Alright, the great procrastinator has finally come back. 😀
Just so you know, I’ve been wandering around since March, spend extra hours in the office on April to finance and in preparation for my solo backpacking and many more adventures the following month. Yep, that’s why I was left with loads of drafts-in-the making and owe a lot of unshared summer-ry stories.
Here I come! 😀
Probably one of the greatest memory of my summer was my first ever solo backpacking trip to Lake Holon. I was in en dire need to catch up since work’s getting a little bit stressful and I couldn’t find anyway to join my colleague’s planned trips since there were only available on weekends. Mine’s availability were only during Friday to Saturday and I never wanted to compromise my work for leisure.
On top of it was my desire to really visit the place after a month’s reading of different blogs of Lake Holon, wonderful feature from Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho and a chance to do solo backpacking– one thing I’ve never done yet despite of my stints as a mountaineer.
And so when they gave me a hint that they were going to the “Crown Jewel of the South” that weekend (April 23-24), I fixed my mind and had it on a day (April 22-23) prior to their event during my rest days. At least, I would be able to see them on my second day before going back to Davao.
I also invited my teammates at work but things changed (as it had always been) and end up me doing this whole journey alone. Sad as they say but I find my situation more exciting and enticing. HAHA
I could still remember how things worked out before the climb. I never had enough sleep from work because I had to do last-minute packing. I still had to buy groceries and hammock to spend the night with. Good thing, the information I got from the internet sufficed and made myself ready enough. I was confident but at the same time, bothered. 😦
The fact that I had only disclosed this plan to few of my colleagues made me worry a lot. I didn’t want them to worry so I promised to keep in touch with them. Nonetheless, I was grateful enough for the trust.
I went home late and finished my packing. Around 3 am, with roughly 2-hour sleep, I pitched my bag and went to Ecoland Bus Terminal. The journey was 3-4 hours before reaching General Santos. Along the way, I was quite ecstatic. The last time I visited General Santos was when we had our trek to Ta-al Falls but I was with a group.
The further I get, the more my fear slowly disappeared. Instead, I enjoyed the trip while watching the movie and enjoying Mt. Matutum‘s view.
Another hour-long trip to Marbel was waiting for me as soon as I reached General Santos Bus Terminal. I opted to buy pastel – a cooked rice covered in banana leaf with a viand in it. It was almost 10 am so I was really quire hungry.
Thankfully, the ride went so smoothly. When I get to Marbel, it was amazing nice how Ilonggos’ Hiligaynon accent seemed to be so sweet to the ear. The van was quick to be full and my seatmate lola was then asking where I was going. She’s quite amazed to know that I’m doing this solo, then she proceeded on telling how she traveled in her earlier years. Such a sweet gesture from strangers aboard.
Upon reaching T’boli, all the passengers dropped by their market and the driver, knowing where I was headed to, was kind enough to bring me to their Municipal Hall which was a few meters away.
I went to the tourism office and luckily, there were not much of a crowd. I asked the frontline desk if I was allowed to go there even if I had no companion and hadn’t booked in advance. Good news! I was allowed by I had to shoulder all the expenses alone. Not bad though! (Thanks to those RDOTS 😀 😀 )
The cheerful guy then proceeded on giving me the lists payments, including the one-time fare (pakyaw) to Sitio Saclafe. I was glad to know that the payment for Lake Holon is just P 20.00 which I had to pay myself at the Municipal Hall. Ahhh ❤ ❤
It was so organized. After the payment, the guy would lead me to the habal-habal driver that would bring me to Sitio Saclafe. For my safety, he even gave me the number just in case of emergency. By then, I knew I was already safe.
I then hopped in a big motorbike (habal-habal) with the driver I later known to be leader of the habal-habal drivers. He was really cautious knowing how ‘challenging’ the road was. P300 en route to the sitio was really worth the butt-numbing experience.
To make sure I wouldn’t get bored, he started telling me how dedicated they are when it comes to safety. Given that driving in unpaved road could be tough, a driver reached 40km/hour or more would be given proper sanctions if you complain. Safety was really their priority! He also share stories of Lake Holon before it was widely known to be the Crown Jewel of the South.
After minutes of struggling, we were finally down the valley when one could overview the beautiful Allah River. Upon my request, he let me took the liberty on taking pictures of it. So spontaneous and one thing I couldn’t do when not travelling alone.
Yet, that was still a part of my journey. We had numerous stops along the way though.
After almost an hour, we finally reached Sitio Saclafe by 12 noon.
