By: Jade Rance Acidre
Philippine National Mountaineering Society (PNMS) scaled one of the most beautiful trails in the country. Mt. Napulauan is significantly important to complete a mountaineers portfolio. Joined by my wife Doc. Racquel Acidre, Jeno Acidre, Benjie Valeriano, Kenneth Gonzales Buena, Edwin Cuartero, Kuya Jimmy, Kuya Boyet, Lakwat Shella, Sir Carlos, Chief Guide Rammy and his porters and yours truly.
We thank everyone who joined the expedition. The time spent was truly amazing and worthwhile. Thank you to our guides porters...without you, the climb would be very difficult and less exciting. We also like to thank Kuya Benjie Valeriano for the Transportation, Gale Travel & Tours, Survivor Outdoor Shop, Mountain Adventure Project, Associated BlindsandDecors and Accon Designconstruct for the support.
Thank you to kuya Jimmy for Driving very patiently for 10 hours (22 hrs back & fort) and still managed to climb inspite all the obstacles. Thank you so much foe wearing sando...because of you nahawi mo ang lahat ng LIMATIK! :)
Thank you to our guest climbers; Ma'am Shella or better known as Lakwat Shella and her Bf Carlos Garcia..thank for joining and sharing your time with PNMS Family. We really enjoyed your company.
This climb is dedicated to the men and women of PNMS Family.
More power to us all! :)
BY: JULIUS LADIOS ROMAN
Three years in the making. Several invitations. Finally, it’s about to conquer me. I am about to surrender to its beauty, mystery, magnificence and harsh conditions.
Will I succumb to defeat? Will I give in to pressure? Will I lose this battle against myself? Will my knees tremble like in the name of love?
This is the outdoors Julius. Leave love for the meantime. XD
Departing the PNMS headquarters before Friday midnight brought us to the unassuming community of early Filipino settlers, the Aetas, in Dampay Salaza in Palauig, Zambales (close to six hours of driving).
Nanay Beth and her co-tourism personnel greeted us with warm smiles and gladly organized all information-gathering for our group of ten. Registration fee is at 30pesos per hiker/visitor while guide/porter fee is pegged at 700pesos (going up and down the mountain, weight limit should stay within 15kgs).
A quarter before seven saw our steps land into the world of solitude and unknown. Desolate and lonely, this is the once-mining location for chromite. And even in small-scale, it continues to do so. Wide and rocky, trucks used to take this road up to almost 2000masl. I almost got my panghilod here
It was a sight to behold as the trail began to show us an exact opposite of what’s instore for every hiker who challenges himself here. The West Philippine Sea is inviting together with its long coastline. I could just remember my one-day surfing escapade. And I ended-up with no washboard abs.
The adrenaline inside me pumped that much excitement in me that carried us into KM7 first water source in less than three hours.
“That was quick. Good pace!”, our trusted leader told us.
“We should be there as early as two or three in the afternoon. Let’s have lunch at the 10km mark second water source,” he added.
We pushed on. As hard as we can, still smiling and just being the students of life that we are. We marveled at God’s creation. Life is beautiful though the journey might suggest otherwise.
The halfway mark already provided a glimpse of what’s to come. Kuya Jimmy is now suffering from cramps. I dread this. And another dreadful situation would be rain pouring from giant dark cottons in the sky.
“We’re already there,” I mumbled. We will all be there, my personal belief kicking in after a hearty lunch of spicy pork and beans and some good old crackers.
I brought the rear of the group. This gave me some time to recover as well. I am heavy as well as my pack. The rain started to join in on the fun too. Darn!
Deceit killed me. The smiling flowers along the first pine forest area provided much energy boost until I learned I’m still far from finishing the enduring task of getting into campsite.
The windchill factor never joined the equation. Good! Someone we enjoyed the path of false hope.
“We’re still far from campsite,” Kuya Wilmer, our guide told us.
That place gave us just enough to finish the task. The rain really poured it in this time. The cold situation that I am in fast tracked my cramps.
I would stop by at every curve and before every assault. I am gathering enough energy to propel me to the next hurdle.
The finally, kilometer15 where the guard house is. Campsite alas! And we don’t have to trek until kilometer17 or so to pitch camp. Sweet! And it’s just about around four in the afternoon. <3
We took the opportunity of fixing our camping area while the rain is on break. We did it and hurriedly prepared an early dinner.
Due to unrelenting rain, we skipped the classic socials segment. Pack-up!
Next thing I knew, I was in dreamland snoring. And soon enough, I was up again. The wind was just howling throughout the night.
But as with every story, morning will come and rise from the east.
And it’s time to claim the prize. Off to the summit! After breakfast that is.
After fixing some things, we hurried off to the summit.
It’s still close to two hours of trekking to the summit from the campsite and I passed by some interesting things to see like the one below.
The world tree at the summit was magnificent as well as the numerous flora in the area.
