Put in 89.5 trekkers of various orientations and aggrupations. Of different clubs, age groups, sexual preferences, religions, drinking beliefs, eating patterns, trekking styles, geographical locations and nationalities, speaking tongues. From the silent, to the normal to the dominant, humble and the makukulits. Backpackers, trekkers, hikers, rock climbers or mere walkers. Pediatrics to geriatrics. Bankers, computer specialists, to students to out of school youths. Retiring climbers to beginning climbers. San Marcelino to Katipunan, Luzon to Mindanao. Baliuag, Guiguinto, Valenzuela to Tarlac, Ayala, Binondo, Pasay, Fairview. Add a TL, a trail master, an ex-club president, a host in a dark suit as heavy as a single man's tent, a song number, getting to know you. What do you get? RIOT in LAVA!
From a simple climb planned by Globe Adventure Club Founder Regie Pablo and Chito Razon of PALMC last April 1999 to drag Jon Linao, ex-president of MESAU out his computer, the event turned into a monstrous, unforgettable climb of the millennium.
How could this not turn out to be a grand climb? It promised Mt. Pinatubo, the world-renowned volcano notorious for distorting the climate system in Asia and in the world starting 1991. It came after the MFDI federation climb successfully organized by UPM that set the foundation for the bonding of most participants. Banny Hermanos of PAL MC whetted our appetite with his surreal slide presentation. Lakbay TV through its Balikbayan narrator Roel Torres showed us repeatedly on Cable TV that the crater is reachable, even with his physical condition. Richard Rebada, ex-president of MESAU completed the trek this year and volunteered to lead the way. Rolly Villanueva, president of PNB Mountaineering Club brought his 22 strong delegation. Butch Sebastian, MFPI President recognized the event. Lastly, weather cooperated-no strong rains in the past few days.
The climbers themselves were no ordinary climbers. Most completed the Balbalasang Federation, went through a tune up climb the week before. Majority have gone to Halcon, Guiting-Guiting, Napulauan, Tawangan over the past few months. Youngest was Shab which accounts for the 5 counting. He turned 3 last Sunday. Eldest was Martin Chambers, a marathoner from New Zealand who is nearing the 60’s mark. His incredible performance and behavior in the socials make you think he certainly is a lot younger.
All were intrigued by the place as site of massive destruction: Pinatubo from the volcano eruption and Capas, our jump off town associated with the Death March. The heat of up to 38°C on our way to the crater Saturday potentially fatal to our delicate brown skin, the lava river trail, destroying our shoes and our soles, brand new or borrowed.
Nothing stopped the climbers from appreciating the weekend. Richard, Ronald and company of MESAU alumni pre-arranged guides and jeepney rides. Chito handled administrative requirements through contact leaders: Regie for Globe, Rolly and Elmer for PNB, Jon and Jessie for MESAU, Jojo Cadungog for PAL, Teddy for Marco Polo, Jaja Reyes and Jenny Atienza for Loyola Mountaineer. Participants showed up at Capas Public Market before the targeted 8 morning departure. For many, it was their first time to see this market place. Jeepney ride completed the travel up to the kubo reducing our trekking time. The 5 hour trek to the campsite was reduced to a mere 2 ½ on the way back. The dreaded socials just happened spontaneously. What happened next was simply deafening.
Weekend was an enjoyable one perhaps because we were celebrating and thanking. Celebrating that we were spared of death from the destruction that emanated from our trail sites and thankful that the signs of life are beginning to show at the crater and at the ridges. The hot lava waters are supplemented now with mineral waters flowing near the base of the crater. Green leaves are thriving at the mountain ridges. Sounds of insects hover in the night. Best, there is laughter at the site.
The laughter we brought is our contribution in inducing life. Through the roaring noise, heckling, chasing, socializing, drinking, we were acknowledging to the 89.5 climbers, awake, or asleep or pretending to be asleep, the wasted and the unused that we are very much alive. Crashing Mt. Pinatubo also meant renewal-our renewed interest to nature, to our respective clubs, to the federation, to our selves. Just like the new greens sprouting at the sides, the wild trees growing near the crater rim and the wild insects building their habitats. The clothes, food and other functional items we donated to the Aeta community are our seeds to this renewal. There is always that company of 89.5 whom we will remember in time as the fertile ground for new friendship. Nothing more can better dramatize facing a new life through the Happy Birthday song we dedicated to Shah that Sunday. If we just get the message of the gift of life, that to me is the biggest explosion of the weekend. Simply it says, thank you we are alive.