Sunday, April 20, 2014

Empty Tomb and Resurrection applied to us today

Easter affirms to us that the promise of redemption is fulfilled. Empty tomb signifies our faith, believing even without a proof. As man empty tomb is our struggle we face day-to-day. The resurrection is our rising with Christ. Inhuman as we are, we continue with our lives made possible because of the fulfillment of the promise of redemption. Fr. J. Gascon shared three anecdotes on how people we know are exemplifying the empty tombs and resurrection in their lives.

  • An ex-seminarian now working recently lost his parents to Yolanda. His parents recently migrated to Tacloban to retire until the tidal wave. Having not found their bodies, they were assumed to be dead. The son now continues to work moving on with his life.
  • A retired couple enjoying a quality life suddenly had a change of fate. The wife was diagnosed with cancer and did not go through chemotherapy. Yet she accepted her condition and continued to do good deeds even to gas station boys, parking attendants and to those she does not know.
  • A psychology graduate lives with a schizophrenic sister feeling helpless her degree did not help. She accepted that her mere presence with her is more than enough.
The fulfillment of the promise redeems us from further suffering as we experience our own resurrection shared with Christ because of the events on Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!
 -Paraphrased from the homily of Fr. J. Gascon at the Easter Vigil mass at the convent of the Cenacle Sisters

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Drinking in a Climb

Why do you drink?

August 5, 1999
Maculot is a novice’s initiation to climbing in the South at an altitude with a view.
Siniloan is a novice’s initiation to climbing in the East in the waters.

Both sites are loaded with loud climbers every weekend all year round. To reach the site requires at least 2 hours of trek with moments of short bursts of cardiac. Campsite atmosphere is festive. Campers are rowdy and noisy from late afternoon to the morning.

Climbers celebrate their ascent with socials. To those who just escape from the city life, they get the most peak by drinking. Most simply extend the drinking that they do in the lowlands in the highlands.

This initiation into drinking and climbing is repeated in the next climbs whether in the same peak or in some other peaks North and South of Metro Manila.

Thus whether you are in 300 meters ASL or above 2,000 meters, there will always be a bottle of alcohol alongside water. Drinking has become part of the rituals in climbing, as basic as backpacking, cooking, breaking camp. Socially, it is a bond. Functionally, it provides temporary warmth especially in cold and wet climbs. The only times the bottles don’t get opened when everyone is exhausted and there is hardly any conversation.

Some say drinking is not necessary as it gets in the natural high. The euphoria one gets reaching the peak doesn’t need inducing. The rest says drinking is part of climbing.

Why do mountaineers drink?

Jon Linao says:
Kailangan bang uminom sa climb? In my opinion, yes. Panlaban din ito sa lamig and most of all kwela ang socials pag-nakainom ka na.  Tanggal ang hiya mo. We have been drinking in a climb ever since and we still have yet to encounter one of our members nagwawala sa sobrang kalasingan. That, I believe, would never happen to us.

So what do we get from all of these? Lahat kami masaya.

In our group, we drink as long as we can hanggang kaya basta hindi makakasagabal sa climb. Pag-alam naming titirik kami sa trail the next day, titigil na kami sa pag-inom at matutulog na. A lot of our members are already in the category of “mandirigma” inuumaga na sa pag-iinom (isang oras na lang sisikat na ang araw) tapos magbe-break-camp ng 8 in the morning, magte-trek parang walang nangyaring inuman. Immune na sa headaches o hang-over.

-Jon Linao 19 March 1998

Oliver Katigbak sees bonding:
It also brings out the friendliness of ur mates . . .

Ferdi suggests cultural reasons:
. . . perhaps it is a cultural matter altogether, you know, the time-honored tomaan-tagayan social ritual among Pinoy men that makes it common in climbs. Drinking till the wee hours and trekking after an hour of shuteye, maybe even less, is a usual show of macho endurance, which, to me, is akin to a pointless pissing contest. Young climbers who revel in these mistaken shows of alcohol-guzzling bravado may not feel the effects at this stage but the abuse is remembered by the body and can show up later in life.

Danny Escasa finds alcohol unnecessary:
PMFJI, but I read an article somewhere, Inquirer Magazine ata, just after that mountain climbing accident somewhere in the South (Mindanao?), where one of the climbers seemed to have died more from the cold than any injuries. The article said that the warming effects of alcohol are temporary, and can dehydrate you, leaving you with less energy. Combating the cold is best done with hot water, according to the article. Now, I’m not entirely disputing your post, and I’m willing to believe that the article referred to *emergency* measures for warming a climber who’s on the verge of hypothermia.
-Danny.Escasa@f302.n751.z6.rp 20 March 1998

Ferdie further elaborates:
Which is why I’ve never heard alcohol recommended for hypothermia. (Any doctors out there?) IMHO, alcoholic beverages are strictly unnecessary in climbs . . .

