Saturday, 28 July 2012

Images of Sadanga

Sadanga municipality in Mountain Province is a land-locked and out-of-the-way town not often visited by tourists. The hamlets and villages comprising the town are situated on hilltops and mountainsides. Sadanga offers ideal destinations for hiking and other mountaineering activities for suitably fit adventurers. There are enough attractions and sight-seeing wonders in these mountains to last a few days or weeks of retreat or natural rejuvenation. On the outskirts of Belwang one can explore Angoten cave with its maze of many openings. This cave is similar to the caves in Sagada. The beautiful Fowa-as Falls with its cool and refreshing mountain springwater flows out all the year round from beneath Angoten cave and the surrounding lush green forests. The cave and falls are on my must-see list for next time.

The wondrous sight of great artworks of rice terraces carved on the steep mountainsides, is worth the trip up along the narrow winding dizzying zigzags to these highlands.

Like in Mainit, there are  natural hot springs in Poblacion and Bekigan that provide a soothing relaxing bath for tired bodies. Sharing in a communal bath is a privilege that local expats look forward to, and that visitors find a very thrilling experience.
Many of the Mainit people have ancestors and relations from these parts. Belwang sits on the eastern slopes of the mountain range between Sadanga and the ricefields of Mainit. Sacasacan is strategically situated on a historic hilltop where the colonial Spaniards constructed a garrison and a watchtower. This same outpost was also utilised by the imperial Americans. This vantage place overlooks Chemang and many of the other villages including Sadanga town proper. Mamadmang na Chemang ad Sacasacan (In Kankanaey madedemang nan Demang).
Back in 2010, I trekked the ridges and peaks ofthe Mainit mountain range on the west of Sadanga municipality. I did some vadfajuy (walkabout) and emerged at the topmost extents of the ricefields of Sacasacan. The year 2010 was an el nino period - it was a burning season, and many ricefields in the Cordillera suffered some form of water shortage or drought. Back then the Sacasacan fields appeared to have come through with little impact from the chagon. This much was evident on that slow painstaking hike, along burnt snaking tracks, from the mountain peaks all the way down to the Chico river at Ampawilen junction. 

Before descending from Sacasacan, I spent some time admiring the magnificent views around Sadanga from the high school hill compound. Recently this school site and others around the Cordillera were used as army outposts with local officials turning a blind eye. Human rights groups and others have correctly, though belatedly, pointed out that military occupation of schools is a violation of international and Philippine national laws.

Just like many of the towns in Mountain Province and the Cordillera, Sadanga municipality is basically a subsistence agricultural area with a range of crops that include heirloom rice, legumes, peanuts, camote, and vegetables as squash. Sugar cane is also grown for sugar and wine used for consumption and rituals. Some freshwater fish is farmed in the rice fields of some barangays.

In April this year, from the north in Kalinga, going southwards to Bontoc, I went through the Sadanga section of the Mountain Province-Kalinga national road. This high way is constructed on the deep ravines and steep mountain slopes.

But even on this twisting road gouged and cut out from the mountain sides, there are great spots for viewing the winding Chico river up to hundreds of metres below.
In olden days, the river teemed with fishlife, clams, watercress and other edible freshwater creatures and plants. Nowadays, with the unabated mining and waste dumping happening upstream, it is advisable not to consume anything from the river.
A few of the villages of Sadanga are along this ‘mountain trail’ national road. The villages of Anabel and Saclit with elevations of around 500m, sit on the high banks of the Chico and have the warmest climate in Sadanga. Saclit is located in the vicinity of the Kalinga provincial boundary, where the first settlers of Anabel also trace their roots from. Betwagan was originally settled by two tribes (Angkallim and Foyyacao) which came together initially for mutual security, but are now harmoniously united - “Finmetwacan”.

Development and infrastructure construction are urgently needed in Sadanga. News reports of the town receiving funding, and improvement of the Betwagan access road, will hopefully boost projects leading to the uplift of communities and lifestyle. Then the ator will again come to life with the sweet beat of the tayegteg, and the graceful sway of the sagney.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

01 July 2012, Gold Coast, Qld. 
Been there and done that!
Photos from the 2012 GCAM. This was my first ever marathon, and to mark it I put together some running quotes starting with this:
“Running is a mental sport...and we're all insane!” 
― An insane person
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it ill be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” 
― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run...
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." 
-John Bingham
“When people ask me why I run, I tell them, there's not really a reason, it's just the adrenalin when you start, and the feeling when you cross that finish line, and know that you are a winner no matter what place you got.” 
― Courtney Parsons

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” 
 Kathrine Switzer, 26.2: Marathon Stories
"Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started."
- Steve Prefontaine
"I believe that every human being has a finite number of heartbeats, and I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises." 
- Neil Armstrong* (I hope this was tongue-in-cheek)
Well, running is not rocket science and we can't all be astronauts, but I think we got the wrong guy to first run on the moon.
Polichay M. Weakarm (cheek-in-tongue).
"Why are all these people following me?"
The casualty ward or recovery area of the 2012 GCAM.
 "My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already." --Milton Berle 
“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” 
 Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man
  "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." 

-Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner
"Anybody running beats anybody walking, and anybody walking beats anybody sitting." 
--Tom Bunk
Well said Tom. Good you're not full of bunkum.
"Like most runners, I always want to do better. I am constantly after myself for eating too much and training too little. I know if I weighed a few pounds less and trained a few hours more, my times would improve. But I find the rewards not quite worth the effort...I am forced, therefore to do the best with what I've got. I must get my speed and distance from the most efficient use of my body."
- George Sheehan
 “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” 
― Haruki MurakamiWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running
“Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day's canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations. When you're angry, a run can be a sharp slap in the face. When happy, a run is your song. And when your running progresses enough to become the chrysalis through which your life is viewed, motivation is almost beside the point. Rather, it's running that motivates you for everything else the day holds.” 
 Dagny Scott Barrios, Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree” 
 Haruki Murakami
“Running isn't a sport for pretty boys...It's about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and the nausea in your gut. It's about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It's about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for.” 
 Paul Maurer, The Gift - A Runner's Story
"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself -- the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us -- that's where it's at."
- Jesse Owens
"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that." 
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder
The Brisbane Parkrun team was there in force. Well done newfarm parkrunners.
Nearing the finish, I must have been getting delirious. I thought I was in Japan. Then I saw the signs...

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
-T. S. Eliot 
"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom..." 
-Sir Roger Bannister
“Running! If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” 
Joyce Carol Oates

  “Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It's precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive--or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.” 

― Haruki Murakami

“If you don't have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain't getting them.” 
 Christopher McDougall

 "I didn't train all that time just to come here and get it over with as fast as I can." 
-John Bingham.
Sad news today 25 August 2012 that Neil Armstrong has passed on. He was an inspiration and hero to generations of young people all around the world, including a young lad from mainit who can only dream of being an astronaut - m polichay. Vale Neil Armstrong.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

In tune in June

Music 2012. June tunes.
MagazinesRolling stone, Uncut Sept 2011, Uncut Oct 2011.
Robert Plant. Band of joy Aided by Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller Darrell Scott.

The Beautiful Music Box. Pop music played to panpipes
Homeward Bound. 21st century troubadours
Paul Kelly. Wanted Man
Kathleen Edwards. Asking for flowers

Emmylou Harris. It is hard to please everyone and Hard bargain received lukewarm reception at best.
Bad Machines is the fourth solo album from Australian country singer / guitarist, Shane Nicholson.
Gympie Music Muster - Celebrating 30 Years . James Blundell, Bill Chambers, Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, Doc Walker, John Williamson, Graeme Connors, Montgomery Gentry.
Ron Sexsmith. Long player late bloomer. The Canadian singer-songwriter achieves cult status success with his new album
Michael Bolton - Gems: The Duets Collection CD. Some good songs including by Dylan and Leonard Cohen
Paul Kelly. When I First Met Your Ma - a compilation featuring Australian musicians, celebrating themes of motherhood, romance and relationships. The collection includes covers and new versions of 16 tracks that pay tribute to the women who inspire, nurture and amaze. 

Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys. Diverse collection from artists as diverse as Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Loudon Wainwright III, Bob Neuwirth, Lucinda Williams, Richard Greene, Martin Carthy, Lou Reed.
Exit Strategy of the Soul. Ron Sexsmith is a well-kept secret, a  proficient artist only enjoyed by a core group of admirers. Ooops, just outed you Ron.
Dolly Parton The Tour Collection (4 CD). Who doesn’t like Dolly? In this Four CD box set, Dolly sings about (1) Love: Love Is Like a Butterfly, I Will Always Love You &c. Then does (2) Covers: Boulder to Birmingham, Once in a Very Blue Moon, Games People Play. Dolly reminisces about her mountains. My Tennessee Mountain Home, before pairing up with other artists on (4) Duets: Do I Ever Cross Your Mind, I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby, Lovesick Blues, I Still Miss Someone.

Glen Campbell. ghost on the canvass.
Written in Chalk is an album by Buddy and Julie Miller, It won numerous awards at the 2009 Americana Music Association awards: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Artist of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year.

Comfort of Strangers is Beth Orton's fourth studio album.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

I'll learn to read soon, in June.

Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia.
John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, he is a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.
I tend to agree with a reviewer who opines that Gray is too pessimistic and negative.

Michio Kaku. Physics of the future.
A review from the NY times: Reading a dull, charmless nonfiction book is almost always better than reading a dull, charmless novel. With a nonfiction book, you might at least learn something.
It’s definitely better than nothing. I am not sure than books on science and technology need to be ‘charming’.
Richard Dawkins. A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love.
This is the first collection of essays from scientist and author Richard Dawkins. Dawkins's essays are lively, fascinating, and based on scientific facts. He delves in many different areas including personal relationships. Dawkins is engaging and keeps reminding his readers to remain curious, ask questions, and to live the examined life.

