, and new comer Luis Morelos. Almost forgot, me, Ricky.

Glenn and his group left early morning the following day for Manila to catch a flight and so we were down to 6 riders.

The roads to Mapita Falls were better the following day. The sun was out and it looked friendlier. Actually the roads were friendly and not technical at all. It went up to the mountains of Aguilar and gave us spectacular views of the mountains and the bird’s eye view of Pangasinan and Mangatarem.

There is a view deck at the top of the roads, which we had to hike. But Brando Rosales outdid us all and expertly rode his brand-less 500 cc. GS look alike up to the top!

Before we trekked to the Mapita Falls, we went down to a small barrio to giveaway the toys and goodies for the children, something we always do when we ride. It’s The Long Riders’ signature gesture of goodwill to bring smiles to the little ones. Sometimes we also do Dental Missions.

We parked our bikes afterwards near the jump-off point to Mapita, in a small rest house of a friend.

The trekk to Mapita was not so hard, less than an hour actually. But the locals can easily do it in 20 minutes. The hike was also pleasant as the weather was a bit cloudy.

Upon reaching Mapita Falls, we were happy to have conquered once more a hidden treasure up in an off-the-beaten-path destination. It’s always a joy to experience the adventure of riding, trekking and finally witnessing the wonders of nature.

Mapita Falls has two layers and each layer offers a small lagoon for dipping and swimming. Sadly, the lagoon have become shallow and muddy due to erosion from nearby road construction. Hopefully, the local government will do something about this and restore its former beauty. Still, it is a good place to visit.

After the Mapita falls trip, we decided to stay another night in a pension, dormitory type hostel in Alaminos, Pangasinan. It is the jump-off point to the island-hopping trips to the famed 100 islands.

The following day, we rode some 35 kilometers to Anda, Pangasinan, near the more popular Bolinao.

I’ve been there several years ago and I knew Tondol Beach in Anda is a beautiful white sand beach cove. It is like a sandbar which connects to a smaller island. There are several resorts and even on a Sunday, it was not crowded. Visitors from Manila and nearby provinces go there and the children playing on its shallow waters, frolicking in the sun and sand was just a perfect sight to relax.

On our way back to Manila that Sunday, we found this small restaurant in Sual by the road side, Sual Salakot. The food is very good and the place has good ambience, overlooking Pangasinan. You’d be surprised what you discover on such adventure rides.

We were “home safe” before 9pm in time to rest and re-charge for Mondays work. I guess we all slept with big smiles on our faces that night after a weekend of good ole’ adventure riding!

Posted in Experiences, Motorcycle adventures, People, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Antong Falls

Antong Falls in Sison, Pangasinan is only about 220 kilometers from Metro Manila and is really just a short ride for us. From the Maharlika highway in Sison, we took a right turn towards Barangay Inmalog, which is the jump off point to Antong Falls.

On the first day, we were unable to proceed to the falls because we arrived already late or after noon time. By then heavy rains poured and we had to postpone our trek for the next day.

Wet ride to Asin, Benguet

Heavy downpour postpones our Trek to Antong Falls

Arriving at Riverview Water Park, Asin Benguet

We just proceeded to check-in at the Riverview Water Park in Asin, Benguet.

The ride going to Asin is quite enjoyable even as the rains fell. With our rain gears on, we rode to Asin Road, which is all paved but a bit narrow. It is winding and tricky. But the weather and the mountainous view makes for an enjoyable moto ride.

The resort is surprisingly well built and its rooms are clean. We booked a dorm type room which was enough for all 18 of us. The resort has 4 big swimming pools and several small ones with hot springs. If you go further up, the Asin road takes you to Baguio City.

What else does a group of 18 riding men do in a mountain resort? Of course we celebrated our weekend hall pass and acted like juvenile delinquents.

By 8pm, we downed several bottles and Johnny couldn’t walk anymore.

We checked out after breakfast the following day and rode back to Sison to Antong Falls. We arrived before lunch and our food prepared by the locals, were ready. Adobo, Nilagang manok with dahon ng ampalaya and steamed rice.

After lunch, we headed out for Antong Falls which to our pleasant surprise was only about half an hour away.

The falls is a regular picnic venue for many young locals. The water is refreshing. It has several levels and we enjoyed climbing up, swimming and getting natural massages from the strong gushing river.

Upon returning to the barangay hall, we gathered the children and distributed some toys and other goodies. The children’s joy is always infectious and we feel even better giving gifts to them.

And then we spent another day in a beach resort in nearby San Fabian, Dagupan.

We headed back home early in the morning of Sunday, just in time to spend Father’s day with our loved ones.

You get to learn a thing or two when go on long rides with our group. When we stopped in an intersection somewhere in Sison, as we were on our way to Dagupan, Albert Carag went down from his bike to buy something from the store.

When he came back, he was holding a plastic bag which contained an empty gatorade bottle. Then he smashed the bottle and threw it away in the trash can. “Pamarisan” he said.

It was a belief that when you experience something bad during the ride, like busting a signal light, you perform the breaking of a bottle to counter act the bad luck.

One time, Albert said, his friend did not do this after a minor incident, and he suffered a worse accident. The breaking of the bottle ritual probably disrupts the bad omen.

I also met for the first time Rajiv Murjani and Art Harrow.

Rajiv Murjani

Raj is a nice young fellow who you wouldn’t think is an airline Captain. He looks like a small young boy who went out to join a ride without his parents’ permission.

Looks can really be deceiving cause he rides a good looking BMW R9T scrambler, complete with crisp new riding gears. He also flies an Airbus regularly and modulates his voice over the PA system to sound authoritative.

Raj fit in perfectly with The Long Riders Motorcycle group. He is friendly and also a good sport.

Art Harrow on the other hand looks more like a 747 commander. He is of British descent and is tall and hefty. He is really a friendly fellow and has years of experience as a rider. The surprise of all was when we discovered we were actually school mates in grade school.

Art Harrow

We know common people but never really knew each other. We must’ve hung out with totally different crowds and I think his crowd were the good students. Funny how people can exist for several years in one campus and yet not bump into one another.

I learned from Art the importance of taking pictures of important documents such as your drivers license. He lost his wallet somewhere in SCTEX and his cell phone pictures at least contain his identification.

Lastly, I learned to make sure your battery is well charged and not old for a long ride. Good thing I have a portable jump starter.

And that my friends was our Father’s day weekend!

Master Chef and Visayan tycoon Sael

The Long Riders

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PAROLA ISLAND IS CAMARINES NORTE’s LITTLE KNOWN PARADISE

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte used to be called Mambulao, meaning land of gold.

There used to be a lot of large scale gold mining operations there but nowadays only small ones still exist.

Parola Island Paradise

We went to Jose Panganiban to see the Parola island, famous for its pinkish sand. The Municipal Tourism director Ms. Ruth Marie Forteza arranged for our activities for our adventure camp and ride last March 29-31, 2018.

Restie, Ms. Ruth Marie and Ricky

The Long Riders (TLR) has the distinction in the Philippine motorcycling industry as the group that dares to take their big adventure bikes to off the beaten destinations in the country.

Led by artist and adventurist Restie Renia, TLR is composed of a loose group of people who come from diverse backgrounds and who share a common passion for motorcycles, nature and adventure. Oh, and booze.

