When we were kids, all we wanted in life was to be grown-ups. Back then, the idea of becoming an adult was so alluring. We daydreamed about our ability to make our own decisions and live life on our terms. Ironically, we, years later, realize that those were the best years of our lives. As matter of fact, most of us wish that we could travel back in time to the carefree years of our youth. As kids, we thought adulthood means absolute freedom. But, the reality is, it’s mostly stress and responsibilities. On the bright side, there are still plenty of ways to temporarily escape the pressures and burdens of being an adult. And, one of them is to take a carefree hike with a bunch of free-spirited friends in beautiful places like Panadtaran, San Fernando.
Days before the Panadtaran hike, I was in an utter mess. From ending a 20-year grudge with my father to welcoming a new nephew, that stretch was quite an emotional roller-coaster ride.
Furthermore, the bills and workload were quickly piling up, adding more pressure to my overwhelming adult life. And like most adults, I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately.
In the midst of it all, I wished I was a carefree child again.
I recalled the beautiful summer days when I was playing kites in the open fields of Quiot, Cebu.
I remembered the times when I was climbing trees, hoping to find a fighting spider.
And, how could I forget the carefree moments with my friends playing “pulis dunggab” and “buwan-buwan”?
I was longing for those happy-go-lucky days.
Sadly, time machines and wormholes don’t exist in this universe.
But, there was a way to recreate those feelings – to take an easygoing hike.
Although there are plenty of other ways to cope up with stress, exploration hikes have been my drug of choice.
So, I, together with my OMG family, ventured into Panadtaran, and experienced a fun-filled and laid-back hike in San Fernando’s highlands.
And, along the way, I discovered the perks of taking a carefree hike with my friends. In some ways, our Panadtaran hike gave me flashbacks of my wondrous and gadget-free childhood.
Our Panadtaran adventure
Our Panadtaran adventure started with a meet-up at Cebu City South Bus Terminal. There, I caught up with Beboy, Raul, Dian, Eddy and Aibie.
From the bus terminal, we took a bus ride to the base of our hike – eskina Singli.
Soon after, sir Francis and Nathalia joined the rest of crew, completing the cast for our Panadtaran hike.
Moments later, we said a short prayer before officially kicking off our hike.
And, then, the adventure to Panadtaran began!
Socializing with fun people
I’m rather picky, when it comes to my hiking buddies.
Even in outreach programs, I choose to go with fun and engaging people.
I prefer to be surrounded myself with positive-minded adventurers that I enjoy being around.
Every time I hike, I pick people who make everything more fun and easier, as opposed to making things stressful.
And, just like my childhood days, everyone in our Panadataran hike was bubbly and positive-minded.
On our way up, we talked a lot of fun stuff, from a friend’s romantic misadventures to our future exploration hikes.
Everything felt like the good old days.
And, certainly no stress!
Even though it wasn’t a stroll in the park, everyone was smiling and in high spirits.
Man, I felt like I was a little kid again, exploring our then-lush and peaceful neighborhood with my friends.
Cherishing the small things
As we were hiking up, we saw a variety of gorgeous fauna, including a ton of humungous sunflowers.
Moreover, the overlooking views of San Fernando and Naga City were eye-catching and lovely.
Of course, we paused every time we saw something nice and admirable.
And, all of a sudden, flashes of my wondrous childhood came into mind.
I recalled the days when every simple thing seemed beautiful.
I could still remember fondly how I was amazed by the sweet taste and colors of the Mansanitas (Kerson Fruit).
I had visions of myself holding a wooden stick, imagining I was He-Man – the master of the universe.
I remembered the first time I touched the wonderful Makahiya plant.
Of course, I also remembered the times when my friends and I sucked on the sweet Santan Flower nectars.
Damn, I miss those days when simple things made me smile.
Why can’t we be like that today?
And, thankfully, our hike to Panadtaran allowed me to recreate those long-lost lighthearted feelings.
While these were no jaw-dropping sights, it did put us on a state of pure bliss.
Like kids, we were just enthusiastic and happy to see something beautiful like these.
From this pleasurable vantage point, we walked our way up, to quench our thirst for fun and adventure.
Afterwards, we climbed a hill, to figure out where we’d be going, following our Panadtaran hike.
Once again, we were swept away by the views of ridges and landscapes of San Fernando, Cebu.
Despite the quarry below the ridge, I still found the sight pretty impressive.
Thrilled and pumped up, we went on with our hike, and eventually discovered this admirable spot in Panadtaran.
Channeling our playful side
As always, we took turns posing in front of the camera.
What’s more, we – the boys – had some funny and wacky photos using railings.
In the words of Dian, we were like a bunch of kids playing around.
And, that’s what I really like about this crew.
I can be whatever I want to be.
I can be quirky and childish, and they won’t mind at all.
As a matter of fact, they may be just as weird and crazy as I am.
They echo the type of no-frills friends I had during my younger days.
Just like earlier, these moments gave me flashbacks of my youth.
The games of the streets, the colorful playgrounds and the endless teasing, popped into my mind.
By the way, the photo above has a fairly intriguing script.
And, it has something to do with our buddy’s experience with a campsite near a famed flower farm in Cebu.
But, for our friend’s sake, we’re keeping the story off limits to the public.
For now, though.
And, speaking our group photo, did you notice how colorful our shirts are?
According to Dian, we looked like the colorful quartet from the children’s TV series, Teletubbies.
As far as I’m concerned, though, we looked like a scene from Power Rangers or Batibot.
Even our shirts were nostalgic!