Jun Martin nods:
I agree. I read somewhere sometime late last year that alcohol lowers your body’s temperature. I also feel chilly after drinking beer… (Jun Martin) 24 March 1998

Noel a.k.a. Mr. Rocky of PAL MC says:
Mountain climbing and drinking is comparable to cooking . . .  These are the ingredients you need to have a pleasant outdoor experience … or making friends with new members of the group … Provided timing is proper and amount just right . . . too much of % proof of gulping a bottle of vodka leads to hallucination as big the mountain you’re climbing . . . Or worse creating new enemy because you pushed your tentmate in swimming lesson … opps hindi lang pala water … but in a slimmy liquid.
-Noel R. 29 August 1998

Raul Lejano issues a professional advice:
Drinking is an activity which, in moderation, results to a lot of fun, to put it very simply. More so if the immediate environment is in an agreeable atmosphere. And it cannot be more conducive than doing it way up or out there, don’t you think? OK, so some say, contrary to common belief it actually lowers body temperature instead of raising it. But saying that drinking to make us feel warmer is just a lame excuse to allow us to bring out that inner, loose self inside of us waiting to break free! Perhaps this release and the bonding it creates are actually what make us feel warmer, not the alcohol itself.

Sometimes this inner self is too rowdy or perhaps even dangerous (in which case drinking is discouraged), but for most people it is the more sensitive, carefree, loose-tongued, assertive side of us that comes out. And to have the chance to observe this oft-hidden side in all of us, for me, is always a worthwhile experience. And we get to laugh at ourselves, too! The only downside is a splitting headache the day after. As I said, moderation lang dapat.
-Raul 31 August 1998

Lou Clerigo has this to say in usapang lasing . . .
during climbs, the most popular drink is the gin … yung ginebra…mura na!!! madaling makalasing!!! magaan pa!!! di ba!!! Chito!!!! mabuhay ka!! Malapit na nag bday nina carlo and joseph. saan kaya sila magtritreat … hmn … sumasayaw!!! yaoza!!!! Baka sa jollibee!!! ngek!!
- 17 March 1998

So does Oliver . . .
Hmmm….Halatang sanay kayo . . . heheh … Ala bang sumusuka? (Wala pa naman … o walang nagpapahuli, sagot ni Jon)

Jon summarizes it:
Why not consider it as an option during socials, you may or may not drink with the others. Telling a mountaineer that drinking alcohol is unnecessary in a climb is like slapping them on their face. It’s what they do, it’s what they want. Everybody is welcome to join – that’s just one of the many forms of camaraderie a mountaineer would love to share.

Also, drinking in socials is a better ice-breaker, especially if your socials is composed of two or more groups.

Drinking to some organization who are already too long in this scene, this is part of their ritual, in fact it has become a “tradition” to the new members who replaced the old members.

It all leads to personal satisfaction. You had one hell of fun in socials and you did not cause any problems to the group or the other drinking friends you’ve met, it’s ok. And besides, most organization have strict rules when in comes to training, so when they climb another mountain they feel they can take the world by their hands and face another round of fun and exciting socials.

Q: Anong pwedeng ibang gawin pag walang inuman sa socials?
A: Wala.

Non drinkers are open to drinkers.  But respect is what they want. Like Ching . . .
As for me, I think that it is your personal choice whether or not you want to drink. It is true that alcohol makes people more relaxed and more open to any topic of conversation, it is also true that it has become an essential part of any socializing activity of today’s world. However, drinking does not differentiate whether a person is part of a group or not

Drinkers must be considerate that some people simply cannot take the smell and taste of alcohol for physical reasons and others because of religious beliefs …

Let us leave it to individuals to decide to drink or not in climbs. And I think the choice you made should be respected and understood by your co-climbers.
-ching:> 31 Aug 1998

Why do you drink? What do you have to say?

* I respect the sacredness of the mountain
* I will not let alcohol interfere with the natural high of climbing
* It is OK for me to drink as long as it is done in moderation
* I may or may not. It is up to me. I am responsible anyway
* I drink to enjoy the friendship and the company
* I drink to celebrate the successful trek to the peak
* I will enjoy life to the extreme and drink ’til I drop
* I don’t care

Martin Chambers from New Zealand writes:
Maybe a few words from me on what is so attractive about drinking and climbing.

One thing is for sure – most accepted authorities on climbing will advise strictly against drinking and climbing because of the safety aspects, much the same as drinking and driving. I agree – combining the two is a risk which none of us should take.

However, social drinking at the top of a mountain may be considered to be totally different. The climb is (half) over – there is still the next day to consider.  BUT, to relax with good friends and climbing companions at the end of a successful ascent is to me one of the pleasures. It’s like getting together with anyone who shares common interests – a shared experience is richer for being shared.

Other thoughts – what about the weight aspect – carrying a litre of spirit is a significant weight penalty?

When people have consumed alcohol, they are more vociferous – ready to speak their minds – thus leading to more sharing of ideas and beliefs.


Kat (AMCI) says . . .
such a topic will always be controversial. but we drink anyway,right?
i don’t drink heavily during major climbs which are usually multi-day di ba?
i am too tired to do so.
i just want to stretch out and dream in the mountains.
i also feel that you haven’t asked the women about this topic.
you know, i did go to a climb once where there was so much drinking that two girls complained of sexual harrasment.
well, you tell me if that’s funny.
i climb with guys i trust and even then, i sometimes feel the vulnerability of women climbers. buti na lang, there are more women climbers today so they are sort of your buddies.
many of the guys are usually “maingay” lang naman.
otherwise, they can be uninhibited enough to cause a climb to turn “ngek”!
there are incidents like these , believe me.
it’s different of course if both parties are mutually oks lang.
eh kung hindi?

o di ba? to lighhten up, i learned that drunken people tend to say what is in their minds during these”loose” sessions. minsan, alam mo kung anong sama ng loob ng isa. and it becomes so funny when you see quiet people get drunk and start dancing to have a good time.
life is too serious sometimes. so we dance instead. the best drink for me?
coffee in the early morning hours while the fog rises up to touch your tent.
bye! and happy climbing this weekend

-kat 2 August 1999

Jaja Reyes, a female climber who heads a climbing organization (Loyola) sends in her comments:
Q: Anong pwedeng ibang gawin pag walang inuman sa socials?  A: Wala.
I have nothing against alcohol … hey I enjoy drinking but here’s something to ponder on:
Do we really have to depend on alcohol to make a climb fun? I think people result to drinking for lack of something creative to do. We prohibit drinking during our training climbs and most of the time, the socials turn out to be more fun than socials w/ inuman. Probably because people really prepare for their presentations and you hear the sincerest kuwento. Telling a mountaineer that drinking alcohol is unnecessary in a climb is like slapping them on their face. It’s what they do, it’s what they want.

