Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NAPO TO BABAG TALES XV: Endurance Training

THE FORTHCOMING TRIP to Mount Talinis in Negros Oriental on April 3 to 6, 2009 goaded the Cebu Mountaineering Society to consider training at the trails of Napo and Mount Babag, here in Cebu City's own backyard which they scheduled on March 8, 15 and 29. They tapped me and Boy Toledo to do the honors of preparing the itinerary of the training climb.

Good morning Philippines! Wake up!” These words screamed in my cellphone screen, a text message coming from Boy Toledo. It was 4:30 AM, March 8, 2009. This will be the second day of preparation training for the participants of the Mount Talinis climb come April. The day before this, there was a speed time trial at the Cebu City Sports Complex oval – a four-kilometer run and walk.

Grudgingly, I went downstairs and grabbed a towel for a bath. Afterwards, I arranged all the things I need for this day and flopped them inside my day pack. I brought with me seven used text books, intending to distribute those in the places where I will pass by. These would be my training load in lieu of the three liters of water which everyone will carry today.

I went outside and waited for Boy T who called me a while ago that we go together to Guadalupe and attend a Holy Mass. He arrived twenty minutes later with his car and off we went to the Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu. It was a concelebrated Mass and we sat on the pews before it started. After almost an hour, I went outside the church leaving Boy T behind, bought a 50-peso worth of bread and went straight to our meeting place at the back of the church.

Already at the eatery were the first couple of Cebu mountaineering, Ramon and Ann Vidal of TWO Sandals fame; Boy Olmedo, the current CeMS president; Jecris Dayondon, his vice; Ernie Salomon, a member aspirant and the oldest participant, Daddy Frank Cabigon. They were all eating breakfast. I joined with them and ate two cinnamon bread from a nearby bakery as my breakfast and bought rice and eggplant omelet as my pack lunch.

Boy T came after me and the last to come was Lilibeth Initan, past president and chair of the powerful MEMCOM. I was designated the trailmaster for this training with Boy T acting as my assistant. Checking all the things we need we left at 7:40 AM. As usual, we followed our warm-up walk from Guadalupe to Napo. We felt the summer heat at this early hour of the day as we walked the winding asphalt road.

Forty-five minutes later, we reached Napo and rested for a while before crossing the Guadalupe-Sapangdaku River and followed the Napo Main Trail for our first stop – the spring area. Another forty-five minutes we reached our destination and took a 15-minute rest while I filled my drinking bottle full from a nearby spring. I designate Boy T to take the lead while I decided to backstop the party.

After crossing another river crossing, we followed the Busan Trail passing by a steep flower farm and into an upland community in Sitio Busan. I passed by a hut and I saw through a window a boy grinding a pint of corn ears to bits using a stone-wheel grinder. Curious, I stayed for a while and observed the workings of this ancient contraption wherein I recorded a one-minute video.

Up ahead, Daddy Frank failed to see and evade a low hanging branch and got hit in the process causing a cut on his left forehead along the hairline. Fortunately for him, he was wearing a ball cap but the impact was just too strong enough to cause a 1.5 centimeter-long cut and the crew of Jecris and Ernie were able to administer quick first aid remedy leaving Daddy Frank looking like an aged Axel Rose with a stars and stripes bandanna tied over his head.

After these, we continued on our way passing along an avenue of ancient mango trees that grew along the trail. Here and there were the myriad low-hanging fruits, the famous Guadalupe mangoes, all encased with paper wrappings to protect it from fruit-boring worms and invisible insects.

Looking forward ahead, I could see the Vidal couple taking it easy while Daddy Frank walked as if nothing had happened. Jecris was sweating hard and Boy O kept following Boy T and Ernie who were leading the group. Madame Lilibeth, meanwhile, showed a big smile despite the stinging heat. Slowly but surely, they arrived at Manwel Roble's place. They were already resting on the long bamboo benches when I arrived. We took just forty-five minutes for the effort. Amazing!

From my backpack, I let out my big plastic bag of bread which I bought in Guadalupe. Jocel, Manwel's young brother, jumped up and down upon seeing the bread and grinning from ear to ear. We rested for a full hour here, glad to quench our thirst with the fresh young coconut water which Manwel and his father gathered. I counted sixteen fruits that were consumed by the whole voracious lot in us. We thanked them after this and we left cash that each one of us heartily gave.

At 11:30 AM, we bade goodbye to Manwel and his family and we begun to tackle the highlight of this training at Ernie's Trail. The oldsters took it in stride as Boy T, himself an oldster but getting younger and better after every visit here, led the assault. The trail is in perfect shape during the onset of summer with very few slippery spots. It was a good pace.

We finally reached the ridge at around 12:20 noon and rested for a while at two parallel bamboo benches located along the trail. From there we walked the ridge road past the shoulders of Mt. Babag into a store overlooking the metropolis. We ate our lunch there and, afterwards, Daddy Frank, Boy T, Ernie and me downed three one-liter bottles of San Miguel Beer Grande. When Boy T's precious liquid began to empty we left the store at two.

We descended for the Kahugan Trail and the dry summer left the gravelly topsoil very loose especially on the long stretch from the ridge to the river and from an upland community up to San Roque Chapel. We took it slow afraid to let our rumps kiss the ground during a spill and we were able to make it to the chapel safely. Meanwhile, I unloaded my used textbooks and gave these to the children living among the houses we passed by.

I rested for a short while at the chapel and then I sprinted downhill for the river crossing followed by Boy T. Like the me of old, I free-wheeled and jumped over obstacles instead of braking and slowing. These inspired by my book-giving and Ramon's comment of the whole trail package as a “five-star base training site'. It was, in fact, redemption for Boy T when he worked for the conversion of these trails as a training area for CeMS.

I know a good trail when I see one and Ramon only affirmed my previous observations. It is for this reason that I have developed a great affection for the trail, the place, the people and the whole countryside. It's as if I am one of the locals and I have adapted well with the environment.

I don't find this a boring thing though when I go there every weekend. Aside from the constant dose of physical exercise I make many children happy with my gifts that cheer up my heart to full proportions. And THAT gave me a happy and healthy disposition in life.

For Boy T, he has been a source of inspiration for some locals who are victims of stroke. It gave them hope seeing a stroke survivor passing by their locality carrying a heavy backpack and climb Babag Range every weekend. Someday, they hope they may follow Boy T's trail to recovery.

Slowly, the others arrived at the river crossing at 3:30 PM and after a twenty-minute rest we followed the winding and rolling trail for Napo and arrived there at 4:15 PM. Then we finished that day's activity with a slow walk down for Guadalupe.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer


2009 Nursing Board Exam said...

I bet that was 1 of your longest day ever :D

PinoyApache said...

Without a doubt, it is.

Mya said...

I'm sorry to ask, but what is a "ball cap" ?

"Up ahead, Daddy Frank failed to see and evade a low hanging branch and got hit in the process causing a cut on his left forehead along the hairline. Fortunately for him, he was wearing a ball cap ..."

PinoyApache said...

It is a baseball hat.

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