2014 was an awesome year for me traveling around the Philippines and discover many interesting places especially those that I’ve never been. But I guess the highlights of my travels are those journeys and experiences that have left indelible marks in my heart. My journey around these beautiful islands of Mindanao on the other hand was an enriching experience. Not only because I’ve got to see and discover new places but because of the different culture I’ve learned and somehow lived along the way – something that has changed me in a way today. I did so many amazing crazy never-wracking things that I never even imagined I would be doing. Above all, the great people I met along the way who share the same passion and love for travels and culture like I do. And some of these awesome people became my instant family and together we swore to the loyal brotherhood of #ByahengMindanaw, capturing the beauty and culture of Mindanao and share it to the world. These photos below are some of the funnest and memorable moments I had in 2014. Enjoy! It was an awesome 2014!
The sun was up scorching at 34 degrees Celsius that day. It’s hotter than I expected. I wish I didn’t wear my tank top. My arms were dreadfully grilled and itching was becoming unbearable. But instead of complaining, I just I reminded myself why I’m here submitting myself to the burning weather. This is sizzling Sarangani and I’m here for what I called the flight of my life – at the Sarangani Paraglide.
When my good friend Jonalier laid down the itinerary for our Sarangani Tour telling me excitedly about the inclusion of Sarangani Paraglide, I couldn’t contain my excitement at once. It’s just that this kind of adventure is way too far from the usual outdoor things I do and knowing how this would change me made me more excited. The thought of free flying thousand feet above the ground and me up there kissing the skies thrilled me eagerly. And now that it’s unfolding, I picture-painted the freedom that comes with it.
Sarangani Paraglide is the first and the only paragliding company in Mindanao. It is located at Safii Ranch Paragliding Flysite in Barangay Seguil, Maasim, Sarangani Province. The site is about 950-feet above the sea level making it a perfect spot for paragliding because of its vast ridges and cliffs needed for the foot launch. Paragliding, as you know it, is an air adventure that uses a foot launched glider aircraft that solely relies on wind conditions. Sarangani Paraglide promises one helluva flight.
There are only three paragliding sites in the Philippines. One is in Carmona, Cavite, the second one is in Bontoc, Mountain Province and finally the Sarangani Paraglide in Sarangani Province. It was three years ago when paragliding was first introduced in this very site. It was the group of paraglide enthusiasts from General Santos City who started this air adventure and has since become one of the most sought after extreme adventures in Mindanao. It was also three years ago when I started dreaming to try this type of thrill I’ve never experienced before.
Safii Ranch Paragliding Flysite is about 30 minutes ride from General Santos City. To get there, we took a passenger van bound to Maasim and dropped off at the entrance of the SAFII Ranch. From there, aboard 4X4 van, our host and pilot Titoy Romano, drove us to the launching site which is on a hilltop overlooking the stunning view of Sarangani Bay. The ride going up to the site was bumpy we roved through very rough, sharp and stony limestone-clad trails bouncing up and down inside the vehicle. “What a challenging way to start this extreme adventure” were the only thoughts I could imagine.
At the launching site, the breathtaking view of Sarangani Bay became more inviting. It was a perfect day. The azure skies complimented the bluish bay and warm wind caressing my face signaled a perfect and extraordinary flight. But knowing I’m almost a thousand feet above the sea level and it’s where I’m taking the leap, I shivered. I never had acrophobia. In fact I always love being on top but free flying across the skies is beyond doubt different. Yes, there was fear now but I told myself to keep calm, focus and enjoy this flight of my life.
“Relish it. Savor it. Feel it.” I commanded myself over and over again as I began suiting up for my turn. Titoy was my tandem pilot. He made sure harness are properly secured and promised me for a remarkable flight that day. As he started his instructions, I keenly listened to him trying to absorb every word he said. “One mistake and I’m done”, I told myself. But honestly, I couldn’t process all of them. My mind was too busy entertaining thought of what will happen in case we crash or fall. Oh yes, I was paranoid. But somehow I managed to stay calm and believed that this wanderlust and this appetite for great adventure would mean no harm to me. So, there I was waiting for my turn.
Minutes later, I found myself geared up to launch with Titoy as my tandem pilot. I must admit, there was this sudden rush of fear that made me panicky at an instant. Titoy noticed it but he calmed me down and reminded me to stay focus and free my mind from all thoughts and just think about flying – free flying. At his signal, we ran so fast and in few seconds we gently took off into the wind. It was fast as that all I can remember I was shouting at the top of my lungs. “This is it. This is the flight of my life”, I shouted out.
Titoy on the other hand being so used to this kind of flying was so reassuring letting me relish the freedom I was feeling literally up above the skies. He told me to unleash all the negative thoughts I have and savor the moment that I was there – up up and away.
Being up in the air more than a thousand feet above sea level, suspended in lines attached to an inflatable wing, was truly a magical experience – an uplifting exhilaration incomparable to other adventures I made in the past. It’s more like a mixture of fear and thrill – braving to launch on a cliff to soar high like a free bird. Yes, we soared high flying engineless across the skies. It was a crazy crazy flight.
As the flight went on, I relaxed myself and remained stunned with the wonderful panoramic view beneath my feet. I was in total and utter awe as my eyes met with a vast panorama that quite literally took my breath away. I can’t help but compared how much I admired the view of scenery from this kind of flight compared to the numerous flights I had with airplanes. Here, I had the 360 degrees view of everything that’s under me and that is something truly remarkable.
PANORAMIC VIEW FROM THE TOP
After 6 minutes of flying, Titoy signaled that it’s time to land. I wanted to fly more, to be on the air for a little longer but guessed every amazing experience such this should come to end. From a distant, we soared back from where we launched and slowly went down to land. It was a smooth landing. I felt like all the goodness of the skies connived to give me that one perfect flight. I walked fast to the shaded area so fulfilled and overjoyed with what I’ve achieved. I felt so high and that feeling lasted for more minutes. I was in high spirit. I can’t contain my happiness. Flying has done something so hard to explain. Yes, it’s magical.
As we headed back to the 4X4 truck, I gazed the very spot where we launched our wings and I gazed with a smile knowing I’ve done something so incredible that I’ll never ever forget for the rest of my life. Because I remember, there were days I dreamt of flying, not inside the enclosed cabins or gigantic planes, but free flying where I can touch the skies and feel the wind beneath my feet, and I did them all gliding the mesmerizing skylines of Sarangani. What an uplifting experience!
THAT’S ME UP THERE TAKEN BY JONALIER
SARAGANI PARAGLIDE made that dream come true. Thank you! Thank you!
MORE PHOTOS FROM SARANGANI PARAGLIDE.
Saffi Ranch 1, Sitio Seguil, Barangay Tinoto
Maasim, Sarangani province
Facebook Page: Sarangani Paraglide