Being a drinker is not a fundamental trait of mountaineers … But being able to adapt to any kind of situation is – may it be a peaceful night or a rowdy party.

It is true that alcohol makes people more relaxed and more open to any topic of conversation, it is also true that it has become an essential part of any socializing activity of today’s world. However, drinking does not differentiate whether a person is part of a group or not.

I agree! It really doesn’t matter what socializing tool u use as long as you are able to mingle or blend in with the other people . . . that’s fine.

4.       ….was so much drinking that two girls complained of sexual harrasment. well, you tell me if that’s funny. i climb with guys i trust and even then, i sometimes feel the vulnerability of women climbers. buti na lang, there are more women climbers today so they are sort of your buddies. many of the guys are usually “maingay” lang naman. otherwise, they can be uninhibited enough to cause a climb to turn “ngek”! there are incidents like these, believe me. it’s different of course if both parties are mutually oks lang. eh kung hindi?

The only problem with drinking is that the word MODERATION is often times forgotten or perhaps purposely ignored. How would u expect a climb full of drunk men to turn out? And the sad thing is, they blame alcohol for their bad behavior … “lasing lang kasi, kaya ganyan”

Indeed, alcohol makes the atmosphere more comfortable. But what is comfortable to one person may not be to another. We have to know where to draw the line. If one can be as macho as to finish a couple of bottles of gin, I hope s/he can be sensitive enough to the people around him/her.
5.       such a topic will always be controversial
Tarush! Whether we are against drinking during climbs or find it impossible to climb without it, the only thing we should remember is that alcohol should not be the center of that climbing experience.

-Jaja 3 August 1999

Spotty and Minnie from Davao City approve:
Well said, we love to have a good time either it’s with alcohol or not. But
sometimes others forget the welfare of their comrades for the sake of “fun & ease”.

Another female climber, Wing (of PAL MC) shares her thoughts:
I found some of the comments on Pinoy machismo/drinking as sexist. In any case, I rarely drink at the peak, yet I enjoy the company of my friends, whether they’re drinking or not. And we never run out of things to say (or songs to sing for that matter).

And you have to admit, some mountaineers tend to be extremely boorish and jerks (to say it nicely) when they’re drunk. They only think everyone’s having a grand time with their antics because they’re already drunk! Or perhaps they were acutely insensitive to start with.
Have a nice day!
-Wing 3 August 1999

Jenny says so long as it doesn’t become an excuse:
I don’t believe in what was stated here that: “Telling a mountaineer that drinking alcohol is unnecessary in a climb is like slapping them on their face” … Saying it is unnecessary doesn’t prohibit anyone from doing such activity. It just says that drinking is not a requirement and that it’s not prohibited either. Therefore, no one should be forced to drink or no one should be told not to take alcohol. There’s really nothing wrong with drinking I guess, as long as the person will not be a liability to the climb the morning after. Yes, it breaks the ice among members and other people belonging to other outdoor clubs, I just hope that drinking will not become an excuse to intolerable, offensive, and insulting behavior. Coz sometimes nagiging masyado nang malakas ang loob ng tao.
-Jenny 3 August 1999

Sabi naman ni Bot:
Sa akin, ok lang talaga uminom sa bundok basta responsible ka sa lahat ng mangyari sa iyo o sa iba.

Pero, its also a fact that alcohol may lead you to hypothermia dahil nagkakaroon ka false sense of warmth. Ang totoo, kaya ka namumula kung
umiinom ng alak ay dahil ang blood vessels mo ay pumupunta sa skin at ang
resulta: body heat mo ay nag-eeskapo.

Art’s (of PALMC) last words for now:
alcohol in moderation, zero to minimum disturbance, dont force non-drinkers and dont be a casualty next day ……….. penalties ??? in peso …… sanctions ???? suspension, expulsion or outcasting from the club … he/she might join other clubs but with info travelling faster….. could be a hindrance ...

this is just like prostitution you can totally eliminate it but can be regulated … on 08/05/99 09:56:42 AM

For feedback, write to Chito at
CBRazon 28 August 1998 and 5 August 1999

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Do I climb for recreation? For meditation or for recognition?

In renewing my relationship with the mountains, I posed a questions to fellow trekkers who were open to a casual conversation? What do you pair your climbing with? Is it climbing and recreation?  Climbing and meditation? Or climbing and recognition (Facebook, Selfie, networking, fad)? I recall a thread sometime early twentieth century when egroups was the norm for social networking for those privileged to an email account. I captured the inputs in my blogspot in 2003. Let me repost.
Feel free to add yours.

Why do I climb?

We were inspired by John Muir, the most quoted mountaineer who said, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares drop off like autumn leaves."

