Spider-Man In The Batcave


This blog entry about the events of Saturday, December 25, 2004 was originally posted on December 28, 2004.

DAY 434:  The roosters crowed and the pigs squealed as the sun illuminated my Tita Agie’s old room (who relocated to Texas) where I was sleeping.  And then, there was a slight rumbling that mildly vibrated the bed.

Spider-sense tingling.  Is that an earthquake?

The sensation of being in a quake was still familiar to me after that 5.8 I experienced in Tokyo at Liz and Hiroshi’s.  The shaking went away and I assumed it was nothing more than the rumbling of the water well pump or something.  No one else on the farm spoke of any tremor anyway.

BY 8 A.M. WE WERE ALL in the minivan for a family outing, even though we planned to leave by seven.  “Kuya [Big Brother] Erik, see I told you it wouldn’t be until eight o’clock,” my cousin Imay pointed out.

“Yeah, Filipino Time,” I said. 

The family outing was to Biak Na Bato National Park, which translates to “Broken Stone National Park,” a place frequented by local tourists since its establishment in 1937.  The former short-lived Biak Na Bato Republic, founded by President Emilio Aguinaldo in 1897, which eventually became the headquarters of the Philippine Revolutionary Government in the rebellion against Spain, is now a big 2,117-hectare nature reserve of swimming holes, hiking trails, hanging bridges over the Balaong River, and numerous caves to explore.

After driving the hour or so through the countryside, passed the rice farmers drying their rice in the road, my relatives and I took to the bridges and hiking trails — some paved, some not — which went up and down the “Broken Stone” of the Sierra Madre mountain range.  Every so often we would stop for an obligatory “picture time,” for a group photo.  We went rock scrambling (some call it “bouldering”) in the Bahay Paniki Cave (picture above), a huge cave full of bats illuminated by the sun rays peering from an opening on the other side of the cavern.  We walked through the flowing streams that wove through the rock formations, hopping from stone to broken stone and climbed big limestone boulders.  With my previous climbing experience, I was able to zip up faster than most of my cousins.

“Mr. Adventure,” my cousin Chie called out.  “You’re like Spider-Man.”

“Yeah, Spider-Man.”

We went up and down, exploring the big bat cave for as long as we could take it.  With the many bats flying above our heads (and the occasional dead one on the floor), there was a literal shitload of bat shit, or guano, everywhere, and the stench was baho (bad smelling) and overwhelming. 

I don’t know how The Caped Crusader can stand it, I thought.  He must have some really good industrial strength Bat Air Deodorizer in his utility belt.  (Or maybe just a lot of Stick’ums.)

After some more trekking, we went off to explore the darker Santol Cave, a bat cave so dark it required a lamp and a guide — my Tito Al hired one for us for an hour.  The guide led us through the darkness, passed the stalactites and stalagmites, where we wandered around and took more group photos, wary of anaconda attacks since we had seen that Anacondas movie the night before.  At one point I felt some little animal bump into me and crawl up my leg — I simply brushed it off.  I thought perhaps it was a lone bat that lost its way.

AFTER A PICNIC LUNCH OF RICE, paksiw (a pork stew), and dinuguan (pork chitlins stewed in a pork blood gravy), it was back off to the ranch in Bulacan for a brief session of throwing Pop Snap mini-firecrackers at each other and a final family group photo.  Afterwards, some of us battled the jeepney traffic and head back to Manila.  My Tito Ruben and family dropped me off back in the Greenhills district of Manila at my Tito Mike, Tita Connie and Lola Nene’s house, where I chat with them for a bit before a session with my laptop to catch up on Blog duties.  I was interrupted though, by breaking news coming from CNN on the television.

Reports of the massive earthquake in Indonesia that caused destructive tsunami waves in most of southern Asia were coming in, live from Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. 

Oh, it was an earthquake I felt this morning.  My Spider-sense was right after all.

CNN International over-dramatized the event the way TV media usually does, and I couldn’t help but feel restless hearing the reports.  “Eight point nine on the Richter scale.”  “Fifth largest earthquake recorded in history.”  I felt like a superhero powerless to use his powers, stranded in Metro Manila, out of harm’s way.

