The year 2012 had been very good to me and to my family. Countless blessings received, friendships nurtured, new places explored, and a lot more. It couldn’t have been any better. But we love change; I personally love change. People may not notice it but there’s a lot to change in me (haha). So I decided to improve on those weaknesses, especially on my mental attitude.
On a normal day, say a scene in the office: facing the computer with different windows opened on the desktop and seriously jotting down something, I would look like a busy girl thinking of how to make her programs work and indulged in solving how certain mathematical formulas apply in real life. But honestly (to my employer, I’m sooooo sorry! I really am!), the windows are open just to make me look busy at work because I am away wandering in the vast fields of my fantasies. Yes, I am slacking around. That, I can say, is one of the worst ‘quicksands’ I have and is in need of a serious immediate attention. That and one of the many things, so here is my 2013 New Year’s Resolution in changing my mental attitude:
1. Learn how to focus and concentrate. Learn to pay full attention and tame your mind not to wander. Be the master of your thoughts.
2. Be positive. Always think that everything happens for a reason. Everything is a blessing in disguise, no matter how hellish it may seem.
3. Stop thinking ahead too much. Don’t be too anxious about tomorrows. You only have today to worry; leave for tomorrow what should be worried for tomorrow. Shut off all the regrets of the past and worries of the future. Instead, be thankful for the past, plan for the future (but never worry), and be enthusiastic for the present, do your best and be passionate about today. Remember that the best plan for tomorrow is acting now and doing your best today.
4. Learn the art of ‘waiting’, of being patient, for good things come to those who wait.
5. Be happy with all the things that you received and for everything that’s happening to you. Learn to find joy even in the smallest detail. Fill your heart with happiness and gratitude. Until then, you’re ready for the biggest leap of your life.
6. One step at a time, one day at a time. Take things slowly. Don’t rush. Don’t be gobbled up by the thoughts of a million tasks. They’re meant to be solved, not to be worried about.
7. Tolerate daydreaming. Set an alarm: if daydreams come knocking, it only means that you become idle. Get up and do something.
8. Learn. Learn. Learn. Don’t stop learning new things. Read a new book, wander to new places and do things you haven’t done before. Be not afraid of change because change is like the thrill a roller-coaster ride gives you.
9. Stop saying bad words because you are what you say. Stop being annoyed at little things because they’re too little for you to mind them. Keep your cool because you are cool, and cool people don’t lose their composure.
10. Laugh. Love. Live. Laugh your heart out, for it is music to God’s ears; Love someone, start caring and be a part of someone else’s life, for that is the reason why we live; Live life to the fullest and do the things that make you happy, for until then you will know that you have truly lived your life, a wonderful life.
I am very positive that I’ll be able to change my attitude before the year ends. And I am thrilled, because I can’t help thinking about its impact in my life have I been successful with this quest. New and improved Doys F., awesome isn’t it?
PS: My 12 Must-Do List for 2013 – coming soon! Stay with me in all my quests because it’s gonna be LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!!!
Mt. Maculot @ Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines
(Rockies – Summit – Grotto Traverse, 930+ MASL)
November 18, 2012
TRIVIA: Mt. Maculot is the second highest peak in Batangas.
Love is sweeter the second time around. And so they say.
The last time we climb Mt. Maculot we only got to the Rockies because we weren’t gifted with a fine weather. Bundle it up with some mishaps we had and I can say it was really a hike to remember. In spite of all those, yes, I was in love. Girls oftentimes fall in love with bad boys, eh? Our second time, however, was a fine Sunday with the sun so scorching that I had even wished for it to rain (just a little bit). A very lengthy day hike, my second trip to Mt. Maculot was a very remarkable one, and I fell in love even more.
We started our trek later than what we originally planned. The weather let us see the scenery that was concealed to us the last time but at the same time the heat was so intense (especially near peak because there’s not much vegetation) that I have to stop a lot of times, like one in every 50 steps. Also, we got a new hiking buddy!!! Tope wasn’t around, so it was just me, Turtley and Tetay (but I call her Ninang Tetay). Ninang Tetay is a schoolmate and orgmate in college. She was really excited about this trip. And I was glad she was with us because I had missed her so much. We had so much fun back in college.
