Monday, April 10, 2017

March Walks

Summer's here!

I've been documenting some of my walks not just through MapMyWalk but also through short video clips.
For my walking routes, nothing new I'm afraid, except for one short hike up Mt. Yangbew in La Trinidad. I'm planning to do the traverse soon--just looking for a willing hiking buddy. ;)

Here's a list if you'd like to check them out.

Mt. Yangbew: Jump-off to summit
Torres Street (near Mines View) to Wright Park
Wright Park to Mines View
Mines View to Teachers Camp via South Drive
Mines View to Wright Park (with a bit of jogging around the pool)
Torres Street to Ketchup Food Community

I'm thinking of doing another project that involves plenty of commuting (with bits of walking, of course). All for the love of going places--even those close to home. :)

Here's one of my short videos, made during my walk on the last day of March.
A post shared by Lauren Villarama (@123sajeepney) on

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Walking in Baguio: Mines View to Session Road

"This is suicide," I said to myself as I stepped out of my building on Sunday.

The area where I live--Mines View Park--is usually crowded on weekends, but that weekend was exceptional because it was THE Panagbenga weekend. The annual Baguio Flower Festival brings in thousands of visitors from all over country, Manila mostly, and it's expected that the traffic would be more terrible than usual.

Right after the Grand Float Parade in the morning, Session Road would be closed to vehicular traffic to make way for the stalls for Shawarma Session Road in Bloom.

I've already resigned myself to walking to town and making a photowalk project out of it. So here we are.

Since my work schedule extends to the wee hours of the morning, I woke up on Sunday a couple of hours before noon. After fortifying myself with a breakfast of oats, I set out with one of my film cameras (the plan was to use up the entire roll), turned on my MapMyWalk tracker, and strolled at a leisurely pace to town.

The walk included photo-taking, stall-perusing, and checking out the goings-on around Session Road.
View the details of my walk here!

What wasn't surprising was the number of people going to Mines View and Good Shepherd. The stalls were lined up all the way past the Veteran Pine. What did surprise me was that past the area of Sierra Pines, there was hardly any traffic going all the way to town.

I made a shortcut when I got to Wright Park. Instead of going down the road past the Mansion House, I turned right toward the pool and the steps going down to the riding stable. On my way there I tried this:

The code led me to this page:

I wonder how many people actually take the time and effort to check these things out. 

Baguio City was the venue of the 8th National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

Here's something I learned recently. One of the 24 Philippine scouts who died in a plane crash on their way to the 11th Boy Scouts World Jamboree in Greece in 1963, whom many folks in Manila would probably recognize as a street name, Sct. De Guia, is from Baguio. Victor De Guia Jr. was a son to the late Virginia Oteyza-De Guia (Baguio's first woman councilor, vice mayor, and acting mayor) and brother to Eric De Guia, aka Kidlat Tahimik.

In 2016, Mayor Mauricio Domogan declared Oct. 1 to be the Scout Victor O. De Guia Jr. Day. The Philippines also celebrates National Scouting Month every October.

I hurried past the riding stable and the pony boys shouting "Horseback madam!" and went toward Leonard Wood. Didn't stop for photos until I saw:

A few more meters and I'd be in Session Road. I didn't know what to expect. I assumed the Grand Float Parade was already finished by then, so they're probably setting up the stalls.

Yup, they were. The usual Baguio weather: cloudy and foggy at times, then the sun would unhide itself and make you curse for wearing a fluffy jacket. Then things would get chilly again. I love it.

I couldn't resist wearing the mask Jollibee (Session corner Assumption) was handing out. Of course I had to take a selfie with the kids and the mom with the (very bold) statement tee.

[I didn't get to finish the roll in my camera on Sunday. I went out on Monday again instead. After my camera rewound the film I headed over to Fuji to have the film processed and scanned, and I got a pleasant surprise. I wrote all about it in my film blog celluloid shots.]

Walking from Mines View to town was nothing new for me, but what made it such an accomplishment this time around was that I did it in the afternoon when it was hotter, and that I really plunged myself into the Panagbenga crowd. Will I do it again? Probably. Next time though, I'm eating ice cream.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Walking in Baguio: Yellow Trail, Camp John Hay

the view

My cousins (and aunt and uncle) recently visited Baguio to celebrate my uncle's birthday. I asked them if they wanted to go on a short hike, and they said yes. So I decided to take them on a trip along the Yellow Trail in Camp John Hay.

The morning was perfect--the sky was clear, and it was still a bit cool. After meeting up at the Filling Station, off we went to the trail head. We took our time just walking and taking photos. I forgot to turn my tracker on until around 5 minutes into the hike, and I forgot to turn it off until I was in a cab on the way back to my unit. Anyway, it was great to finally track my time on the trail, even if it was a leisurely one.

The Yellow Trail.View the details of our walk here!

