Why do people climb Mt. Everest? Because it is there. Why did I climb the mountain that overlooks our village of Tomaligues? Because it is here! Well actually, I needed some photos and my nieces and nephews are always looking for an adventure with their Tito. While it’s not really a mountain, it’s definitely one of the larger hills in the area. Calbayog City sits on a coastal plain and although there are a few small hills in and around the city proper, head north and west and you find bigger hills and large rock formations. Fourty percent of the city land area is made up of plains and hilly terrain with elevations that range from 5 to 20 meters (16′ to 66′), the remainder is rugged mountains with elevations ranging from 300 to 700 meters (980′ to 2,300′). A low incidence of flooding is realized because of the many rivers and streams that act as natural water conveyors that flow towards the Samar Sea. The barangay of Tomaligues lies along the coast to the northwest of Calbayog, and is further situated between two large hills (to the locals, they are mountains!) We lived in California for about 5 years at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains….now those are mountains!
Here though I will be a “local” and refer to them as mountains. Geographically speaking, because our village is wedged between two mountains, it helps to keep a good onshore breeze blowing in the afternoons. Both onshore and offshore winds are enhanced by the Venturi effect, or that principle which applies to increased velocity of fluid or airflow with an associated decrease in pressure. In short, when you blow air through a straw, it exits the straw with greater force than it does leaving when leaving your mouth. In order to move a large volume of air through a smaller space, it must move faster. This principle is what gives our little village it’s nice breeze when most other wide open areas are struggling with air flow.
While walking around in Calbayog City proper for example, there can be days when it is hot (much concrete) and humid, and without much wind. But, then I return home to the village and we seem to have a nice breeze blowing at the ocean’s edge, most days. You will never hear me complain much about the heat here in the Philippines. We bought this property without any real knowledge of the geographical layout and the resulting cooling effects it has on the village. Maybe that’s exactly why the village’s settlers came to settle here. Just like most large cities throughout the world, there are usually specific reasons why those cities settled and expanded right where they are today.
Anyway, with my nephew and niece volunteering as expert mountain guides, we set out to climb our mountain. We found our way to the edge of the village, then we entered the jungle. As we gradually climbed in elevation, the jungle flora disappeared, and eventually most of the coconut trees did also. We walked the trail as it led us higher, through some open grass pastures, then through some elevated farmlands.
The higher we got, the more farming (gardens) I noticed. There were pineapple plants, and guava trees. There were many popular Philippine grown vegetable plants such as Kamunggay, Kangkong, Camote, and Tanglad or Lemon Grass. There were also papaya trees and sweet corn. As we climbed, we came across two separate small and simple bahay kubos. We rested at one for a few minutes then continued on. We passed an elderly lady who apparently is a mountain “farmer” that tends to some of the crops we seen. She passed us on her way down the mountain, shoeless, with her pick of crops, which will most likely be cooked for that evenings supper. She had to be close in age to 70 years old, and if she could climb and work her garden way up here, well then I was going to climb the rest of the way.
We didn’t reach the top of the mountain as the trail ended at the last garden plot. These days, I don’t consider myself to be a trailblazer, so we ended our hike about 50 meters short of reaching the top. I kept telling my niece that going back down as actually going to be a shorter trip than coming up. She was confused until I explained to her that there would actually be less foot steps involved. I think she finally understood my meaning as she smiled at me with a look of understanding.
And the village of Tomaligues in Samar province in the Philippines? Well, after living here for 10 months now, it is no longer any secret to me…I know exactly why it is here.