June 28, 2017

Traveler's Guide To Tekip Falls In Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet

This is a quick guide for people who want to see Tekip Falls in the town of Bakun in Benguet. Tekip Falls is one of several waterfalls located in Bakun especially within the vicinity of barangay Poblacion. It's one of the most visited falls in the town because it's more picturesque and is much more accessible compared to the other waterfalls in the area.

Just a quick reminder:
If you are thinking of going all the way to Bakun to only see Tekip Falls, I suggest that you widen your itinerary so that you'll get to see more tourist spots in the area. I say this because going to Bakun takes 4 to 7 hours and there's only two buses plying the Poblacion-La Trinidad route. On any given day, one bus leaves La Trinidad en-route to Poblacion while the other one leaves Poblacion en-route to La Trinidad. Both leave between 6:00 am and 8:00 am depending on the number of passengers.

There are no bus trips in the afternoon. That said, your only choice is to stay in Poblacion for the night then catch the bus early in the morning. This is why I'm recommending that you plan your visit to Bakun so that you can spend more time seeing other tourist spots in the town. When we went there on a trip, we set aside three days and two nights. During our stay, we explored Tekip Falls and Pattan Falls and climbed Mt. Kabunyan and Mt. Lubo.

How To Get To Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet
There's a bus that leaves every morning for Poblacion. It's parked at the lot in front of Kenwayne Commercial along Km. 6. It's sandwiched between the Calajo Restaurant and Dap-ayan Restaurant. It leaves for Bakun between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. I highly suggest that you go there as early as 5:30 am to ensure that you are aboard the bus when it leaves. Always remember that it's the only bus that leaves for Poblacion. Bus fare is 185 pesos per passenger. Traveling time can take between 4 to 7 hours. You should take into account your traveling time when planning your itinerary. If you get there early at 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, you can make a quick visit to Tekip Falls since it's only a 30-minute walk away.

Where To Stay In Poblacion, Bakun, Benguet
The old municipal hall is currently being utilized as a base camp for hikers, climbers, and visitors. You can stay there and pay around 80 pesos per head per night. The barangay hall is also being used as a base camp if the old municipal hall is full. But the rate is higher at 150 pesos per head per night. The benefit of staying at the barangay hall is that you can use the kitchen to cook your food. You can use the plates, gas range, and other utensils there. The barangay hall also has a clean bathroom and toiler with a steady supply of fresh water.

Tourist Guide Fee For Tekip Falls
The guide fee is only 300 pesos. A guide can accommodate six individuals which means that you're basically paying 50 pesos each. You also have to pay an environmental fee of 100 pesos per head for the barangay. This is why I suggest that you widen your itinerary so that you can get the most out of your stay in Bakun. As I mentioned earlier, going to Tekip Falls will take you around 30 minutes. You can spend an hour there bathing under the falls and splashing in the pools.

Quick Breakdown Of Budget And Expenses For Tekip Falls
1. bus fare to Poblacion - 185 pesos
2. environmental fee - 100 pesos per head
3. guide fee - 300 pesos
4. accommodation - 80 pesos per head/night at the old municipal hall or 150 pesos per head/night at the barangay hall
5. bus fare back to Baguio City - 185 pesos
6. food expenses and other expenses

Photos from our Tekip Falls trip:

Why Baguio? Allow Me To Count The 13 Reasons Why!

My tenure here in Baguio City was born out of necessity. I wasn't born here. I wasn't raised here. The only reason I packed my bags right out of high school and headed over to this city is to pursue an accounting degree at the Saint Louis University. It's not exactly what I wanted to do but it was necessary. It's the best school in town, that's what my parents said. So off I went. Sixteen years later, I'm still here. The luster and vibrancy of the city may have endured a dent or two during the years but the magic remains intact. It's still the same city I learned to love and admire for nearly two decades.

Most of the people I've met here have come and go. They moved away looking for what they deem as "greener pastures". When they ask me why I choose to stay, I always tell them the same thing: "My green pasture is right here." And if they query me to elaborate, I would rattle off most if not all of the following reasons:

1. I belong here, culturally speaking. One of the great things about Baguio City is that a huge chunk of its population are Igorots like me. That said, I never feel out of place here. Kailyans, kabsats, and padles are everywhere.

2. I like all things cold. I was born and raised in a cold province (Mt. Province). So when I got here in Baguio City, I quickly blended in. I like the cold beer. I like wearing leather jackets. I like putting on those ubiquitous bonnets. I like things cold, really.

