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High school, with all its glitz and glitters, had been a big part of my life and when the end was finally approaching, the drama was unstoppable.

It was a month before graduation that my girl friends and I decided to go to Mambukal Mountain Resort for two reasons. First, we all felt the need to relax and bond before the final exam week. Second, we’re there to celebrate Anna’s (one of my closest friend) birthday. It’s simply hitting two birds with one stone.

It was actually my first time to go out of town without any chaperon to tag along. At last it was freedom for the 16-year-old ecstatic me! I can do whatever I want without someone to tell you, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” It’s more fun to travel freely, or so I thought.

Everything started out smoothly. We arrived there mid-morning, which was just perfect. After all the bags had been laid, me and 7 other girl friends wandered around the big mountain resort.

Mambukal Falls

Anywhere you look it’s always green. The place serves as a gateway to Mt. Kanlaon, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. Mambukal is enclosed with big old trees of different varieties. The vegetation is really hale and hearty, and when the plants are healthy the animals existing there were even healthier. Big bats and birds fly around like everyday visitors; they’re a common attraction in the resort as well.

After we got our pictures taken at almost every square inch of the resort, we decided to test ourselves and climb the famous Seven Falls of Mambukal. There is a huge mountain stream which eventually cascades down into a chain of seven waterfalls. The trek to each of the waterfalls was long and steep and as we get higher the trail becomes even steepe. We rewarded ourselves with small breaks for picture taking every time we reach a waterfall.

It was nearing noon when we finally arrived at the Sixth Falls. We decided to stay there and skip the Seventh Falls since lunch time is just a few minutes away.

All my friends crossed the small stream and started playing with the water. I was left on the other side because I was too busy contemplating on whether to bring my new Nike slippers or not. I was hesitant because the current was so strong and if my foot slipped a little bit it will surely be the end of my beloved slippers *cringe*. After some deep pondering, I finally decided to leave my new slippers on land far, far away from the strong water current.

Barefooted, I walked the small stream wanting to catch up with my friends. My left foot suddenly felt a little pain; at the back of my mind I was thinking it was just a blunted rock that I stepped on. When I reached the big flat rock where all my friends were, I did a little check on my left foot.

Me, my Friends and my Injured Foot

Me, my Friends and my Injured Foot

Lo! And behold! It was lacerated in a way that almost all of my precious blood was scattered on the rock and in the nearby stream. The water even turned blood red as if, a shark had just caught it’s pray underneath it. And my mind went blank.

I didn’t know how in the world I would survive walking the very long steep trail with an injured foot? I wanted to cry and call my mom for help. I immediately thought that if I was with my mom, she could have warned me not to cross the stream or not to leave my slippers behind.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I was scared of calling and telling her about my accident. I was afraid she might scold me and never let me go out again alone.

I waited for her in the emergency room of the hospital, almost ready to faint from blood loss and more so from fear of my mom’s arrival. When she arrived, she didn’t scold me; although her face was dead serious at the back of the stoic expression was a concerned mom.

She accompanied me in the Minor Operating Room for the stitching of my left foot. I cried due to the excruciating pain but my mother was there to support and comfort me. It was painful but it would be much more painful if I didn’t have my mom with me.

My mom made my travel injury a little less painful and my life a little more wonderful.

I salute all the mothers out there, just like mom, you are all angels who make the world a better and happier place to live. Happy Mother’s Day! :)

Mambukal Mountain Resort in Negros Occidental, Philippines is a very memorable place for me. Not just because  of its captivating beauty but because it’s the only place where I’ve had a travel injury and heard several related stories among all of the outdoor travel adventures I’ve had so far.

It’s a given that everyone makes mistakes, but how you react to it is what counts. I’ve learned a lot from my experience here which helped me in my future travels.

Before we talk about the injury stories here, let me give you some great facts about this wonderful place. Mambukal Mountain Resort is known for its Seven Falls. Me and my wife had a great sightseeing experience here because the place is so green, filled with old trees and plants.

