Sunday, February 1, 2009

LED BY CHARITY: Climbing for Manwel Roble


FOR THE LAST few months or so of 2008, my activities and those of Boy Toledo's and Ernie Salomon's would revolve between Guadalupe and Mt. Babag and back. It was by chance that Ernie brought Boy T and me to this particular trail and I kind of liked it the first time I tread my hike shoes there. Boy T felt the same way. That was on August 17.
This trail is different from all the other trails that criss-crossed Metro Cebu's backyard for it is quite difficult and the ascent is compounded by steep trails of 65-70 degree inclines. This trail is a perfect area for training and is sooooo accessible. Along this trail is a lone house that sits on a hill that is in the middle of the route to Mt. Babag. In there, we find good company with a boy named Manwel who volunteered to guide us and shared his knowledge of the trail.
We climbed there twice in September and we decided, the three of us, to give Manwel a guide fee each time we climb the Babag Mountain Range. A good start to nurture a future trail guide and a chance to help out a poor kid to earn an income to help in his studies and his family. “Teach Pedro how to fish” is the best term for it. Likewise, in October we passed by that trail twice, which I now call Ernie's Trail, in reference to my good friend Ernie (Of course, who else?).
On November 16, I went up on a day trek with Dr. Abe Manlawe, Boy T and Ernie to Mt. Babag again. I brought Manwel four used textbooks and a pair of shoes which my son have outgrown and bread for his family. Doc Abe, Boy T and Ernie opened packs of chocolate crackers for Manwel and his younger sister and brother while Manwel's father climbed a coconut tree to provide us water and meat from young coconuts as his token of appreciation towards us.
Later, during lunch at Babag Ridge, Doc treated Manwel with spaghetti and sandwiches while I provided a 12-ounce Coke for him. They're just small things that matter to a boy like Manwel. Lasting impressions that would carve in a kid's heart that we mountaineers care not just the environment but the people living therein. Lasting impressions for a mountain-bred boy like Manwel that there are still people who cared.
On another trek on November 29, Boy T, Doc Abe, Ernie, Boy Olmedo, Glenn Lao and guests from – Vince, Dusty and Wally – went with me to Mt. Babag. It was an official climb of the Cebu Mountaineering Society. We passed by Manwel's house and we brought them bundles of joy. Doc, inspired by my act of generosity last time around, brought many old textbooks, some used clothings of his now U.S.-based sons and a lot of snacks.
I carried my own bundles of joy, some of it thru the courtesy of Tata Caumeran. I bought them bread and a kilo of brown sugar. We ate our lunch outside their place. Again, as was before, Manwel's father provided another set of young coconuts to supplement our packed lunch which we consumed appreciatively.
After that, we proceeded towards Mt. Babag and we rendezvoused with Ben Lao who carried with him his guitar and harmonica and our tired bodies were swept away with new vigor as Ben serenaded us. Altogether, we set up camp on an unnamed peak where it afforded a 360-degree view of Metro Cebu and the Bonbon River Valley. The peak, located just a couple of hundred meters from Mt. Babag, have not seen the stake of a tent yet and is virgin ground for campers. We jokingly named the campsite “Manwel's Peak” and we stayed there overnight.
Manwel and his cousin, Santi, sourced drinking water and two live native chicken for our supper and we paid cash for those. We cooked the fowls, barbecue style, on an open fire stroked to life by Ernie and me. We ate voraciously during the “boodle-fight” session using abaca leaves as our plates and all felt nourished and full to the brim. The air from up there was very clear and the city lights were a sight to behold.
We left Manwel and Santi with two kilos of rice, canned goods and lots of biscuit after we left in the morning of November 30.
Feeling restless for two weeks, Doc, Boy T, Sam Lim, Glenn Domingo, Ernie and me finally found the chance to climb again on December 14 and embark on another mercy mission. Coming with us were Vince of, Aldinson, Lisa, Andrew and Jim of O.N.E. Cebu, an outdoor club. Tailing along with us with a leash is “Shadow”, a Siberian Husky! It was a strange crowd but with the same giving heart.
As agreed, we spent our lunch at Manwel's place. Vince, Aldinson, Lisa, Andrew and Jim brought out and donated their stuffs like backpacks, old textbooks, used clothes and shoes and foodstuffs. A hard-bound four-volume “High School Self-Taught Books” were part of the package given away by the kind-hearted Aldinson to Manwel. Glenn D, not to be outdone, gave away used clothes and some slightly-used and new toys while Doc, Ernie and Boy T shared food to the children.
I brought two kilos of rice, a pack of chocolate drink and bread to Manwel's family. We were playing Santa there and surprised them with our gifts. It fattened our hearts to extreme proportions seeing tears of joy coming from Manwel's mother as the children found themselves giggling and laughing their hearts out to enjoy this occasion. They exchanged those with another set of young coconuts and “Shadow” loved the coco meat and water so much and found himself competing eating space with us.
Closing the year with a climb, we went back to Mt. Babag on December 28. Boy T, Sam, Ernie and I were joined by Nathan Cannen and Myla Ipil of Kompas Lakaw Mountaineers. It was a good time to shed away the “party fats” which we have accumulated during the Christmas season. We took each step earnestly knowing that the load we carried uphill will be lightened. We passed by an upland community and I left five used textbooks there to the delight of the children. Seeing them so amused I shared two of my three chocolate bars with them.

Climbing on, we reached Manwel's house at last and glad to shed off the post-Christmas gifts we brought to Manwel and his family. Ernie, Sam and I unveiled our packs to reveal a hoard of used clothings. I also brought them and gave away a dozen chorizo, bread, two kilos of rice and an old Coleman 4-liter jug filled with ice-cold orange juice which I prepared especially for them. We ate lunch there and we were treated again by Manwel's father with a bunch of young coconuts.

As you noticed, all my climbs are confined within the Guadalupe-Babag area and I wouldn't trade it for another spectacular climb. If you find our climb boring and monotonous, that's your opinion. I see Ernie's Trail as a chance to exercise and breathe fresh mountain air regularly which most of you could do only once a month, at the most. I don't have to spend a lot of money and time to go to another place or buy expensive specialized gears. I just divert my spending to help other people instead and at the same time enjoy my hobby and get lots of sunshine. I have blazed a new trail which, in this lifetime, I have not seen yet. It is already prepared UP there.

God bless all mountaineers...practice charity!

Document done in OpenOffice Writer.


FreEzEBoX said...

i salute your idea and your generosity sir... not just a plain mountaineer, it inspires me as a beginner.

PinoyApache said...

I wished there are MANY of us...and then we could make a difference in MANY people's lives. Thanks @FreEzEBox for leaving a set of "good" footprints.