I handed over the receipt to their leader and she gracefully greet me with “Welcome” in T’boli dialect. I was asked to deposit P200 for the garbage fee which I will be taking back if I’ll be showing my trash by the next day, P20.00 for the stick pole and P300 for the guide fee. I was really amazed how T’boli community had grown into independent community and could really live on their own with the help of the revenue they get from eco-tourism. ❤
Among with bunch of trekkers, I got so excited with the orientation. Haha I never missed the chance to take photos with the young T’bolis’ wearing their ethnic costumes.
They even entertained us with their folk dance. Ahh so happy ! 😀 😀
It was such a sweet gesture which left us in awe. I realized I’d been quite a foreigner in my own homeland. By travelling, people from this far flung community would have given the chance to show their own culture. I’m sure this would be be key to cultural development.
Before we left the receiving center, a T’boli prayer was bestowed upon us by their leader. I hadn’t understood a single word but in my mind, all she was praying for was for our safety.
After then, I was introduced to my guide – the 15-year old girl named Geraldine. She had a cleft lip and palate and was quite shy when I first met her. But slowly, she became comfortable with me knowing that I’ll only be her guest for my entire stay. I also keep on asking her questions so I guess that made her feel better. 😉
I opted to go ahead of those teen-y bunch of hikers. Arghh they were so loud and hyperactive (and I was right about them 😦 ) and my level of tolerance wasn’t so high by then.
Few meters, I was then welcomed with the tall and almost leafless tree. I thought it was the famous tree the bloggers were referring to. Too bad it wasn’t.
We keep going until we reached the village. Hah! Four more stations to go!
It was very simple yet very peaceful community. I could see naked children running around while their mother trying to catch them. The fathers with their boys passing by with fresh Tilapias on their backs. Such candid and beautiful scene only those who traveled would ever witnessed!
Then here’s our second stop- the Gono Kemfi or also known as the Holon House of Coffee. Technically, it’s where Sitio Saclafe got its name, with Cafe means coffee is a widely produced product by the community itself.
I decided to buy a souvenir instead which was a bamboo cup! I still had it until now! ❤
At this time, we almost trek one-fourth of the trail for more than an hour. The trail was really easy but with my condition- having not enough sleep and exercise, I felt like dying. HAHAHA
Third stop was the century tree.
From then on, the fifteen guardian sculpture would be seen on the side of the trail. They seemed to welcome you every now and then so I never missed the opportunity to take one shot. 😀
I had taken every one of them except for the first one ‘coz we never noticed that we had passed by the first sculpture.
According to my guide, these 15 guardians (as by their names) used to be Lake Maughan (a.k.a Lake Holon) protector in earlier days. Some where good while other were a bit scary. So as they say! 🙂
As we continued our trek, I could already hear the laughs of those teens. Loud eh! I was also lucky enough to get ahead ‘coz I all have the freedom to take shots whenever I want!
We’ve passed by the fourth station which was a big rock and by the next day, nah I had with me a dog to take a photo with . 😉
Then came the house of the witch featuring the kitchen where they supposed to cook their victims!! Nyay!
But helyeah, this exact place now used to be trekkers resting house- with or without their knowledge about its history, you wouldn’t really mind especially when the exhaustion started to consumed you. Still, great place to rest! 😀 😀
And didn’t you know what’s with this house overlooking at which could make this house a favorite resting place?
None other than the Lake Holon itself! ❤ ❤ ❤
I had to cut off this post into two since I’ve been story telling a LOT. Haha I really just loved to share every details of this trip, hoping one day, I’d be able to read this again with these tiny pieces of memories. Please do catch up my next post for Solo Backpacking Lake Holon.
Itinerary + Budget:
4:00-9:00 – Davao to Gen San (P180-P200) P180 for using my student ID 🙂
9:00 – 10:00 – General Santos – Marbel (P95-p150) P95 for using my student ID 🙂
10:00- 11:00 – Marbel to T’boli Community via van (Direct to T’boli) (P60)
- additional charges: P20 for entrance, P300 for habal-habal (motor) – to be given to the driver directly
11:00-12:00- T’boli to Sitio Saclafe
- additional charges: P20 for trekking pole, P200 for garbage deposit fee, P300 guide fee, P300 for porter, additional P20 for every extra kilo and P100 for the use of horse
12:00 – 15:00- Sitio Saclafe to Lake Holon (including four stations)
PS: Hah! Aside from that, you as a guest will also be responsible to your guide’s meal. More stories in the next post. ❤
And if you truly wanted to save, it is best if you can join events where you only got to pay P600-650 including certs, meals, guide and transportation from Gen San to Sitio Saclafe.