Friday, February 1, 2013

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LV: Christmas United

WHEN I STARTED MY weekend pursuits to the Babag Mountain Range by way of Napo in 2008, I document each and every activity in this personal blog to provide information for everyone who have access to the Internet. Each and every sortie tells a different story, present different characters or explain a distinct situation and there had been fifty-four Napo to Babag Tales as was last posted.

Some of my most important posts are those concerning charity works. It is always good to give something to your fellowmen, isn’t it? It is even more good if you share it among the inhabitants of a mountain. The distance, the ascents, the extra loads and the exertion purifies your spirit. The harder the effort – the heavier your load - the lighter your disposition. It is a pilgrimage of the heart; of the soul.

 As I said before in a previous post, “exercise and charity do blend together and each one goad the other and it produce a perfect combination that erases the most tiring trail into one that is well received after waiting restlessly for a week. Lightness borne of a good deed then springs from the heart and into your footfalls making the most difficult climb effortless and a longing to repeat the process over and over again in the shortest time available even walking on the same monotonous trails...”.

I do charity when I get a chance to visit the mountains and it doesn’t have to be in December, the season of giving. But during Christmas, it will be grand. Legions of outdoor enthusiasts and well-meaning individuals will come bearing gifts for the children of the city highlands. These people are not supposed to be there and somewhere else partying but they choose to be there and they had given time and effort on their own free will.

Today – December 16, 2012 – is one those occasions when free outdoorsmen band together to bring goodwill among the mountain folks. On short notice, the organizers meet on three occasions to keep this event rolling and so Christmas United is born. This event will now become the fifty-fifth saga of the Napo to Babag Tales.

All participants meet at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the morning and conspicuously standing out are three bales of rubber flip-flops donated by Plantation Bay Resort. All the toys, food ingredients and slippers were distributed among the gift-bearers and Providence smiled and accorded us pleasant weather for this day.

Upon arrival at Napo, all will have to walk and follow a serpentine dirt path with a heavy load upon their backs then cross streams before tackling an ascending trail towards the site shaded by an ancient tamarind tree, a big Java plum tree, mango trees and some groves of bamboo. All are equal to the challenge especially one stout-hearted participant who took matter unto his shoulders a bale of rubber slippers.

Ernie Salomon of Camp Red is tasked to prepare and cook the delight of upland children: spaghetti and hotdogs. Food ingredients are unloaded at his behest while a cooking fire is started and fed by firewood on an earthen hearth underneath the tamarind tree. A big cauldron is utilized for this occasion and this is where Ernie’s skill would shine.

Others make themselves busy by unpacking their loads and segregating these and grouped into one loot bag for each child. This task is now the domain of the couple Randell and Marjorie Savior of Tribu Dumagsa. Assisting them are female participants and guests coming from Outdoorsman’s Hub, Sugbo Outdoor Club, Primary Mountaineers and other freelance outdoor groups.

JB “Badburner” Albano is the emcee by popular demand and Christmas United got its steam going. This is the same JB who anchored a concert-for-a-cause last year that turned him into a celebrity among his peers. Bonny Ann Gicale help and relieve JB from the mic, especially, during the parlor games.

The children are served with spaghetti, hotdogs and marshmallows and they refill their plates as many times as they wished. On the side, the guys grill marinated pork meat for the noontime meal of the gift-bearers. Everyone who has a camera, document the whole activity and they were everywhere on any angle and light.

After lunch, the parlor games started and a “trip to Jerusalem” ensued. One girl wooed the gift-bearers with the popular Tagalog song titled “Pusong Bato” (translation: Heart of Stone). For her effort, she was able to receive special gifts courtesy of this event’s sponsors.

Then the loot bag are released and a long line of children in their best dress and face move about to receive theirs. Then the mothers also got theirs and more when the rubber slippers were distributed. A lot of those who came got, at least, three pairs while those who were bold enough got more than that. Even the gift-bearers themselves bring home a pair or two and that includes me.

As the activity was about to end, a lot of the guys proceed to the heights of Mount Babag while those who stayed longer prefer to backtrack to Napo. We leave at 4:00 PM and reach Napo at 5:15 PM. Camp Red decide to spend the rest of the day at the Red Hours Convenience Store in M. Velez Street for a post-activity discussion and assessment.

Christmas United was a success and the name will stay for many sequels to come and as long as there are gracious gift-bearers and donors. We, the organizers, will institutionalize this activity for it brought goodwill and understanding between highland residents and city dwellers and removed any animosity and prejudices that both harbor through the years by isolation of the former from the latter.

This good activity will bring closer both, especially the children, who will forever benefit from this. It never had been like this until the mountain trails, long a domain of the highland dwellers, became available to the outdoorsmen. The Babag Mountain Range belongs to all and it is part and parcel of our heritage as Cebuanos.

I remembered the first outreach activity I had in this part of the Babag mountains in December 2008. I came bearing gifts for my first recipient – the Roble family – and I was with Dr. Abe Manlawe, Glen Domingo, Boy Toledo, and Ernie Salomon. That was my ninth climb of Mt. Babag but I did not wrote about this but have mentioned it in an essay called “Moving Mountains, Touching Lives”.

Through the years, many people and many groups conduct their own, guided by this online journal. Little by little, the unity of purpose begin to take shape until such time that the Who Put the “N” in Nature realized of bringing together the finest groups and individuals for a good cause. And after that, it is history!

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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