Summit was reached around nine. We would trek back to camp before ten and proceeded as required, reaching basecamp just in time for meryenda.
What this climb taught me is to be patient. What this climb instilled in me is the proper attitude when nothing goes right according to plan. What this climb would like to express is to continue for as long as we endure and persevere, a great reward is just waiting around the corner.
Look at the calendar. Oh no, your climb is just a month away. You have to start training now. The best method to train yourself in any activity is to stimulate yourself into that activity. Therefore, in mountain climbing, the basic skill needed is hiking. So before you head out to that climb, you should grab a pack and begin a regime including hiking exercises that has low intensity cardiovascular exercise.
Give yourself two to six weeks in this kind of regime. At the end of that period, you would have known the basic mountain climbing skill.
1. The first two equipments you should purchase are a back pack and hiking shoes. For first timers, try not to buy expensive gears and it would be a waste of money if they will only use it that one time. A practical choice is better.2. Choose a small mountain or a hill near where you live.
3. Plan your exercise program. Make sure that the intensity and the length of the whole routine increases gradually.
Let’s say for example in the first week, you trek for thirty minutes thrice a week. In the second week, you go for forty five minutes carrying 15 to 30 lbs of weights with you for three to four times a week. In the third week, you go for an hour with 30 to 45 lbs of weight with you for three to four times a week. In the fourth week, ease on the weight and go for one or two sessions.
Next thing you know, you’re ready for your climb.
Just remember to adjust your program when called for. A particular routine isn’t appropriate to everybody. Weights are added and reduced, depending on the body type of the hiker.
Here are some important mountain climbing tips:
1. Your pack should have weights in the form of the water bottles. This is because they won’t tear up your back pack. You can also dump the water when you reach the peak so that you don’t put tension on your knees when you climb down.
2. Use poles for trekking. These lessen the strain in your knees when you ascend and descend.
3. Don’t rush yourself. Keep it slow and steady. Start and stop depending on your productivity. By listening to music, the rhythm is set.
4. Have realistic goals. If you push yourself too hard, you will only hurt yourself. Before your climb, stretch and stay hydrated. You should also rest two days before the expedition.
IT ALL BEGAN HERE.
It all started in 2009 when PNMS (Philippine National Mountaineering Society) organized the phenomenal Independence Day celebration which later became the 1st Annual Freedom Climb. The event was well attended and recognized by different municipalities; local government units; and other non-governmental organizations. It was a momentous occasion as thousands of mountaineers from different localities registered from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and simultaneously sung the National Anthem and held an Independence Day ceremonial at the peak of more than 50 mountain destinations. At that time, we were overwhelmed and surprised by the numbers of participant and continued to be surprised every time. We envisioned a unified mountaineering community in our country and took the opportunity to become a role model of Nationalism and environmentalism. It was a long trial and error process and a lot of commitment before we came to this point.
Moreover, having realized the impact of such big events in our environment and numerous calls from different outdoor organizations and environmentalist groups, we are going to make some major reboot in implementing FC2012. It is now time to move on to better things, higher causes and make a difference. The succeeding events opened our eyes that the outdoor community is in fact a growing industry and we find this self-evident as more and more people turn to mountaineering as an alternative weekend activity not to mention the growing industry related business sector who expressed their willingness to be a part of this event. In this light, we know that we can help in promoting domestic and local tourism in the Philippines. Tanay, Rizal is a good venue for this event and we intend to focus our attention in making Tanay, Rizal the host of FC2012. Specifically, we shall setup our program at Tanay Adventure Camp located at Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay Rizal on June 9 – 10, 2012…”All roads lead to Tanay, Rizal as far as mountaineers are concerned”.
Rest assured that we will do our very best to make this event memorable to us and the community.
Pack, no matter how heavy it might be, check! Lights check. Food, I'll never go hungry, check. Warmers, I got enough body fat, check. Survival instincts and first aid kit, check. Lessons taught by my seniors, in my heart kept locked. Or else they might delay my induction if I fail to bring with me my senses. This was my second time in Mt.Pulag. I was here back in December as my year-end climb with my good buddy Mark. I told myself I'll earn my badges as a mountaineer. I'll take on the hardest challenges there is and the harshest weather my host world would give me. This time it's different. This time's more special. This time it's bigger than what I could ever imagine. This is Freedom Climb 2011. Six hours away from Manila, the Mt.Pulag Tawangan Party was greeted with light rainshower and a cup of taho at four in the morning in Baguio City. It says 1000+ MASL in Edwin's highly technical watch. Good enough to be counted in our world record attempt.
Without further ado, we headed to DENR Mt.Pulag National Park office via Charlie's jeepney, a relative of the well-known mountaineer's pilot Mang Roger. Of course, we didn't fail to stop at occasional places like the Ambuklao Dam and Pinkanjo over Jangjang's. Mam Daisy headed our orientation. "...the bloody trail," Ms.D exclaimed. "It can't be," I said to myself. Good thing, I have reservations for them leeches or limatik as they call it in Tagalog.
