Sunday, December 18, 2011

Simbang Gabi at the Gesu - "Something's Coming"

Message from Saturday night's Simbang Gabi at the Gesu- "Something's Coming", from Sunday's homily - "Hurdling Adversities."Lines I picked up from the Parol description: "The Christmas Parol like the Star of Bethlehem conveys a message of hope, faith and victory over darkness."

Info I picked up from Edsel
Mga kaibigan. Updates on how to ship DONATED goods to CDO/Iligan via Abotiz/Negros Navigation.  Emergency/Relief goods and equipment bound for Cagayan de Oro/Iligan-we have ships ready to transport them asap. For bulk items, bring directly to Abotiz/Negros Navigation, Pier 2, Manila. Call +63 2 211 5484 for more information.   Manila collection centers for relief goods: NN-ATS Express Center at Pier 2; NN-SuperFerry corporate ticket outlets in 1) Robinson's Ermita, 2) Araneta Center Cubao, 3) Victory Mall Caloocan and 4) Pier 15 and 5) Pier 2.

Ateneo Dream Team processing station last 18 Dec

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Black Friday night

Last Black Friday night, the night after Thanksgiving Thursday, I was in a company of product distribution experts on a drinking and food eating trip along the strip of Manila Bay at MOA (Mall of Asia) San Miguel by the bay.

Traditionally in the U.S., Thanksgiving has been an institutionalized event where the family recognizes appreciation for the blessings over sumptuous dinner. Our local version is an office gathering with shared billing. One came from the river bank of Rizal, another from Laguna and the rest from Paco in Manila. The prime mover earlier shopped for the fresh "pusit, tahong, tilapia, tuna" at the nearby wet market and had it cooked (paluto) at the selected outlet. Beer was order as much, food almost like "eat all you can" as the prices are affordable to a company of mid managers.

Talk point that evening did not center on giving thanks neither on what's working. Instead it dwelt on what is not working, routines not followed, regulations ignored. At some point, some raised the solution of "ethnic cleansing" to address the root cause. No wonder I said, it was a Black Friday. It turned out to be a ranting session to cope with situation not according to norms, by the group's standards. Talks were on violation, sleeping on the job, conflict of interest, etc. I selectively listened but did not contribute. I savored all the seafood servings but did not drink as much San Mig Pale Pilsen. Discussion extended for hours until way past midnight.

Grabbed from
Did the activity have any value? Yes it has as the food was good. Yes as it was with a pleasant company. At the end of the session, it felt good to have attended a gathering, thankful that that the four of us were still around looking forward to more sessions hopefully with more pleasantries than stories on failed responsibilities.

Kailan ulit?” Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wit now my love

Topical Thoughts:

-BPI Bank of Philippine Island in Metro Manila has online queue when in the bank premises. Did it cut waiting time?

-CDR King, the mainstream retailer of computer users computes manually. Will they computerize in the near future?

-Why DZUP radio show conversations are engaging keeping me glued on the radio. Will the shows continue to interest me?

Sa-a-a-d movies always make me cry
He said he had to work so I went to the show alone
They turned down the lights and turned the projector on
And just as the news of the world started to begin
I saw my darlin' and my best friend walk in
-Wit on the new sunshine industry, the neighborhood laundry shop. Spotted on 12th Avenue Murphy, “Suds Story” and “Wet n Wash.” My favorite is “Wash Now My Love” at F. Castillo st. in Project 4. Laundry cost is P25.0 a kilo, wash and dry only.

Tea houses too are mushrooming with their creative names.  Spotted at Diliman are: "Infini Tea" and "Cha Dao."

What now my love, now that you left me.

How can I live through another day

If there's one thing in my life that's missing It's the time that I spend alone Sailing on the cool and bright clear water. There's lots of those friendly people. They're showing me ways to go. But I’d never want to lose their inspiration.Time for Cool Charge.