Bong, Randy, Rodel, Wern and Olan

From the Caltex station in South Luzon Expressway where we met up, we started our journey by 6:30 am, made a few stopovers for breakfast and hydration.

The fun part was the bitukang manok road from Pitogo all the way to Camarines Norte. It’s called that because it resembles the zig zag shape of a bituka.

The ride took about 7 hours and we arrived at the Jose Panganiban Municipal hall as the sun shone its brightest and hottest at 2pm.

The Long Riders arrive at Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte

We met with Ms. Ruth Marie who briefed us on the sites and arranged for our boat ride and island hopping the following day.

First stop, we rode our big bikes to the JSM Yellow Green Agri-Eco tourism farm. Yellow-green represents the gold mining turning into farming.

Abijit the artist and farmer

The farm director is called Abijit, his yoga name. He is an artist and is developing the farm to become a diverse and self sustaining commune. They have vegetables, cattle, carabaos, sugar cane and also a man made fish pond. They even have a water supply run by solar.

JSM Yellow Green Agri-Eco tourism farm

JSM Yellow Green Agri-Eco tourism farm

JSM Yellow Green Agri-Eco tourism farm

The owners want to promote organic farming and they are developing the property as a local tourism spot.

We spent our first night in the Turayog view deck. It is a high point of Jose Panganiban where one can see the Camarines Norte at the best vantage point. But before going there we bought food at the public market. Sael Requierme, our kusinero and master chef, did the marketing.

Palengke time

Turayog View Deck

Buboy who turned out to be the owner of the Turayog view deck property is also into small scale gold mining and is fixing up his place as a resort.

Camping at the Turayog view deck

Ricky, Cris, Tim, Olan and Randy

We camped right there on the clearing of the view deck where it was cool and breezy.

Randy with best view

The next morning, we set off to go to the famed Parola island. We rented a big boat which brought us to the island.

Restie landing at Parola

Parola island does not disappoint.

It is a beautiful island. It is like a small sand bar with coconut trees and mangroves. It has two beach fronts on both sides. Its sand is white but pinkish especially during sunrise and sunsets.

Sunset at Parola

West side of Parola

West side of Parola

Lush Mangrove and Coconut trees

Presently it is controlled or owned by a private person and there is only one family who lives there in a shack and some tables for day trip visitors.

Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight in Parola. So what’d we do? We stayed overnight there.

Camped at east side where the winds blew

Winds stopped at 1 am and turned to the West side

We had the island to ourselves and we camped by the east side shore where the wind was blowing.

Mike and his sexy lingerie tent

Wern, Cris and Restie at the Parola (lighthouse)

We had good ole’ riding buddies fun over alcohol and Sael’s cooking. Imagine, having an entire island to yourselves, Survivor style.

Food and drinks time

Cris and Tim

Jose Panganiban is not yet on the popular tourism map. But through the efforts of Ms. Ruth Marie, Abijit and Buboy, they hope to promote it as an upcoming adventurers’ gem and tourism spot.

Lush mangrove

Sael the master kusinero

Lush path

On the boat ride back to the port, Capt. Sonny Yutuc, a retired airline pilot said, “Ngayon ko lang na experience ito!”, with the expression of an overjoyed kid.

Capt. Sonny said, “Ngayon ko lang na experience ito!”

At his senior age, riding a motorcycle, camping in the Turayog view deck and sneaking an overnight stay in Parola island in the middle of the ocean, he seems to be enjoying life at the fullest.

I guess he’s also been bitten by the ride and camp adventure bug.

The Long Riders Enjoying Paradise!

Posted in Experiences, Motorcycle adventures, People, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Majestic Mt. Kilang, Calanasan, Apayao

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

FEB 23-25, 2019

The majestic Mt. Kilang is one of Apayao’s prized attraction. It stands proud at 1,600 meter altitude and is magnificent.

img_5623

Majestic Mt. Kilang

The local environment lady guardian named Gladys told us of Mt. Kilang’s legend. Kilang is the name of the girl who was heart broken as she searched for her would-be husband named Kilong in the mountain.

Kilong earlier asked for her hand in marriage from her parents. They gave their blessings to the proposal provided that Kilong fulfills the traditional offering of three pigs to the family. For the Isnag tribe, the giving of pigs serves as a sign of sincerity and respect.

Unfortunately for Kilong he was only able to give 2 pigs. Determined to wed the love of his life, Kilang, he searched for the required one more pig up in the mountains.

When the days and months passed and Kilong did not return, Kilang decided to follow and searched for him. She never gave up even amidst the cold weather, rains, and storms.

The locals say that her tears cultivated and carved the rocks of the mountains, causing them to be polished into limestones.

img_5635

Flora and Fauna

While looking for him, Kilang also planted beautiful colored flowers everywhere, which is why the flora and fauna abound in the mountain. Because of Kilang’s love and determination to find her beloved, the mountain is now called Mt. Kilang in honor of her heroic but tragic search for her one true love.

Love is universal and timeless indeed.

Our camp and ride adventure last Feb 23-25, 2019, weekend was actually not about Mt. Kilang. We just found her quite by accident.

We reached our camp site at Kilang Pass by the roadside rest area in the newly paved Solsona-Calanasan national road at around 4pm, after about a 2 hour motorcycle ride from Solsona. It is the highest point of the road.

img_5626

Kilang Pass, our base camp

img_5625

Highest point of the Kilang Pass

There are no cell phone signals at the campsite. However, Gladys pointed us to the spot on the hill where they call and text, “Doon sir sa may upuan, may signal.”

Rodel, Resty and I went up the trail going up to the spot to use our cell phones about 50 meters going up. Later Gerry followed. There was even a picnic folding chair in the spot where the signal was strong. The trail is made out of lime stones formed as a pathway.

The trail continued upwards to the mountain. Restie being Restie ventured further up to where the trail led.

Soon while I was talking to my wife Tina on the phone, Restie and Rodel were gone. They went up further following the path. Soon Gerry arrived and we decided to follow them up the mountain.

The pathway was lined with trees, thick moss and rich vegetation. We saw them after sometime and we ventured forward until we saw a small clearing. “That’s Mt. Kilang!” Resties exclaimed. I myself didn’t know what Mt. Kilang was. All I knew was we were going to Calanasan.

img_5637

Gerry reaches Mt. Kilang

Our curiosity fueled us to go further up and find out where the trail led. We were thinking we could reach a good spot for a better view of the mountain. So after about 20 minutes, we were surprised to find out that we had actually reached, not just a better spot to view, but rather we were on Mt. Kilang itself. We reached the point a few hundred feet below its summit and it was more than we expected!

img_5642

Rodel and Ricky point to Mt. Kilang summit

We were incredulous as we sat down there on the sharp limestones, enjoying Mt. Kilang’s magnificence. It is awesome and so beautiful. Being there unexpectedly, was such a thrill. We could not help but appreciate such a wonderous creation of God.

img_5639

Rodel at Mt. Kilang

img_5640

Posterized Gerry

The plan was to ride to Calanasan in Apayao and the 3-day holiday was the opportunity to finally go there. You see, Calanasan is a prized motocycle destination because of its location way up in the mountains between Ilocos and Apayao. In the past, there were acutally only rough dirt roads and only few brave adenturers ever went there.

img_5616

Wern downhill Solsona-Calanasan national road

Recently however, the Solsona-Calanasan National Road is  now 90 percent paved, making it friendlier even for big heavy bikes like ours. And so, The Long Riders began its journey.