The trail was such an assault for Ninang because it was a direct ascent to the peak – not long walks but long strides, which she less preferred. Before we got to Rockies, we had our lunch and after a while we proceeded right away because we were on a tight schedule. At the Rockies, we went further than where we visited the last time. This time, the view was even more breath-taking. Blue and clear skies welcome us, one of the bluest I’ve seen. The clouds were so full and white that it looked like snow mountains. After some picture-takings, we hurried back and went straight to the summit. No time to waste or else darkness will fall. (Wooooh!)
The trail towards summit is covered with thick vegetation, an indication that it is not usually covered by hikers. There is really not much to be seen at the summit. But you have to pass the summit to get to the grotto. Actually, it’s the part that I enjoyed a lot. The cool feeling of the shade, the moist air brought about by the plants and the hush and the whispers of different insects, you’ll know you’re in a different place, a better place; some place that you haven’t dreamed of but you will instantly love once you get to see and experience.
We didn’t stay long at the summit. After some rest and uploading our pictures via Instagram (there’s network coverage yay!), we moved on. This is the part that Ninang Tetay despised most :). Since it is her first hike, she really found it difficult to descend. That, too, was my problem when I started.
Then there was a part that you have to use a rope and rappel down. She was really scared. It was such a struggle for her. And it was our fault to have pushed her that far even though we know it was just her first time. I am truly sorry Ninang! Nonetheless, the experience was packed with adventure. I can now say that I am now better in rappelling *wink*. I enjoyed it a lot.
It was near sunset when we reached the grotto. It was such a dramatic scene – the afternoon sun shining down on the cross at the grotto while we’re walking towards it. The Grotto, with the trail of the Way of the Cross is one of the landmarks of Mt. Maculot and I’m very glad to have visited it for the first time. Behind it you will see the side of the mountain where we struggled earlier. In front you will see the community at the foot of the mountain. Now I know the feeling of being Google Maps :).
Slowly, the sun begins to rest. That feeling when the warmth of the sun touches your face and the breeze brushes your cheek, it is amazing. I would trade for it in exchange of a week in the city or a week’s salary (wow). After enjoying the scene and lingering for a while, we were almost near to the conclusion of our trip. Before 6pm, we were back on the cemented roads, tired but full of new experience. Checking back on Ninang, she really did well; very brave and strong to have withstand the nerve-wracking experience. I am very proud of my friend. After getting dressed, we ended our adventure by treating ourselves with some Big N’ Tasty at McDonald’s. I never knew fast food could be that great.
Mt.Batulao @ Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines
October 6-7, 2012
With all those busy days and hectic schedule, where do you usually seek refuge? To some, maybe the Church; hang-out with friends, perhaps a sleepover or beer-all-you-can Friday nights; karaoke nights, laser tag, eating galore, among others. I tried almost all that (laser tag and beer-all-you-can, you’re next!) and yeah, they took out of my head all the hard day’s work. But still, nothing can beat a quiet moment by your self while enjoying nature – the scenic view of the mountain range, the gentle kiss of a cold night’s breeze and the greeting of the morning sun. So I found myself at Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas a month ago. (My God! It took me this long to write a story about it!)
The overlooking view of the land below and Mt. Batulao’s peaks is the mountain’s showcase of its grandeur. Mt. Batulao actually has 10 peaks, including its summit. You will be welcomed by the vast view of the green of the mountain, which is mostly grass and some shrubs. Unlike Pico de Loro and Mt. Maculot, Mt. Batulao isn’t a forested one. Less vegetation and thus, more sun exposure. We had a night trek though, so at the first day I haven’t felt the heat yet. But the following day is a scourge.
We arrived at jump off point at around 5:30pm. On the way up, there is a small community. There you can hire guides and porters as young as 7 years old I guess. It’s the children’s playground; the environment is a very friendly one. Path crossing the community is actually very muddy because of the horses. Horses are their means of transportation, especially when garnering resources from and up to the mountain.
There are two trails: the new trail, which is I think easier (for me at least), and the old trail, which is more difficult because of the narrow trails (with cliffs at the left and the right) aside from the fact that there is a part that needs to be crossed by rappelling, about 75-90° of inclination. Later, I’ll talk about that more. For the night trek, we took the new trail to get to the camp earlier. The steepness of every step is not actually the problem; it’s the danger of falling into your left or your right. Gust may shake off your balance so proper caution is advised. From where you start, you can see the trail that you have to pass and you can even point out which peak the campsite is if you are already familiar with the terrain. With that sight, I thought it will take us forever to get there! It’s like going to the other end of the world (now I’m exaggerating). You have to get through all the mountain ranges in sight. But I was very surprised when we got there at around 8pm. It’s that fast. And actually easy. You just got to have the balls for long walks. We’re expecting it to be a 4-hour trek.