The sights (and feels) along the trail never fail to amaze me. I'm glad to live near a (slightly) forested area, even if it's considered a property of the great big US of A.


If you walk/hike at a leisurely pace, you'll get to the end of the trail (at Treetop Adventure) in around an hour, maybe less. We stopped frequently to take photos (and marvel at nature), so I think we spent around an hour and 40 minutes there.

For me, the best time to go there is in the early morning before or just as the sun comes up. You'll be rewarded with a grand view of the mountains to the east and the sun warming your face (see top photo). 

bright and sunny

perfect weather

I don't think I'll ever get tired of walking along this trail. Maybe next time I'll practice trail running on it!

Friday, February 17, 2017

a wee refreshing walk

It's been a long while since my last post.

Work, erratic sleep times, more work, and just plain laziness have all contributed to my lack of long, leisurely walks and motivated runs, but I know those are just excuses, because of all people I know I can make time to go out and have some fun in the northern sun.

Which brings me to today.

Talking with like-minded friends has renewed my passion(?) for going out, seeing places, and simply being. I revisited old blog posts and journal entries. I've wanted to travel, write, and take photos for the longest time. I may not be able to hop from one region or country to another (for now), but there are places that are accessible to me, places with people and events and stories of their own.

So I've decided to tell my stories about these stories.

I'm not sure yet whether I'll make a separate blog for that. Probably not. As long as there's walking involved (and there almost always is), this will do. :)

Plus, I'm slowly but surely taking up my film cameras again. It's really fun taking them along on a walk. Here are some not-so-recent shots from my lightleaky Olympus mju II (cropped out the edges).

With the major Panagbenga activities just around the corner, Baguio City will surely have more visitors. More visitors means more cars, and more cars means the traffic will be worse. If you're planning on visiting the Summer Capital in the next few week(end)s, be prepared to leave your car and just walk. The weather is really nice, and well, walking is really good for you. :)

I checked out some of the stalls already set up in Burnham Park for the annual Panagbenga Festival a couple of days ago as I was finishing a roll on my mju. The crowd was still pretty thin--it was a weekday, after all--so walking wasn't much of a tiresome activity then. Let's see how things turn out in the coming days.

This morning I just took a small walk in my area, which is one of the top tourist spots in the city. On my way back I chanced upon this little stall selling refreshments. There's a number of these 'lemonade' stalls around the city but none in my area, so this is a real treat for me. It would be great to grab some vitamin C after my morning walks, so yay!

Say hello to The Gibraltar Rind! Or is it The Gibraltar Grind? Or is it both? It works either way, but I'll make sure to ask! :)

Fun fact: I hate cucumbers as food, but I love them as drinks.

I tried out the 16-ounce single orange drink. I like that it's not too sweet.

Hot chocolate, fresh fruits, coffee, infused water, and kuya, meticulously preparing my drink.
If you're in a hurry and want your drink done asap, you're missing the point.
When you get your drink, give the juices some time to really mix ;)

hearts all around

Blurry photo because I was too giddy about hot, rich dark chocolate (16-ounce servings!).

Really pretty colors :)

Topped with mint for that perfect refreshing drink! Cheers!

The stall's currently set up where Cora's Restaurant is in Mines View, beside Budgetwise (our friendly neighborhood convenience store). They're there every day except Tuesdays. They sell oranges too!

Definitely looking forward to more (photo)walks and all-natural fruit drinks in the coming days/weeks/months/years. Here's to spending more time outdoors!

Oh by the way, I tried one of these:

My smartphone isn't NFC-capable, but I do have a QR code reader, so I checked it out if it works. It does! This code led me to this page:

Neat and nifty! Something great to have when you want to actually know more about a place. 

Anyway, I'm off. More posts to come!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Walking in Baguio: C. Apostol Roundabout to Burnham Park

Farthest so far.
View my walk details here.

Late post!

It's been three weeks since my last jog/walk, and I didn't have time to post about it. I went home to Manila, then back to Baguio again, then my work schedule changed, then I got sick (must be my body rebelling against the midnight shift). I haven't figured out when I'll resume my walks--mornings really are the best time because it doesn't rain/drizzle much, but then again sometimes all I want to do is sleep after my shift. Afternoons are fine too, I guess--if it doesn't rain. Oh well, we'll see after I get rid of this cold.

That bright and sunny morning, I decided to just go where my feet would take me, with no set route in mind--my only plan was to stay hydrated and have some snacks around, so I brought my hydration pack and some biscuits.

I started my tracker at the little roundabout near Mines View Park. I figured since I was going downhill, might as well pick up my pace. I jog/walked along Outlook-South Drive all the way to Teachers Camp, where I walked around and learned a bit of history.

After Teachers Camp I crossed Leonard Wood and made my way to Brent, then to another street I haven't walked on before: Laubach Road, which gave me this view of the cathedral and the buildings nearby.

