Shared laughter creaks a bond of friendship. When people laugh together, they cease to be young and old, master and pupils, worker and driver. They have become a single group of human beings, enjoying their existence.
-W. Grant Lee
They said no other mountaineers have been there before other than them, the Batangas Backpackers. They said only the residents of Ilihan trek to this mountain range to harvest the local fruit atis during the season like this August. Some adventurous males climb to catch the remaining monkeys in the second or so generation forest cover. The daring ones upon orders of the local government hunt and kill the snakes for the safety of the barangay inhabitants. Kids and housewives wash laundry and dive at the waterfalls near the mountain approach combining both leisure and work.
This place gained prominence when Shell Refinery put up their facilities at this coastline property. Now it will gain greater prominence when the National Power Plant Corporation completes its power plant at the mountain ridge.
Ilihan is typical of the mountain ranges in the southwestern side of Batangas as Mt. Tilos in Lobo near Malabrigo, Mt. Banoy near the Smart Tower and Mt. Banay-banay. Common are: a second generation forest line, small streams and waterfalls, gentle assaults, 500 to 700 meters ASL altitude, cogon covered summits, abundance of fruit bearing trees as atis, santol, guava at the mid range, full view of Mounts Halcon, Baco, Talipanan, Malasimbo at the Southern Mindoro side, Malipunyo, Maculot, Banahaw, Cristobal, Makiling at the other side.
The climb that Kurt AKA Phoebus and his group of climbers staged was truly a fun climb, a climb filled with laughter contributed by the Manila trekkers and the host climbers.
We were only too glad to meet Tirtir who was a Brother for Singles for Christ when we were down and a macho dancer at the "Bahay Na May Aso" rest stop while we were up. When asked how he can reconcile, he simply said, when he sings for the church ministry, it needs choreography.
What about Jederico Jose, a student of Batangas University? Jeric for short is professed to be a good cook, the most kalog, most naughty, reliable trekker. He hosted portions of the climb and the socials as if he was in "Ang Dating Daan." His facial expression alone will give Michael V. a stiff competition. Aarrre, aaarrre as he would shout repeatedly in true Batangueño fashion. It was Jeric who pestered Kurt with the question let's swim, play billiard, sing and drink at the Shell Refinery. According to his friend JeBoy, his girlfriend left him. Even the rambutan market vendor couldn't stand him. His favorite pastime with his backpacker friends-nagpapalaki ng tiyan. It's easy he assures all of us, Val included.
The reason the socials held on from 11 PM to early morning Sunday was Kurt's unending explanation as to why they turned left not right and moved around and around midway in the trek. His famous lines, "pagkahatid ko sa inyo, bababa ako para sundin ang mga MESAU" elicited so much laughter from his co-founders. Kurt killed three hours explaining to Val and to Jojoy the chemical composition of unleaded gas, premium and velocity. Cui threw in this phone in question as to what will happen to their vehicle meant for gas but was loaded with diesel. All rushed out of the discussion hall except Val when Kurt was starting to explain technical terms. Very MESAU I would say.
Why do you think was the group named "Baba"? Because going up is not their specialty. Going down is. Ask JoRam how many times we attempted to get back to the track.
Bakit JeBoy ang name ng bagets climber? Kasi ng ipinanganak siya, namatay ang tatay ng kapitbahay na JeBoy din ang pangalan. Ano ang relasyon? Itanong mo sa nanay niya.
Bakit kulang ang description ng Ayala print ad kay Regie Pablo, mountaineer, hiker, rock climber, supervisor? Kasi walang tattoo, walang dark shades at walang hirap sa wall. Ikaw ba yan Regie?
Bakit tuwang tuwa si Cui sa climb na ito? Kasi hindi siya pinagsabihan ng "Taba, Taba" ng bata. Dahil night trek na siya at nawala pa. Higit sa lahat kasi nakasama siya. Ganoon din si Erwin.
Bakit deadma si ET sa mga mga Ilihan sa pag-akyat niya? Kasi panay sigaw ng "Taba, Taba" sa kanya ng bata.
Bakit Sound of Silence ang kinanta ni Val sa Shell Country Videoke Canteen? Kasi walang silence sa buhay niya sa katatanong niya.
Ano ang hinahanap ni Regie nang nagluluto siya ng adobo? Suka, suka! Ano ang binigay sa kanya ni Roderick, Kurt at Jessie sa umaga? Suka, suka!
Why should you avoid Jessie, the female male of MESAU in the early mornings? Because she turns aggressive.
