Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 2: Quirino to San Emilio (Ilocos Sur)

Date of bike ride: April 11, 2009

Day 2: Quirino to San Emilio (Ilocos Sur)

NOTE: I've got a long story to tell. So if you don't wanna read just scroll down at the pictures, but if you decide to read on it'll be worth it, promise.

The next day, when we woke up, the Marfil family prepared breakfast for us. What a treat! tsktsk we were already in debt to them the night before and still they kept on being generous. Manong Rene's parents (the Marvil seniors) visited their son and we had a bit of chitchat with them. 

We shared stories of our family and their family's history/background. We learned that their baranggay is "Madapoy". We are really grateful for the generosity they showed. To the Marfil family we owe you a lot! To our suprise they even provided us pabaon. tsk tsk thank God people in the province really have good hearts.
above: Some of the Marvils leaving to visit their relatives at another town.
below: Ate Mildred with Junio and Vei

After the pictorials me and Vei started pedalling. Barely a kilometer away from Madapoy is the Abra river. One word describes it- WOW! Man, all the uphills, flat tires and technical downhills we went thru truly was worth it! Speaking of flats, right after the arch sign of the nearby baranggay my front tire went poof* This time its easier to vulcanize since were near the rice fields' water system.

The Abra river is really really vast and wide, some portions were dried up but still it is one big kickass river. As we were biking along the side of the Abra river, we came across a sea of rocks, it was hard to bike on it coz it was a bit slippery but it was fun!

We couldn't tell where we need to cross, then we asked the local fisherman and saw this line on the river where the jeeps pass. After crossing, there was still this small town/baranggay where in we paid a visit to the local police. We asked for the vulcanizing shop and eatery. Vulcanizing shop was closed. After eating we asked around for directions going to Tirad pass. The police was very kind and even gave us directions and drew a map for us.

The Abra river and the Ilocos mountain range

A sea of rocks

Crossing the Abra river

above: Vei looking at another town in Quirino and the mountains we need to assault
Below: Quirino Municipal Hall

There were even locals who thought we were with Romy Garduce's show haha (but ey anything's possible). Then we came across this basketball court where there were 2 roads, one going left and the other, right. The house on the corner said that the both roads lead to Tirad pass but the right one is more bike friendly, the left is for trekkers only. We asked if they right road will lead to the Tirad Pass monument they said yes and that is also the way to "Skyline". 

It was already noon and boy was it hot. The Sagada-Besao cool breeze was gone. After a few pedals/uphill we were already sweating heavy. The 1st 2 mountains we biked was really hard because of the heat, though there were mostly shaded parts of the road. 
Vei's bike chain broke.

Then single-speed Vei's chain was pushed to its limits, it broke. Buti nalan, we kept a few of the links from the earlier derailler incident. Still the view still amazing. We could see the river where we came from and somehow told us that we were high above ground. It showed us the mountains we crossed.

When our water was already half empty, we saw this campsite and found this natural watersource the police was describing to us. It was time to refresh.Ü 
Vei freshening up at a natural water source.

Awesome view of the Abra river and the towns/mountains we've crossed.

Then there was this short downhill which again had lots of sharp rocks. I had my tires lose some air but was too soft for the rock garden we just passed. My rear tires's interior had 3 holes back to back, so I had to patch 6 holes total. Vei was kind enough to lend me all his remaining patches coz I only had 1 left.

We kept on biking till we saw this view of the Abra river and the towns we were at this morning, boy were we high! 

It was again getting dark, the view of the Abra river was getting a bit blurry and it was also getting cold, meaning were near the peak. So far no signs points to the Tirad Pass. Then we reached what Manong Rene Marvil was talking about: "Skyline", where you could see almost everything, Abra, Ilocos Sur sea and sadly we saw Tirad Pass which was 2 mountains away from us. We were a bit dissappointed because we wanted to reach Tirad Pass and see Gregorio Del Pilar's historical monument.
After pictorials, we rested for a bit and decided to pedal since it was already getting dark again and also cold. Again, the same as yesterday, we are still at the peak and we have no idea how far it is from the nearest town. This time there were less rocky downhills but portions were still very steep and a bit slippery. My bb7's were put to its maximum test, good thing we had good lights with us which made possible to nearly an hour of downhill to the nearest town which is San Emilio. 

We ordered sodas and ate the rice the Marvils gave us along with the Hunts Pork&Beans I brought with me. The girl who was at the store offered us kakanins. People in provinces really have good-natured hearts. The boy who gave us our 2nd order of coke, even guided us to the nearest town plaza, after we finished watching "Cast Away" at Studio 23. The boy named Emilio, rode his motorbike and assisted us to the nearest basketball court. We slept at the stage, which was just a few meters away from their church. 

