I’ve been a coffee junkie since college, an avid trekker for some time and a photo enthusiast lately. But I rarely enjoyed all of these addictions in one outdoor adventure. That changed recently when the Sox Bloggers, together with Sheng Dumalay and Sir Fred Fredeluces hacked an adventure that packed all of these in one event. Coffee, hiking and photo shoot in one, all indulgences free to the max.
Purok 8, Brgy Kinilis in Polomolok South Cotabato is at the foot of a towering national park and reserve, Mt. Matutum. That alone raised my excitement for this event even if previously, I had one scary experience scaling this majestic mountain. Home to a community of indigenous people, Brgy. Kinilis boast of a relatively well preserved culture and the world famous homegrown specialty- the civet coffee.
Taunted as the most expensive coffee (bean for bean I supposed) globally, civet coffee (Kape Balos) beans are considered special because these beans passed the gut and digestive enzymes of a civet cat (locally called Alamid or the Philippine Civet Paradoxorus Philippinesis) , rendering the digested beans its distinct sweet tasting brewed coffee. Yes, that expensive Civet coffee is harvested here, in the “wilds” of Purok 8, Brgy. Kinilis.
Well, the hike part of this trip involves going to the site where they grew and “harvest” these Civet coffee beans. Trekking across rolling hills with good friends for me is always a fun hike. Especially because, Ligaya is also with us this time. I can relax more and concentrate on scenery and photo shoots during fun climbs. You don’t have to worry about finding paths across thick forest or get trapped on hunter’s trails because there are homegrown guides and “paved” pathways leading to the “top”.
Above all, this kind of trek is a bit more friendly to stamina-challenged senior friends, making climbs a bit more interesting for the would be beginners. So, me together with camera totting and healthxercising Sox Bloggers lined up and hiked towards the foot of Mt. Matutum where the actual harvesting of this coffee beans happen.
Ugh well, finding the most expensive coffee and animal shit in one place is interesting enough. But it really looked nothing shitty to us. Civet cat locally known as Alamid, is a strict berry eating animal so we expect its shit to be fruity. On first look, and without a warning, you won’t even think of the beans as coming from the gut of an animal! Alamid is a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands, so our chance of seeing one is closed nil that trip. But I’m quite awed by the preserved thick vegetation around the plantation. That confirmed our hunch we were somewhere at the foot of this majestic Mt. Matutum.
Photos? We got lots of them. I mean our cameras were busy almost every time. The good thing about this photo safari was the good weather and nicely lit landscape. Light was pretty much abundant for photography beginners like me. Our natural “models” came in their most glorious self- perspiring, but of course smilingly showing up for for the hiking challenge. For me, times like this is one good time for a photo shoot!
When we finally got back at the community center and learned the processing of Civet coffee, I couldn’t resist the urge to taste and buy one for my consumption. I know its expensive but honestly, I liked the sweet taste without the bitter aftertaste of some over processed and stale coffee beans I’ve tested. I’m not a coffee expert though, and I based my coffee preferences to my taste and overall effect on my body. Some coffee I tasted before made me sleepy, others made me jittery. Civet coffee ironically seem to have a neutral effect on me, except that urge to try the native’s indigenous string instrument. Maybe I didn’t have my adequate dosage yet.
All in all, I (and Joy too) enjoyed this event. The fact that it packed every addiction I have, and coupled with good people to hike with. I’d say it was one experience Id repeat given the time and opportunity. The people of Brgy. Kinilis are far too accommodating to refuse a second invite. Hopefully soon.
(Many thanks to Sheng and Sir Fred Fredeluces, formerly from Mahintana Foundation for bringing us there and of course ang walang kapagod pagod at masayang grupo ng Sox Bloggers!)