Then it was down to Gen. Luna, and I decided to check out the Aguinaldo Museum again to see if it was open. It wasn't. (I checked online and saw the museum days/hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 8am-4pm. I went there on a Tuesday and it was way past 8, so I really have no idea why it was closed. Renovations, perhaps? I'm really stumped.)

By this time it was getting hot, so I decided to head on to Burnham to cool down. I trudged my way up back to Leonard Wood then down again to Session and Mabini, crossed Harrison and looked for a nice spot around the lake where I could refuel.

Overall a nice walk, my longest for this project so far. Can't wait for the next (body, please cooperate)!

When it's rainy season in Baguio and the sun shines one morning, you take the laundry out to dry!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Walking in Baguio: Veteran Pine to Burnham Park

Burnham Park

The sun's out!

Baguio officially celebrated its 107th charter day yesterday ("officially" because the opening ceremony for the anniversary was held on Aug. 22), and by coincidence (or just sheer luck), the rains stopped sometime in the afternoon. All I could think about was Yes! I can finally walk in the sun again tomorrow!

The dilemma was where to go. There were still so many places I want to walk to, but I remembered there were some things I have to go buy in town. Plus I thought it would be nice to see Burnham Park on a sunny morning, so to town it was.

No umbrella needed! Details of my walk here.
I started tracking my walk at the Veteran Pine again and made my way to Leonard Wood Road via Romulo Drive. I turned right at Gen. Luna then walked toward the Emilio Aguinaldo Monument at the Happy Glen Loop. The museum was still closed (this was at around 8:30), and the general's monument had a group of skateboarders practicing their flips, so I decided to return another time.

Back on the road, I made my up toward the Post Office Loop then along Gov. Pack, where I surfed a bit among travelers getting bus rides and students heading to class at the University of the Cordilleras (UC). Down to Harrison and across the street to Burnham, then after a few more meters came the bicycles and of course, the lake. I went around the lake soaking in more sun and people-watching.

I learned that Milo was also having its Little Olympics in the city. Young athletes came to represent their schools (I think from Regions I-III?) and were lined up along Lake Drive, waiting for the opening parade to start.

I also learned that archery is one of the events. How cool is that?
Calm, collected, and seated. Conserving their energy, perhaps.
These birds were taking a bath in the small puddle. So. Darn. Cute.
I found an empty bench and sat while looking across the lake. It felt nice to just chill and feel the cool breeze.

I got my snack (peanut butter-filled biscuits!) and had a picnic. Little things like that give me immense pleasure--have I said how great it felt to feel the morning sunshine on my face again?

This man doing push-ups looked to be in his seventies!
I can't wait to hit the trails again. Just a little more sun!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Very Wet Dry Run with the Sandugo Eiger

The testing ground for my Sandugo Eiger shoes.
This post is full of photos of my shoe-clad feet, so if you don't mind that, read on.

I've planned on getting shoes I could use for trail running (I'm a beginner, please don't hurt me), shoes that aren't as heavy/bulky as the Merrell Azuras I've been using. The Azura is a waterproof shoe designed for hiking and not really for running up and down trails, and I wanted to try something more lightweight.

(I've worn my Azuras during a rainy day out and I assure you, the shoes really are waterproof. My jeans were wet up to my knees but my feet stayed dry!)

I've heard good things about Sandugo's line of trail shoes, so when a weekend rainy day sale came up, I decided to check it out. I had two models in mind: the Mudtrax and the Ourea. I didn't get either. Because of a really good salesman, I got this one instead:
Sandugo Eiger shoes
(Image from the Sandugo Facebook page.)
It's a top pick for rainy days because it dries quickly.
I got the black and gray version on sale at 10 percent off.
The Sandugo Eiger.

Its main selling point is that it's a water shoe, perfect for hikes where you need to cross a river. 

It's not exactly what I had in mind to buy.

I really wasn't sure about it at first, because I didn't consider river crossings at all: it must be the rainy weather, because all I could think about was 'muddy trail, muddy trail, muddy trail.' 

Based on reviews and comments I've read, the Mudtrax is best for muddy conditions, while the newer, more flexible Ourea is recommended for hiking or running on all kinds of terrain. 

And so I was kind of worried I got the wrong shoe: where are the lugs that would help me stay off my butt on slippery trails? (I'm really prone to slipping--just ask any of my USTMC batchmates and friends who've helped me up at one time or another.)

But ok, I know the ground won't always be wet and muddy, and I'm certain I'll have to cross streams and rivers in the future, so why not. I have experienced crossing small bodies of water during a hike before and I still remember the squishy, heavy feeling of having water in my shoes, no matter how hard I squeezed it out. 