img_5658

Master Chef Sael

We were Restie, Paul (until Rosario La Union), Bong de Leon on his new Ford Raptor and riding with him were Roland and Glenn P. The other riders were the couples Edwin and Judge Cariss, Limuel and Cathy. Then kumpadres Wern and Rodel and also mutual idols Sael and Doc. Glen. Gerry and Capt. Tin rode with their fast and nimble Husqvarna Stradas and me (Ricky) on my BMW GS12.

img_5652

Capt. Tin at the Calanasan boundary

On our first night, we went to the home of Kuya Lito and his gracious wife Marlyn in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. They are good friends of Limuel and they go way back from the streets of Mandaluyong where they forged their friendship. They have been expecting us for lunch but our ride was delayed due to a tire change, and we reached their place by dinner time.

img_5674

Kuya Lito and Ate Marlyn. Gracious hosts in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

img_5675

Edwin parks bike at Kuya Lito

Limuel described the dirt farm road going to the house as a 5 kilometer challenge. And it was going to be tricky since it was already night time. From the highway, we turned to the start of the dirt rode, nervous and alert. As it turned out, Kuya Lito’s house was actually only about 100 meters away from the road and Limuel was only making fun of us. Their houses are in the middle of tobacco plants and other vegetales.

img_5677

Home in the middle of Tobacco plants

They were such nice and hospitable folks and they welcomed us like family. Any friend of Limuel is also their friend. We parked our big bikes there and prepared our stuff to camp at the nearby Cabangtala Beach. Limuel said it was just 200 meters away. But then again it was actually about 10 kilometers away! That’s the last time we will ask him for directions.

img_5663

Sael and Rodel at Cabangtala beach

We set-up camp by the beach, the fresh wind was breezing and the sounds of the waves soothing. Our first night at the beach we ate, drank and passed out.

img_5672

Sael, Glen, Cathy, Roland and Glenn P. , eat, drink and be merry

img_5671

Restie is happy asleep

img_5646

Sael and Glen double decker

The next day, before we even reached Kilang Pass, we went to Karingking River Resort in Solsona where we swam to cool ourselves. Karingking is a river dam turned into a swim resort and many locals go there to picnic. It is very nice and clean and it was a welcome stopover before proceeding to Kilang Pass.

img_5664

Karingking River Resort

img_5680

Karingking River Resort

img_5678

Glenn P. at Karingking River Resort

From the Karingking River Resort, we started our ride up into the Solsona-Calanasan National road. It is new and had lots of twisties.

img_5673

Glen blasts down the dirt road

img_5662

Dirt road riders

img_5660

Head up, close eyes and twist throttle

img_5651

Limuel, mountains of Calanasan

But there are some debris like rocks and dirt which made it tricky. It is only about 30 kilometers going up to the camp site and we had to negotiate some loose gravel roads before finally reaching Kilang Pass.

img_5627

Kilang Pass, base camp

img_5609-1

Mt. Kilang Pass

We set-up camp and pitched our tents. The night was cold and chilly, maybe about 10 degrees centigrade. Sael, our master chef, cooked broiled pork soup for us and some fresh local vegetables.

img_5628

Master chef Sael

img_5631

Dinner prepared by Master Chef Sael. “Masarap talaga pag gutom.”

The camp site is the highest point of the road and it was the best spot with the best views. At night the stars shone very bright and when the moon appeared. It was brilliant.

We gathered around the campsite for dinner and lots of booze. We drank and had loads of laughter and we were boisterous, like newly released prisoners.

img_5659

Party hard like newly released prisoners

img_5657

Capt. Tin and Bong toasts for the road

img_5633

“Sa ilalim ng puting ilaw. Sa dilaw na Buan”

Seeing grown men clowning around and outdoing one another in dancing, singing, shouting and horseplaying like teenageers, one would never know that this group of zany riders are made of stern stuff. Having fun with The Long Riders, one can never guess that Restie is an architect, Glenn P. and Roland are businessmen, and Bong is a contractor.

Who would have known that the loving couple Cariss is a Judge and Edwin a Kapitan ng barko? That Limuel is connected with the country’s transportation agency?

img_5667

Bong, Capt. Tin, Roland, Kuya Lito and Glen

img_5653

Roland, Ricky, Edwin, Capt. Tin, Gerry,Bong and Wern

 

For all their senseless banter, you wouldn’t guess that Sael runs a metal fabrication shop or that Glen is a very good dentist. Who would also think the Wern sells nails and his kumpadre Rodel trades wood, nails, cement? Or that Gerry is a lawyer and that Tin flies a triple 7 airliner.

As for me? I get to tell our story and I am very honored to belong to a group of professionals and self-made men and women who are successful in their own fields but would be the last ones to proclaim their titles and feats.

img_5648

BLAZING MOUNTAIN OF THE GODS

In the olden times, the Isnag tribe would bring gifts, like food and produce, to the gods of Mt. Kilang as offering for their dearly departed. That’s why the welcome sign of Mt. Kilang Pass says “Blazing Mountain of the Gods”.

Mt. Kilang in Calansan, Apayao is a treasure destination and the journey of blasting through the roads of La Union, Ilocos and Apayao on our big bikes, of meeting simple local folks on the way made the camp and ride another one for the books.

img_5641

Ricky reaching majestic Mt. Kilang

 

 

Posted in Motorcycle adventures, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Ride and Camp at the Pine Forest in Malico

February 11, 2018

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Restie Renia, The Long Riders’ leader, told me that originally Pine Forest used to be called “Halakhak” (laughing out loud) because of a certain kind of bird which made such loud distinct sounds in the beautiful pine-filled mountains. As time passed, the name evolved and it became “Salacsac”.

When the lowlanders discovered the area, they re-named the place again to Santa Rosa. But to the locals up in the Malico pine forest, they still know it as Salacsac.

The Vista Verde Trail has recently opened with most of the roads already paved. We took the road from San Nicolas, Pangasinan going up to Malico. The Vista Verde trail connects San Nicolas, Pangasinan to Santa Fe, Nueva Vizacaya.

Malico is thus divided between Pangasinan and Nueva Vizacaya. Actually, for big motorcycles, the travel is not too hard. But the destination and its wonders is simply wonderful.

We were many riders, all 17 of us on different big motorcycles such BMW GS, Moto Guzzi, Kawasaki and even a Harley Davidson!

We assembled at the Caltex gas station in Edsa Balintawak on Saturday morning and rode via the NLEX, SCTEX, TPLEX and exited at Carmen. We had brunch in a carinderia in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, had some locals market for our food supplies before we headed up to the Vista Verde Trail.

The trail is mostly paved already with only a few tricky patches of dirt roads. According to the media, the completion of the trail was delayed due to threats from the New People’s Army. But from the looks of it, it will soon be completed.

While there is Malico Inn where we stayed comfortably before, this time we decided to rough it up, pitch tents up in the Pine Forest where the weather is cold and the winds chilly! The roads from the Malico to Sta. Rosa is tricky. Most of the way consisted of those cemented pathways which traversed through the mountain. 

The tricky or technical parts of the ride was going up to the camp site at the Pine Forest. We had to traverse through rough roads, and mostly tire paths through the hilly climb. It’s hard because we rode big heavy bikes. Luckily everyone successfully made it up, without incident.

