Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Uncategorized

Perhaps God Wants You to Climb Mountains

It has only been two years since I started climbing mountains. I never had the intention to, since I cannot even summon the courage to climb a tree! Joining ROTA Philippines however has changed that. To date I have climbed the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 9th highest mountains in the Philippines and have survived two traverse climbs; Sumagaya-Lumot and Kalatungan-Wiji, equally the most difficult climbs I have ever experienced.


[At Mount Dulang-dulang, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. Photo by Focalmatters]

Prior to ROTA, I have almost often thought that if I stayed home and prayed then I will certainly be delivered from all my personal demons.Didn’t happen. Then I ventured into climbing, and for every climb I have always been looking forward to an epiphany, an instantaneous divine healing from the emotional bruises of the past – arestoration of my broken spirit.

My latest mountaineering stint has brought me to Barangay Mendis, the jump-off point for the Kalatungan-Wiji traverse climb.I got emotional along the trail, just as we were approaching the view deck. God has impressed on me that sometimes He makes you climb mountains. It seemed vague at that time, yet it was mysteriously powerful that I was not able to contain myself from crying. I was wiping tears as I climbed up the last slope towards the view deck area.


[View deck area of Mount Kalatungan, the 6th highest mountain in the Philippines. Photo by Rex Saligumba]

“Sometimes God makes you climb mountains.” It has become my mantra in surviving the entire loop traverse from Brgy. Mendis, to Mount Kalatungan, to Mount Wiji, then back to Brgy. Mendis for a total of over 20 kilometers trail, trekked in two days.


[Map of Kalatungan ranges showing the loop traverse trail through Mount Kalatungan and Mount Wiji. Photo by ROTA Pilipinas]

As I journeyed through the open trails of bladed grass, a rickety bamboo bridge, mossy forests, fallen logs, muddy ascents, vertigo-inducing ridges, and slippery farm roads, I reflected back at my life; my struggles, my pains, and my journey of faith.Never did I imagine that a simple phrase such as “Sometimes God makes you climb mountains,” would have a huge impact in my life.

For many years now I have been struggling with morbid thoughts almost on a daily basis, of family members dying or being severely injured. Possibly it was after my younger brother had amishap under my watch. He was in a baby walker, when he ran towards the staircase and the lower part of the walker pivoted him towards the edge the concrete stairs where he hit his nose bridge. A pool of blood formed at the accident spot and I can still vividly remember it. This is very emotionally debilitating, and for most times, I struggle between staying at home and staying away from home.

Staying away? But why would I if I wanted to ensure their safety? My second struggle is of being the “bad luck”. For every undesirable thing that happens to family members; health problems, financial woes, and other negative circumstance, I attribute to me. Perhaps growing up being blamed for the death of my maternal grandmother just because she died two days after my birth has engraved that “bad luck” label deep in my soul.

And as if bringing bad luck to my family wasn’t enough, I had to experience some bad luck of my own – child abuse. Probably the deepest hurt I ever had to carry. The “touch” was physical but the effect was undeniably spiritual. Aside from having a sense of filthiness and self-disgust, poor self-esteem, and unrelenting self-doubt, it shattered my faith. It shattered my faith in a God who loves me.

My decisions that followed have been so depraved that I believed God can no longer love me. And when I thought that God cannot love me, then I lost all chances of loving myself. For decades I felt unlovable and at the same time unloving. Even when I acted out of love I still thought I was unloving.More so, I lost interest in life. I became fearful and paranoid. I did not want to live. I envied the successes of others and I felt that I have been shortchanged. I ceased to be genuinely happy. I felt like a spiritual zombie.

Yet, this one song from Sunday school kept playing in my head every time I was losing assurance of reconnecting with God. “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” There, my hope floats.

I nurtured back my faith in God, I would dwell on His faithfulness towards me, not my unfaithfulness towards Him. Surely enough, my heart slowly opened up back to love; to my family, to friends and to the children during my outreaches with ROTA. Yet, I still longed for that instant miracle. “Perhaps, when I reach the top of these so called sacred mountains, God will grant me that healing,” I would tell myself. Didn’t happen. Instead, I got that impression of “Sometimes God makes you climb mountains.”

Perhaps God makes me climb mountains… for me to recognize that even when I feel ill-equipped in facing life’s challenges, He will help me every step of the way. He will send people to extend a helping hand, to speak encouraging words, and even provide basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.


