Sunday, June 22, 2014

Traversing Mt. Amuyao

Traversing Mt. Amuyao
Achieving a Sense of Accomplishment in a Climb

Traversing Mt. Amuyao an adventure that brought us trekking from Makalama, a sitio of Barlig, Ifugao up to Mount Amuyao at 2,628 Meters ASL down to the Bangaan and Batad junction in 20 walking hours in 3 days.

This expedition was simply a result of a whim to go on a trek this Labor Day during the MFPI Wednesday socials. So many choices were presented with no particular destination selected until the last moment. There was Kanlaon, Talinis, Napulauan.  Only that Thursday night 28 April did I learn that it will be a weekend at the mainland Luzon.

This 3-day weekend turned out historical and an enriching one.

Mt. Amuyao is the 8th highest mountain in the Philippines with an elevation of 2,628 meters (8.865 feet). The summit shows a breathtaking panorama of the entire Cordillera range. Wild orchids and the elusive pitcher plant as well as other rare plants abound.  Students from the Forestry School whom we shared the summit with doing research on the flora were having difficulty identifying the plant varieties within the perimeter of the summit.

While pitching our tents at the cemented grounds of the summit, hard objects from the sky hit our backs and heads. They turned out to be hail shower in the form of small pellets.  We had to seek protection as the shower ran for about 5 minutes. It caused a deafening noise while hitting the galvanized roofing at the summit. Too bad we had no video camera to record the moment. (We found later on that Mt. Pulag had a similar incidence that late Saturday afternoon.)

That was just the start of a fascinating experience. The sun set its radiating glow amidst the layers of mountain ranges at the West side past 6:00 PM.  Its disappearance brought down the temperature level to less than 10ÂșC.  The rainfall and the wind gave us permission to bring out the fleece, thermals, and gloves, headgear and those high profile jackets.  Its appearance the following colder morning was even more dramatic. Rising up several thousand kilometers away from our viewpoint, it radiated its glow in several layers of mountain and in the floating clouds. The newbies among us were silenced.  The rest including the students said, like yesterday, it was the start of another day.

What else were exposed? Laid bare before us were the picture perfect sight of a river, sight of rice terraces forming an amphitheater, waterfalls cascading from a terrace, the view from Simon's door, balcony with the rice terraces as the backdrop. Reaching each destination was a fascination: the village of Cambulo from the top, view of Batad from the viewpoint, reaching the rest stop from Batad. All these sights would make a thick coffee table book.

The trek made us look back. Stepping into history, we got involved with architectural brilliance of the Ifugaos even if we were no architects.  Walking in the wall of rice terraces, we noted that the nearer were to a sitio, the more secure the steps were and the less chances of falling and slipping. We walked through the well-maintained trail from Barlig to Amuyao shifting to the wilderness trail from Amuyao to Pat-yay, leading to the challenging steps from Pat-yay to Cambulo.

Butch lectured on History, his. There was a rewind on Kanlaon when the students died, Pulag via Tawangan without water for several days, equipment in the early days, trek to Nepal, outbound seminar in Oregon. Further on, we heard encounters with the NPA, early experiences with the UPM, PAL MC, Negros Mountaineering, relief operations in Vizcaya after a landslide, drinking, giving drink to Boy Siojo, climbs with Buboy Francisco, Fred Jamili, Chang Guzman and other illustrious climbers.

We lost things and perspective but we found them again. Regie lost his Nokia phone at the van but found it before the trek.  Mike lost his sandals at Batad and found it at the Bangaan junction. Justin lost his vegetarian diet to a gamy duck but gained his energy. He lost his American nationality and found a new personality (momentarily that is.) Regie lost his missing trail to Cambulo from Pat-yay but found confidence and company the next morning.  Butch lost his liquor flask, which made Manong find his bearing. Butch lost his listeners and audience but found new contacts. Mike's lost his GPS waypoints and his topo map but found a new destination. Chito missed the groups' company from 5 to 15 minutes each destination point but still found them waiting. Jong lost his climbers for a day, but found his self.

We picked up Tony Boy's penchant for cleanliness.  We appreciated his raw culinary skills and role as a “housewife.”  We too listened to Mike's never ending stories on gear and the tragedy of his back and tummy.  We were all eyes on Justin's vegetarian and health diet and his Asian treks made more animated after round of stainless.  Regie always guided us to be on track with our schedule while Butch saw to it that we reach our destination.  Chito was of course appreciated for just being present and staying quiet.

