Climbs and Treks

SMB 2011 Year-end Climb

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Just when the year was about to end, who would have thought another exciting and enriching activity would ever take place? The weather was perfect; no questions and hesitations from my parents--Dora’s back pack’s ready. And in an instant I was already in the company of outgoing and friendly individuals, who like me, initially just wanted to escape from the mundane routines of their lives.
The mountain is ranked 3/9 by the Mountaineering standard, which means it’s a relatively easy climb. I am in no position yet to gauge its veracity, for it was the first climb of my life. However, disregarding some steep slopes and the epic mount-down we experienced, I would say it was an easy one--mainly because it was made easy for me by my trail-buddies—Sir Albert and Sir Ad (Thanks buddies), and by everyone, for I was never dropped to oblivion.
This outdoor activity had been a good reflection activity as well for me, just in time for the New Year. Let me share to you my three-cent worth of thoughts:
1. You must strive hard to achieve whatever you want for.
Mountaineering has always been in my bucket list, but I had no time before. Thanks to my boredom months after I graduated, I googled ‘mountaineering groups in the Philippines.’ Lucky enough, I stumbled on this site, found it impressive, and joined it.
Climbing a mountain, like any other sports, is never easy. As one of my mountaineering pal, Ma’am Odhie, said it, “It doesn’t matter if it’s rated easy or difficult; you must be well-prepared both physically and emotionally when you’re in the mountains.” True enough, you must do your pre-climb part—exercise, have enough sleep, eat rightly, etc. Exercising alone is quite tough, especially to those who are not used to it (and I’m one of those). This is the most difficult part of anything—the initial stage—because you’re body’s shifting to a new environment; albeit, with proper determination, anything could be done.
The climb itself is the most difficult, yet the richest and the most fulfilling part. Because it’s an outdoor activity, here you’d encounter unfortunate events.  Steep trails, hunger, thirst, blazing heat of the sun, headaches, nosebleeds, storms, cold—name it. However, here you’d also find the best feelings you’d realize in your life—camaraderie, thoughtfulness, reverence, sincerity, love. It’s a whirlwind of ups and downs. You’d know what truly the most important things in your life, and they’re the simplest things you have but just failed to find their worth. You’d find different people you never knew there were such of kind, and it’s up to you how you’d accept them.
2. Set small goals for your grandiose goals.
Any mountain looks deceiving—altitudes almost beaming the skies, too impossible to be reached. The height itself is overwhelming; you couldn’t imagine how others, in everyday of their lives, climb it. But as they say it, “How would you eat a whole pig? Take a bit one at a time” I guess the same goes for everything.

During the climb, it wasn’t once when I threw mild tantrums (as I always do—saying “I couldn’t do this”); but it wasn’t also just once when my trail buddies reminded me that we were already reaching the top. From time to time, they asked me to look back and see how far we had gone off and it’s just some minutes to the top; and I was convinced we were reaching the top sooner. At most points, they gave me time to rest, drink water, and eat—they really made my climb less difficult, maybe they wouldn’t want to be blamed when after this I’d quit. Kidding aside. True enough, after two hours of mounting, I was amazed I was already at the summit. Being at the top of the mountain was so surreal, and it was one of the best feelings in my life.
3. it’s difficult going up than going down. And it’s a lot more difficult to mount up once you’ve fallen.
Gravity tells us this. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy going down. Actually it’s even harder to go down—the muscles use eccentric movement which causes the building up of lactic acid, which causes soreness. When you go down, still, you need to be wary of the trails, keep a balance, and keep an eye on everything. If you don’t, you’d experience being lost, like what happened to us. Because we were all exhausted that time, moving was made harder—we had to mount up on some trails, go down again, move up, and so on. I thought we were already heading to Mt. Batulao.
In our lives, we experience a lot of hardships in realizing our goals. Oftentimes, we also get lost, go to a different direction, and wander aimlessly until reality snaps back to us. And for most people, it’s really hard to accept the status quo. What they don’t realize is that they’re close to realizing their dreams—too close—but just lack the determination to push them.
Being close to nature makes you realize to go back to the basics of life—live simply. No wonder, sometimes, I’d just like to be a recluse (I was fascinated by Kong Ming of the The Three Kingdoms) and just observe the cycles of nature—the rotation of the sun, the winds, stars, trees, birds, etc. I want to unravel the earth, wander and get lost, and learn from these things.
It’s really been a good experience for me. And yes, to my mountaineering berks, it’s not my first and last climb. Just bear with me for the mean time and sooner, I hope, I could be as great as you.


