Monday, December 26, 2011


                                                                                                                                    Are you going?

                                                                                          Yup, Paul volunteered as a sweeper.

                                                                                                   Yeah, that would be very hard.

                                                                                                 I’m saving   my patience already.

                                                                                                                                   I wanna go too.

                                                                       Why not? You have a lot there to take care of.

               Yeah, I see 6 of them.But  that’s fine.I’m happy to see I’ve made them up  

                                                                                                                  and down the mountain.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Balay Outdoor Equipment

To my fellow outdoor enthusiasts, here's one of the humble shops that offers variety of your outdoor needs.

This shop was created by the deep passion to mountaineering of the guys behind Society of Mountaineering Berks. Rest assured the prices are considerably affordable and items are of best quality. So, check out their latest offerings!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift Giving: Our Lady of La Salette

Last December 17,2011, I volunteered myself to be with 45 kids at Our Lady of La Salatte, shared my time, laughed and played with them. And what a blessed day it was...

Truly, this activity just gave back something undescribable only volunteers could understand=)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Volunteerism: Hospicio de San Jose

Date: December 2011
Location: Hospicio de San Jose, Manila


Audit Volunteers in Action

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mt. Pulag - A New Pride of Experience

I never anticipated that I will be able to join the Pulag Climb because of schedule conflicts. Well, until it was changed to November 25-27. I was glorious amidst all the hassles I went through. Yes, I was literally cramming even on the day of departure. Thankfully, the universe conspires with my heart’s desire.

I made it 10:55pm to Victory Liner Pasay and was able to stabilize the panic I have had hours before.  There I met my team, get into our reserved seats and on our way I was contemplating if the climb was for me, I’ve been into a lot of hassles. Isn’t that a sign?

BUT on the brighter side, isn’t all struggles awaits victory and triumph? I will be climbing Philippines’ third highest mountain, and that alone are all worth it. Just by thinking that way gets me more excited, and oh, I HAVE BEEN EXCITED ever since I heard first hand stories of what awaits us in Mt. Pulag. Bragged as the rooftop and the highest one can get in Luzon at 2922 ASL, Mt. Pulag offers a magnificent view at the top while one will truly feel enchanted for its fabled sea of clouds. And right then and there I pictured myself doing a jump shot above the clouds! Few hours Mt. Pulag, just few more hours…

As we were nearing Baguio, I get fascinated by the welcoming cold, the alighting sunrise, pine trees and mountains that are beautifully lighted like a live Christmas tree. I could only smile and savor the novelty of a good weather for yet another dream wish list will soon knocked down.

In a little while our group of thirteen,  of which six are couples namely S’ Jim & M’ Lot, S’Leo & M’ Do and  Melskie & his wife while Riz, Andrea, Odhie, Lenzi, MikeA, Jovy and me  were the remaining seven, deposited ourselves in our rented jeepney after we disembarked from the bus. It was more than five hours before we reached DENR, approximately thirty minutes was spent in a stopover at a bridge overlooking Ambuklao Dam for picture taking, almost an hour was spent in a carinderia where we met a flooding number of mountaineers which put our group in a long queue.

At DENR we were required to sit for a mini presentation covering crucial reminders on climbing Mt. Pulag. From do’s and dont’s, present flora and fauna to its legendary tale as it is claimed as the playground of Gods. We also took our lunch in an adjacent store after paying the requisite climbing fee of P200 per head.

We then headed to Badabak Ranger Station. Man, we travelled beside deep ravines and one wrong move could mean fatal.  It was another less than two hours arduous roller-coaster-ride-like as we get higher. In fact, there’s this moment when I forgot to hold on to the hand rails and in one quick second I really look so stupid! It was like I gave myself a free fall, only this time I was in a jeep. Each bounce just gave the team a boisterous laughter.

We started trekking around 2:30pm. Did I forget to say that the DENR staff mentioned that it was raining in the summit? Yes, IT WAS RAINING! I get a bit nervous not because I can’t climb with such weather, I admit I hate muddy and slippery trail but more than that because of paranoia, of how negative temperature could behave? Apparently, the temperature could drop even below subzero. I am not a person who can’t stand long in such conditions, what if I caught hypothermia?