Again it took us nearly 12 hours for this ride.
That's how dark it was on the mountain peak. 1hour downhill in pitch black.

Our campsite, San Emilio, Ilocos Sur town plaza on an Easter Sunday.

The next day we packed our things and took pictures around for the last time. Its already Sunday and its work day the next day. We have decided not to bike to Candon from San Emilio, due to the fact that the hours of travel will be long, it will be hard to catch a bus coz many will go back to Manila after the holidays and it will be traffic along the expressway. From San Emilio its just an hour travel to Candon, by jeep.
Packing up our bikes for the trip to Candon, Ilocos Sur.

Candon, Ilocos Sur

When we reached Candon, we went to Chowking. It what was we were daydreaming for the past few days. The Chowking Candon branch was the best tasting Chowking food I've had ever! Along the way I still took a few shots but we had to take an ordinary bus since it was already 11am and we were standing waiting for a bus to Manila for an hour already.

It was quite a trip. We'll be back in Tirad Pass that's for sure. Thank God for people like the Marvils, the Rogers, the local people who helped us without hesitation or knowledge of who we are, may God continue to bless them. Thanks again to Vei, my patient and fun riding bud. Thanks to those who ready my long effin' blog, it took me a lot of hours to recall our trip and upload these pics, I appreciate your patience. I hope you enjoyed viewing and/or reading my photoblog.
Vei: Man, this was just what we were daydreamin' days ago!

The best tasting halu-halo I've had!!!

Tofu and Fish in Tausi Sauce


Date of bike ride: April 9, 2008 (Sagada to Besao), April 10, 2009 (Besao, Mt. Province to Quirino, Ilocos Sur).

above: Google earth view of our destinations, click to zoom.

NOTE: I've got a long story to tell. So if you don't wanna read just scroll down at the pictures, but if you decide to read on it'll be worth it, promise.

(My friend Vei on a bus from Baguio to Sagada)

Part 1: Sagada to Quirino, Ilocos Sur

Here we go again. Biking to a route we've never tried before with no SAG vehicles, nor GPS, only maps to guide us. Thanks to Vei, my college classmate and bike buddy during this whole trip. I biked with him last Dec. during my bike trip around Banaue-Batad-Mayoyao-Bangaan and also Banaue-Sagada.

We left Manila almost 1am. Though our ticket going to Baguio indicated 11:45pm. The trip to Sagada was already sold out a week before. Arrived at Baguio around 7:30am. We boarded the G/L bus headed to Sagada which left exactly at 8:00am. The trip was quite long and the bus arrived in Sagada around 2:00pm. We already messaged Steve (aka Dayuhan) through text that we will be passing by his pad before we head off to Besao.

We unpacked our things and headed off to Steve's place. The rain caught up on us and we decided to stay for a while at Steve's till the rain stopped. Boy was the rain still freezing cold during these months up there. It was fun seeing Steve and his kids again, Joey who's an incoming freshman at UPd and Jenny, an avid American Idol fan, who was so "batugan" that day. Steve knew of our plan, this is just a continuation of our December 08 trip. We asked him again the route going to Tirad Pass and then Candon, Ilocos Sur.

After the rain, which was almost 5:00pm, we biked going to Besao. From Sagada to Besao is 8 kms. the 1st 4 kms. purely rough road, lots of rocks and lots of uphill, the last 4 kms. is a mix of cemented and rough road and lots of downhill already. We even bumped into 3 bikers from Baguio, one of the guy was named Andrei.
above: Jenny, Steve, Vei, Joey, Me
Sagada, surrounded by clouds

Upon arriving at Besao, Baranggay King'iway to be specific, we paid a visit to the Police Station, informing them of our intentions/purpose of being there etc. We asked permission to sleep at their 'plaza', where we will be setting up a tent to spend the night.

After the super sarap meal (thanks to Dong - one of the locals at Besao) we setup our bikes and tent and slept early. I was awaken a number of times by the creeping cold. I dint bring any pajamas nor sweater, thinking it was summer and it won't be that cold up North. Big mistake! I put on my sleeves, socks, even my full finger gloves and used the bike bag as blanket, which helped warmed my chilling body.
Our tent at Besao's town plaza

The next morning, Dong was playing smash, but obviously he was just keeping an eye for us since we are guests in Besao and also potential customers. Dong again cooked for us and we even got to know that he's originally from Davao, his wife is from Besao and that he studied in Manila in the 90's and we exchanged a few more stories after heading off to Patiacan and Quirino. Dong gave us some tips/pointers on the baranggay and route we should be taking.

