Monday, February 13, 2006

Fotos by Mike, Christie, Chito
Minsan sa Calauan
Renewing Climbing

ngunit ngayon kay bilis maglaho ng kahapon
sana'y huwag kalimutan ang ating mga pinagsamahan
at kung sakaling gipitin ay laging iisipin
na minsan tayo ay naging
tunay na magkaibigan

minsan ay parang wala nang bukas sa buhay natin
inuman sa magdamag na para bang tayo'y mauubusan
sa ilalim ng bilog na buwan
mga tiyan nati'y walang laman
ngunit kahit na walang pera
ang bawat gabi'y anong saya
-Minsan, Eraserheads 1994

11 February 2006, I joined a climb to Mt. Nagcarlan de Calauan led by PALMC OM Dexter Macapagal to renew my relationship with the mountain and to group climbing. The first initiation climb for the year had a mixed composition of participants coming from the club’s primary source of initiates, PAL Centennial Airport, Standard Underwriting, PCSO and the freelancers. Climb was ably supported by the newly inducted members fresh from their celebrated Bontoc Circuit Trek completed May last year and revisited this December 2005. Andrew Besinal and Cesar Bańares of Meridian Telecoms with Errol Baylon provided the trail ends to ensure the safety and success of the climb. The participants’ interests were notably diverse cutting across all age groups and professions such as aerobics, MMDA traffic light alignment, underwriting, broadband connections, baggage tracking, governance, sweepstakes lottery, seamanship, business, diving and other undisclosed ones. Eventually as each one struggled to reach the 760 meters ASL summit of the Nagcarlan based mountain, their interests for the moment narrowed down to simply trail management, knot tying and the start of loving for the mountains.

What compelled me to join the activity was the significance of the date. 14 February 1998, I organized a valentine’s climb at Pico de Loro (664 meters ASL) for some PALMC members along with friends from Loyola Mountaineers and Destiny Cable. The setting and composition of trekkers were conducive to a warm socials discussing mainly on relationships. Like the climb last weekend, it was on a full moon and on a windy night. Female climbers from Loyola plus the male trekkers of Destiny Cable combined with the unattached and married trekkers from PALMC resulted in an honest-to-goodness discussion on love and marriage. The gift the mountain gave was beyond thrill of climbing.

The EL Dexter persistently kept on asking, “Chits, anong pinagkaiba noon at ngayon?” How was PALMC before and how is it now?” Questions one cannot answer candidly without the aid of Ginebra San Miguel, Grand Matador and Bicol Express as I do not pretend to be the authority on the matter.

For one, as most of the climbers in Calauan were mostly initiates, the enthusiasm was more on knot tying lectured by Mar Melendres than “tying the knot.” The only discussion on relationship was when the EL was repeatedly searching for his soul mate and forging alliances to make things happen. Even the engaged to be married couples Dan and Ethel were quietly on their own. It appeared that the “R” topic was a dreaded word that Cesar was avoiding to which at the other extreme Errol was apparently open to.

With the additional inputs of PAL employee and senior club member JM Ortiz, times were a lot more rigid then than now. Diversity was frowned upon. The only way was the club’s and EL’s way. But as the popular saying goes, “times have changed.” Even with the more relaxed rules, it is reassuring to hear that similar to maintaining an airline fleet, safety prevails over adventurism today. We have to thank our EL, BMC lecturer, the lead and sweep packs and the extent of physical preparedness of the participants.

What remained unchanged were the safety nets and artifacts grounded in place by the pioneers of the club to include the lively socials and the extended side trips. (Filipino Mountaineers Artifacts in the Management of Change

The diagnostic climbs and the pre-climbs will always be there to prepare the trekker for the best and the worst. (Titus, a Team Leader was readily giving tips to Leo on how to pace himself until the end.)

Our local contact (Mark of San Pablo) helped cut short the orientation and acclimatization to the place. Having a host from the place is almost always a prerequisite to a climb especially to a trail we are not familiar with. Prior arrangements for the jeep ride and the Erais Farm were greatly appreciated.

The socials provide the members a chance to get to know more of the initiates and for the initiates to likewise get to know more about the club, members and the outdoors. I can not make out though if the social was a success as it was more of a monologue of the EL on what the club can do (with my irritating interruptions). As Jun, one of the Team Leaders noted, the guests who we shared the campsite with from the other groups were keener on answering our questions more than the initiates. Even with the diligent bartending of Macmac, the dominant sounds we could hear were that of the howling wind and our bankero.

Along with the socials are the stories each one has to tell about the outdoors. The reason I thought the participants were not as gregarious during the socials was because the meat of the socials was already told at the waiting shed lecture room at the jump off when the discussion centered the Bontoc Circuit Trail covering topics as the prevention of the tribal war, respect for the locals’ culture, rituals of death and marriage, raging carabaos, division of water, Mainit’s indifference to visitors, obligations to build houses for all the daughters, building greater awareness for the circuit that ex-president Banny Hermanos initiated and the awesome Banny, Stephen, Dan documentation. Truly, storytelling is one art a mountaineer learned to enhance simply by listening in the socials and attending pre climbs. (It is not surprising that the three climbs that interest the initiates the most were Bontoc, Ugu and Halcon.)

