Cut-Off Times (Part 2)

14 10 2014

I made a post about the cut-off times of running events in my post in this blog on May 17, 2011. Until this time, I don’t see any reason why Race Organizers/Directors had to impose cut-off times in their events. For the Marathon Races where most of the city roads are closed from vehicular traffic, six (6) hours is a decent time as a cut-off time in order to relieve the riding public of the inconvenience it would bring if the race is extended up to nine or ten or twelve hours. But on second thought, the cut-off time being imposed is not for the safety of the runners of the event but for the convenience of everybody.

In my post, I made mention of some of the popular ultra races in the world with their prescribed cut-off times.  It is obvious that Road Ultras have a shorter cut-off times than those mountain trail races, except for the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race. UTMB’s 166K has a cut-off time of 46 hours; Hardrock 100 which is dubbed as the hardest mountain trail ultra in the USA has a cut-off time of 48 hours; Barkley Marathon has a cut-off time of 60 hours where each loop of 20 miles has a cut-off time of 12 hours; and the most prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race has a cut-off time of 30 hours.

Each of these ultra races has their reason why the Race Organizer/RD have to impose cut-off times. Moreover, there are intermediate cut-off time in every checkpoint along the route which forces the runner to meet such times, or else, he/she would be disqualified. Such intermediate cut-off times are being strictly enforced as race marshals would strip each runner of their race bib or tag and advised not to be allowed to continue the race.

I would surmise also that such cut-off times are being imposed by the Bureau of Parks and Wildlife which manages or administers safety in these wilderness parks as one of the conditions for the issuance of event permits.

Without any reference on these cut-off times, I would conclude that the Race Directors, who are former ultra runners during their prime age, would be able to “test run” the course by themselves and come up with an arbitrary cut-off time based from their personal capability or finish time results. Or maybe, they invited some of their ultra friends to “test run” the course and get the “mean/average” time of the finishers.

When I thought of organizing the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race, it was a challenge for me to come up with a decent cut-off time for the whole race. After conducting some “50K test runs” with my ultra running friends, I was able to come up with the 18-hour cut-off time, where an average well-trained marathon runner would be able to finish a distance of 50K in 9 hours, which way beyond the 6-hour cut-off time for a marathon (42K) race. This is the reason why one of the qualifications of a BDM 102 participant is a Marathon Finisher.

As for the BDM 160, I just added another 9 hours and another 3 hours for the remaining distance of 58 kilometers where I considered the heat and humidity in the country as the main challenge to finish this event.

When I thought of coming with the first trail ultra marathon race in the country, I would conduct by myself a “test run” on the course by dividing the whole distance of 162 kilometers into two parts. Thus, I came up with 32 hours as the cut-off time for the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Race which was maintained for the past 3 years/editions.

As I ran through roads and trails in the country, I made sure that I would “test run” any course/route that I would like to be transformed into an ultra running event for the runners.

I never changed on how I would come up with the “cut-off” time for my races. I would “test run” the course and whatever time I would register as my finish time, such time will be considered as the official cut-off time for the ultra event. Considering my present age to run through the course, I think it would be fair that my finish time will be the target time for the younger runners.

It should be noted that Intermediate Cut-Off Time is the time that a runner would leave the Checkpoint.

So, what is my message in this post? It simply means that a well-trained ultra runner could easily finish my ultra races within the prescribed cut-off times. These cut-off times (intermediate and whole course) will be one’s measurement or gauge if proper training and preparation had been made prior to the event. If one could not meet such cut-off times, it simply means that one lacks the proper training for the event.

At The Finish Line: "Test Run" For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

At The Finish Line: “Test Run” For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

Let us stop bragging ourselves to have finished a race even if you have finished way beyond the cut-off time. Let us stop giving any “finisher’s loot” for these kind of finisher. A TRUE & OFFICIAL FINISHER is one who finishes the race within the prescribed cut-off time for the event.

Good luck and see you in my future ultra races.

 





General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #4)

3 10 2014

General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #4)

This survey and recon cover the portion from Tadian, Mountain Province To Banaue, Ifugao. It was my first time to travel along this route and the road was a paved one from Aluling Bridge to the Poblacion of Tadian, Mt Province. The vehicular traffic was limited to delivery trucks and some local jeepneys and motorcycles. Along the way, I was able to take some pictures of areas which I thought to be “markers” or “reminders” along the route.