Inside this resort is a river where you can enjoy boating while getting relaxed by the splashing sound of the small waterfall in its midst. There are cottages near this river where you can have lunch while the enjoying fresh air and a wonderful view. The ambience made me feel that our food got more delicious.

If you’re fond of animals, there’s a section in its forest filled with bats hanging like large fruits in trees. You can take a picture of those bats while reminiscing a scene in Batman. They also have a butterfly garden where you can have a fun close encounter with colorful butterflies.

For swimming and relaxation, they offer a large swimming pool and a hot spring.

Now for our first travel injury story, we were told that an American mistakenly thought of the sulfur hot spring as one of the swimmable hot springs. When you enter this spring a warning sign will greet you and warn you that the spring’s temperature is around 90°C to 100°C and that you’re not even allowed to touch it.

The guy must have been a bit groggy that early morning and failed to read the signboard’s warning. He dived into the sulfur hot spring and the most unfortunate thing happened instantly. Since then, they’ve assigned someone to warn the tourists about this spring before entering after realizing that the warning signboard alone wasn’t enough.

I think some barbed wires might have helped prevent the tragedy. Unless they’re using the spring for boiling eggs occasionally, I don’t see a reason for them not to put one. The travel lesson learned here is very clear, always read the signboards.

After an enjoyable stroll in the whole area, we’ve decided to take the climbing challenge to the Seven Falls. It’s a long climb per waterfall. Good thing they’ve made concrete steps to it which made it easier for us to climb.

After reaching the 6th fall, our tour guide told us that we can take a swim there unlike the rest of the falls. Since the water is very clear and enticing, we gave it a shot. The water’s temperature was just right and there’s a shallow and a deep section.

We tried the shallow section first and had an immediate struggle. I found myself drowning with only have of my body submerged in water. Seriously? Check out the picture below and you’ll understand how a person can get drowned with only half of his body submerged in water.

I was actually just giving myself a feel on how it’s like to experience the controversial waterboarding torture done by the CIA to captured terrorists.

Since I know how to swim, I dived to the deeper part of the fall. It was so deep that I can’t see the bottom part. The guide was obviously very used to swimming there that he could stand at the slippery edge of the fall.

If you’ll take a closer look at the picture below, the only place in that fall where you can sit comfortably after swimming from the opposite side is the edge of the fall. So the clumsy me sat there thinking that it’s safe since the guide can even stand there.

The part where I’m sitting at edge of the fall was smooth, mossy and slippery. The clumsy me again didn’t mind because gravity and my balance helped me stay put. I also didn’t mind the fact that what’s behind me is very steep and the water down there is shallow.

So the guide left me and went up a tree to enjoy a grandiose dive which happens to be near in front of me. There was a big splash then a wave and I ended up losing my balance which made me turn sideways and get pushed down below.

I’m surprised that my wife managed to get a shot of its “before and after” event. I guess if Twitter and Facebook was already around that time, she would have tweeted and uploaded it first in her Facebook wall before coming after to help me.

So the clumsy poor me was still blessed enough to just have a large wound in my foot and a dislocated joint. I can’t imagine what would have happened if my head went down first. It’s good that I can still walk back to our room and that the guide knows a shortcut there where we don’t need to endure a steep climb down.

This reminded me of the popular quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” And I sure did become stronger by getting wiser in my travels later.

My wife had travel bloopers too, like slipping off the boat which caused her shoulder bag to get immersed in water with her cellphone and our digicam inside it. At another occasion, she left our digicam in a restroom during our Bohol travel and we’re very thankful to the person maintaining it for giving it back to us.

She also accidentally bruised her arm in the pointed corner of the snorkeling platform. It left her a large wound and you can see how upset she was.

I’m sure most of us have travel blooper stories ranging from simple things like forgetting to charge the camera’s battery to getting a serious injury more than what I’ve had. To sum up what I’ve learned in my travels, it only boils down to three things, prepare ahead of time, be a keen observer and don’t be clumsy.