As we trudged into the trail, I checked myself from time to time if I was feelin’ different; paranoid was the word for it. The rain, the overrun trail, dropping temperature and thinning air just made the executive trail a little difficult. Along the trail we met our friends, who took the Akiki-Ambangeg trail, with them a story falling short in reaching the summit because of the weather. According to them, flood was already evident in the saddle camp, where we plan to stay for the night as it is just 15 minutes away from the summit. Then it strikes me, will we make it for the anticipated sea of clouds?  BUT they say, the beauty of Mt. Pulag comes from after a dramatic weather. Yes, I’m still hoping…

How could a good 7.5 kilometers and so doable for over three hours seem twice longer than usual? It was the longest trek I made in my entire life. At times, I constantly find myself asking for strength and guidance because each second on the trail seems eternity. By that time we reached Camp 2, my face and hands were almost numb. The camp was covered with fog and darkness. There was zero visibility. I waited for Lenzi to arrive for us to start another challenge. Odd though, I don’t know how to pitch a tent but tried anyway. One thing was clear that time, if no help came from S’ Jim and S’ Leo that moment I’d probably fall off in the next minute.

Nobody from the team dare go outside, not anyone even mentioned for dinner. Our tent was moistened every corner. Good thing we have our earth pad and some garbage bag, it saved us from moist underneath. Before I close my eyes that night I could only mumble prayers of survival. True enough, in the face of immeasurable odds, only faith can get you far.

The sea of clouds was the head turner for me in joining this climb. Obviously, that one and the dwarf bamboos, the anticipated jump shot above the clouds and the summit are but a dream still uncrossed in my list. But hey, nothing is comparable for all is well and managed to brace fierce winds and equally chilling weather the next morning. And for such, one is imperative: SAFETY should always be the top priority.

We have a great time going down Ambangeg. We made ourselves drooling ( oa lang, hahaha ) over with eat-all-you-can pinikpikang manok and savor the goodness of a great meal we missed at the campsite. Who says we will end the climb without socials? Right there on the jeep transpired a social bursting with euphoria. Fun, was an understatement. I was overjoyed with how it was held, how it lifted our spirits, how it brings a good laugh and content into each faces. How it bridged for a great bonding and camaraderie. Kudos Sir Jovy!

As for me, with summit or not, with sea of clouds or not, the climb was no less than a success. For this climb brings forth a new story (each climb actually), new strength, new lessons and realizations. Moreover, this climb for all thirteen of us could perceive each a different story altogether but still it boils down into one bottom line: we all have new pride of experiences to share just the same.

I still am fervently wishing that sooner the omnipotent GUY through SMB will grant me again the opportunity to face this majestic mountain, hoping for another addition to my treasured box of memories. SMB, please make it happen for me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flooding with Firsts - Mt. Pico de Loro

After throwing ourselves into to a last minute road trip last September 30 to October 1, 2011 as our alternative get away from our postponed Mt. Napuluaun Traverse I was not really intense in doing another hike a week thereafter. But I wanted to climb as many as I could before audit season hits so I signed myself in for Pico de Loro list inevitably.

To give me a better idea of the mountain that I am going to face, I checked it out the web before the  climb. Pico de Loro or Parrot’s Peak is considered as the highest point within the boundary of Cavite and Batangas. It got its name from its contour that is similar to a giant parrot perched on the mountain.It is also perfect for first timers since it is considered minor with an  elevation  around 664 meters above sea level.

Considered as an easy trek and though it is doable for a dayhike our group opted to make it for two days, just perfect forpetiks mode. We were divided into two groups since some of the berks have their work related concerns. First group was composed of Takumi, JR, JM, Lanie,Billy, Rex and me while the second group who did the night trek were Nhan, Albert,Jann, Mes, Odhie and Riz.

Day 1

First group meet up at 7-Eleven adjacent to SM Bacoor. Originally, we were set to be around 5:00am but it was really raining badly and so expect a massive latecomers like me ( hihihi ). We took a bus ride for P55.00 and after an hour we disembarked along to Ternate Highway.While JR took the lead in fare negotiations since drivers were really scouting it for P75.00, unreasonably high than that of P50.00 we know, we indulged ourselves into a quick breakfast in a nearbycarinderia, getting ready for the trek ahead.