I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould
Gould’s final collection is a stimulating journey into the wonders of scientific discovery and his most personal. Richard Dawkins (above) shared correspondences with Gould, in the short time leading to the latter’s passing away.
Haruki murakami 1Q84
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but everyone’s not all from the west either. Storytelling is not all about formulaic best-selling western authors, but the readers be the judge. A couple of formulaic best-selling western authors are John Grisham (The Litigators), and Robert Ludlum (The something title). I know what I’d rather have on my shelf.

Hitchens vs Blair debate. Be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world. 
A far-ranging discussion on one of humankind’s most vexing questions, tackled in the 6th semi-annual Munk Debate by two debaters, one the world's most famous recent Roman Catholic convert in the shape of ex-PM Tony Blair and the now departed (cancer) charismatic sceptic Christopher Hitchens. The full debate  is on youtube: Hitchens vs Blair debate.

Why We Run: A Story of Obsession by Robin Harvie is about extreme distance running.
I am not an extremist myself. It's hard enough to be a moderate runner, though I am extremely slow.
Roddy Doyle. A Star Called Henry. First book in a series of three. Meet Henry Smart--adventurer, IRA assassin, and lover. The other two books are Oh, Play That Thing! and The Dead Republic.

Bullfighting, Doyle’s second collection of stories, offers a series of bittersweet takes on men and middle-age, revealing a panorama of Ireland today.

Photography, running, Chomsky and Vidal. Strange bedfellows perhaps, but not so in my book-

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Images of southern Kalinga

The pictures below were taken from the section of the halsema highway between Lubuagan in Kalinga and Sadanga in Mountain Province. This ribbon of highway runs along the steep mountainsides of the Chico River through many of the villages of Tinglayan municipality,

Driving through the winding mountain roads of Kalinga, one never ceases to be amazed by the magnificent views of the river, the deep valleys, the mountain ranges on either side including 'sleeping beauty', the ricefields, the forests, and other sights found only in this region,
The views of the Chico river and 'sleeping beauty' are incomparable, but time has the habit of running out when you need to stop to take a picture. Next time, I will certainly allow for photo-taking.

The Chico River is at the centre of public dispute over waste dumping and small-scale mining upstream in Mountain Province. The river traverses three provinces (Mountain Province, Kalinga, and Cagayan) on its route before emptying into the south china sea. It is a major irrigation source for rice and agriculture, the main livelihood in these provinces. Its headwaters from the south reach into Benguet and Ifugao, and its irrigation waters stretch as far as Isabela. Activities for leisure and tourism, such as white water rafting on its rapids, now relies on the river’s features . Fishing also occurs throughout the river’s length. So this river may be small, but its reach is quite big.
All that is under threat because of the realisation (only now?) of the presence of trace mercury from small-scale mining. Small scale-mining has been going on for decades upstream in the river and its many tributaries, and is the main source of income for many people in Mountain Province and upper Kalinga. The increase in mining activities has resulted in significant levels of mercury in the river’s waters, and now mounting public concern.
It is feared that unregulated small-scale mining will cause loss of productive agricultural lands and adversely impact tourism.
Presently, there is legal action being mooted under waste management and clean water legislation, to stop dumping of waste into the river. I do not know if any action is being contemplated to regulate small-scale mining. The government should test aquatic creatures for the effects of waste dumping and mining. Perhaps the national government should step in before these issues become a source of friction between the affected provinces. There is enough mandate through the relevant government department to take action regarding waste management and mining.

Bangad was holding its annual town fiesta when we drove past.

Carabaos and pigs are oblivious to the festivities, but they were well represented.

Basao, Tinglayan.

The bridges of Basao country.

All along this mountain highway, the courteous thing to do is to give way, as this Tabuk-bound bus pulls over for another vehicle to go through.

A lookout hut on a hill above.
A closer look at the photo below will show a village on that mountain ridge.

Roadworks are a constant feature on the halsema highway, especially in the summer months.

During this hot and normally dry time of year (February to May), mountains near the provincial boundary of Kalinga and Mountain Province in the south of Tinglayan, are mostly fire-burned (scarred ugly brown) and shorn of significant trees and vegetation.
The yearly large-scale burning (burning-off of whole mountains), a senseless practice that's gone on for way too long, is the main culprit in the slope instability, subsidence and erosion that occurs all along this main transport artery in the Cordillera.
Recently NIA planted forest species and fruit-bearing trees to mark world environment month. I do not know their policy about forest fires. But under their mandate to protect forest watershed areas, NIA should act against offenders as well as assisting to mitigate forest fires during the dry seasons.

The cycle of planting any amount of trees, that end up being burned in a forest fire, will not prevent landslips, erosions and the ugly eye-sores that are the burnt-out mountains.
The sweet sounds of ullalim faintly fade into nothingness,
as we approach the border of Tinglayan with Sadanga.
We're leaving Kalinga in the broad daylight,
but the mountains grow dim...