Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sweet Child of Mine

Climbing Mount Apo in ’97
Seryoso sa simula
Tahimik lang sa akwal na akyatan
Tamang tama ang lamig,
Halos walang init, walang ulan
Lahat ay pinarating sa tuktukan
Pero huwag ka, pagkababa, wild na wild ang pagdiriwang
Ginunita ang ganda ng kanyang pinakita, ang mga puno, Lake, buwan, mga bituin, ang peak at sa mga kasamahang climbers
Iyan ang Mount Apo, King of the Mountains
 Mount Apo got the respect due its stature as the highest mountain from us. We came prepared and behaved. Two pre-climbs facilitated by E.L. Russel Aguinaldo with the support of other members Noel Rebuelta, Mayan Gutierrez and operations manager Elmer Cabotage paved the way for a well-paced, well-managed event as planned for 32 climbers and eventually down to 25.  The 4-day trek via Kidapawan starting Wednesday 27 August noontime ending 30 August noontime showed us the grandeur that is Apo. We were treated to a visual feast of flower-lined trail, cool clear rushing Marbel River waters, therapeutic and refreshing Mainit waters on our first day. As we ascended to Lake Venado, we were welcomed by giant trees wrapped around with moss and the 87º rock climb.

At the Lake, the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling bright. Highlight to me was the awesome Lake Venado scene at 3 a.m. at a chilling 5º Celsius.Peeping from the tent, you can see fog floating at the lake and the moon topping at the fog-like a giant ice cream float with a white nata de coco on top. The ultimate of course was the expansive and open peak in bright, unobstructed panoramic view of the whole of Mindanao. At 7:30 in the morning 29 August, we were the tallest human beings on top of the Philippine soil.
 All these experiences merely set the stage for the persons in us. And it was the best in us. Like the “Von Trapp” family group of Ruel Manito, Allene Gutierrez, Nelia Pallorina, Loyd Alcaraz, Orly Amolar and Jerry Balignasa. Ang grupong malakas! Malakas ang climbers, malakas sa lamunan, malakas sa tagayan, malakas magbigayan, malakas magkodakahan, malakas sa buto’t balat, malakas sa sayawan. Higit sa lahat malakas sa pasensyahan. Madalas nga lang ang palitan ang mga nanay. Nangunguna sa tagayan, sa trail at sa sayawan.  Frequent visitor si Russel dito para sa tsinelas.

There is the quiet and low profile group of Mitch Soria, Chito Razon, Ann David, Joy dela Dingco, Hilbert Lim and Dennis Reyes. Syempre sino ang may influensya dito? Beneath the quiet profile are the excitement in their inductee’s lives. A clean-shaven Brutus emerging as Tetey in Lake Venado with a female date from the other mountaineering group. Kaya lang he suffered a cut. He also eventually lost his cookset cover at Lake Mainit, his fork somewhere and his date at Lake Mainit dahil inunahan ni Noel sa campsite ang ibang grupo. Tetey eventually earned them all back in the form of a big heavy stone in the final cardiac assault to the PNOC HQ. Dennis, our Red Cross lecturer and PT expert taught himself his own lesson. He sprained his foot. Our reluctant team leader Mitch may not know it but he held together the biggest group in the expedition including this satellite trio. Mayan Gutierrez, Noel Rebuelta, Butch Ballesteros.  Like the group it attached itself to, the trio was behaved, quiet and concerned (?). Truly, they were the silent organizers-handling funds, relating with the government, making jeep arrangements, certificates and itinerary, check ins and luggage and other things when our TL declared he has done his mission for us. But the drama that happened inside their North Face tent was beyond us all. All season kasi.  Meron bang nangyari?
Foto by Norbert Calderon

