Who would you like to climb with?
A Tribute to Writers and Photographers
On the practical side, it is fine to have a cook, a navigator or an organizer in a climb. These tekkies have the equipment and the skills. They can get you to the destination alive and on time.
It is different when you climb with friends who you know so well. There is no more need for an alignment as you know each other’s capabilities and weaknesses. Without prodding, you are confident of support no matter what. It is bring you own specialty: your tent, his cookware, my transpo, his stories. So in matters of life and death you are emotionally assured that someone will be there for you.
What if we climb in a company of artists? The type who sees through life and freezes the moment in a medium that articulates a universal theme of beauty, pain, joy, creation and even defeat and frustration. Their medium is usually in words or images through articles and photographs, music and rhyme that land its way through the world wide web even before the post climb. Their works satisfy our spirituality.
Given a choice what type would you rather climb with? The practical tekkies can satisfy you for the moment. Friends can further enhance the moment. But the artist can preserve the moment to eternity. Through their documentation, they immortalize the experience.
As for us, we are fortunate that the artists we’ve been with are responsible climbers too. Without their permission, allow us to unlock the archives.
We value them as E. L. Doctorow says “The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.”
Perhaps the reason they shoot and write is they have something to say. Henry David Thoreau describes it in this quote “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” When you are touched by the wonder of nature, wouldn’t you do so?
9 Oct 2003
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By Nameless of LM after the Tawangan-Babadak Climb in 1998 who up til now remains nameless to us
Awful you might think.
This may sound like a cop out answer but let me share with you this idea. Life isn't really about what you get out of it in the end, it pays more attention to what you may become at the end. Those ten things are a small sacrifice of what we truly became after the climb. The experience, the process is even more important . . .
The groups have shared more than just misery, but also the multitudes of stories (even beer too). As we leave the climb, it is taken for granted that the 8 mountaineers have brought their own personal relationship with each other to a new level, a "I survived Mt. Pulag in 1998 with you" level. And though it is unsaid there was the existence of these phrases unsaid in words but understood in action. "You were my support. You gave me strength to calm myself. We don't master the mountain we master ourselves." One really has to be a different kind of person to climb mountains and keep on doing it.
So there was no heavenly view from the mountaintop but the trek were full wondrous things that make Mt. Pulag beautiful. The "natural highs" of the mountain were bountiful. If the peak was not so fabulous, there are many other instances when the world revealed a part of her beauty. Like the rivers would tirelessly chant their song and though the wind and rain were biting, they performed a gorgeous dance for all that could look up to enjoy. A favorite part is not on the peak but towards both the peak and the campsite-one is gifted with sight of rolling hills. And it's mystical wonder and one cannot help but absorb the radiant aura of nature only Mt. Pulag could reward one with.
And there something's that would not have been as good without the trying parts of the climb: Jaja's pasta dinner on the plateau, riding the top of the jeep, eating lunch on a jeep breaking bread and eating meat, being passed around. Eating Pizza and ordering water. Returning to love ones for a brand new year.
The climbers are also entitled to having one wish being granted a gift for climbing the mountain that is a pilgrimage. I wonder what the eight goofy Loyola mountaineers asked for to prepare them for the year to come.
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Jo Ramos on our first climb in Tapulao in 1999
Maligayang pagbati, mga kasama kong bundokero
Hindi ko akalain na makagawa ako ng tula. Alam ko kasing me mga kanya-kanyang mga write-up na sa Tapulao. Ito na lang siguro ang kontribiyusyon ko.
O, hinanap kita, Tapulao
Ang puso ko ay walang tigil sa pagsigaw
Pilit kong ikaw ay matanaw
Kahit na lubos ang aking pagkauhaw.
O, bakit nagkaganito, Tapulao
Ako ay pinag-iisip mo araw-araw
Ubos lakas ang aking mga galaw
Ang puso ko ay iyong inagaw.
O, yakapin mo ako, Tapulao
Sa magdamag ako ay gininaw
Ako ay umaasa ng pananaw na may linaw
Upang ang ganda mo ay lumitaw.
O, sige na, Tapulao
Hintayin mo ako sa ibabaw
Kung ano man ang dapat kong galaw
Ang sigaw ng puso ko ay ikaw.
Val Roque describing the same climb
High Peak was one helluva climb but one cannot say that it was a bad one either. For with the hardships come the rewards. Some of us may be sadistic enough to admit that the hardships are the rewards themselves. Others may see the reward at the wonderful experience at the peak. Still, a lot would agree that the rewards could always be found in the company of others especially in the socials and the drinking and chattering that come with it. A few however see it on the sidelines, contemplating the beauty of the outdoors in peaceful solitude. We climb mountains for different reasons, but let these reasons not be an obstacle to our common love for the outdoors. For as mountaineers, that is the important thing which binds us.