[With Rex Saligumba, one of my most reliable ROTA friends who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Photo by ROTA Pilipinas]

Perhaps God makes me climb mountains… for me to realize that I should not compare my journey with somebody else’s; that I can move at my own pace. That even when I walk slowly, it is okay. That I can take a rest and take as much rest as I need. To stop when I need to and appreciate where I am at.


[Taking a rest and enjoying the view as other mountaineers pass me by. Photo by ROTA Pilipinas]

Perhaps God makes me climb mountains… so I can practice being in His presence. That even when the footpath is slippery or the ridge is steep, I can step into faith knowing that He will secure my foothold. That I can breathe deeply in prayer and continue on with my life path. And when my knees become weak because of fear, who says I cannot use my hands to pull me further?


[“Four-wheeling.” Using both hands up the nerve-wracking Buko-bukosaAnay ridge. Photo by ROTA Pilipinas]

Perhaps God makes me climb mountains… to teach me that I cannot reach the peak if I am carrying too much baggage; that the longer I carry it, the heavier it becomes. That at some point I just have to drop my baggage in order to live life fully.


[Holding up a mirror for Lau as she puts on some lipstick. Both of us momentarily dropping our baggage for the simple joys of life. Photo by Rex Saligumba]

 So I’m dropping my baggage of morbid thoughts, the “bad luck” label, and those feelings of inadequacy and victimization. God has my family’s lives at the palm of his hands, safe and secure. I am “good luck” because I have brought a lot of joy to those around me. I am a survivor and I am spiritually alive, thus I can conquer any obstacle, one step of faith at a time, until I reach the peak of my humanity.

Perhaps, this speaks some truth to you, too?

Do you feel stuck or uninspired? Do you feel like you are beyond redemption? Do you envy those around you and can only wish you have the life they live? Are you carrying a lot of guilt and shame, and doubts and fears? Do you feel empty and lonely? Are you sulking in bitterness and self-pity?

Step out of your comfort zone. Step out in faith.

Perhaps, God wants you to climb mountains…


[At the peak of Mount Wiji, with Mount Dulang-dulang, Mount Kitanglad, and Mt. Maagnaw beyond the clouds, and Mount Kalatungan just behind me. The 2nd, 4th,6th, 7th highest mountains in the Philippines, respectively.Photo by ROTA Pilipinas]


Blog, Mountains, Stories

More Than We Ask For

4I thought it’s a matter of choosing to lose something, and it never gave me reason to lose hope then.   God has a lot more to give. I have kept praying and asking God for opportunities to come, often I asked for His mercy to give me what I needed despite my failures and mistakes. Yes, He is giving me what I prayed for and thanked Him much for that.

There was one time, a surprise text message received after attending holy mass (with my petitions prayed). I was hired as Area Coordinator that I applied for in one of the DSWD 10 projects while waiting for DA 10 notice of hiring PRDPs Project Development Assistants. But it was one sort of short notice to report immediately the following day for a four-day training and orientation, so I confirmed to attend, grabbing one good opportunity.

But then, I have one important event to attend on the 3rd day of the scheduled training. One event that I aimed not to miss for it has been planned and prepared since July 2014; plane tickets booked since September 2014 with my rucksack packed and ready. I have also been saving amount for a period of time for the trip so it won’t be missed.10981655_10152631761141244_8329621689851810971_n

However, I continued to attend the DSWD 10 training. Having oriented with the objectives and processes, it was one of the tasks I would love to do and work on though. The salary rate is quite compensating even though it only last for three months contract, you would get a high gross. Such amount would have been a big help for me since I never had earnings from the past two months that would patch up deficits from regular expenses spent. But in my mind is still the incoming travel that I would not want to miss.

