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A Trek to the Mountains

Updated on June 22, 2011

A Half-Day climb to the Mountains

My trek to the mountains was unplanned last Sunday (May 29 2011). It happened when a couple visited my mother at our house near the highway selling one jackfruit for 10 pesos (2 cents).

The husband happened to be one of my avid fan when I was on the radio, often listening to my late night request and dedication show (Mr. Naga Tonight Show). His wife often go down the mountains selling their agricultural produce. They brought their electric lamp that need to be recharged. They didn't have an electrical connection yet; it's too far from the barrio's main electric line.

Their place is the first nearest mountain, overlooking the barrio plains, that we should climb that took about more than an hour, just to get there. We have to pass vast farmland, the Mabacong hill (infamous for the battles between rebels and the military men way back the early 80s), then crossing the brook (not stopping, huh!) and the climb. Their house is located at the shoulder of the first mountain, with the local highest peak, Puting Gapo (White Stone).

So,  the succeeding hours of going back to their place was tedious for me. I sweated a lot! It's been decades (early 90s) when I went to my parents coconut and abaca farm at the local mountain range (the Sierra Madre-the longest in mainland Luzon, Philippines). My high school and college education plus my job pinned me to the city life.

The Puting Gapo (White Stone) mountain by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
The Puting Gapo (White Stone) mountain by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
A sweaty Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
A sweaty Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
The couple that served as company to Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
The couple that served as company to Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
Brownie, Travel Man's dog (May 29, 2011)
Brownie, Travel Man's dog (May 29, 2011)

A Young Mountaineer

It was my dream to climb the mountain that I've been seeing for a long time in our place, that Puting Gapo. You can see the visible white big stone at a distance. It's been the place occupied by the natives, Aetas (original settlers), but was relocated by the local government due to the massive slash-and-burn farming at the fertile shoulders of that mountain.

My first taste of going to the mountains was during my third grade in elementary. Going to the mountains, about five kilometers from our house at the rice fields, can be very tiring since I requested my father to go with him. My parents tend our coconut and abaca farm, to earn a living aside from plating rice. I promised not to whine and through enough, I experienced the excitement and rigors of trekking several mountains.

At my young age, that's the only time I sweated too much. My thirst was so huge that when we reached our land, by crossing brooks, carabao paths, balite (huge parasite tree) roots, very steep and slippery paths, I almost gulped all the water content of the pitcher.

My roles in the mountain were:

  1. to draw and fetch drinking and washing water from the distant well. Going ups and downs of the farm house at the hill, can be tiresome; not to mention the strange bird sounds and sting of the mosquitoes.

  2. to cook rice while they're working. The homestead was far from the abaca site (manila hemp used for clothing and paper industries).

  3. to deliver drinking water for them.

The house to us was located at a distance, so, when nights came, I just busied myself listening to the radio soaps (dramas) to ease my fright. There was this night bird that when you mimic its call, more and more sounds will be heard. The locals called it tagkaro (tag-ka-roo). And the sound went nearer and nearer to house that I covered myself with blanket, until my father and his workers came for dinner.

The Chinese Bamboo by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
The Chinese Bamboo by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
Rice farm at the mountain by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
Rice farm at the mountain by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
Irrigation built by the couple by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)
Irrigation built by the couple by Travel Man (May 29, 2011)

My finds at the Mountain

The couple invited me to their house. They're the tenants of a wealthy family from our town, some even migrated to the USA.

With all the trust given to them, they were able to cultivate and planted:

  • a rice farm (that they keep on watch because of mountain rats.)
  • fish pond (They just harvested tilapia before the last storm.)
  • lots of young coconuts (some even have two or three trunks!)
  • abaca or manila hemp (related to banana)

Aside from it, the couple also built an irrigation to water their plants. And to top it all, they've been able to propagate an authentic Chinese bamboo that are slowly becoming popular in our barrio or village!

The couple gave me two trunks of that bamboo that can serve as a post on my shed house. they promised to sell me of the matured trunks at a discounted price; and a free lecture on how to propagate the branches (Wow!).

They've been humbled by my gesture to go with them without hesitation. Their children are all grown-up, some are married and the rest are working in Manila as factory worker and helpers. So, they missed them terribly.

With my presence, they were able to chat and shared memorable stories on how to thrive at the mountains.

By the way, the husband is fond of baiting wild chickens. I told them that the sarimanok, is already an endangered specie of wild chicken; much more with the wild cats, monitor lizards (we call it gutu) and the soft turtles that are endemic in the Philippines.

They also promised to gather tabagwang, a local edible fresh water shells that can be found mostly at the brooks , creeks and rivers, but also a diminishing race. Oh, that's my intention when I went to the mountain that day!

Before sundown, I was accompanied by the husband at the brook, I already know the way back to the village from there (LOL!) and thanked him as I said goodbye.

They promised to attend the fiesta the second week of June. They'll be dancing the night away. That's for sure!

A Trek to The Mountains c/o MrMusicman1971 (My official YouTube account)

A Climb to Mt. Everest starts here...

Recently, the Philippine Mountaineering team accomplished what it seemed to be impossible to achieve, climb the top of the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest! Imagine the cold weather (probably snow storm), thin air and the heights of going up there. An approximate height of 29, 000 feet and still increasing (as the Indian plate keeps pushing Everest's location). This peak XV (15) was named after the Surveyor General of India, Col.George Everest in 1865 by the Royal Geographical Society, although Col. Everest opposed this since 1857.

So, to start off with your desire to be an A-1 mountaineer, you can join and practice:

  • a local mountaineering club
  • climbing the nearest local mountain
  • vertical climb at the mall
  • jogging at the mountain

Or you can build a lodge or cove at the mountain. Some health experts say that the air pressure at the mountain can help your lungs be adoptable to different heights. Climbing mountains can left you catching breath. So, a practice is a must. If it becomes your routine, then, you'll be ready to climb your Mt. Everest!

Travel Man's muddy feet on the carabao path (May 29, 2011)
Travel Man's muddy feet on the carabao path (May 29, 2011)


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    • Arian Rey profile image

      Arian Rey 

      7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES)

      This is awesome! I'm glad you did recall your experiences when going to the mountains. It's been a long time, though...

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @dallas93444: Thanks for the appreciation, Sir!It must have been a busy weekend for me and an exciting one, too!

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Sandyspider: Hello, Ms. Sandy! That's what I felt when I retraced my steps on the mountain (LOL!). Hope I could fllow your hubs more often. I'm sure you're so busy like me.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Enjoyed. Flag up!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I don't think I am in shape to mountain climb, but the rest of it sounds so peaceful and fun.


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