Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sorry State of Our National Parks and Other Articles from Soc.Culture.Filipino

Jun 10 1997 3:00 pm
Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1997/06/10
Subject: Sorry State of Our National Parks

Nelia, Joseph and Tanya of LM. Photo taken by Ching
The Philippines has rich natural resources with a poor state of natural parks. Take Mt. Arayat National Park located at the foot of Mt. Arayat. Park is surrounded by a variety of big trees. Its biggest attraction is the swimming pools pumped in with fresh water. Ironically, there is no water in the only public comfort room except for one source coming from a small hose. The toilet naturally stinks. Graffiti in the bathroom tiles cry out "Please give us a better toilet!"

Park serves as a jump-off point to the peak of the mountain through the thousand steps. You are welcomed not with fresh air but with a heap of garbage left at the dirt road.

One can still enjoy Mt. Arayat. Appreciate the trees with red flowers in bloom. Cool yourself with the untreated fresh water. Picnic ground is generally kept clean. Price is relatively very affordable, twenty pesos for entrance. But as a national park under the care of Department of Energy and Natural Resources, it deserves a more decent maintenance. And it's the national park nearest Metro Manila.

What about our other parks?
Bataan Peak near Morong used to be blessed with hundreds of big towering trees three years ago. Summer this year, there were fewer trees. We couldn't even pass through because several fallen big trees blocked the trail. They were not cut. An induced diseased seemed to have afflicted them.

Mt. Pulag in Benguet as of January 1997 has now recovered from the fire that hit the bald mountain last year. Thousands trek to the peak every Christmas season putting pressure on the ground.

The pilgrims and responsible mountaineers are actively protecting Mt. Banahaw from deterioration. A proposed highway that cuts through a portion of the mythical mountain threatens the foot. The annual Holy Week climb hurts the ground and contaminates the water.

Mt. Data visited this May maintains its charm. But where are the pine trees? Now, you need to go mountain climbing to be surrounded by them.

The lake and the scorching heat protect Taal Volcano from mass visitations. This island is home to hundreds of crows (uwak) flying so low at the lake within the volcano. But why are shooters allowed in the island? The locals say practice shooting is a common practice.

Yearly, thousands troop to Mt. Apo during Holy Week. This yields to hundreds of new names added to the rocks at the peak and tens of names curved at the grounds of Lake Venado.

Do we give up?

"A real nature lover enjoys the beauty of Mother Nature and protects it for other generations too to enjoy" - Anonymous

Guiting-Guiting, Icon of Mountaineering
Apr 12 1998, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino,
Date: 1998/04/12
Subject: Guiting-Guiting, Icon of Mountaineering

We are back after 6 days from Sibuyan Island, an island of the Romblon province, and 12-16 hours by a slow Viva boat from Batangas City. Island is isolated and has maintained its undeveloped state mainly due to the difficulty of transport and the economic condition. Showcase of the island is Mt. Guiting-Guiting (2,058 meters above sea level ASL, 17 degrees Celsius, strong winds, and cloudy skies.) It is considered a tough climb.

For a regular climber, G2 can be considered a culmination climb reminding you of Banahaw de Tayabas at first as you approach the foot of the mountain; Banahaw de Dolores and Makiling during the ascend, Apo, Hibok-hibok, Batulao, Durungawan at Mayo's Peak and distinctly Guiting-Guiting at the gorge.

To reach the summit, one climbs a 9-hour trek on the first day from 0 ASL and a 6-hour assault to the True Peak passing through gorges most of the way. It requires some rock climbing to cross boulders.

G2 is a mountain of courage and bravery, power and humility. It demands courage, guts, determination, visualization and a strong faith. Once completed, the climb teaches one to be humble and to be powerful. It blesses one with a thought that in our day to day reality, the power of Mt. Guiting-Guiting is right behind us to push the limits of our humanity making our dreams and undertakings happen for us. Thus the power is not to be abused and to taken with utmost meekness. For to abuse it means losing the power temporarily given us.

