Monday, January 25, 2016

Mounting Hopes!

I have not been posting for a while again, but this time it is not busy schedule. My immune system has suffered a lot lately that i was absent for a whole week. My respiratory infection started on Sunday night, with fever for 4 consecutive days. I've been to the doctor on Monday, gave me inhaler and antihistamines for asthma, but forgot to give something for fever. He didn't commence taking antibiotic until there is infection, which followed on the next day, Tuesday. I don't know what triggers the attack, maybe the mucus from the infection triggers allergic reaction, my guess only. Every night i feel like bringing myself to the ER, but when reality of self confinement dawn on me, i restrained myself more. I will be alone in the hospital, can't even have someone to buy me food or water, or get what i want from outside. So i decided to just be patient, fever will go eventually, i thought. And it did after 4 days and my self medication of more paracetamol.

Friday, i went to the same doctor again, who gave me another steroid and phlegm loosening chemical, recommended that i see ENT Dr, who good naturedly discussed many things more than the original pulmonology doctor. The ENT doctor opted not to give me more medicines, thanks God for that. He told me it will be the cough, among all the symptoms, which will leave the last.

Today, Monday, i went to the office with wrong uniform. It seems like my system and my consciousness has long been wired to myself that other things outside my home-sick routine are already forgotten. I wonder if i still know how to blog.  I will try!

 hoya flower buds

another hoya buds

pollens to be flown for fertilization to become new seeds

sunrise outside my window in the province

 another sunrise at home in the province

I am starting to claim back my old routines, it seems like from already a very long time. Never mind, i still remember very fondly the comments from my loyal blogging friends who never fail to visit and give me good lifts. Happy New Life my friends.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Endings and Beginnings

My title was not spur of the moment as i normally do. Honestly, i had difficulty making a title because it is New Year, but my plants are starting to dwindle at the ends of their lives. Our circumstances are like that here in January. The start of the year is not synchronous with the climate or weather. We are at the end of the rainy season, the plants are maturing and not as beautiful as in their prime. We are also supposed to be at the coldest temperatures, courtesy of the cold winds from Siberia and China in the north. However, the temperatures are not like it used to be, not the cold we anticipated, because climate has changed and we are now almost at 30C. We feel like the dry season is starting, and the weather bureau promises an El Nino year, a long dry season for us. I pity our plants, they will suffer drought, heat and extreme death. OMG, double death for them. At least we can stay indoors in airconditioned rooms, but our plants are left there outside to die.

So i tried my best to document whatever is there in the garden, not as lovely, but at least there are colors despite the chaotic growth.

 Left and Bottom: Clerodendrum smithianum or light bulbs Clerodendrum  and Impatiens balsamina at the right.

Left: Justicia plant;  Right: Asystasia intrusa 

 Chrysanthemums being photoperiodic responds very well with the longer nights. A nice spray of yellow flowers cover mother's bamboo fences.

 ...and the bees are happy with the yellow flowers too!

 some red Pentas lanceolata are real lovely despite the struggling growth

 This was planted by my mother from a cousin's garden. The problem or maybe advantage of my mother's habit of inserting some plant tops to the soil, is that they normally grow. She forgot all about them and just realized they are there when the flowers emerged from the thicket. 

 Alternanthera, not a flower but a very lovely addition to a drab fully green growth

 Eucharis grandiflora blooming nicely. They need some partial shade so i planted them under the hoya plants. With that arrangement they also receive the water drips from the hoyas, and they seem to be happy in this arrangement.

A purple Vanda hybrid also emerged from the chaotic growth of so many green stems intertwining with themselves. Neglect and inattention didn't deter it to produce a very lovely purple inflorescence. This is just a remnant of the orchid collections i have before, which mostly succumbed to pests and death. This one is surely a survivor.

 Hoya halconensis showing promise, it has been aborting its buds for several times already, unfortunately after a week they aborted too. 

...while another umbel of Hoya halconensis continue to open at least 4 flowers, leftover from an insect attack. This is the first time i saw them bloom, i am so glad.

another first time promise from Hoya valmayoriana after 2 years from planting. I hope it opens during the holidays, however i left on a Sunday and it was still in tight buds. I was only able to see these 2 flowers below, at least i saw them in full splendor.

Then my sister sent me through FB a celfone shot of the umbel i have been waiting so much. The color was not so nice, but at least it provided me an idea of a whole H valmayoriana umbel in bloom.