We then took a 15-20 minutes tricycle ride for P65.00 per head and disembarked again at DENR outpost. We then registered for P20.00 per head and after a quick picture taking and few last minute checks we started our ascent.It was a good a start, the weather’s not too hot and is not raining, just almost humid. Thankfully Pico do not shelter ground leeches, as rain and limatiks don’t make a great combo, I’ll tell you.

 It was less than an hour trek before we reach camp 1 wherein we then pay another P20.00 registration fee inclusive of free use of toilets, benches w/ cottage that we accommodate during our lunch and running water for refills and cooking. After more than an hour rest, refreshed and energized we went back to the trail.

The contour of the trail and the steep incline as we go along was new to me but it spells the adventure I’d never expected for a minor climb like Pico. We were also welcomed by mud-covered trail and almost always drizzling weather.  And mind you, it rained hard the day before and that morning so the trail gets muddier, steeper and unfriendly. I can’t remember how many times I was about to slipped and have to endure the mud all the way through.

Nonetheless, it was a fun-filled climb even though we got lost at the last leg of our ascent. Getting lost was inevitable because of some changes evident from previous storms.  We backtracked and found the right trail and it was past 3:00 pm when we finally reached Camp 2. It was foggy and no good views for cameras to take. The weather also suggested an incoming downpour so we readily pitched our tents. Some of the group took a nap after, while me and others huddled ourselves in a circle. It was a soiree of sorts, and as usual we made fun by simply talking about anything, from S’ Takumi’s creepy experience in Mt. Tarak Ridge to just something that cracked out of the moment while waiting for the second group.

Few hours passed and darkness has enveloped the whole camp and intermittent rain showers were already evident when we decided to have our dinner. Good thing we have packed rice pre-cooked at camp 1. Thanks for the great minds of Sir Takumi and Sir JR, we were just relieved from the idea of waiting until past 9:00 pm for dinner ( wala kameng stove, hehehe ).

 Yes, it was 9:30 pm when the second group arrived, bringing along with them their own story of being lost on the trail. I couldn’t help but smile for having shared the same experience. And what’s even truly special that night except that everyone made it safe plus two first met SMBerks namely Dean and Tong ( aka aintnomountainhighenough in the forum ), was of course everyone got a fill of Mes’ spaghetti. First time, I have eaten a good meal at the top of the mountain and I couldn’t agree more when everyone said it’s delicious. Because it was!

We capped off the night with GSM Blue and never ending tales to tell during socials that have been extra fun with Jann and Mes as they share their phenomenal story. I didn’t know what time the rest called it a night, the cold has already taken its toll on my skinny frame so I went ahead. It was a raining socials. Nevertheless, it was as FUN.

Day 2

After our breakfast we made the last leg of the climb, which is going to the summit.  We started as JR took the lead and the rest followed seemingly forming a line.

The assault wasn’t that difficult, but need to be more cautious since only low-leveled grass are the ones one could hang on to when going up. And after 15-20 minutes, we were welcomed with another beauty of God’s masterpiece.


Truly, Pico promised a spectacular 360 degree view of adjoining mountains, indented coves and beaches and mountain ranges.

And who will not be fascinated by famous rocky outcrop (tower for some)? This formation calls my human quest for total adventure yet the team agreed beforehand that it isn’t part of our itinerary. We are not yet braced with proper equipment and it might be too risky if pursued.


We just satisfy our hunger from postponed Napulauan Traverse by staying at more than thirty minutes at the top, pictures after pictures, plank after plank, and pose after pose. We were all like models wannabe trying to get our angle for a good bragging pose. As we went down I gave a last hungry look at the daring outcrop. Looking back at it, I know I got an unfinished business here, enough reason to go back. And definitely, I will.

Going down was one heck of giving in to child-like whims and caprices. Why? Singing along the trail and reaching for Mariah’s Through the Rain and  Regine’s Tuwing Umuulan, we were like shooting a music video with real rain as background ( NaLSS tuloy si Dean at Tong ). We did some more of a kiddo when Rex and I played habulan along the trail ( san ka pa, feeling lang namen nasa patag kame ), reminiscent of kids who didn’t mind of any, just playing.  And I can’t help laughing when he partly bullied those guys we met along for the purpose of finding our soulmates, hahaha.I remember the guy named Darwin, what a cutie!