Our group has been so blessed that our True Source allowed us to experience this moment made available only to a few.

With this Easter climb, we climbers are to dedicate all our undertakings to greater causes. Or else the grandeur that is of Guiting-Guiting may just be put to waste.

Happy Easter!

With us were EL Vincent Balagot, Dom Gaduco, Ding Cailipan, and Mayan Gutierrez, Malou Cabrera, Carlo Magno, Mike Pulido, Darius Jorjen, Mitch Soria, Mannix Moya, Ching-I-Wang, CBR and guides Bobet Tansiongco and Parson.

In the other group, which reached the Mayo's Campsite Thursday, were EL Christine Medina, Resil, Orly Amolar, Jonathan Almedilia, Lloyd Alcaraz, Marlon Paguila and Gilbert Lim guided by Bulod, Parson's father.

May 7 1997, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino, rec.outdoor
Date: 1997/05/07
Subject: Outdoors Philippines

To those interested in climbing, two specialty outdoor stores in Metro Manila released their climb schedules in the province of Luzon in the Philippines. Check them out. Climbs are usually in small groups of less than 30, led by seasoned responsible expedition leaders and are open to interested, qualified participants.

For light and easy trek with agreeable co-climbers through Habagat, The Outdoor Shop at Megamall, 1/F Building A, Tel. 637-5492, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. Look for Rosebelle or any of their friendly staff. Pre-climbs are set unusually the Saturday before the climb early p.m. at the shop. Email at

Mt. Makiling, May 17-18 1997
Mt. Banahaw, June 12-14 Thursday-Saturday
Mt. Sembrano, July 19-20
Mt. Maculot, August 16-17
Mt. Pulag, September 17-21
Mt. Malipunyo, October 18-19
Mt. Cristobal, Nov 15-16
Caliraya, December 20-21

Rocks and Woods, an outdoors shop affiliated with Pilipinas Sierra Inc. also has their regular and open climbs. Profile of climbers is the serious, hard core type and the Makati worker. Climbs are usually finalized Wednesday early evenings at the basement of Makati Cinema Square, Makati City Philippines. Contact persons are Caloy Gomez and
Karen, Tel 811-1974. Visit the Pilipinas site at

Talipanan Mindoro, April 1997
Polilio Island, April
Sierra Madre, May
Quezon National Park Summer Camp, 1st week of May
Mt. Cristobal, May 24-25

Up There
Baguio connection for Cordillera climbing can be made with Living Sojourn through Mike Arivisu. Contact (074) 443-8855, #26 Rizal Park South corner Chantung st. 2600 Baguio City.

Charlie Pedro of the Cordillera Mountaining Expedition can tell you all about the "mountain climbing in the mountain." Charlie won first place in the 1st Mt. Maculot Climathon last March 23 1997 organized by PAL MC and DWLL. Charlie's`# is (074) 444-4996.

Down Here
Palawan known for preserved corals and islands is pure nature. Call John Patrick Matta at 723-9931 or 723-9981. John welcomes bacpackers in their island in Coron and divers in their Bayside Diver's Lodge in Coron.

If your club has a schedule, e mail them so we can share it with the rest of the trekkers interested in responsible climbing. We most welcome activities outside of Metro Manila base.

Mt. Maculot is All Geared Up For The HolidaysDec 1 1997, 4:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino,
Date: 1997/12/01
Subject: Mt. Maculot is All Geared Up For The Holidays

Climbing Mt. Maculot last 29-30 November, you can say Christmas has come upon this place. At night, you'll drive through several kilometers of Christmas lights in San Jose lined up against darkness in the main road. The lights are punctuated with Christmas decors, sometimes giant wreath, at times bells. It's like entering a tunnel of lined lights continuously for about 10 minutes.
Upon registering at Barangay Siete, the new registration desk that is just meters away from the Mountaineers Store, you'll immediately sense the cold strong breeze coming from the mountain.