Hoya buotii is not in the best of growth, so was able to give me only 2 flowers. I have some problems with its media, need to replace it sometime.

 Lastly, Hoya diversifolia never failed to please me. The umbels are big with beautiful blooms, and a lot of them bloomed at the same time. It was really a fiesta week for H diversifolia. 

They are happily blooming on  the lanzones tree canopy, all at the same time, continuously too. 

Look at them, aren't they lovely and looking great? The only problem i encountered here is that i need to be on the roof to get an eye level view of the flowers. It is a bit difficult going to and walking on the rooftop, however i managed and got excited doing so! So now, the wonder of growing hoyas is not only the flowers and the photography, but also walking on the rooftop. Sigh! 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mt Gulugod Baboy Revisit

Mt Gulugod Baboy, Mabini, Batangas is a small to medium size mountain that is only 525 masl, according to some mountaineer's posts. It is one of the 3 peaks in our area's mountain range, but Mt Gulugod Baboy stands out as its common name. It is the Tagalog term for "pig spine", specially when viewed from the eastern section approach from Malimatoc I. I have long been climbing it in the past from the same direction, which was a steep incline from the foot of the mountain. Last December before the year ends my sisters and niece decided to climb again, because it would be colder this time, the most convenient time to go there. Moreover, my sister already based in Auckland, NZ wants to climb it again. You might ask why i go there often. Literally, it is in my a "bit wide backyard"!

I have done a few climbs there in one year a few years back to compare the differences in vegetation, environmental conditions. Every climb is unique in some ways, and i have documented them in some previous posts in my other blog. This time i didn't expect that it will present to me a personality i still haven't encountered yet. It never fails to amaze me, and sustain my enthusiasm!

One of the differences is that a concrete road now directly stops past the small village, at the midsection between Gulugod Baboy and Pinagbanderahan. These are the 2 peaks which are easily reached. The 3rd peak is Tore, which is a bit far to the Southwest and more difficult, not even the cattle raisers go there on purpose. In the past we directly climb at the East side of Gulugod Baboy through some shortcut paths paved by the cattle owners.  

 view to the NE shows as far as Mt Maculot, Calaca, Batangas

We left at 6:30 am and were already there after 20 min, via a rented tricycle. My niece and her mother followed later on foot because my sister still cooked some snacks for us.

Climbing an inclined road past the village shows this Pinagbanderahan Peak to the right. A little lookout and leveled ground was constructed for ease to parking vehicles. At the moment, cows are parking themselves there. To tell you frankly, i haven't been to the top of this peak, this time we attempted to, but the cows don't leave the path deterring us to continue.

 A 360-degree view provides a lovely geographic indication of landmarks as far as Mindoro, to Laguna, and Cavite. Top photo shows a part of Balayan Bay, where the Mabini Marine Sanctuary, scuba diving and the Windsurfing sites were located.

 This is the Pig Spine, viewed from the east side but at a different angle. The actual Pig Spine or Gulugud Baboy has been shown nicely in one of my previous posts. Can you see the cow at the top left side of the photo?

 This is the new path to Gulugod Baboy Peak from the end of the new road, as well as from hiking through Philpan at the West of the mountain. My other sister is the small figure on top, she was so intent in going there first because she hasn't been here all her life.

 At about 8:30am the fogs arrived, and it was really cold. We were prepared with sweaters and hats. Only my sister, who is comfortable with winter, was in short pants. The peak at the horizon is Tore or tower.

 Fogs came in dense as to just give us a 5 meter radius visibility. We were having fun and joked that we might not be able to leave if the fog continues to descend thicker.

 This is the actual Gulugod Baboy or pig spine, however the fog didn't allow us to see it clearly.

An old photo in 2010 during the dry season shows the "pig spine" incline. I normally came here with my nephew, that time was only a school boy, now he is already in college. The above is the normal picture when grasses are almost totally scorched during the peak of the dry season.

 Only a few trees are growing because cows graze the land, and trample on new saplings.

 We are already on our way back from Gulugod Baboy this time, traversing the somewhat wide divide between the two peaks.

 Another small promontory where we took turns in taking photos and being models.

 At 10:00am when we were already back near the road, the fogs already dispersed, giving us a lovely blue sky.

 To the SW we can now see as far as the Maricaban Islands, Isla Sombrero, and blue silhouette of Mindoro island.

