Thinking Out Cloud at Mount Ulap (+ 2-Day Trip Itinerary to Benguet)

“Wherever you go, be the soul of that place…” - Rumi

I always tell my friends that Rumi must be meant to be born ahead of us and figured everything out so we don't have to find words for our life realizations.

If you want to take a break from the chaos of life and enjoy the relaxing view of mountains while reflecting on the depth and serenity of the present, Mount Ulap is the place to go!

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by dozens of mountain climbers, travel enthusiasts, and a bunch of broken hearts who want to shout their lungs out in the sea of clouds. The vehicles were entering and leaving the area like ants heading on opposite directions. And the climbers, full of hopes and excitements, were stranded in the legion of adventure-seekers waiting for their turn to get lost in the long walk closer to the clouds. 

We arrived at 9 am, and we were able to register at 2 pm – that’s how costly purpose finding is.  So we burned the 5 hours chitchatting about each other’s lives, talking about what we could have been doing had we not held ourselves under the cleaves of capitalism, of taking experiences on the side and selfies on the front.

For this trip, I personally came up with 8 #truthbombs about mountain climbing:

8 Facts About Mountain Climbing

1) You shouldn't find purpose in mountains, but you might be able to reflect on one!

I came across many people who ridicule traveling by saying that travelers are escapists of their fucked up realities. The truth is, life couldn't get any sexier than seeing the other side of it. For me, traveling is a privilege, but comes with it is the responsibility to learn, explore, respect, have fun and to simply break free. 

Sure, mountain climbing, and just like any other travel activity, isn't the answer to everything. I don't think people climb for the purpose of escaping their realities. But pursuing mountains give to certain extent that peace of mind when everything seems to be running so fast and you can't dance to the fast beat of life.

2) The mountain is your unexpected runway.

I joined this trip without any clear idea of how cold our destination could get.  I just grabbed my bag and even brought with me all of my gadgets. It was a knee-jerk decision to jump in when I realized that I won't be doing anything over the weekend. And upon arriving in the meet-up place, my friends were a bit surprised that I showed up. Good news welcomed me: there's one climber who backed out, which means there's one slot remaining for me.

Lesson: Arrange your trip and inform the organizers. 

.... and because I don't have any idea how cold Mount Ulap could get, my clothes were just overnight clothes in the metro. Some of our companions were even asking if I'm really part of the climbing group, since I'm not wearing any typical mountain clothes. But the mountain became a runway and everything turned out in a good way.

3) Resource-sharing (e.g. food, tent, gears, etc.) is the ultimate test of friendship.

Have you ever realized that wherever you go, it isn't always about the destination, but it's always about who you're with. Whatever you do, wherever you are, if you're not in a state of appreciation and your mind is juggling thoughts from nowhere, you won't be at peace in appreciating the beauty of your destination.

So always, always... think about who you're traveling with. Do you share the same values? Are you comfortable sharing some resources to your friends? Be the companion that you yourself would want to have, and your trip will be lighter and more enjoyable a hundred fold.

4) 90% of the climbers are there for the pictures, 10% are there for the experience.

Our walk towards the summit was a bit slowed down by other travelers who would want their photos taken almost every 10 steps forward. But it's not annoying, and like what I've said, it's about the journey. I'm happy to know people are more appreciative of what nature has to offer, including the beautiful scenery in the background. And if you can't fight against it, learn to dance with it. So we took a lot of photos too!

5) You will sometimes think that this trek will not end forever. And you will start asking why you went there in the 1st place.

6) Once you reach the summit, you’re pretty much convinced that this is worth it...

UNTIL…. It finally dawns to you that you still have to walk your way down from that summit. Why don’t we have ziplines from mountain summits to the base camp anyway?

But this view is worth it right?

7) You will gain new friends after this trip.

One of the most rewarding parts of traveling is getting to know other people who share the passion and love for travel. It spikes me up whenever I encounter someone who has an amazing thirst for life, and what it has to offer. The world could never be more singular, linear and monotonous than it is to just live in our comfort zones.

