Camping at Foressa Trails: great food, great people, and why you should never sleep early

I have not discovered the perfect formula for getting to know people. But years of traveling taught me this one important thing; go camping with them. Somewhere off the grid – away from Internet connectivity, where you don’t have a choice but to actually talk to each other and do something else. Pair it with a few bottles of alcohol, and boom! One of the best ways to get to know someone better. That’s exactly what happened when I went camping at Foressa Trails with my friends from Cebu Mobile Shutterbugs.

How I Ended Up Joining This Event

Let’s go back a few weeks ago when Chasing Potatoes invited me to join this special event. I was never active in this mobile photography group she is currently an administrator of. I love mobile photography and I love how awesome this community is. But, I simply have far too many things to do that I have never considered joining the events organized by Cebu Mobile Shutterbugs. So when she asked me if I was free to go on a photo trek with them, I had to ask myself twice. I had nothing planned for the weekend, and what harm would it do if I meet new friends, right? So I said yes, and thus the start of this adventure.

Then finally the day came. It was just like a normal Saturday morning for me. I woke up early to prepare my stuff for a weekend camping and left my apartment just in time. Upon arriving at the facade of Aboitizland Cebu Corporate Office, I got a glimpse of some of the people who registered for this event as well. I only knew a handful of them but it was fine. I told myself that I’d get to know them sooner.

At the facade of Aboitizland Cebu Corporate Office © Cebu Mobile Shutterbugs

After a short orientation and a brief group photo shoot, we finally hopped into the respective vans that will bring us to the mountain municipality of Balamban.

Arrival at Foressa Trails: The Start of Adventure

The entrance of Foressa Trails is definitely impressive. Their catchy tagline at the entrance, ‘Lose your boredom to the trails‘ made the whole ordeal even more exciting.

Foressa Trails is an adventure park and community that sits along the beautiful mountains of Cansamoroy, Balamban. Its strategic location along Transcentral Highway is perfect for urban dwellers who are looking to go on an adventure away from the hustle and bustle of the city. From Cebu City, it would be an hour and a half ride to reach the beautiful Foressa Trails.

It didn’t take us long until we arrived at the receiving area. We had an additional group orientation, grouping, and finally, we started hiking. It was a good thing that we were shown a map prior to the trek because it gave me an idea what to expect along the way.

This is not my first time to go on a photo trek. I was able to join one with the Explore 360 Team two years ago when we did an arduous photo trek from Experimental Forest in Minglanilla to the 7 interconnecting caves which ended to the famous White Cave. I knew exactly what to expect.

You see, one of the things that you have to consider in this type of activity is your pacing. Considering that you have to take pictures along the way while maintaining your pacing to arrive at your destination just in time, you cannot afford to stay in one spot and take pictures longer than you should.

And it sucks. Big time.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to stop often when climbing mountains or going on a quick hike. While others were seriously taking pictures along the way, I was pacing way too fast and simply snapped a picture or two every now and then.

In Search of My Story

But don’t get me wrong. I did take the whole photo trek seriously. I was simply looking for something else. My own story.

I wanted to experience the whole activity without getting too technical with photography stuff. Perhaps, I just have a different eye for certain things. While my friends have the eye for seeing unique things through their lens, my eye is for something else.

It was a great thing that Foressa Trails have established proper pathways and signs throughout the whole 250-hectare area. It’s easy to get lost when you find yourself in a woodland and a wide riverside area so it was definitely a heaven-sent to see marked trails all along. As someone who really sucks with directions, it was good that I didn’t have to worry about anything else other than keeping up with my pace.

The total length of the hike trails is 10.7 kilometers. Never have I felt so relieved to finally see the end of the hiking trail. The whole trek was relatively easy, but considering that it is already summer and hiking on an open trail made it even more challenging.

Foressa Trails Campsite: The Place Where Everything Happened

We arrived at the campsite earlier than I expected which is a good thing. We were able to set up our tents while it was still early. Right after we pitched our tents, some of us decided to take a quick nap while the others cooked for our dinner. Thank God for these people or we would have died from hunger!

