This was our pig-out day, where we planned to eat all day. Also, it was also a despedida for my cousin who is going abroad to study. First off was breakfast at Banapple’s then head off to Tagaytay and have lunch there.
We did not plan to go on a boat ride or horseback riding, but it proved to be a fun adventure. We had to travel to the foot of the mountain by car to reach the place where we would ride the boat to cross the island. The boat ride wasn’t bumpy at all, it was quite a long ride but the smell of the sea and the breeze of the wind as we sped through was lovely. I haven’t tried horseback riding, and I think we had not much time to be afraid because right after the boat ride, we agreed to ride the horse to reach the crater. They rounded up the horses right away and asked us to ride them. There were no orientations or introductions, just that we boarded and the journey started. I’m a bit afraid then because we were quite high up and the only thing we can hold on to is the one in front of us, no straps or any safety procedures. I conditioned myself to just go through with it and relax my mind, I don’t know why but I suddenly thought about animals being able to sense if a person is tensed so I tried release any fear I had. The horse I’m riding kept on using the side track, where we’re really close to the edge of the cliff, in addition to that, the guide responsible for my horse repeatedly said that there seems to be something wrong with the horse’s feet, and then a strong gust of wind once in a while. I told myself to trust the horse I’m riding because she knows the path. I felt sorry for the horse I’m riding, it must be exhausted and it has to bring us to the top and back down. There were some who overtook us, visitors who rode the horse on their own and it’s a pity how the guides should chase after them. The view on the trek was amazing; I guess that took my mind off the things to worry about. It was like the adventures we see on TV where the heroes ride the horses to journey to another kingdom (even though technically we’re not the ones guiding the horse), you’ll be able to see the other side of the mountain, the green fields and the vast unknown. God’s creations are indeed wonderful and they possess infinite beauty.
When we reached the observation deck overlooking the crater, we thought, what a breathtaking sight! We crossed the island, rode the horse to the top of the crater and many times we asked if we are near our destination and the guide would said, not yet. Later on, they pointed to us over that direction we’re headed. And wow, that’s quite a distance from where we were then. Finally, we arrived and the horse and the guide, who travels on foot, would have the chance to rest while we enjoy the scenic view.
It’s a great tourist spot, if only the government could support it all the way. If not for the investors and the local guides, the place might not be maintained to this day. According to them, they were the ones who made the path to the crater, and investors would let them raise their horses. Currently, they have about 1,000 in their stable. Dad said that in their time, there were only about a hundred of horses. They could develop this site more; encourage tourists to visit this wonderful place. Place signboards and instructions, as well as proper rates so that there won’t be confusion in the costs of the attractions, also so that we could weigh how much the guests could tip the guides as they please.
At the foot of the mountain, they would ask you to buy bottled water because it’s cheaper and said that you would need that. True enough it’s much expensive up there, the bottled drink above costs P50. It’s reasonable because they have to travel a long way to get the drinks across, it’s just that they corner you to buy. They would urge you to let your guide drink, and then ask you if you want a drink too. Before you set off the journey, a man hands out a facial mask, and thinking that we need it and the expense already covered, we took it. Turns out we have to pay afterwards. Some of the guides were telling the man to not give out just like that, because people would think it’s included when it’s not. We actually don’t need it. I suddenly remembered a taxi ride where the driver said that we would take a short-cut (which was passing through the driveway of an inn) and before it was free, but now you have to give a few tip for the guard there. The driver said, “mga Pilipino talaga, lahat nagagawan ng negosyo.” (Filipinos can turn anything into business.) What I can say is, maparaan ang mga Pilipino (Filipinos have a lot of means to earn money.) And regarding the tip, we would gladly give it even when there’s already a fee for the guide. We know how hard the hard the guides work every single day, and it’s commendable what they do for a living, they don’t steal or hurt people just to get by.
Another thing I noticed is that they take note of the nationality of the guests. They got a bit surprised when they found out that we were Filipinos, they thought we were Taiwanese or foreigners. I’m not sure if they preferred if we were visiting from other countries like the Americans or Europeans or they just wanted to know how to treat us based on our origins. On a visit to Korea, when we entered the area to the Bluehouse, the security asked where we’re from (which was protocol according to our tour guide and that if it’s Philippines, it’s no problem; because there are some countries that fall into the category of their list and they had to check the passports to verify.) upon arriving at their souvenirs and supermarket shop, the guy who welcomed us walkie-talkied over and said that we were from Philippines. And when we entered, we were greeted with their sales team and they know how to connect with us. The guides in the horseback riding were very considerate, and would even share stories about the place, but when asked if anyone ever fell off the cliff, it took some time before an answer can be heard. But you’d forget you heard that because you’d immediately be engulfed with the beautiful sight.
There were quite a lot of side offers at the entire crater trip. These aside, it was nice to experience this adventure in our country. I know that there are a lot of great sites here waiting to be explored, though a lot are not fully developed yet; our country is definitely filled with wonders.
Thanks to my cousins for this memorable trip and for the treats.
-August 30, 2011
(*Photos by my brother)