Monday, March 10, 2014

4th Annual Kawasaki Road Tour

Our route from the Kawasaki plant in Alabang to The Oriental Hotel in Legaspi City, Albay

It was another successful "roadgasmic" tour (March 7 to 9, 2014) sponsored annually by Kawasaki for the benefit of its Leisure Bike customers (i.e., those who purchased Kawasaki motorcyles with displacements of 250 cc and above). Past destinations included: Lucban, Quezon (2010); Bolinao, Pangasinan (2011): Anilao, Batangas (2012); and Tacloban, Leyte for the 1st National Meet of Kawasaki Leisure Bike Owners, also in 2012. The 2013 annual road tour to Tacloban, Leyte was canceled due to the devastation brought about by Typhoon Yolanda.

This year (2014), we were nearly 120 riders with about 90 riders coming from Luzon and the rest from the Visayas and Mindanao--the highest number of riders (including, for the very first time, three female riders) in a roadgasmic tour to date. Those of us from Metro Manila converged at the Kawasaki plant in Alabang and commenced our trip at the crack of dawn (Friday, March 7). Most of us arrived at our hotel in Legaspi City by nightfall with travel times ranging from 12 to 15 hours, covering a distance of almost 500 kilometers. I rode with fellow Vulcan owners with Manoy leading the pack at a leisurely pace. We were one of the last to arrive but that's OK. We were probably one of the least stressed as well. I had my fill of riding for the day along with a pair of real sore buttocks.

The following morning (Saturday, March 8), we cruised around Mayon Volcano, stopping at the planetarium (see the "A" marker below) about one-third up the peak of Mayon. I have a sneaking suspicion this would be a great site for paragliding and hang gliding with a little incremental investment on a take-off platform by the government and the cooperation of some landowners for several landing sites.

The road around Mayon Volcano

Most of us spent the afternoon resting, still exhausted from the ride of the previous day. A few (like myself) took a dip in the swimming pool on the second floor while enjoying the breathtaking view of Mayon. This was followed by a hearty dinner and an evening of entertainment, graced by the Governor of Albay, Joey Salceda.

Our view from the swimming pool of The Oriental Hotel, Legaspi City

The last day (Sunday, March 9) was the return trip. Given our leisurely pace, our group decided to leave at the crack of dawn, ahead of most of the riders. We wanted to be in the vicinity of Metro Manila before dark. We were at the Calamba exit of SLEX before 5 p.m. I decided to have dinner and to take a dip in one of the hot springs resorts of Pansol--a reinvigorating break that enabled me to enjoy the last leg of my ride home.

Many thanks again to the brilliant marketing team of Kawasaki Leisure Bikes, headed by Inoue San, Teench and Arnel. Their vision of the Philippine Islands as a world-class touring venue for Kawasaki Leisure Bikes will provide much adventure and enjoyment to many boys and girls in the country today and in the years to come!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The True Tales of Pedring Rabino, Part 1

When I was a young boy and I shared the room with my baby sister, Monique, I recall that one of our maids (Leone, who hailed from Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro) was assigned to sleep with us at night. At times, Monique and I had too much energy to fall asleep and we would press Leone to recount the local horror stories of her childhood. Anything that had to do with aswang, manananggal, kapre, tiyanak, duwende etc. would be just fine and, for a brief period in our youth, these would be our bedtime stories.

During my recent visit to Mansalay early this month (February 2014), I came across an entertaining story by the late Fortunato Tolentino, recounted by his own son, who happens to be our farm manager, Ka Porek. Although it is not a horror story, it is in the same tradition as the local folklore of Leone that we enjoyed as kids. This is the first of the many "True Tales of Pedring Rabino". Although Pedring has passed-away, he is quite a legend in Mansalay in light of his anting-anting or agimat, which gave him special powers. I intend to seek and memorialize Pedring's exploits during my visits to Mansalay in the years to come.

The Stranded Six-Wheeler

There was a carpenter by the name of Fortunato Tolentino. He was born and raised in San Isidro, Batangas, where he learned his craft from his father. After the war, when Fortunato was a young man, he decided to explore the opportunities in the neighboring Island of Mindoro. Fortunato initially settled with his wife in, then, the remote town of Naujan and later moved to Roxas, Oriental Mindoro. At that time, Mindoro was filled with virgin forests with settlers few and far between. It was a haven for loggers, who exploited the timber resources with abandon.

Fortunato would usually have to work far from home to support his family. In these instances, he would return home from work once a week at most, usually hitching a ride on one of the six-wheelers hauling timber through the dirt roads of the province.

In one of these trips home from work, the six-wheeler, which was fully loaded with several massive logs, stalled just as it was approaching the peak of a steep hill. According to the driver, if only the truck stopped at the top of the hill, which had level ground, he would probably be able to repair the engine and complete his trip for the day . . . and get Fortunato home to his family.

Just as the driver and Fortunato were lamenting their situation, Pedring Rabino, an acquaintance of Fortunato, approaches them on foot from behind the truck. Pedring soon finds out their predicament and offers to help, much to their disbelief. Nevertheless, Pedring proceeded to take a spool of thread from his pocket, tied one end of the string to the front bumper of the truck and walked towards the top of the hill--while unfurling the thread from the spool.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, Pedring calls out to the driver to steer the truck as he rolls the string onto its spool. And as sure as the light of day, the truck and its trailer with massive logs slowly roll-up to the level ground at the peak of the hill.

Just barely over the shock of what Pedring had done, the driver repaired the engine in relatively short order while Fortunato invited Pedring to come along for the ride to save him the trouble of walking to his destination. Besides, Fortunato had several bottles of coconut wine waiting for him at the stall of Aling Inta at the end of the trip, which he was keen on sharing with Pedring, who had not only accomplished an astonishing feat but also would have brought Fortunato home to his family sooner than later. However, Pedring politely declined as he had another matter to attend to.

And so, the driver started the engine and the six-wheeler continued its journey towards Fortunato's home. After several more hours on the bumpy and dusty provincial road, they finally arrive at the stall of Aling Inta just as the sun was about to set. Much to the surprise of Fortunato, there was Pedring comfortably seated and getting started on his third bottle of coconut wine.

Paragliding in Tandem at Carmona

Just a couple of weeks ago . . . The film clip rolls a few minutes after take-off (when we had gained altitude) up to the point when I assumed the standing position about a minute before landing.

I learned to paraglide with a paramotor (that's an engine with a propeller strapped at my back coupled with a paraglider) about 15 years ago near Torrey Pines, San Diego. I was visiting my eldest sister at Stanford (or maybe attending her MBA graduation) with Mom and my other sisters at that time and I took-off for a few days with the objective of learning the basics and getting airborne on a paramotor. My instructor obliged and my objectives were met within my limited 3-day schedule.

I imported my paramotor and paraglider from Dudek Paragliders, Poland and managed to take this for a spin a few times. However, I was unable to sit properly on the harness each time I was airborne, which resulted in an uncomfortable ride. I concluded that the harness was too small for me (or I was just getting too fat for the harness) or I needed some more training, which was not yet readily available in the Philippines. Further, as my health and athleticism deteriorated in the course of my work, I realized that I could not grow old with this sport. So, I sold the paramotor and kept the wing with the intent of picking-up the sport after I retired from employment--that is, only paragliding without the paramotor.

I have been kiting diligently over the past several weeks under the instructions of Buko, when his schedule permits. I am looking forward to my first solo paragliding flight soon!