I was able to stop in one of the eateries along the way and after my lunch, I was able to talk to the owner of the restaurant. Walther Cayabas of the Backstreet Eatery was so kind enough to give me information which was told by his forefathers about General Aguinaldo’s trek to the Cordilleras. He said that the road in front of their place/eatery was part of the “Old Spanish Trail” and he was able to point to me a part of the untouched (unpaved) portion of the said trail which is located few meters from the road. I promised to Walther that I will be back for the actual trek and I will make his eatery as one of my “pitstops”. The food served were cheap and delicious with the local mountain rice served with the meal.

Having known from my book that General Aguinaldo passed along Sagada, Mountain Province, I focused my attention on the road on the directional signs leading to the said town. After a few minutes of driving, I was able to reach the crossing of Sagada and the road that goes to Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Stairs Towards Tadian Municipal Hall

Stairs Towards Tadian Municipal Hall

Backstreet Eatery In Tadian, Mountain Province

Backstreet Eatery In Tadian, Mountain Province

Conversation With Walther

Conversation With Walther Cayabas

A Village Along The Route Before Sagada

A Village Along The Route Before Sagada

Road Intersection To Sagada

Road Intersection To Sagada

At Sagada Tourism Center

At Sagada Tourism Center

I was not impressed about Sagada. I felt that the place is too commercialized already for the tourists. I went to the Tourism Center and started to ask some information with the staff at the Center. Nobody knows among the staff about the history or story if General Aguinaldo had ever set his foot in the town. The staff is even asking me a Tourism Fee of P 35.00 for being there in the place. The tourism guide and list of fees for us to visit their tourism destinations were very expensive. The least that I could do was to have my picture taken with the Tourism Map of the Town. For me, first impression and appearance of the Tourism Center gave me the impression that this place is too commercialized without giving attention to the amenities of a customer-friendly Tourism Center. It only took me 20 minutes to stay in the said town. Hopefully, those road constructions along the road from the Bontoc Highway Intersection are all ready and done.

After those muddy road constructions along the Rev. Staunton Road, I was back on my way to paved road going to Bontoc, the Capital Town of Mountain Province. The following pictures are the things that I saw along the road:

Tourism Markers Along The Road

Tourism Markers Along The Road

Bay-yo Rice Terraces

Bay-yo Rice Terraces

It was time to have a refill on my gas when I reached Bontoc but unfortunately, as the gasoline boy was about to open my gas tank, there was a “brownout”! But looking on my Fuel Gauge, I decided to continue the trip hoping that I will be able to reach Banaue with few liters on my gasoline tank to spare.

Bondoc Municipal Hall

Bondoc Municipal Hall

On impulse, I went to visit the Municipal Library of Bontoc. The staff thereat are very nice and accommodating. But sad to say, they don’t have any information or reference material on the historic event that happened or that depicts the travel and stay of General Aguinaldo in the place and its environs. The staff gave me the name and address of a well-respected “historian” in the place but it would be better if I would be able to talk to him with more time on another day. I made a promise to be back to talk with this local “historian” on my next visit to the place.

Banaue Tourism Center

Banaue Tourism Center

It was a slow ride from Bontoc to Banaue as I enjoyed every scenery along the way. But it was cut short when I entered the boundary of Ifugao Province as it became cloudy and footy along the road. As I entered Banaue, it started to rain hard while driving my car slowly every bend, incline and decline on the road. I could only see road signs, the rain and the flowing water on the road as I entered the town of Ifugao. As my Fuel Gauge blinked with the yellow light, telling me that my Fuel Tank is about to be empty, I had to immediately take a stop on the first gasoline station on the road which is located two kilometers before reaching the center of the town. I was glad that the town had electricity! It was still raining hard when I finally reached the Tourism Center of the town of Banaue, Ifugao.

The distance from Cervantes, Ilocos Sur to Bontoc, Mountain Province is 56 Kilometers.

The distance from Bontoc, Mountain Province to Banaue, Ifugao is 48 Kilometers.

To Be Continued.





Official Result: 2nd Anteloop Bravo 50K Trail Run

23 09 2014

This trail run event was called the “Mt Natib 50K Trail Run” which was held on April 13, 2014. It was a “By Invitation” event among my trail running friends where only four (4) runners started the race. It was summer time and the trail was dry. All the runners were guided by one of my staff and the “turn-around” point was at the peak of Mt Natib. All the Finishers were able to establish a finish time of sub-14 hours and nobody was lost along the trail.