The swinging Butcherlords

Saturday, November 12, 2011

5 Incidents That I am Grateful for and Appreciative of:

  1. Alvin of Open Pinoy patiently cleaned the 15.1 LCD screen of my Think Pad removing the spots inside the glass panel this 12 November, Saturday. Diversion to surfing will now be minimized.
  2. Habagat Davao sent via JRS the pair of metal braces for the Kinabalu Travel Pack bought almost a month ago and received today Saturday. Pack can now be loaded with more kilos of pomelo for my next trip.
  3. An elderly gentleman with carts of groceries offered me a slot in front of him at the check out counter of S and R in Quezon City two weeks ago. The gesture was timely as I was in hurry to bring in supplies to a luncheon which is due in several minutes.
  4. Closed the 5 month cadet ship session of 10 appreciative engineers this 11.11.11. It is gladdening to hear from a feedback at the end of the day that "they are now better prepared for the eventualities of tomorrow's realities."
  5. Heard my name specially mentioned by Jane of Tropang Radyo of DZUP 1602 AM while driving along C5 last 11 November Friday night at about 7.  I happen to be a fan of the AM station which is now one of my rich sources of ideas, insights and inspiration.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Massive Jam

I was due to arrive in Manila past one from Cebu the Friday before the long weekend. The PAL plane from Manila arrived an hour late at the Mactan International Airport resulting in a series of delays for the day for the Boeing Jet.

Manageable,” I told myself. But as we reached the island of Luzon, the pilot announced that there would be a delay in landing due to some operations at the Manila airport. We hovered around South Luzon for an hour until our flight was given clearance to land. It was my 1st time to view landing from the South side of the airport as we would traditionally pass by the air route from East when we would land from coming either the Visayas, Mindanao or from abroad. I found out upon landing that the President of Vietnam departed that same afternoon putting on hold any plane movements at the airport.

Grabbed from the Inquirer
Still manageable,” I convinced myself. On the way out of the airport, I was caught in a gridlock mid afternoon, 1st at the Quirino Highway until OsmeĊ„a Highway due to the combined volume of private vehicles and big hauling trucks and in Kamuning along Judge Jimenez st. until Kamias. Gridlock was caused by bottlenecks at every intersection of private vehicles and motorcycles cramming for the same limited road space.

Later on that evening, broadcast news validated that traffic was extremely heavy that afternoon until late in the evening as it was a Friday, pay day and Metro residents are moving out to take advantage of the 4-day free day. I was pleased to have heard that news while in the comfort of my destination for the day.

Two days after was altogether a different situation. Metro Manila that Monday was in a relatively relaxed state getting the much needed relief from the stress of a congested city. There was hardly any vehicle in both major highways and local roads. Neither are there any mass gatherings at the streets. Movement from the East side of Metro Manila to the West was a breeze.

Such was the cycle of stress to stress-free. Metro Manila this Monday was given the chance to rejuvenate and to expel the carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles. This much needed respite was timely and temporary, preparing itself for the hurried pace of the forthcoming 2011 holiday season. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Forthcoming: City under stress Friday at rest Monday.
Sent via mobile phone

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some roads are not meant to be travelled alone.
250 kilometers of Twists, Turns and Surprises around Taal Lake

An American facilitator who hails from Old England and lives in Spain was in Manila and asked me “What are you doing this Saturday?” In effect I was asked, “Bring me around the city and nearby where I can appreciate nature, food, history and people in a day.” Quickly the night before, I mapped out an itinerary which should fulfill these expectations of a well traveled guest. Running in my mind as a criteria were: it must show a modern city and its infrastructure, bistros for conversations, grand views, and historical sites building up interest as we complete.

This 8AM to 10PM activity started out from a Makati hotel pick up and back. In between we moved out of Metro Manila via Bonifacio Global City highlighting the “Fort” buildings and the Manila American Cemetery and Libingan ng mga Bayani.

We took South Luzon Expressway exiting at Sta. Rosa Laguna to show the training centers, industrial park and urban expansion. 1st stop in less than an hour was a coffee shop at the ridge. Java Jazz Coffee is a small bistro type shop in an all wood structure ventilated coolly by the breeze of Tagaytay. It is manned by 2 young baristas who served coffee with care and dedication. Setting was sufficient trigger to start a conversation about coaching, life struggles and travel. Not minding the time, it was an ideal place to go on and on and on.