Our contact up in Salacsac is the village chieftain Alfred. There are few people up there and only a small community. They belong to the Kalungayan tribe.

We pitched our tents at the peak of the hill where the winds were howling and the views spectacular. From the campsite, it has a view of Pangasinan on one side and the mountains filled with pine trees on the other side. Baguio and Sagada must have looked the same back in the old days.

It is good to go to Malico now while development and progress brought about by the new Vista Verde Trail is only beginning. Pretty soon, I fear that commercialism may soon alter the natural beauty of Malico.

Before dinner, we hung out at Chief Alfred’s small village and immersed with the simple natives. There were also some visiting relatives, and they were gathering to resolve a marital problem of one of the couples in the community. You see, in their culture, it is the entire community who weds the couples and when there are marital disputes, the whole community intervenes to resolve the problems.

Sael Requierme and Doc Glenn Latorre cooked our food local style, burning pine wood and using sticks to barbecue the bangus which we brought. Sael cooked nilagang pork and it was the most delicious dinner we had because we were so hungry!

We witnessed how the locals prepared their specialty, the pinikpikan. It is a local delicacy consisting of freshly slaughtered chicken, and the secret lies in how they dress the chicken and marinate them with salt before being boiled to a brew.

While waiting for the food, we gave away some goodies for the locals. Toys for the littles ones, some food stuff and some pre-loved jackets and sweaters. It is our token for them and our goodwill gesture to be welcomed by their community.

It is always humbling and gratifying to immerse ourselves in mountain communities, feeling the genuine warmth of the people and experiencing, even for a short moment, how they live. Simplicity is beauty and although they are visibly poor, they are very decent, humble and righteous.

We all had dinner at the campsite, with tents already pitched and the food prepared at the center. We didn’t have tables or chairs and so we ate dinner on the ground, sitting like natives.

And then the bottles were opened. Much to our shame, or lack of it, we started to gulp shots of scotch and brandy like there was no tomorrow. Funny how we drank all night without really conversing about anything. Just a big bunch of moto-riders letting loose and laughing and heckling until the last drop of alcohol.

The forest spirits must have wondered where all the noise was coming from. I guess the spirits allowed us to have fun and disturb the tranquility this time.

This is really part of the fun of adventure riding. Camping and just letting go in the raw, without any inhibition to bond like long lost brothers.

We crashed into our tents and sleeping bags while the chilly Malico winds blew, howling like there was a typhoon. The howling of the winds were made louder by the pine cones of the trees. They were so strong, it masked the usual snoring of the guys who are tired from all the riding, drinking and laughing.

It’s been three days now since we arrived back home and I am still nursing my cough and colds. Small price to pay for a fun-filled ride and camp adventure with The Long Riders!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Trip to Kalanggaman Island and Tacloban Leyte 5 years after Typhoon Yolanda

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

February 5, 2019

My wife and travel partner Tina has been egging me to go see Kalanggaman Island in Leyte for quite some time. I was skeptical, thinking how great can a sand bar be in the middle of the ocean.   The Philippines has a lot of that in Palawan, Siquijor, Boracay and Romblon. How can Kalanggaman be any better? Despite my doubts, of course she prevailed.

We had a chance this Chinese New Year weekend February 2-4.

We booked the early morning PAL Express flight to Tacloban but it was delayed by 3 1/2 hours. So we arrived around noon time already. It was drizzling when we got there.

Edcel, the driver, picked us up and brought us to the UV Express terminal.

Going to the terminal, Edcel, told us how he almost perished during the Yolanda typhoon in 2013. He described to us how the area we were passing was submerged by sea water caused by the storm surge. Yolanda was the strongest typhoon in recorded world history and it claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Edcel said he let his wife and kids evacuated to safer grounds and that he and his father- in -law stayed behind to watch over their house and livestock. He’s seen his share of typhoons, of strong winds and rains but he never imagined a storm surge and flooding that would literally turn Tacloban into a sea of death.

As the floods rose that morning in November 2013, he and his father-in-law climbed up to the roof of their house amidst the howling winds and rain. Then all of a sudden he heard a big bang and then they were thrown out into the raging flood waters! Debris and people were swept, and even if he knew how to swim, he felt helpless. He was swept to about a kilometer from their home until he was able to hang on the roof of a house.

He hung on to dear life and was very tired. He surrenderred his fate to God as he watched many others being swept by the flood waters, shouting for help. He could not help because he was already at the brink of collapse, too. His father-in-law never made it alive.

He described to us the hundreds of dead bodies scattered all over Tacloban after the floods subsided.

Edcel brought us to the Bus and Van terminal. The van trip to Palompon is about 3 hours and cost only 150 pesos per person. But we also paid 150 for our bags, which occupied the seat beside us. When we reached the Tourist Center in Palompon, Leyte, we had a quick meal and Raymond, tour coordinator from Hinablayan tours, greeted us and booked us for the 1-hour boat ride to Kalanggaman Island.

The boat ride wasn’t so bad and it was refreshing to be in the sea with the fresh air and the ocean breeze. And as the boat neared the Island, it was simply marvelous! The Island is just small and the white sand bar streched like a natural bridge to the ocean, creating a beach area where people can walk and swim. No wonder, people are raving about this wonder of nature in Leyte.

We were briefed before the boat sailed that in the island there is no electricity, no fresh water, and we were not allowed to use soap or shampoo, as environmental rules. We were also going to sleep in a small tent like a tipi.

Dante was our guide and butler. He took very good care of us during our overnight stay. He brought and cooked our food, he brought the container of fresh water for bathing, 5 gallons of mineral water our snorkling gear and even life jackets. We were going to rough it up and camp, but we had Dante to take care of all our needs!

As we docked on the shore, Tina and I were so delighted and excited.

The Palompon local government regulates the influx of visitors to the Island. It can accommodate only 525 persons at any one time. So there were many visiors, tourists and local campers but he small Island was not crowded.

Most of Kalanggaman island is operated by the Palompon Municipality. However, the west end of the island is occupied and operated by Jeters Resort, which is private. From the public area, we walked to Jeters on a sand walkway lined by huge mangroves and lighted by solar powered lamps.

Jeters has several tipis and ours was no. 7. We had neighbors who were mostly young people.

After setting up camp, we walked to the east side to the main sand bar. There was a cool, almost chilly, February breeze and we took a stroll holding hands and drinking beers. Tina was right in convincing me to go to Kalanggaman Isand. Everyone should experince this heavenly spot on earth.

Dante prepared an awesome sugba dinner for us. Shrimps, Liempo, Tanigue, Chicken,  all barbecued and also rice and fruits! It was so sumptuous and perfect beach food. We couldn’t eat them all and shared the food with Dante and the boat crew.

After dinner, Tina and I had drinks, of course. Tanduday Rum with coke.

The whole night, the wind was continuosly blowing and we could hear the rustles of the coconut leaves and the sound of the waves.

The following day, we took an early morning stroll and had great breakfast made of adobong pusit, sugbang liempo plus fresh watermelon and sweet pineapples. After that we braved the giant clams farm to snorkel even if the water was a bit cold.

Lucky for us too, there was Sunday mass. Apparently every Sunday, a priest from Palompon goes there to celebrate mass for the visitors.

And as all good things come to pass, we had to ride the boat back to Palompon by noon to take the UV express van back to Tacloban. For those who want to go to Kalanggaman, I suggest a 2 night stay.