3. I feel safer. Baguio City is one of the safest urban centers in the country. That's a fact backed up by statistics. Of course, crimes do happen but these usually occur in hotspots within the city. Avoid these hotspots and you avoid being a victim of a crime.

4. I need a steady supply of pinikpikan and tapuy. This is the Igorot in me talking. Drinking rice wine and eating pinikpikan is a very important aspect of the Cordilleran lifestyle. I want to keep that lifestyle. And the only way to do that is to choose to stay here.

5. I find it easier to talk to people. People here are nice, hospitable, and very accommodating. They are polite and they are more than willing to help you in times of need.

6. I don't like crowds. Thick crowds are a rarity in Baguio City. Crowds in the city only become unmanageable during events and festivals (i.e. Panagbenga Festival, weekend holidays). Other than these times, Baguio is fairly spacious and free from suffocating crowds.

7. I have everything I need. Whether you're looking for the latest Apple gadget or the most recent John Grisham release, Baguio City has you covered.

8. I need less to survive. The cost of living here in Baguio City is much lower compared to other major Philippine cities. Groceries, utilities, and accommodation are much, much cheaper.

9. I want to be near the mountains because I'm an avid hiker. I make it a point to climb at least two mountains every month. I can only achieve this if I'm based in Baguio City which serves as the access point to popular hiking sites in Benguet and Mt. Province.
Daniel Feliciano / The Cordilleran Sun
10. I'm enjoying the resurgence of the city's art community. Visual art is a passion of mine so I love the fact that artists and art enthusiasts in the city are banding together to show off their work. In any given week, there are two or three ongoing art exhibits in the city. Not bad for a small urban center like Baguio.

11. I love the city's population diversity. Baguio City is a melting pot of various cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities. Just take a stroll along Session Road. You'll meet everyone there: Koreans, Middle Easterners, Africans, Papua New Guineans, etc.

12. I like to live in a city that respects its humble beginnings as a natural haven. This means that everything from commercial establishments to residential buildings must have the initiative of developing settings that play very well into Baguio City's status as a mountain city or as a getaway city. Leading this pack of residential developers is Moldex Residences Baguio with its European Alps-inspired buildings. Moldex Residences has come up with concepts and ideas that create harmony between the city's unique beauty and modern design.

13. I feel a certain kind of pride in calling myself a taga-Baguio. I can't quite describe it but there's this almost inherent pride in me when introducing myself to new acquaintances as a taga-Baguio.

In a nutshell, I will always be a taga-Baguio.

February 22, 2017

Netflix Philippines Is Offering Another One-Month Free Trial For Subscribers Who Defaulted On The First Trial

I was among those who first signed up with Netflix when the video-streaming company started offering their services in the Philippines last year. The main reason I joined way back then was because they offered a one-month free trial for new subscribers. Their monthly fee back then was $10 a month. I took advantage of the free trial for new subscribers with the plan of renewing my subscription when the trial expires.

However, when I signed up, I was disappointed with the dearth of movies and shows in their collection. The collection is very limited. There were tons of movies and shows that were available for American subscribers that were not available for subscribers in the Philippines.

I only watched a few movies and series from their service. My free trial period expired without much fanfare. I decided not to continue with my subscription since I didn't see any improvements in their collection.

Fast forward to today (several months later), I received an email from Netflix informing me that they are offering another free trial period for folks like me who defaulted on the first trial. I jumped on the opportunity of course. Signing in, I sighed with relief upon seeing the much-improved inventory of movies, documentaries, and television series. It looks like I might actually keep my subscription this time when the trial period expires.

Good job Netflix. If you want to take advantage of the new free trial, check out your inbox. I assume that Netflix only sends emails to those who are eligible for the new offer.

February 19, 2017

The Cutlass In After Earth Is Probably The Most Dull-Witted Weapon In The History Of Sci-Fi

M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth has a rating of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's all you need to know. It's bad. Really bad. Alynda Wheat of People Magazine summed it up well:"The dialogue is as wooden as the acting, and the plot is just silly. Truly, the only thing the film has going for it are some occasionally cool special effects."