Meters before the campsite, you can already see the lights and can easily tell that it is very crowded. Well, just like us, there are a lot of mountaineers that took advantage of the beautiful weather, longing for this weekend to come after the typhoons that recently entered our country. The campsite was very well organized. There are segmentation to distinguish spaces occupied by the tents. Surprisingly, and such a blessing for me, there is a toilet. (Imagine, a toilet on up the mountain! Almighty five! *Barney-style) It was such a lively campsite; with all the singing, the joking and the drinking. It’s nice to have company. Unfortunately, though, this will keep you from having a good night’s sleep.
*Barney is from How I Met Your Mother – my favorite womanizer of all time :p
As soon as we set up our tent, we got settled and started to cook our food. It would be my first time to eat a really cooked food during a climb (heated corned beef, luncheon meat and other processed food are not counted as cooked!). Sir Relly (or Turtley as I call him) is in charge of the cooking. Actually, he’s in charge of everything; from the planning of the itinerary, to the setting up of the camp, cooking, and all matters important.
Tope was there as his accomplice, learning all the basics from an experienced climber, assisting me in times of despair, e.g. foot stuck in knee-length mud. (And I was there just to take home awesome pictures. Joke!) Great guys indeed (not mentioning that they always leave me behind because I’m too slow for the pace. Great guys indeed ). After our dinner, we took a walk up a peak near our camp. Then stayed there for more than an hour, just enjoying the lights of the cities below, talking about everything and anything, watching some videos, taking phone calls, teasing me BIG TIME*, and just feeling the mountain breeze. Ah, the life away from the city. Simply wonderful.
*Trivia: I got small boobs and they make fun of that. Oh, pathetic me. Oops, TMI, haha
After the night, which by the way was flogged by fierce evening winds, we broke camp early. At around 6:30 in the morning, we had our breakfast, had some small talk with the other climbers and by 7:30 we were good to go.
Turtley was ahead of us; Tope and I climbed the peak where recently, about early this year, a hiker just died. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a probability of accident but the trails aren’t as dangerous as to cause a fellow hiker’s death. Mt. Batulao is known as a safe hiking destination, with difficulty only rated 3/9 by PinoyMountaineer.com. It was considered an isolated case and had been caused by human failure which unfortunately caused her death. (Click here for the news article)
To our surprise, there’s been an ongoing pre-nuptial photo shoot at the top. Along with other hikers, we were asked to join the photo shoot as extras. What a cute couple, must be bonded by the passion of climbing. It was a lovely sight; two lovers kissing and greeted by the morning sun with a cheering crowd. It suddenly made me think of what have I been doing with my love life blah blah blah. Long story short, I can’t yet see myself in a couple. Well, who knows, maybe I’ll find love in the mountains. (Eek, cheesy me XD)
Then off we continue. ‘Traffic’ would be one of the setbacks of popular climbing spots like Mt.Batulao. Along the way, we passed by a lot of other hikers going the opposite and the same direction as ours. It was no problem except that the trails are narrow and mostly good for one-way.
Reaching the summit was 1 hour worth of sweating and sunburn. But it was all worth it. When we reached the summit, we stayed there for some 30 minutes, took some pictures and then continued on to the way down. Sunset would be very amazing at the summit; unfortunately, it wasn’t on our schedule. Maybe on our next climb we finally get to see the sunset.
We used the old trail on our descent. As I said previously, it is more difficult than the new trail. Aside from the distance, we have to rappel a vertical surface. It was my first time to rappel (not counting the recreational rappelling with the safety ropes and gears) and I found it hard even if it’s only 10-15 feet in height. I guess I have to practice more because I don’t even know how to correctly hold the rope and to slide down (challenge accepted!). I enjoyed it; it’s worth a try and of course, I got no choice but do it anyway.
The old trail is where most of the campsites are. We made a lot of stops to rest; no rush because we’re too early on the schedule. Two more hours of walk and we’re back to the civilization. A lot of kids swarm the little community at the foot of the mountain. They’re really adorable.
