Tuesday, December 16, 2008


MOUNT MANUNGGAL HAVE endeared to us all members of the Cebu Mountaineering Society or CeMS, for upon her slopes on March 17, 1989 CeMS became an inspiration of the first ones who were there before: Sir Joe Avellanosa (+), Daddy Frank Cabigon, Dr. Abe Manlawe, Mme. Penpen Mitchell (+), Sir Rex Vecina, Claribel Delgra-Abrahan and Boy Olmedo. Through the years CeMS have alloted two of their yearly activities at Mt. Manunggal – one in March and one in August.

My first climb there was on August 22, 1992. We have all the camping area just to ourselves. On March 1993, we played host to Toto Antipasto and the VISCA Outdoors Recreation Group (VORG) while other mountaineering groups pitched their tents nearby to celebrate nature sans the noisy affairs that were celebrated every year after that. Then on March 1995, ecologically-impaired visitors desecrated the campsite, cutting short our camping days from two to one, disgusted with the way the organizers handled the affair.

Later, CeMS decided to ditch the March activity starting in 1996, which coincided with the commemoration of the President Ramon Magsaysay Death Anniversary every March 17th, when we were appalled by too many people congregating there the year before that and leaving behind mounds of rubbish as well as peripheral damage to the surrounding vegetations.

However, after ten years (March 2006), CeMS decided to return there skipping the March 17th affair and camped only a week after to retrieve and clear Manunggal of other people's garbage which amounted to 89 sacks and garbage bags on the first time. On March 2007, with the University of San Carlos Mountaineers (USC-M) lending a hand, it went down to 45 bags and sacks. It was the first phase of our own Mount Manunggal Stewardship Program.

Then on March 8, 2008, with genuine desire to preserve and upgrade Mt. Manunggal into a first-class tourist destination, CeMS decided to generate help from corporate sponsors, notably AYALA MALL, by mounting eight environmental awareness signages along the different strategic locations within and around the camping area. The DENR, the Municipality of Balamban and Barangay Magsaysay lent technical, legal and moral support. Thus, the second phase of our stewardship program became a reality.

With awareness signages located on several visible points, the amount of waste left by visitors after March 17th of this year, went further down to twenty-two bags and sacks. It was a big improvement compared to the last two years but not good enough of our vision of zero-waste visibility upon her once pristine surroundings. There was one vital element lacking - permanent garbage bins – which is now in the planning stage and would be implemented once all systems are go.

So, on August 23 of this year, CeMS celebrated its 19th anniversary by climbing Mt. Manunggal from its traditional starting point – Tagba-o. Actually, we started from another point farther away from the customary jump-off area and crossed the river dividing Cebu City from Balamban town and there were fifteen of us that tackled the new trail.

On that sunny Saturday morning we gawked at the pools and rock formations of Pandong Bato and, later, explored a part of a river tributary whose stream passed through a cave-like formation in Guimbuthan. It was a very long trail that traversed and passed by the slopes of Mounts Mit-ol and Mauyog on the first day that ended at the camping area in Manunggal.

On the second day we traversed the trail from Mt. Manunggal to Gaas passing by Kapiyo-an and Inalad and into the private abode of Ramon and Ann Vidal – the Sierra Tree Farm – with its newly-reconstructed concrete-and-glass extension that served as our sleeping quarters during the night. After a simple dinner there was a very belated induction of club officers for 2008 and, later, a meeting of the CeMS Execom.

On the third day, we assisted Ramon in testing and assessing the performance of the newly-organized Gaas eco-tour guides as they led us through the trails in and around Gaas that ended at Gaas Cave. This is one of the pilot projects of GAMA, an association of landowners, residents and stake holders of the Gaas-Magsaysay area, with support coming from the Municipality of Balamban.

We ended our activity after lunch and left Gaas one more time bound for Metro Cebu and I could feel Mt. Manunggal beaming in the distance, her health recovering from a long-drawn stupor that had held her since the time a road was opened along her broad shoulders that obliterated her remoteness from city dwellers. I have kissed upon her hallowed ground once more and I left her in good spirits hoping to come back and visit her again soon in the new route.

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


Bone MD said...

wow! I thought only the peaks and trails of south central luzon lay host to heaps of garbage by irresponsible mountain gooks (or wanna gooks). I salute you guys for those heroic act of cleaning their mess, I know it is never an easy task.

You know what, one trail noticeably clean than anywhere else I've been to is the Lantapan trail going up Dulang-Dulang. I haven't seen a single candy wrapper on the trail and up in the peak. I hope we can follow what the locals has been doing to this great treasure

PinoyApache said...

The trail to Dulangdulang by way Lantapan is devoid of garbage, yes, but when you are in Manny's Garden you will see discarded shoes and slippers, sunglasses, guy lines, etc. Empty noodle packs, plastic and cans are also hastily buried in the campsite. Obviously, there are many gooks who strayed there.

Bone MD said...

You were right sir. And I think part of those problems are brought by us, the visitors. Sadly, a few locals (I asked one porter to go back trail and retrieve the hidden garbage) contribute to this waste also. Considering that they lay claim to this area, it's a pity they sometimes come short of protecting it.