But that was just for starters. From cozy we went grand, Antonio’s. Antonio is about 15 minutes from the coffee jazz but miles and miles away in structure. Built by a landlord of Negros, it is an architectural wonder; rooms are oversized, interiors are well appointed, food is excellent. From the many dining function rooms, we chose a corner at the garden for a small meal. Like the 1st stop, the patio setting and cool air set us up for more conversations on career.

Past lunch, we moved further South to Taal for view of the heritage town after a brief stopover at Sonya’s Garden. Taal showcased the rich Philippine heritage as evidenced by the Taal Basilica, ancestral houses and cobblestone streets. On the way out, we dropped by the shoreline just to have a glimpse of the sea. To the surprise of the guests, the residents appeared not to have shown any appreciation for the sea which according to them is a premium in their country.

Resort in Alitagtag
Nearing the completion of the loop, I included in the itinerary a resort known only to a handful meant to show a panoramic view of Taal from the West side at night. From this resort in Aligtagtag Batangas, it appeared that Mt. Maculot, a popular mountaineering destination was just within reach.

We returned back to Metro Manila via STAR and SLEX logging in about 250 kilometers of travel traversing from Metro Mania, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas in a day. Ending our expedition was a dinner at the wings of Vivere on the 31st floor which showed the Metro Manila skyline.

All in a day, Manila and the 3 nearby South Luzon provinces were seen differently; no longer as a cramped space but expansive with natural wonders and attractions. Guests said "They'll bring their friends from other countries when they come back to Manila." I said "I’d cover the track again with another company." As some roads are not meant to be travelled alone and done only once, especially this 250 kilometer trip of twists, turns and surprises around Taal Lake.

At the 31/F of Vivere

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sitting In

I sat in a training session which maps outs a development process of an associate in a corporate organization. It imparted a main message that "an associate expedites his growth in the organization if he charts out his destiny as a leader of the self." Key is his awareness of the need for directions and support to succeed which he draws out from his immediate leader.
This development is a dynamic journey leading to a peak performance where the associate is transformed from a novice position to a reliable performer.
Driving this achievement of result is in influencing partners to help achieve one's goals.

Learning to make snow balls for the 1st time, then filling up the sleigh.
Sliding on a sleigh is another skill.  Enjoying it later is self reliance.
What I realized is each one has an inherent power to influence whether personal, relationship, position or task. It is just that we are hesitant to tap this power for several reasons: fear, comfort etc.
Life is a mystery. It capitalizes on any trigger to pin down a message. This time, it was through a sit-in session where I did not even intend to complete which I did and eventually participated in.
-Personal Notes

Pickpockets nab Paris police chief’s smartphone

PARIS—A group of audacious pickpockets has managed to nab the smartphone of Paris's chief of police while he was preparing to board a train, police sources said on Wednesday. The thieves at the Gare de Lyon train station distracted Paris police prefect Michel Gaudin by asking him to sign a petition and swiped the mobile telephone from his pocket, the sources told AFP.  No sensitive information was contained in the phone, the sources said.  The embarrassing episode comes as the French interior ministry is in the midst of a campaign to raise public awareness of the growing risk of mobile telephone thefts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is there a benefit to checking in online?

Two major airlines allow web check-in for domestic flights: Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. Philippine Airlines does not have the feature.

Web check-in is an advantage for those who booked their flights on-line. With web check-in, it completes the cycle of reduced exposure to human personnel thus freeing up queuing time.

There are guidelines. For Cebu Pacific, check in is allowed within 48 to 4 hours before departure, 24 to 3 hours for Air Philippines. Once checked in, one can no longer change the status. You are considered "flown," thus no refund and flight changes will be considered.

Web check-in technically means you forego the 2nd step of presenting yourself at the airline check in counter (1st step is the entry to the airport through the security guard). Your next step is paying the terminal fee and showing up at least 30 minutes before departure time at the pre-departure area. If you however have a baggage to check-in, you are required to present yourself to the web check-in counter which relatively has a faster processing time. With a baggage to check-in, you defeat the purpose though of reducing waiting time at the airport and the queue.

