Monday, April 20, 2009

NAPO TO BABAG TALES XII: Massacre at the No-Santol-Tree Trail

THE PROMISE OF CLIMBING again on February 8, 2009 on my favorite trail and training area in between Guadalupe and the Babag Mountain Range is always in the back of my mind. This mindset operate in clockwork unison with either Boy Toledo or Ernie Salomon, for whom this trail was named. It's either Mt. Babag or Mt. Babag and there are no other alternatives if endurance build-up training is concerned that is easy in your pocket and so so so accessible! No other area has this advantage.

With the impending participation of the Cebu Mountaineering Society's “grand old man” – Daddy Frank Cabigon – who, at 77 years old, is still going at it which never ceased to amaze me and that might have brought excitement to Boy T who rang and roused me from my well-deserved sleep at 4:20 AM, ten minutes before my own pre-set alarm could even scream. Oh, Boy T just stole ten minutes of my charging time. Grrrrrr!

Forty-five minutes later, Boy T with his KIA Pride were already parked near my home and I hopped in and we proceeded for Guadalupe. It was way too early and we decided to attend the first Holy Mass at the Virgen de Guadalupe Parish at six. A good time to kick-start a trek on a Sunday. A shower of blessings asked for a safe journey.

After the Mass, Daddy Frank and Ernie were already there at our designated meeting place at the back of the church plus Boy Olmedo the current CeMS president, Grace Ventic and guest Joel Cariño of the USC Mountaineers. We left at 7:40 AM when there were no late participants coming and started our warm-up walk ritual from Guadalupe to Napo in Sapangdaku under a light shower.

We arrived an hour later at Napo and then went on our way to the trails for Mt. Babag at nine. We crossed the first river crossing and took an easy pace on the meandering trails along the Guadalupe-Sapangdaku River before crossing another ford of the river. There is a spring located here and it is a perfect resting and watering area for the local inhabitants. I collected drinking water on my Nalgene bottle, so placing a kilo of weight on my day pack.

From the river, the ascent to Babag started here at Busan Trail passing first a steep farm then on an upland community in Sitio Busan. Boy T took the lead here followed by Ernie, then me, then Daddy Frank and Boy O and then Grace and Joel. I carried a camera and recorded the event intending to upload these in our Multiply site.

Boy T adjusted his pace to accommodate Daddy Frank, who, by now, got winded of the effort of tackling the steep trails. It was a sunny morning and the heat of the sun bored upon our shoulders and backs. Daddy Frank showed some sport and appeared to take it in stride with Boy O never leaving his side.

By 10:30 AM, we were able to reach the place of our young friend, Manwel Roble. We took our lunch there and partake of the young coconuts offered by Manwel's father for us. On the long bamboo benches, we reclined and talked of many trivial things over a great view of a part of the metropolis. We were exchanging jokes but the meaner ones were reserved for Boy T. Haha...Daddy Frank made sure of that to our delight!

After this ennui, we proceeded for Mt. Babag via Ernie's Trail. The trails this time were much steeper, more slippery and more challenging. Even as we exerted our darndest here, it is compensated by the thick foliage covering us from the probing rays of the sun. Boy T, Ernie and me loved coming here every weekend and the opportunity to don the backpack along here (and the resulting exertions) made us more fit and strong.

We reached the summit at 12:30 noon and we rested at a store 300 meters away. About an hour later Daddy Frank, Boy O, Grace and Joel parted ways from us with them hiking the Babag Ridge Road exiting to Garaje in Busay while Boy T, Ernie and me went downhill for Kalunasan by way of the No-Santol-Tree Trail.

Midway to Kalunasan, we encountered along the trail four stumps of newly-cut tamarind trees; their trunks, limbs and branches strewn about in broad daylight; their leaves and fruit withering under the heat of the sun. The trees were there standing the last time we passed by last January 11 and they were situated imposingly along the trail and were bearing many fruit as the trees were still in their prime. They gave a bountiful shade shedding a traveler from the heat by a wide stretch.

I could not comprehend how some people lost some sense of decency and concern for the trees and the environment and the future of their children. Inside of me, my rage began to swell. So was Boy T, who kept egging me to talk to the authorities about this dastardly act! I took my camera and took pictures, my heart aching inside, not liking of the sight unfolding before me.

We were aware of the rampant cutting of trees in these areas we considered as our training ground. Nearby here and across hills were cleared fields that used to be covered by thick vegetations, their landscape pockmarked forever by black residues of charcoal. The cut wood are placed inside a hole, then covered by a thin layer of dirt and burned in an agonizingly slow manner turning it into commercial charcoal.

As we were walking and talking with each other to let out steam, we chanced upon a sole farmer gathering freshly-dug charcoal from the earth. I unburdened all my frustrations before the poor guy and I regret it afterwards. Walking on we were overtaken by a 14-year old boy carrying a sack of charcoal slung around his forehead. Despite the load, the boy moved fast but he said a certain “Floro” will pay him ten pesos for the effort.

Finally, we reached the dirt road of Kalunasan and we saw five sacks stacked beside a hut. I unpacked three crackers and gave it to the tired boy and two small tots playing nearby whose parents were not around. We followed the road down to Guadalupe and concluded our activity for the day but not after I promised Boy T that I will write this incident in my personal blog.

Happy free-walking day!

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1

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