Most of the time, when climbing mountains, I always look forward to reaching the summit, to know the feeling of being up so high and seeing the land below. Not apparent to me, though, that I actually enjoy the ascent itself – all the walking, the leaping, the striding and the slipping. It’s as if I am moving with nature and my silence and its silence when merged together is melodious to my soul. And when you’re on your way down, you can’t help but long for the luxury of a good food, a nice bath and a thorough brush (because brushing teeth isn’t a thing during a climb). Ultimately, you’ll be longing for the taste of the toothpaste and mouthwash in your mouth. :))
P.S. This is our first picture together ever taken by a third party. Worth to keep for remembrance. Hope we’ll be a larger group in the future. Sino gusto sumama? :))
YGC Tree Planting – Phase 2 @ Brgy. San Andres, Tanay, Rizal
September 22, 2012
I promised myself that I will climb at least one mountain a month starting August and I’m performing very well. On August, I ascended Mt. Maculot and on October, Mt. Batulao (which I’ll post later). What I’d done in September isn’t mainly a hiking activity, but sort of it was. I participated in our company’s annual tree planting in Tanay, Rizal. At the very least, I am still keeping up with my goal; I climbed a part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. But more importantly, I was part of an initiative in saving the world, to provide our future children a better place to live in.
Back in college, I was a member of an environmental organization – UP Kappa Phi Sigma Conservation and Development Society. We had tree planting activities then. And I was thrilled to know that our company is holding one. So without hesitation, I signed up for the event. The activity is a YGC (Yuchengco Group of Companies, a local company) 5-year environmental initiative to develop Laiban Dam in Rizal. Our company, Malayan Insurance, together with other YGC companies is on its second year – Phase 2 of the 5-year project. I estimated 150 to 200 attendees.
I wasn’t able to attend last year. They said that the planting area this year was at a more elevated space up in the mountain; however, there were more attendees last year.
The hike was I guess 30 minutes only. We were provided with everything that we need: water at pit stops (about 4 or 5 pit stops), a walking stick and even marshals, guides and military men for protection.
Some people really had a hard time reaching the top. Some had cramps and some had difficulty breathing due to exhaustion. Fortunately, my hikes gave me more endurance to stand the heat and conquer the slopes.
It wasn’t too steep; in fact, it was an easy hike. There were even children walking and running alongside us, in barefoot! But no matter, we successfully reached the top.
Each company was assigned a different variety of tree to plant. Molave trees were assigned for us to plant. To others, Banaba tree, Acacia tree, among others. As I said, everything was provided for us. We don’t even have to dig for holes for the seedlings. It was there for us already. What we had to do is take out the seedlings from the plastics then shoot them in the holes and fill in soil.
And pity me, I only planted two seedlings! Well, that’s the average among the group. I wish we could have planted more, but the area can only accommodate few so we were contented with two seedlings. Personally, my tree planting experience wasn’t complete without digging holes for myself, with my nails getting soiled. Still, getting everything ready for us is very thoughtful and I appreciate it very much.
The area where we planted was mostly grassland. There’s not much trees, more so overgrowth. Not so much bush or shrubs either. To the other side of the mountain range, you can actually see brown areas, indicative of poor presence of trees. It was a lovely sight, but it could have been lovelier if my eyes can be blinded by the green of the trees that I wish could have seen. There is a need for such initiatives apparently. The sweat, the scourging of the sun, the body pains that we had, everything was worth it because we knew we are doing our world a favor. It always felt nice knowing that you’ve done something good.
I always get very emotional when it comes to topics like these. All the flooding, the massive fish kills, the gruesome landslides, the extinction of flora and fauna, the death of seas and waterways, everything is associated with the way we treat our environment. These should not have happened if we truly care. These should not have happened if we weren’t selfish and we know how to give back to nature. Organizing tree planting activities isn’t the only way. In our own special ways like conserving energy at home or at work, minimizing our use (if not eliminating) of plastics, recycling, not buying excessively, and a lot more, we can help the environment and leave a mark. We just have to realize that there is such a great need and act upon it without hesitation. And everything else will be for change.
I would like to commend our company for a great initiative. It was a lot for the environment, and I know Mother Earth is very happy. We don’t do this for ourselves; we do this for our future children, and for our future children’s children.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. (Chinese proverb)
*Photographs courtesy of AF and property of Malayan Insurance
This I got to try this year, summer next year at the latest. Got inspired to create my own bucket list.
