Category Archives: Adventure Sports

Paul Walker, extreme sports fan

jiu-jitsu-portugal-paul-walkerWalker (center) with his MMA buddies

“My motto is, you have to get in a sport a day. Playing a little basketball, volleyball, going out surfing, skating, whatever it is. It’s the best way to live.”

Paul William Walker IV said those words. He was a race car driver. An actor of over two dozen films. He surfed. Weight-lifted. Was on the cover, with chiseled abs like Pacquiao’s, of Men’s Health magazine. He was the father to 15-year-old Meadow. And, like many of us, he loved and played sports.

Sadly, the world mourns his shocking death. To us Filipinos, his death is even more personal. Just moments before his life ended, he did charity work. He helped raise funds for the typhoon victims of Yolanda.

We all know Paul Walker as the blue-eyed star of the Fast and Furious series. But he has two other movies that our family particularly like: Eight Below and Into The Blue.

Based on a true story of an expedition group that left a pack of dogs in the polar base because of a heavy snow storm, Eight Below is an inspiring and moving film.

With Into The Blue, he starred alongside Jessica Alba in a sport that he loves most: surfing. He started in high school (California) and never stopped hitting the beach. “It keeps things grounded for me,” he said of surfing. “It’s where I came from, and it’s who I am. I sometimes struggle, because my job is like the antithesis of what surfing is all about. Surfing’s simple. It’s real.”

Next to car racing, the sport Paul Walker enjoyed most was mixed martial arts. He was a huge UFC fan. In an interview a few years back, he said, “I just thought, wow this is a really cool sport. This is something I’d like to do.”

He enrolled in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He had a brown belt under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller in California.

Ronn Shiraki, who owns an MMA gym in Honolulu, recalls a time when Walker called him seven years ago wanting private lessons in Hawaii. The caller simply said he was “Paul” and Shiraki shrugged him off because he was busy with other clients. Weeks later, he found out the caller was Paul Walker. Of the man he’d become very good friends with later, Shiraki said of Walker: “If he wasn’t an actor, he’d probably be very, very good. He would probably be competing in the sport at a very high level.”

Of surfing and MMA, here’s a Men’s Health article entitled “How Paul Walker Got Those Abs.” Written by Daniel Duane, it’s dated Sept. 2005: “Nowadays, the only formal fitness training Walker does is martial arts, which strips unnecessary bulk off his frame while building his speed, balance, flexibility, and coordination. He starts every day with 2 hours of Brazilian jujitsu at a studio near his modest Santa Barbara home, then follows up with an hour of Muay Thai kickboxing. After that, it’s all about the water: ‘If there’s any surf, any fishing, I’ll whip out in the boat.’ That would be the fast rigid-inflatable that allows Walker to rip across to the Channel Islands and catch a few waves, maybe spear a calico bass for dinner, then have a buddy drive while he surfs the boat wake all the way home. And if he’s still itching for a good time after all that, he and some friends might do a few downhill skateboard runs on a quiet canyon road, or take his Nissan Skyline (0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds) to the racetrack.”

Walker also snow-boarded, counting his fall when he tore a tricep and shattered an elbow as one of his worst accidents. Still, he said, “That was not fun. That one hurt. But I’m not giving up extreme sports because I love the adrenaline rush.”

When asked if he was ever scared, he replied, “I’m not afraid of anything. That’s just the way I am. That’s the way my grandfather was. He used to race cars and he had the first 160-mile-per-hour Ford Falcon in the San Fernando valley. And my dad was a two-time Golden Gloves winner, and now he’s into downhill mountain biking and white water rafting. I guess you could say I come from a family of thrill seekers.”

He’ll be missed. And may his motto resonate with all of us: “Get in a sport a day… it’s the best way to live.”

Ramon Magsaysay Trek

Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan, one of the wittiest and funniest men you’ll meet on this island, is once again at the helm of a noble project: the Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ’10. Held in commemoration of the 53rd death anniversary of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay, this annual climb runs from March 20 to 21 in Dave’s bailiwick called Balamban.

Paghandum ni Magsaysay Annual Adventure Trek ’10, 53rd Annual Commemoration of the Death of President Ramon Magsaysay, March 20-21, 2010, Mt. Manunggal, Barangay Magsaysay, Balamban, Cebu

The Annual Commemoration is actually on March 17.  A simple wreath laying rite will be held in the crash site at 9:00 in the morning.