When you reach the shoulder, prepare your windbreaker. Support your tadpole or geo-dome type tents with guyline and complete sets of pegs. It's as if there's a storm coming. Temperature without the wind factor was surprisingly just below 20 degrees.

I have never seen that many campers in the peak, counted at about 380 plus by the Barangay volunteers. Bulk was composed of the Mapuan climbers celebrating their anniversary. The group I was with at the trail (Cebu Pacific and the Greenmeadows group) had to contend with the flat ground between the shoulder and the water source.

With all the dining, the drinking and the socials that night complemented by the cold weather and the strong winds, you can say Christmas has really come upon this mountain. The smell of latrine though brings you back to your reality that there is still the descend and work that waits for you this Monday.

Mt. Maculot is in Cuenca Batangas Philippines, a small town 2 hours from South Expressway. It is considered as a minor, weekend climb and a favorite among novice trekkers. Summit is about 700 meters ASL. Trek time from the foot to the shoulder is about 1 1/2 hours. Add another hour to the summit.

Amateur Photos of Mountains by Amateur Climbers
Nov 27 1997, 4:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino,
Date: 1997/11/27
Subject: Amateur Photos of Mountains by Amateur Climbers
Foto by Lex Evangelista

There is a photo exhibit on the outdoors at the Habagat Shop in Bldg. A Megamall tomorrow, 28 November until their first anniversary day on Sunday, 30 November.

Featured are photos of amateur and professional photographers and climbers as Xander Angeles, Glenn Conde, Rosebelle Daculan, Lex Evangelista, Mark Howarth, Art Maculangan, Chichay Maculangan, Ronnie Muring, John Solis, Milo Tolentino.

Recall the times when "you tested the body and pampered the soul" quoting from a column at Today dated today.

Go East (Rizal, Laguna, Quezon)May 26 1997, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino,
Subject: Go East (Rizal, Laguna, Quezon)

Rarely would one hear this in the Philippines. Either one goes North to Central and Northern Luzon or to the South in Bicol and as far as the Visayas and Mindanao. Going east has now become an alternative to the urban but daring Metro Manila dweller.

It covers 3 provinces, a night trek to Mt. Sembrano (700++meters), a ferry boat ride to the extreme eastern island Polilio Island passing through the Pacific Ocean, a dip at the beach shore waiting for a fantastic sunset. Leave Friday night and reach Katipunan St., the gateway to Metro Manila before 6 p.m. Sunday. It just takes planning; a vehicle and 5 climbers.

Assemble and complete all backcountry needs at EDSA Central. Take snacks and final shopping needs at Uniwide Family Store in Antipolo. Reach Pililia by 11:00 p.m. Trekking time to Mt. Sembrano "touristic location" is about 1 1/2 hours. The range is open with no protective trees. Appreciate the view of Laguna Lake, Talim Island and Metro Manila at the extreme West. Mt. Makiling (1,090 meters) is likewise visible. Descend early and travel by land to Quezon. You'll pass through two mountains, the Mt. Sembrano range (?) traversing the Rizal-Laguna boundary and the Sierra Madre range connecting Laguna and Quezon. The Sierra Madre highway newly opened last year is an attraction in itself. No time to enjoy the scenery now, as you need to rush to Pantalan in Real, Quezon to catch the last ferry ride to Polilio Island bound for the town Polilio. The ferry only leaves when there's sufficient load.

Travel time via ferry ride to the island takes about 4 hours, 3 1/2 if the load is light. (Peter Harper and Laurie Fullerton writers of Philippine Handbook (California: Moon Publications, Inc, 1994) describe Polilio Islands as consisting of several islands with beautiful, fine beaches, a game refuge and bird sanctuary. Land area of the main island is 605 square meters. Shallow waters, with extensive mangrove forests surround the islands and coral reefs . . . Much of the underwater area remains unexplored. Sharks are plentiful, especially white tips and hammerheads, and whale sharks are occasionally seen.)