Seeing the reports out of Thailand and India, my thoughts immediately turned to certain people, one being The American Journalist based out of Bangkok who could have been anywhere in the area during the catastrophe.  I’m sure she was okay though, probably swamped with covering the disaster for her network, or being a guest correspondent on that other international television news network she sometimes appeared on.

“So if a bomb went off in Bangkok, you’d have to run off like Batman?” I asked her in our meeting that one night in Bangkok.

“Yeah, if something was going on, I wouldn’t have been able to see you.”

My thoughts also went towards friends and colleagues in Indonesia and Singapore, as well as the group in Chennai, India:  “cousin” Chrissy, Kenneth and my “surrogate Indian mother” Geeta.  Initial reports on the television said that Chennai got hit pretty badly with fatalities in the thousands.

As restless as a superhero in detention, the only thing I could do was call them and hope they were well — but I only got voicemail on both accounts and simply left messages hoping they were okay, before I’d be out of reach in the rural northern countryside the next day.  That was all I could do for the meantime; after all, as much as I can infer superheroes as a literary device in a Blog entry, the bottom line is, I am merely just a mortal human being with human emotions — and quite possibly some sort of Spider-sense.

Next entry: Nice As Rice

Previous entry: A Lump Of Coal For Christmas

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Comments for “Spider-Man In The Batcave”

  • HERE ARE THREE MORE ENTRIES for you to ring in the New Year with!

    First of all, let me say, WOW! Look at all the people come out of the woodwork for the holidays!  Thank you everyone, and Happy New Year!


    ROSE:  Don’t be too saddened about the weather; I think I appreciate a white Christmas over a tropical one… at least for that one day.

    R.C.W.:  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope no lumps of coal this year, but plenty of Perfection!

    STEPHANIE:  Bummer about the ABS-CBN interview.  Sayang.  And yes, I’ll be hitting many of the places you mentioned.

    MICHELLE:  Aw, back home in MI already?  How’s “re-entry syndrome” after a long-term RTW?  See you soon…

    SEBASTIAN:  Happy festivus to you to!  See you at the Newton wave pool.

    KUYA OMBET:  Hey there!  How y’all doing there in Texas?  Happy New Year to everyone there!

    HEATHERB:  Godspeed and good luck.  You’re gonna love it.

    ALI:  So now that Michelle’s Blog is over, you don’t have to sneak around reading mine… hahaha…  Hold up, you’re in NYC?

    NICOLE/AJEEP8U:  In PI until Jan. 22.

    DTELLA:  Miss you guys too.  I’ll be back before you know it, with all those Thai recipes.

    KOCO:  Aloha!  Great to hear you’re following along…  Plus you managed to find my “Bambi Revisited” trailer; funny, huh? 

    (Anyone interested, go to http://www.eeyartee.com ; it’s in the video section.)

    DORY:  Hey there!  I was wondering if you were still out there; as of now, I’ll be in B.C. the last weekend of February… will you and Jen be around for some snowboarding?

    NOELLE:  I have no idea what this means.  Such is the drama of RTW travel. 

    A.J.:  Wow, even you’re here reading along!  Great to hear from you.  Want s’mo’?  Keep on reading!

    HARRY:  Yeah, save that spot for me.  wink

    EVERYONE ELSE:  Sorry, I can’t get to everyone… but thanks for your comments and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  10:02 AM

  • First! woo.

    i was going to go to bed early tonight, until i noticed “Blog” was updated.  it is now 6:08am EST.

    i hope you hear from your friends soon, erik.

    have a happy new year, everyone.

    Posted by Alyson  on  12/28  at  10:23 AM

  • Chrissy is fine…she was up in Mumbai when the tsunamis hit….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  01:11 PM

  • Erik: The devastation from the tsunamis is too much to fathom.  The death toll is now over 67,000 people.  I hope your surrogate family in India is ok. Have you tried calling again?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  02:37 PM

  • Liz is due to arrive in Changsha tomorrow!  I can’t wait to spend four days with her.  Happy New Year everyone!  All the best in 2005.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  02:39 PM

  • Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and in that spirit please support efforts in South Asia. Heres a quick link:

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  03:15 PM

  • You can also donate to the red cross via amazon.com….cool huh?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  06:32 PM

  • Hey! Glad to see you’re still alive and well and livin’ it up around the globe. Happy New Year! And if you’re ever in Seattle, be sure to look me up.