Originally posted on Bucket List Publications:
“Difficulty: Class IV rafting: Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require precise maneuvering in very turbulent waters. Moderate to advanced.”
The intriguing difficulty level and open schedule made rafting with Costa Rica Rain Forest Tours in Guanacaste, Costa Rica too exciting to pass up.
Our meeting point at the Rincon Corobici Restaurnat in Canas, Guanacaste was the perfect backdrop for a day of rafting and sightseeing. The howler monkey noises from above the restaurant set the scene and the bumpy, long truck ride to the waters intensified the experience. It was official – we were in the middle of nowhere!
Mt. Maculot @ Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines
August 18-19, 2012
Lost. Tired. Wet. That basically summarizes our hike to Mt. Maculot. All the mishaps bundled into one, how could that be not exciting?
Located in Cuenca, Batangas, Mt. Maculot is one of the favourite hiking destinations in CALABARZON region, especially by beginners. People naturally look forward to the scenic view at the top, overlooking Taal lake and the famous Taal volcano, and other nearby cities. I was with my highschool teacher and former schoolmate, the rose between the thorns (or the thorn between the roses?) Our goal was to reach the campsite by sunset, and to enjoy the orange-indigo envelope of the sky draped by the view of the Taal volcano. At around 5:00 pm in the afternoon, we were already at the jump-off point.
After few stretching and some picture takings, we started our trek.
Did you know that we arrived at the camp site at around 8:00 in the evening? Here it goes:
It actually started great; we were in high spirits and great mood. Then suddenly, we made a wrong turn.
That we don’t yet realize until we get back to the ‘left or right?’ decision point where we actually lost the right track, and after raiding so many trails-we-hope-is-the-right-path and going back a lot of times. We didn’t notice the markers and more importantly, we forgot one basic rule:
HIKING 101: Always turn right. Hiking trails are made to be on the right.
What was funny is that Mt. Maculot is known to have solid, hard-to-miss trails, even wide to most parts and getting lost is really like a joke. The trail is quite easy (PinoyMountaineer* rates its difficulty 3/9). As long as you stay on the trail, you’ll finish the hike in no time. To some experienced hikers, reaching the top can only take as fast as half an hour. On the average, around 1 to 2 hours can get you to the top already. Lucky for us, we had a great weather that’s why mud and earth isn’t a problem at all. Unlucky for us, we got lost! I personally got exhausted because of our so many “wilderness explorers” moments, aka “we’re so damn lost!” moments.
But all that was forgotten when we’re nearing the top. The trail is starting to clear out of trees (though grass is starting to thicken) and you get to see the city lights below. It was fantastic. I seldom felt that peaceful, with the cold breeze brushing my skin and the gentle rustle of the mountain grass playing on the background. I swear I could have cried if the skies were clear and stars were teasing that night. It was wonderful.
By the time we arrived at the campsite, many groups of people had already set up their camp. Unfortunately, the campsite at Mt. Maculot isn’t that spacious; so sorry for you if you can’t find a spot at all. Thank goodness we still had some space for the night. Actually, our spot was grassy and we have to bend them so we can set up our tent. Unknowingly, the grass will serve as our cushion and will keep us from getting wet while we sleep that night until the next morning.
What I like about camping out is that you can reflect on the things that you’ve done, talk about the things that you don’t usually talk about in regular days, and the things that are taboo to talk about when you’re with other people. After dinner (some soup and corned beef!), all we did was talk about just anything along with playing cards and some booze (can’t blame us; it was cold and we need the heat!). I was with two guys and just imagine the stuffs that men talk about (I’m one of the boys; always will, always haveJ). Awesome night indeed.
The next morning, it was raining. The weather on top is always unpredictable. So we have to break camp and start our way back. Our original plan was to traverse from the Rockies then to the Summit and down to the Grotto. The Rockies is the famous attraction of Mt. Maculot. With the super solid rock formations of all sizes, you can get really amazing shots. From the Summit, you can go down to the Grotto where the Stations of the Cross will welcome you. Unfortunately, we made it up only until Rockies. The guardian didn’t advise us to continue on with the traverse because the rain made the trail, which is rocky and steeper, slippery and more dangerous to climb. We content ourselves with our pictures taken at the Rockies.