This is a photo taken in 2010 during the dry season, through the East view showing Mabini Town proper, on the way to Bauan to San Pascual and Batangas City, almost following the seashore. The Batangas City International Pier is also at the horizon, at the other side of Batangas Bay. That is the route to Mindoro and Romblon.

This is the village in Bagalangit, Mabini, Batangas, where many resorts are also located. There are also boats that bring tourists to the islands. Philpan Crossing where the hikers start is also below this area. This hike route takes 1.5 to 2 hrs depending on capacity of hikers. The route via Malimatoc I, at the east side of the peninsula, where we are located, needs only 10-20 min hike because vehicles stop just at the foot of the 2 peaks.

This climb didn't disappoint us, as i experienced another personality of the mountains. It is nice if you go there early or when tourists are not plenty. Being from the nearby area, we know when people go there in droves, just like during Holy Week or weekends during the dry season. It is so full of hikers and campers during those time. So when the temperatures are cold and visibility is not very good, it is the time for us to climb, so we can be on our own. And we did.

Route Options:
1. via Anilao route thru Philpan Crossing- around 2 hrs hike depending on capacity of hikers
2. via Gasang-Malimatoc I route - tricycles from Gasang can bring you already there, only a few meters to the peak of both Pinagbanderahan and Gulugod Baboy, hike of maybe 5min to the peaks.

Post Script: Due to some messages asking me the details of this Route 2, i am posting this reply. From Batangas City Grand Terminal:
a) take a jeep to Mabini, get off at Palengke or in front of Plaza, then another jeep to Gasang, tricycles will bring you to the mountain, or
b) take a jeep to Batangas City (Balete-Batangas jeep), get off at Diversion Crossing before reaching the City, and wait for a jeep to Gasang.

Note: These 2 routes separate in Mabini Crossing, near Poblacion. To the right is route 1, while to the left passing by Mabini Plaza is route 2.

My Previous Posts of Mt Gulugod Baboy:
 Dry Season Scenes
Gulugod Baboy with the Islands
Grasses of Mt Gulugod Baboy
Mountain in my Backyard
Golden Love Grass in Gulugod Baboy

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Wild Flowers at the Foot of Mt Gulugod Baboy

I just realized i have not been blogging the whole Christmas Holidays. It is not because i did not want to but our internet connection in the province is too weak, besides it seems work in the province while you are supposed to be on vacation is real endless. One work pile on top of another. After finishing one, there is again another which you have been thinking to do for so many months. And of course, my camera hasn't been working too. Only my hoyas get more of my attention. They are seemingly in the downside, flowers are very seldom seen these colder months, so my camera is resting too, also on holidays.

My sisters and niece suddenly wished to climb our backyard mountain, Mt Gulugod Baboy, Mabini, Batangas. Imagine, one of my sisters hasn't been there! So that night we arranged for a tricycle which now can bring people near the peak. A couple of years ago, it was still a longer hike of about 30-40 minutes from the end of the road. It is now friendly to us who are not as agile as we used to be. It now takes only about 10 min hike to the top, following a different path than we used to. (I will have a separate post about this climb). On the way home from the mountain, it was already an easy downward walk, tricycles not needed anymore. 

 Mt Gulugod Baboy (Pig Spine), viewed from the west approach is not as tall as from the East. But it is more friendly at this side. Those two figures are my 2 sisters, and i always lag behind because of so many photo subjects on the way.

It is usually foggy in the early mornings during these colder months, today the fog disappeared at 10:00 am, when we set to leave. Cows are tethered in these areas, as grasses are plenty this time.

Roadsides are teeming with these white daisy-like flowers with golden centers. Bees and butterflies are plenty too.

close-up of the daisy-like flowers, ID i still dont know

This white flowers are also plenty, becoming more like bushes

They are loved by butterflies and bees but not by animals

Neptis mindorana ilocana

a grove of blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Catopsilia pyranthe pyranthe

Those spikes are lovely when still green, but eventually they turn brown during the dry season, when fruits dehisce and conquer other land patches.

 zinnia  that might have attached to some hikers shoes, eventually finding their lives here

 This celosia has very minute seeds, so easy to be carried elsewhere, no wonder they 
find habitat at the foot of the mountain

This Impatiens balsamina is also a domesticated flower, but somewhat invasive with their small seeds. We don't have this in our garden, so my sisters gather some mature pods for home. We only have the single petaled violet and white at home. Next year this pink will also be seen with them.