When you reach Polilio, suspend your concept of time and hospitality. What's in this quaint town? The center of the place is the small landing pier where the arrival and departure of a ferry is itself an event. The other scheduled trip was cancelled.

After the 4 hour ferry ride in a loaded iron ferry, we took a seafoods lunch in Real with hundreds of excursionists, cleansed ourselves at a clear, clean river near the mouth of the Pacific Ocean whose water must have come from the Sierra Madre and then dropped by at the jump-off point of the Metro Manilan backpackers' favorite-Famy.

As we see more and more vehicles and get less and less of clean air, we sensed we were back to urban living after covering 3 provinces-Rizal, Laguna and Quezon. Ready to face the pace again and getting ready for another adventure in the coming weekend.
-with Mitch S., Alex K., F. Sanchez and E. San Jose, May 1997

13 Hours from Sucat to BicutanAug 19 1997, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1997/08/19
Subject: 13 Hours from Sucat to Bicutan

13 hours. Yes that's how long it took to cross the 4 km stretch from Sucat South Luzon Expressway to Bicutan Monday night when the monsoon rains caused a giant gridlock out of Metro Manila. The rains caught the city and the government flatfooted. DZRH went on special programming. So did DZBB and DZMM. You know when the government is unprepared-there are no politicians on air. Except for MMDA Chairman Prospero Oreta who simply had to say give in to all the requests of the announcer for towing trucks, the traffic brigade and the state of the raincoats and rubber boots-lines he has been saying for the pas days on radio. I heard Mayor Marquez say at 4 a.m. that it was OK to take the Santos Road to the South.

Following morning was devoted to discussion not on how to get us out of the gridlock but on whether there would be classes and offices or not! And which government office is responsible for announcing this when we haven't even gone home yet! Mayor Binay was cold about the whole situation and wouldn't even volunteer his towing trucks.

From the radio broadcast it seemed to me that the South was completely shut off from the metropolis. The coastal road, NAIA road and the SLEX were in a standstill. Traffic in the Expressway was caused by the incessant rains and flooding, the volume of vehicles building up and the buses/ trucks catching up with the light vehicles later in the evening. At SLEX, main blocks were the flooding at the Bicutan interchange, at the Motorola (which settled down early in the morning) Bicutan, Magallanes, Vito Cruz, Quirino and others not reported.

As I moved out of C5 at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and saw the snake of vehicles wanting to get into the South, I pictured their future the next 13 hours. It can be shorter if the rains stop, longer if the government doesn't wake up.

What has the popularity of mountaineering done?
Nov 26 1999, 4:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1999/11/26
Subject: What has the popularity of mountaineering done?

What has the popularity of mountaineering done?
-Raised the consciousness of the climbers for the environment, acting on it though is different from just knowing.
-Gave pleasure to the climbers either through their appreciation of nature, the camaraderie, use of equipment, purchase of equipment, physical exertion, feeling of completion, seeing new places, meeting new people, eating, drinking or mere escaping. Or a combination of all.
-Sharpened special skills: photography, cooking, organizing, leading, relating, writing, website developing, handling socials, technical climbing etc not to mention improved the economy: equipment trading and local commerce thrived from guides, food that you eat, transpo that you avail, places that you stay above all, it ignited the passion in individuals, to enjoy their lives to the edge.
-Close to saying it has opened us to our spirituality, to our role in life, our relationships with others and our place in this universe.

