Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The 1995 Climbing Year

Giver’s Gain. You share an experience because it means so much to you. That’s what PALMC is all about. The thrill and the fulfillment of a climb are passed on by the membership to the new ones with an interest and passion for nature. This is the same reason that PALMC is still an institution in climbing in the Philippines. It shares its interests unselfishly to about anyone who hears about it.

Pre PALMC climb with Chacha Cordero
Chacha Cordero, who exposed me to the discipline of climbing two years ago, invited me to join the club. After several attempts to attend an orientation, I finally caught up with one at the start of the year on January 31, 1995. The 1995 climbing calendar was impressive. Mountains I’ve never seen before and climbs guided by perhaps the most seasoned in the country. From then, I got hooked to PALMC.

First batch effort was the Laiya climb immediately on February 4. Under the able leadership of Don Jose and TL Jojoy Cadungog, one of the most dedicated members, we got the most out of our climb. The informative lectures of Joey Quimpo, the likes of Mean Santos, Chris Luciano and myself were educated to what climbing is all about. Other than the short trip to Mt. Catmon and the short walk along the beach, the sight of corals and fish was a grand bonus. We wrapped up this experience with a post climb on the 9th at the PAL Conference Room in Makati. Gladly we passed the exams and the interviews.

The hard core climbers of the 90's
March 15 to the 20th, our group immediately reaped an unforgettable gift from nature through the Batanes, Sabtang expedition. EL Joe Abiad allowed us to get the most from the trip with his attention to our flight needs, plane, luggage transfers, and accommodations. Nature was so strongly felt; it melted all the hang-ups of the urban workers. How can you fail with the open seas, the high ridges and the fresh cool air? After staying for 6 days, we wouldn’t want to go home.

Banahaw photo courtesy of  Jojoy Cadungog
Induction of the 1st batch of the year was done at Mt. Banahaw on 29 April to 1st of May. Led by Jojoy C., this was a major climb con clean up of the uncollected garbage left last Holy Week. Even for the seasoned members and climbers, Banahaw was humbling. Legs and thighs ended up sore even days after the descend. To those inducted, it was rewarding. To those who joined the initiates, it was fulfilling.

A big gathering for members, initiates and their immediate families caused excitement on 27 May with the summer camp at Mt.Makiling. Kids enjoyed as much if not more than the adults did whose concern was the future of the club.

Rare capture of Lex Evangelista with Romy Valdez
This June 3-4, new batch was gladly initiated into this sport. Lex Evangelista brought the batch to the foot of Mt. Banahaw via Tayabas. Despite of the threatening storm, the group was safely whisked to the campsite. We loved the cold river and the usual initiation jitters. New faces like Christine Medina, Abe Abesamis, Norbert Calderon, Mira Rosales, Mitch Soria, Manolet Ramos showed up. These faces have become common features in the important climbs for the balance of the 1995.

An awesome “alpine” experience yearly undertaken by the club pushed through this 21 June for the Mt. Ugu Memorial Climb. Seasoned mountaineer Emil So led it. In this climb, homage was paid to those who perished in a crash. One also paid greater respect for the gift of nature as the cold air, the heights of the mountain balanced with the depths of the flowing river. Inductees got to know and appreciated better Benjie Lara, Brian Onteco, Gerald Muriel and Alex Katipunan who were treated not as members but as equals, like peer mates.

Not much happened between June and August as most of the activities were foreign based. Even the usually popular Mt. Apo and Timpoong climbs did not generate as much participation. Not until in August. Personally memorable to me was the Mt. Banahaw induction climb this August 4-7 ably led by Ponjaps. This induction I shared with the 1st and 2nd quarter initiates.  September 30, Banny delivered an expedition to Guis-guis for the 3rd batch. It was to be a prelude to the most attended Mt. Kanlaon Climb con Maskara festival last October 19-22.

With the 2016 indefatigable President Fernandon Ding Calipan
Finally, on November 21, 10 months after, I together with some batchmates of the 1st orientation for 1995 got our validation for membership to PALMC. As I look back at what I received from the club, I feel an obligation to give back to others the blessings I got from the organization and the climbs. I also sense a stronger sense of responsibility to protect the earth from further decay, so that those after me can still enjoy the thrills of climbing. In the coming years, until the new leadership of Tony Cayaba and Jazz Aquino and the new board, PALMC will continue to offer itself to those who would gain from it.

Pay it Forward. How to return the "Giver's Gain?" Give by writing about the memories of a climb, lead a group wishing to experience it.

Chito Razon

5 December 1995

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