Equipment was well provided for. The strong cold winds that hampered the campsite from 5 PM up to the last minutes at 7 AM could not create a sound from the set up of Andrew, Dex and our guests from Bińan Ramon and Oscar. Stoves of our great cooks consistently provided heat to cook the ideal rice. Jackets and blankets in varied colors prevented chilling. Sufficient or is it insufficient water avoided dehydration. When Agnes was offering cooking oil, Spam and basura to the other group during break camp, they casually replied, “Maam, mayroon napo kami niyan, tent niyo na lang.”

As I look back, was it really different then and now? When the passion for climbing is deeply in you, nothing has changed. It is easy to connect with the young and the old, easy to still appreciate the grandeur of nature and to renew one’s affinity to it. One remains and hopefully forever be committed to the care for the environment. The mountains will always be there as a playground waiting to be explored and rediscovered. The reasons we heard in the socials on why we were together in one full moon in an elevation that took 3 hours to trek were said before: to appreciate nature, to escape and to make the best use of the moment as time is running out. The initiates though cannot climb as often because they do not yet have the money. Those working with money do not have the liberty of time. The senior ones with both money and time no longer have the luxury of good health. The profile then is still the profile now. That is why even if this was our first contact; it is as if we have known each other for a long time. Even with the differences, we share the same perspective. Thank you for the company and the connection. Balang araw, maaalala natin na minsan tayo ay nagsama sa isang gabing masaya.

Chito 13 February 2006


Have you guys heard of Dave Matthews’ song Tripping Billies? Well, you can hear part of the lyrics there that sounds like “eat, drink and be merry ‘cause tomorrow is a mystery.” I changed a bit--and this is what seems to best describe the group that climbed Mt. Nagcarlan de Calauan last weekend.

We met the group the next day at the jump-off point where some of the members were talking about how Chito read their minds. Naku! Buti na lang at wala pa ako. But Andrew believed that only a few layers of skin Chito had dissected kasi naging bangkero yata. Love story ba o about press conference ni Dex? Chito asked (referring to his write-up theme). Kaso parang mas maganda yata kung tungkol sa OFWs ni JM. Pero Chito decided to write the difference of the memories and now.

Yehey!!! after two hours of waiting, listening to their stories, smiling by myself every time I recall the chat that have been through between the tricycle driver and Olga (kaano-ano niyo po si Tata Rudy), here we are now marching to the jeepney to Bunga Falls. The group decided to stop by to have lunch and reload stocks first. I didn’t know I was hungry, dalawang rice lang naman inorder ko which equals to 4 cups of rice here at isang dinuguan at parte-parte sinigang (gutom pala!) …may pahabol pang toron. Sa wakas at eto na rin kami sa Falls. Can you imagine how much fun we had at the falls? Well…see how cool my dad is in orange, my eldest brother on my right and my lovely sister, such a happy family…that’s how close it looks like! Pero mukha nga no…but it would be better if I changed my lovely sister to mom? Nah…future wife maybe (ala MEET THE PARENTS at weekends).

After some acrobats displayed jumping off the falls (I’ll share to you my pics), swimming, and others seemed to be reflecting...hmmm, at pichur-pichuran, at yung iba eh gusto pang humabol sa Lovapalooza (see how smoothly Errol works…pang calendario), EL had decided to go to Imang Church (wala kasi yung soul mate…naiingit at nagmadali!)

Kita mo naman fresh na fresh ang mga applicants at dalawang conductor sa taas. Heading to Church, it was a short travel where everyone had paid visit and said a little prayer. The church is well-known for the others dahil kasama pala siya sa telenovela (sorry hindi ko na maalala).

And this was the time which the eating galore started. Nag-start sa Sorbetes at Donut; dami kasi nagtitinda sa labas ng simbahan at dahil ginutom sa swimming. Then we proceeded to the first and only Underground Cemetery sa Phils., built by early missionaries and where the rebulusyonaryong katipuneros had their meetings. sorry…sarado nga lang (hindi kasi nag-ocular si EL eh). That was the last activity listed on the itinerary but the fun didn’t end there. It seemed we had an all day supply of food; chicharon, mane, spam, Andok’s Liempo at Manok, and chocolates for dessert, and we had been eating all the way to Manila (thanks chito and JM). The Lovapalooza couple made the group feel good (kilig) during the trip back home as they had been showing the sweetness of words and actions (subconscious kuno) that we couldn’t keep notice of it (iba talaga ang mayor). And vice mayor’s assertion of the OFWs story and financial aid he will fund to whoever is getting married among the members (Dan and Ethel, I know you’re next).

In the end, you can see and feel of what’s on everybody’s mind on our way home; fun and joy that had struck them that seemed wouldn’t want to last, makes them think how happiness can achieve in simple ways (whew! I’m glad I didn’t have my second thought), and unnoticeably way of bringing themselves out of shyness in reaching others. See how the spirit of PALMC lives? It’s a mystery. See you at Induction

Mike Pulido
Fotos by Andres Besinal
Bunga Falls itinerary is detailed by Gideon in

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