Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

The Outliers

Heading up the green highlands we toyed with the notion of moving. From our secret spot behind the brush, an island within one, close to the beach, to the ranges not too far from the late president Magsaysay’s C-47 plane crash site at 1,003 meters above sea level.

At around twenty kilometers from the city, going up, thatched houses along the circuitous road sold fruits and vegetables displayed on bamboo tables, where travelers occasionally stopped by to purchase the rich produce of the mountains. On these same tables, in the afternoon, on a good day where there is none left to display you’d likely find someone lying down on it, blanketed by the shadows of trees, enjoying his time for the rest of the day.

It was a grand sight, from the roof deck of the first café we stopped by for lunch.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Zip line area at Adventure Cafe.

“I would really love to live here, and why not?” Mark asked. It’s a sparsely populated town and it gets real cold when the evening is nigh. We thought about living a simple life in a house like the El Camino, close to the cliff, that’s sheltered with Pine trees around it.

Mark dreams of working on his articles by the fireplace, and outside the window one sees the mountains looking down a steep valley thickly covered with foliage that runs toward the edge of the sea. And the sky looked so grand from our dining table, as I finished up my share of the Pochero, nibbling on soused corn.

We love our life in the island, and living close to the skies could be a great idea too, one foolish thought a couple like us would be attracted to. It’s a perfect place to paint, and we’d still be outliers, living in a house that’d appear floating on a cloud at dawn.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Exploring the town of Balamban.

I walked by the side of the road lined with tall and slender Pines. Mark took pictures of me from the other side, while he kept saying how lovely the day was for poor people like us. We’re poor enough to learn to truly appreciate the food on our table, to spend evenings together watching movies at home instead of being out in a doggoned corporate meeting, to be walking on a beautiful day with our Chucks soiled instead of riding a fancy automobile, to be stopping by a quaint café in the middle of nowhere in the mountains to buy a soft drink, instead of having a waiter come to us for room service in a fancy hotel, or something like that.

It’s a humble and noble life, he likes to say.

As soon as we reached the entry to a colorful hanging bridge I read the sign board that said, “No running, no playing, no jumping.”

It was the perfect cue for Mark to go running, playing, and jumping. Of course, much to my distress.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Colorful hanging bridge connecting the hills.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Enjoying the view.

We rode a cable car that crossed above treetops, and mid-way to the next station we saw how the hillsides graded deeper to hundreds of feet below. It was a vast country all right, and far out to our left was Toledo, direct on our line of sight was a large shipyard, and the blue sea, and the city of San Carlos.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Cable ride.

In the afternoon when the sun was about to set, and us, now, going uphill we saw how the faraway land had been transformed into gold. It’s how El Dorado would’ve looked by the Amazon River, not just gilded but also fully converted into one magical city of gold, I supposed, and it was afloat, suspended in the cloudy sky where the largest ships glided out with the wind and the force of our imagination.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Pathway to the cable car.