For the “rainy season” edition of this event, I opened this run to everybody through Facebook and changed its name to “Anteloop Bravo”. Nine (9) runners answered the call where four (4) of the runners knew the route. Due to the wet and muddy condition of the trail, I instructed all the runners not to reach the peak of Mt Natib and instead, take a one kilometer distance from “Binutas” to the trailhead at Barangay Tala, Orani, Bataan and back to “Binutas” before going to Mt Natib. The “turn-around” point was the clearing called “Camp 06″ before the assault to the peak of Mt Natib. In less than 20 hours, seven (7) runners reached the Finish Line.

Starters With The RD For The 2nd Anteloop Bravo 50K Trail Run

Starters With The RD For The 2nd Anteloop Bravo 50K Trail Run

The following is the List of Finishers with their respective Finish Time:

1. Graciano Santos (Champion, Overall)——–14:35:52 Hours

2. Ronnel Go (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——-16:18:01 Hours

3. JC Igos (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)——-16:18:18 Hours

4. Tess Leono (Champion, Female)——-19:12:25 Hours

5. Manny Ocampo——-19:13:19 Hours

6. Emma Libunao (1st Runner-Up, Female)——-19:16:10 Hours

7. Marlon Santos——-19:16:11 Hours

Overall Champion Graciano Sindac Santos

Overall Champion Graciano Sindac Santos

Female Champion Tess Leono

Female Champion Tess Leono

Congratulations To All The Finishers!





General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #3)

16 09 2014

General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #3)

I decided not to stay long in my “Base of Operations” in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur and instead, went directly to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur via the Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road aboard my private vehicle. There will be some more days to be scheduled for me to hike the first segment of the of the route, which is the Candon-Galimuyod-Salcedo- Gregorio del Pilar-Mt Tirad Pass-Quirino-Cervantes Route. This leg has a distance of 73 Kilometers.

I am surprised that the Bitalag-Cervantes Road is fully paved. On the day that I took my road survey, I was surprised that the PNP were stationed and visible in the Poblacion of Towns and Barangay Centers along the route. I had to briefly stop to talk to the uniformed men when I was already in the mountainous part of the route. I asked them why there is a lot of route security elements along the road. They answered me that they were tasked to secure the road up to Cervantes because a VIP and his entourage is going to pass the road and they will be there for the whole day.

Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road

Bitalag-Bessang Pass-Cervantes Road

As I reached the peak of the mountain range at the Battle of Bessang Pass Shrine, I could see a group of soldiers from the Philippine Army and took time to stop my vehicle, talk to them and to ask them about their unit’s headquarters and the reason why they are in the area for the task as route security. From the information I gathered, there is an on-going periodic Conference/Meeting among the Regional Directors of all the Government Offices in Region 1 and the meeting is happening in the Poblacion of Cervantes. I also found out that their Battalion Headquarters is located in one of the Barangays of Cervantes situated between the towns of Quirino and Cervantes.

The Battle Of Bessang Pass Shrine

The Battle Of Bessang Pass Shrine

The scenic view of the route from the peak of Bessang Pass and the view of the Cordillera mountains on the east are simply very beautiful and amazing as one would go down on a zigzag road towards the plains of Cervantes. One could see a lot of pine trees beside the road and the mountains seem to be undisturbed by illegal loggers and “charcoal making” industry. The same observation can be gleaned on the Ilocos Sur side of the mountain except for the additional residences/houses that I’ve seen to be added since the time I last passed the area almost 20 years ago. The distance from the Battle of Bessang Pass Shrine to Poblacion Cervantes is 18 Kilometers.

Church In The Poblacion Of Cervantes

Church In The Poblacion Of Cervantes

Once I reached the Poblacion of Cervantes, I could hardly see a Parking Space on the roads surrounding the Municipal Hall and Public Market. I was luckily to park my vehicle near a road that leads to the Church. I went for a walk towards the Municipal Hall and I could see that a Program and Public Meeting/Consultation was being held with all the Heads of the Government’s Regional Offices taking their turns to speak before the Crowd and answering the concerns of the different “leaders” and Barangay Representatives of the Locals. There was no point of trying to locate one of my friends on Facebook who happens to be the Municipal Secretary of Cervantes and for me to pay a courtesy cal to the Municipal Mayor. I was trying to drive through the Cordilleras and orient myself as fast as I could and there was no way for me to wait until the proceedings would end late in the afternoon.

