Tuesday, September 1, 2009


ROAMING AROUND AND anywhere is something that my physical body is well attuned to. My genes, for a good part, might have dictated my love for walking and hiking on trails; but it is the value of my personal freedom of movement that have goaded me to climb mountains where, upon its ridges, slopes, forests and crags, I become one of its myriad elements.

There is no description, whatsoever, of the joys I have experienced on the trails and in the wilderness; accepting the hardships and dangers as mere challenges that never lull my desire to feed my burning spirit within. The love of the outdoors is just a reflection of the love and acceptance of the self just as my unhampered movement is an echo of my first steps of a long journey.

Ever since the mountaineering fad had bitten me during the time when I attempted my very first climb at Mount Daraitan in the Sierra Madre in 1988, I could not anymore still the urge to reach more of these same dizzying heights and gawk at exhilarating sights which few eyes have seen. Just a few, because not all can afford to give their time to tackle difficult and ruthless terrain and not all possess a sturdy body and mind to withstand the rigors of climbing a mountain.

Formally, in 1992, I joined the Cebu Mountaineering Society as a means to exercise my love of the outdoors. My first climb with them was in Mount Pangasugan that ended in near-disaster when the guide lost the trail. That difficulty gave me the chance to prove my worth to the club through my stability and calmness under pressure. However, our overall strong resolve to survive brought us home safely and from there it created a great bond amongst ourselves. From there we became even better mountain climbers.

Although affiliated with a group, I never lost my sense of individuality and the desire to take the trails by my own lonesome self was developed. On several occasions, I just walked away from civilization on my own and find the silence justifying and a good elixir to finding the answers of troubling problems.

From there, I would treat each climb as a campaign. I would prepare myself physically back then by running 10 to 20 kilometers up a steep road twice a week and another weekend trail run - all before a climb. In between I would squeeze in cragging and rappelling. And, once on the trail, I would set a blistering pace and be the first to arrive at the campsite. Then I would claim the privilege of setting up my tent on choice sites.

My preparations were once tested on the trails of Mount Apo in 1994. Members of a popular club from Manila have this rude habit of overtaking everybody on the trail. They were very noisy and loud and and have no qualms whatsoever about trail courtesy. Yes, they were fast and strong but they were not agile. For two days I raced with them uptrail and I find them lacking in imagination and flexibility and left them behind many times over in the ruts of their own conceit.

Those were the days when mountaineering was a free-wheeling and attractive hobby and sport. Those were the days when the grass were taller and the trails wilder. Days when free-spirited men and women blaze the trails and preceded those BMCs and LNTs by years. Days when the heavy load you carried are nothing behind your back and drowned by the chance to shout at the top of your voice on the apex of a peak!

After Mt. Apo, my climbing sessions with my club became few and far between. On the average, I would climb with them once in every two or three years but never have I slowed down on those few occasions I rejoined with them. In between those few sessions, sometimes, I would lead a group of tourists or be side by side on the trail with a guest. Free-lancing as a mountain guide back then have taken hold of me and I deduced to myself where would it take me. The last thing I would ever do is turning a hobby into a stable source of income and that defeated my prejudice against commercialization of mountaineering. So I let it fly away and I vanished from the scene.

Fast forward to today, many people and groups have made mountaineering a lifestyle and shackled it with a set of rules. A venue to showcase branded gears. A chance to remember exercise only when their image in the mirror are not of their liking. Now everybody loves the outdoors and soup-alphabet groups sprout like mushrooms here and there and vanish from the scene without ever touching our consciousness.

Watching from the sidetrails, I could already see the order of things to come and they are not too good for my own comfort. I am used to doing things on my own and have despised anything or anyone's dictum that would hamper my freedom of movement. In many ways than one, there are others like me.

My thoughts are basic and straightforward, yet, too elemental to be tamed by a system of rules. I am a warrior who yearned of the old ways. I will walk my own trail in my own good time and pace. I will light my own fire in a campsite of my own choosing. I have done this before and will do so again. I am a free mountain climber!

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer


The Nomadic Pinoy said...

Even rules climbing Mt. Apo have changed, with different local governments implementing their own. How I wish there's a cohesive rule, after all this is a national park, not a provincial or city park.

Anonymous said...

i too consider myself a free one, i do this because of the love and passion that is in me and i kept myself away from the politically driven outdoor people, too worried about their image.