We saw a Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde in Manong, another one in Simon.  Extraordinary events happened: A flask that would have turned into a bolo.  A red rice that turned into risotto. An American with a Philippine made equipment.  Filipinos with American equipment. The P 100.00 Gin Bilog from another sitio. A P 800.00 luncheon at Cambulo. Raining every 3:00 PM.  Simon in every sitio: in Pat-yay, Cambulo.

Never has a climb resulted in a great sense of fulfillment. We trail blazed from Barlig to Amuyao working on instinct how far our waypoint was to the next major point. We relied heavily on Butch's intuition to direct us to some semblance of civilization from Amuyao to Pat-say. We stepped on stones created out of architectural resourcefulness. We were shown refreshing sites that were too much for the eyes can take. We were provided an abundance of food and water for us to keep up with the challenging trails. We were sheltered with so much comfort.  Stepping out of the Batad-Bangaan junction, we felt good, we ventured on this expedition. Regie speculated that we might have been the first batch of trekkers to traverse the Barlig-Battad trail. Pioneering treks like this is nothing new to Butch during his PALMC days in the 80's or was it the 70'a.

While we were delighted on so many splendid views, we were not that awed no matter how many and how grand.  Perhaps we were asked to look at nature with the freshness of an innocent child. To paraphrase Edwin Bernbaum's Sacred Mountains of the World, we have to see the mountains with "eyes bright and clear, hearts open and free, (so) we stand once again at the beginning and source of all that is and all that may be." Then when we listen to our stories again, see our fotos after the climb and read this article, we, Butch, Regie, Tony Boy, Justin, Mike, Chito and Jong say thank you for showing us the grandeur your creation both in the nature and in the people around us.

CBRazon 3 May 2000

For more details, contact Regie Pablo, for GPS waypoints and plot contact Mike Vaca, for fotos ask for Tony Boy De Leon, for what really happened, ask Butch Sebastian.


Mount Amuyao

Alfonso Lista, known by the early Ifugaos as "mun-u-upag" or bubbles of from, it was a big barangay of Mayoyao. In 1955, R. A. 1222 transformed the prosperous and vibrant barangay into a regular municipality of Ifugao. Alfonso Lista, named after the first mayor, continues to exude vast potential for economic growth.  Its industrious inhabitants have developed a number of livelihood industries for income generation. These include orchid development, food processing, cattle and goat raising, fish cage agriculture, handicrafts and farming. Visitors to the area will be awed to see its many attractions, among which is the Magat reservoir in Sto. Domingo, the mysterious Stone Wall at Namillangan and Pibkan Water falls at Dolowag.

Mount Amuyao (Mayoyao) The 8th highest mountain in the Philippines with an elevation of 2,628 meters (8.865 feet), the summit provides the climber with a breathtaking panorama of the entire Cordillera range. Wild orchids and the elusive pitcher plant as well as other rare plants abound.

Lumawig Stone (Mayoyao) A huge enchanted black rock held by only 3 smaller stones in the middle of the Balangbang River, it is widely believed to hold the future of the town. As long as the stone stands, the Mayoyao people will stay strong and happy.

Makhaligwa & Lebhong Burial Caves (Mayoyao)Famous for wood coffins and the remains of the first Mayoyao, legend tells of an attentive lizard leading the people to these 3 funeral chambers and designating each one for man, woman and child.

O’phaw Mahencha Falls (Mayoyao) Known as the Leap of Mahencha (6 km from the town proper), the falls feature a series of high cataracts.  Local folklore says a beautiful woman named Mahencha had to jump 13 to 15 meters into the water to retrieve her native amber necklace, which fell while she was taking a bath. A waterfall and a natural pool represent each of the maiden's leap. Truly a sight to behold.

Apfo’or Burial Tombs (Mayoyao) The tombs are large stone mausoleums containing the bones of the town’s ancient warriors and elite. The constructions of these stone igloos reflect the resourcefulness of the Ifugao in adapting his stoning techniques for a multitude of uses.

Akakoy Viewpoint & Park (Mayoyao) Located 600 meters from the town hall, the site offers a good vantagepoint from where the Alatabang rice terraces cluster as well as all of central Mayoyao and the Isabela plateau can be viewed.

Mount Nagchayan (Mayoyao) The site of fierce battles between the Japanese troops and Fil-American troops in World War II, the mountain now stands as a symbol of peace. Several grottos where the Japanese hid as well as stonewalled trenches and foxholes dot the terrain. Someone looking hard enough will be able to find rusty shells used in the many battles.

Tenogtog Waterfalls (Mayoyao) Five kilometers from the town proper, 3 natural pools rising about 12 meters from each other mark this beautiful spot. The waterfalls from the top pool cascade to the next in fluid succession.  Untouched by human hands, these natural pools provide clear, Cool Mountain spring water for anyone to enjoy.

From the site

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