Monday, September 21, 2009


THE TENTH DAY OF May 2009, Mother's Day to all mothers, found me again training with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon along the trails in between Guadalupe and the Babag Mountain Range. We three just had a successful night navigation training on April 25, 2009 wherein we followed the Babag East Ridge Pass for the first time and stayed overnight at Manwel's Peak.

We three decided to go by that trail again, this time in daylight, to investigate the destruction wrought by unknown culprits during our nighttime sojourn where we discovered hillside vegetations and along trails blatantly cut. With us during our ascent were guests Nathan Cannen and Myla Ipil of Kompas-Lakaw and member-applicant Edward Pugosa.

I tested for this trek a black Lake Baikal 35-liter backpack which I bought from Ernie last April 19th and stuffed inside were a shirt packed inside a dry bag, a digital camera, food containers, fork and spoon, a one-liter Nalgene bottle and a 50-peso worth of bread for my young friend in the hills, Manwel Roble and his family. The pack fit snugly upon my back and it replaced an abused school bag of my son's which I borrowed repeatedly on previous trips.

We all met at the back of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu Parish after I heard a Holy Mass and left at eight in the morning to start our warm-up walk ritual from Guadalupe to Napo, a distance of about 2.5 kilometers. From Napo, we crossed the first river crossing and followed the meandering trail along the Sapangdaku River until we reached the second river crossing at 9:13 AM.
After watering up, we climbed the trail to Sitio Busan and we were met by playful children playing and swinging along the resilient low-hanging mango branches. They are a strong lot and they converted what they had into a children's park and they were all smiles their laughter echoing in the mid-morning. We left in high spirits and proceeded toward the house of Manwel.

We arrived on the hill at ten and rested on the long cool bamboo benches at Manwel's place. We were offered young coconuts and green mangoes which we all helpfully digested. We tarry some more enjoying the sight of Metro Cebu on an advantageous height and the cool breeze lulled us to stay for awhile. Just the same, we took our packed meals out and enjoyed our early lunch at eleven.
At twelve noon we bade goodbye and left our token of thanks to Manwel and family and we ascended the Babag Range by way of a trail at its eastern ridge. In clear view, the hillsides and trail were cleared of trees and vegetations and we saw four charcoal-making holes being recently unearthed of its produce made from the burnt trunks and branches of the cut plants. Here and there were numerous bits of charcoal that blackened the ground around these holes and I took pictures of these hoping it will rouse the lazy government people administering these areas around here.

Left behind by the charcoal gatherers on their makeshift camp are three sleeping cots with blankets and pillows, water containers, shovels, cooking pots and utensils, tarpaulins and a speaker baffle made from a steel drum whose electric cord illegally tap power from an overhead electrical wire. From all indications, these cockroaches have not transferred camp and I could surmise that they will be back and have a great feast with more of these trees to cut.
At this juncture, the heavens seemed to growl in anger as bolts of lightning and thunder shattered the darkening skies above and then the rain fell in sheets of torrent. It came from the southwest and I understand the western monsoon started to make its presence felt and knocked on the door that signaled the end of another season of summer.

I always loved these moments when the cool touch of rainwater ran in rivulets from the top of your soaked hair and down into your shirt and shorts then into your arms and legs. The monotonous squish of the shoes on the water-splattered trail sort of make you claim your right to be a part of the earth. I disdained wearing rain-protective gears while on the trail and Ernie, Edward and Boy T followed suit. Nathan and Mylez thought otherwise and donned raincoats. They both were not in our zone, I think?
We arrived at Babag Ridge at 12:42 PM and walked a few hundred meters to a store to take a rest there. At 1:45 PM we continued on our journey and walked a kilometer ahead to follow the No-Santol-Tree Trail that would take us to Kalunasan and back to Guadalupe. The trail here, after a rain, is very slippery and I found myself spilling over thrice despite careful placements of my steps.

We noticed a place where there is an ongoing processing of charcoal along the trail. Thick white smoke bellowed from below the soil from where a slow fire consumed wood underneath, slowly turning it into charcoal – commercial charcoal, that is. Nearby were a man and a woman clasped in a classic embrace on a cot in an open makeshift hut, their attention on each other instead of the fire hole. We tiptoed by, feeling embarrassed of our sudden intrusion.
We walked on down and down into cleaves and ridges and crossing dry gullies. We passed by beautiful pockets of second-growth forests planted with teak and tangguile trees and flower farms. The trail snaked among ancient mango trees, papayas, shrubs and other vegetations growing wild and free. Big boulders, sometimes block the trail and we climbed over it. The trail is so narrow and wild indicating that passage is very rare. Meanwhile, Mylez complained from far behind that this is not a trail while Edward shouted ahead that he enjoyed this great adventure!

We walked on ahead and passed by Turtle Rock, a big rock formation on the right of the trail covered by a pocket forest where there is a crack in the middle and a good area for training bouldering and rappelling. Beside it, on the left, is a smaller rock formation that took on a form of a turtle's head with a neck and humped back.
Without resting, we trudged on, up and down, curving to the left and to the right, balancing on a few steps, running sometimes in short bursts. Pockets of grassy areas also abound where trees are absent and offer a different view of a part of Metro Cebu. Finally, we arrived at a trio of beautiful tamarind trees that marked the final downhill stretch for Kalunasan Road. We regrouped here and took a quick rest.

We reached Kalunasan Road at around 3:37 PM and walked the unpaved road for Guadalupe in an hour. We regrouped again at the parish grounds of Guadalupe and Edward parted early for a trip home to faraway Danao City while Nathan and Mylez hopped on an Isuzu Crosswind and bade goodbye.
Meanwhile, Ernie, Boy T and me stayed behind and refreshed ourselves with four one-liter bottles of San Miguel Grande by a store in the vicinity of the Guadalupe police station. We three concluded that the different set of trails we used recently will be offered open and free to all comers irregardless of their affiliation and standing and we will gladly accommodate anybody who is sport enough to test the trail and themselves. 
We have concluded another perfect day and a Happy Mother's Day to all...
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

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