Team Talamitam

Team Talamitam

Admin note: Sheryline a.k.a Sherryblossoms (center in the above photo) is a newbie in our group. I would like to thank her for this great write-up!!! I hope that this year 2012 and beyond, there will be more write-ups from our members. God bless!!!

My pilgrimage through zero visibility (At Mt. Pulag via amba-ambangeg trail)

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“We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how… Because once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight.”

-The alchemist, Paulo Coehlo


There’s something about the clouds that amazes me. It assembles into a certain shape which can convey the type of weather that would come about that moment, talked about the four types of clouds. It occupies space, floats on air, and goes along with its flow. What does it feel to be standing above it? Maybe that’s what being in cloud nine (nine feet above the clouds) literally mean, in euphoria, feels like floating on air (feeling high ba?!). However, in every goal you want to achieve entails hardwork. The desire to achieve it is not enough. Mental and physical preparedness should coincide to bear the long walks, withstand the coldness, and the unexpected conditions that awaited you. I climbed the second highest mountain in the Philippines with my SMberks last November 25-27, 2011, but I didn’t meet Mr. cloudy that time. I didn’t reach the summit, but the climb pushed me to my limits, built my patience, tested my faith and placed me in front of myself to face some realizations I’m going through in my life. The experience during the journey was worth to treasure rather than the destination.

The lucky 13, which consists of me with my SMberks, s’Jim with M’Lot, s’Mel with m’Sam, s’Leo with m’Do, m’Arisse, m’andrea, m’Riz, m’odhie, s’Jovy and s’Mike, met and departed at Victory liner in Pasay around 11:55 p.m. I couldn’t explain my feelings that time, but what I’m sure about was that includes palpitations, which may be due to excitement, fears, or anxiety. I was not worried about the climb, but I was more worried about the cold. “Gaano ba kalamig ang lamig???” Thank God I’m paranoid, because I brought a lot of personal effects to protect me from the unanticipated coldness.

It was a 5-6 hour travel going to Baguio. We arrived at the terminal around 6 am and fetched by the rented jeepney. Along our 4-hour jeepney ride was a fair but cold weather. I saw big and tall pine trees as we travel on a zigzag lane beside the mountains which made me nauseated and dizzy. We also had a stopover at ambuklao lake to have some group pictures and jump shots, stopped at Pingkan ni Jo eatery, and then, continued our travel going to the DENR station. While on the road, we saw dark clouds at the peak of the mountain, “Mukhang bumabagyo sa taas.”  We reached the DENR station, where we had some seminar about the mountain and LNT. We could already experience an alternating rainshowers, and fair weather at DENR. Then, after the registration, we ate our lunch and continued travelling by jeepney up to the ranger station. However, under a sunny blue sky, we were already travelling through a muddy to dusty, rough roads where we looked like a juggled, bouncing, balls inside the jeepney. In which, we needed to hold the hand rails both hands to go against its flow. There was a time that the jeepney could not pass through an ascent, but thanks to Ate Gina that she already anticipated that it could happen at that moment. There was a second jeepney which waited and helped pulled our jeepney up to the place where it could already proceed. The muddy, rough roads continued about two hours until  The rain and the strong wind continued as we started to trek from the ranger station up to the campsite 2 with Ma’am Ines as our guide. We took the ambangeg-ambangeg trail, which was about a three hour long walk through a watery, muddy, and slippery trails, on a mossy forests with some slopes, peaks and troughs.

