Blissful Journey to Mampueng River

I paint my travels with potpourri of colors - to brighten my days and to make me smile in different ways. Somehow I could summarize my thoughts with that line after my excursion in Olongapo City. Beyond the Subic I imagined years back, I was introduced to an enchanting beauty hidden in Olongapo.
"My Eudaemonia"
After watching the 9th Pyromusical Competition at SM MOA by the Bay, I headed immediately to Victory Liner Pasay Bus Terminal. My backpack was heavy. My knees were weak from walking and standing. I was also hungry and all but my will to travel to Olongapo was stronger than any physiologic needs. 

The Plan and the Outcome
Received with warm hospitality at my Aunt's house, the family made it sure that I'd enjoy my stay in Olongapo. They knew that I love visiting different places and daring new adventures. With that in mind, my cousin decided to take me to the river. 
"The road maybe dusty but the journey was fun!"
"Group stopped over for a photo"
With five motorbikes in convoy, the group journeyed all the way from New Cabalan to Mampwueng whilst crossing three rivers to get there. 

Blessed and Happy
My trip with these people important to me is both fun and fulfilling. At the same time, Mampwueng left an imprint in my system. The fresh flow of the river is blessed with nature's abundance. Fresh water shrimps and fish were really a good catch for food. The children swimming in the river displayed  perfect picture of innocence and ingenuity. Above all, the laughter I heard from my family echoed loudly in my heart. These things make me happy and contented. It was a simple gathering which I appreciated the most. 
"The peaceful and tranquil river of Mampueng"

My Heart Jumped with Joy
As I was wading in the river, I saw how happy the local children were while swimming in the river. They are the natives Mampwueng. I learned that Mampueng, Old Cabalan in Olongapo is the hometown of the Aetas. They are considered as one of the Philippine's very first inhabitants. 
"A whole lot of fun swimming with them"

My heart jumped with happiness when I was interacting with them. It gave me a moment of bliss when I personally talked to them. I am in love with these people. Their simple pleasures in life are immeasurable with whatever possessions in the city. I saw the pureness of these children's souls as they were playing in the waters of Mampueng. I drank with their genuine affection. I was filled with joy. 

Notes, insights and tips: 
1. It was not easy getting to this place. The tricycle ride was a challenging one. We crossed three rivers before we reached Mampueng.  The New Cabalan to Old Cabalan is approximately 8 kilometers. Dusty road will welcome you. The river will test your will but the view is rewarding. 

2. The Aetas are natives in Mampwueng. They have a Tribal Council who regulates the area. I was told that the primary source of living is farming vegetables and honey gathering. The goods are oftentimes transported by foot from Mt. Susong Dalaga down to the city. They earn an average of 1,000 pesos per day. 

3. Aetas are happy people. They are good forager and native mountaineers. I was amazed how a kid, barely 7 years old, glided from one boulder to the next with ease. He was such a natural rock climber. 

4. Mt. Susong Dalaga is the ancestral land of the Aetas. For mountaineers, it is an ideal mountain to climb. I hope one day I could conquer its peak. For sure, it will offer a panoramic view. 
"Susong Dalaga"
"Another mountain opposite Susong Dalaga"

5. Mampwueng Waterfalls is another 2-hour trek from the river. One native told us that its waters are icy cold and deep. You need to trek in the jungle to reach the waterfalls. 

6. Be open with these locals. They have wonderful stories to tell. They are fun to be with. Avoid being discriminatory. Moreover, no matter how different you are, always bear in mind that you are a foreigner in their land. Always approach them with respect. 

7. Observe LNT Principles. Mampueng River is one of the few rivers I visited with abundant water life - shrimps and fish. It is very alive and clean. Let us maintain it that way. Keep your trash inside your bag. Never leave it in the river.

8. The view maybe simple but the experience is something for the record. Trust me! 

I am super happy to be able to interact with these people. I also had the same experience with the Bagobo-Klata Tribe in Davao. My story in Kilum-Kilom sa Kinabuhing Lumad.

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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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