I always believe that people should try hiking even just once. Because it brings us closer to nature which most of the time we took for granted, never mind and never care. Sometimes the sweat, the thirst and the rush rev up our souls, refreshing what was lost and forgotten. Sometimes this is all the break we needed from the fast paced environment we are currently in. Sometimes being lost, tired and wet makes you feel found, energized and warm from the inside out. I’ll sure be back for more.
*PinoyMountaineer is a web portal for hiking in the Philippines. Check it out. It’s cool. :))
Continued from Part 1
Aside from the stinky bugs and other touchy insects up there, everything else is like a dream. Sometimes there’s zero visibility because we’re covered with clouds! It’s my first time to actually touch clouds, er, be inside a cloud, er, be covered with clouds, er, whatever. When I was young (and until I grow up, hehe), I always thought clouds are fluffy but sadly it’s not. It’s gas, nothing more, nothing less. But the sole idea of being in the clouds is legendary! If the view from the campsite is breathtaking, the view from the peak is awesomely breathtaking. You can see everything down there (not the other ‘down there’ but actually down the mountains, oops :p) and there you’ll appreciate how wonderful our Creator is. In a normal day and in a normal place, say the street across your house, you can’t see what lies beyond that street in a normal vision. But God created such a place where we can see everything everywhere in a 360 angle where the word ‘beyond’ is no longer appropriate. Because what we see on top is already ‘beyond’ everything else. Everything you see is a miracle.
We stayed there for quite some time; savored every minute because getting there is no joke. There is even another peak but I didn’t manage to climb it further because I’m scared to death, but Turtley did. Well, he’s been there a lot of times so it’s pretty much expected. And he’s good at what he’s doing. It only took him 5 minutes or so to get there.
At around 1 or 2 (I really don’t know, sorry, haha), it was time to go home, so we started trailing down. If going up is no joke, for me, going down is a hell worse than that. To most people, going down is a lot easier because less effort is exerted though more force control on the feet and legs is required. I don’t know but I really had a hard time going down the slope. Seeing everything below is a big factor for me, knowing that at a wrong step you might fall down and there’s nothing to hold on to. Well, I actually needed a hand to hold on to while going down (that sounded mushy, so girly pa-cutesy), a helping hand I mean. Thank God there is one (thanks Tope! You’re the man!).
It poured when we’re halfway down. It’s no big deal for me. In fact, I loved it. There is something in the rain that is so calming. Maybe the sound perhaps, the chill of the water, or the shivering sensation. I love the rain by the way. For quite some time, I haven’t experienced getting soaked in the rain until now. My last time I guess is when I was in high school and I can’t even remember it. But the rain always got a way with me. I feel it.
Before finishing our trek, we visited the waterfalls. We’re lucky it’s pouring and the falls is alive (because there are times that there is no water in the falls). I think it’s my first time to see a falls (how cute is that huh). God, the water is cold. You can feel that it’s fresh, young and straight from the heart of the mountain. We really are so lucky.
The journey had been a long one and it’s worth all the mud, the slips and the body pains. All throughout, we laughed a lot and talked about anything that pops out of our mind. I enjoyed their company, my hiking bodies. I never knew we’re going to have so much fun. Being one with nature for once in a while is a great activity because it is healthy for the mind and the soul. Understanding nature is one way of understanding ones’ self because we are all made by the same hands. I am now saddened by the fact that there are people who don’t give a shit about the environment – those people who kill wildlife, destroy the natural habitat, cut down trees and quarry until the ground swallows itself. And it would be heartbreaking that someday, when I got back there, there is nothing to see and the magic I once knew is now a curse, a curse that man casts to himself.
How do you feel about nature? What do you hear when birds chirp, leaves rustle, wind blows and water flows? Have you ever been ecstatic about the environment? Can you see the beauty and magic of nature? Because I do, and my first major hike (yep, I consider it major – ‘cause I reached the high top!) felt like my soul is rejuvenated.
Just this weekend, I went to hike with my high school teacher, his co-teacher and co-teacher’s boyfriend, and my two other high schoolmates. We aren’t really close friends; it would be my first time to bond with my schoolmates and I haven’t even met the others before. My high school teacher, Sir Relly (I prefer to call him Turtley for reasons I can’t remember) would be the closest one I got there. But none of it matters because at the end of the day, we really got along very well as if we’ve known each other for so long. We clicked, in short.