What can we say about the trio of Norbert Calderon, Marlaw Ragudo, Marlon Paguila? It is a more than self-contained group that can carry everybody’s pack and feed everyone. Originally planned for a group of 7, they were down to 3 on the actual expedition but the food allocation remained the same. Lahat ipinamigay sa sumunod na Davaeño climbers na nawalan ng gamit. Lahat pimamimigay sa mga kasama huwag lang ang gin at ang Sprite! This group has two simple dreams. To climb Mt. Apo and to climb Mt. Halcon. So far, they’ve covered half of their goal. Norbert, our favorite and most generous photographer, also a returning climber and Halfcon survivor has reached 1 1/2.  Ang grupong nagexpress ng “This one goes out to the one I love!” Inampon din nila ang bagong grupong nawalan ng gamit sa ibaba.
Then there is the group of Joshua Vizcarra, Beng Reyes, Jonathan “Jojo” Almedilia which was forever on tutorial from Joshua on how to walk.  Kung hindi sila nangunguna, sila ay nahuhuli! It’s also called the triangle group.  J and B? B and J? J and J? Sagot ni Jonathan, hindi na po!
Russel Aguinaldo, Art Guanlao, Ato Gonzales, Aldrin Galang topped as the leading group. It is the EL and LQ group. Agawan hindi sa tubig, pagkain, gamit, babae, lalaki o silya kundi sa tsinelas. Russssseellllllllllll, ang tsinelas ko! ang sigaw sa madaling araw, araw-araw. Dinner for 2 ang spaghetti nilang isang bandehado-good for 2 days. Breakfast for 2 ang tsamporado nila-good for Philippines 2, two thousand. Nagadopt kina Ato at Aldrin kasi iniwan silang poor ng mga kasama nila.  No food, no bread but with garbage. May orange juice naman.

Trek was honored with the presence of PAL MC ex-president Joey Quimpo in the company of Jojo Sindayen, Benjie Lara, Leomax Reyes, Glenn Imperial, Lolita Ramos, Sikorsky Delena. What can we say but thank you for the guidance, the seniority, the fun, yabang and company. What can a PALMC climb be without them?
Posted at  Cadbury Roadtrip Entry on FB

Salamat kay EL Russel, sa lahat ng members, sa mga inductees (Jerry, Orly, Beng, Marlon, Marlaw, Jojo, Hilbert, Dennis, Aldrin), sa ating mga porters, kina Uncle Sam at tatlo pang sumasakit ang balikat sa bigay na pinabuhat, kina Uncle Jack Chin, Sikorsky, Dr. Nonoy Tan at kay kaibigang Tanny Wenceslao na naghahanap pa rin kay Art sa Paradise Island (ok lang sana nagkita naman tayo sa Annie’s.) Kay Eugene Montallana for the ticket arrangements. Sa lahat ng nagpahiram ng gamit at pera.  Sabi naman ni EL sa ating dasal, “lahat po ng ito ay galing sa inyo Buong Maykapal.”

Mt. Apo showered us with its magic before, during and after the climb. Despite the impending storm, we proceeded. Land travel delays did not stop us. Trek weather was perfect. And look at our Sabado night! Bakit nga ba ganoon ang Annie’s night natin?  Woooo, sweet child of mine aaaaiiiinnn.
The climb was not easy, neither was it that difficult. But it was Apo. That’s why it presented itself to us like a dream as we sang in the song “parang kailan lang, ang mga pangarap ko ay kayhirap abutin.” With our bonding and fine company, we were proudly declaring “. . . tatanda at lilipas din ako ngunit mayroon awiting, iiwanan sa aking alaala, dahil minsan tayo ay nagkasama.”
Kita-kita tayo uli!

 * EL-Russel Aguinaldo, Art Guanlao, Ato Gonzalez, Aldrin Galang
 * TL-Ruel Manito, Allene Gutierrez, Nelia Pallorina, Loyd Alcaraz, Orly Amolar, Jerry Balignasa
 * TL-Mitch Soria, Noel, Rebuelta, Chito Razon, Ann David, Joy dela Dingco, Hilbert Lim, Dennis Reyes. Mayan Gutierrez, Butch Ballesteros
 * TL-Joshua Vizcarra, Beng Reyes, Jonathan “Jojo” Almedilia
 * Joey Quimpo, Jojo Sindayen, Benjie Lara, Leomax Reyes, Glenn Imperial, Lolita Ramos, Sikorsky Delena

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