We arrived in Tacloban City before dark and we were tired from the trip. We couldn’t wait too to get a hot shower (with soap and shampoo!). The XYZ Hotel is located in the heart of the downtown. The hotel is new and although small, it is very nice. The rooms are new and the staff are friendly and efficient.

After a nap, we met up with Tito Butch Madayag, the uncle of Tina who is visiting from the US and who met with his friend in faraway Catbalogan, Samar. We had dinner at the Ocho Seafood and Grill. It’s the best restaurant in Tacloban, where they serve fresh seafood. You get to choose the fresh fishes, clams and squid at the counter and they will cook them for you.

We had tinolang isda, their version of our sinigang. The soup has some lemon grass, ginger and vegetables. It tasted so fresh and clean. We also had some clams, and sugba fish. Surprisingly, even with the generous servings, the price tag was like half of what we are used to pay in Manila.

The following day, we were lucky to be toured around Tacloban City by Tina’s colleague from work, Froilan. He hails from Cebu but already migrated to Leyte due to his work assignment.

He was at home in Tacloban City with his wife when Yolanda hit. He never imagined that flood waters would reach up to 12 feet and enter their home. He said it was around 7 in the morning when they started to feel the brunt of Yolanda, like a howling monster invading the City. Even at that early hour, the clouds covered the skies and the heavy rains made it dark with zero visibility.

As the hours passed, the typhoon dumped huge amounts of water and the the winds were so powerful that the glass of their windows were shattered into bits and pieces. The floods suddenly started to rise fast, entering their home bringing water and mud. They decided to evacuate fast as Froilan feared they might drown. His wife was terrified as she doesn’t know how to swim.

By sheer instinct, he decided to climb the concrete fence to reach the water tank tower. When they started to climb the fence, he pushed his wife up but she fell to the other side! Luckily, the floods had already started to rise and this saved her from the fall.

They went up to hold on to the water tank tower, which was 15 feet high while the flood waters raged from underneath just a few feet below. It was the scariest time for them. They held on as the storm blasted for four long hours. The winds were around 300 kph bringing with it tons of rain water. The storm surges pratically carried the surrounding sea waters and dumped them onto the entire Tacloban City. Froilan said it felt like the end of the world. “Natawag ko na lahat ng Santo, pati na si Jimmy Santos and Vilma Santos!” he joked.

Froilan drove us around Tacloban to see the famous San Juanico bridge which connects Tacloban to Samar.

We also went to the Macarthur Memorial Park where we saw the historic statue of Gen. Douglas Macarthur flanked by some other officials inculding our very own Carlos P. Romulo. The memorial marks the landing of thousands of American troops during the World War II, to liberate the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese army, fulling his  “I shall return” promise 3 years earlier.

Froilan aslo brought us to the Sto. Niño Shrine which is really the Imelda Marcos Mansion. Oh my God you cannot believe the opulence and extraganz of the mansion. It felt like touring an emperor’s palace! Narra wood flooring, Expensive antiques from all over the world, Malang paintings, Hand made narra Chandeliers, Spanish era Sto. Niño in boots! It has 13 guest rooms downstairs themed by the Philippine regions like Ilocos, Bicol, Palawan..

Bongbong Marcos’ room has Gucci leather walls! The gracious lady guide also explained that it was like the Malacañang Palace of the south. There was also a huge narra carving of Malakas and Maganda! This structure in all its splendor and excess was built in the 70s and 80s while our country wallowed in poverty and turmoil.

It is now owned by the Philippine government after it was confiscated after the 1986 Philippine Revolution.

We then took the evening PAL Express flight back home. We had an awesome adventure in Leyte.We finally ticked off Kalanggaman island from Tina’s bucket list and we were able to experience the sights and hear the stories of Tacloban, 5 years after typhoon Yolanda.

I hope and pray that Tacloban never experiences another deadly typhoon ever. I cannot help but admire the resilience of the people of Tacloban, of not losing hope and rising up from the ruins.

We enjoyed this trip so much because of the beautiful beaches of Kalannggaman and the simple humble people of the Leyte province.

Leyte province offers much more I’m sure and time permitting we “shall return” too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Places, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ambaguio: A Place in the Mountains Covered with Moss

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

November 1, 2018

Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya, October 27-28

The locals say that Ambaguio means “covered with moss”, which describes the mountainous and forested area of the place. The temperature is cool and at times chilly, much like the neighboring areas in Benguet, Ifugao and Cordilleras.

img_3975

Ambaguio: covered with moss

Ambaguio is a 5th class municipality and it was only recently that the government has been able to pave its roads from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Although not all roads are paved, which made our adventure ride interesting.

Ambaguio is an alternative jump-off point for hikers going to Mt. Pulag. It is longer and more forested, which many hikers like. Don-don (Nuepe Manuel Jr.) the tourism officer of the town, says that they want to develop Ambaguio into an eco-tourism destination. He accompanied us and took good care of us during our stay. Salamat Don-don!!!

Only about 240 kilometers from Manila, the travel to Ambaguio is quite friendly. Just go North thru the expressways and follow the route to Nueva Vizcaya. Waze will tell you that it takes only 8 hours to reach the place, but when you include stops for rest and food, it takes longer.

 Once you reach Bayombong, you take a left to the Bayombong-Ambaguio Road, which takes you up to the mountainous road all the way to Ambaguio.

Rodel Velasco on his raffle winner BMW 1200GS

Eight members of The Long Riders motorcycle club joined. Seven riding elephant 1200 GS BMWs and another a big Yamaha 1200 Tenere. The riders are Restie Renia, TLR’s group pasimuno, Rodel Velasco who we kidded as a “guest rider” cause it’s been a while since he joined our rides, Wernher Asprec, Doc Glenn Latorre, Yan Yan King or Mike, Bong De Leon, Glenn Peñafiel, and me Ricky Montecillo.

The Long Riders – Bong, Restie, Ricky, Wern, Mike, Doc Glenn, Rodel and Glenn P.

Enroute to Gulon River

Restie would always introduce me to the locals as, “Eto is Ricky, writer ng blog”. Kinda embarrassing.

We arrived in the poblacion in Ambaguio around 4 pm. Somehow we skipped lunch on the road, so we were tired and hungry. But the carinderia would have our dinner ready only by 6pm.

Wernher Asprec touchdown Ambaguio poblacion

We were assigned to spend the night in the poblacion Senior Citizens Center. It’s the newest structure in the Poblacion and it had clean bathrooms. So we set-up our things inside the hall and got ready to ride down the Gulon River nearby.

Don-don and his friends, Ben and Tuesday said that it’s just a short easy ride down to the bridge. We found out that yes it was short and easy, if your were riding a small trail bike or an undertone. It turned out to be a mostly downhill rough road with ruts and loose soil and rocks.

Short “easy ride” to the river

Wernh, Mike, Glenn P., Doc Glenn and Rodel

The late afternoon weather was cool and the views marvelous. It includes lots of greenery, rice fields and vegetable plots. And as we approached the bridge, we parked our big bikes and walked down to the gushing Gulon river.

Ricky at the hanging bridge by Gulon River

Mike

Bong

Big little boys by the river

It’s clean and cool. But the strong current prevented us from taking a dip. So we just washed faces by the riverside. It was so soothing and refreshing.