We also have good times in the falls. The continuous water from above was definitely a sight and seems inviting. The sporadic miniscule amount of fallen water that slightly slaps my face was hard to resist and so with the team who hadn’t planned of taking a dip but gave in. And who wouldn’t give an infectious grin when Rex did a temptation island pose ( Gardo, ikaw ba yan? ) at the rock. Everyone really enjoyed which was evident with the pleasure seen on each faces. Another first I got, this was my first taste of a real falls ever. Hey, haven’t I just enumerated lots of firsts? We were flooding with firsts. Two-thumbs up!

It rained totally just as exactly when we were back at the trail like it congratulates us for such a great climb. And what a great climb indeed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roadtrip: Seven Lakes of Laguna and Beach Camping at Sariaya Quezon

These days, I prefer taking my time and immersing myself on the great outdoors, so imagine the agony I felt when Pedring takes its toll on our supposedly major climb set in Mt. Napuluaun in Benguet, making the roads not passable, breaking the bridge in Lagawe to name a few. The team was absolutely down but good enough to understand that it was all for safety reasons.

I actually have apprehensions of going even when the cancellation was not yet posted since there is another storm to pass through. I’m not that ready to be stranded and left in the open thinking of how to brave such whenever we will be caught in the middle by this. The feeling was a mixture of distress and relief, though the former was  stronger than the latter.

That same day, I ran random calls on my former audit buddies in Puregold. I was thinking of how to spend the weekends, a drinks or something or simply meet up and talk for anything that would quench the thirst of our postponed climb. I was in the middle of a busy tone when I received an invite from Sir Jim for a road trip. Literally, I could hear angels singing. Yay!

So road trip it is, we settled ourselves to run around the famous seven lakes in San Pablo Laguna. Prior to the big day, I spent an overnight at Sir Jim’s since I was the only one coming from the metro. Well, I got the bonus of having a smart conversation with him, talking randomly about life, school, diploma etc, name it .Indeed, an appetizer for the road trip.

The next morning we started off as early as 4:00am to prepare and around 5:00am we were already in the streets to meet the team at a certain gasoline station somewhere in Bacoor, Cavite. We were actually expecting a group of five since JR mentioned that he can’t so Sir Jim contacted his old friend Arvin. Last minute JR says if he can still catch up so we ended up as a group of six jolly road trippers namely : Sir Jim ,Takumi, JR, Connie, Arvin and of course me.

After a hefty breakfast shared through petty talks and laughter around 8:30am at Jollibee we passed through along Batangas, we headed for our first lake. We got few lost rounds finding the lake though, but hey...we just laugh it all out on our way through, after all this is a road trip. What’s even funny was that we even had a running chant that goes like this- Isa, dalawa kaliwa…Isa,dalawa kaliwa…- a direction actually given by a local whom we ask  along the way. And Arvin who knew Sir Jim better than us was good enough to let us have a sneak peek of the latter’s childhood sweethearts. Hahahahaha , who was that again Sir Jim? ( Peace!)

By 9:12am we were able to set foot on our first at last!

Lake Bunot

Lake Bunot is located in Brgy. Conception and has a convenient site for picnic or overnight camping with a good view of the entire lake few steps away. Just don’t forget to ask permission from nearby locals.After almost thirty minutes of embracing ourselves with the view and picture taking ( of course, mawawala ba ito? ) we braced down for our second, Lake Calibato.

Lake Calibato

The lake is in Brgy Sto. Angel and stays as my close second ( Yambo and Pandin are my favorites) out the seven lakes we had been into. It’s a perfect trip for mountaineers like us because one should do a minor trekking down to the lake. It also has a rewarding view of Mt. Banahaw plus a spot for e-camping, perfect for emo or solitary moments.

Around 10:30 we made ourselves ready for the next two: Lake Pandin and Lake Yambo. These two were neighbors located at Brgy San Lorenzo and turned out to be my favorites and so with the team I suppose.