No Globe signal in Besao, a weak signal in Sagada. Smart comms is the recommended SIM card here.
Vei, Dong, Me and one of Dong's kids

Awesome view of the rice terraces

Just a few kms. from King'iway, Besao, was a majestic site. An eye candy for the outdoor hungry adventurers like us. "Sulit ang pagod!" (trans: every sweat is worth it!) was what me and Vei were saying to each other with smiles on our faces.

We're kinda lost here, no signs going to Ilocos, good thing there was a local

It was still early but it was starting to get hot, not to mention the very rocky route we were taking. The air was still cold though, once you stop pedalling or passby a shade aircon ulet! Every sweat was paid in return by the awesome sceneries on our side. Every turn and uphill was rewarded by beautiful trees, mountains and terraces.

Then I had a flat, man! It was very frustrating by this time coz the uber rocky trails (and I mean sharp big rocks), was giving my battered tires a hard time. My rear tire had a small cut on the side. I had to patch it from the inside, rugby it on the outside and then wrap it up with electrical tape a number of times. That helped a lot. Good thing we brought the necessary tools in case something like this happened. 

Then I had a rear again in front, I tell yah, the trail is quite a virgin. I patched up the interior and decided to switch the front and rear tires since the bagback (approx 40L worth of baggage) I had was causing too much toll on the rear. This took a lot of time from us.

Vei's signature pose

Vei was quite worried since he downhilled a few mins. ahead of me, I passed by some kids informing me that Vei was at the gate. Every local that we come across we greeted Good morning/afternoon with a smile, they cheerfully greeted back with a smile and a bit of curiousity. We stopped at a store and had a few crackers and softdrinks for lunch, it was already pass 1pm but we weren't that hungry since we carbo loaded at King'Iway.
Chit-chatting with one of the locals, having biscuits as lunch
Then after going downhill Vei's rear derailler was sucked in by the spokes and bang! it was cut loose. We had to cut the chain so that he could go granny for the FD and set the chain at the rear at somewhere in between the cassette. This is a major pain since Vei is literally in single-speed and we are still mountains away from our destination. We're not halimaws pa naman.

Then we stopped by this small ruined building beside the hanging bridge. We had a small chitchat with the locals, and as usual they asked us things like where we're from, what we're doing, where we're headed off to etc. They were generally friendly, we just smiled and greeted them, and mostly answered back with smiles and a nod.Ü
above: Vei's rd broke. below: wrapped electrical tape around the tear of the tire

Vei taking a dip, cooling our Coke too.

Our water was almost out, we rested for a bit at a house and asked for 'danum', we had a few mins. of chitchat explaining the what, where, how and why just to lessen their doubts and curiosity. There were even locals who kept on speaking in pure Ilocano though we were saying "Dyakamawatan" yun pala they just don't know how to speak Tagalog. 

We have already passed Patiakan. By this time I'm not sure how many mountains and valleys we've crossed but the dark is already catching up on us. We're tired/exhausted and hungry. At the peak of this certain mountain there was a 'Y' portion of the road where there were no signs leading to Quirino.

It was already pitch black up the mountain but were still kms. away from civilization. We had no choice but to downhill the uber technical trail going to Quirino. Boy was it scarry! Scarry coz we don't know how long or far are we still going to downhill, my tires were already battered, Vei is on single speed, we're both hungry and tired. Despite those things we were still determined to make it to the nearest town. The lights were getting closer and closer and alas! We made it to civilization! It took us an hour to downhill the sharp rocks of Quirino, and it was not downhill bliss since it felt like we were jackhammering all the way down. My mech brakes really got my hands tired.

We stopped by this small compound with a store. We munched on the biscuits we could down, since they told us there were no restaurants or eatery available in the area and that the way to Candon was still very, very far ahead. When we were asked if we already had dinner, we told them that the biscuits and sodas was already our lunch/dinner and that we hadn't eaten any rice yet. We asked them if they could cook for us coz we were glad to pay them for it but they declined. After a few more mins. the store owner's son was inviting us to have dinner. We declined a number of times but they kept on insisting. This time the parents and children were all inviting us to have dinner. 

As in wow! thank God for good samaritans like these people, they prepared 3 different viands. It dint stop at that, they offerred us a room for us to spend a night, though we just asked a space in their compound where we could put up our tent. The Marvil family, manong Rene and manang Mildred, were very kind to provide us with more than we asked for and dint ask anything for return. We showed them our pics of our trip and their neighbors flocked and continued conversing in Ilocano. Some talked to us, curious of the why, how, what etc.

It took us 12 hours for this trip. This includes rest stops, repairs, bath, meals, and not to mention approx 40L worth of backpacks. Dayuhan even lifted my bag and gave us an evil grin saying: "This should be fun."

above:Left or right? No locals no signs going to Quirino, Ilocos Sur

above: Vei with the Marvils (Rene, Mildred and Rene Jr.)