Then there was the movie "Seven Years in Tibet" when Heinrich Harrer explained, "I climb because of absolute simplicity. Our mind is clear, free of all confusion, you have focus and suddenly, the light becomes sharper, sounds are richer and you are filled with the deep, powerful presence of life."

We have our reasons. In my and other friends' words, we are sharing them with you . . .

Chito originally posted October 2003

I climb mountains because it is when I get away from everything that matters to me, I realize what really matters most to me. And sometimes, what I thought was important may not be that important at all.

I climb mountains because when I'm on top of the world and I realize the enormity of things I haven't yet seen nor heard nor felt nor experienced, I feel motivated to go on with life and maybe try to live forever.

I climb mountains because … I don't know. There must be a strand in my DNA make-up that calls for me to reunite with the basic elements.
Mayan, a young sales female professional working for one of the largest detergent companies in the world based in Manila

Why do I climb?  It is for the feeling.
We were inspired by John Muir, the most quoted mountaineer who said, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares drop off like autumn leaves."

Then there was the movie "Seven Years in Tibet" when Heinrich Harrer explained, "I climb because of absolute simplicity. Our mind is clear, free of all confusion, you have focus and suddenly, the light becomes sharper, sounds are richer and you are filled with the deep, powerful presence of life."

We have our reasons. My reason is . . .

They say climbing gives one a natural high. It can be explained by the release of endorphin, the body's natural pain killers. The same feeling you get after a work out, a marathon or an aerobic activity.

All the walking one does is like going through reflex. Reflex through finger therapy disperses and melts all the crystals and deposits in the foot producing an immediate feeling of well-being. Tension and minor pains seem to disappear. That's what the trail, stones and pebbles one step on do to the feet and the body.

No wonder John Muir said in his most quoted explanation, "all woes disappear." It is true!
Spiritually, climbing prepares one for better relationship with fellowman, nature and with the self. 

The struggle one goes through forces one to look quietly and deeply to the core of the self leading to a discovery and realization that we are just a speck in the universe. Yet, when one reaches the destination, one is euphoric, rewarded with an awesome view of nature, the satisfaction of self reliance and a realization of the beauty of man and creation. Senses are heightened opening up other possibilities in life yet feet are firmly planted on earth.

That is why during and after a climb. I enjoy better your company at the camp site, go out of my way to do chores as a cook, a cleaner, guide or sweeper or even organizing and leading climbs. I appreciate better food, drinks and socials, acknowledge myself more and most of all understand my role as a work of my creator.

That is why I climb, will continue to climb and encourage people to climb.
Chito Razon, a weekend climber and a regular major climber

Bakit? Iba ang feeling. Parang at peace ka. Hirap ang umpisa pero pagdating sa tuktok, ang sarap ng pakiramdam. Parang lahat ay game at nasa elements na hindi mo nakikita sa ibaba. Recharging. Nakalilimot sa stress. Medyo nagkakabonding. Lahat nagkaisa sa kahirapan.  Sarap ng hangin, ang ganda ng view, kakaiba ang lamig.

Para rin matuto gumawa ng website at hindi makalimot.
Chito Razon, a marketing practitioneer based in the Philippines

Bakit nga ba? Pag nararamdaman ko na yung pagod, saka ko iisipin, ano ba ang ginagawa ko dito, bakit ko pinahihirapan ang sarili ko? Pero oras na maamoy ko ang sariwang hangin, makita ko ang naggagandahang puno at halaman, mapansin ko ang mga kakaibang mga hayop/insekto sa gubat at higit sa lahat, pag-nakarating na ako sa tuktok at nakita ko ang nakakatulalang tanawin, saka ko naiintidan kung bakit ako bumabalik at bumabalik at bumabalik at buma...
Mitch Soria works for a bank handling systems based in Makati Philippines

Why not!!!
Everybody's doin it so why can't I!!!
TJ, still a student

For me ... It's savouring some of God's creations ... which are not touched by man's cruelty to NATURE.
And of course ... enjoying the company of new FRIENDS
Juno Moncada, a family man working for a transnational.  He was recently introduced to climbing just a year ago

Why do i climb? It's because of this:

When my busy week has ended to the mountain i will trop just to feel the closeness of him as i take my walk with GOD.
Hand and hand from hill to valley sweet the smell of fresh turned sod sweeter still my joy and pleasure as i take my walk with GOD.
Every creature pays him homage trees and flowers bow and nod in the presence of their maker as i take my walk with GOD.
Oh the rapture of this moment guided by his staff and rod lifted now are all my burdens as I take my walk with GOD.
Have a good CLIMB guys...
Gerald Muriel, PALMC member working with WHO-HQ in Geneva, Switzerland as computer specialist

Bro, Oh the poet in you, at least now you're doing something instead of just point blankingly stare at a wall trying to figure out how difficult it is to answer a seemingly simple question.
Elmer Cabotaje, a physical fitness person involved in the academe. An officer of PAL MC

For meditation in higher elevation and isolation from civilization.
Vince Balagot is into computer hardware and promotes anything with a price tag

Why Climb?
To listen to the rhythm of nature which has been drowned out by the artificial static of society
To remind myself that Homo sapiens is just one species among millions and has no right to claim the world as its own
To renew my commitment in helping save the Earth with the blessings I have been given
To come face to face with all that will be lost if I do not do my part
Wing Torres, a technical person involved in the production of detergents.  Introduced to climbing just years ago and has been to most mountains in the Philippines

