I’m on vacation leave a day before this trip because I want to take an ample amount of rest. I know, for sure, that this trip will never be an easy feat. I have been battling with motion sickness since time immemorial. And, most of the time, I’m too weak to beat it. Imagine my anxiety slash excitement for this trip. Plus, the fact that no one specifically invited me to join. Hahahaha! I’m such a sucker for longer trips. It’s a UHP trip anyway, so, security and making friends isn’t actually an issue.
If my short-term memory serves me right, we have a total of 6 vans of volunteers for this weekend. I’m in van # 1 together with some volunteers I had the chance to be within the first outreach program I joined.
The trip was quiet and pretty straightforward not until we had our first stop somewhere in NLEX. Since our driver is pretty rushing (we’re clueless why?!), he instructed us to go back to the van as quickly as possible.
Since I don’t have a buddy for this trip, I decided to nail the stopover my own way. I ate in the nearest fast-food chain where our van was parked because there’s still a line in the comfort room. I ate in less than 10 minutes and went to the comfort room afterward. Clueless about the chaos happening outside. When I’m about to leave KFC, I saw Nika and Dian heading towards me. I even asked them, “Nag take out lang kayo?”.
It was an epic fail because it turns out the driver is agitated to leave. I think he’s a little mad because we stayed in the stop too much than his preferred time. I sincerely apologize for the delay I caused but all I got is a new name- Ms. KFC. #SuperEpicFail #TakawGoals
After that, we continue with the long trip. Once again, I get to feel the cold breeze in Baguio.
Lo and behold, the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces looks as good as it is in pictures and graphs I see in our school. I can’t believe how good it looks and I wish I can go near it. I want to experience walking near the rice fields. Or, better yet, I want to plant some rice. We took our first group photo in one of the view decks. And so, we carry on with a few more hours of a road trip.
We also had a stopover in a town in Benguet for some breakfast. The market offers a really limited food choice but I can’t complain. With what I’m currently feeling, I don’t have the energy to eat a lot.
Before heading to the area where we will conduct the outreach activities, we had a simple side trip to one of the nearby falls. Oh, before that, we had a thrilling experience on a cliff. Our guide missed the correct road. Thus, our driver had to do a thrilling maneuver near a cliff. That’s a nerve-wracking 10 minutes of our lives. So, yeah, we head on to the falls and not satisfied with the view because summer season and waterfalls are not great buddies.
We arrived at the venue for the outreach program an hour after lunch. It’s late for lunch already! But, we’re welcomed by the locals with a sumptuous meal. They prepped foods for us and it’s heart touching. I thought we are the ones who will help them, but it’s the other way around. We felt welcomed and taken care of. Everyone’s smiling and inviting.
So, after lunch, we head to the main location which is a school for elementary students. When we already settled our personal stuff, the fun started. We prepared the games, gift packs, foods and everything needed for the outreach program. We grouped ourselves and chose the grade level of kids we want to assist and facilitate the games with.
We had really fun games and these kids are too cute and polite. Truly, the people in this place are well-disciplined, participate in the activities with no hesitations and fun to be with. We danced together with a Japanese song taught by Ford (Aburamushi). I can see the kids and the volunteers enjoyed this part so much. Also, I almost lost my voice for cheering during the kalamansi relay and other games. At times, I want to compete with them and win prizes as well. The whole program is another success for the volunteers and UHP as a whole.
Before calling it a day, we had the meet and greet where we introduced ourselves with each other.
A brand new day and it really is a cold morning. We have to leave before sunrise because we’re heading to Buscalan. However, due to some miscommunications, we left a little too late this time. But, that’s alright. We found out that the couple they’re looking for is already in our van. We’re all clueless that they are looking for them and that’s the reason why we haven’t left yet.
Anyways, our journey continues and I felt more and dizzier. I can no longer help myself. We arrived in Buscalan and I lost the remaining energy I have left in me.
We had a stopover in a church in Bontoc where they are celebrating the town fiesta. The locals offered some food. They have this delicacy that looks like sticky rice with coconut milk and taro. I wasn’t able to eat it though.
I decided not to go to see Apo Whang Od because the weather is too hot for me. I’m not sure if I can go for a hike. So, I decided to say in the drop-off area and tried to sleep. We had a chit chat with other volunteers while waiting for the ones who went to see Apo Whang Od. It was a slow afternoon because I don’t really feel that well.
We left Buscalan around 5:00 PM and it’s another long trip until we reached Baguio. The weather turned a bit moody in the afternoon and it started drizzling. We arrived in Baguio around 8:00 or 9:00 PM and we ate in a diner. Oh, and we had a really sumptuous meal courtesy of the host for the outreach activity. We ordered buttered chicken, noodles and rice. We even have a Dan Eric’s ice cream (Mango Delight) and it’s life-changing. I love Dan Eric’s ice cream so much! I ate a lot even though it’s not advisable for me to do so when on a trip.
On the trip back to Manila, I’m just sleeping and I don’t feel dizzy anymore. It’s a smooth trip though we’re unsure when are we going to arrive. This trip is by far, the longest van ride I took in my 23 years of existence. A 14-hour trip away from Manila that resorted to other joiners to not go to work. Traffic congestion in NLEX on a busy Monday morning is no joke!
Overall, it was a fun experience. A one-of-a-kind trip I would like to try again most especially once I’m strong enough to beat motion sickness. Also, I enjoyed this trip because the people of the north showed the true essence of hospitality without asking anything in return.
What’s your North story? Have you tried being tattooed by Apo Whang Od?
Originally published on 16 December 2018