Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MOUNTAINEER'S LOG: TRAINING FOR D2-KITANGLAD TRAVERSE CLIMB

THE MOUNT DULANG-DULANG TO Mount Kitanglad traverse climb is still more than a month away yet it never escaped the attention of Doc Abe Manlawe, especially the physical conditioning of those who will compose the team that will assault the physically challenging trails of these two very high mountains located in Bukidnon Province in Mindanao.

Even as the Cebu Mountaineering Society (CeMS) is still in the middle of mourning borne out of the loss of one of the club’s beloved member in the person of the late Sir Paeng Tura last April 17, 2008, we started our training schedule right away last April 20, a Sunday, beginning with a three-and-a-half hour trek in the hinterlands of Cebu City.

GUADALUPE-NAPO-KALUNASAN-OPRRA-KALUNASAN-GUADALUPE

On that first weekend we started at 6:30 in the morning from the grounds of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish following the mountain road toward Sapangdaku then towards Napo. It was very cool up there even as it was still in the middle of summer and we passed by many mango tree plantations as we neared Kalunasan. We were six of us: Doc, Julienne Rivera, Jecris Dayondon, Sam Lim, Roy Ragaza and me. At Kalunasan the road began to move downward and we now trod on asphalt and concrete roads passing by BBRC and CPDRC.

It was already hot and we felt the sun burning upon our shoulders as we trudged towards OPRRA and exiting at the Boy Scout camp towards the vicinity of BBRC and CPDRC then we took a left turn towards Guadalupe. At the last two kilometers we felt the heat of our own body that goaded us to run downhill, sweat pouring unabated in mid-morning. Everyone were exulting at the sheer joy of finally letting loose our limbs after an eternity of inactivity.

Act one over and we gained something like 14 kilometers in our first training day.

GUADALUPE-BAKSAN-PAMUTAN-CABATBATAN SPILLWAY AND BACK

The morning after the burial of Sir Paeng, April 27, ten of us, namely: Doc, Julienne, Boy Olmedo, the couple Loklok and Tata Caumeran, Sam, newbies Harold Alcontin, Nathan and Mylez, and me started from the same Guadalupe church as of last week. At 6:30 AM we took the same trail towards Sapangdaku, but we crossed the Sapangdaku River instead and into Sitio Cabading then climbing up the backbreaking road for Sitio Baksan.

We arrived at the Pamutan junction and took the north branch of the road for the direction of Cabatbatan. Along the way we passed by the village square where residents were harvesting their caimito trees of their ripe fruits and Doc, thru his generosity, shelled out sixty pesos for four kilos of the ripe and sweet caimitos to quench our thirst that we all munched along the road until we reached the spillway where Doc, again, dishing out Kisses chocolates during our rest.

At 11:00 AM, we took the road back to the Pamutan junction and it was so tiring that we felt our lungs would burst from gulping oxygen during the huffing-and-puffing stage. We took lunch at the junction and after thirty minutes we climbed down into Sapangdaku River following the winding road that passed Sitios Baksan and Cabading and, reaching the river, we crossed it and then headed back to Guadalupe and home. All in all, we traveled 23 kilometers on foot in seven hours, more or less. Second Sunday training over.

GARAJE-BABAG-BONBON-CAMBIKTAS-TRANS CENTRAL HIGHWAY-GARAJE

On May 1, Labor Day, we decided to take advantage of an official holiday to train. There were thirteen of us: Doc, Joy Tongco, Cankee Potamio, Loklok, Jecris, Brian Gera, Glenn Lao, Sam, Dongski Cabico, Grace Ventic and me plus guests Eugene Abarquez of USC-M and Desiree of Tacloban City. We started at 2:00 PM in Sitio Garaje in Busay entering a concreted road just below Mountain View Resort following the contour of Babag Hills and the road became rough and gravelly as we approached and neared Babag Proper, where we were able to see a small upland valley planted with all sort of flowers and vegetables.

From Babag we descended upon a snaky dirt road which turned into concrete as we went deeper and deeper until we reached the trans-central highway at 4:00 PM and from there we went down again for Bonbon, deep in the bosom of the Bonbon River valley. Then we took another gravelly road branching infront of the barangay hall of Bonbon leading to Sitio Cambiktas and then it was uphill all the way until we reached the trans-central highway again at 6:00 PM.

We traveled on the trans-central road upward back to Sitio Garaje and arrived there at 8:00 PM where we were able to accumulate 20 kilometers in six hours of hiking, including two hours of night trekking.

B.M.C. REFRESHER WITH L.N.T. PRINCIPLES, BAK-OY BEACH, OLANGO ISLAND

As part of the preparation for the Dulangdulang to Kitanglad traverse climb it was suggested during the wake of the late Sir Paeng in Mabolo that, because of the level of difficulty of this trek, those who will be composing the 14-climber team should undergo a Basic Mountaineering Refresher Course focusing on the seven principles of the Leave No Trace which would be held at Joy Tongco’s property in Bak-oy Beach in Olango Island. So on May 3-4, 33 members from CeMS, including new applicants and guests, flocked to the island to attend the refresher course.

Twenty-five of us met at 5:30 AM of May 3 at Caltex Gas Station infront of San Miguel Corp. in Mandaue City braving a cold early morning shower which include Doc, Nonoy Edillor, Rosebelle Daculan, Grace, Pinpin Po and daughter Mai-mai, Glenn Domingo and daughter Samantha, Brian, Glenn Lao, Sam, Julienne, Gay Calumbes, Harold, Nathan, Mylez and me, plus guests, including Chico Estrera of CAMP, who will instruct the participants about knots and ropes.

One of those who came with us was the late Sir Paeng’s daughter, Bimbim. From Mandaue, inside a convoy of four vehicles, we went by way of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge to Punta Engaño Wharf beside Hilton Hotel in Lapulapu City and, from there; we embarked on a rented outriggered sea craft for Olango Island, just off the east coast of Mactan Island.

We arrived at Bak-oy Beach at around 8:30 AM, half-drenched from the morning rain, and temporarily occupied one cottage. Daddy Frank Cabigon and Andrew Flores, who both arrived the day before, and Joy met us. Later in the day, Lilibeth Initan, Boy Toledo, Jecris, Aldrich Paypon, couple Tata and Loklok with their cute daughter, Dongski and Cankee, arrived. Also arriving were the USC-M guys - Eugene, Joel and Jude – who assisted us, in one way or another, either as facilitators, instructors or “cooks”.

At around 10:00 AM it was still raining so we decided to hold our lectures indoor and Glenn Lao started the BMC Refresher with the first LNT principle – Plan Ahead And Prepare. It touched on how to travel light and taught the participants how to make a checklist of what essential items to bring. Then we took lunch at Barangay Baring ordering a bunch of tapsilogs for the whole voracious lot in us.

Right after the rains had stopped, we transferred our “class” outside where Glenn gave inputs on how to read a map and how to use a compass, or both; and at 2:00 PM, Julienne gave a lecture of the different types of backpacks and tents. Then at 3:30 PM, Joel showed us elementary first aid until 5:00 PM. Each one of us participated in groupings to acquaint us better of the different disciplines that were available here at Bak-oy to be digested as additional knowledge.

Supper was served at 7:00 PM and we delighted at the rare chance to eat generous servings of broiled scallops and sa-ang seashells, cooked in the traditional manner of boiling in seawater. Both of these kind are abundant in the seas off Olango Island. Aside from that, grilled pork belly chopped in small cubes and young blue fin tuna fried in oil were served and it fit in perfectly with the former. All of these viands were made tastier when dipped in pure coconut vinegar laced with soy sauce, onions and tomatoes. All hands were busy doing the “boodle fight” episode and somebody (or all) forgot to take out a camera to document the chaos of the moment. 

Settling finally comfortably at 8:00 PM, we decided to hold our monthly membership meeting on a (first) Saturday instead of the traditional first Sunday of each month. We tackled seriously the requisites of the Dulangdulang-to-Kitanglad traverse climb and trek and we had long discussions and disagreements of who among whom that will be chosen to comprise the fourteen people that will tackle that trek, as well as those that will compose the fourteen climbers that will assault Mount Kitanglad.

In short, we were able to finalize, at 10:30 PM, the 14 climbers for the Mt. Dulangdulang-to-Mt. Kitanglad traverse climb and trek and the 14 who will compose the Mount Kitanglad climb three weeks before the deadline set by the DENR.

At 5:00 AM of the following day, nine of us who heeded the cock’s crow, woke up in the early dawn (Doc, Gay, Jon, Boy T, Rosebelle, Julienne, Sam, Harold and me), hit the road running from Barangay Baring to Barangay Sta. Rosa, a distance of about five kilometers that we negotiated in about 30 minutes. We took the same road, all pistons pumping, back to Bak-oy Beach. Here, Boy T, a 2005 stroke survivor, gave a good account of himself and sheer admiration from everyone by running the whole length without resting, even keeping up with the torrid pace set up by the running doctor. Bravo! Boy T! Bravo!

At that juncture, I road-tested a pair of ASICS cross-trainer shoes that Doc gave to me as a present and it housed perfectly my feet, sized #10. On a pair of good shoes I ran like the Roadrunner…Beep! Beep! Thanks a lot Doc! Also, my blessings for that day came in pairs as Boy T decided to give me his brown McKINLEY hiking shoes after the early morning road run. Matz salam Boy T! I felt good that day and I thanked God for His blessings.

The sun rose from its hiding place and gave warmth to our campsite and at 8:00 AM, then I started my lecture about Preparation and Organization of Climbs and forty-five minutes later, came Jon, who taught about the second principle - Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, and then Eugene touched about the third and fourth LNT principles – Minimize Campfire Impacts and Leave What You Find.

Forty-five minutes after that, it was Rosebelle's turn, who elucidated the third LNT principle, Dispose of Waste Properly; Lilibeth the sixth principle, Respect Wildlife; and Doc, who did the most brief of talks, about mountaineering ethics in the last LNT principle – Be Considerate of Other Visitors, where he spoke just a few sentences, but gave a heartful of chocolates and candies from a heart-shaped red tin can.

Last to lecture was Chico. Chico, a veteran of several mountain rescues, taught the participants elementary ropeworks and they were all ears. Starting from the different kinds of rope, then to the various array of knots and hitches and, last, the proper management and care of ropes.

At 12:00 noon, the BMC refresher lectures ended, capped by the serving of a special pasta prepared by Andrew! At 1:00 PM, we left Olango Island for Mactan Island and from Mactan to mainland Cebu and I got home at 2:30 PM full of stories of new experiences with my first visit to Olango Island, especially the gastronomic treat of sweet scallops and sa-ang sea shells.

CAMP 6-CABATBATAN-TOONG-BUHISAN

On our fourth weekend of training, May 11, nine of us started from Camp 6 in Talisay City. (Originally, we were nine: Doc, Lilibeth, Jecris, Brian, Cankee, Loklok, Harold, Gay and me; but Jecris decided to backtrack it.) We crossed the Mananga River, took a steep trail for the direction of Pamutan in Cebu City and crossed a tributary of the Mananga.

We followed the trail amidst hillside farms of vegetables and mango trees and finally reached a dirt road in Cabatbatan that led us to the spillway, with which place, we visited last April 28 during the second weekend of training. From the spillway, it was another lung-busting uphill hike until we reached the village center where we took a respite and, at exactly 10:00 AM, we hiked on up for Pamutan junction and passed by it taking the road down for Buhisan.

Walking at the forested reserve along To-ong, I caught a glimpse of the Buhisan Reservoir Dam - three-fourths full. Passing by a multi-purpose hall of Barangay To-ong, still under construction, I could not help notice of a nearby carenderia cum sari-sari store spewing their sewerage into the highly fragile Buhisan catchment basin, that is being threatened already by a throng of houses sprouting within its periphery, which were all not there fifteen years ago, mind you.

We ended our hike at 12:00 noon with a multicab ride for Punta Princesa then for home. It was a distance of roughly seventeen kilometers of rugged terrain which we traversed in just four-and-a-half hours - a big improvement from the first training session and but not that good to try at Mount Dulangdulang and Mount Kitanglad.

On the fifth weekend of our training, May 18, Doc and me were not able to join the Tapul-Manipis-Camp 6 hike which only Lilibeth, Cankee, Brian and Loklok were able to participate. However, I made up for that by running ten kilometers in the early dawn of May 21 starting from my home in M.J. Cuenco Avenue then to P. del Rosario Street, turning right to Osmeña Boulevard passing by Fuente Osmeña, then to the Provincial Capitol turning right again to Escario Street, going down to Escario Extension and proceeding the whole length of the Cebu Business Park exiting at M.J. Cuenco Avenue, then turning left to Gen. Maxilom Avenue up to McArthur Boulevard, then right to G.L. Lavilles Street and, finally, home.

DOC ABE MANLAWE'S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

At 6:00 PM, we decided to surprise Doc at his clinic by celebrating his birthday there and some of us prepared some food to bring, but we were the ones who were surprised by Doc as he already anticipated that we were coming and, so, he prepared something for us instead. Everybody came and had his fill of binignit, empanada, grilled chicken, pork barbecue, ngo-hiong, tuna pasta, spaghetti, pizza and a chocolate cake, some soft drinks and iced teas. Noel Delantes, who just planed in from Dubai, came and splurged a lot of pork barbecue, grilled chicken and rice balls (aided by Jecris) with which food he missed so much during his 11-month stint in the Middle East.

After the confusion brought about by the free meals, Cankee serenaded us all with an original song composition with his guitar and dedicated it to Doc, whose melodies aided our digestion very well. Then after blowing one small candle, Doc began to present to the whole group the final report to compose the following climbers who will go to Mounts Dulangdulang and Mt. Kitanglad based upon the results of our previous climbs and enthusiasm to the current training:

1. Jing de Egurrola - Expedition Leader
2. Sam Lim
3. Julienne Rivera
4. Lilibeth Initan
5. Boy Olmedo
6. Loklok Caumeran
7. Glenn Lao
8. Brian Gera
9. Jon Consunji
10. Aldrich Paypon
11. Jecris Dayondon
12. (Noel Delantes)
13. (Dr. Abe Manlawe)
14.

We were stunned by what we heard when Doc explained that he is not sure of going with us on the trip and that he might inhibit himself due to a nagging tendinitis which he got a month before and he is taking medication. Also, the Mt. Kitanglad climb had been scrapped and re-programmed instead to Mount Lantoy in Argao, Cebu to be held on the same weekend as that of the Dulangdulang-Kitanglad traverse climb as many participants opted to pull out due to the onset of classes in June.

By 10:00 PM, Noel, Daddy Frank, Boy T, Joy, Grace, Jecris and me proceeded to Outdoor Perspective in Juana Osmeña Street to make pleasant talk and chit-chat under the goadings of several ice-cold bottles of beer. Later, Rosebelle arrived. For two hours, we enjoyed the ambiance of the place which got its inspiration from the outdoors-oriented people that run the outdoor shop cum watering hole.

LAWAAN III-MAGHAWAY-TAPUL-CAMP 7-CAMP 6

Sixth weekend, May 27. We started at 10:30 AM from Lawaan III in Talisay City, ten of us, namely: Julienne, Mylez, Nathan, Cankee, Loklok, Boy O, Sam, Jon and me plus guest Desiree. Doc Abe refrained from joining this hike due to his doctor's advice not to engage in strenuous outdoor activities for about a week while me, despite nursing a raging fever, decided to lead this trek, a commitment borne out of being the club president.

From Lawaan III we passed by Camella Homes and into Maghaway then turning right to Tapul. At Tapul, we observed, some places beside the road where strewn with junk, used tires, plastic and all kinds of garbage. This is where Talisay City's open garbage dumpsite is located which is highly questionable since it intrude into a protected area and is in the very heart of a watershed catchment basin! Obviously, Talisay City administrators have ran out of creative ideas of where to properly dispose and process the city's garbage and have resorted to using Pre-Cambrian-era methods. Calling Greenpeace.

We followed the road and passed by Sta. Maria Heights, several sitios and upland neighborhoods and then we took a shortcut through a small gully that winded us all. We hit the road again and took our lunch beside it. After that, the long brown line looked endless as it climbed higher and higher and higher ending at Sitio Campensa where we rested for a while.

From Campensa we followed the same road further and I noticed that this road used to be a trail and were now bulldozed and widened to be passable by motor vehicles. Along the road were tracks left by earth-moving machines and it answered my nagging fear of Cebu's missing trails. Hiking on, I enjoyed the forested zone with its sweet-smelling air pervading the area marked by numerous stands of Baguio pine, mahogany and teak trees. This stretch of the road is now part of Camp 7 of Minglanilla town and is devoid of local inhabitants and is very remote and lonely.

From a hardwood enclave it changed into a great stand of bamboo forest as the road went down and, here, I heard the rare melody of the endemic, but shy, black shama or siloy that nestles only in bamboo groves. The further we went down, the trail-widening construction left many trees as its casualty and in this stretch of “new” road I could hear above and below of people chopping young trees while their helpers piled them beside the road. These people took advantage of the road construction by letting others believe that what wood they collect are part of the ones intentionally felled during the earth-moving works.

Leaving the forest we finally reached the asphalted Manipis Road and we took rest at the Sudlon-Camp 7 junction. From there, we followed the winding Manipis Road down to Camp 6 which took us about an hour under intermittent rains. I took the lead and timed an interval of only 20 minutes separating me and the last man which is good enough as that of the 30-minute limit set by Doc. We then took a multicab PUJ bound for Tabunok, Talisay City and, from there, Nathan drove us all to Cebu City with his Isuzu Crosswind and, all in all, we traversed and logged almost 28 kilometers of walking distance and six hours of hike time.

There was a pre-climb meeting at Doc's clinic in St. Vincent Hospital last May 30, 2008. It touched on what things to bring and we discussed the checklists that each one of us suggested. We also revamped the Dulangdulang-to-Kitanglad roster by removing Jecris from the list after the latter decided not to go with the group due to a company seminar. Still, Doc was a doubtful starter.

I decided not to join the last Sunday (June 1) of training where three groups tackled on three separate routes which all started at Guadalupe. But I pursued my own training on a day before that on May 31, by running ten kilometers on the road following the same route and places which I did last May 21. With that, I am hoping to run again on June 3, before I'll finally settle my body for complete rest in time for the June 5 night trip by boat to Cagayan de Oro City, the gateway to Bukidnon and the whole Mindanao Island, from whence Mount Dulangdulang and Mount Kitanglad stood.

As of final count from the latest CeMS membership meeting held last June 1; Doc, Noel, Brian and Glenn Lao could never make it and it boiled down to only eight brave souls who will go on to this quest that CeMS will embark on a trek that normally would consume four days on the trail which this spunky crew will take in only three.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

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