And as I fondly share, yes, your body is a temple, but I choose to make mine an amusement park. Life is too short to take life seriously. So let's explore beaches, chase sunsets, climb mountains, swim in waterfalls, and many other things.

8) You will thank the inventor of powerbank, without having the nuts to know who he is. Who is he by the way?

If you want to know more about the history of powerbank, here's the link: https://bit.ly/2rqRGNu

Always make time for trip preparation. On my case, I wasn't able to prepare for this trip because this is just a random decision to hop in. For me, my non-negotiables are laptop, phones, chargers, powerbank, and other tech-related stuff that will ensure I am connected to my clients all the time. Since I'm on an on-call arrangement with all my clients, I barely travel to areas with low to zero internet connectivity.

PRO-TIP: Identify your travel non-negotiables (could be things-to-bring, values, etc.) and stick with them.

So those are some of my realizations in this trip. 

For those who are interested, here is our two-day itinerary organized by Jerah Neil Insuya Lagrimas.


Two-Day Trip Itinerary (Mt. Ulap - Ampucao to Sta. Fe Ridge, Itogon, Benguet)

Entry point: Brgy. Ampucao, Itogon

Exit point: Brgy. Sta. Fe, Itogon
LLA: 16.2904 N, 120.6312 E, 1846 MASL (Mt. Ulap)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-3 hours
Specs: Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3,
Features: Grassland and pine ridges, scenic views of the Cordilleras, burial caves

Damage rate: P2,500.00


*Guide fee
* Camping fee
* meal (day 1 dinner day 2 breakfast)
* drinks and pulutan

* Other Camping gear


-Rain Jacket/ Waterproof Jacket
- Thermal Gloves
- Trekking Pants (Quick Dry), Trekking Shorts
-  Trekking Shoes, Light Sandals or Slipper 
-Fleece Jacket/ Wind Stopper Jacket
-Base Layer
-Poncho (Just in case Umulan) -Bonnet/ Head Wear
-Extra Socks
-Plastic/ Garbage Bag (for Water proofing)
-Mess Kit (Plate, Spork)
-Flashlight or Head Lamp
-Extra Batteries
-Toiletries (Tissue, Wet Wipes, etc)
-Trail Water
-Trail Food
-Sleeping Bag
-Earth pad 
-First Aid Kit

Note: 50% down payment to secure your slot.
BPI Savings account


Two-Day Trip Itinerary (Mt. Ulap - Ampucao to Sta. Fe Ridge, Itogon, Benguet)

Day 1 

2am Assembly Cubao Farmers, Jollibee along EDSA

3am ETD to Baguio City
7am ETA Sison Resto snack
9am ETD going to Ampucao for Brgy. registration / lunch
10am Start trek
12pm lunch sa trail
1pm Gungol Rock, Photo Opportunities
3pm Set up camp
5pm Prepare Dinner
7pm Dinner, socials
10pm Lights off

Day 2

5 am Sunrise Viewing 
7am Breakfast
9am Descend
11am ETD Sta. Fe exit point, washed up
1pm Lunch at Hiker's Den
2pm ETD going back to Baguio
3pm ETA Baguio, free time 
6pm ETD going to Manila
12mn ETA Manila Cubao drop off point


Connect with our team, The Traveler's Lifestyle, and we can help you organize your trip.


Twitter: @GabrielBillones
Instagram: @gabrielbillonesjr
Facebook: /thetravelerslifestyle

#benguet #mountainclimbing #travel #philippines #explorephmountains mountulap


7-Day Healthy Breakfast Plan

There are countless benefits to having a healthy breakfast, and without it, you’re effectively running on empty. It revs up your metabolism and prepares you for the activities that you have to do for the day. It’s also proven to reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

However, despite these health advantages, we’d easily forego having breakfast during busy mornings, which eventually gives us ‘energy crash’ in the middle of the day.

But what if you can make an easy, on-the-go breakfast that won’t take up a lot of time while giving you the energy boost that you need?

I’ve laid down a complete 7-day plan of some of the healthiest breakfast ideas. Check them out and see for yourself how a healthy breakfast could change the tone of your day.