Checking-in online already gives you the seat number and your boarding pass. To some extent your boarding gate has already been pre-identified. You must print your boarding pass provided at website yourself for presentation with your identification card either at the security check or before boarding.  (If you fail to do this, web on-line counter is the recourse.)

One clear advantage of this feature in Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines is you need not rush to the airport an hour (or two for Cebu Pacific) before departure. Your seat gets forfeited only when you don’t meet the boarding time. In this case, you also forfeit your payment.

Try it out if it fits your needs.  It did for me in this month's leg.  Though I still prefer to be at the airport early to update my blogsite and post online if there is a free wi-fi.

This is a personal essay. Check the airline sites for the official guide. Policies may differ. Rules also differ for international flights.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Adventuresome and Introvert Branding

Quietly in front of the scene
Adventuresome: inclined to take risks

Venturesome: not inclined to take the beaten path

Introvert: inward. Introverts have a lot to bring if sparked. They have an amazing ability to discover new thoughts, an uncanny ability to focus, to concentrate, to connect the dots, to observe and note things that most people miss, to listen extremely well and are often found having a rich and vivid imagination too.

The more extroverts become knowledgeable about introverts, the less tension and misunderstanding there will be among the two.  Introverts and extroverts make a good balance.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Adventuresome Introvert

The week that passed must have been the most stretched air mileage I covered in my travel log.

Taking off from Manila on a Monday via PAL Airbus which took me to Cebu in the Visayas for a forum kicked off the loop. I returned back to Manila the following day returning back to Visayas in Silay via Air Philippines a day after. A commuter shuttle brought me to Bacolod for an activity.

Silay was a connecting air transport hub to Cebu via Cebu Pacific in a prop jet for another session Thursday PM. After an extended drinking spree with colleagues at the hotel coffee shop in the boundary of Mandaue and Cebu, I quickly packed to prepare for an early morning flight to Davao via Cebu Pacific in an Airbus.

I arrived in Davao early Friday morning with the luxury of commuting to the city proper in a public transpo for a coffee at Tata Benito’s coffee shop and arroz caldo at Davao’s Dencia’s. Rest of the day was spent facilitating a discussion in Ulas.

This swing exposed me to 2 international Centennial Terminals (2 and 3) in Manila, 2 international airports in the Visayas (Silay and Mandaue) and 1 in Mindanao in Davao, to PAL’s 747 and Cebu Pacific’s Airbus 320, Cebu Pacific Stuart Lawson prop jet and to Air Philippines’ Airbus 320. PAL’s service crews were formally dressed, Air Philippines’ casually dressed in shorts and Cebu Pacific in leisurely Bench outfits.

How was this for an adventuresome introvert?

At the PAL Centennial pre departure area, we were kept in suspense if the flight would depart or get cancelled in the light of the PALEA stoppage that started a week before. Fortunately, the flight took off though a bit delayed.

Landing in Cebu from Silay in a Cebu Pacific propeller jet was a challenge for the pilot as isolated rain caused poor visibility at the Mactan International Airport making the pilot circle wide the island several times before getting clearance for landing.

Commuting from Silay to Bacolod and back was a visual and sensual delight seeing ancestral homes, ruins, expansive green farmlands in a cool and airy surrounding.

The aerial view of the farms in Negros uniformly in green extending a wide kilometric radius was refreshing and an picture perfect setting.

All in all, I logged in at total of 1,682 nautical miles in a span of 6 hours and 15 minutes excluding the waiting and the check in time.

This week’s travel added to confidence to my travel sense. It validated that even with several linkages, multiple destinations and transfers, unarranged land travels I can manage. Supporting my travel were agents based in Manila who ensured I get booked in teh airline of my choice even if arranged a day or so before and the base organizers who have pre-arranged the business requirements of forums. I attribute this to a clear road map, discipline and appropriate resources.

It is fulfillment and enjoyment. An adventursome introvert like me after all loves mobility provided I have a base to come home to, to refresh and to prepare myself for the next one.