I have known most of them online, but it was my first time to go camping with them. You really see the different personalities of everyone when you go camping with them. You get to know who are the best cooks, the entertainers, the scaredy cats, and the sleepyheads like me.

Night came, and it was finally dinner time. I don’t know about you, but camping food is the best. No matter how simple it is, when you eat it under the bright, glimmering stars, it makes the whole experience even more awesome. But our food that night was anything but simple. Describing it as simple would be an understatement. I can’t remember all the dishes that were cooked that night but the ones I remembered were the braised pork belly, sotanghon, and chicken pastil. I’ve always wanted to taste chicken pastil because I didn’t have the chance to try one when I went to Mindanao.

After we had our fill and cleaned up everything, then came the highlight of this camping trip – the socials. Here’s a random fact about me; I rarely join socials especially when I already know the people around me. I know, I know. But that’s just me. This time around though, I had to join because it was my first time to actually get to know everyone. There were games, talking, and jeering at each other. I, for one, was giggling like crazy all the time.

And then alcohol came. But you all know I don’t drink. If I only don’t have this annoying thing in my stomach and gallbladder then I would have joined them. Here’s a thing I enjoy watching when people around me are drinking; they cannot be anything but honest in that moment. You can’t pretend to be someone else when you are drinking. And that’s something I enjoy because people around me can be their genuine selves.

Thou Shall Not Sleep Early

I excused myself a little later in the midnight because I was already sleepy and when I’m sleepy, I couldn’t function like a normal human being. So off I went to my tent and slept like a log until the next morning. Sometime after midnight though, I thought I heard loud voices outside my tent but I was so sleepy that I thought I was just dreaming. I didn’t think anything happened until I woke up the next morning only to find the people around me talking and laughing about what I had missed the night before.

I was literally scrounging for information from everyone. My mind couldn’t grasp the entirety of the events. But hearing the words of my fellow shutterbugs, I think it was an interesting night – one that would most probably remain a hilarious memory. One that I should have witnessed first-hand if only I DID NOT SLEEP EARLY.

So the next time you go camping surrounded by great people and don’t want to miss a quarter of your life, take this to heart; thou shall not sleep early.

Of Shipyards and Saying Goodbyes

Everything that happened the next morning was a blur. I didn’t drink but I was hungover from hearing the littlest information I could get from the interesting things that happened the night before. We had a quick breakfast, cleaned up the camping area, and went back to the Foressa Pavilion so we can proceed to our next destination.

Since this trip is in partnership with Aboitizland, we were all privileged to get to visit the humongous shipyard of Tsuneishi Heavy Industries in Balamban. Seeing the entirety of this shipyard made me remember how progressive Cebu is. The whole area is 147 hectares filled with ships that are under construction and large metal structures. And when you look above, giant cranes filled the skyline. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful to look at. I can only imagine how even more beautiful it would be to witness the sunrise or sunset there.

We couldn’t take pictures inside the operations area though. But that’s okay. It made the trip even more special because it would be something only us can talk about. 😉

The shutterbugs at Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, Inc. in Balamban, Cebu. © Cebu Mobile Shutterbugs

It was one hell of an awesome camping experience and I never regretted joining. Hopefully, I can join more events with Cebu Mobile Shutterbugs in the future. Special thanks to Aboitizland Cebu and Foressa Trails for making all of this experience possible.

How to get there:

Foressa Trails is easily accessible through public transportation. The easiest way would be to take a V-hire from the Ayala Center Terminal bound for Balamban via Transcentral Highway. Just inform the driver that you are headed to Foressa Mountain Town in Cansomoroy, Balamban. The entrance is right in front of Kool Adventure Camp. One way fare costs around 120 – 150 pesos.

Foressa Trails also has a parking space available for private commuters.

Rates and Entrance Fees

Additional Info:

  • The best thing about Foressa Trails is that there are available facilities near the campground that you can take advantage of. There are shower rooms and toilet, cooking area with a washbasin, bench, and tables. You can also easily buy bottled water and beverages in the Foressa Pavilion which is only a few meters away from the camping site.
  • For more information and inquiries, you can call Foressa Trails at (032) 411 1600 or contact them via their official website or Facebook Page.