@ Ambuclao Dam

Ambluklao Dam L-R (standing): Sam, Lot, Lenzi, Odhie, Riz, Dorothy; (sitting): Arisse, Andrea

@ Ambuclao

L-R (standing): Melskie, Jim, Leo; (sitting): Jovy, MikeA

When we arrived at the campsite 1, we had some rest at a shed, put down our bags to have some stretch, and ate our trail foods. We also met other mountaineers there, who were so wet and chilling. I heard one of them saying while stuttering due to coldness, “Grrrabbbe ang lllammmiggg sssaaa gggrassllllanddd!” Then we proceeded walking and met a female guide on our opposite way. We asked her, “Mam gaano pa po kalayo hanggang camp 2?” she answered, “Malapit na mga 20 minutes na lang.” We were so comfortable walking when I noticed that I was already tired saying, “Parang 40 minutes na tayong naglalakad parang ang layo pa rin?” I just realized that guides and porters walked very fast as if they were just walking on a plane surface as compared to my pace. We arrived at the campsite 2 after an HOUR, but the camp at the lower part was already full, so we needed to go higher at the grassland to pitch our tents. Looking upwards, I couldn’t see anything but rains, and fogs. It was zero visibility and temperature at that time was already recorded at 10 degrees Celsius. I told myself, “Gulp! Diyan talaga tayo magcacamp???” But there’s no time for turning back. I needed to pitch the tent and resist the coldness to have a shelter the whole night. I didn’t know how to fix and pitch the tent because it wasn't mine, but I had to do it immediately, and not to wait for someone else to help us. I and Arisse had a hard time to pitch the tent due to the strong winds but thankful that s’Jim and s’Leo helped us, and we immediately went inside the tent. The floor of the tent was already moist so I became worried that the water may seep through it and get wet later on. What we did was we placed a garbage bag on the floor topped with my poncho, then placed our aluminum earthpad. I changed my clothes to prepare myself for a temperature drop at midnight. On my upper body, I wore a knitted long-sleeve topped with a thick-cotton sweater, and knitted gloves then, on my lower body, I wore leggings topped with a thick-cotton jogging pants, and dry thick socks. I felt warm already, but my feet although dry with socks was still cold, so I went inside my sleeping bag. We never went outside after that, everyone was waiting for the following day. I and Arisse had our own socials, while eating taquitos.


Upper part of Camp 2 in near-zero visibility

It was the longest night ever. I couldn’t sleep not because of the cold, but because of the nonstop rain and strong winds. I tried to sleep at around 8 pm, my feet was still cold, so I placed my fleece blanket inside the sleeping bag, and while I was waiting for myself to sleep, it seemed like I was talking face to face with God that I made some realizations…

- I’m not afraid to die but I’m not yet ready to die because I still have a lot of unfinished business.

- I love my family more than anyone else. I missed my parents, my brother, and my pamangkin’s.

- I still have to marry my future husband and have four kids

- I still have a lot of patients to meet, to heal, to have some quality talks, to give my precious time, to inspire…

- During hard times, you’ll only depend on yourself and to the man above

- I still have a lot of mountains to climb as long as my knees and feet can.

- I’m so blessed everyday, that I have a soft bed and air-conditioned room when I sleep, I ate 5 times a day with chocolates and sometimes ice cream, I don’t worry to get wet during stormy weather because I have a shelter to protect me, and mostly, I have my mom who will get mad at me when I come home late at night because she can’t sleep and so worried about me.

- There are my three makukulit na pamangkins who always disturb me during my resting time because they wanted to play with me.

- There are tormentors everyday that surround me, that build my patience, and make me a stronger person each day. That despite everything they did, I still did not give up my dreams which I thought was seemed so far but now, it’s already within my grasp.

- I’m surrounded with people who care and love me so much, though they come and go, the lessons they taught are always within me.