The Only Incomplete Portion Of The Quirino-Cervantes Road

The Only Incomplete Portion Of The Quirino-Cervantes Road

Instead, I talked to two ladies who were selling fried bananas on the street and asked for directions in going to Quirino, Ilocos Sur and the the road that goes to Sagada-Bontoc, Mountain Province. On a crossroad/intersection being manned by 3 personnel of the PNP, I asked them about the directions to take in going to Mountain Province and they gave me a detailed description of the route and warned me on the “new” bridge that I need to cross towards the Cordilleras. Cervantes appears to be the Crossroad to travelers going to Ilocos Sur, Abra (via Qurino), Mountain Province and Benguet. It is the Gateway to the Cordilleras from the Ilocos Region/Northern Luzon Provinces.

Coming from one of the Ilocos Provinces, I would save at least 4 to 5 hours to reach Sagada, Bontoc, and the Banaue Rice Terraces, instead of passing the traditional Naguilian, La Union to Baguio and then to Halsema Highway to reach such places. I wonder on whose Presidential Administration that this road was finally paved and realized but it is concluded that such places in the mountains would be easily accessible to the lowlanders for progress and better economy.

Kilometer Post Towards Quirino (One Km From Poblacion Cervantes)

Kilometer Post Towards Quirino (One Km From Poblacion Cervantes)

Knowing that the General Aguinaldo Trail connects the towns of Quirino, formerly known as Angake/Angaki, and Cervantes, I went to the road that connects the two towns but after one kilometer from Cervantes, I stopped before a part of the road that needs to cross a stream of water on a river. After assessing the depth of the flowing water, which is too deep for my vehicle to cross, I decided to just take pictures of the place with the skyline of Mt Tirad as the background. I would see more of this route when I will actually hike the other side of the town of Gregorio del Pilar.

I went back to Cervantes and took the road that goes to Tadian, Mountain Province. The Poblacion of Cervantes is located on top of a hill and for one to leave the place, the road leaving the center of the town is a descending one until it flattens. After a few turns, I could see a long and newly-constructed bridge that connects the lower mountains to the higher ones over a wide banks of a river. I need to stop at the approach of the new bridge for a photo-ops.

The New Aluling Bridge

The New Aluling Bridge

After crossing the bridge, the road starts the ascending route towards the Cordilleras. I observed that few vehicles are plying the route and I only see delivery trucks for groceries and was not able to see any other private vehicle along the route until I reached an intersection where the other road leads to the barangays of the Municipality of Tadian, Mt Province and further up to the Halsema Highway that leads towards the province of Benguet and the City of Baguio.

I stopped by an intersection, took some pictures and talked to the locals who happens to be waiting for a ride and the owner of the store near the intersection. The old women who own the store was not aware and ignorant about the history that unfolded in their place but the middle-aged man who was sitting as if he was waiting for a ride, would start talking to me by answering my questions about General Aguinaldo’s presence in the area at the turn of the century. He would recall the stories from his old grandparents and parents about the presence of Katipuneros who passed their area. He confirmed that the road that goes to Tadian, Mountain Province is the same route that goes to Bontoc in the early days, popularly known then as the “Spanish Trail”.

The First Critical Intersection From Cervantes To Bontoc, Mt Province

The First Critical Intersection From Cervantes To Bontoc, Mt Province

To Be Continued.





General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey/Talking To The Locals (Part #2)

11 09 2014

It was nice to renew my ties with the people that I’ve met during my active military service now that I am retired. The former Municipal Mayor “Lofre” Gironella of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur was my host during my stay in the area of Ilocos Sur for two days. I have found out that he was responsible in extending the paved road from the Poblacion of Salcedo to Barangay Bulala, Salcedo, a distance of 6 kilometers, and situated the road on the side of the mountain, thereby avoiding at least 13 river crossings at the Buaya River. The trip from Salcedo to the Poblacion Gregorio del Pilar had been shortened due to his efforts. I’ve seen also the presence of hanging bridges on top of the river which could be used by hikers when the river is too deep to be crossed. The former Mayor is fond of planting trees during his three terms and one could see how thick the forests in their mountains. He is proud to say that there is no illegal logging or “charcoal making” industry in his town.

My Host, The Former Municipal Mayor Of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur

My Host, The Former Municipal Mayor Of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur

I told him about my plans of hiking the General Aguinaldo Trail and promote its awareness to the public so that history will be remembered and tourism will boost in their area. He pledged to help my project in coming up with permanent markers along the route. He also briefed me on the prevailing security and peace and order situation in the area and the developments & infrastructural structures that were established since I left the place.Practically, almost all the road networks in the far-flung municipalities in Ilocos Sur are already inter-connected and the cellphone signal system in these areas are present and efficient.