Blueberry Smoothie and Nut Butter, Banana and Chia Seed Toast
This breakfast combination will pump you up for a great start of the week. The blueberry smoothie perfectly blends with the chia seed toast and the strawberries, giving you a soothing feeling that will reach through the depths of your hungry soul.

Blueberry is well-known for its benefits on heart health, while the equally antioxidant-rich strawberry is known to be extremely rich with vitamin C.

Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh), 1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt, 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Note: If you don't have frozen blueberries, you can use blueberry-flavored yogurt instead!

Instructions: Blend the blueberries, yogurt, milk, honey, vanilla, and nutmeg in a blender until frothy, scraping down the sides of the blender with a spatula occasionally. Serve immediately.

For more on this recipe, click here

Banana and Chia Seed Toast

Ingredients: 1 slice 100% whole wheat bread, 1 tablespoon almond or hazelnut butter spread, 1/2 medium banana (sliced), 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

Instructions: Toast the bread and spread the butter over the top. Place banana slices over the sun butter and top it off with chia seeds. Serve right away and enjoy!

For more on this recipe, click here


Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie and Peanut Butter-Stuffed Apple Slices

This breakfast recipe is personally one of my favorites. It's easy to make and ideal for those who are on the rush on a Tuesday morning. Plus, if you can't finish all of the slices in one sitting, you can easily pack and consume them later for snacks at work.

The smoothie is made up of peanut butter and banana, which is good for digestion, heart health and weight loss. Meanwhile, apples are extremely rich in antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.

Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie

Ingredients: 3 frozen bananas, 1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky), 1 1/2 cups soy milk (or milk), 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon chopped roasted peanuts

Instructions: Put the bananas, peanut butter, soy milk, yogurt, honey, and salt in the blender. Blend. When done, you can top the smoothie with chopped peanuts. 

For more on this recipe, click here

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Apple

Ingredients: 1-3 apples, halved and cored with a teaspoon, 2 teaspoons all-natural crunchy peanut butter, 1 teaspoon old-fashioned rolled oats

Instructions: Stuff cored apple halves with peanut butter and sprinkle with oats.

For more on this recipe, click here


Pineapple Passion Smoothie and Quick Honey Pecan Chiquita Banana Oats Recipe
This easy breakfast recipe also uses some peanuts and banana, making sure that you can fully consume all of the food purchased for the weekly plan. It is also very easy to make and ideal for those who want to have a heavier breakfast. If you're craving for an ice cream, the smoothie recipe could be a healthy substitute.

Pineapple is good for boosting immunity and improving blood circulation. The oats recipe can rev up your body with energy needed to start the day right.

Pineapple Passion Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 cup pineapple chunks,1 cup low-fat or light vanilla yogurt, 6 ice cubes

Instructions: Combine the yogurt and ice cubes. Blend, pulsing as needed, until the ice is in large chunks. Add the pineapple and blend at "whip" speed until smooth.

For more on this recipe, click here

Quick Honey-Pecan Chiquita Banana Oats

Ingredients: 3  whole bananas (divided), 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup oats, 1 pinch salt, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

InstructionsPour water into saucepan set over medium-high heat; bring to boil. Stir in milk. When mixture comes to simmer, stir in oats and salt. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender and thickened. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Stir in honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Mash 2 bananas and stir into oatmeal. Divide oatmeal among 4 bowls. Slice remaining banana and arrange over top; sprinkle with pecans.

For more on this recipe, click here


Guyabano Smoothie and Skinny Fried Egg Avocado Toast 
This creative breakfast idea is a must-try for those who want to try new variations. The smoothie tastes refreshing and the avocado toast is heavenly. I know I'm not that good in cooking sunny side-up eggs, but it can definitely look much better than that.

Guyabano is rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, while the 'healthy fat', avocado,  prevents cholesterol oxidation and is good for the heart.

Guyabano Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 cup guyabano pulp (seeded), 2 tablespoons calamansi juice, 3 tablespoons honey, crushed ice

Instructions: Mix and blend the guyabano pulp, calamansi juice and honey in the blender. Add some ice cubes or crushed ice then process until smooth. Serve cold.

