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Friday, September 24, 2004

2 Consecutive Weekend Climbs

My scheds were:
September 11-12:
Mt. Natib in Bataan
September 17-18:
Mt. Talamitam in Batangas

Actually, it was already Friday mid-afternoon that I had confirmed that I COULD join the climb in Mt. Natib. I finally got an answer from my mom that my father would not be spending his time at our house in Manila and would continually stay in Cavite. Knowing the growing unpredictability of everybody's movements in the house, I decided to scatter SOME my climbing stuff and gear in my bed early Friday morning. Better prepared and be ready to pack them if I would join.

Despite the confirmation from my mom, uncertainty still pervaded my decision. You see, some of my trekking get-ups (from the previous climb) were still in the laundry and to top it all, I still had to manage with my laundry of 2 weeks. I was pretty worried about my attire for office work still on que in the washing machine.

Knowing myself, I will join because if I want something, I'm gonna get it, no matter what the cost.


Dex picked me up after office hours and grabbed dinner somewhere (I forgot where). He brought me home and waited for me while I packed my stuff. It probably took me 45 minutes to reload the stuff in my bag. After changing my office get-up to a more comfortable fit, I bid my mom and siblings sayonara. Dex and I took a cab towards a friend's house where I spent the remaining hours of the night.

By 3:00 in the morning, Dex picked me up from my friend's house and off we go to his apartment. There I took my bath while he packed. After dressing up, Dex took his bath while I unloaded my trekking bag for repacking (I still had to lodge my 2 liters of water and food). A few minutes after 5, we were ready to go. We proceeded to
Richard's house and there we found him...sleeping. Hehehe. He said he had fallen asleep waiting for the right time to go.

Anyway, we met with
JR at a convenience store a few walks away from Coastal Mall. We had a last minute shopping for groceries. Hehehe. By 5:30, the four of us decided to hit the road to Cubao. We arrived 15 minutes before 6.

Since everybody wasn't there yet [we saw
Jay(he arrived at 5???!) and Rommel], Dex, JR, Rommel and I went to Chowking to take breakfast. Afterwards, we headed back to the Five-Star Bus Station.

The events that unfolded after this had somehow tainted a supposedly exciting climb. Pardon me but this is my own opinion.

Supposedly, we should had left the station by 6 or 6:30 perhaps. But we were only able to leave Cubao to Bataan by almost 10:00 in the morning. Promise. That was so unbelievable. At 6:30 in the morning, all ATMC people were already complete except for 2 people. To think they were only invited guests. Actually, somebody invited the dlsuoutdoor group and 2 MFPI climbers.

Some of the members of dlsuoutdoor peepz had left earlier. I was told they had a private ride to Bataan. We would just meet with them at the Public Market of Orani. The problem that heavily affected our itinerary to Bataan was the inconsiderate attitude of just a single person. I am not so sure of the exact time but all I know is that we waited for
Alex for more than 2 hours. Somebody from dlsuoutdoor group came late but that was sort of tolerable (?). By the time we were about to check our transport, another problem came up. I heard from an officemate that we would be transferring to another bus station near AliMall since we were not able to catch up with the next trip. While we walking along Edsa, it was some kind of déjà vu for me. What it was, I promise not to tell. Anyway, upon arrival, we were told that there were no bus trips heading north, only south. To cut the story short, we rented 2 vans and left Manila a few minutes before 10 in the morning. It was already blazing hot.

Sorry to say this but Alex was really a great pain in the ass. His being late for almost 2 hours not enough, he influenced the guys in the van that I was riding on to get drunk. They bought a few bottles of gin. Can you believe it? They were drinking in broad daylight! I was a little worried because drinking while driving is prohibited. Sure, the driver of the van was not drinking but what if the police made a mess out of it. All I want was to enjoy my weekend with a hobby I love the most. I am sorry again to air this out but I was a little pissed off with
Rommel when he told me to relax and that we were just enjoying and having fun. I know that, my dear, but sometimes you have to think about the boundaries of sheer enjoyment. Can you still enjoy if the police decided to let you spend the day in the precinct? I don't think so.