So what are we complaining about? We are concerned that our playing ground is not kept and in fact desecrated. We see it and know we can do something about it. Does this animal we are looking for really exist? Perhaps the environmentalist is a state of perfection and the purist is just our projection. The best that most can do is keep the campsite clean and stay alive. But it is good to be reminded at times that we can fill in to that obligation. Just like what Alfie and Celine did. Until we push so hard, it will be difficult. Because that is our nature.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Nov 30 1999, 4:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1999/11/30
Subject: What has the popularity of mountaineering done?

i absolutely agree with alfie that, as mountaineers, we should be environmentalists. i also agree that climbing in "great numbers" can damage the mountains. finally, i also agree that we "do not understand so many things about the mountains".

insofar as mfpi is concerned, environmental protection has always been one of its original goals. regretfully, climbers, both members and non-members of mfpi, are presently unable to agree on what climbers need to do to protect the mountains.
personally, i feel that any proposed course of action should be well thought out and must have solid scientific basis. and since we "do not understand so many things about the mountains", the first thing we have to do is undertake some verifiable studies of philippine mountain ecosystems before we come to such conclusions like "stop climbing" or "stop 'mass' climbs".

for instance, if we take alfie's concern about climbing in great numbers, we first have to agree on what that "great number" is. to do this, we have to find out the impact of specific numbers of climbers on specific mountains under specific conditions. there are no shortcuts. while some member clubs of the mfpi have espoused limiting climbers on certain mountains to a specific number, i have yet to see anybody come up with some honest to goodness study on which these numbers can be based. most have merely parroted what studies conducted in foreign countries on totally different ecosystems have concluded. regretfully again, these so called studies have also proven to be inconclusive. this is the root of the problem.

we can not continue taking the word of foreign friends and foreign publications, no matter how well meaning, as ex cathedra gospel truth without pausing for a moment to think if they are applicable locally. we can not keep on mouthing environmental buzzwords. we have to understand that, in order to launch an honest to goodness environmental crusade, we have to be able to defend our proposals in plaza miranda or in any other forum our detractors may choose. more importantly, we have to be able to convince our fellow mountaineers and environmentalists of the legitimacy of their cause in order to propel them to action. to do otherwise would be to court divisiveness within the mountaineering and environmental community. the members of the community would be unable to agree on something which lacks basis and can not be rationalized or explained.

this is precisely why, when we sought permission to climb mt. kanla-on for the last president's climb. we offered to undertake a study on the effects of climbing on mt. kanla-on in cooperation with the makiling center for mountain ecosystems at the u.p. los banos. this study would have taken at least one year of data gathering and we were supposed to gather the initial data during that climb. sadly, some local public official, who claims to be an environmentalist, insisted on an absolute ban on climbing mt. kanla-on on the basis of a two page position paper (authored by himself) which failed to even relate climbing and mountain ecosystems. this despite the fact that he has no qualms about allowing gamecock farms on the slopes of mt. kanla-on.

to end on a personal note, i am perfectly willing to abide by any course of action or regulation which would protect the environment that we all love. however, i do not intend to be stampeded into action by some environtalists who think that, by mouthing some environmental jargon and appealing to my love for the environment, he can convert me to his cause. i demand that anybody who suggests that the federation do something grant me and the federation a modicum of respect (the same respect i offer to every other mountaineer and environmentalist) by presenting defensible and concrete propositions.

in the meantime, pending the results of the proposed studies, the federation can reach some consensus on any urgently needed preventive measures to minimize the damage climbers may be causing to the mountains. this can be done at the vmg seminar to be conducted this month in tagaytay. and if any climbers are really concerned about the future of climbing, then i urge them to attend.

butch sebastian, MFPI President

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1998/10/22
Subject: Philippine Mountaineering

Simply when one goes to a mountain, a "protrusion with an elevation," he does mountaineering, which in the Philippines is mainly trekking, hiking and a little of rock climbing. Mountaineers usually are self-contained with provisions for food, shelter and clothing. Climbs are usually in groups, in clubs, or just barkada and arranged on weekends (overnight) in popular mountains with established trails. Some treks are easy others difficult and dangerous. I are not aware of benchmarks when one can be called a true mountaineer. Some say when they have climbed heights over 10,000 feet ASL, or when they climb once a month, or climbed at least 50 peaks or when one feels at home in the setting and can survive with the adversities. The principles of mountaineering are universal. The only difference is the type of mountains. We have tropical mountains, Europe has alpine, the Himalayas, also alpine. I'll post your question in a Philippine based news group so you'll get varying points of view. Visit our web site if you can assess from there