Is Backpacking a Religious Experience?
The trail IS the physical destination and what I get from it is the spiritual journey that lasts days or weeks after the trip. For me backpacking is a way to shed the protective garb of society. I become a moving temple. I get simple and learn to deal with inner conflicts without constraints. Surprisingly it works, and I always send a thank you note to my God after all It is mostly his ear that I bend. Yeah ... I guess it is a religious experience. I certainly don't do it so I can eat freeze dried foods and drink iodine flavoured water!
Ed Daniels

"Mountains, nature and wilderness have historically held a special place in the spirituality of humankind, and religious or not, I hope that modern man can continue to respect the sanctity of the few remaining special places. For me personally, the sacredness of wilderness increases exponentially as it becomes more scarce."
Terry "Terry Thompson"

Why do you enjoy the wilderness?
Sheer joy in the beauty of nature, getting off where I can think and dream, the physical exercise, the satisfaction of self-reliance, an opportunity for introspection, the interest in seeing new places closely as only a walker can, the sensual thrills of good air and cleanliness around me, the excitement of unexpected events and challenges ... I guess I could go on. There is no single reason.
Stephen W. Anderson

Going into the wilderness or wild places is more than recreation. It has more to do with creation.
John Holladay

The experience of being one with nature in your most simplest form could be one of the reasons why. "May karapatan kang maging baduy" for sometime that you cannot be really termed as "baduy". Ha-ha-ha! The experience of pushing yourself to the limits and the glory of conquering yourself is really something to look forward to each climb. Because, the beauty of each mountain entices me to climb as many as I want for as long as I can for every mountain offers a different experience altogether.
Fe Javier working as Marketing Assistant for Siemens, Inc.

Because it's there ? ... no to get in touch with the environment I have evolved from, which is forcibly being taken away from me by the very race I am with. Malalim?, let's make it simpler - to be with my creator
Long Henson
Why do I climb ... Basically, it makes me feel good ... not just good, but getting that "natural high" there's no way you get it in an urban area. Another would be the environment that you are in it and the people you are joined with.It's that feeling of belonging with God and his creation that we try to maximize to our own advantage, not knowing the beauty that it possesses.
Joey Arenas, working in automotive, promoting the environmentalism in the company

Why is the grass green, why is the world round? I climb mountains "because it is there ..."- a great explorer aptly pronounced. There is nothing like a sunrise and a sunset viewed from the peak. In climbing, I am one with God. I am reminded of His generosity in sharing His great Creation. I love the great open spaces, the sheer natural exhaustion after a good trek. We should never stop exploring ... the world and ourselves. The big IS!
Charina works for a telecommunications company engaged in the cellular business

It gives me a certain "high"... more closer to God ... relaxes my soul ... stress from work disappear when I hear the birds chirping early in the morning to wake us up and most of all the real person in us appears specially when we're so tired ... nothing can beat the beauty of mother nature!!! Appreciate and take care of God's gift to humanity!!!!
Ria Mariano-Vicencio

It is an ultimate feeling of expressing my self ... I really love to stand on the top or high places ... I don’t care what people say ... I'm an Engineer,and really love to climb! It's fun to do something that somebody can't.
Paul Torregosa

Climbing has always put me beyond the brink of my fears. It sure feels different to find out that what you are afraid of is not the unexpected twists of the trail, nor the sudden vastness of the ravine beside you (which you don't give a care about because you are so damn tired). You suddenly find out that your fears are just within yourself - and up there on the mountains - they are all flushed out.  And you come down, with sore legs, but with a refreshed soul.
Jojo Nazareno is an analyst/designer for Computer Information Systems Inc - now recently assigned to Meralco-MTP/Distribution

Why do I climb ? ... I guess it's to get away from it all --- stress, work, stress, pollution, stress, and so on. It's conquering yourself. NATURE TRIPPING!!! Iba talaga ang feeling!!! To be one with Nature and the Environment ... diba? ... and of course, to meet and be with people who have the same frame of mind!!!
JV Duque, Training Coordinator-Artist Training, Talent Development and Management Centre, ABS-CBN

Umaakyat ako para makita ang nasa itaas ... upang masilip ang sumasaibayo sa mundong nasa ibaba ... napakahirap lalo na sa bandang una ... MAHILO-HILO ka pa!!! ... pero ang karanasang iyon ay hindi mapapantayan ... palaging mayroong paglundag na nasa loob ... lundag na 'di maipaliwanag ... 'di maintindihan ... ang paghahanap din yata ay parang ganoon ... hirap ka sa una, pero hanep sa huli ... umaakyat ako dahil mayroon sumasaibayo na 'di natin kailanman naiintindihan ngunit maaring maranasan ...
Si Erich nagpupumilit magturo ng Araling Panlipunan sa isang ekslusibong paaralan para sa mga lalake sa may Quezon City, sa tabi ng Ply-Ober!!!!

