The word-of-the-day is ‘catharsis.’ I’ve always had a fascination with the hills of Cebu. They’re very removed from the city, which in itself is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of even bigger cities like Metro Manila. You encounter nothing but nature and scenes of rural life for miles and miles. The drive to our impromptu destination for today even took us a good thirty minutes from our Lola’s house at the start of the hill.
I’ve hiked up the hills of Busay twice before in my life, and both those hikes did well to purge feelings of loneliness, idleness, and general dreariness to boot. The more recent of these hikes I did all on my own, and it was one of the occasions when I learned firsthand the joys of being by yourself — I walked perhaps the longest distance I’ve ever walked in my life (and it took me an entire afternoon to make the round trip), and when I reached the cemetery at Tops, I felt like I had conquered a giant. Of course, I imagine that this is nothing compared to actual giants. I hear Osmeña Peak is its own experience, and I have yet to go up Sagada and Mt. Pulag in Luzon. But I think hiking up to Tops is something that you can be proud of already: it’s not as taxing as real mountain hiking and when you reach the top, you are rewarded with the panorama of Cebu City, which is beautiful in itself, especially if you are lucky enough to catch fireworks from one part of the city or another.
Today, I didn’t find myself going to Tops however. Some of my cousins from Manila are in town, and I decided that now was a better time than any to go up the hills again, as I promised myself I would over this sembreak. But seeing as we had a car now, I figured that it was worth it to be a little adventurous this time, and I got what I bargained for. We drove as far as we could reach, escaping any sense of urbanity and reaching the threshold of the sky. Our only limit was daylight, and we hoped to catch the sunset on our way back, as if to say goodnight to the good day that we were literally leaving behind.
We made our stop at a familiar site (though I personally wished we went a little further), which was the Adventure Cafe in Balamban, just along the side of the Transcentral Highway. This is super easy to find if you’re driving up the road that goes past Marco Polo Hotel. You literally just go straight for miles and look to your right after you pass the Balamban entry marker. If you happen to be in town and are looking for something that isn’t along the line of clubbing or foodtripping or shopping, you should probably check this place out as they offer alternative activities that you and your friends can easily enjoy. By alternative activities, I mean that you can do rock-climbing, zip-lining over the hills, and what turned out to be my favorite today, plate-tossing. Being a cafe, they serve food and drinks too, which you can munch on in between activities. My sister and I had some baconsilog and coffee, which is good for balancing out the cold weather of the heights. While we ate, some of my cousins went up to the roofdeck, where they have the ziplines set up and they arranged with the management to use it. From where my sister and I sat, this is what it looked like:
As you may or may not see, you sign up for two ziplines, one going to the shed where the Adventure Cafe signage can be seen and another going back to the cafe proper. I myself don’t think I’ll ever hit up the zip-line because somehow only the power of Kryptonian flight has the capacity to shake my fear of heights and high speeds, somehow a lot more than a harness and attendants will ever do. Instead, I took part in the plate-throwing, an activity that encouraged further by the target wall, which has been designed to provoke your anger into Akhillean levels. Allow me to present it:
See what I mean? Thankfully, I had no real demons to exorcise when I threw my plate. Much to the confusion of my cousins, I yelled the words, “This is catharsis!” as I lobbed the thing, and much to my own surprise, I actually hit the center target without intending to do so. Such accuracy, much hit. The plates go for P25 a pop, and it’s okay to not feel bad about breaking those bad boys cause most of them are already chipped or still bearing the remnants of some last meal that deemed it worthy for obliteration. I do maintain however that there are other (better) ways to exercise your demons – reading literature being one of my favorites, duh – but this one does me a good change of pace and scene. Maybe some other time I’ll actually aim for something.
The ride back down at sunset is equally breathtaking. More than an achievement, you will earn a landscape shot worthy of all the likes it will get on Instagram:
In these parts, the clouds caress the curves of the hills, passing over each one before floating into its own reformation after the last hill is done. The wind here is just right against the default heat of the city. Not too cold, but not too bad either. If you happen to find yourself passing a vegetable market stall, treat yourself to some sweet corn, which they sell either cooked or uncooked, depending on where you want to eat it I guess. We were able to get seven ears at three kilos/P40 (someone tell me if this pricing was okay or if we were robbed), but whether we were robbed or not, the corn made up for it. The corn and the company, I guess.
Sometimes, you need days out of the house, out of the city, and generally out of your world. It’s like they say, “Adventure is out there!” Yes, it is, friends. Yes it is.