Then I almost woke up every hour and looked at my watch. It was 9:30 pm, then 12 am, 1:30 am, 4 am, 5 am, and thanked God it was already 7 am, but still the weather didn’t change. s’Jim boiled some water, so I had the most delicious, hot instant-noodle breakfast that time. My bladder was full, so I attempted to go outside the tent several times, as in SEVERAL TIMES (with emphasis, he he) and on my seventh attempt, I pushed myself to go outside and urinate for about a minute. There was still no clearing. We fixed our things and had our breakcamp at 8:30 am. It was another time to go outside and bear the coldness. I felt I was in a freezer and my sweat was already iced, but I needed to move and went down from the grassland. My backpack was heavier due to some wet clothes, I got tired from time to time that I ate chocolates and sipped some water, I still felt some coldness on the peripheral parts of my body, but I walked continuously as I could. I endured everything above, but what’s in my mind was it is best to simply enjoy what I’m seeing rather than run to get out of that place, because no matter how bad the storm was, I knew it would eventually pass. I arrived at the ranger station at around 11 am, and took a bath. It was a quick freezing bath, in which I only took about six tabos of water he he (Ligo pa ba ang tawag don?).

Then we were again fetched by the rented jeepney to have lunch at ate Gina’s place, where we had an eat-all-you-can pinikpikang manok with brown rice, and get-all-you-can lemons. We proceeded to go back to the DENR station, and again went through the rough roads for about two hours. Due to the missed socials the night before, led by sir Jovy, we had socials and drinking session inside the jeepney where we looked like being mixed in a blender. The socials was sssooooo……HHHHOOOOOTTTTT!!!  that it outdid the coldness outside. It was another story which I would leave to Arisse, because she was the one on the “HOT” seat haha. At 7:45 pm, we went back to Victory liner at baguio, and while going up the bus, I looked back and thankful…

- That I didn’t chill and went to hypothermia

- Our tent was dry the whole night

- I slipped through that muddy trail but I didn’t have a sprain ankle

- My trekking shoes did not give up too

- I and all my SMberks went home safe

- Though I didn’t eat dinner at the camp, we ate an eat-all-you can pinikpikang manok at lunch, ate Andok’s chicken at dinner (kulang na lang tubuan ako ng pakpak…) and took home a get-all-you-can lemons.

I have witnessed a lot of storms in my life but despite everything that happened, I won’t still give up to pursue my dreams to stand above the clouds, “I shall return!”

 The author

The Author - Doc Lenzi

My Cup Overflows @ Tarak

Teka.. What can I say?! My tarak experience was VERY GOOD! The mountain is so wonderful, beautiful, awesome, amazing… hay.. lahat na! Basta maganda. =) hehe! Sumama daw ako sa mga taong hindi ko kilala, sabi ng nanay ko! (parang dinukot lang noh?! hehe!) Ayus lang, wala namang aksidente sa mundo. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what’s the reason.. Basta masaya ako nakilala ko ang SMB and na-amazed din ako kung paano ako tinulungan ni Lord sa climb na ito. Unang una, ito ang first climb ko tapos hindi ako pinabayaan ng mga SMBerks naten (totoo! hindi talaga! Wink) Sabi nga ni Maam Arisse, “I feel comfortable daw agad sa group.” Maybe because someone made me feel that I belong. ^_~ I think that’s the most important part. If people will feel outcast, there is a big possibility na hindi na sila bumalik. (tama?!) Pero hindi nila pinaramdam sa akin yun. Everyone is concerned with each and every group member (thumbs up!) It reminded me of a verse in the Bible that says “Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:4) Then I realized that (oo nga naman) if we can do it in the mountains why can’t we do it at home, in the work place or wherever our feet send us?! Is it something too difficult to do? Uhm.. Yes, it is indeed difficult but NEVER IMPOSSIBLE. ^_^

