Mt. Mabilog Misadventures (Part 1): Mountain Lessons

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I’m officially jobless today. And for the next fifteen (or more) days, I’ll be a useless citizen in addition to those thousands of job hunters around the country. While this sounds depressing, I’d rather like to look at the brighter side ‒ this means that I have a lot of time to spare to fix a few broken things, have a good breath of fresh air, have a luxurious time to exercise this art called blah-ging, and probably, for the first time in incredibly long time, have a long good sleep as I don’t have to worry about waking up early the next day. Meanwhile, irony struck me as I ran out of something to write about now that I have all the time on earth to waste. So I’m taking a few steps back in time.. February 13, 2013 -- that was the day we had the most problematic, yet for me, was one of the most memorable climbs so far. Our next climb was at Mt. Mabilog, and before I spill the climb details, here are a few life lessons I was able to realize during and after the climb. True story :)

Small dreams stir no man’s heart. I used to be playing on the safe zone, focusing on hills I already climbed. Until I tried to risk on things, do some meaningful, life-changing ways, including climbing mountains which are totally foreign to me. This year, with some friends, I started to cross my boundaries. We started climbing real mountains (well it’s easy to conquer your personal mountain without ever stepping onto an actual peak, if you know what I mean). Conquering a real, tangible mountain, is a whole different story. I used to have a terrible fear of heights back then (and until now), but after a couple of hikes, I’m near to convincing myself that I have somehow overcame this fear already, at least.

Benefit of the Doubt. The heavy rains crashed our overnight quest to Mt. Batulao that day but the unplanned plan B came out spontaneously. Our goal was to find an alternate, easier climb, just nearby. It was raining hard the previous nights so I was partly hesitant about the plan. I remember someone once told me, “When in doubt about something, drop it” from which I later realized that the quote was Benjamin Franklin's. Nevertheless, I refused to listen to what that someone (OR Benjamin Franklin) was saying. Despite the unpleasant weather, we wholeheartedly pushed with the hike. The next thing I knew, we were already on our way to the site.

Not until we’re lost do we begin to understand ourselves. The fallback climb was at a mountain on the outskirts of San Pablo and Nagcarlan Laguna; Mt Mabilog they call it. But then, like any other peak, (even at 428 MASL), this mountain should never be underestimated. As we chose the hard way (Sta Catalina jump-off) to reach the peak, hard way do we get. In the midst of the trail, we were literally, lost. The supposed two-hour hike was doubled and there were parts of the trail where the trail was literally not visible. In the midst of vastness and nothingness, we relied on our guts and went on. As I learned from someone, there are times when turning around, is simply not an option. So there.. we kept on climbing. 

If the mountain were smooth, you couldn’t climb it. Sure enough, the climb was hard as the trails were smooth. We were racing with gravity with mud all over the place. We spent the day trailing behind each other up slopes lush with dark browny dumps scrabbling over loose grass. The terrain was slippery. Some of us slipped and slid as we scrambled our way up the mountain. I remember someone once quoted, “A smooth road, requires a smooth walk”. Good thing, the weather still worked on our favor; it didn't rain hard throughout the climb.

And then we climbed. After nearly four hours of wandering on uncertainties, we’re convinced we’ve reached our goal. We were triumphant to conquer yet another mountain on the list. We had a few more moments cherishing the view up there, a few minutes to capture the success through flashing lenses. Then we had our lunch before planning to descend on a much easier other trail. That moment, success never tasted so good, at least to me. Because after a long time, I celebrated with that someone who had been telling me things about life. That someone who had been telling me a lot about life. I know he had been with us during this climb. I saw him in the wild for a couple of times. He's my grandfather, the man I lost and said final goodbye to, a decade ago.

P.S. Belated Happy Fathers’ Day to you. And thanks for uniquely reminding me some of those simple things I always tend to forget (through this climb).


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