It's fun and full of audacious excitement. For me it's the ultimate recreation, it's like floating in the air whenever I'm watching GOD's wonderful creation.
Robert, SysEng from Qatar

For the joy of companionship
To sharpen the senses
To appreciate what you really have
To not mind the things you don't have
Learn tolerance for yourself and others
Jojoy is in the production of shampoo for Colgate Palmolive

I climb because I feel I'm on top of myself and anyone else who has not reached the top of the mountain. It's like seeing fresh, dewy, eye-soothing grass and flowers in the early morning once you reach the top. Climbing gives me the ultimate relaxation, or what Wordsworth referred to as "contemplating with nature," and it gives me a deep fulfillment that I have conquered myself, my anxieties and, most importantly, my health problems.
Jonathan Ortiz, Journalist/Editor - Wordgrafix

I climb because ... not everyone has the guts to do it ... it's an accomplishment in life ... you'll appreciate nature more ... I love to climb
Atit-kompyuter prog sa isang compyuter kampani

It's Fun!! It's exciting!!
But most of all, it is the only experience ...
... when I feel closest to God ..,
Michael Macainag a Student of De La Salle University

As what Sir Edmund Hilary said:
As what Nike advertises:
"Just Do It"
As what Flavier said:
"Let's DOH it"
As what I always said:
"Let's climb it"
Ayi Luna a Law Student of San Beda College

To prevent life from escaping.
Jon Linao-a student 

It is a childhood dream to reach the top of a mountain and touch the clouds!!!
Toping Marin an Assistant Auditor at Metro Pacific Corporation

Let Conrad de Quiros wax eloquent:

"Because one must. One does not do it for the sheer joy of it,nor fame or fortune or health. One does it because of DESPAIR. For not doing so would be to melt in this world. Because it is not easy to accept nor to acknowledge the "thereness of things"-- like the mountain. Our minds cannot just accept the hugeness of mountains, much less the terror that goes with it - and one must climb--because it is there"

Di ba? Enough said: Climb!
Pastor Noel Suministrado-a Pastor in the company ni Lord

Because it has made me realize that there's nothing much I need in this world except what I can carry in my backpack.

Because I can just close my eyes and feel the space around me.

Because only in the wilderness and in the face of adversity that you can truly test a person.

Because it reminds me amidst the 5-star things in life that this is the real me, simple me ...

Ciao eve
Eve Cayaban-United Airlines Paxs Sales Exe at Aerotel Ltd.

Gusto kong umakyat dahil para sa akin...habang ako ay umaakyat at lumalakbay sa mga lugar na hindi ko pa napupuntahan, ako ay lumalaki...lumalaki sa iba't ibang aspeto...mapa-pisikal, mapa-intelektwal o mapa-spiritwal!
Miguel C. Lopez a Student of DLSU

The experience is full of fun, thrill and adventure. It was tiring but when you're there, it seems that you always want to explore.
Anna Mulingbayan-an Asst.Network Administrator at Destiny-on-line

I believe, one time or another, this question has to be answered by every climber. As for me, I have not been thinking about the answer to this. I guess because I refuse to rationalize the feelings I have with me and the 'energies' I receive whenever I climb.

My first climb in Mt. Pulag last November of '97, has somewhat 'switched on' something inside of me. It was like it was something that was bound, destined may be the proper word, to happen. I knew I've always loved the outdoor, to be in communion with nature. It was pure destiny I had come to achieve it with the people I knew and has come to love in this seminar organization. That particular climb, because of its grand result, resulted in this 'thirst' for nature.

Some of the things I love about nature, especially the mountain scenes, is the pure stillness and the absolute silence of everything when the weather is so fine. It was like time has stopped and that everything else except me has stopped moving. I can hear myself so loud that I find it easiest to ask myself and to reflect on a lot of things.

That's why I always say that climbing is, in every bit of the way, also a seminar. Like in the indoor seminars that we are used to, reaching the summit IS not (and shouldn't be?) THE thing to get excited about. Rather it should be the process of getting there and the learnings that one (I) will find along the way.

The Summit is the prize of Learning! I've come to learn not to have any expectations nor project invincibility. It's hard to be in that space although I know for a fact that some are. Rather, I've come to learn to accept the mountain as it is and myself as I am. That way, it's easier for me to receive whatever the mountain and the nature has in store for me. I've come to respect them.

Why do I climb? For the gift.
Emil dela Cruz, volunteer for a self-empowerment seminar and a computer programmer

I climb because it gives me the chance to rediscover myself.  It's really amazing that you get to have the chance to really think(!!) and learn about a lot of things when you go climb a mountain (without losing ur sanity). I'ts almost like a religious thing when your up there and suddenly all kinds of thoughts get into your mind. I guess climbing makes one realize the true meaning of being HUMAN. God,I miss climbing.
Darius Jorjan, mainframe programmer of Worldspan

Exciting, fun, good for the health, meet new friends, I conquered myself, para makatakas sa work, escape from all the burden, feeling of freedom, it's an obstacle at least now I know how to handle when those things comes my way.
Bing, employee affiliated with Kagawaran ng Ugnayang Panlabas

I climb because ... gusto kong ma-meet ang Chito Mountaineering Club
(CMC). Eto ang pantapat sa MFPI, Mountain Madness, PALMC, ano pa bang malalakas na org yun ... ahhhh Team Albertos! Yun lang po ... BOW!
Mick-Chen, fireman/student affiliated with MESAU

Because I can't dance,
And I don't know how to sing
- Rocky Balboa
Roderick Rebada of MESAU working with InfoStructures Systems

Do every climber has his own reason? I think not. All climbers climbs because there is something about the climb that is INEXPRESSIBLE. All we could do is describe about the feeling. And yet, all the words combined isn't enough to capture what backpacking can bring to our heart, body, mind and soul.

If you are a climber just like all of us, well ... there's no reason for further explanation because all you could do is to give all these comments a high salute ... I have felt what you felt, you also have felt what he felt, and he felt what she felt ... it's like beating in ONE heartbeat.