When we were young, we imagined of traveling to places that were taught at school.
We daydreamed of going to Bohol, Baguio, Banaue and other places that were highlighted in our social studies class.
Oftentimes, we found ourselves standing in a mound, imagining we were in Bohol or Mount Apo.
And, it felt just like that, while were savoring the views in Panadtaran.
As much as I hate comparing places, this part of Panadtaran looks quite like Sagbayan or the iconic Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
We were like children awestruck and enthralled by the beauty of a sight that looks like a page from a textbook.
Soon after, we moved on our hike, and passed by a well-known resort in San Fernando – Singli Mountain Resort.
And, guess what?
We caught sight of a place that looks like the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio.
With its towering pine trees and fresh cold mountain air, it feels and looks like the city of Baguio.
After a couple of snaps, we resumed with our hike, passing by Tabionan in San Fernando.
We were looking for a collection of mountains and hills that we saw online from our friends.
We didn’t find it, but there was another surprise waiting for us later that day.
Curiosity of a child
My friends, with their innate curiosity, remind me of some of the children in the 80s and 90s.
They love to learn, with an eagerness to discover and explore the unknown.
Since we had a carefree itinerary for our Panadtaran hike, we did something that we always love doing – get wonderfully lost.
With our hiker’s compass and sense of adventure, we found a lovely-looking hill as we were exploring area.
Like a group of curious children, we gazed at it, and wondered what was on top of the hill.
Does it boast a beautiful overlooking view?
How difficult is the trail to the top?
What does summit look like?
These were just some of the questions that my curious and child-like mind asked.
Enthusiastic and trilled, we climbed that hill, hoping to experience something fascinating.
And, it was totally a fascinating experience.
With steep slopes and grass as tall as 5 feet, it was an incredibly mind-blowing hike up.
And the grass was pretty helpful, as we used them like ropes to get by the steep inclines.
Eventually, we arrived at a tree, where we ate lunch and took a breather.
With our bodies a bit tired, we decided to spend some there, to chill and admire nature’s therapeutic atmosphere.
Time is slow in our youth
When we were kids, the summer breaks seemed to last forever, and the wait for the Christmas felt like an eternity.
But, as we grow older, the clock just seems to tick at a dizzying pace. Today, we are constantly in a mad rush.
And, somehow, hiking with my carefree friends reminds me of those slow-paced days.
Every time I hit the trail, I slow down, pause, and enjoy the moments that will someday disappear.
In the words of Eddie Cantor, “slow down and enjoy life. It’s not the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why”.
And, we did spend some time, just doing nothing under the shady tree.
We interacted with one another, talking about a variety of things, including Raul’s eternal bachelor status.
Some also took a nap or siesta, which is a part of my childhood.
As with most of our hikes, we also soaked up fresh and the stress-relieving mountain air.
Time’s amazingly slow whenever I hike. And, that’s why I’m a little addicted to hiking.
Even in a fast-paced hike, time feels quite long in the mountains.
The adventurous kids of the 80s and 90s
The seed of adventure was planted into my system years ago when I was young.
It’s ingrained in DNA.
There were no computers, gadgets or flashy toys in my youth, meaning we spent most of our time outdoors.
Sure, there were GI Joes and other toys, but we spent a great deal of time exploring our neighborhood.
And sometimes, it got me into trouble (not serious, though).
My adventurous spirit, as a kid, has led me to places that were off limits to the public.
Once, I set foot on a deserted haunted house because of my curiosity and adventurous spirit.
And, I felt that the moment we arrived at the top of the hill.
As we were admiring the views, we saw barbed wires and fences in the area.
In other words, we might have entered a privately owned land.
So, we followed a trail leading to the main road to the other side of the mountain.
And, eventually, we arrived at the main road that leads to a couple of potential exits – Alpaco, Naga and Lintungaban, San Fernando.
It was getting a bit late, so we decided to take the shorter road – Lintungaban, San Fernando.
The lazy and easygoing afternoons
I love those laid-back and relaxing afternoons during my childhood.
Free from the pressure of the everyday adult life, we spent hours outside playing around and savoring the moments, while waiting until the sun sets.
And, my Panadtaran hike gave me a dose of those days.
On our way to our exit (highway), we bumped into a sweet spot where we saw the beautiful ranges of Bungtod Talinis.
We did spend some time there, taking in lovely afternoon ambiance.
It was indeed a blast from the past.
From there, we hiked our way to the main highway, and took a couple of rides to Naga city.
And, though it was a relaxing adventure, we later on realized that it was a 20-kilometer-ish hike.
How to get to Panadtaran:
From Cebu City South Bus Terminal, hop on a bus bound for Carcar or any town in Southern Cebu. Ask the conductor to drop you off at “Iskina Singli”. Upon your arrival, look for “Bering Store”(a sign that you’re on the right path), and start your hike to Panadtaran.
- Fare to San Fernando: PHP 40 each
- Guide fee: NADA
- Tricycle rides to Naga: PHP 15
- Jeepney ride to Basak: PHP 15
- Practice the LEAVE NO TRACE principles.
- Pack at least 2 liters of water.
- Bring trail food/snacks.
- Bring ION drinks like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat.
- Wear trekking shoes or sandals with great traction.
- Pack full-fingered gloves, leggings and arm guards.
I really don’t take life so seriously. Even though I’m in my 30s, I still maintain an element of childishness.
I simply don’t want to lose my inner child.
Believe me, there are qualities that you had as a child that can make your adult life so much easier.
And, through carefree hikes, I can unleash that little one in me, and escape the chaos and madness of being an adult.