18-Mar-2009 -- This is the second time we attempted to visit 14N 123E and this time we were successful. Thanks to Google Earth high resolution photo of the area. The previous attempt in December 26, 2003 we were off target by about 4.5 kilometers because the topographical map I used then from NAMRIA was outdated (1957) and grossly inaccurate about the presence of now imaginary roads.
We left Manila at about 2:00 AM and for the first time in years we took the route to Daet, Camarines Norte for two reasons, just curious to know what changed because the last time I used this route was more than 10 years ago. The newer Quirino Highway route is shorter by about 90 kilometers and this is still the practical route to Bicol. The other reason is that the 14N 123E confluence lies near Basud, Camarines Norte, the town next to Daet.
Following the guide from Google Earth photo, we took the 5-kilometer feeder route towards the direction to Magcamagong, passing through Barangay Taisan and made a right turn to a smaller sub-feeder route about 1.5 kilometer to Purok 3 of Barangay Oliva, Basud, Camarines Norte. We reached the end of the road with another 1.5 kilometers still to walk to the exact Confluence spot. We talked to the Barangay councilmen Pedro Deterala and Greg Gutierrez about our plan to walk the last 1.5 kilometers. As usual it was not easy to explain to these people why two senior citizen strangers with a 4-year old grandson, Ramram, coming all the way from Manila would like to walk to an imaginary spot for no logical reason. I knew that they were suspicious because for almost 30 minutes I explained about Confluence and our intentions when Pedro Deterala asked “what exactly our purpose?” It took another 20 minutes to convince them that it was simply a kind of adventure and nothing more.
Finally, when convinced, they offered a 10-year old boy as guide; Ernie and I assured them that we intend to follow a trail seen from Google Earth photo. I mistook this as people trail when it was really a carabao sled trail used by farmers to bring woods, charcoals and other farm goods. By nature, sleds need mud so it was a muddy trail and we were just lucky that the rain stopped a day ago and with plenty of sun, it was drier but still slippery in some points.
We walked using this trail with a slight upward grade that made it tiresome for old people like us. Ramram had a better condition for the hike. He has even time to play as we walked. He jumped on big rocks; he picks up things along the way and throws it, etc. We were stuck in mud several times and he took it all in stride more worried of his muddied shoes.
We reached the Confluence at about 1:00 PM. The confluence was near the hut owned by a widower, Rafael Bantayan. After we rested, we went back to our trail and made it back to our car at about 3:00 PM. I was so tired and sleepy driving back to our destination Matnog, Sorsogon that I had to stop and sleep two times along the route. We made it the Matnog Ferry Terminal at 10:00 PM and took the next trip to Samar at 1:30 AM. We made it to our Calbayog House at 5:00 AM the next day but not after I had to stop and sleep just 15 kilometers from home. It was one my most tiresome trip so far.