Traveler equipped with basics such as versatile 30 liter carry on, compact Nikon camera, Centro phone, all surface Rockport-Adidas walking shoes, Ralph Lauren jeans, Mountain Hardwear shirts,  waterproof and breathable Montbell particle jacket.  Expenses funded by a sponsor.
Map from Cebu Pacific Route

Cebu to Manila is 571 kilometers (equals to 354 miles or 308 nautical miles.)
Manila to Bacolod is 488 kilometers (equals to 303 miles or 263 nautical miles.)
Bacolod to Cebu is 112 kilometers (equals to 69 miles or 60 nautical miles.)
Cebu to Davao is 404 kilometers (equals to 251 miles or 218 nautical miles.)
Davao to Manila is 974 kilometers (equals to 605 miles or 525 nautical miles.)
Total in miles 1,682 nautical miles, 6 hours and 30 minutes of travel excluding the waiting

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wanting to be Good

A visit at any mountaineering store anywhere in the Philippines manned by fellow mountaineer never fails to spark a conversation.

Looking for a 35 liter backpack, I dropped by the Habagat outlet in CM Recto in the University Belt in Manila beside University of the East. Without establishing credentials, owner Bong Ortiz informed me the available stocks in his store and explained their basic features. Picking up from my interest in the brand Habagat, he narrated why the brand is in short supply in Luzon but not in the Visayas and relayed his sourcing of the TNF brand from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

He later gave leads on other shops in Metro Manila where I may be able to see the model I am interested in. He gave anecdotes on why Sandugo is doing an aggressive move out stocks which is a result of a failed China deal and how Conquer the brand is faring.

For someone who has not visited a store before, this interesting conversation is much appreciated.

I recall in Sept 2009 when I was wandering aimlessly at the Gen San side streets, I spotted an outdoor store Southern Peak Outdoor Depot along Champaca st., just across Manny Pacquiao’s commercial building. The staff entertained me well leading to an invitation to a Mt. Matutum climb via an unpopular route-via Datal Lanao.

It is great to experience that “Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.”

Monday, October 03, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

Without a map and an initial check on the attractions worth seeing in Naga City, I took a stroll at Magsaysay avenue armed with just a
common sense of direction.

At the intersection near the Minor Basilica, I asked a rookie cop
walking to my direction on how I can reach Cam Sur. Speaking in
combined Bicol and Tagalog, he gave me a perspective on directions and a detailed instruction on the jeepney and bus rides with rates.

Does this count as an act of kindness to a stranger? No you would say because that's his job. Yes I say because across the street, he was signalling the jeepney driver to stop for me.

In these times, blessings do count. Thus I did not skip paying respect to Ina for them.

Naga Fotos

Captured images of a semi-religious trip.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers lifted from The National Geographic Traveler Magazine March 2004

The Kindness of Strangers is a compilation of true stories of on-the-road friendliness. Here's a word from the author, Don George:

Why stories about people being nice? Kindness is easier to see when you are removed from your everyday context. Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.
Which stories are your favorites? Naturally, I think they're all good. Jan Morris writes about being rescued from a muddy pothole in St. Petersburg. Pico Iyer befriends a philosophical trishaw driver in Mandalay. Simon Winchester enters a "state of grace" thanks to a spirited vicar on remote Ascensin Island.
Are some places kinder than others? Destinations are not kind to strangers; people are. Some cultures may cultivate warmer interaction, but kindness itself transcends place and culture.
Where have you experienced this? Locals have gone out of their way to help me in each of the 70-plus countries I've been to. A Greek family included my family in their Easter celebration; a Japanese trucker detoured and hour to drive me to a tiny village; a young boy in Cairo led me by the hand from a sinister neighborhood; a Kenyan craftsman gave me a carving he just made. I now find myself going out of my way to help people, in gratitude for the kindness that's been extended to me.
What is the lesson of your book? "We're all interconnected on life's journey, and kindness is ours to withhold or bestow. If we live everyday with kindness, we create a more graceful world."

