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6 Nuggets from Our Trek to Lake Holon

When it comes to mountaineering, I admit I don't have enough strength to carry a heavily-loaded backpack to the destination. I'm a slow trekker and I know the additional weight will slow me down even more. One time, I stupidly wished we could use trolleys in the mountains, just like the way we transport our luggage at the airport. I was glad, though, the blue fairy wasn't there to grant my wish, or else there wouldn't be porters/guides.

Hiring a porter/guide is like drinking 3-in-1 coffee. You get instant satisfaction because you only have to worry about yourself. The coffee makes your pocket bitter as you have to shell out extra money. The pocket heartbreak, however, can be considered a sweet act because you're somewhat helping the community thrive with income from tourism. Finally, the porter's character is what I consider the creamer. It makes the trek less exhausting and more flavorful -- that is if you are fortunate to hire a local that satisfies your curiosity and entertains you with stories along the way.

During our trek to Lake Holon via Kule and Gabanghagan trail, Dan and I were the last participants to leave the jump off point because the community was running out of porters/guides. As luck would have it, Kuya Johnny hurriedly approached the leader and he was assigned to us. He seemed a kindhearted man by first impression, and he proved to be a gentleman the entire time we trekked to the lake. My inquisitive self was happy with the way he answered my questions (which were sometimes too childish), and shared bits of information about their forest in mixed Cebuano, Ilonggo and T'boli dialect.

Here are some things I learned from him:

T'bolis call this wild, orange plant kafoe. It's the plant deer in the forest eat. Unfortunately, we couldn't see this mammal during the trek because deer hide when people are around, but Kuya said they were just hiding. I was convinced about this because T'bolis have a traditional deerskin drum called tnonggong. Locals must have seen or caught one.

When lunchbox wasn't invented yet, T'bolis used taro leaves for packing their meal. Kuya pointed at a taro plant twice as tall as me and I regret I didn't take a picture of it. Fortunately, Lake Sebu's tourism officers let us experience eating from a taro-packed rice the following day.

During the last visit of the former mayor of T'boli in Brgy. Salacafe, he planted these two tamarind (sampalok) trees. This mayor was tragically shot by his wife inside their own abode. What a sour ending for a love story.

Rumor has it that a lady clad in white dress was seen passing through the trunk of this Balete tree at Julz Rest Place. They say you should not make fun of this tree if you don't want to make your blood run cold. Goosebumps, goosebumps.

One of the products of T'boli, South Cotabato is Manila hemp, thus we saw a number of abaca trees along the trail. For a non-local, it's quite difficult to identify an abaca tree (the one I'm looking at in the picture) because it looks exactly like a banana tree (the one at the right side). Kuya said you can tell the difference by looking at the leaves. Abaca leaves have narrower base.

This is Sitio Nabol. On our trail home, we stopped at one of the thatched houses here for a native coffee break. The community is named after the oak (nabol) trees surrounding the area. Nocturnal wild boars eat the acorns from the trees.

Lake Holon without a doubt is awesome, but I'd look back at our experience with so much value because of how Kuya Johnny gave us a sneak peek of their life. We've met many porters/guides during our travels, and I can say he was one of those who stood out. I decided to write this blog post as my appreciation for his warmth, assistance, and company.

For being the creamer I hoped he would be.


P.S. Special shout-out to Mindanao Tourism Council and TakladTaMig for facilitating this trek. 


  1. wow..interesting one Kit :) I would love to visit the place someday :)

  2. love it.... interesting viewpoint of the climb... enough of the muscle and body aches and pains. :)

    1. Hi Maam Ida! Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you like it. :)

  3. good least another perspective of lake holon and the communities.
    it was nice trekking with you and the group, maam kit.

    1. It was nice meeting you, too, Sir Louie. Hope you'll invite us again in the future. :)

  4. The people, the community and in this case, the local porters, provide a richer narrative to the story. Thanks for reminding me that. :)

    My first time here. Keep on sharing your adventures!

    1. Hi Bren, thanks for dropping by. Will visit yours, too. :)


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