On March 20,  Saturday, the weekend of festivities will kick off with the 5th Annual Paghandum ni Magsaysay (PNM) Adventure Race.  This is a climbathon open to professional runners, weekend warriors, and locals.  The race starts at the Welcome Arch of the Municipality of Balamban at the Transcentral Highway all the way to the crash site in Mt. Manunggal.  There is also a Women’s category.  The route is 17km (13Km for the Executive, Local, and Women categories) of partly concrete road, dirt road and mountain trails.

In the evening is the San Miguel Beer Night.  A concert by various bands will be held in the campsite.  Trekkers can have the chance to party with fellow mountaineers.  Food and beverage stalls are situated all around.

On March 21, Sunday, the 7th Annual PNM Mountain Bike Challenge commences from Poblacion in Balamban with the finish line, likewise at the campsite in Mt. Manunggal.

The campsite has comfort room facilities and is fully secured by the local PNP.  An ambulance and medic team is on standby 24/7.

Balamban dumptrucks will be picking up trekkers as early as 5Am in JY square in Cebu City.  There will also be a pickup point in Balamban for local trekkers.  These same dumptrucks will be ferrying trekkers on Sunday back to Cebu City and Balamban.

Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ‘09
53rd Death Anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay Sr.

The aim of this event is to showcase the beauty and the eco-tourism potential of Mt. Manunggal and its environs.  Before, it was just the hardcore mountaineers who can get to this place and set up camp.  Over the years, an access road has been laid out and comfort room facilities added, more and more weekend warriors or families who just want to go on a picnic have started trickling in.

Through all these events that are lined up for the commemoration of the death of a beloved president year in and out, we may be able to put Manunggal in the map of must see destinations for foreign and local tourists alike in Cebu.  This could help out in both ways:  more economic activity in the area, and more consciousness on environmental issues for locals as they would tend to take care of their resources more to keep tourists coming in.

Nobody really knows how this adventure trek started.  Some say, it was the mountaineers who like spending their March 17 weekends atop Mt. Manunggal and integrate themselves with the locals.  Some say it was the University of San Jose Recoletos volunteers who started some outreach programs (they even constructed a chapel near the monument) —and continues to do so— since several years ago.

One thing definite is, this all started with a mountain, which happened to embrace a great man in his death.  It is ironic, that with Magsaysay’s death, a new life is born.  A new life for the constituents of Barangay Gaas and Manunggal.

That is our goal and our promise.

Tonio Aboitiz asks: Swim 6.4 kms.


Mention the name “Marathon” and what definition comes to mind? Long-distance road-running that stretches as far as 42 kms., right? Right. Well, there’s another type of marathon that you probably haven’t heard of. This time, it’s not on the asphalted road—but on this vast God-given resource that occupies 71 percent of the earth’s surface: Water.

“Open sea marathon” is its name and, in our country of 7,107 islands, it’s the only event that exists—and it’s right here in Cebu.

Jose Antonio Aboitiz, a member of Cebu’s most respected business family, started this project last year. The 2nd Olango Challenge, it’s called, and yes, at first thought, it’s an intimidating mission: to swim, amidst the open waters along Mactan, the distance of 6,400 meters. Continue reading Tonio Aboitiz asks: Swim 6.4 kms.

Whitewater Rafting: 12 tips to enjoy the trek

Summer of two years ago, Jasmin, Jana and I hopped to Cagayan de Oro and rode the one sport where you paddle, swim, walk under a cave, brave the turbulent waters and, after five hot and wet hours, emerge all-smiling. It was an excursion to remember; an adventure to thrill your memories. Here are 12 suggestions for those planning the CDO junket….

From left: Ronnie Medalle, John Pages, Jingle Polotan, Jana Pages, Santi Medalle, Jasmin Pages, Jourdan Polotan and Stephanie Medalle

1. Relax. When you first board the red inflatable raft and stare ahead at the winding river littered with boulders and strong current, you feel intimidated. You’re anxious. Jittery. In my case, bringing along my eight-year-old daughter was a risk. Is the ride safe? For children? Yes. Choosing, the Level 1 (beginner’s) rapids, the family enjoyed. Again, the word to remember: Relax. Continue reading Whitewater Rafting: 12 tips to enjoy the trek

White-Water Rafting in CDO

Here’s a good choice for a summer vacation…..

