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