After Earth has tons of silly stuff. I'll forgive them all except for the stupid cutlass. Do they really want me to believe that 1,000 years after the 21st century, man's best defense against gigantic aliens is a freaking cutlass? Yeah, yeah, the weapon has blades on both ends of the handle. That's cool but the fact remains that you have got to be extra stupid to use it as your main weapon against a 20-foot alien monster.

After Earth is devoid of guns. Guns would have been much more effective against the alien monsters. If you watch the movie, the alien monsters actually shoot some kind of bullets from their mouths. That means they can also attack at a distance. And what weapons do the humans have? Cutlasses. Freaking cutlasses. Weapons that you can only use at close quarters.
According to the makers of After Earth: "The cutlass is a Ranger's greatest weapon; an extension of the strength that comes from within. The lightweight, handheld weapon is both versatile and elegant, using hundreds of metal fibers to form numerous weapon configurations from both ends of the handle. Used in attack, self-defense and survival conditions, the Cutlass blends seamlessly into a Ranger's biosuit and can be activated with quick finger inputs on the handle. The C-40 combat model has a total of 22 configurations, including short blade, spear, long, blade, dagger and more."

In short, it's just a giant Swiss Army Knife. A pistol from World War II Germany would have been more effective against the alien monsters.

February 12, 2017

Cinema Sins in Hacksaw Ridge

I finally got to see Mel Gibson’s World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. Overall, I think it’s a great piece of filmmaking. Gibson’s direction is on point. The cinematography is fantastic. The acting is good. Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Rebecca Griffiths, and Hugo Weaving all played their parts well. Even Vince Vaughn, that guy from The Wedding Crashers, did a nice job as a drill sergeant. Hacksaw Ridge is without a doubt one of Gibson’s best films. It’s one of those films that you wouldn’t mind seeing for the second or third time around. It has drama. It has action. It even has bits of well-done comedy.

However, there are scenes in the film that make you scratch your head. Did those soldiers really think that that is a good idea? Launching yourself in the air to kick a grenade back at the enemy. Really? Below are some of the scenes in the film that I found to be logically flawed. These are just the ones that I can remember. I’m sure there are more senseless bits in the film that have escaped my memory.

1. The attack on Hacksaw Ridge
So there’s this really high cliff. Draped over a portion of the cliff wall is a net of ropes. In the movie, this net is what the soldiers use to climb over the cliff and attack the Japanese soldiers camped above. What I found to be mind-boggling about the net is why didn’t the Japanese soldiers cut it down? Why did they let it just hang there when it’s the only way for the American troops to scale the cliff. It’s not that it’s impossible to destroy the net. If you watch the movie until the end, you can see that it wouldn’t have been that hard to destroy the net. Either the Japanese are too stupid or the net is made of indestructible ropes that the Japanese wouldn’t even bother destroying it.

2. Grenade volleyball
There are several scenes in the film wherein the American and Japanese troops play grenade volleyball. A Jap throws a grenade and a soldier from the other side picks it up and throws it back. These are of course possible and no doubt have been done in real wars. But the scene where Desmond Doss (the protagonist in the film) launches himself into the air to kick a grenade back to the enemy was over the top.

3. Holding a rifle is bad but throwing a grenade at the enemy is not so bad
Desmond doesn’t want to hold a rifle because he doesn’t want to take human lives. However, there was this scene where Desmond picks up a grenade thrown at them by the Japanese and lobs it back to the enemy. Isn’t throwing a grenade at the enemy worse than firing a rifle at them?

4. The tunnel scene with Desmond and a wounded Japanese soldier
Desmond ran to a tunnel with Japanese soldiers in pursuit. With his back against a hidden wall in the tunnel, Desmond let a few Japanese soldiers run by. Seconds later, he turns his face and finds himself staring into a wounded Japanese soldier’s face. Why the hell didn’t the Japanese soldier scream to seek help from his comrades who flew by just mere seconds ago?
5. Running away from the Japanese
When a superior of Desmond was shot in both legs, he can’t walk nor run. A swarm of Japanese soldiers are quickly making their way towards the two American soldiers. Desmond places the wounded soldier on top of what looks like a sleeping bag and starts pulling him to safety. All the while, the wounded soldier sits there on the bag shooting at the Japs pursuing them. What doesn’t make sense in this scene is how fast and effortless it seems for Desmond to drag the heavy soldier through all the scattered rocks and debris. It looked like he’s dragging the wounded soldier through a slippery marble floor. The ground there shouldn’t be that smooth after being bombarded for days by American ships docked at the bay.