It was getting dark so we headed back to the poblacion. The ride back was fun as it was mostly uphill. Somehow it’s easier to ride uphill on dirt roads. Just look where you’re going and twist the throttle. The big BMWs are simply made for any kind of road.

The only carinderia in the poblacion served us hot and fresh tinolang manok with fresh vegetables and soup. The best meal of the day, as we were quite hungry. After dinner, we set up our sleeping bags and showered. 

Best meal of the day

The best part of any ride with The Long Riders is the drinking session, where nothing sensible it talked about and where you had to talk louder to be heard. The quiet and quaint Ambaguio was probably disturbed by our boisterousness and juvenile ruckus.

Mike and Tom-tom forever

Disturbing the peace

Mike, Bong, Restie and Ricky

Shot!

We were like high school boys sharing jokes and making fun. Riding is fun like this. We ride fast and furious, like fighter jet pilots. And when we get down to relax, we throw caution to the wind and let go, shot after shot after shot.

Even as the night was long, we all woke up early in the morning to catch the sun rise at the Gulon Hill. Bong woke up earliest at around 3am and Glenn P., told me that I was snoring like a big bike with an open pipe. Wern who was beside me also cruised at 6000 RPM the whole night.

It was still dark when we started our hike up to the Hill. We didn’t know where to go cause our guides Don-don, Ben and Tuesday overslept due to hangover.

Dusk hike to Gulon Hill

Cool foggy morning

Our angels must’ve guided us though cause we called out the house in the hill with lights on. “Taooo poooh” And Leo emerged from the house with a flashlight. It turns out that he owned and maintained the Gulon Hill site. How lucky can we get.

He said that at first he thought we were soldiers on foot patrol.

He guided us through the uphill trail and took only about 20 minutes. The Gulon Hill site has rock formations at the edge of the hill. From there you get to view the entire Ambaguio scenery. It was cool and foggy and the clouds were seated below us.

Gulon Hill

And as the sun rose, we were gifted with a sea of clouds and fog so magnificent it reminds me of the Mt. Pulag experience. I think we are the first big bike riders to have witnessed this. We hope that other riders will visit Ambaguio and enjoy it’s wonderful natural sites and the cool climate, and friendly folks.

Sea of clouds at sunrise

Gulon Hill Rock formations

Wern hikes

Clouds and fog at sunrise

View of Ambaguio from Gulon Hill

After the hike we had breakfast at the carinderia and had cat naps to prepare for the long ride home. During this break we also went down to the sitios and the nearby church to distribute some giveaways to the local folks.

The locals were very appreciative of the gifts, toys, coffee sachets, canned good, pre-loved clothing and footwear. The Long Riders always bring giveaways wherever we go. Our small way of sharing and spreading joy to our less privileged kababayans.

Giveaways for the locals

Rodel with giveaway footwear

Glenn poses with the ladies

We were all set to go and Restie led the way. While riding the dirt rough roads, I wondered to myself that I didn’t realize how rough the roads were. It was kinda technical and challenging. And then, as Restie led the downhill slope, he stopped.He looked around and it was all rice fields. 

All set to go Home

Hmmm more rough roads?

Mike “Gyver”

Wrong turn to the bukid

He asked around and then realized that we had made a wrong turn way back, that’s why the roads became rough and it was leading us nowhere. Well, our ride just became longer. That’s why we are the Long Riders.

I was back home in Las Piñas by midnight. The ride was fun and exciting and we once again discovered a place where other riders could go.

There is more to motorcycle riding in the Philippines than Kaybiang tunnel in Nasugbu or the local Startbucks. When you own an adventure bike, I strongly suggest to go where no else does and you will get to appreciate not only how much fun motorcycling is, you will bond more with new friends and experience first hand the way of life in the Philippine countryside.

So gear-up and go!

Leo, owner of Gulon Hill site with Restie

Ambaguio local Catholic church and me the blogger, Ricky.

Posted in Experiences, Motorcycle adventures, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Motorcycle Ride to Alilem, Ilocos Sur

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

October 3, 2018

Calvin Hew is from Taiwan and his work brings him here in the Philippines. I’ve ridden with him a couple of times already with The Long Riders. He rides a tall KTM and like most of us, is also afflicted with the moto-adventure fever.

We were surprised when he admitted that it was his first time to see a waterfall up close and personal. Dipping in its cool waters and frolicking with the guys like school boys on a field trip. “Really?! Your first time!?”

It was also his first time to experience giving away toys and some goodies to the local children and folks in the sitio. He looked so amazed while he handed out some candies to the kids and coffee and canned goods to the adults. “We should do this again before Christmas” Calvin suggested. We told him, “We do this all the time.” It is The Long Riders’ way of giving back.

Calvin Hew

Alilem is the first town of Ilocos Sur, just after the boundary of Sudipen, La Union. We rode from Manila last Saturday, September 29, 2018. The ride is about 250 kilometers from Manila, but since we were a big group of more than twenty motorcycle riders, travel time took longer.

The Long Riders meets up at Caltex Edsa Balintawak

Eric, Sael, Randy, Ricky, Gabby and Ritchie

The route is rather simple. Drive North thru NLEX-SCTEX and all the way to last exit of TPLEX in Pozzorubio. With big bikes with very big engines, it won’t take one long to reach Sudipen, La Union, where we were to check-in a hotel.

Ivan, Bong, Vic and Glenn

Meet up was at the usual Caltex gas station in EDSA Balintawak at 5:30 am. Some of the riders had little sleep because of excitement. Believe it or not, even veteran riders get excited before the ride day and can’t get enough sleep. Unlike waking up for work, we get up even before the alarm sets-off.

It was a big group last Saturday and it felt like a reunion of sorts. Randy Ypon and Thiery Sbaiz both haven’t ridden with us for several months and it was good to see them back in the saddle as if nothing changed.

Randy back on the saddle

Randy with his BMW scrambler riding steady and consistent as leader of the pack and Thiery riding fast and wild like a tornado on wheels.

The wild rider Thiery

We also had some first timers to the group. Doc Gabriel on his Honda Africa Twin, Jim ___ on a Duke 390. Richie Lim, the son of Long rider Tom Rolly Lim, both riding their new Royal Enfield Himalayans.

It was nice to see Rolly and Ritchie riding as father and son. It was Rictchie’s first time to ride with big bikes and his dad guided him all throughout the ride.

First timer Ritchie on a Himalayan

Dad Rolly guiding Ritchie all the way

All in all we took off with 23 big bikes such as KTMs, BMWs, Honda, Kawasakis, Himalayans! and a Ducati!

Ivan on a Ducati

Eric with a Z1000

First stop was for brunch at the Soul Cafe in Rosario, La Union. We had a hearty brunch there and stuffed ourselves for energy for the long ride.

Brunch at Soul Cafe in Rosario, La Union

Unfortunately, some of the guys had some bike trouble and were running late. Some of the other bikes had no gas gauges and ran out of fuel in the expressway, while one other bike busted a fuel line.

We had to wait for them in Soul Cafe, which took some time so we divided the group into two. The first group headed on to set-up the place. They found a very nice hotel, El-Lita in Sudipen, Ilocos Sur. It is a mid-size resort, with a big swiming pool, clean rooms and good food. Perfect for riders like us.

Gabby and Ricky at Hotel El-Lita Resort

We all got there before 4 pm and we checked in the rooms, freshened up and got ready for some good ole’ tunggaan. “Bottoms up!”