National Geographic George W. Stone
Don George is a legendary travel writer and editor who has won numerous awards for his work. He has been travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, founded and edited the Wanderlust section of, and most recently was Global Travel Editor at Lonely Planet Publications. He is the author of The Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of six literary travel anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers, Tales from Nowhere, and By the Seat of My Pants. E-mail Don at

Instances of Kindness of Strangers:
1. Asking for directions
2. Use of toilet
3. Request for a drink
4. Giving a free ride

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sembrano Climb takes its toll of a female climber

Sembrano Climb takes its toll of a female climber
July 31, 1999 ni Di Makapili
A Special Report on the Scene of the Climb

Sembrano took a toll of a female climber in an expedition last 26-27 July from 4:30 PM to 12:30 noon the following day in this isolated mountain range occupied exclusively by this group on that stormy, windy weekend. Climber was said to be a seasoned one, a professional marketer and cook, a capable climber, master prober and host and an affiliate of an umbrella organization whose identity will remain to be anonymous to protect her interest and reputation. Climber was reportedly housed in isolation and has not reported for work for the past 2 days (Monday and Tuesday). She claimed to have spent her day at home washing and cleaning her tent with repeated attempts in inducing burping to throw up.

The Pililia local police were checking the whereabouts of 5 male climbers of varying personalities and interests who were reportedly seen with the female from the start to the end of the trek particularly in the dark moments nearing midnight Saturday under the intermittently bright new moon. An investigative team was dispatched at the scene of the crime at about 500 M ASL North East of Mount Sembrano overlooking Magbitac and Siniloan. Noted was a patch of lot with orderly bended cogon grass in about 2 X 6-meter dimension. Perpetuators were reportedly neat operators, as they “left no trace” except for some signs of road widening and trail damages. It looked like a body was dragged down from the socials area to the camping grounds.

Cleared was a male climber in a black TNF backpack. He was apparently the organizer of the expedition as he coordinated all timing arrangements, food plans, transpo and trail tracing. Sufficient proof was presented that he was alone in the tent under the mango tree during the probable time of the incident while the rest of the expedition group was having a good time at the socials.

Authorities were looking forward to see the prints of the photo coverage taken from a professional Nikon camera and a high tech advanced photo system device simply branded as IXUS II Canon.

Also tracked for possible leads were two other male climbers who decided to forego participation in the trek at the last minute. One claimed to have suffered a broken spinal column and the other claimed to have scheduled laundry chores. Police are still checking at the submitted medical report. The other climber though could not present freshly washed laundry. These two demonstrated strong interest on the whereabouts of the climb. Climber with back problem immediately asked to highlights of the climb from the Mindanao born participant and from the leader. Climber with household chores particularly asked how the female climber was.

Bribery was present. A participant from Angono Rizal who was among those under the heavy influence bribed everyone with a fried itik (roasted duckling), a specialty of his hometown apparently to silence the witnesses. Two probable incidents he wished to be erased were the dragging and road widening and the missing tent door.

Other questions that needed further probing were:
  1.  Could it have been done by the two non-drinkers as their judgment were not impaired?
  2. Who was with the female climber up to the last moments when she was picked up at 7-11 Cainta Sunday afternoon?
  3. What was the motivation for the late Friday night calls between the female climber and the two other climbers who opted not to go?
  4. Could this not just be the handiwork of the female climber who wanted to get national prominence from the weekend? Or did she want to catch somebody else’s attention?
  5. Could the female climber simply be making everything up to gain back the attention of her climbing friends who based on her own admission were all unavailable that weekend?
  6. Why was this Cainta-based climber extra nice to the female climber even preparing coffee that late in the morning?
  7. What secret ingredient did this non-drinking climber in the sinigang broth place? Could it have been the stimulus that kept the action going?
  8. Was the leader really cleared? Or he staged an early retirement when mission was already clearly accomplished?
  9. Who is this bespectacled climber who claimed no knowledge whatsoever on this climb and yet was scheduled to visit the scene of the crime on 31 July?
A hearing was set at Albertos in F. B. Harrison Pasay at about 8 PM Wednesday 28 July to expedite the resolution of the case and to schedule the next climb that is, if clearances and permits will be issued to them.
CMC Press 31 July 1999

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Tribute to Writers and Photographers

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.”

Halcon Float by Mitch Soria
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?  You would with the adjectives and figures of speech flowing spontaneously.

Read for yourself.

Chito Razon 9 Oct 2003

Halcon Profile by Mitch Soria
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.

