When my friend Lonibelle invited me earlier this month to join her in a camping trip in Antique, I immediately said yes since I was free during the March 21-22 weekend and I’ve been wanting to go to Antique for quite a while now. I did not invite other friends because this was not my event and I did not even know who the organizers were so I felt I did not have the authority to make invitations.
I had to stay overnight in Iloilo on March 20 because we were leaving from Jaro Plaza at 4am of March 21. So I left my hometown Sagay around 12noon and I was able to catch the 2pm Weesam boat from Bacolod. I arrived at Iloilo port in Lapuz around 3:30pm and I immediately proceeded to the place where I was staying for the night.
Lonibelle initially made a reservation for me for a fan room at the Lapaz Plaza Pension House which was just supposed to be P250. However, when I got there, I was told they did not have any fan rooms available so I just took the air-conditioned room for P500. The room wasn’t bad. My only problem was that the window did not have any locks which bothered me all night.
When I took my camera to have the battery charged, I found out that I left my SD card at home. Of course I panicked. I had very limited funds and I thought the card’s price was in the thousands. Then my friend Des suggested that I go to CD-R King. Luckily there was a CD-R King branch at the nearby Gaisano Plaza. I bought an 8GB card for P240.
After that incident in Guiuan, Eastern Samar when I almost lost my wallet and this incident with the memory card, I’m starting to get scared. I hope it’s just my absent-mindedness. It’s not that I black out, I just forget a lot of things when I’m excited or panicky.
Anyway, after having an early dinner, I brought some canned food and water when I passed by a 7-11. I thought there was a shortage in food there. I was wrong. I never got to touch the food I bought until got back to Negros.
I was able to sleep around 10pm but I would wake up every now and then because of the windows that had no locks. I remember vividly this dream though that we and some cannibalistic snakes were the only creatures left on Earth. And by we, I meant we were elves, you know, just like the elves in The Lord of the Rings. Phew! I just had to share that.
I finally woke up and went to shower around 1:15am. I really thought that the departure time from Jaro was at 3am. I was just too early but I couldn’t go back to sleep so I waited until 3:15am when Lonibelle picked me up from the hostel.
When we arrived at the assembly place, there were already a few people waiting. I was a little intimidated because most of them had huge backpacks while Lonibelle and I only brought our little bags. We waited for a little while until we saw someone handing out IDs. We approached the man and paid the fee of P740 which was the payment for the van we were going to ride in from Iloilo to Pandan, Antique, and back the next day. We were assigned to Van #4.
We left Jaro around 4:30am. The caravan made a couple of quick stopovers before we reached Culasi where we had a longer stopover so people could have breakfast and go to the market to buy some supplies to be cooked later in the camp.
We left Culasi at 9:15am and finally reached Malumpati around 10:30am. It was just drizzling but it was very wet so some people were having some second thoughts about setting up their own tents. I was under the impression that there were tents for rent there but apparently there was none, so we had to wait for Lonibelle’s friends Che and Angie so we could share a room with them. When they arrived along with their cute little boy Drix, we took the uppermost air-conditioned room for P1500. Yeah, my first ever camping trip (as an adult) and I took an air-conditioned room! Three other campers we met there set up a tent at the veranda right outside the room.
I found out later on that this camp was a gathering of mountaineering groups based in Iloilo. Che and Angie were members of Talahib and Lonibelle was sort of a member. She had gone mountaineering with them at Napulak in Igbaras.
While we were sitting at the veranda, the son of an original member of Talahib offered us grilled fish. He said one fish was called pakul and can only be found in Culasi. We really thought this was funny but we bought the fish anyway.
Malumpati is a cold spring and it was indeed freaking cold. I stayed at the shallow part despite a boy telling me to go to the deeper part where the other adults were jumping off a diving board. Nope, not a good swimmer here.
After we got up from the water, it was time for lunch! Time to eat the pakul! It tasted just like fish. Ha! We also had pork chop, adobo and tons of rice given to us by the other Talahib members. We didn’t want the food to go to waste so I was left to eat all the rice that was left. I probably ate five cups of rice for lunch that day when I usually don’t eat rice at home. Carbs! I did not have much appetite until the next morning.
I took a nap and then when I woke up, a staff member who we nicknamed Commissioner was in the room asking for our payment. I was told that it was already her third or fourth time up the room to ask for the payment. It felt almost like harassment. She told us earlier in the day that the P500 out of the P1500 we pay for the room goes to her as a commission. That’s a lot of commission, thus the nickname. Rodel, who was one of the campers who set up a tent outside our room, might have gotten tired of Commissioner so he paid her. We paid him the next day while checking out.
We then started drinking and had dinner. I had fun during dinner, especially since there was a very funny story told about Lonibelle that she wanted to keep a secret. After dinner, we continued with our drinking until later in the night.
The next day it was all about the pictures.
After breakfast, the other guys went back swimming in the spring while I stayed in the room to answer the call of nature.
We left Malumpati around 11:10am. We stopped over for late lunch in Bugasong, Antique where we took more pictures. The mountains surrounding the area made for a great view.
It was around 5:15pm when we arrived in Iloilo. I wasn’t able to catch the 5:10pm trip but thankfully Supercat still had an 8:10pm trip. That trip left Iloilo around 8:45pm and I arrived in Bacolod at almost 10pm. There were no more buses going to Sagay, so I got on a bus to Victorias and crashed at my friends Caloi and Nene’s house. I was able to get home at 8am the next day.
It was really nice hanging out with mountaineers even for a little while. I think they’re a bunch of simple people who are used to helping out each other.