Despite the late itinerary, I still found myself at peace. But what almost ruined my day (correction: my day was already ruined) was the disappointment over a highly-regarded (I see him that way) ATMC member. I never expected him to act so stupid. Yes, the effects of alcohol. I never thought he was that drunk when he whipped off my chocolate sundae in my hands. I sort of got mad with him because I told him to take care in dipping his French fries off my sundae. Guess what? He intentionally did what I told him not to do. Alex, on the other hand, kept on pulling the tie off my hair. I told him a number of times not to and the asshole really tried to provoke me.

I joined the climb because I really wanted to be with Dex and I wanted to change things. I wanted to end the days without me picking a fight with him. As much as I wanted to shout at those two, I kept my mouth shut and pretend like nothing happened. But then, I could not helped but cry feeling sorry about the whole thing. As usual, Dex thought that I really could not stand his friends. It frustrated me even the more when I saw the look in his eyes. All I wanted was to have the day passed with some normalcy. But things did not cooperate.

With finality, I decided to be me. So what if I vent out how I perceived the things happening around me? Well, some people knew about it. I berated the people in the van how stupid their act was for me. I do not care if you guys will take it against me for saying this. Ask everyone and you would really know how those people thought about what you guys did.

Anyway, we finally reached the public market and it was past lunchtime already. My two officemates went to the market to buy the ingredients of the evening dinner. I stayed and tended this friend who got drunk. I could not just leave him there even though somebody will for sure take care of him. As much as I really wanted to get mad with him, I just do not have the heart leaving him like that. He is a friend and no matter what stupid actions he did, I know I can still forgive him. After all, he was really apologetic and guilty for what he did. I almost laughed when I saw his eyes while saying sorry. As in nakangiti pa ang mokong. Hehehe.

By 2pm, we boarded a van/jeep towards Barangay Tala from the public market. It was just a 20-minute drive from the market. The supposed 10:30-in-the-morning-trek from the jump-off point materialized almost in the afternoon. Before conducting our business, we uttered a small prayer for safety and guidance. Thirty minutes after three, the trek to the summit started. Dex and I were the sweepers together with some ATMC peepz. Richard, I think, was the lead group together with the dlsu peepz. Despite the heat of the sun, I enjoyed the beauty surrounding me. I was at peace being there, walking amongst the trees and the plants. The cold, playful wind was refreshing. We had photo shoots and we specifically liked the rock to pose on.




The fog was already settling in nearby and so we continued the trek. We were able to go past “pinagbutasan” and from there, I got a view of the summit. The trek went on and on and a few minutes after 6 in the evening, we reached a local’s house. The elders told us that the climb to the summit was ‘limatik’-infested and trail was very slippery. The light pouring of the rain made the summit climbing more difficult because of the leeches, they said. There was some kind of a votation who would want to climb and who would opt to climb the following morning. I was thinking if the majority voted on the affirmative, would I still go? You see, my period just started and I was really an attraction for those leeches out there. Maybe I could do away with the icky thought of leeches clinging unknown to me, but to climb without daylight and minding the feel of leeches drove me crazy.

Anyway, we decided to pitch our tents there and started to mind my own business. I was feeling giddy due to my heavy period and the coldness of the air did not help. I decided to spend the night inside the tent, watching out for leeches crawling inside. While the people outside held the socials, I re-arranged the sleeping mat and our other stuff inside the tent. I thought I was safe enough and that I could get a goodnight’s doze. Heck! I suddenly saw this thread-like leech inching its way towards me. I almost froze but I realized to grab the alcohol and splashed the leech with it. I watched it struggling and when it stopped, I got tissue and crumpled it inside a mini plastic bag. The thought that something was lurking somewhere near me got me a raging hormone. I removed the sleeping mat again, checked the underside and the sides of the tent and tapped all the things inside the tent to make sure that nothing was creeping there. Talk about being paranoid. But I found 2 more and armed with alcohol, they were gone for good.

The next day, I decided not to join them since my period was bugging me.
Jerry and Carmi also stayed. With nothing to do, I started packing my things inside my bag and prepared Dexter’s stuff. After a while, I got bored and I asked Jerry what was the menu for lunch. I told him if that was the plan and if it was alright to volunteer to cook since I had nothing to do and it would be better to do so since the people who tracked the summit would be so hungry. To cut the story short, the three of us cooked rice, ginisang sitaw with corned beef, boiled eggs and omellette with tuna. It was fun, actually.