In my hike to the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar, I was able to talk to the Bamboo Raft Guy whose job is to bring motorcycle-riding persons across the river coming from both sides. It takes the Raft Guy (I forgot to get his name) about 30 seconds to pull the wire as the raft would move across the river. Each motorcycle-riding person would pay him Twenty Pesos (P 20.00) for the effort. He told me of another path/way if we don’t want to take his raft but just the same our feet would be damped and wet with lots of water falling from the side of the mountain where the trail is located. I know that his business is only good for the rainy season and soon his raft will be put into oblivion since Mayor Lofre told me that there is a plan to construct a concrete bridge so that there will be no more river crossings for hikers and vehicles between the towns of Salcedo and Gregorio Del Pilar.

Talking With The Raft Guy

Talking With The Raft Guy

I saw a “sari-sari”/mini-store beside the road after I passed the intersection of Gregorio del Pilar and Sigay Roads. There was an old man sitting on a bench with his arms on the table in front of him. I asked him for two bottles of soft drinks and gave him my payment. I started the conversation in our dialect, Ilocano, and my short “pitstop” became longer to almost 45 minutes as we were joined by another guy who stopped by at the store with his motorcycle. As the conversation became longer, I found out that the guy with motorcycle is a retired Police/PNP and the owner of the store was also a CAFGU & Police Informant.

After introducing myself and telling them about my stint in the area in the mid-90s, they were able to recall and remember me of the things that I’ve done in the area. They remember that I’ve been constantly patrolling/hiking the Salcedo-Gregorio del Pilar route with my soldiers; provided Civil-Military Operations & Medical Missions in the Municipalities of Sigay and Gregorio del Pilar; but what is more significant for them to recall and remember is the realization of establishing a hiker’s camp near the peak of Mt Tirad, beside the spring water source in the mountain. They suspected me then as a “treasure hunter”, thus making the “camp” for my soldiers. However, I told them that the hiker’s camp was made as the “catalyst” for tourists to visit Mt Tirad and the Historical Marker where General Gregorio del Pilar was killed. Due to the Hiker’s Camp, it attracted  visits of top officers and Generals of the AFP and PNP, then to the relatives of General Gregorio Del Pilar from Bulacan, then leading to an annual visits of the Cadet Corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines/Cadets from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), most of all, it became as “rest area” for the residents of Abra who would like to take a shortcut through Mt Tirad Pass. Both of them were nodding their heads as I was explaining to them that I was the “first” Tourism Officer in their area.

Talking With Retirees & Senior Citizens In The Area

Talking With Retirees & Senior Citizens In The Area

Macario Burgos, the Tourism Officer of Gregorio Del Pilar, gave a lot of vital information about the tourism developments in their town. Mang Gorio, a resident of Barangay Mabatano and whose residence is located on the trailhead to Mt Tirad Pass, died a few years after I left the place/area. Mang Gorio would tell me then the details on how the Filipino soldiers under General Gregorio del Pilar would prepare their defensive positions along the trails leading to the peak of the mountain and how they fought the Americans. He would also vividly relate the whole story on the Battle of Tirad Pass and how the young General was killed during the firefight.

Mr Burgos was six years old when I was assigned in the area and he would know me by my name from a soldier who happened to be my security detail from the time I was the Battalion Commander until I retired from the service. My security detail is married to a resident in Barangay Concepcion of the town who happens to be his Aunt. Obviously, he knows where I was assigned from the time my Battalion Headquarters left the area, in Mindanao, and before I retired from the military service.

DSC_0637

Macario Burgos, Tourism Officer Of Gregorio del Pilar

Macario updated me on the latest research he made on the Battle of Tirad Pass. He told me that the survivors of the Battle of Tirad Pass remained in the area and had their respective family instead of going back to the Tagalog Region. He mentioned at least five of them with their respective locations within the confines of the municipality. He even told me that the grandson of the US informant, Januarius Galut, who led the Americans to a trail to another mountain summit that outflanked the positions of the Filipino defenders of the mountain pass, made a research to prove that his grandfather was forced and under duress by the Americans to be used as a “guide”, instead of being known as a “traitor” who was paid by the invading forces. The Galut Clan are still presently residing in Sigay and within the boundary of Salcedo and Galimuyod.