Why do you avoid Regie, the mountaineer, supervisor, lover at early mornings? Because he turns passive. Sige na, pakawalan niyo na ako! Umaga na at kagabi pa ako umiinom.
Some famous lines from our lead climbers: George nasaan ka? ani Rodel. The answer is, Rodel nahan sa? ani George. Famous beeps from Kurt at 9:30 PM, "Chito, find us, we are getting lost."
What is the most abused camping equipment in Ilihan? The Balisong. Ask them. I wasn't in Maculot when the club was formed.
Bakit low bat si Mitchen sa climb na ito? Kasi naubos ang batirya sa kahahanap ng trail. Ilan ang flashlight nila? One for 3 climbers.
As in the past climbs, it appeared that Richard and Erwin were the most behaved. Appearance lang. But Rodel, the long haired lead, Rodel, the pamangkin ni Lola sa Ilihan, and Warren were really the most behaved.
What era did we leave the waiting shed? The Ferdinand Marcos era. And what era did we catch when we went back to the shed? Still the Ferdinand Marcos era. O dakilang ama, abangan niyo ang tulang ito.
Why do these crazy urban trekkers climb? They climb for the same reason that they laugh. To quote an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer by H. D. Tacio on laughing and getting healthier " . . . laughter is good for your health. Laughter reduces health-sapping tensions and relaxes the tissues as well as exercises the most vital organs . . . even when forced, it results in beneficial effect on us, both mentally and physically."
"Laughter is one of the best stress relievers in our society. It eliminates nervous tensions, which can definitely upset body function and mental functions. It clears the mind by releasing stress and tension" It is hard to feel annoyed and resentful when you are laughing. After you've had a genuinely good laugh, you have a feeling of well-being, of personal satisfaction, of contentment of happiness. If you want to feel happy more often, try laughing more often. It is virtually impossible to laugh and cry at the same time.
And if you want a fun climb, climb Ilihan with the Batangas Backpackers. Make sure Chito, Cui and Regie are with you so you'll find your way laughing at the top. Truly a laughing climb makes everyone one. Val the inquisitive one blends with Regie, the sophisticated and the world renowned one. JoRam, the non drinker survives with the MESAU drinker. Even Balisong was made one with Baba only for the night. And Chito, the mature one manages with the Makukulots and the Macuculits.
Why did we fail to identify the mountain? Because it did not matter anymore to us because we were enjoying ourselves. Ang saya! Ang saya-saya!
-C. Razon 18 August 1999
From: Aye dela Cruz
Date: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:51 pm
Subject: [mfpi] The fun climb to Ilihan Batangas in a mountain we failed to identify
Salamat sa tribute! matagal na namin kayo di nakakasama sa climb, miss na namin kayo, pati mga donation nyong alcohol sa grupo. hehe.
BaBa is planning another Friendship climb this summer. Invite ko kayo pag natuloy.
The Second Time Around (4-5 September 1999) at 745 M ASL
Still it was fun climb with louder and longer laughter. The presence of MESAU explorers in big number did not stop the Baba from dominating the socials. Aside from Jederico, Rodel too took the center stage. As if making up for the missed socials last August, he commandeered the night activity which lasted from 11 PM to about 3 AM. He even solemnized the mock wedding to Jessie and Gilbert certainly more romantic than the Beaver and Jackie ceremony. Ayi of Batangas Balisong added spice and variation, Kurt with his dog Shadow, acted as marshal to ensure peace and order.
The hit gag of the night was the repetitive ritual of Jederico claiming back his lantern each time his integrity was put in question. Where in the entire mountain ranges in the Philippines have you spotted a rubberized lantern bouncing back and forth from the lantern stand to the TNF tent of Roderick in on and off mode. Our count of the repetition was over 20 times. A shocker was the reading of the first Ilijan article during the socials with the reader demanding why the accounts of Efren “Bata” were not in the journal. Simply. I said, my accounts compared to their stories.
Climb was sort of a reunion of the MFPI Pinatubo climb and a re-staging of the energy level of the post Deep Blue Sea lagoon concert. We again met the 4 past presidents of MESAU: Richard, Ronald, Ronald and would you believe Jon who together were last seen in Pinatubo. Adrenalin level raised that Saturday night almost matched the level generated by the suspenseful movie premiere and the electrifying acts of The Jerks, Romeo Lee, Ska and other artists last 30 August. Seeing Yay Ortega, Regie, Mitch, TJ, JoRam, Hermes, Cui again in Ilijan would make you think the comedy show was an extension of the concert.
