Monday, December 14, 2015

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LCIV: Healing and "Chapter One"

AS I HAD PROMISED to myself and to all those that are following my Facebook updates, that I should spend all my Sundays in a month outdoors and, should there be five Sundays of a month, then I go out five times. It is not difficult. In fact, it is a no-brainer. I still believe that I can enjoy quality outdoors even if I have been to a place a thousand times. What do you think?

It is just a matter of practicality, a different perspective and less of daydreaming. I do not make my life difficult. I gladly adapt to a very favorable location which our friends in Metro Manila can not. Over there, they may climb their nearest mountains but they have to travel far and they have to spend more time, money and effort. Here in Cebu, we could easily pick any route and place as easily as one would change numbers of a mobile phone.

The presence of the Babag Mountain Range is a blessing to us Cebu residents. Not only would it protect us from typhoons passing over on the other side of the island, it is a mountain range where there are so many features. You name it. It has solitary peaks. It has ridges for a three-peak traverse, even a 5-peak, if you use your imagination. It has waterfalls. It has forests and pockets of jungle. It has clean streams. What is more important is it is all FREE!

You go to any place and, most likely, you will have to pay usage fees, entrance fees, guide fees, porterage fees, parking fees and etcetera and you get what you pay, even less than what you would expect. You rant in Facebook because you were not issued receipts or the fees exacted were much higher than what was agreed and even the guides do not know the places. It sucks but you go back again and again and you rant and rant and rant where, supposedly, you had learned from the first encounter or from someone else’s rant.

Make your life simple. Make use of what you have or the place most accessible to your weekend pursuits. Make use of only yourself or with a few friends. The less the better. More people would mean more noise and the line stretches far. More people means higher chances of accidents and you cannot go intimate with nature. More people also means ignoring the sanctity of mountains and all your shoes leave a mark on every blade of grass while converting a muddy trail into a primitive water slide.

Stay humble. Dress simply. Color of your attire says so much of you. Nod your head or give a greeting to any local you meet. Show a smile. Make them locals important by engaging them in conversations if you happen to share a shade under a tree. Ask before you shoot pictures. Share your chocolate bar or biscuit to a child. Be attentive. They have priority over a trail. Give way. Remember, we are just visiting.

Come to this mountain with an open mind. Leave your worries behind. Travel light. Even some great things you learned in a university classroom or of complex problems you inherited in a corporate boardroom are unwanted luggage here. Seek solitude and dump technology for it does not work all the time here. Develop your own philosophies in life in the company of nature’s soothing sounds. Place your heart close to the ground.

Do not hurry. Do not be consumed about time. On the other hand, relish every moment with your camera. Stop often and be connected with nature. Understand the tale of each insect, bird, plant or stream as you move by and, who knows, you may get answers from them of life’s most perplexing troubles. God moves in mysterious ways from those who calls out His Name.

I may sound poetic here but nature had made the best out of people. The mountains heal. It is your ticket to regain your self-worth and your re-acceptance with society or with your relations. It is not done overnight nor it is a scientific process. Your frequent participation in the celebration of life among mountains is a testament of your maturity. Wisdom are inherited everywhere there and it makes you more human.

The mountains never failed to lure me back to its bosom. How about you? Come out often else it will be off-limits someday. Remember this: Land developers, big business and the government always win over environmentalists and small farmers. Most of the time. The Babag Mountain Range may not be like what you enjoy today in 10 to 15 years time. I do not know but it is a disconcerting trend which the greedy always win.

It is a sad idea and I can live with that, although with a heavy heart. While it is still blissfully free, I visit her again on this 26th day of April 2015. Going along with me is Ernie Salomon, old man he is but the best outdoors cook in Cebu, hands down. It is a warm day but it is not a problem. I just want myself to be ready and stay fit when two big adventures would get hold of me next week.

Tomorrow, I would go to northern Cebu so I would engage on a solo on this island's swampy isthmus which no outdoorsman had done before. Then on Friday, I will be with the Exploration Team of the Cebu Highlands Trail Project for a long hike in the southernmost part. Both activities would be very demanding physically and psychologically but just a Sunday visit to the Babag Mountain Range can make a big difference on my preparations.

The weather is fine today. I follow Ernie as I focus more in releasing all the stress I have accumulated while planning and preparing the details of that two big events I mentioned and of my day job. Today I just go with the flow of Ernie's pace. I throw a lot of jokes at the old man, getting some in return. I know the trail like it is the back of my hand. We did not rest until we reach Lower Kahugan Spring.

Then something very loathsome comes into my view. The pump tender guy of last week. I never forgot him. He never listened to me. He threw his empty chemical packaging back into the stream, along with empty fertilizer bottles, that I had collected in his behalf. He cannot escape now unlike the last time where he was not at the scene. He is the perfect audience for a piece of my mind.

I take a picture of him and I proceed to “Chapter One”. I raised my voice above the din that the pump produced and I think I was spectacular there. He was trembling and pitiful. He begins clearing every waste he has strewn this morning. He has nowhere to go and I pointed to him more packaging he hid underneath vegetation and he picked that up too and pile it in one place away from the stream.

Then I remind him that I complained about him last week to the auxiliary police of Sapangdaku and that I will effect a citizen's arrest on him should I find his rubbish again when I come back in the afternoon. I am dead serious. Before leaving, I reminded him who I was and he stared unsteadily as I look at him in the eye. I have no business anymore here and it is time to go up to the Roble homestead.

Ernie is laughing as the level of the route begins to go steep. The guy that I had scolded seemed to him to have pissed in his pants. Funny. I did not notice that. We squeeze into a bitter gourd farm before going on to more steep terrain. We arrive at the Roble homestead and we take rest for a while. I have a small cargo which would be useful to Fele Roble. It is a small hand-cranked drill. It will be useful boring holes on their unfinished house.

Ernie gets busy making a fire while I fetch water for the pot. Need to boil water for coffee. I got my coffee and another serving. I believe Ernie is fixing something fit for this day. I cook rice while he pursues the viand. I cook a lot of rice so I could include the Roble family into our meal. The cooking took early to finish and we are on to an early meal as well. Pansit, a local noodle version, is the food and it is wonderfully done.

Green coconuts appear and I open one with a different technique. Instead of chopping off the bottom with a big blade like we used to do, I pierced the top with the smaller Seseblade NCO knife and remove the unwanted part. It is a neat square hole. Skills with a knife are very important in bushcraft. You learn it by transforming this instrument instead into a useful tool. That way, you will appreciate better your knife.

I enjoy seeing Josel and his cousin firing at will with my Canon Ixus camera at just about anything. Afterwards, I begin to pack my things into my bag. Fele's wife, Tonia, gave me a flat bottle containing pure honey which Fele had helped collect from a big beehive a few days ago. It is so sweet! I thank them and bade them goodbye. No need to overexert. I have to remind myself that I have to rise up early tomorrow so an equally early departure is essential for today.

I pass by Lower Kahugan Spring. The drums, the water pump and the pumpman are not there anymore. The place is cleaned up. I look under the weeds and bushes. I found no empty fertilizer packaging. No empty plastic bottles for chemicals. Well, at least the lesson of “Chapter One” was plain understandable.

Document done in LibreOffice 4.3 Writer

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