It was almost a quarter past one when the last of the batch of climbers were finally settled in the camp. Everybody started taking lunch and afterwards, packed their stuff. We broke camp and we started the descent by 3pm (if I remember it correctly).

As usual, Dex and I were the sweepers. We were the last one to leave the local’s area and made sure that everything was accounted for (read: neglected trash and forgotten stuff). Aside from the face towels and soap and tissue packets, which were claimed later on by some of the climbers, I left the plastic bag of trash I was holding. Dear Manang was so kind to get the trash bag and include it in their garbage. I was actually planning of taking it all the way to the dumpsite, which we passed by while on our way to Barangay Tala a day before.

Despite being the last one to leave the camp, we were still able to catch up with these 3 people from dlsuoutdoor. It did not happen just once or twice, but a lot of times. Dex and I had our own ‘kodakan’ moments and still we would catch up with them. I was wondering if they were taking their rests every 5 minutes. It was like they were taking so much time, like they were moonlighting at the park. Hello! In case, you did not know, we were also trying to catch up with something, especially the transport from the town, the bus to Manila. Oh! Of course, you would not know that because you had your own relaxing ride back to the metro.

Our last stop which was almost a few walks and a few minutes away from the ‘paliguan’ (still catching up with them), we found the 3 and one of them got a minor sprain. Dex asked her if she was okay or if she needed help at all. She said she could manage. Dex gave her a bandage and asked her if she could do it herself. She said she could. Dex asked them for the last time if they could manage and they replied in the affirmative. Dex told them to send a texted message to Richard in case they could not really manage. I suggested that Dex gave his number, too.

It was only 3 minutes past when we left them that we met Richard on a horse. The girl with the sprain could not walk after all. I was wondering if she just felt shy or something. One thing I could tell them: if you think you really need help and you could not do it alone, don’t be shy. Forget about it. Just think of the consequences of your actions when something bad happened. The people you’re with are also concerned with you and bear in mind that you will not be the only one affected if something untoward happens to you.

I thought things would be a little smoother than I expected after all of us had taken our baths. Well, somehow it did not. The guy who was the cause of all major misfortune did it again (now that sounds Britney Spears to me). Actually, not really but almost likely. We were already boarding the jeep/van that would take us back to the public market. He was drinking and in fact, he was engaging the others to do the same (this happened while the rest of us were refreshing ourselves). Almost everybody was on board and still, we waited. While somebody fetched him, I could not help but yell to anyone (who’s guilty, anyway) to stop acting like some VIP. Those types of people were better left alone in the city and not in the countryside or in the mountains. Their attitudes have no place in those areas.

Anyway, he was convinced to ride back with us to Manila. Believe me,
Jill and I was tempted to smack him in the face for being so rowdy. Out of irritation, we joked about pushing him so he would be left off in the bumpy road (that was pretty mean of us, we admit). It was already quarter past 7 in the evening when we reached the market. We had to wait for the private, comfy transport of the dlsuoutdoor peepz since their ‘sundo’ had a mixed-up with the supposed meeting place. Among ATMC peepz, small arguments were being refuted (uy, may issue daw o). After 30 minutes or so, everything was set aside with the dlsu peepz were headed for home. The ATMC and some peepz from dlsu who were with us from the trip from Manila the previous day still had to go to another block (I think) to catch the buses plying Manila and Bataan. It was 10 minutes past 8 in the evening.

Unfortunately, Alex was still with us. If you could only see him while all of us were waiting for the bus. He was silently sitting in one corner of the waiting shed. Like the first time that it happened (when he was face-to-face berated by my colleague for being an asshole), he was back to his normal, irritating self. He was so spirited (in a negative way, though) without being so loud. I told myself that if this annoying person started to open his mouth and scandalize the people in the bus, I would swore to everyone that right there and then, I would say things he would never wished to hear at all.

But it seemed like luck was smiling Alex’s way. I was not forced to carry out my plan on him.

Anyway, we reached Manila safely. I just forgot what time it was.

Photos are courtesy of Jill's camera.





I will just post what happened to our Mt. Talamitam climb in the next entries.

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!