For four hours with friends and family, it’s the perfect way to bond. If you want your mind nervous and your heart pumping 170 beats per 60 seconds, traverse through its winding, rough waters. Searching for an experience this April and May that you won’t forget in 25 years? Hop on that inflatable raft, paddle, and ride this roller-coaster that’s named the most popular tourist attraction in Cagayan De Oro City.

White-Water Rafting, it’s called and, among our 7,107 islands, the best spot to try this adventure is in CDO. From Cebu, you take the 8 p.m. boat, close your eyes and, when you awake at 5 a.m., you’ve docked. Or, with Cebu Pacific offering P88 flights, that’s an even quicker way to land in one of Mindanao’s most progressive cities. Continue reading White-Water Rafting in CDO

Trekking the historical mountain named Manunggal

On March 16, 1957, the 3rd President of the Republic of the Philippines—Ramon Magsaysay—arrived in Cebu for speaking engagements at three schools: USC, SWU and UV. Later that evening, he attended a party hosted by Cebu City Mayor Sergio Osmeña, Jr.

By 1 a.m. and in the blackness of the Cebu night, Pres. Magsaysay boarded a Douglas C-47 plane named “Mt. Pinatubo” at the Lahug Airport. An estimated 40 minutes later, as the plane hovered near the mountains of Balamban, the aircraft—carrying our president and 25 others—met a tragic accident on the slopes of Mt. Manunggal.

This Saturday, March 14, 2009—or 52 years to that fateful week—an event in Balamban to commemorate his death—and his life—will be realized. “Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ’09,” it’s named, and spearheading the project is Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan. Continue reading Trekking the historical mountain named Manunggal

Boracay: The Perfect Mix of Sun, Sand and Sports

Since summer is near (or has, in fact, because of the HOT weather, arrived), here’s an article I wrote in May 2007 about one of the world’s best beaches….

It was 23 years ago when my feet first touched the powder that sprinkled on this island. Then, there was no electricity. No rock bands rocked your sleep until 3:17 a.m. No Greek or Indian or Portuguese cuisine tempted your tongue. No 18-hole golf course chased down the white ball into a six-inch-hole like Fairways and Bluewater. No Flying Fish or Banana Boat or Yamaha jet-skis floated on the slippery seas. Boracay, in those 1980s and echoed by Madonna, was “Like A Virgin.”

Last week, after my 10th or so visit, my feet once more touched the powder. I despised it. You know what I hated the most? The part when, after five days and nights stranded there, your boat leaves the paradise to head back home.

I hate leaving Boracay! To my family-threesome—my wife Jasmin and daughter Jana included—there’s no other place in our archipelago that we’d rather vacation than this island strip off Panay the world calls “One of the Best Beaches in the World.” Continue reading Boracay: The Perfect Mix of Sun, Sand and Sports

Airsoft: “Getting Hit Is Not An Option”

It’s popular. It’s played at D’ Family Park in Talamban. In the hills of Consolacion. At the back of Tisoy’s Restaurant along A.S. Fortuna. Hundreds polish their rifles and pistols. Hearts pump fast. Bullets riddle the air. Men paint their faces. Women camouflage their bodies.

Airsoft is one very popular sport in Cebu. Yesterday, while working out in the gym, I watched the 6 p.m. news on TV and caught a glimpse of Cebu City Councilor Jack Jakosalem. He was talking about airsoft and an upcoming event at the Gaisano Bowlinplex Parking Lot. Continue reading Airsoft: “Getting Hit Is Not An Option”

Vacation? After summer? Try Cagayan de Oro

I’ve talked about Boracay, posted write-ups, uploaded photos. To me, there’s no place in RP more beautiful than this island off the northern tip of Panay.

But there’s another spot–just as pretty, but more exhilarating–that I suggest you visit. From Cebu, it’s only a “sleep away” when you take Trans-Asia or Cebu Ferries. It’s the biggest city (together with Davao) south of Cebu. It has an SM mall, a LimKetKai mall, huge schools, millions of Bisaya-speaking neighbors, and, perfect for tourists who love adventure, it has WHITE-WATER RAFTING. Continue reading Vacation? After summer? Try Cagayan de Oro

Wall-Climbing in MetroSports

If there’s one activity I recommend all parents convince their children to try, it’s this: Wall-Climbing.

At first, staring high up at the 21-foot climb, your eyes pop wide open, your heart pounds, and your palms sweat. You’re scared. And that’s OK. That’s normal. Aren’t we all scared trying anything for the first time? But after a few horizontal walks up the wall, you gain confidence. You smile. You say to your inner self, “I can do this!” And you do it.

