“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
17-18 April 2004: No sleep, very much excited, things not packed as good as a mountaineer, not enough energy and no experience at all. Woke up around 0400 and arrived at Brgy. Poblacion Cuenca, Batangas around 0600. Together with my Pitimini friends (Paul, Cesar, Yane, Dencio, Nelson, Nye, Kian, Bryan, and Dikoy) we registered at the barangay hall which is an SOP in every hiking activity and paid 5.00Php each for the registration fee.
I led a simple prayer, asking for guidance before we started the trek. I was astounded by a lot of new images that was exposed to my eyes, like rain forest, huge trees and its big roots, live snakes, different insects, huge rock formations, etc. On our way up, we saw one native family residing few kilometers away from the jump-off. We witnessed how simple the life of the native was, a simple bahay kubo (local term for bungalow house) with backyard vines and veggies, with rooster, hen and other animals playing around the vicinity, fresh water freely overflowing from the heart of the mountain and it was awesome seeing all those things which we just normally see in the elementary textbooks or in the postcard of old times. We did have a discussion and chat in the entire climb, but I noticed that in the last few minutes of our assault to summit, the talks and laughs were minimized. Exhausted? Haha. After almost two hours of walking and assault to summit, we had reached the top! It was an amazing and fulfilling feeling for me. The views were genuine and this was my first time to see the land and sea hundred meters up high. Take note, we were at 706+ meters above sea level (MASL).
Setting up the camp on top of the mountain was fun, I was also stunned to see that there were ‘sari-sari’ stores, but it only operates during weekends of peak season months (March-May). After setting up the camp, bags, gears and fixing a few stuff, some prepared the lunch and early dinner and the other decided to went different way down to get fresh water from the ’bukal’ (local term for water source). We had a refreshing wash and drink. And of course we can’t call it a day if we didn’t drink and mingle with other mountaineers. Having social drink and conversation to fellow mountaineers is one the cultures in mountaineering. You should observe it because it was enjoyable and bonding with people having same interest in life is overwhelming.
On the following day, before breaking dawn we went to another summit which is commonly known as ‘Rockies’ - a summit of beautiful rock formation. After the assault we had breakfast, break camp around 0900 and head back down to the simple bahay kubo we saw the other dayand had a refreshing bath before going home.
This was my first climb, a very strenuous but exhilarating adventure. That day, I promised to myself that I will never stop hiking and continue to explore the beauty and virginity of Philippine mountains.