If you haven't tried climbing yet ... it's high time you do. So, you can understand all the things being said here. When that time comes, you'll be coming back into this site and read if what was written was indeed right.

We'll be waiting for your comeback!!!
Mylene student (again!)

noong una dahil sa challenge pero pag naroon ka na sa itaas hindi mo na alam kung bakit.basta I just realized na tuldok ka lang sa mundo na bale wala ang talino,lakas at yaman mo,na mayroong ISA na higit sa lahat.pero siyempre, umaakyat dahil sa bundok hindi pinapansin ang babaeng umiinom ng gilbey's at lapad na walang chaser, natutulog nang hindi naliligo at humaharap sa mga boys nang bagong gising sa umaga na walang make-up at yagit ang damit tapos isusuot and damit na ginamit na medyo basa pa pero mahal pa rin ng mga lalaking kasama niya dahil kasama sa hirap at ginhawa.
jopee a. maduro_42k mountaineers of social security system-taipei

At first, I hate them (mountaineers na nakikita ko noon), pero ngayon, ako na ngayon ang umaakyat ng bundok. Kahit mahirap at nakakapagod ang sports na ito, pinipilit kong marating ang tuktok (summit) ng bundok na aakyatin para lang makita ko ang kabuuan ng ganda ng nature.

Aside from my other activities, this is one of my very challenging hobby and very expensive. I can compare the steep trail to the trials, and other problems of life, while the summit is my goal of my life. until now, I can't express what I felt once I reached the highest portion of the mountain.
Manny Zacarias, a manufacturing engr. from a semicon company

why i climb???????? to experience the adventure of nature and discover its beauty ... understand the wildlife and protecting the sanctuary ...
NormanV, I.T. (technical dept) from a semicon company

i'm looking forward to my next climb. i will climb again because i just realized that i can focus and do things i thought were impossible or boring, etc.
i felt a different kind of pain after the climb which in a way was ... strengthening. i don't know. it was really beautiful. and the cleansing it brought to my body - no wonder i craved for a smoke once we reached the camp site. bumaba yung nicotine level ko.
we'll try to organize mountain climbing expeditions and introduce the experience to our friends.
peace and God bless!
Joel A., a planner for a meat processing company on his first climb

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.
BobTongco, a Biology student

because life is full of uncertainties that you need a very good diversion for you to overcome every struggles... and I found it!!! ... the only way is to climb ... if you have the guts to climb... who cares
what life brings ... ciao ... hike,climb and be proud!!!
Joven Rito an officer at the philippine health insurance co.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Revisiting Mt. Maculot

Revisiting Mt. Maculot 13 years after was like seeing it as it was 13 years before. The natural features of the mountain which made it the Philippines’ most popular hiking destination are much the same: the rockies (706M ASL), the legendary mountaineers’ store (in more concrete structure), the short tunnel, steep ascent, rest stops with bamboo benches, open space with a view of the Taal Lake and the towns, campsite and the splendid view of Taal Lake and the surrounding towns of Batangas. Every rest stop still has the bench, canvas tarp, buco juice and drinks to offer (at higher prices though.)  Surprisingly, with the support of the local barangay, the trail is well maintained, there is minimal litter, there is no stench and garbage at the campsite.

What has changed are the establishments at the market leading to the jump-off. There are concrete structures like the multi-purpose gym, resorts, 7-11 and bigger commercial units. But the most concrete change are the people who trek, understandably they are much younger, more females than males, a lot of exclusive all-female groups, better equipped and dressed trekkers. Guides (like Yolly) are now available who delight newbies on what the Maculot means to them with anecdotes about personalities and activities at the campsite.  Striking a pose though is not for posterity but for Facebook and to comply with a selfie. But as in before, trekkers you meet in the trail are genuine and not phoney. The customary greetings of “Good Morning,” “malayo pa ba?” “nakayanan niyo Daddy?” fun and kulitan along the trail and respect for other groups are still the same behavior and language practiced before. People that you meet are true to themselves and nice to be with even for a short moment. You know that interaction is genuine rather than phoney because it is easy to strike a casual and relaxed conversation with anyone in the mountain whose conversation can extend on and on and on. That to me is one liberating moment that will not change because climbing mountain is experiencing the freedom of the hills. Maculot remains to be the climbing entry level to enjoy that freedom.
-Chito 12 April 2014

Mt. Maculot is All Geared Up For The Holidays
Dec 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 awaits 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. The campsite at the shoulder is about 706 meters ASL. Trek time from the foot to the shoulder is about 1 1/2 hours. Add another hour to the summit.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Pilapinas: NSO Birth Certificate: Process Today, Issue Today in 5 hours and 5 minutes

It took me 5 hours and 5 minutes to secure my National Statistics Office certified birth certificate. This covered frisking by guard at the entrance to the releasing of the certification at the releasing window.
Transaction is process today, issue today.  NSO uses a combination of continuous and batch flow in processing the request segmented in 4 parts: Security check, queue number issuance and application form fill in as Step 1, form assessing as Step 2, payment and data checking as Step 3 and releasing as the final Step. Step 1 is free flowing while Steps 2 to 5 are controlled in batches. Initially, the bottleneck was at the checking as not all posts were manned. Eventually, the bottleneck transferred to the data checking and paying step when the number of forms checked surpassed the hundreds mark.