He explained that there are no tourist facilities, like hotels, home stays , and restaurants within the Poblacion because the tourists would proceed immediately to the trailhead in Barangay Mabatano to register and pay a Permit Fee of Twenty Pesos (P 20.00) per person and then proceed to the General Greorio del Pilar Shrine/Monument or go to the peak of Mt Tirad, establish their camp by using their personal tents, sleep thereat overnight, go to the peak of Mt Tirad for photo-ops in the early morning the following day, and then go back to the Poblacion to catch up with the morning trips of jeeps to Candon City. It should be noted that Commercial Vehicles from the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar to Candon City is only available in the morning. The same commercial vehicles would go back to Gregorio Del Pilar in the afternoon, coming from Candon City. The Poblacion is thereby used as a “Drop-Off” point for arriving tourists in the afternoon and then as a “Departure Area” for the same tourists on the morning of the following day.

After I briefed Mr Burgos about my intention of re-visiting the place to re-trace the route that General Aguinaldo had taken at the turn of the 20th century, he told me about his story on his hike from the Poblacion Gregorio Del Pilar up to Cervantes, stating the trail condition, the distance and time/period he was able to cover the said distance. He told me that it took him 4 hours to hike from the Municipal Hall of Gregorio Del Pilar to the Poblacion of Quirino, a distance of about 22 kilometers. From Qurino to Cervantes, the trail that General Aguinaldo took is already a paved road where a small portion/river crossing before Cervantes is not yet paved. The distance from Qurino to Cervantes is 27 Kilometers. He added that the area that covers the route is peaceful.

Lastly, he reminded me that the Metal Plaque (A Dedication Message For The Hikers and People of Gregorio Del Pilar For The Construction of the Hikers’ Camp) that was carved and cemented on the face of big rock within the vicinity of the Hikers’ Camp near the peak of Mt Tirad is still there for me to see. That would be a nice mission for me to take a picture of it because my name and the name of the Municipal Mayor of Gregorio Del Pilar then were inscribed in the said plaque.

To be continued.

 





General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #1)

8 09 2014

General Aguinaldo Trail: Hike & Survey (Part #1)

For four (4) days, I went for a hike and survey to the historic General Aguinaldo Trail from Candon, Ilocos Sur to Lamut, Ifugao which covers an estimated total of almost 300 kilometers of trails and paved roads.

After studying the available maps and sketch of the posted route of General Emilio Aguinaldo, I decided to start the survey and hike at the intersection of Candon Highway with the road going to the towns of Galimuyod, Salcedo and Gregorio Del Pilar. The road intersection is in front of the Candon South Central Elementary School.

In Front Of The Candon City Hall

In Front Of The Candon City Hall

Intersection Candon Highway & Galimuyod-Salcedo Road

Intersection Candon Highway & Galimuyod-Salcedo Road

Another Entry Point To The Candon-Salcedo Road

Another Entry Point To The Candon-Salcedo Road

I’ve been running on the road from the said intersection in Candon to the Poblacion of Salcedo when I was a Battalion Commander where my Headquarters was located at a high elevated portion of the town which is about one kilometer away from the Municipal Hall. The distance from the Highway Intersection is exactly measured as 12 kilometers to the Poblacion of Salcedo.

Candon City Is Famous For Its "Calamay"

Candon City Is Famous For Its “Calamay”

When I was the Battalion Commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion, I would hike up to the peak of Mt Tirad almost every month and I have measured it to about 24 kilometers from my Headquarters, one way. I had to pass and cross the Buaya River for fifteen (15) times before I would reach the intersection road to Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay, Ilocos Sur. Bringing with me 15 Scout Rangers who are fast hikers would complete my weekend trips to Mt Tirad.

My first step in my survey for the General Aguinaldo Trail was for a courtesy call to the City Mayor of Candon City (Ilocos Sur). The travel from Manila to Candon City is about 5 to 6-hour easy driving in a private vehicle. There are also commercial buses that would pass the city that go to northern destinations like, Vigan, Laoag, or Bangued, Abra. Candon City has also hotels and pension inns located along the Highway and at the Commercial Center of the City. My purpose in paying a courtesy call to the City Mayor of Candon is for him to be aware that his city will be the starting point of the General Aguinaldo Trail. Unluckily, I was not able to catch the presence of the City Mayor in his office after his meeting with his City Council.

Candon Hotel Along The National Highway

Candon Hotel Along The National Highway

My next visit from Candon City was towards the town of Salcedo where I’ve stayed for almost seven months in 1995 and where I’ve established my Command Post while my Battalion was in charge of the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Abra in our efforts to solve the insurgency situation in the area.

I was surprised to be entertained as a special guest at the Resort of the Former Mayor of the town, who happens to be the Municipal Mayor when I was posted in the area. For the two days that I’ve stayed in the Candon-Galimuyod-Salcedo-Gregorio del Pilar area, the Resort became as my “Base of Operations”.