Kapag nasa bundok ka, hindi ka makapag reklamo sa tubig. Hindi ka makapagcomplain kahit masakit na ang mga paa mo o sira ang sapatos mo. Hindi ka rin maka-angal kahit madumi ang uupuan mo o mahiga ka sa lupa. Naisip ko bakit sa araw araw na ginawa ng Diyos lagi ako ngccomplain. Na kesho ang daming ganito, ang daming ganyan, bakit ganito ako, bakit ganyan sila at kung ano ano pa. Nakakatawa (kahit hindi hahaha!) Grabe! You will appreciate life MORE in mountains. Kahit tubig na hindi malamig lalasapin at nanamnamin mo.  You will see how blessed you are to have “functional” feet, good vision, healthy body etc. Kasi kung wala yan paano na ang mountaineering hehehe!  (o ha?! Yung iba nga wala nyan. They still feel blessed though.)


The author in yellow all smiles before the climb. The team from L-R, Back to Front:  Arisse, Lenzi, Jenny, Takumi, Jojo, Ruby, JR, Topher and Feresa

Nagsimula kami umakyat sa DENR (tama ba?!) Basta dun kayla Manang. Hehehe! Peace! On our way, I’m asking myself “How hard it is to climb the mountain and reach the summit?” And that question is followed by another question, “Can I make it to the top?” Then I began to pray. I didn’t cease praying. Though I know I’m strong enough to reach the top, I’m still unsure of the way. It’s very dangerous. Something unexpected might come up and the safest place I know is under the presence of God so I kept praying. Grabe! Mabato ang daan. May madadaanan ka na malilit lang yung aapakan mo tapos mukang madulas pa yung bato. Isang maling apak mo maari kang malaglag, masugatan, mabaliian at worst mamatay. Everytime na nalalagpasan ko ang mga trail na yun I clap my hands and shout for joy. (hahaha! Parang baliw lang.) Feeling ko kasi paulit ulit ako nase-save from danger. Kaya tuwang tuwa ako. Kasi naman kahit takot na takot tatawid ako kasi talagang kailangan ko tumawid. Hehehe! Kaya nga ako nandun! Dun ko naramdaman na ayoko pala mamatay. Hehe! Hindi ako takot mamatay pero ayoko mamatay. Hahaha!! (Kaya Lord! Salamat sa buhay ko! Salamat talaga!)

Noong una sabi nila delicado ang mountaineering. Sabi ko, “ok” kasi I don’t see it as super delicado, excited lang ako umakyat. Nung andun na ako napatunayan ko na mapanganip pala talaga. Buti nalang at walang ahas. Whew! Bawat step ko naiisip ko si Lord. Tama si Sir Jim, “Every step you make, you offer it to God.” Life is full of uncertainty. We have to be totally dependent on Him especially in times of trouble. Ito yung dependency na gusto ko maramdaman araw araw, As in 24/7. I wanted to be totally dependent on Jesus. This is what I’m looking for. Yung feeling na kapag hindi ko sya pinagkatiwalaan sa bawat desisyon or step ko, may posibilidad or malaki ang posibilidad na bumagsak ako sa bangin at mamatay. I might be exaggerating but it’s true. I want that dependency or should I say I want to completely surrender my life to Him. God is Emmanuel. He is with you. Yan yung gustong gusto kong part ng trek ko. Kasama ko Siya umakyat ng bundok. (kasama natin lahat. Hehe!) Alam ko na kahit delicado at dinadaga ako (takot hehehe) magiging safe parin ako.. kami.. =) Wahahaha. Iniimagine ko nga na may spike spike yung paa at kamay ko para didikit siya sa anumang tapakan o hawakan ko. Hahaha! (naimagine mo?!) Nako, ganun ka lakas imagination ko. Hehehe! That’s faith! It’s the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (see Hebrews 11:1)