BojieBojie wrote: Gusto ko lang malaman kung anong klaseng mountaineering meron dyan sa Pilipinas. I have seen some websites regarding this matter, pero all of them only deal with backpacking/trekking and maybe some rockclimbing. Mahilig din kasi ako mag-hiking at backpacking and a little rockclimbing, but i do not consider myself a true mountaineer. But I'm still dreaming of becoming one, someday. I just want to know if the term "mountaineering" is used in a different context or if there really are places in the Philippines to go mountaineering? yun lang po... ang inyong abang lingkod, bojie -
Oct 22 1998, 3:00 pm

Life in Katipunan
Jun 19 1997, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1997/06/19
Subject: Life in Katipunan

My Katipunan used to be a quiet street that connects U.P to Aurora Blvd. Now it connects Bulacan to Laguna. It has become like an EDSA. Worse it is now EDSA with the LRT construction constricting travel in the major thoroughfare.

Crossing the overpass that links Loyola Heights to Blue Ridge used to be a feast for the eyes. The Sierra Madre on the Marikina side steals the attention from the windshield. On a clear day, Mt. Makiling in Laguna is also visible. We have now been denied this, censored by a high wall that almost says, "You are not entitled to this appreciation." Thank you to whomever initiated this project.

Katipunan-C-5's traffic is well managed by MMDA traffic aides, religiously. Even with the volume of vehicles, traffic flows. Innovations like counter flows, closing P. Tuazon crossings; no U-turns are regular occurrences. To a certain extent they yield faster flows. At least you know you'll get to Corinthian without much stress.

But what's irritating is: When some big shots stop traffic, violate traffic flows using uniformed men in big motorcycles to push them upfront. Our poor MMDA aides just have to give in to their bullying, while we have to wait. When the pacing is too slow that blind beggars queuing up for your window also builds up. When the aides in rare occasions are not in their post unpredictably. Could it be it's their payday? Or some politicians used them for other purposes? Or they simply just gave up? I couldn't see the pattern.

Patient as we are, we just have to surrender to progress. Wait for the new trees planted at Ateneo to grow and provide the shade in future summers to come. And guess where C-5 will eventually lead us? All the way to Pagudpud!

Is Backpacking a Religious Experience?May 21 1997, 3:00 pm

Newsgroups: rec.backcountry
Date: 1997/05/21
Subject: Is Backpacking a Religious Experience?

For me, it is a spiritual and not a religious experience. This I sense when I am grounded with the earth, when I connect with my creator and when I am made to appreciate nature at a subjective level.

In the Philippines, climbing in Mt. Banahaw in South Luzon and in Mt. Napulauan in the Cordillera during the Holy Week is a religious experience for some. Refer to the Philippine Handbook by Moon Publication or Philippines by The Lonely Planet.

The book Banahaw Conversations with a Pilgrim To The Power Mountain by vitaliano R. Gorospe, S.J. (Manila: Bookmark, Inc. 1992) features it extensively.

In article (Tully T. Blalock III) wrote:
I'm writing a research paper on religious pilgrimage. Specifically, I'm arguing that John Muir's feelings about the wilderness were his religion and that the journies which he took into the wilderness were religious pilgrimages. I was wondering if anyone out there had any insight into this. Do you have any specific rituals which you practice while in the wilderness (for example: fasting, meditation, reading inspirational materials at the beginning or end of a day?)

Why do you enjoy the wilderness? If you hike in a group, how do relationships between individuals change? I'd appreciate any responses that you have to these questions. Please mail me directly. Thanks in advance.

Tully Blalock

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