Journal 42: Philippines Day One


First Day in the Philippines:

I’ve chiseled out about two weeks to spend in the Philippines over the New Year holiday, 2011.  During this time, I am interested in seeing two world heritage sites, climbing some mountains, seeing some waterfalls and navigating underground rivers.

This might be an auspicious venture and an unreasonable expectation for Southeast Asia’s black sheep.  But I have been pleasantly surprised at my goal’s relinquished rewards in the past.  So I continue to set my standards high.

Day one sees me landing in Manila.  I landed at about 9:30, well after dark.  And Manila, like many Latin-descended capital cities, it’s not really safe to fumbling the streets late at night.  So I jumped right into a cab and headed for the Stonehouse Hotel, far north of the city.

Strategically, I planned on staying near this location because I wanted to simply leave Manila as soon as possible the next morning.  I had bigger plans in mind.  In fact, my plans stood 1486 meters high as I planned to crest the lower reaches of its summit within the next two days.

The mountain has an amazing recent history.  But first, for reference, I will start on the other side of the world:  In 1980, Mount St. Helens, which sits along the Cascade Range in Washington State, erupted like a nuclear bomb and blew fully grown trees to the ground for hundreds of yards in all directions.  It was so powerful that it recorded a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 5, the most significant in the contiguous 48 states.  It hurled bombs and ash into the air that tormented surrounding states and Canada for months after.


Be sure to check out the Philippines photos at cyleodonnell.com

But when Mt. Pinatubo went of in 1991, it recorded a VEI of 6.  It also coincided with a massive tropical storm that happened to have been battering the coast at the time.  When they met, the water from the heavens created a surge of mud that buried a handful of villages in the mudflow’s wake.  A dozen people died and cleanup and recover took months.  It erupted again two years later.

I didn’t know if I was going to take the longer, more strenuous two-day hike with an overnight, sweating to the temperature-cued crickets choir or if I was going to try and shoot straight through in one day.  But I knew that I was headed for the world’s most recent VEI-6 explosion and currently active volcano, Mount Pinatubo.

But, as is the case in many other times of seeking out the location of desire, the adventure, I was planning, would be in the voyage.

Below is a video of the first part of the trip (be sure to subscribe to my channel). It covers much more than this journal. But since I’ve already made the video, I might as well put part one of the six-part series in here to add some reference:

[Wanna Help?  One way you can help is to please share this video (which can be found on my channel), my photography website and this blog.  Email at least ten of your email contacts who might enjoy it.  Help spread the word so others can enjoy my travels!  If you have any questions, just email me at: cyle@cyleodonnell.com. You can also follow me on facebook, sign up to receive my tweets on Twitter, and see my latest pins on Pinterest!]

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Introducing the Author Spotlight:


Here on my blog, I have started to get some feedback as to the recommendations for what I do in those “down times” of travel.  So when I find myself on a 13-hour plane ride, and nothing out the window creates enough of a canvas on which to paint my wandering thoughts, I generally turn to books (or audio books on the trusty iPod).  So, in the effort of promoting great reads, I will be introducing a new section to the blog: Weekly Author Spotlights.  I will be reading, discussing and posting videos about the books I have read throughout my travels.

Okay, so by this point you’ve probably realized that I have made good on my promise to use more video in my blog.  But I don’t want to overdo it.  So in an effort to ease the video onslaught of late, I have been actively editing lots of text blogs and photos to bring back in.  But there’s lots more going on than just that.  Read below:

Other important updates:  After months of filming for the upcoming film, Travel Geek: Documentary Taiwan, I have finally been able to set aside some time to get the much needed edits done to the the Philippines gallery of photos.  So it might be the end of the week before I am able to get this album published, but it should be up at least by the end of the week.

And speaking of the Philippines; I have edited the first of my journals from this latest trip and will be following this post with the first of what will likely turn out to be about ten pages of amazing reflection from Southeast Asia’s black sheep.  So thanks for sticking with me throughout all the years of posting, and up next is my latest journals from the Philippines.  I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any actual travel journals.  But I have been working on releasing (not one, but) TWO books which should be out soon.  I have been editing heaps of video.  And I have also been compounding more filming on top of that.  So I have been a busy boy.

The gallery of photography from the Philippines will be hosted at cyleodonnell.com.  You can reach the page directly by clicking HERE.  And new Travel Geek short films are coming out all the time.  Just subscribe to my Youtube Channel to receive all the new shorts that I post.

Also, I am getting new subscribers all the time, so I know that some of you have been talking about the page.  THANK YOU!  I really appreciate the support.  But if you could do me one more favor, I’d really appreciate it.  Please email one or more of my email updates to at least ten friends in your email contacts list and ask them to subscribe.  Anyone that you think would be interested in reading about the updates that I post here, they should sign up for a subscription too.  It’s free, and I love getting feedback on what else I should be putting up here on the blog.

[Wanna Help?  One way you can help is to please share this video (which can be found on my channel), my photography website and this blog.  Email at least ten of your email contacts who might enjoy it.  Help spread the word so others can enjoy my travels!  If you have any questions, just email me at: cyle@cyleodonnell.com. You can also follow me on facebook, sign up to receive my tweets on Twitter, and see my latest pins on Pinterest!]