    Posted by Michael Alan Goldberg  on  12/29  at  05:50 AM

  • ERIK: Happy New Year! Our plans have completely changed (AGAIN)... we will be in Australia in February…Glad to hear that you are safe~Aviva & Moe

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/29  at  01:18 PM

  • JANICE:  Latest figures from news here is the death toll is a tear-jerking 88,000 so far, not including the victims as far as Somalia in Africa.  People predict the aftermath epidemic will double that number.  :(

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:09 AM

  • GOLDBERG!  Hey man, so have you been reading this thing all year-long?  I’ll eventually make it to Seattle sometime, perhaps in 2005, one day…  Keep the coffee warm.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:11 AM

  • FOR THE CONCERNED:  Chrissy is fine; she was in Mumbai at the time.  Kenneth, Geeta and the Chennai crew are all safe…  The American Journalist is fine; she is swamped now, sorting out the daily death counts. 

    ACTVers:  Henricus just sent me an e-mail; he’s fine too.  This is one case his catch phrase, “You’re so dead, maan!” didn’t ring true.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:16 AM

  • HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE PHILIPPINES!  I am currently in Paranaque, suburb of Manila, at my relatives’ on my dad’s side.  Thank goodness I have instructions. 

    This is most likely my last transmission for 2004.  HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you around the world!  I’ll see you all next year—with the time zone advantage, I’ll be in the future before most of you all are!

    MORE TO COME from the year 2005…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:22 AM

  • Erik and fellow blog readers- Happy New Year!  All the best in 2005!

    Posted by Liz  on  12/30  at  01:27 AM

  • It is good to hear that your friends are accounted for. -Aviva

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  02:02 AM

  • happy new year, erik! you,ll going to experience the new year in the philippines and becareful with the firecrackers!!!  happy new year to all the blog readers too!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  02:54 AM

  • i’m glad to hear your friends are all alright, erik.
    happy new year!

    Posted by Alyson  on  12/30  at  03:03 AM

  • Dido..Happy New Year Erik and to everyone else!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  06:24 AM


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:59 PM

  • Hey Dude,

      Happy New Years, no doubt!! I heard it’s a tradition in the Philippenes to jump up and down as good luck for the New Year. My best friends’ dad does that all the time. But he kids around a lot so I don’t know if it’s true. True?

      Anyhow, hope you have a happy one. See you upon my return from Australia….

      Word Life.


    Posted by Supreme Moman  on  12/30  at  02:46 PM

  • Dido also….Happy New Year Erik and to everyone else…..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  05:01 PM

  • GREETINGS FROM THE FUTURE!  2005 so far is so bright I gotta wear shades…


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  05:21 PM

  • Just preparing for the New Year Fesitivities here…...we are doing the annual New Years Eve Fundue Fondue!!!

    Happy New Year Erik and all TGT SBR’s, and TGT BR’s!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  07:34 PM

  • ERIK! Happy new year dude! I’m writing from San Francisco where Liza and I are wrapping up our own mini-RTC (‘round the COUNTRY) for the past month. But we don’t have a fancy-pants blog like you. It’s still 2004 here - we’re headed out to celebrate in an hour. Dick Clark had a stroke so Regis is pinch-hitting the New Years Rockin’ Eve this year.
    Am so glad to hear you were out of harms way of the Tsunami - Henricus too. It sounds like you’re having a blast with your family in PI - can’t wait for you to get back to NYC.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  12/31  at  01:41 AM

  • DUNLAVEY:  Awesome.  RTC, huh?  You’re one step ahead of me…

    Keep those Conan O’Brien tickets warm!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/31  at  02:52 AM

  • Holy Bat Smell, Bat Man!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/02  at  03:28 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Nice As Rice

Previous entry:
A Lump Of Coal For Christmas


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