Thursday, July 16, 2009


How my Venado Survived Mount Dulangdulang Traverse to Mount Kitanglad

AFTER MY INITIATION with extreme adventure at the now-legendary trek of the Cebu Mountaineering Society on the trails of Mount Pangasugan in Baybay, Leyte in August 1992 I began to feel the inadequacy of my cheap converted day pack. It was just too small for my frame, too frail for my speed and too tight on storage space. Whereas, at that time, my fellow mountaineers carried on their backs bigger backpacks suited for this outdoor sport.

Common among them is the Habagat Venado II which has three compression straps on each side and an adjustable top cover and insures eighty liters of storage space. I liked this sack from all the rest because of its simplicity and tri-color combinations dominated by black. They were, at that time, cutting edge. And they were very sturdy. As far as I can remember Bebut Estillore and Dennis Legaspi carried Venados on their backs at Pangasugan but Patrick Young owned the loudest color – fuschia!

I get to own a Venado when Lilibeth Initan decided to sell hers for 900 pesos in December 1992. She snared my Venado as a door prize courtesy of the Habagat Outdoor Shop and tested this for the first time during the MFPI Mid-Year Climb in Silay City, Negros Occidental in October 1992. She thought it was just too big and too heavy for her so she decided to dispose of this and I was able to get hold of it only after a drinking ceremony which was insisted by Bebut with backing from Patrick and Tony Cabigon. Drunkards...!!!

I carried my Venado for the first time at Mount Janagdan in Leyte on January 1993. Wow, it was a luxury to carry all your belongings inside of a bag without lashing anything outside and it looked aerodynamic, provided a neoprene earth pad is placed inside to act as a hard layer between the bag's fabric and the items stowed inside. The pad then acts as an insulator and a shock absorber to protect your things. I liked the feel of the pack behind me and I climbed with much vigor and with more enthusiasm. It's as if the backpack and I are one machine.

Then I made it very personal by stitching patches of an air force chevron and a special forces skull-and-dagger logo on the sides of the top cover. Later, I added logos of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, a shooting association, MFPI, Cebu Province and a cloth replica of an Alaska plate number on the front body. With those attachments, people wouldn't miss that it's my backpack. I wore it proudly in all the mountain ranges of the Philippines like the Cuernos de Negros, the Malindang, the Kitanglad, Mount Apo, etc. in the early and middle '90s.

As it aged due to wear and tear, both the upper shoulder strap attachments tore loose on different occasions and I attached these back with bolts and nuts that I brought along for such emergencies. The main fabric are marked with two jagged holes left by rodents and the two flat aluminum support bars protrude from its hiding places. The lower compartment zipper have long lost its viscosity while the zipper for the top cover pocket is in need of a replacement. All in all, the Venado survived all those years even when I decided to make a comeback in 2008.

My ancient Venado and the equally ancient me embarked on another epic climb at the mountain ranges of Mount Dulangdulang traverse to Mount Kitanglad in Bukidnon on June 2008. Both mountains are the second and fourth highest peaks in the country and the former is reputed for its unforgivable terrain, frigid clime and for its great moss forest. Along the trail are many felled tree trunks, big protruding roots and blocking branches and lots and lots of backpack snatchers. Me and my bag were up to the challenge even though I find myself crawling on all fours many times over and three close calls! The Venado withstood a thousand certified shoulder strap busters along the way.

After Dulangdulang, I contemplated to “retire” the Venado to preserve its sanity and give its earned rest. I have proven to the world that a local product could compete itself against a throng of branded gears – authentic, bootleg or pre-owned – when it came to durability and longevity. For a good reason, I patronize Philippine-made products because I love my country and help the thousands of workers and their families through the sale of these outdoor gears.

Even as I shop for a replacement, I brought the Venado again to an exploration hike and climb in the vast mid-north area of Carmen, Cebu last January 2009 – virgin ground for our kind and it still gave a powerful performance despite its age. Other times, I trained with my Venado trail running in between Napo and Mount Babag. For me, this is the best backpack I ever tried.

In the age of light backpacking, the pack looked cumbersome and huge. For the faint-hearted, the bag is a “truck”. The Venado reflects my character: old school. The good old days are tucked in every iota of its strand of fabric and thread; old dust and mud still adhere to all its microscopic ridges and gullies. Only the strong still carry it on its back, without excuses, welcoming the jerk of its weight as it slid through your arms and settle itself snugly at the collar bones. The click sound of the hip lock assures me that I'm ready to defy any new ideas about its extinction.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer


Bone MD said...

Wow! Is that you with the venado during the 90s? Must be a very tough sturdy bag! For us old schools, the older it gets, the better it becomes!
And you brought one too during the d2-k2 traverse huh!
Nope, just like our backpacks, we only retire them when we too, retire...

Anonymous said...

I own a Montanara Expedition which is as big as the Venado and I've had it for 12 years (and still counting). Yes these "old school packs" are indeed sturdy. People say I should retire it coz it looks shabby but I kinda like the character it exhudes with the encrusted dirt, faded color, rusty metal rings and's been everywhere too... from India to Europe, Ilocos to Cotabato, Beaches, name it (with 11 Apo summits in between)...

patat said...

I, too, am a Habagat user and the one that i have is the Venado II ( not the Elite Series). i have had it since 92' on my first climb (Mt. Apo, Kapatagan Trail), 3 more climbs after that and the last being Mt. Parker (in Mindanao). I have never been a member of any mountaineering club. I guess it's just passion that drives my climbing adventure.

Having no challenging mountains to climb in Thailand, I have not used it in almost 8 years now.

I recently bought a Sigbin 30 (also from Habagat) but the material used is not the same as my old one.