Ayun nga hehe. Malapit na kami sa papaya river nang mapansin ko na pasira na nang pasira ang sapatos ko. Sabi ko, “Lord, makakaabot ako sa taas at makakauwi ng ok at suot ko sapatos ko.” Hmmmh.. That’s a statement. I was exercising my faith. Naimagine ko nanaman na hindi lalaki ang sira nung sapatos, as in titigil talaga sa pagbuka yung swelas ~ which is medyo imposible kasi tuloy tuloy ang lakad naming sa mabatong Bundok ng Mariveles. Naisip ko paano na ito?!?! Una, hindi ko pinapansin but when it starts to get bigger I already asked for help. Kahit nakakahiya. Hehehe. Kaya ayun. When we reach Papaya River (I wonder why it’s called Papaya River), Sir JR with the help of Sir Takumi fixed my shoes. Woooohoooo!! Tuwang tuwa ako kasi tumagal talaga yung sapatos ko hanggang pagbababa. Although nagtsineles ako pababa from papaya river kasi mamatay na daw yun kuku ko. Hehe. OK parin yun shoes. Di nga lang maganda tignan. Hehehehe! Sa buhay natin maraming dumadaang pagsubok. Alam ni God yun. He is just waiting for us to come to Him and ask for what we need. Sabi Nya sa Matthew 7:7, ask and it will be given diba?! So, what are we waiting for?! Speak it out. Shout it out. The blessing is in your mouth. Declare it!!! ~ I might be waiting for a miracle nung time na sira ang sapatos ko pero minsan God will send you people to perform His miracles in your life, like how He sent Ananias to Saul’s place to regain his sight. (The story can be found in Acts chapter 9 if you’d like to read.) whew… Isn’t that amazing how these people help me fixed my shoes knowing that I am a complete stranger?! Wow! Praised God!

So, ayun nga! Nagstop over kami sa Papaya River para kumain, kumuha ng tubig, magpahinga, magdaldalan at kung ano ano pa. Tapos pumunta na kami sa Tarak Ridge. Habang binabaybay naming ang daan nakaramdam na ako ng pagod. Ay... mali… maya’t maya pala ako pagod. Hahaha!!!  pero hindi ko pa naman naisip ung tanong na “bakit ba ako nandito”. Hingal na hingal ako lalo na dun sa matarik na parte, mga 45 to 90 degrees angle ata yun. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang pintig na puso ko dahil sa sobrang pagod. Whew! And yes! I’m physically exhausted but happy.. Actually hindi lang happiness yung nararamdaman ko kundi joy.. it’s something deeper.. Nakakatuwa lang isipin that God never leave me nor forsake me. He provided me all the things that I need. Food, shelter, clothing, safety etc... hahaha! cge mag- maslow’s hierarchy of needs ka pa.. ^_^ Ayun. I never run out of food, hindi ako nagutom, naki-share pa ko sa tent.. Someone even gave me a jacket kasi hindi ako ngdala nun, ang lamig pa naman. Pati picture picture provided.. hehehe! (Thanks Doc Lenzi! Nalowbat ang camera ko agad e haha!) hay.. Grabe! God is really great. Halos lahat nang bagay umayon sa kagustohan ko. At eto pa… 

Towards El Saco

Onwards to El Saco Peak. The author in blue


El Saco Peak 

What a view!!! Team having a great time

Napaka majestic nang pagkakagawa nya sa bundok na ito. I wonder how He made it by just saying a word. Napaka powerful wheeww... At eto pa ang pinaka malupit, kung ang mga lalaki ay nagbibigay ng flowers, chocolates, gadgets, teddy bear and so on to pursue a woman. Ako feeling ko si Lord, He is pursuing me by the sunrise and sunsets, the moon and the stars. He catches my attention on how he paints the sky, blow me a breeze, show me the never ending sea that symbolizes how much He loves me. (It’s coast to coast!!!) Well, I can’t deny it. It’s obvious. How can I say that He doesn’t love me?! Eh He even died for me on the cross! He died for you as well, for all of us. =) in short He love us! Hehehe. =) God shows his thoughtfulness by good sceneries, good weather and good people around me. Even the trail to El Saco peak was for me. (sabi ni Sir Jim hehehe!) hindi joke lang, para sa aming lahat yun.. ni-personalized ko lang hehehehe. =) Nakakatuwang malaman na mahal na mahal ako ni God. Hehehehe! (kayo din naman syempre. Hehe!) Yun din siguro ang dahilan kung bakit ako nag-blog. I’m not good in writing articles but my cup overflows. I can’t contain the joy that I feel inside my heart. I can’t contain the feeling of being pursued and romanced by my one true love, Jesus Christ. ^_~ All glory to God!