I registered at 7:45 AM at the NSO Serbilis Center at East Avenue, issued a queue number 1324. I was out of the center at 12:30 with my certificate. Excluding Step 4, NSO processed 338 applicants in an hour. To include the 1 and a half hour of waiting for the release, it averaged to 244 completed issuance for an hour.

This was relatively better compared to 2 years ago when after payment, I was only able to be issued a certificate after 2 days. I was told that the center at times had to process about 10,000 applicants. Today's transaction was trending to about 6,000.

Another option apart from the physical appearance is to call in NSO helpline where your certificate is processed online or by phone and delivered to you in 3-4 days after payment. Cost is P350 compared to P140 for a request for birth certificate. Taking this option spares you from the grouchy old NSO personnel both at the assessing and payment counters (most of them). The friendly guards make up for the employee’s temper.

It puzzles me though that to request for a Certificate of No Marriage takes longer and much more expensive.

Update as of 3 June 2015: Releasing reduced from 5 hours to 3

NSO this 2015 offered an innovation. To the applicants with BReN (Birth Registration Number) from their previous issuance, processing time for a request can be done in 3 hours from the 5 hours reported last April 2014. A special payment counter is dedicated to the applicants with BReN skipping the numerical queue. After payment, the certificates are issued on the next counter in the same hall after about an hour. For the rest, the issuance is still on the other hall on a designated date and time. Fee is still P140.00 per copy for all certificates. Certificate of No Marriage is at P 195.00. (I checked in at 10:30 with queue number 3150. I got the certificates at 1:30 PM. There were about 4,000 applicants on a Wednesday.)

Officially, NSO does not recognize the Philippine Postal ID as an acceptable identification.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Welcome to Pilapinas (SSS and PAGIBIG HDMF)

January 13, 2013 Pilapinas at SSS
SSS in January 2013. 
Welcome to Pilapinas where government service does not match the influx of the citizenry paying their contributions. At the SSS Marikina office (worst in others) where the need is for more than 2 payment receiving tellers for hundreds of paying members every day.  Poor payors. At lunch time, making do with only 1 teller. Time spent paying at Philhealth 1.5 hours. SSS 2 hours and counting. (at an average of 75 seconds per transaction, teller can only process 480 members).  Paging process improvement experts.

Friends suggested online payment which is not available, payment through BAYAD Centers and accredited banks which is feasible but posting in not posted online (max 3 months waiting) and Saturday morning payment if offices are open which is most acceptable.)

August 23, 2013 PAGIBIG
Home Development Mutual Fund Members after a calamity
On the last of the 2 working days of the week, hundreds either line up to apply for a calamity fund or update their payment at the PAGIBIG Office in Murphy. The system is in place but number of customers and limited time are just way beyond the carrying load capacity straining the system, attendants and holders.  PAGIBIG is one of the most stable financial institutions in the country.

Commenting while waiting for my turn.
Even way past the official time, the service staff continued to serve those queued for transactions. They truly are serviced oriented. Volume is just beyond what the norm can handle. Three groups of members get preferential treatment: the senior citizens, pregnant and the physically challenged. Anytime, they can cut in the line and as part of the norm, the rest understand and accept. There are times when there are no transactions in some counters, they would call in those in the other.

October 8, 2013. I returned to the PAGIBIG HDMF office at Murphy to validate the consolidation of my payments from various employers. Counted no 28 at the line at Counter 4 under "Life", I was observing how all the frontliners were dealing with the members. I appreciate that the leads facing the members are data driven and very proficient with their processes. They provide clear directions on who to see and what to expect at the next step. That was sufficient consolation for me even if my objectives for the visit took more than 2 hours to complete. There simply are too many members needing PAGIBIG support.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Unbelievable Efficiency from Government Agencies

Unbelievable that I completed 3 transactions with 3 government agencies in 3 hours in 3 different locations. That was on a hot Friday post lunch where transaction traffic was relatively low.

I had my vehicle’s registration renewed at an LTO agency with emission test in less than 15 minutes.  (Official Receipt though was for pick up later in the afternoon and plate sticker issued in an open dated month.)
BIR RDO 39 Workstation along Quezon Ave
Income Tax Return was filed at the BIR RD 39 at Quezon Avenue corner Scout Santiago in less than 25 minutes. This included transfer of entries in the bar coded forms handwritten twice and computation of revenues. While the system was down, the young volunteers who were helpful in providing advanced info, validation of entries, forms and pens with the senior staff at their computer assisted posts provided a semblance of organization. (BIR Withheld Form was prepared beforehand which was the basis for the handwritten entry and number of filers was relatively manageable still 11 days before the deadline.)

Driver’s license was renewed in less than 25 minutes at the LTO QC Licensing Department and new laminated card with updated photo released. This covered the pre-medical check conducted at the central office’s perimeters.  Barkers at the entrance provided helpful initial info on requirements and layout of the compound. LTO’s help desk situated before the processing center was manned by trained frontliner who briefed applicants on the pre requirements and the process. (No changes in the data and the restriction code, info system operational and timing were key to fast processing.)
Before I can read all the instructions visibly placed at the lobby, 
I have been paged for the next steps. 
At the LTO QC Licensing Department East Ave
As there was more time, I decided to walk back from East Avenue to Araneta Center to pick up my vehicle. That too was efficient as traffic was already building up at EDSA past 4 PM.

Next week, passport renewal at the new Department of Foreign Affairs center at Ali Mall and the  SSS 2nd quarter payment which by past experience was a dreaded activity.