Lake Pandin

We were just being blessed for this trip as this again requires trekking from the jump off point. Lake Pandin has also a majestic view from afar and do have a floating balsa/bamboo raft with a cottage that seems to invite you for a tour towards the beauty of the lake. Perfect for lovers ( ehem… ) , truth be told, I have imagined myself  riding in that balsa with my prince charming.Lol!

Lake Yambo

Our next stop was Lake Yambo which is adjacent to Pandin. This one was my topmost pick among the seven. Aside from the upward trekking we made for almost thirty minutes, the lake has extra bragging rights for its picturesque view from atop. It reminds me of post cards way back in my primary years and you know those days when calendars were boasting of beautiful places? I think I’ve seen this lake in there.

On our way back, we took a rest at the house of Ms. Lilibeth. She then welcomed us and answers whenever the group drops queries occasionally. But what really caught my attention was the sight of her six children with ages ranging from 2months to seven. I always melt at the sight of young children uncared even if they’re not in any way related to me. I really hope those kids could go to school through college and even silently praying their parents could take responsibility in capital letters (excuse me for being mushy). They actually gave Sir Jim an idea that they could be the next SMILE beneficiaries which we practically agreed upon.

So much for the melodrama, we descend back to Pandin around 12:00 noon. Four down! By this time, we’re hungry so after we help ourselves withthree liters of freezing soft drinks we headed back to take lunch somewhere and ended up in a mami marathon. T’was was really good, we can’t be satisfied with just a single mami soup serving, each of us got two!

Our next stop in line was Lake Mohicap and Lake Palakpakin.

Lake Mohicap

Lake Mojicap (or Mohikap) is in Barangay Sta. Catalina that also requires trekking down. Another recommended site for emo and soul searching for the view is also captivating and serene that we stayed there for almost an hour just by having a random talk on anything.

Lake Palakpakin

From there, we drove to Lake Palakpakin In Brgy. San Buenaventura. The lake has a bridge view between Brgy. San Lorenzo and Brgy. San Buenaventura. We were in time to catch the sight of children taking a dip in the lake and having fun jumping from the bridge down to the water. Awesome!

After Lake Palakpakin, we were deciding where to spend the night. After series of inquiries and unanswered phone calls to one of Sir Jim’s researched place to stay with we’re down to beach camping at Sariaya Quezon. Yay! The travel itself with each other was pandemonium! Having Arvin as the master in kalokohan, fun was really overflowing.I really enjoyed every second of trip, the welcoming presence of the beach, the taste of a new dish- Capiz,  much more with our socials that night that simply outdo those I have in the mountains. This was the BEST, so far.

The next day we headed back in San Pablo for our final lake to complete the seven, the Lake Sampaloc.

Lake Sampaloc

Lake Sampaloc is the largest among the lakes. There's a view deck near the city hospital yet we opted to trek down to the lakeside to get a much clearer view.

There you go, we’ve just completed the famous seven lakes and now it’s time to let our taste buds get acquainted with what Kusina Salud has to offer.For a heads up, this resto got good reviews in some blogger’s account and so the trip won’t be a hit without having to dine there.

However, Kusina Salud was now named Patistito which get us little confused along the way. The restaurant was more like of a garden with its different plants and a mini zoo at the back. The settings also are somewhat Spanish inspired, something like in old days that is evident in every corner from the design and through its interior. One of the staff disclosed that Kusina Salud was formerly managed by the children of Patis and Tito Tesoro and acquired by the parents sometime in April 2011. Hence, Patistito was born.

I'm usually not a fan of restaurant or any dining places around but the menus there were throbbing me with excitement over the thought of trying it so I had to see it for myself. First served was their free appetizer, the Pako Salad.
Picture of Pako Salad

Though I have not eaten pako for almost nine years yet it still was a comforting familiar dish to me but this time with a twist. I used to eat this one as gulay.Sir Jim wanted it with vinegrette but I wanted it that way, definitely a way to start off a HUGE meal.

( Place the picture of foodies here Sir Jim )

We ordered Bulalo,Fried Lumpiang Ubod, Inasal Diablo ( chicken that was soooooooo diablo in spice). Though I have nothing to compare with ( Im a Jollibee and McDo babe), I can say that the food and service are great. Highly recommended and definitely a must-try!