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Mt. Natib - A newbie's first climb with SMB

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"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. Why? 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: Arisse,Takumi, Lenzi, Jann, Billy,April, JR,Nhan, Connie,Roshan, Albert and Mart and our guest climber Wreckz,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.

I summoned myself with resolute 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. ( kawna excited!). All of that in the first half hour, still in an open trail and with an easy hike at that.

Mt. Natib - view from the last gate

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 running breathe after breathe and convincing that there’s more ahead for us waiting to be explored. So why give up that early?

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. After an hour the trek resumed. The trail was starting to get tougher and serrated 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.

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.Therein 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.

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, "Arisse will you still climb?" With a growing passion though I was barely making it, I answered "Of course".

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..........

Team at the Summit of Mt. Natib

Mount Natib Summit Team

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.

Team in the Campsite at the foot of Mount Natib

Team at the foot of Mt. Natib - the Campsite

I am thankful and proud of the hand that was always there to reach out for me. I’m proud of the stepping stones, the branches and the roots and even the thorns I held on to.I’m proud of the people that had been so patient whenever I go too slow, and most importantly, the camaraderie that was developed during the climb and at the socials.I am proud of the "good times"we had when we "we’re just exploring", whenever"what a duck" comes out in between shrieks and grimaces through fears and excitement of "who will catch me if I’m gonna fall" or the feeling of being "shortened"with the experience if I won’t make it to the summit. Thankfully, I made it…with them…with SMB…Imagine how "complicated" it will become for me living in the world of "what if’s" if I didn’t even try. I am proud of the unity we had to follow the lead of S’ Takumi for "he is the way and whoever follows shall not be lost". Otherwise, we will end up in "complication" when someone from the group will be lost in wilderness. I am proud of what I have been through and truly grateful to have stepped on another magnificent experience with them.

I am fearful...I will not deny that and who wouldn’t? That’s always a common ground for amateurs. I am not a quitter but it takes genuine courage in pursuing and discovering something within yourself through an activity you have not been doing for all your life…that was something . For only the bold gets his dreams come true and the timid just continues to dream. And if you are a newbie reading this, you better get started or you’ll end up sitting in an old rocking chair left with nothing to tell your grandchildren about your life. Living life is different from just existing.

So where’s the next stop? Yeah, I am tossing my steaming mug with you Mt. Napulauan! Sixteen something enthusiasts will be dating you at the end of this month…so please be kind. Lol!

Team at the last gate before going back to Brgy. Tala

Team at the last gate. From L-R Top: Roshan, Nhan and JR. From L-R: TakGoo, April, the Author - Arisse, Doc Lenzi, Connie, Mart and Billy. From L-R bottom: Jann, Albert and Takumi

Finding One's Self in Mount Marami

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You might wonder why the title of this blog is "Finding One's Self in Mount Marami" and I bet you wonder what happened in our climb last April 30 - May 1, 2011. The climb was great, was hot but really great! As usual we start every climb with a prayer so I requested Sir Jann to lead and he accepted. Part of his prayer was "help us to find ourselves during this climb". Seems that the team absorbed that part of the prayer and it became a topic during our socials.