The Tirad Pass Trek with AOC
At the start we were in the company of strangers. Towards the end we knew each other, linked not by the devotion to the gallantry of the general to his cause but for the love of the wilderness. Discovering this in one of the most interesting socials, we counted our blessings: the hospitality accorded us by the folks of the town, the reception and the merienda of the mayor and his staff, the assistance of our high school hosts, the stories of the Bulacan artists who are to do an on-the-spot drawing, Hob our jeepney driver and the company of fellow trekkers and the grandeur of sunrise and clouds. There were all testaments to the goodness drawn from each one by the experience. We said we wanted to get away. But to quote John Muir, "I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in . . .
Bob Tongco in describing the discovery of a new place
We were lucky to finally be able to reach the highest point on the island. The lessons I learned on that climb will never equal the sheer exhilaration of reaching the summit after a challenging ascent. The quiet on that mountaintop was as rare as the clean air and the brisk, cool wind. On the way down, the weather was as perfect as the climb, the company, and the memories of the weekend spent away from the world. I would wish that more exciting events happened while we were at the summit, but nothing could have been more exciting than sitting down and absorbing nature.
Marinela De Leon stepping on Mt. Pulag
At the plateau, I was greeted by a truly enchanting sight. Mountaintops peeked through thick fogs, rain swept grass trembled with rushing water below and the sky seemed so close I could almost feel them. The world was at its best. Everything was virginal-untouched and unsoiled by the trivialities of mortals. Silence brought the mighty voice of nature and plunged my soul in deep reverie. I was in a magical place with a group of people who offered me friendship and shared with me a deep love for the mountains. What more can one ask for?
“This was paradise,” I said to myself.
“This is why I want to climb mountains,” I murmured.
And as my weary body sought solace from the pristine beauty that enveloped me the howling winds blessed my shivering body and warmed my soul.
Going up the steep slopes, getting muddied, being battered by the rain and the wind and humbled by the beauty of my Maker’s creation is the affirmation of my life-giving mantra-Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
I am glad I made this climb. . . even if I’m not Super Girl.
Aiel Vergara reveals his realizations on a near tragic Minalungao trek.
"Sometimes, I think of why I do this, why I hike, losing my energy and face only challenges. That may be it challenges, or it could be desire, or it could be the great and satisfying feeling of success. Having the faith to achieve what I thought I could not, to live when I think I’m dead, and to get to the highest peak and shout “I am the king of the world.” These thoughts, these simple rewards, these dangerous moments are my inspirations and my motivations. They stir me to do daring acts, possible or not.
I won’t sit here awaiting my baptism; I will live life to the fullest; work as if there’s no tomorrow and learn as if life is endless. My existence will have an impact on this world, and I will continue surviving until I assure that.
I was born July thirty, nineteen ninety-nine."
Aiel Vergara writes about not reaching the peak of Pulag in a composition redefining success.
"Should we continue our journey to the peak? Do we want to be successful?"
Arthur, barely able to move his lips due to the extremely low temperature, said, "No matter what, we must all be together." Paul, guilty but at the same time drained of energy, replied, "No, go on. Just come back for me here."
The group of six high school mountaineers then divided into two, with both looking for the coveted triumph. Having a very strong desire against failure, Duke and I went together towards the peak, our definition of success. We walked, ran, jogged, dived on grass, and, finally, up there, we stood up. I stared at the camera as it flashed while a question floated in my mind, "Am I victorious?" I looked up, and there was darkness; looking down, I saw a hint of light, probably from the setting sun. Fulfillment was absent from my mind. I was captured by the image of Paul's lips, by the picture of the setting sun.
I called Duke and down we went, through the flooded terrain and through the darkness of the night. Yet, just as the black abyss was to replace our hope with despair, we saw a flash of light.
"Paul! Are you okay?" Duke and I cried in unison. "We're really very sorry!"
"Here, Paul," I said removing a layer from my clothing, "take my best jacket."
"Thanks," replied Paul. "By the way, maybe you should know that we just finished praying the Hail Mary when we saw you."
At exactly that moment, I listened to the most ear-breaking silence I ever heard. I looked down, and there were a lot more to see besides tall, evergreen blades of grass fading in the fog. Right then and there, I felt the emotion of fulfillment; success was redefined.
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