My Adventure's "Base Of Operations"

My Adventure’s “Base Of Operations”

On my second day, I went for a hike from Salcedo to the town of Gregorio Del Pilar, the trailhead of Mt Tirad. I was surprised to see that there is already a paved road on the side of a mountain that connects the two municipalities. However, the road does not completely avoided the crosssing of the Buaya River. I was surprised that I had to cross the river for two times only instead of 15 times!

Salcedo-Dregorio Del Pilar Road

Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

A View of The Buaya River From The Road

A View of The Buaya River From The Road

Along the way, I had a chance to talk to the people whose houses were located beside the route and where little convenience stores are located. I will post a separate story on these encounters and conversations with the local people.

From the intersection of Gregorio del Pilar and Sigay towns and after crossing the river for two times, a paved road which is 6 kilometers in distance would lead me to the Poblacion of Gregorio Del Pilar. The paved road is covered with trees and thick vegetation as I could see the peak of Mt Tirad getting closer. I have observed that the trail that I’ve been using during my hikes to the town 19 years ago was still being used by the farmers who would walk from one barangay to another and before reaching the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar.

Forest Along The Route

Forest Along The Route

Clean Water On Creeks Along The Route

Clean Water On Creeks Along The Route

In less than two hours of hiking and jogging from the Intersection of Sigay and Gregorio del Pilar, I was able to reach the Poblacion of Gregorio del Pilar. The place seems to be congested with buildings and houses. There is a newly-constructed Municipal Hall, a separate Rural Health Office/Clinic One-Storey Building, and the Municipal Plaza is now covered with roof which could be transformed into a basketball court and Assembly Area. The old Municipall Hall is still there and being used as additional offices.

Intersection Road For Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay

Intersection Road For Gregorio Del Pilar and Sigay

Road Intersection For Sigay & Gregorio Del Pilar

Road Intersection For Sigay & Gregorio Del Pilar

The Municipal Mayor is a lady but unfortunately, she was not in the area but her staff in her office were very kind, courteous, and accommodating. I was able to make a very quick rapport with her secretary and the administrator of the Municipal’s Facebook account. The young and energetic Municipal Tourism Officer, Macario Burgos, was able to brief me about the tourism developments in the town. All the needed information about Mt Tirad and the Municipality were provided by Mr Burgos. He even gave me additional information about the General Aguinaldo Trail.

In Front Of The New Municipal Hall of Gregorio Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur

In Front Of The New Municipal Hall of Gregorio Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur

Macario Burgos, Municipal Tourism Officer Of Gregorio Del Pilar

Macario Burgos, Municipal Tourism Officer Of Gregorio Del Pilar

There is only one eatery/restaurant in the Poblacion and Mr Burgos was kind enough to accompany me and joined me for lunch. At the eatery, I was able to talk to more locals who would drop by to have their lunch. The Municipality had progressed due to tourism and agriculture since the mid-90s.

After lunch, I decided not to proceed to the peak of Mt Tirad having known the place and distance from the Poblacion when I was assigned in the area. I’ve found out that the Municipal Tourism has a registration area at the Trailhead at Barangay Mabatano and every hiker has to pay an Environmental Protection Fee of P 20.00. In my future thru-hike along the General Aguinaldo Trail, I will have to be back to this place and renew my experience in reaching the peak of Mt Tirad.

Getting back to my “Base of Operations” in Salcedo was uneventful and my staff and I had an easy jog and hike for the distance of 12 kilometers. We had more time to appreciate the beauty of the scenery and take more pictures on the things that we saw along the way.

The following picture gallery will explain more about my hike from Salcedo to Gregorio Del Pilar and back.

WELCOME Arch @ Gregorio Del Pilar's Poblacion

WELCOME Arch @ Gregorio Del Pilar’s Poblacion

River Intersection, Lagoon, Hanging Bridge, Beautiful Mountain & Hills, & Green Scenery

River Intersection, Lagoon, Hanging Bridge, Beautiful Mountain & Hills, & Green Scenery

River Crossing #1

River Crossing #1

River Crossing For Motorcycles @ P20 Each

River Crossing For Motorcycles @ P20 Each

River Crossing #2

River Crossing #2

Vulcanizing Shop On The Trail?

Vulcanizing Shop On The Trail?

The Reason Why There Is A Vulcanizing Shop!

The Reason Why There Is A Vulcanizing Shop!

