Saturday, May 1, 2010


THE SUN SPIKED HOT today, December 27, 2009. I am with old buddy – Boy Toledo; two people from Kompay Lakaw Mountaineers – Nathan and Myla; and a junior bank executive – John Chan.

It had not rained today and it is a good day to introduce John to trail hiking. We deem it unnecessary to rest along the trail until after we have reached the river crossing where there is a water spring. We arrived at the place at 8:15 AM and rested for a while and moved again at 8:30 AM.

John, a newbie long-distance runner, brought a pack of second-hand toys as well as Boy T; Myla carried used clothings. Me, I brought five discarded textbooks that could still be used by upland children as reference and study aid. Aside from the books, I brought my regular gift of bread to Manwel Roble and his siblings.

We passed by Sitio Busan and parted our gifts to the children. We arrived at the house of Manwel and we unpacked our presents to him and Jucel and Juliet. I learned that the Ewit Mountaineers visited them and gave many presents to them. For that I am very glad. We did not tarry long and decided to visit Ernie's Trail. It is 9:45 AM.

Ernie's Trail, the last time I was here (September 6, 2009), the vegetation was lush and the route could barely be seen. Now, after two weeks of rainless days, the trail could easily be followed but the topsoil is very loose and so slippery. We used all four limbs to negotiate this stretch until we arrived at the ridge. We rested for a while and gave off toys to the little ones living among the huts.

After a long walk from the peak, we set up our cooking stoves nearby a store and do our cooking there. I carried fine-grounded corn grits and cooked this on Boy T's cook set and introduced this Cebuano staple to my kind. Myla, on the other hand, sliced pork, radish, eggplant, iba and other spices and turned this into a mouth-watering pork sinigang.

John fished out a canned mackerel in olive oil which we heated up and this complemented very well our prepared lunch. All took turns in refilling their plates until all had their fill and then Boy T ordered two bottles of San Miguel Beer Grande to help in the digestion. We stayed on until 3:00 PM and then it's time to go.

We backtracked back to Mt. Babag and passed by a lone house where there is a little corn farm and parted more of our gifts to the children. We followed a trail that led to Kahugan. The trail was a sorry site. All the vegetation and madre de cacao trees that grew thick here have been cleared. The soil became loose and dangerously slippery. They didn't even left a single trunk, a limb, a branch, or a root to hold on to. The whole stretch of the trail down to a community before the chapel were cut clear.
People are sometimes so stupid and so lazy. I could understand that this is where they earn their income but why cut trees on the trail itself. They could do that far away above or below the trail. They would burn it into charcoal anyway and charcoal is very light to carry. It was so anti-climactic and so depressing!

I begin to question what sort of barangay officials they were electing here? I saw a week ago, their very own barangay capitan eyeing me suspiciously while caressing his fighting cocks. A very fat guy with big eyebags that gamble well on fighting cocks. I wished he could learn to climb trails and see the rest of his barangay instead of the four corners of a backyard cockpit! That would make him healthy.
We passed by the house of the cousin of Manwel – Paterno – and gave away the last of the toys, clothes and chocolates. The children were very happy. My anger slowly vanished as I hear the giggling of the children. We followed the Kahugan Trail and, ultimately, I released the negative emotions away running downhill until we reached the river crossing.

We arrived at Napo at 4:00 PM but I lost my Nokia 3650 as I changed my wet shirt with dry ones. There go my stored beautiful images for this day's journey and of last week's. I don't mind. It's not mine, but I have to pay for it. Haha. Anyway, we piled inside Nathan's Crosswind parked here and promptly left for Guadalupe and doused my worries with beer courtesy of Boy T.

In the back of my mind, I have to find a way to reclaim Upper Kahugan Trail's allure. I have to organize a tree-planting activity eight months from today and line the bald trail with fruit trees. Any fruit tree except mango. Mangoes need a lot chemicals and these chemicals pollute the soil and into the rivers.

Locals won't cut fruit trees and they will share in the harvest once the trees mature. This tree-planting will be dedicated to the younger generations and it will empower them not to depend anymore from charcoal gathering which use a lot of trees to cut for so little.

I will utilize Manwel's place as a seed bank and let's all go there and bring and share fruit to them where the seeds will be dry-treated and stored in little plastic cups which we will also provide. Any fruit except mangoes. You can even bring marang, mangosteen and durian. Believe me, they will grow anywhere. At an appointed time, let's make a barrio fiesta of Upper Kahugan.
I'm crossing my fingers that this will be realized. Any help will be received gladly. God bless to all!

Document done in OpenOffice 3.1

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