We drank and partied like frat men on an out of town session. We had lots booze and lots of storytelling which we cannot remember anymore.

The following morning, we ate early breakfast before getting ready to ride to Alilem to trek to the Anito Waterfalls. We wore helmets, shoes and gloves but with only jerseys and short pants. We rode thru barrio roads up the mountains. It took us only about 30 minutes to reach our jump off point.

Carlos on his Kawasaki

Riding in Tandem Edwin and Carissa Frondozo

Nothing like riding in the mountians, with the views of the mountain ranges, rice fields and lots of trees. The fresh air of the province is so refreshing and the wide clean river below is enchanting. We stopped over for some photo ops as we posed with our trusty big bikes with beautiful nature as backdrop. Unli selfies and group shots, 1-2-3!

Sael on his F800 BMW GS

This is me. Ricky

Jim first time ride with the Long Riders

First, we went up to this small isolated village in Bais. Barangay Anaao is a small community with not so many folks. It was a Sunday and some of the locals were hearing mass in their tiny chapel.

Elders in their small chapel

They were very happy and said next time we should stay with them

Vic, Bong and Paul poses with lola. They gave her money to bet on the lotto

Thiery with lola

We gave away toys, candies and some goodies to the locals who couldn’t believe their good fortune. Sael Requierme also gaveway some pre-loved used but not abused clothes.

Sael and Calvin with Tatay

Pre loved pants from Sael

Ivan, Gabby and Rolly with baby

Here was a bunch of strangers on big motorcycles, approaching the people and being friendly. It is so heartwarming to see the looks on their faces, the curious stare of the oldies and the wondrous smiles of the littles ones.

Sharing

Carlos gives away dolls for the girls

Calvin experiences the joy in giving

Thiery with local elders

Actually, it’s who we are as the Long Riders. This tradition of sharing and reaching out just to make others feel happy and special, in turn, makes us all feel really good inside. “Some things you do for the soul.” as an old friend once said.

The hike to the Baey Anito Water falls is friendly enough and takes only aout 20-30 minutes, depending on your hangover.

Tree house with Sael

Trail to Baey Anito Falls

Trail to the falls

Finally, we reach the waterfalls. We jump into the cool fresh water! to wade and swim! We hang out and wade in the basin, simply experiencing the wonders of nature.

Randy at Baey Anito Falls

Refreshing swim

Just staring at the mighty water falls, with the powerful water pouring down is always a joy to experience. The sound of the falls and the gushing water is soothing.

Traditional jump!

We do this often. Ride, hike, share and bond. I guess Calvin Hew just got bitten with the The Long Riders’ bug and I think we’ll be seeing more of him in future adventure rides. Next time, he’ll just have to check on his gas tank more often.

Calvin Hew on his tall KTM

Posted in Motorcycle adventures, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lessons from a short ride to Nueva Ecija with the Long Riders

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

August 25-26 2018

Last weekend, I got back on the saddle to join the Long Riders adventure ride to Nueva Vizcaya where we were supposed to see some old churches and caves. I prepped my bike and packed for the long ride and even brought a sleeping bag and some trekking gear.

The weather was rainy as I set out to the meet up, first with Carlo Escover in Las Piñas and then proceed to the Caltex gas station in Balintawak Quezon, City. Carlo texted me and said he was running late and for me to just go ahead.

When I arrived in Caltex, Wernher Asprec, Doc Von Evangelio and Edwin Frondozo were already parked there and waiting. A few minutes after Col. Ed also arrived on his red BMW GS 1200, similar to my bike. Wern’s is the GSA model, the biggest and baddest BMW, Edwin also rode his GS 1200 while Doc Von brought an 06 KTM Baja 990 Adventure.

It was raining hard and the clouds were dark. I thought to myself that we were in for a wet ride.

After a while, Restie Renia, arrived on his trusty white GS.

As Restie started his briefing, Carlo sent me a text saying that his BM X-challenge stalled somehwere in Magallanes and apparently his battery was drained. Too bad he couldn’t join us.

The adventure ride was to go to Nueva Vizcaya via the North Luzon Expressway-Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway- Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway. Exit in TPLEX Victoria and and make a first stop to have brunch at Kuya A Kambingan in Guimba, Nueva Ecija.

Enroute to the Kambingan, we made a stopover at a gas station because Doc Von needed to check his KTM. He was shaking the bike down, as it was seldom used by the previous owner. It was its maiden ride.

The Baja KTM has 2 huge gas tanks. But unfortunately the right side tank was leaking. Doc also said that the ABS brakes seemed to be fading.

We ate at the Kambingan, to have,well, goats. Papaitan, kaldereta, rice, and pork barbeque. Kuya’s Kambingan is our usual stopover resto whenever we ride this route. Food are fresh and the staff are friendly. Nothing like provincial traditional carinderia where food is home cooked and the people are neighborly.

Doc Von inspected his bike, and being a bike mechanic and a part time dentist, he figured that he could not go on the ride with the KTM acting up like this, leaking fuel and fading brakes.

We decided that we will just cut short the long ride, look for a resort nearby and just make the most of the day drinking ourselves silly. What the heck, there will be other days for long rides. In the meantime, rather than leave one of us behind, we just went for the short ride but long happy-happy!

The gracious lady at Kuya’s Kambingan suggested the Aloha Resort in Guimba. It was just about 10 minutes away. Aloha was not bad, with a big sprawling swimming pool, clean rooms and again, friendly staff.

Even for a short ride, we learned some lessons during the quick adventure.

  1. When preparing for a long ride, make sure to start your bike and take around the block to make sure it’s ready. Restie started his bike the day before the ride and discovered that the battery was weak. So he had time to charge it. He didn’t know that his bike had a cable connector for the Battery Tender, which Doc Von pointed out to him in Nueva Ecija Aleady. As for Carlo, he just learned about the condition of his battery somehwere in Magallanes.
  2. Do not wear a full rain coat when the others don’t. Before setting out to ride, I wore my rain coat, including its pants because the clouds were dark. Nobody else did as they all said “wala na yan.” I thought they were foolish and once the rains fell, I would have the last laugh. Well, all throughout the ride to Nueva Ecija, it was cool and cloudy but hell it never rained.
  3. Always remember that papaitan is bitter.
  4. Shake down your bike before a ride, not during. Haha joke only. Breakdowns are part of rides. What’s important is no one is left behind.
  5. The new Long Riders “tradition” according to Restie is to drink bottoms up on the first glass!
  6. When you drink bottoms up while shouting “Happy birthday!!” all night, you can lose all sense of civility and can become a karaoke singer too.
  7. Never sing after Ed. He is a Tawag ng Tanghalan Champion.
  8. Beatles Songs should not include “Back in the USSR”. Not good to the ears when sang via Karaoke.
  9. Hey Jude is a good Beatle’s song! I sang it.
  10. Even bashful riders can sing after several bottoms up glasses! Macho Guapito by doc and Diana by Wern! Edwin sang songs from the 60s too! Saya-saya!

The morning after, we took a stroll around the rice fields and discovered beautiful sceneries. And as is the Long Rider’s signature habit, we gave out some toys for the children of the bukid bringing joy and smiles to them.

The last lesson learned from this ride is when you come home before dinner, the wife is happy.

