Two years ago, John and Banny gave serious consideration to rejoining the officer ship of the club. Now, March 2004, they just successful hosted the 25th MFPI Mountaineering Congress. I wrote this about two years ago.
Tribute to the Hosts
"Times have indeed changed," recounts Mr. John Fortes in a social gathering at the Laiya Beach last 11 May 2002 put together by the club under Jo Abian in his honor.
We climb to seek solitude and idyllic state offered by nature. Now we climb to find that we bring the noise and the clutter we are escaping from with us in the mountains.
That's the startling perspective John shared 23 years after he founded the PAL MC in 1979.
While 23 years seemed just like yesterday, the state of degradation on the environment made that yesterday looked like a century away.
Banny Hermanos on seeing a flock of crowd and the increasing number of nipa huts in Barangay Hugom said, "This place is now a place for all. That's the price we paid for accessibility."
He recalled way back in 1987, while looking for an alternative initiation climb for Famy and Maculot, he and Timmy Toledo stumbled into Laiya as an isolated lost paradise with pristine beauty. There were no resorts-only a handful of bancas. With just a map and the drive for something new as an operations manager for the club, they discovered Mt. Catmon after traveling for two hours in a Toyota 4X4 landcruiser from San Juan Batangas. Today Laiya is a mere two and a half hour drive away from EDSA via Lipa.
"See that island?" I asked Dom Goduco incumbent Treasurer and major influencer of the club, while pointing South West from the beach. "I finally landed in Marinduque last week." We go as far as Batanes, Polilio, Camiguin to get disconnected from it all. Yes within our midst, are still islands we have not explored.
Marinduque I promoted is one theme park that brings you back in time. It takes you just half a day to circle the 959 square kilometer island visiting all its 6 municipalities. The capital Boac is a livable Nayong Pilipino. To move from one end to the next, you skirt around the coastline in an hour from west side. Aside from snorkeling, you can climb Mt. Malindig with an altitude of 1,147 M ASL in 4-5 hours and cap your weekend in a relaxing hot spring. Best of all, it is still not a destination. Where else can you budget a P 600.00 weekend in a 6 hour travel from Manila in such a setting?
John in the late 70's. Banny in the 80's. Us now in the 21st century. Three generations that span decades of climbing. They thread on new grounds searching. While the discovery in itself is satisfying, the fulfillment is in letting others follow. We who are threading through the paths established pay our tribute to them quoting the philosopher Homer, "a guest never forgets the host who had treated him kindly." Thank you for opening these places to us.
Chito Razon 15May2002
The LoneRider writes a similar perspective.