Continue reading Wall-Climbing in MetroSports

White Water Rafting in CDO

This summer, if you’re in search of an adrenaline-rush, take the 8pm Trans-Asia boat and hop on to Cagayan de Oro. It’s called “White-Water Rafting.” Sunday last week, I was with Dr. Ronnie Medalle, his wife Steph and son Santi; Jourdan and Jingle Polotan; and my wife Jasmin and our daughter Jana. For five hours under the sun’s umbrella, we fastened our life-vests, donned helmets, and carried smiles on our faces as we paddled across 13 kms. of water and hurdled 14 rapids. What an adventure!

Cebuano rock-climbers to conquer Thailand

Ten brave hearts will travel via Cebu Pacific on Wednesday night to Singapore. No, they’re not there to shop along Orchard Road or to visit the Night Safari. From Singapore, the 10-person team will next move by land to Krabi, in southern Thailand, then take a bus to the Au Nang port where a “Long Tail Boat” will ship them to a paradise called Tonsai. If you’ve watched the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach,” that’s it. That’s Tonsai.


That’s what will bring Wendel Getubig Jr., Patrick Costelo, Bill Carlo Chiong, Isabel Angela Pascuado, Sunshine Menoza, Crissy Pineda, Gay Nanette Belgira and my first cousin, Giandi Pages, to southern Thailand.

For 15 days, this all-Cebuano group, who call themselves “Team 330 Haiball,” will do a first: become the first-ever group from Cebu to climb the rock formations of Thailand. And here’s the interesting start: for 8 of the 10 members, it’s their first-ever trip outside the country.

Why Thailand? “Thailand is popular for rock climbing,” e-mailed my cousin, Giandi Pages. “Because of the hundreds of developed routes available for beginners to advanced/professional climbers. Plus, the scenery is superb. There are hundred-meter high rock formations with long stretches of white sand beaches at the foot. There are also a number of small rocks protruding from the ocean also developed for climbing. (“Developed,” meaning bolted routes to make it easier and safer for climbers.)

“And, of course, the parties. These parties happen after sunset, when climbers from all over the world gather and share stories. As the saying goes ‘When tired hands meets cold beer’ – by Patrick Costelo.”

It’s taken the team one full year to prepare for Wednesday’s trip. The group is led by it’s top climber, Wendel Getubig, Jr., the leader with 10 years of rock-climbing experience that started with him climbing indoor gyms using the “trad” (traditional) method of temporary anchors (slings, knots, cams).

Having never rock-climbed in my life, I asked Giandi the thrill this sport brings. “Height,” he answered. “The higher it gets, the heavier the heart beats. Also, DANGER. The possibilities of getting injured or even losing one’s life. Could be through equipment failure or pure negligence. Or the possibility of natural rock formations chipping off.”

And how about those sweaty and clammy hands…

“That’s normal,” said Giandi. “That’s why we carry a chalk bag loaded with Magnesium Carbonate powder to absorb sweat.”

Is rock-climbing dangerous? “Yes it is dangerous, but if all the rules and basic precautions are followed, and your equipment is always counter-checked by a fellow climber, then nothing should go wrong.

“The only dangerous part is getting to the first anchor which would be about 3 meters from the ground. It’s dangerous because there is a possibility of falling directly to the ground (termed as “ground fall”). But once you’ve clipped the rope on the first anchor (temporary/permanent), there is less possibility of ground fall since your rope will already be in place.”

In Cebu, the team climbs 3 to 4 times a week indoor, and they spend weekends outdoor, either day trips or overnight trips to Cantabaco, Toledo. “That’s an hour’s drive from the city, and then a beautiful 15 minute hike crossing a mini river and passing thru local villages.”

To Giandi, the most important trait of a good rock-climber is “good vibes… good attitude. Next would be patience since most climbers never achieve what they want on their first few attempts.”

Finally, I asked: What goes through the mind of a rock-climber 45 meters above the ground. Does a climber, even an experienced one, feel scared? Rattled?

“Yes, always scared,” said Giandi. “When climbing, you discover a different side of yourself. You discover your maximum strength—both physical and mental. Its a battle between physical and mental strength… and the mental strength must prevail. It is scary to go up, but at the same time it is also scary to fall! So it’s a mental decision that you HAVE to make.”