Looking at the team, I could sense content in their faces same as mine even though we were welcomed by always almost drizzling weather on our way home.Thankfully, we deposited ourselves safely in our homes, just the way wanted it to be.

The road trip in general remains special in my heart because that occupies some of the firsts I have now in my list. Again, I cannot end this without saying my deepest gratitude to the organizer. Thank you so much Sir Jim, for being such a person with a big heart, big enough to accommodate a near to stranger category me in your list too…:D

Photo credit: Jimmar D. Lagazo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Twelve (12) in Twenty Twelve (2012)

Dear SMB,

I don’t really make wishes in Christmas Days because I’ve been in 8 Christmases alone ( turning 9 this year ) nor do some New Year’s resolution for I only end up dragging myself to things vaguely written and a far-cry to be materialized.

I dunno why I am writing this in the first place. Is it the workload piled up in my table ( I hate cramming but hey, I can’t seem to organize my itinerary these days )? Or am I inspired of M’Abel’s blog about her 101 in 1001 entries ( 101 things to do in 1001 days)? Maybe yes for the latter..or I just wanted to set things I will be looking forward for the coming year, sort of… I guess.. Whatever the reason maybe I give the thought into writing anyway…

This is a no wish lists of must-have in my birthday, nor childish bubbles or something, I am 26 years old for that, hello? Not a wish to make everyone be responsible and kind, because that would mean a total clean up for the universe, just like what GOD did in Noah’s time, not even asking for a prince charming, well, I would be glad if it will be given ( in hilarious giggles, duh! who wouldn’t?).

It’s been quite a while since I embraced myself with outdoors. I believe even if I would have been years younger or some years ahead I will end up as a mountaineer just the same. Talk about passion, you know…( in Pacman’s way, yu no! hihihi ). So here I am after joining the training climb you have organized last September 10-11, 2011 at Mt. Natib in Orani Bataan I found myself dreaming of another 12 mountains I’d like to climb in 2012. Don’t ‘ya think it’s early? Maybe…But, I opt to write it here though.

After reading reviews after reviews (in between my busiest day ever!), I have listed down the following as my top picks for next year...

1. Mt. Ugo – was discovered in 1987 when a PAL plane crashed on one of its slopes
2. Mt.Amuyao - the summit shows a breathtaking panorama of the entire Cordillera range
3. Mt. Makiling –famous for its guardian fairy named Maria Makiling…sooooooooo Pinoy, talk about legends.
4. Mt. Pulag via Akiki Trail – has a very difficult trail but the more it calls my human quest for challenge
5. Mt. Banahaw – a home for Rizalistas and other cults and believe to be the "New Jerusalem"
6. Mt.Isarog - has a rich biodiversity and beautiful views
7. Mt. Pinatubo – just like to be part of this historical mountain, famous for its eruption which had put the Philippines in uproar
8. Mt. Tarak Ridge – has a rewarding view at the summit wherein you could see the whole view of Bataan, Manila Bay and the tall buildings in Metro Manila.
9. Mt. Asog- a majestic sun rise can be viewed from its summit.
10. Mt. Batulao – the summit of Mt. Batulao offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the Batangas landscape, including Taal Lake and Volcano, and Balayan Bay
11. Mt. Famy ( Romelo ) – famous getaway for mountaineers and commonly called as the "land of the falls" because of the countless waterfalls you can find there .
12. Mt.Halcon - provides a breathtaking view of landscapes in the municipality of Baco in Oriental Mindoro.

Twelve is only a handful compared to hundreds of mountains we have in the Philippines. To those that are not included in my picks, there are more years ahead…Needles to say, this only a miniscule near to life attempt of building a more solid camaraderie with you, of making myself look forward for next year…of getting more closer to HIM through mountains with you…

Suffice it to say, I would like to thank you SMB for sharing with my first climb…Good times, indeed!


Ms. Gala

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Conquering Mt. Natib - My First Climb with SMB

"It’s been three months since I joined SMB. The moment I registered, I promised myself that I will dare go out of my comfort zone, test myself beyond my limits and at the same time explore the world behind what I could imagine."