SMB Team Marami 2011

SMB Team Marami 2011 (L-R Standing): Albert, April, Andrea, Billy, Jojo, Connie, Leo, Melskie, Jerson, Mart, Jake and Lana (L-R Front): Jann, JR, Sab, JM, Tine, Takumi, Roshan, Gabby

The team merged in Magallanes Police Station around 9:00 AM. We registered and then proceeded to Brgry. Ramirez where we registered again. There was a note there that the fee is already 20 pesos so we obliged to pay. Around 10:00 AM we started our trek. We took one guide to make sure we won't get lost along the way (well we did loose our sense of direction about 1 minute hehehe). A lot has changed since our last climb in 2009. We took the same trail we took last time and to my surprise past typhoons did a lot of damage to the place. The bamboo bridges were no longer there. Thankfully it's summer so the river is passable without getting wet. The weather was so humid and hot!!!

Around 12:00 NN we stopped to have our lunch. After 30 minutes we again continued our trek towards the Talahiban Trail. Again we can see a lot has changed. Kaingin (mountain side farming) and ulingan (charcoal making) were abundant. I miss the greens I saw way back 2009. The team really felt the heat so we had frequent stops and we took time to refill our water bottles in the last water source. We agreed to filter the water later in camp. Around 2:30 we reached the "Kural" (cow country) and took our time to rest there since the last leg of the trek had an open trail and the sun was blazing hot hot hot!!! We let go of our guides there. Around 3:00 PM we took the opportunity to continue our trek as the sun was covered by clouds. I was expecting a difficult assault towards the shoulder camp but to my surprise the trail was not that steep anymore due to landslide caused by typhoons. Around 3:45 PM we reached the shoulder camp and quickly setup our tents. There were a lot of groups climbing that day so we were still lucky to get a good spot to setup camp. We did catch up with a group who scrambled to the campsite upon seeing us arriving but still we got the best site for our tents. After setting camp we rested and relaxed until the sun went down. We filtered the water we collected. The Katadyn filter was a blessing!!! We just could not drink the turbid water.

Filtering water

Our water filter was a blessing

The night was cool and we deserved it!!! Trekking for 6 hours in the blazing hot weather was really tiring. We cooked our food and spent time enjoying the cool breeze that turned into a cold wind. Our socials was fun. We got to introduce ourselves to our new smberks and they in-turn introduced themselves. There was no talent portion that night hehehe. Topics about SMB, finding one's self and about aliens were discussed with loud laughters and smiles from everyone! Around 10:00 PM we called it a night, but for me, Mam Gabby, Takumi and Sir Albert, we still continued to discuss the topic of finding one's self. Around 11:00PM we called it a night as well. The wind was very strong that night.


View of our campsite near the Kalbaryo Peak

Team at the summit

Team at the summit

Wake-up call was 5:30AM. Some of us proceeded to climb the rock summit which was 20 minutes away, while (if memory serves me right) Melskie and JM were left in camp. We enjoyed the summit, did some light rock-climbing and took a lot of pictures!!! After about an hour we went back to camp. Around 8:30AM we started our descent. We again collected water and there was one group who used our filter which prompted our sweeper group to wait. Again having the Katadyn Water Filer was a blessing!!! Some groups did not get guides when they climbed the mountain so we saw a lot of them getting lost on their way back to Brgy. Ramirez. Our sweeper group even helped a couple who got lost and gave them filtered water.

We were back in Brgy. Ramirez around 12:30PM and we lost no time to buy ice cold drinks in a store.

So did we find ourselves in Mt. Marami??? Personally as I've shared this to Sir Jann after our socials, finding one's self is a life-long process. For our other smberks they chided that they may find their selves in the next climb. It's nice to have a goal during a climb :)

Some important notes for those who want to climb Mt. Marami in the summer:

- bring lots of drinking water (how much really depends on you) specially if your group does not have a water filter. The price of a good quality water filter although steep compared to the value it gives to a group is worth it!!! Visit this site to know more about Katadyn Pocket: or read my review HERE. Balay Outdoor Equipment may sell this kind of filter in the near future :)

- please take a guide specially if you are unfamiliar with the trail in Mt. Marami. The trail is confusing as markers aren't in their right place most of the time. Someone did attempt to place string markers but they were misplaced. Stone markers were disturbed by cows or unexperienced climbers.

For photos click HERE. Enjoy!!!


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