Banahaw Sunrise by Norbert Calderon
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.

Apo Float by Norbert Calderon
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.

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.

Jojo Ramos
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
Chasing Water by Ching-I-Wang
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
Terrace Float by Danny Balandra
"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."

Fallen Leaves by Mitch Soria
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.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

At the roof of the world, in my (tochs') mind

Originally posted June 2003

From your posts, Everest interests you. Which is your favourite so far? BBC featured their version of the 50th Anniversary which I caught on BBC news last Sunday 1 June 2003 at 5 PM. True to a BBC production, it is well documented and thought provoking. Earlier, National Geographic and Discovery Channel aired their own specials commemorating the first step on the roof of the world 50 years after 29 May 1953. Watching several points of view of the various TV docus, I picked up some lines which have been repeatedly said in other versions.

The more I hear of the line "it was Hillary who planned it out as a mountaineer and Tenzing was just that, “a guide”, the more I am convinced that Tenzing really was the first mortal to step on Everest. I have been researching on the cause of his death but the closest I got was he died in India in 1983. It must have been the remorse of the burden of truth that put a pressure on him. Sir Edmund had his share of misfortune. It was tragic to lose his wife and daughter in same range that made him a knight in 1975.

When I repeatedly catch the thought, "the only common times with these guys were the ten minutes they were together on the summit," the more I am intrigued, "what did the majestic mountain do to them?"

Just for this year, let me list quotes I could relate to honouring our own accomplishments with our tropical climbs here.

Q: What words would you use to describe your feelings about Mount Everest?
A: Alive, humbling, unpredictable, exhilarating, empowering.

Q: What words would you use to describe your feelings about the Sherpa people?
A: Hardworking, joyous, loyal, thoughtful, my dearest friends.
-Liesl Clark writer/ producer/director on the filming of Dark Side of Everest

Larawan ni Rico kasama si Sir Edmund
Lorraine: Explain to me a sherpa's approach to mountain climbing compare to how we see it from the west?
Jamling: The mountains have been there the whole time. Sherpa's see the mountain all the time but we never have interest to climb these mountains. It was only when the British and the foreign expeditions started to climb these mountains that the sherpa started to become involved in climbing because it is a way of living for them. And for most of the sherpas, climbing is the bread and butter, lots of them have lost their lives. We don't climb for pleasure at all. We believe most of the mountain is sacred to us. For example, Mount Everest, we called it ''Chomolungma'' which is mother god-ness of the world. And ''Miyolangsangma'' is the deity that resides on Everest so we pray to her all the time. We pray to many of the other mountains surrounding, you know in the Himalayas...

Lorraine: Jamling, would you ever consider stopping mountain climbing, getting a regular job somewhere?
Jamling: I don't think so; I mean I don't see myself sitting in office 9 to 5 at all. And I just enjoy being in the outdoors, climbing mountains. I have stopped climbing Everest but smaller mountains I still continue to climb. Just like being in mountains... it makes me feel so nice, it makes me feel really alive and it makes you feel how small we are in this world, how fresh we humans are. It's great feeling just being up in the mountains.
- CNN's Lorraine Hahn interviews Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing

I think the expeditionary experience of climbing Everest, of surviving it, has changed our lives. To push yourself to within a wisp of life itself and return to the world in the valleys below is to see life in its raw immediacy and in its essential components.

For me to receive a hearty congratulations from Jamling Tenzing Norgay was the true finale. Our two families have been transformed by this mountain.

The mountain has given us a hard-won opportunity to rise above ourselves and to play the lottery of surviving the experience. Just as it has done for the Sherpa people who live around its lofty base. And veteran climber Ang Norbu of Pangboche Village says that despite his frostbitten fingers, "the mountain is a jewel. It is a gift".

-Peter Hillary on climbing Everest for the National Geographic Documentary Sons of Everest 50 years (actually 49) before his father Edmund first reached the summit

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is no use'. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
-George Leigh Mallory, 1922

Because it is there.
-George Mallory (1886-1924), answer to the question 'Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?'

I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life.
-Tenzing Norgay

Well, we knocked the bastard off!
-Edmund Hillary, on first climbing Mount Everest