We climbed the rocky path of Pico de Loro (Parrot’s Peak) in Ternate, Cavite. I actually lost track of the time but I guess we jumped off at around 6 in the morning. It was my first time to hike a mountain that high. When we were in college, I used to hike in Mt. Makiling like 3 or 4 times but only up until Mud Springs and Flat rocks (when by noon I’m back at the lower campus) and never up to Peak 2. I’m sure you’ve been there too either by a class field trip or just a barkada trip. How high would that be, well, I really have no idea. I didn’t even know how long we’ve been walking up to the top but it felt like 2-4 hours. Actually, we’re earlier to reach the destination than expected. Hell yeah, we’re that good.
Everything along the path was just so amazing. You see the soil color change from path to path. You hear insects and birds but you don’t know where they are. You pass through ‘mini rivers’ and see a lot of rock formations – my favorite is the ‘butt rock’ because it really looks like an ass. It was so rocky and I mean really very rocky. I wonder how the big boulders got and formed there. We also met fellow hikers along the way. It was a long walk (yeah, walk :p) and very exhausting especially that the track is uptrend and very steep at some points. As Turtley puts it, it’s an ‘assault’. For me, it was a sweet assault because nature in every way keeps us safe to reach our point of destination. That explains the dangling vines, the firm branches and the unfaltering rocks, because they’re there to hold on to. Nature really provides.
Alas, we reached the camp site. The view was breathtaking. I was like, “Wow, I’m on the top of the world!” Nah, I wasn’t that corny, I never said that. J. Anyway, when we got there, I immediately took a picture, a picture of my accomplishment. I felt the warmth of the sun and it’s a different kind of warmth because I’m on the top of a mountain finally. And the sunshine felt, aside from being hot, divine.
After making most of the moment and some picture-taking, we had lunch. I actually expected some jungle inspired, Neanderthal mode of lunch, e.g. starting fire using friction and sunlight, cooking rice in bamboo, eating in banana leaves, cooking and crunching crickets (I never wished that!). We had, in fact, lunch – home style. We had a portable stove (or burner, whatever it is) and cooking then was easy. We ate in plates and even used spoon and fork and we had drinking water. Can you believe that? And I personally can’t believe that we had all those, complete with cooking utensils, oil, spices and seasonings. I even wondered how the 4-gallon of water fit in Turtley’s bag. Seriously, a 4-gallon plus other amazing stuff in his pack. I can guess that there’s a house in there.
But the climb wasn’t finished yet. We are yet to embark on the ‘real assault’ because everything else is ‘initial assault’. I thought we were on the top already but we haven’t reached the peak. God, where else should we go?? After packing things up, we set foot again and this time towards the peak – the parrot’s beak. And the path is really steep. You literally have to climb like a spider, well at least for me. It was rockier than ever and really scary. It was only a 15-20 minute hike but it felt like forever. And when you’re near the peak, you’re on your own. Nature provides nothing any more – no branches, no vines, only lots of rock and free space to tumble down if you are not careful. But all the hardship is worth it. The experience on top is surreal.
To be continued.
Once, you met a girl,
Her hair is dyed; it’s burning as the evening fire
But you know nothing but to be burned
To be burned in love with the girl I know.
No doubt it’s true,
You were in love with the red-haired girl.
Then, the girl left you,
Her hair is still dyed and is still fiery as a fire.
But now you’re all blistered and burned
And hurt because the girl we know loves you no more.
Indeed, it was the end
When she fell out of love, that red-haired girl.
Since then, you never let her go.
To her it was over; to you it’s starting all over.
But now you’re all alone, still holding on to the dye
And the color and the scent of her dashing red hair.
It is never a secret
How much you missed the girl, the red-haired girl.
And after everything, your eyes still search
And all that want to see is the blazing red hair.
But all you see at the face of the book is the red,
The ruby, the scarlet, the tinted hair that is all but gone.
That fact you can’t accept
So you turn to others, the other red-haired girls.
All the while, there is this girl
With jet black hair, a shiny ebony hair
But you never notice her, for she has not the flaring
And flickering and flaming hair of the red-haired girl.
Now the truth I only tell,
Another girl is in love with you, and she’s that raven black-haired girl.
To You, From Me