Hanging Bridges Along Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

One Of The Hanging Bridges Along Salcedo-Gregorio Del Pilar Road

Afternoon Snacks Before Reaching My Base Of Operations

Afternoon Snacks Before Reaching Back To My Base Of Operations

Muddy Trail During The Rainy Season

Muddy Trail During The Rainy Season

To be continued.





General Aguinaldo Trail #2: My Thoughts & Plans

1 09 2014

My Thoughts & Plans On The General Aguinaldo Trail

As I am trying to re-trace the route that General Emilio Aguinaldo and his entourage took in his journey to avoid being captured by the American Forces during the Filipino-American War/Insurrection War in 1898-1902, from Candon, Ilocos Sur to Palanan, Isabela, the following thoughts played into my mind.

More or less, these thoughts will be implemented in the events that I would conduct and share to interested persons or groups who would like also to experience what our forefathers have trekked in this historic route.

1. The General Aguinaldo Trail is a HIKING destination. Going through what General Aguinaldo and his entourage had taken almost 115 years ago in five months and 18 days with a perceived armed enemy on their tail is beyond comparison to what the present day hiker would do along this route. There NO need for a hiker to be fast and come up with a new hiking record to travel on foot along the said route. However, anybody can do this kind of risk on their own.

2. A hiker can be on self-support, carry his/her own tent, sleeping bag, and his food provision. A hiker can take advantage of the Barangay Halls or Village Centers along the route or residences of the locals in the area as their resting places. There are also convenience stores and eateries along the route as most of the parts of the road are being used for commerce and visitors.

3. The route is no longer pure trail or dirt road. Some parts of the original Aguinaldo Trail are now paved where transport system is well established. Commercial transport as well as private vehicles can now travel along this route. However, the challenge on the elevation gain and loss is still there.

4. Honor System is encouraged to all the hikers from the start up to the finish.

5. Patterned after the famous trails like, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Continental Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail and other famous trail systems in the world, an Association will manage the entry and processing of each hiker that will pass through the route. Actually, I have created “The General Aguinaldo Trail Association, Inc.” and have it registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission as the sole association that will process interested hikers to this route.

6. Registration to Hike on this trail will be for “Thru-Hikers” Only. “Thru-Hikers” are those hikers who will stay along the route from start up to the finish or until they reach the final destination. If a hiker decides to take a break or rest in Baguio City or Manila or in his/her place of residence and then proceed back to where he/she stopped to continue the hike, this is NOT considered as “thru-hiking”. A hiker is considered DNF once he/she leaves the trail beyond the radius of 10 kilometers. It should be NOTED that there is only ONE Direction in “thru-hiking” this route—from Candon, Ilocos Sur to Palanan, Isabela. If a hiker decides to hike a section of the route, then there is NO need to register.

7. Registration to hike along the General Aguinaldo Trail will be On Line through my blogsite at http://www.baldrunner.com and/or through the General Aguialdo Trail Group Page on Facebook. This system/ arrangement is temporary while a dedicated Website for the General Aguinaldo Trail Association, Inc. is being constructed.

8. A corresponding registration/processing fee will be paid by each hiker (officially registered) which will cover the following:

a)  Passport and Map/Directions of Route

b)  Commemorative Shirt (Short-Sleeved)

c)  Finisher’s Medal

d)  Finisher’s Certificate

e)  Finisher’s Shirt (Long-Sleeved, Dri-Fit)

f)  Donation for the Establishment of Permanent Markers along the route.

g)  Coordination Fee with the LGUs

h)  Website’s (General Aguinaldo Trail Association, Inc.) Maintenance

i)  Postage/Shipping Charges (For the Finisher’s Medal, Finisher’s Shirt and Finisher’s Certificate)

9. The details of my thoughts and plans will be duly coordinated with the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation and Communication, and the LGUs (Provincial, City and Municipal Levels)

10. Passport must be duly marked and stamped by the Municipal Tourism Officer or Philippine National Police in the Municipality with Signature of the Person On Duty with the appropriate Time & Date of Check-In in the stated office/s.

11. The following trail/route marker will be seen along the way to guide the hikers:

Route Marker

Route Marker

12. There is a possibility that some portions of the route will be used for ultra running events in the future. Details of these events will be announced through this blog or on Facebook.

13. Hopefully, the General Aguinaldo Historic Trail will be open for “official registered hikers” by January 1, 2015. This will make the “General Aguinaldo Historic Trail” as the FIRST Thru-Hiking Destination In The Country!








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