So, that dawn of September 10, 2011 I challenged my thin and almost skinny frame through a 1255m steep climb to a mountain called Mt. Natib in Orani Bataan. This was my first ever climb that I didn’t have a decent sleep the night before.  Not that I have qualms of climbing but because of sheer excitement of what to expect curled the whole me.

Our team composed of fourteen outdoor enthusiasts headed by S’Jim and another thirteen namely: Takumi, Lenzi, Jann, Billy,April, JR,Nhan, Connie,Roshan, Albert and Mart,our guest climber Wreckz and me, was welcomed by the scorching heat of the sun as we arrived at the tricycle area at Brgy. Tala, Orani Bataan. It was raining hard the day before so I am not complaining with heat actually. Well, not yet.

We had our team pass through a military post to register, stopped at the first gate, rest a little and said some prayers for guidance. As usual I lost for any coherent sentence to say. Around 11:00am we started to trek.

Registration Area
Photo Credit: Rex Santos
I summoned myself with confidence and mental preparedness but honestly I was fighting with my courage not to complain in the first thirty-forty minutes. Back then I was starting to feel the strenuous gravity effect in my legs, the unbeatable heat and the feeling of vomiting anytime. I have myself to blame for not eating a breakfast beforehand. ( ako na excited!). All of that in the first half hour, still in an open trail and with an easy hike at that.

Open trail
Photo credit: Rex Santos
However, the character of fortitude and willpower never left me and so with the group who would suffer if I fail. I entertained myself with the thought of the beauty we were passing through and more. I slowly adapted myself and learned how to finally survive the ordeal. It’s a lot of convincing that there’s more ahead for us waiting to be explored. So why give up that early?

Mt. Natib view from The Gate
Photo Credit: Rex  Santos
The trekking continued, and it was a pure bliss when the pacer says take five or ten in between. Of course it would not be completed without flooding lenses of cute or wacky poses whenever there’s a picturesque background along the way. Well, except for Roshan who fascinated himself with limatik (ground leech), insects and anything that satisfies his quest for unfamiliar or something that just excites his adrenalin. Shudders at the thought.

Around 1:00 pm we have reached the hut that was believed to be the last water source, had our lunch, filled our bottles and took a little rest we needed for the journey ahead. 

Photo credit: Rex Santos
After an hour the trek resumed. The trail was starting to get tougher and more punishing with its interchanging path by the side of the mountain with gradual up and down slope.But I’ve never seen someone from the group who’s about to give up, even at the time when we realized that we’re lost in the trail. But being lost doesn’t mean we’ve also lost the enthusiasm, it’s the falls at the dead end of the trail that rewarded our journey.

Photo Credit: Rex Santos
Not feeling defeated,we headed up for an emergency camp while, I simply entertained myself and amused with the presence of these thirteen people who shared my passion to savor the wonder of nature as we encountered interesting "friends" - limatiks, muddy and slippery trail, unknown insects, etc. who welcomed us to its vastness.The rain that seemed to christen us who were all newbies to Mt. Natib and the birds that sang hospitably as if we were welcome guests.It may not be a haven for city bums but it was indeed a heavenly experience. Ahhh, the beauty of living a simple life! And call it DIVINE protection or what…we accidentally set our camp in front of the right trail. Imagine how HE works. And HIS guidance sent to our team lead who stood firmly on his decision not to continue at the dead end.

During our breakfast the next morning, the group, in high spirits decided to go to the summit around 7:30 am.I was silently contemplating of going or not. For a first timer, I have already communed myself with the nature the past day, what else should I miss? Getting to the summit is rather optional but I will be experiencing only a fraction of true hiking experience if I won’t. So I jump in with gusto and followed the lead.