Mam Mering's comic relief is nowhere to be found. But just the same, it's the cozy welcoming atmosphere of the Benguet highlands that warms everyone's heart. As soon as arrangements we readied our buns (do they call them butts?!) towards roughing-it-up roads. We passed-by Duacan of Akiki jumpoff and a zero-crime Brgy.Ballay.
This barangay really fascinates me. They sell no liquor. Instead, they sell you Yakult. Good for the stomach. Weird but true. No crime. Just pure love. Sa wakas something peaceful.
We reached Tabeo Lake at the foot of Mt.Tabayoc. Some snaps here and there and we hurriedly boarded Pinky the jeepney. She's going to take us to Ambulalacao Lake for a quick view (kung makakalusot, kaso hindi). Mang Charlie refused to since he has to go back to Baguio and fetch fellow mountaineers bound for Ambangeg the next morning. Alas, Brgy.Tawangan. Our jumpoff to the playground of the Gods. After filling-up our reservoirs, our guides Mang Rudy and Mang Alex led us to this so-called shortcut. The common trail from Tawangan would take us longer than usual to reach the camp with water source via Taaw river. And since it's almost three in the afternoon the group decided that we take the shorter route and cover until a supposed e-camp. Lo and behold, it wasn't easy. No one said it would be easy. Halfway, Norman was already bleeding a bit profusely from leech bite. His white and green outdoor shoes almost red from being pink.
We reached camp at around seven. Everyone stood together. No one trekked alone. This is our team. Made sure no one is left out to fend for himself. For awhile, we soothed ourselves with warm dinner of soup, rice and dilis. It is enough to give us cushion against sharp rocks and large tree roots that will serve as our resting place. Enough to replace blood lost. The moon rose above. The chilling part never made himself available. The montane area can either be amazing or downright eerie. We called it a night quickly for tomorrow's never-ending quest to reach high heavens. To join the Gods, even for an instance of immortality.
Rising early, we packed our lunch and grabbed some coffee. We had a brief meeting to realign ourselves once more. No one's to drift away from our goal. Mike and Jhonny of the Lyceum Drinking Team whisked away through the thick foliage of the montane forest. They were gone in a blink of an eye. Serving at the back is our President Jeffrey Famatiga of Philippine National Mountaineering Society with Marvin and Edwin. A couple of hours more and we reached the ridge which gave us a view of the grasslands of Mt.Pulag.
It gave us a glimmer of hope that quenches our thirst more than what our drinks could give. It revitalizes our body more than what our common trail food could provide. Finishing our lunch, along the trail the group converges. A check on everyone and our specific roles.
It's important to brief everyone every now and then. We as lovers of nature tend to get lost in an instant once we're caught in awe by the surroundings. Others only knew fun without thinking of the welfare of mother nature. We continued our way up. Everything was bright and clear. The anito's gifted us much more when reach the grassland. Upon entering a vast field of dwarf bambooes, they, the Anito's greeted us with rainshower. They welcomed our presence. Refreshing just like a bottled water commercial splashing on your heat-strewn face.
We could see everyone from Camp 2. The trails that lined-up to Camp 3 and it's happy campers. Marvin and I only knew one thing, to reach camp before fog and cold winds set in. Passing-by the lonely tree of Mt.Pulag and it's summit while being conquered by Reign from Ambangeg, we're just happy to see everyone at the camp. It's like fiesta! Colorful tents beside one another, campers mingling around checking on each other's pan cooking their dinner. This is it! Once again, we warmed ourselves with stories made even better by Freedom Climb kits distributed to every group. We we're one once again then rain poured in. Howling winds and occasional drizzle made me ask for more so as to give us the clearing we'll be needing tomorrow morning. The sea of clouds everyone was longing for. The gift of nature a hiker would trek for hours.
The majestic sun rose kissing everyone like a mother would to her son. It was a perfect morning. Perfect backdrop to everyone's pictures and video. Hikers were everywhere. From the summit, to it's sides and just about every magnificent angle that would showcase the grand scene only a few could witness. Borrowing a camera from my very good friend Rhona, I took snaps like I have such a huge capacity. I need to document everything from day zero to day two. I'll be writing a story about this event and post it in every imaginable paper I could. I would share the story via pictures. A photo essay! I will tell this story over and over again to anyone who would come my way.
My eyes welled-up as the national anthem was sung. Even more so as the FC theme played. I could only bow my head and move at the back. But yes, it made me realize even more how lucky I am to be a Filipino. How proud it is to belong in a Malay race wearing brown skin and black hair.
From there I vow to be more vigilant in defending the freedom once lost. I vow to be more protective of this archipelago's biodiversity. I vow to practice discipline in able to uplift this nation's stature to world-class. I vow to uphold the values and traditions my elders have passed on. This is an enduring fight. I, as a mountaineer, will keep afloat the hopes and burning aspirations of my mother land. This is Freedom Climb.