For more on this recipe, click here

Skinny Fried Egg and Avocado Toast

Ingredients: 2 eggs (fried sunny side up), 2 slices of bread (toasted), 1 small avocado, 1 teaspoon lime juice, sea salt + black pepper, parsley (optional for topping)

Instructions: Prepare toast and fried eggs to personal preference. Peel and mash avocado with the lime juice, salt and pepper. Spread avocado evenly on each slice of toast then top each with a fried eggs and additional seasonings you prefer. Serve immediately.

For more on this recipe, click here


Dragon Fruit Smoothie and Creamy Deviled Eggs 
Another must-try for those who are always into something new is this healthy breakfast combination. Now it may not be that easy to prepare. But if you have extra time the night before, you can already do the process ahead and keep them in the fridge. The smoothie easily complements the spicy taste of the creamy deviled eggs.

Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin A, fiber and lycopene. The eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high quality protein.

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 piece of dragon fruit (peeled and chopped), 1/2 cup of almond or soy milk, 1 tablespoon of honey

Instructions: Mix the ingredients in the blender. Serve cold.

For more on this recipe, click here

Creamy Deviled Eggs

Ingredients: 8 large eggs, 1/3 cup light mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon minced shallot, 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco), coarse salt and ground pepper, paprika (for garnish)

Instructions: Place eggs in a medium saucepan; add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove pan from heat; cover, and let stand 13 minutes. Drain, and run eggs under cold water to cool them. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, shallot, and hot sauce. Peel eggs, and halve lengthwise; remove yolks, leaving whites intact. Transfer yolks to bowl with mayonnaise mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until smooth. Mound yolk mixture into whites. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours.

For more on this recipe, click here


Watermelon Smoothie, Cheese-Filled Scrambled Egg and Bacon Sandwich
If you want to have a special energy boost breakfast on a Saturday morning, this breakfast combo might work for you. The watermelon smoothie will definitely give you a refreshing start of your day. Along with the bacon sandwich, you already have an on-the-go breakfast to pump up your morning. Plus, I'll share to you a tastegasmic scrambled egg recipe that will surely melt your heart.

Watermelon Smoothie

Ingredients: 2 cups frozen cubed watermelon, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon of honey or other sweetener to taste, a few mint and/or basil leaves (if you want to take it to the next level)

Instructions: Blend the watermelon and the water until smooth. Add the honey and mint and blend another 10-20 seconds until mostly smooth and the consistency of a slushy. Serve immediately!

For more on this recipe, click here

Bacon Sandwich

Ingredients: 2 pairs of bread, 3-4 leaves of lettuce, 3 pieces of tomatoes, mayonnaise

Instructions: Toast the bread and place them in the plate. Add the ham in the 1st layer, top it with lettuce, then tomatoes on top. Add mayonnaise dressing all over, cover with ham and bread. You can add additional toppings (i.e. cucumber slices, olives, etc.) depending on your preference. 

Cheese-Filled Scrambled Egg

Ingredients: 4 pieces of eggs, 2 tablespoons of butter, grated cheese

Instructions: Mix the eggs in a bowl. Put the butter into a cooking pan and let it melt. 

For more on this recipe, click here


Carrot Juice and Cinnamon-Topped Chocolate Rice Porridge
The components of this well-thought breakfast idea complements one another in terms of ease-of-digestion. The carrot juice is a healthy sweet blend of apple, carrots and orange that will pump you up with energy. And the local version of chocolate rice porridge topped with cinnamon will surely fill your stomach, perfectly right to wrap up a busy work week.

Carrot Juice

Ingredients: 1 carrot, 2 oranges, 2 apples

Instructions: Peel the carrots and oranges, and slice the apple. Juice them and serve immediately. 

Cinnamon-Topped Chocolate Rice Porridge

Ingredients: 1 pack chocolate rice porridge mix, milk, cinnamon

Instructions: Boil together 5 cups of water, 1/2 cup of sugar,m and 1 pack of chocolate rice porridge mix. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes or until rice is cooked. Serve with milk and top it with cinnamon. 

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