Photo Credit: Nhan Sulit

One missed step!
Photo Credit: Nhan Sulit

It was another one and a half hour of grueling paces, tramps, crawl and scramble through a slippery and muddy trek of 45-90 degrees elevation. It was HIS care and the determination to finish the climb the only gadgets we could hold unto.I won’t regret the moment I scrambled myself through the wall (with the rope), the time when S’Jim asked me, " Will you still climb?" With a growing passion though I was barely making it, I answered "Of course".
Rope Section
Photo Credit: Nhan Sulit

Hiking through a foot-wide trail alongside deep abyss wasn’t easy but we were rewarded with the panoramic view of the neighboring mountains at the summit. Everyone allowed themselves to be enraptured by the view and just merely enjoying while taking most of the moment at the peak. Honestly, I cannot get a hold of what I really felt that time. I was a planet of emotions. I felt like crying when we offered prayers for Adrian Alba, a fellow mountaineer who died in Wawa River a couple of weeks ago.
Photo Credit: Rex Santos

And even when we went down and on our way back to Manila, I was like floating. It’s a mixture of whew! I made it to the peak! And everything that happened just kept on circulating in my head. … Anyway, I was thankful for the group descended unscathed except for minor cramps and limatik bites that was bearable.

Thanks Mt. Natib Team
Photo Credit: Lenzi Macabeo

I’m also thankful for the support and patience from the group whenever I go too slow and  the camaraderie that was developed during the climb and at the socials. Moreover, I am truly grateful that  I've finally embarked on my first climb. Good times indeed!

So where’s the next stop? Yeah, Hi  Mt. Napulauan! Sixteen something enthusiasts will be dating you at the end of this month…so please be kind. Lol!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary SMB!

I met them one night last July 9,2011 as I tirelessly goofed myself through the world wide web... myself hooked with the web's tagline that I ended up registering myself as a member...
...made my way to get involved with forums and posted topics...
...laugh some more through my paperworks as I tag along with them online on shout box..
...met a handful of them in flesh last August 11,2011 and shared a hefty laugh through french fries and coke float as the meeting went along...

That started it all...
They have this unfathomable image that I can't help myself get deeper with the SMB family...Joining them is more of welcoming myself to the people who shares the same passion as I have...mountaineering..

I still have the vivid memories of our 7th year anniversary held at La Colina Resort last August 20-21, 2011.The event is an experience to treasure.The food, presentations, games and the program in general served its purpose. I have been into team buildings, outings, gimmicks before yet being with them gave me a profound idea that there is beauty of going out your comfort zone through joining and meeting new bunch of nice peeps like them for the first time...well,  with just yourself.And knowing them first hand was an added bonus.

And who wouldn't forget the part where newbies were introduced? To say cool was an understatement...Really...Yes, I have my fair share of being one of a newbie but I did enjoy laughing my heart's out for every joke and "green statements"  delivered that leads into an infectious laughter!

I enjoyed the company of M' Tine and M' Lenzi as they had their so-called swimming lessons. Sir Takumi's funny strokes that he seems to be a pro.The " habulan" game in the pool that eventually ended up into girl talk session per say. Man, sharing with them your thoughts and listening to theirs was just as great.

I enjoyed some more on M' Lenzi's angelic voice as she hits on OPM notes, S' Billy's soulful voice as he beats some Ogie Alcasid's top charts and hey! who wouldn't want to listen S' Jovy's rendition of back to the 80's songs.This lad ( or should I say lass?) seems to have been blessed with endless sense of humor, I just can't help myself laughing into his punch lines that just gave the night a night. And lastly, S' Jim's awesome performance as he rocked Bon Jovi's It's My Life! The song has been constantly playing in my phone since then. And to other who did just great, BRAVO!

Fun was written all throughout the event, I must say...
And before I lost the chance to say the things I needed to say, for who knows if I'll live past a hundred or tomorrow a meteor falls and blows me into smithereens ( sounds familiar? , yeah it's Chico Garcia's line ),   this will have to suffice... ( emo mode )...Thank you SMBerks for the warm welcome and for the laugh shared together..

'Til my first climb and as I share my first SMILE with you...
Seven years and still counting...
Happy Anniversary!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Volunteerism: Philippine Children Mission

Date: December 13,2010
Location: Malolos, Bulacan
Beneficiaries: Philippine Children Mission
Fact: Philippine Children Mission is a Christian home providing ministry to disadvantaged children of persons afflicted with leprosy.

Audit talks,maximizing the fund:)

The kids sang as a welcome for us:)

Our angels

The team and our angels