I've also experienced hiking on a really sunny day. It felt glorious to take off my Azuras and socks after that and walk barefoot on the cool floor. 

The Sandugo Eiger's design, with the mesh uppers and outsole drainage system, is assurance that 1) water won't stay in the shoe, keeping it light; 2) the shoes and socks will dry fast; and 3) your feet will be able to breathe, keeping them from being all sweaty and smelly. Plus, the shoes were really light.

But the niggling feeling of having a traction-limited shoe persisted. Could I only use my shoes during dry season hikes with river crossings?

To find out, I took my shoes for a test run / proper break-in yesterday.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
You can see through the mesh of the shoe's uppers...
and the outsole too (I took the midsoles out)
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The outsoles and the midsoles--yep, no water's gonna stay in there!

I'm calling it a wet dry run because I am seriously planning on using these for getting started on trail running (hopefully someday soon) and it was rainy during my practice "run." I didn't really run--I only jogwalked on the road, but I did test the shoes out on wet soil.

On wet pavement, the shoes had good enough traction, but not enough heel support I think (for me, at least). As for the wet soil, I brought the shoes on a small slope in Camp John Hay. You can see it in the photo at the top of this post. It was just beside the road, so should any accident befall me, it would be easy enough to get help (being alone, so you can never be too careful).

The rain gave my chosen testing ground enough wet grass and pine needles, slippery rocks and roots, mud, and water to soak my shoes in.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
Simulating a stream crossing
Sandugo Eiger shoes
Rushing water and pine needles
Sandugo Eiger shoes

The Sandugo Eiger had good traction on wet, gravelly soil, but not on the smoother, mossy surfaces. Climbing the slight incline was made easier by the natural "steps" made by tree roots and rocks.

Sandugo Eiger shoes
The mud washes right off
Sandugo Eiger shoes
Cold! Thoroughly soaking the shoes now

Sandugo Eiger shoes
Stepping on rocks with water rushing down
When stepping on slippery rocks, it's really best to get a firm foothold first so you don't slip.
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The mesh uppers also serve as a sieve, so tiny rocks and bits of twigs don't get in the shoes
Sandugo Eiger shoes
The shoes dried more quickly than the socks
I have yet to test the Sandugo Eiger out during a trail run (Yellow Trail or Eco Trail) and a long trek (Mt. Ulap again?), but so far it feels good--I just need to be really careful on slick surfaces such as mossy banks, slippery soil, and this kind of floor:
Well, one should be careful on most floors when your shoes are wet, anyway.
I walked 4 more kilometers after the test. It was just a little bit uncomfortable because I'm not used to walking that far with wet socks on, but shoe-wise, I have no complaints. The socks would probably have dried after all the walking if not for the incessant rain, but that's wet-season Baguio for you. 

(Note to self: probably best to remove socks--or wear quick-dry ones--during river crossings in the future.)

Addendum (Sept. 3):

I was able to test the shoes on a "real" trail, albeit a short one. Because it rained yesterday afternoon, the grassy hill at Wright Park was wet, with some of the footpaths soft and muddy. The park gave me the perfect conditions to see how the Sandugo Eiger would fare. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos because I intentionally left my phone at home so I could concentrate on training (without worrying about losing my phone or breaking it, or both).

The Sandugo Eiger performed as advertised--meaning it really does well on dry trails, even those lined with rocks, and when you have to go from trail to river and back again. It also means no, it's not the best shoes to wear when you're tackling slick surfaces (like sticky wet reddish soil or clay). It does well enough on soft ground of course, and on pine needle-covered trails, but because the treads are not that aggressive, there is a bigger chance of slipping on an incline.

Not much of a problem on relatively flat muddy ground, but of course do expect mud to cling on to the shoe. (It's all part of the experience!) You can "go around" the muddy part, but only if where you're walking/jogging/running is also part of the established trail. It's wrong to "widen" the trail and trample the ground/make a bigger impact on the environment. ;)

On that note, I had to be careful with the mud under my feet. I'm still not that confident about running on squishy ground, so I took it slow in the areas where there was about an inch or two of soft soil, and the areas that had slick clay and moss. 

But while the mud didn't exactly suck my shoes in, my shoes were the ones that took in a bit of mud, through the outsoles where the drain ports are. I was able to get the most of it out by stomping my feet once I got back on the paved road, but some of it really stuck:

Sandugo Eiger
All this needs is a river!

Sandugo Eiger

Good thing these shoes are really easy to clean--I think some running water and an old toothbrush will do to get the mud (and possibly small rocks) out. You can also hose it down--even if water gets inside the shoe (again, through the drain ports and/or the mesh uppers), it gets dry really fast, so you won't have to worry about wearing wet shoes the following day.

The Sandugo Eiger may not have the extra grip needed for muddy conditions, but I can see how great it will do on river crossings and hot, dry trails. I'm glad to have it.