While this weekend was shorter than the first, it gave us a sneak preview of more attractions to see. We explored the shoreline finding rock boulders perfect for practice rock climbing. We were drawn to the perpetual night flame of the Shell Refining and the lighted sights of the industrial buildings on our night trip. We discovered on our own on the way back the New Zealand pasture. This pasture put us at the edge of Batangas at a waving distance to the ferries and boats that traverse from Mindoro to Batangas. At the extreme deep end was a white lighthouse and at the sky were a flock of big black birds preying over a group of smaller birds. All this against the backdrop of the blue sea, layers of blue mountain ranges and gushing cold wind engraved a mark in our memories.
Leaving Ilijan, we appreciated the company who hosted us and the company we brought in with us. It was enough. Seeing all the sights and the wonders of the sea, river, mountain and space, we wondered why we were still returning back to the city. Maybe to tell the rest of the world that combining people and nature is intoxicating. We had an overdose.
(Ilijan is about 35 kms. South of Batangas City, less than an hour jeepney ride from the Batangas market.)
Memories of a Ilijan ,Batangas Climb in August 1999
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Hello there, Ching.
What a weekend at Mt. Ilijan! We started very confident that it will be a fun climb - a two to three hour trek. Our jump off site was from a house cum sari-sari store right on the beach. The house belongs to a relative of one of our host climbers. The view itself from the beach was fantastic. Visible were the islands off Batangas like Verde Island and Mindoro. That Saturday, the outline of Mt. Halcon could also be seen. As we went up the trail, the view even grew more fantastic. Since our host climbers - the Batangas Backpackers (or BaBa for short) - had been there only once before, the group lost its way by taking wrong turns at trail forks. As I recall, we not only did it once but thrice. Three times, we took a wrong turn. Three times, we backtracked to establish our bearing. Plus, we had to be extra careful for we were told by local folks that snakes abound in the area. True enough, we encountered one on a rock by the trail. The lead man tried scaring the snake away. But for some time, the snake would not moved from its position. It slithered deeper into its hiding place in the rock. We were quite apprehensive of resuming our trek for fear that the snake may come out of its hole to nick one of us with its kiss of death.
Getting lost and the snake encounter caused us to be significantly delayed in our trek. In all, it took us five hours to our campsite. We were hoping of reaching the campsite before sundown to witness the setting of the sun. It turned out that we couldn't camp at the summit because of tall cogon grass. A lead group scouted the top and came down to warn us of this situation. In the end, we settled for a camp about fifteen to twenty minutes away from the summit. Not a bad accomplishment for a loosely organized group. (I wonder if we can consider ourselves organized at the time. Frankly, the ants there seemed more organized.)
The night socials were spent on a drinking binge. I turned in very early for the night without having dinner. From inside my tent and fast approaching the REM phase of sleep, I could very easily hear the constant drunken laughter of people. Late into the night, I could intermittently hear people throwing up here and there. I was really concerned that just maybe somebody would be really wasted that my tent would get showered with vomit and urine. Not really a nice way to spend the night with vomit and urine flowing down my tent's rainfly. At first light, I slithered out of my tent to check if anything disgusting had flowed down my rainfly. It turned out to be a lucky night out there for me - the rainfly escaped being splattered with human waste products.
Those who were drunk had difficulties getting themselves together that following Sunday morning. The group ended up breaking camp quite late in the morning. Eventually, we made our way down. We stopped by a small waterfall. Some decided to take a dip on the stream fed by the waterfall. It was quite a quick trek on the way down. Even though we broke camp quite late, we got down quite early to have lunch where our jump-off was.
After lunch, we continued the socials by trooping all the way to the Shell Sports Complex. We spent late Sunday afternoon enjoying the confines of the swimming pool. Of course, more beer and laughter for the fellows. Soon after, we transferred to the Videoke lounge of the Sports Complex with more beer and laughter. This time the fellows tried outdoing each other with their singing prowess by trying to score the highest on the score keeping sound system. Chito mesmerized the group with his rendition of a medieval Tagalog ballad "Kastilyong Buhangin." Val scored very well singing the song "Sound of Silence." This merrymaking continued on into the evening until such time that we have to catch the last bus to Manila.
Our host climbers were a tremendous bunch of happy chaps - very accommodating and nice to be with when sober. Well, even if totally wasted as long as they keep their waste products to themselves. I enjoyed the climb more because of their zest for life. The hospitality of our host climbers was first-rate. It was difficult parting ways with them. We bid our goodbyes hoping for a next time.
How about you? How was your climb?
Hey, Chito. Any narratives from your end? Perhaps, a more colorful angle?