Till the next ride buddies!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Our ABRA Moto-Adventure Was Life Changing! MANILA-BANGUED-BOLINEY-TUBO AND BACK

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

April 12, 2018

Abra Adventure

Our motorcycle adventure ride to Tubo, Abra is by far my most difficult and challenging motor-experience.

It was supposed to be only a 3-day affair but it extended to another day due to unavoidable circumstances and also the nature of the routes itself.

THE LONG RIDERS dared to ride to Bangued, Abra’s provincial Capitol about 400 km from Manila and on to faraway sleepy poblacion of Boliney. From Boliney, we proceeded to Tubo, Abra.

Don’t bother looking for routes via Google Map or Waze, there ain’t any.

Riding mostly BMW GS big bikes and other big bike brands like the KTM and Kawasaki, we conquered the rough roads through the mountains of Abra and ventured into the communities of Bangued, Boliney and finally, Tubo.

Big bikes riding through rough mountains roads in Abra

In the process, we met the friendliest people and community leaders who welcomed us as if we were family.

In Bangued, after riding from Manila for more than 8 hours, we arrived at our destination at river side of Calaba.

Restie Renia, TLR’s ride director and the group’s pasimuno, already surveyed the place a few weeks back and he found the river side as good place to camp.

Bangued is Abra’s provincial capital and it is fairly progressive. It has many commercial establishments and some small hotels. But since it was an adventure ride, we chose to rough it up, pitch tents and stay right beside the river.

The locals gladly and graciously served our needs during our stay. We had drinks on the floating cottage and dinner was prepared by our local friends.

Mark, Mike and Restie with our friends in Bangued

The night was cold and breezy and with the soothing sounds of the gushing river, we slept comfortably even without our comfy beds. Some in their tents and some of us with just blankets on top of the benches in the cottages.

The following day, the trip from Bangued to Boliney took us through mountain roads with a few unpaved portions. Riding through mountains with its views is always a treat, fueling our juices and getting us all hyped-up.

Riding is an addiction. As many motorcycle riders will tell you, it gives us a high triggered by dopamine or endorphins in our brains. Maybe it’s because it gives as the feeling of flying, add to that is the thrill of constantly facing risk coupled with the magnificent views of mountain ranges, valleys and rivers.

No wonder riders throw caution to the wind and keep on doing it. David Norman exclaimed during one of our stopovers, “I love riding man!”

The Long Riders

Upon reaching Boliney, a sleepy poblacion located in the inner mountains of Abra, we stopped by the house of Barangay Captain. It was a hot afternoon and we were all feeling tired from the ride.

They invited us to join the community in the house of a family whose three children graduated from grade school. For Filipinos, education is very important and graduations are special occasions.

Graduation Party in Boliney

The celebration was held in a small house and local food was prepared. They had freshly cooked pork, done in different ways. Dinuguan, Papaitan, Nilaga and also fresh Macaroni Salad.

There were many people lining up for the food as the elders and local ladies scooped food and rice on their plates.

It was a community event much like a fiesta, with locals from all ages partaking of food and drinks.

After the meal, we set off to see the Bani Hot Springs. We rode our bikes and brought some snacks. It was just nearby and we parked our bikes on the road side and went down to the river which had hot springs too.

Bani Hot springs

It is a river with flowing cold water but at its sides, there is hot, really hot water coming out from the rocks and flowing into the river. Sometimes they boil eggs in the hot springs.

We spent sometime in the river, soaking and swimming and chattering. Robert played with his new hover drone camera for some bird’s eye view videos and photos. It’s nice to have someone in the group who brings such a high tech photography gadget.

Drone shot at Bani Hot Springs

Back in Boliney, we came just in time to attend a local tribal wedding. In their culture, it is the community which weds the couple. There are gong dances held and everyone joins in.

The men, both young and old strikes their gongs and dances in cadence as the women folk dances with them in a circling motion. It is like a chicken mating dance.

Gong Dance at Wedding

They also made us riders join in and dance with them, including letting us perform the gong dance.

The people in Boliney take their culture and tradition to heart and pass on their beliefs and rituals to the next generation.

Mike at Wedding Dance

Riding with the Long Riders, these are the adventures we come across. The people in the mountains may not be as comfortable as we are, but their sense of community and family are what makes them strong and resilient.

We were deeply touched and honored by their hospitality. They treat us not as intruders or mere visitors. We were treated with so much honor and genuine hospitality.

Morning coffee in Boliney

The morning after, as we prepared to start our journey to far flung Tubo, two of our riders’ bikes had some problems. Doc Von’s bike had an oil leak of the front shock absorber while David’s Kawasaki Versys had a broken fuel injection and wouldn’t start.

After trying to repair them, they decided to leave the bikes in one of the houses and just come back for them another time. This ate up a few hours of our time for our ride to Tubo.

The ride from Boliney to Tubo was the most challenging big bike ride in my experience. There were practically no paved roads just mostly rough mountain dirt roads.

Wern in deep water

We had to ride through steep dirt roads with rocks and stones and loose soil, by the mountain sides.

It was very difficult, scary and challenging. There was no turning back and the only way was forward. The Boliney – Tubo route is not for the faint-hearted.

Uphill dirt road

For me, it made me believe that the BMW GS big bikes are truly the best motorcycles for tough adventures. It is simply built tough and its design and performance are unbeatable. All one needs is courage to brave whatever terrain comes along. Look far ahead, twist the throttle and go!

Tito Peter downhill

We came out of that route like changed men. The guys said it was suicide mountain! Gladly, we all came out of it roughed up but intact. By the time we arrived in Tubo, it was close to sundown and that meant another extra night lay-over.

Ricky (me) Back riding David

As a footnote, I had to back ride 100 Kg David half way through (because we left his bike in Boliney). While Doc Von also back rode with Restie, making it doubly challenging for us.

Restie back riding Doc Von

The Mayor Guilbert Ballanga, the Vice Mayor and Police Chief  all welcomed us and were our gracious hosts. Again there was a local wedding so we attended the dinner. The Parish priest was also very hospitable and he even offered a mass in the morning for us.

The Long Riders with Tubo Mayor Gilbert Ballanga

The following morning, we decided to go ahead and check-out the Kili Falls, but instead of riding our bikes, to save time, we rented a 4X4 Hilux pick-up truck to take us there.

Kili Falls is our trophy. So far away and secluded. At the road’s dead end, and after a 10-minute walk, there she was, Kili Falls in all splendor.

Spectacular Kili Falls, Tubo Abra

With the mountains, green rice terraces and blue skies as back drop, the mighty Kili Falls stood. It’s raging waters falling onto a big pool of clear fresh mountain water. There is also hot spring water coming out from the rocks beside the pool. It is nature at its best.

Trail to Kili Falls

From Tubo, the fastest route going home was to traverse to San Emelio onto Candon, Ilocos Sur. It would take us 14 hours of dirt roads and deep water crossings to finally reach our homes.

This ride was overwhelming. There were many lessons learned both in riding, of getting to know friends and meeting all sorts of people along the way.

Hanging Foot bridge to Kili Falls

Riding is addicting and the thrill of adventure overwhelms as it literally transports your whole being to another world, to another plane. We text each other upon reaching our respective homes, “Home safe bros, thanks!”.

Deep water crossing

No matter where we go, being home safe caps another wonderful adventure experience.

Posted in Experiences, Motorcycle adventures, Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment