Sunday, December 21, 2008


I TOOK A HALF-DAY FROM work on December 6, 2008 as I have to be at the Ayala Terminal at 2:00 PM. From there I will go up to Gaas, Balamban to attend the Cebu Mountaineering Society Christmas Party and Camp at the Sierra Tree Farm of the couple Ramon and Ann Vidal.

At 12 noon, I raced from Mandaue City to Cebu City. There was a heavy downpour and traffic slowed down. I reached home at 1:30 PM and I saw the river beside my house filled almost to the brim. I took a hurried lunch and grabbed my Habagat Venado backpack and a carry-bag containing a big rectangular plastic container inside of which contained a sweetened sticky rice delicacy or biko.

Half-running half-stumbling, to my consternation, some parts of the river overflowed into the streets and traffic froze to a standstill. Vacant taxicabs were rarer as the Sumatran rhino and I called Ben Lao to wait for me coz I would be late. Taking a chance, I hitched a ride on a service vehicle of Barangay Luz and the occupants conveniently dropped me off at the Cebu Business Park.

Fortunately, many were not able to arrive early due to the rains and I settled my things and myself inside Ben's Isuzu Highlander and shared space with Dennis Legaspi, Daryl Balmoria and her brother Junjun. We left Ayala at 3:00 PM and Ben played selections of Sarah Brickman on his stereo which blended perfectly well with the trip along the Trans-Central highway.

We arrived an hour-and-a-half later and followed the concrete pathway to the Vidal's weekend residence some three hundred meters uphill. Ben brought with him a 14-inch TV, a DVD player, a portable speaker system and a satellite dish. We were planning to watch a live telecast of the Manny Pacquiao-Oscar dela Hoya fight scheduled for December 7, Philippine time, there.

Ben and I set up quickly the satellite dish, the TV and anything else in between after which I also pitched the tent which Ben will share space with me. It was terribly cold as the wind duetted with the rain. Everyone shivered and looked for rooms and the lee of the house for refuge.

Already there were the inductees: Brian Gera, Loklok and Tata Caumeran, Aldrich Paypon, Grace Ventic and Mai-mai Po. They just came from Mount Manunggal by way of Inalad and Boy Olmedo, Lilibeth Initan and Glenn Lao went with them as guardians. Likewise, Daddy Frank Cabigon was already there sipping a cup of steaming coffee. We joined them together with Nonoy Edillor, Sarina Avellanosa and daughter, Boy Toledo, Glenn Domingo and daughter Sam, Joy Tongco, Jecris Dayondon, newbie Ernie Salomon and several guests.

Everyone pitched in their dishes on the dining table, to mention a few, like Joy with her lechon baboy, Nonoy with his macaroni salad, Ben with his spaghetti and me with my biko. The Vidals pitched in volumes of rice, a large parrot fish grilled on charcoal along with pork, pasta, flounders in thick soup specially prepared by Ramon. Boy T and Ben made sure that beer will flow like water during the intermission.

Then came the highlight of the whole activity – the exchanging gifts! The spirit of Christmas is celebrated earnestly by everyone here and all the participants came forward with their presents and placed them on the chopping board to be dismembered forever from them. Lots were distributed and all the gears changed hands several times until Ramon got tired of announcing the numbers all over and over again and everyone were very happy at what they got and from the extra dose of excitement and laughter.

At around 10:00 PM, the cold wind and rain seemed unbearable at that moment forcing me to change my sleeping quarter to an unfinished annex instead of the tent I pitched a while ago. Ben made his presence felt with his patented loud snores when I awakened at dawn. He, too transferred.

Waking up to the aroma of a freshly-brewed coffee on December 7, I discovered the annex-cum-sleeping quarter got populated by Ben, Jecris and Ernie and Jude and Eugene Abarquez of USC-M. I put on my windbreaker and tiptoed over the inert bodies and went outside as a gust of wind greeted me. The rains have not abated since yesterday and I helped myself with a cup of hot chocolate drink.

Taking a hasty sip I decided to have a look-see of the tent that Ben and I abandoned last night. Thank God, it was still standing and the insides were dry as a matchstick. Slowly, under the lashings of the wind and rain, I detached the stakes, the flysheet, the poles, the shelter and the ground tarp and stuffed them inside a bag while my neighbors did likewise to their standing tents, which are eleven in all.

Later, all the people present rustled themselves up foraging for food except for the few tired ones. Hot breakfast were served on the table and everyone became alive again for just a moment until another set of intermittent blasts of the strong wind forced them to take refuge on anything that would block the cold.

Even as the meal was ongoing Ben and I concentrated on establishing a signal by adjusting the angle and location of the sat dish until our efforts gave out to the unfavorable weather. Boy T, excited to watch the bout on a good signal, left early together with Boy O and Ernie.

That did not end our excitement, however, as we still have another option of watching the fight, by reverting it to an ordinary TV signal. We were able to watch from Round 1 to Round 8, although delayed, and full of redundant commercials during the whole affair. The good thing about it Ramon withheld the result of the bout after receiving a text message earlier.

The Pacman ended it in the eighth and we ended ours at 3:00 PM. We slowly packed our things and bade goodbye again to Ramon and Ann and we descended the concrete pathway down to the asphalt road where our parked vehicles were waiting to be loaded with our bodies and things. I sat behind Ben and there were eight of us inside the Highlander. Others went with Nonoy's Honda City and Glenn D's KIA Sportage.

The cold wind did not stung anymore at the lower elevations although wisps of water left their marks on the windshields. I went home quite satisfied with the successful event although I felt nostalgic and sad that someone did not make it to the party this time and that someone left an indelible mark on everyone and everybody agreed that they missed that someone very much.

Merry Christmas everybody! See you again on the trail soon...

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1

Animated GIF Banner done in Textmaker


Mel Alarilla said...

Hi Pinoy Apache,
Here’s greeting you the very best of the Christmas season. May the Lord shower you and your family with countless blessings this coming year. Thanks for joining Filipinos Unite!!! God bless you and your loved ones always.

Mel Alarilla of Filipinos Unite!!!

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