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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Vanilla Hills Experience

Text by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
August 10, 2002
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MOON as red as blood shone above Boholano horizon. Slowly, its rays flooded onto the sea turning the vast sheet of water abruptly into silver. Three shadows of excellent form trudged upon rocks. Finally, we found each a throne, sat there, and did some moongazing.
It was a Saturday night. The last Saturday of July. Fifty-six senior scouts from the University of the Visayas-Mandaue, University of San Jose-Recoletos, Mandaue City National Comprehensive High School, Mandaue City Science High School, St. Louis School, Mt. Olives Christian School, and Cabangcalan, Campu Lapu-Lapu, and Pakna-an National High Schools set a bonfire at the Vanilla Hills Eco Park and Scout Camp.
The gathering was in consonance to Executive Order 98, the observance of the National Disaster Awareness Month. The boys had their Emergency Service Course conducted in cooperation with Rescue 160 of the Bureau of Fire Protection, of which this writer is one of the volunteers.
Day 1. We left as early as six in the morning from the premises of the Lahug Elementary School where the participants of the Emergency Rescue Service course were gathered. A mini-bus took all fifty-six participating senior scouts to the municipality of Argao. Upon arrival in Argao, the boy scouts were immediately transferred to a dump truck, provided by the municipality, bound for Butong. These boys are to trek to the campsite: Vanilla Hills Eco Park and Scout Camp owned and developed by Mr. Juan Sala, the same owner and developer of Discovery Hills in Babag, Cebu.
Together with a certain Roy, we facilitated the spelunking activity at Triangle Cave. Billy Jack Bahian, Mark Jephen Francisco and Christopher Oyangoren of the University of the Visayas; and Joanne Villamor assisted the boys in penetrating the cavern; while Marites AraƱas and I lectured the students a little of what we know about caving. Aside from Triangle Cave with its tawny-stained ground and marvelous limestone formations, there are quite a number of caves in Vanilla Hills waiting to be explored.
After unrigging the ropes, the group trailblazed back to the camp. We emerged some distance from the foot of the towering steel viewing deck. There, we agreed to have some fun by rappelling down the tower.
Day 2. I had my rapt attention all to the lambent flames emitted by an early morning sun. Sunrays beamed through the eastern vanilla sky, launching a brand new day on Vanilla Hills. This day was when the scouts submitted themselves to a rigorous Emergency Rescue Service test. The rescue group gave them two scenarios: a plane crash and a truck loaded with passengers which haplessly lost its brakes and rolled over a ravine. The scouts responded to the needs of the surviving victims according to how they had interpreted the basic emergency action principles.
After the tree-planting activity, Mr. Yndig, the scoutmaster, declared a break-camp. The handing out of certificates followed after a sumptuous lunch of sinugbang isda, mawos nga ginamos, piniritong buwad, and kinilaw nga bulinaw. (/30)