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Lost in Benguet

Selfie in 2003 with Banguet kids from a remote village in Banaue, 20013 © Jojie Alcantara
A selfie back in 2003 with the kids of Benguet in the mountains.

“Being brave isn’t about being unafraid. It’s about functioning through the fear.” ― Jessica Andersen, Lord of the Wolfyn

Okay. Flashback 2003.  Please forgive the corny comic strip style photos.  It was an experimental phase in my life over Photoshop and how I submitted my shots to my editor in those days. Low res files and huge watermarks.  Young writers can be so full of themselves. (wink)

nowhere to go

Our chopper ran into dark storm clouds from Banaue to Baguio, maybe somewhere in Benguet. Let me run you through this.  Imagine a small dragonfly-looking chopper  flying into thick, dense clouds with thunder brewing.  Now, imagine yourself getting inside your washing machine and viewing from the glass.

landing place

The lightweight craft of my friend made an emergency landing on top of the rice terraces, where I remember we circled around before dipping on some small clearing near a cliff.  The wind was chilly up there.

cabbage patch

We landed on a vast patch of giant cabbages. I even saw huge earthworms. What fertile soil! My heart was pounding madly. I had to act as ambassador to the growing crowd running up to our location, wondering where on earth did this giant machine came from.  They turned out to be friendly but curious.

Benguet kids

I have no idea where we were in the Cordillera mountain range, but upon rereading my old articles, I found out that the natives told me we were in Ampusungan. The red-cheeked English speaking kids were very friendly and cute.  See the heavy clothing they are wearing?

selfie with Benguet kids

selfie with Benguet kids

Here is proof from my 3.2mp Sony digital camera that I was already a selfie bonnet baby a decade ago.

pose with natives

After I survived that ordeal, I wrote a 5-part series of my crazy aerial adventure, and how I overcame my fear of flying. This one was entitled “Lost in Benguet” (I will post them soon, I just dug up these old photos, Dig those huge watermarks! Ho ho! ).  Can you clearly see the cliff behind us?  What a high!

sky view

Strangely, this was how I got hooked with aerial photography.  It wasn’t easy, though. I had way too many morbid thoughts of dying young. I thought if this was the way to go, then I should take plenty of photos. Selfie wasn’t an invented term yet.

I may be scared to death ... but it is not too late for the last selfie.

I may be scared to death … but it is not too late for the last selfie.

Way to go, girl. Praying with a selfie.

Way to go, girl. Praying with a selfie.

I still can recall clearly, how as soon as the storm passed, we flew up only to encounter another thunderstorm ahead. We had to land again somewhere in a nearby mountain and meet yet another tribal community. Tough luck.


By the way, the chieftain in this tribe wore a G-string.  But that will be another story.

I leave you with an excerpt from my old article, thoughts from a befuddled mind of a young and reckless writer: “I fiddled with my cam, and thought, well, I asked for an unusual adventure. This is it. Die flying, girl. Better take good pictures in case they pick up your cam from the rubbles.”

Reach out and make me smile! :-)

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