Saturday, May 14, 2011
IN MY PRIME DURING the early '90s, I have climbed the Babag Mountain Range only four times. I laugh at the thought as I reminisce. That's a far cry from what I am doing now as a mere old man: twenty-four times a year. That's twice a month!
Do I feel good? Obviously, YES! I not only perspire a lot but I have increased my resistance to cold and heat and fatigue threefold! Besides, I could do it alone. Rain or shine. Day or night. I can go it slow or I could go it fast. It doesn't matter. I just carry the barest minimum and raincoats or jackets, headlights or any specialized gears are not part of what I carry. What I cannot carry, I compensate with my head.
I am not a light backpacker but a budget bushcrafter. This mountain range is the only one I could afford and this is my backyard. It has all the trail elements that you look for in other places and I could assure you that you will begin to believe that you are in another mountain. It only takes a positive mindset with the courage to navigate new routes and the persistence to repeat the process over and over again. Just walk with me. Or run.
Approaching middle age, I am still here and how many of my peers have gone from the local outdoors scene for good? They are many. They're still practicing wishful thinking. Their mindsets have been built on spectacular climbs of this place and that place in the past and that they cannot get out of it unless they reinvent themselves. Me, I just spend THIRTY PESOS of loose change to climb a mountain called Babag.
It's not the mountain itself that prod me to go back in a flurry of mind-boggling repetitions. It is the people itself. I see people do backbreaking work in the field for so little. My mere passing elicit me empathy as I pursue my personal agenda of recreation and fun amidst the difficulty of the times. A smile from a sweaty brow is enough for me as I unload a cache of used textbooks and bread. Books are heavy but I won't mind.
For just a little sum, your soul is uplifted as you go to a difficult terrain to part something. And when you have a healthy spirit, everything follows. Even your footfalls are light leaving no trace of your passing. People, mountains, trees and all living creatures make up this world and I enjoy being there almost every weekend perfecting my craft!
I have helped made Mount Babag climb-friendly again with my blog articles and volumes of pictures documenting my activities for the past three years and many people notice that and they go there every weekend as a result. I recommend the mountain everytime I receive a client calling for a trail guide at the more popular peaks of Cebu. Most of them have tight schedules and they enjoy the luxury of time after climbing Mt. Babag as well as saving a lot of their budget.
For two years, the Babag Mountain Range have hosted the Philippine Freedom Climb in Cebu organized by FIMO, Inc. Two camping sites are always designated. One, at the bigger camping ground above the former Swiss Chalet Restaurant and the other at Manwel's Peak. The latter is smaller and could accommodate, at the most, nine tents but is much safer. The lesser the campers, the lesser its impact on the environment.
The former can be reached via the Babag Ridge Road from Upper Busay. And because of its accessibility, many weekend campers go there by motorcycles or by foot and had been used by certain outdoor clubs that tolerate excessive drunkenness and new-age practices which, in turn, led to petty crimes, quarrels and illicit sex. Worse, the local residents there have turned against the visitors by robbing them of valuables as a result of their disrespectful behaviour. Such unethical activities have given a bad name to the Babag Mountain Range.
The third installment of Freedom Climb will be held on June 11-12, 2011 and the organizers are aiming for the Guinness Book of World Records by inviting as many participants as possible to break the record held by England. I do not wish to be a part of that. I just want the Babag Mountain Range to be free from publicity-hungry organizers who don't give respect to the environment or to the inhabitants. Go elsewhere instead and leave the mountain alone.
It is enough that the hillsides are subjected to the abuse of slash-and-burn farming done by impoverished residents where a finely-tuned tree-planting program could help address its regeneration, just don't add her misery with this unwanted activity that do nothing except promote your organization and give recognition to your local counterpart who does nothing but keep on bleeding gullible climbers at your expense and to the detriment of the environment as well. You have poor eyesight and could not see beyond the real picture.
Again, I will not be part of any mass-climbing activity. I will not add my footprint, if it could be noticed, to a trail that will be trod upon by more than a hundred pairs of threaded hiking boots. Be considerate to the environment and forego of that Guinness thing. It is not worth it.
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