More so, I am in the midst of choosing to complete the training or go for the flight. The consequence is, If I failed to complete the training, I cannot continue as Area Coordinator and will not have earnings. On the other hand, Mt. Pulag climb and outreach event, is one of my dreamt climb that I know I would not have any other chance to go with such joyous group (ROTA Phils.) is not just merely climbing for fun, an outreach to the children on one of the elementary schools in sitio of Bokod, Benguet will also eventuate.2

Again, I asked God for guidance what to choose then, I know it will be my failure to let go what He gave me. I have been asking advices to colleagues, of course there always be fair advices of both different sides. Until on the day before the flight, I asked permission to the heads of the training if I’d be permitted to cut the training and continue to make-up on further trainings to be conducted for area supervisors/other positions. Nevertheless, they never allow such matter and let me decide to complete the training or say goodbye to the job.5

On the second thought, I wanted to complete the training for it was one chance given to me. That night, while on the state of confusion, I passed by our group president’s residence to claim my shirt and ID (get some sort of remembrance of the climb if I failed to go so). There, some ROTA members is persuading me to go with them, uttered some inviting lines and even said that it is also one of the opportunities to happen. I just do not know what’s with ROTA Phils. that made me decide to go the climb and outreach bartered to the cost in earning income.1

On the day of departure, I went with ROTA Phils., having missed one opportunity had never made my attendance to the event hopeless and failure. I never failed to enjoy one God’s beautiful and wondrous creation that I longed to witness as part of my goals. Also, extended to serve children as one of our advocacies and objectives.

Would it mean regret after the event? Have I chose to lose something worth it? Would I be sorry for myself and ask for another chance? Some might say I only chose good times and left what is needed to pursue.3

Behind all those decisions (whether right or wrong) I laid and offered everything to God. Indeed, I always ask for another chances and I know He is merciful and H e knows my goals in life. There are still a lot He can give, a lot of job (tasks) awaits – for me to do or serve other people other than my family. I still have Hope and am hopeful that God will answer and give me more than what I asked for if I am worthy enough to receive it. I am thankful that God gave me not just one opportunity in one time (that is why I have chose between the two), both are worth it. God made every day as good times. In everything give thanks (Thessalonians 5:18), because even if I never earned income at the moment, I also loved what I am doing on the other side.

How important that we – in good times or times  of challenge – draw near to God’s loving heart to hear His voice and place our lives in His hand (David McCasland.ODB.vol 21-A.March5)###.7

Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Uncategorized

Downline, Upline Is Down On The Line

~trail notes by Moxology during Mt. Salumayagon Outreach Climb & Tree Growing, Tula & Sungay ES, Alubijid, Misamis Orienta

The definition of Upline-Downline can be rather simple to explain in networking but in mountaineering slash volunteering, it will define you to a higher level. You cannot just invite and involve someone to climb mountains and voila! there is a return of investment on top of the hands of the recruit (downline) and the sponsor (upline). In ROTA, we do not just climb mountains to reach quota, but we reach out to do outreach. We ask for help to help. That is our quota.

Last weekend (July 12, 2014) was a quota. The Tula ES and Sungay ES at Alubijid STAY in School Outreach Climb was another check on the line-up of activities of ROTA in 2014. Even though I had sleepless nights of battling my Midyear Financial Reports, I was able to jump in the dump truck early Saturday morning.


I had my best foot forward. Confident like one of my downlines, cheetah energy of Matetah. I had my best food forward. I haven’t had my heavy breakfast but I had enough for myself and for my downlines. I brought some sandwiches with cheese, broas from Oroquieta, cookies and Boy Bawang as my (our) trail food.

Yes I had my best.
But even the best fall down sometimes. Right mga bes?

We were about to touch the clouds and give praises near the heavens when suddenly a Captain had an emergency landing. It was indeed a life and death experience where I can almost say I died fighting. But because of the emergency Campo Dose we have had, I survived with much love and thanksgiving.


The cramps due to dehydration and over fatigue hit me big time. I did not have enough supply of pain relieving endorphins that I almost cried a river like the story we shared to the kids of Tula Elementary School, “Alamat ng Ilog Pasig”

Now I would like to give honor to the honorable Campo Dose, being on top of ROTA’s line of command was never an easy task. You have made service and at the same time servant your guiding principle in times of emergency. El prexy Campo Dose, brodbest 2pe and bes Yen, like mountains, thank you for being there. The scrambled egg with boy bawang as substitute for salt we shared will be a recipe for life. To the rest of the volunteers and mountaineers, way to go!

Scrambled egg wuth boy bawang

At first, I hesitated to ask for help when the throbbing and hurting started in my legs. I pushed my caffeinated body for four days too hard and so my leg muscles contracted too hard. I can almost feel my heartbeat around my neck when the crappy cramps hit its quota. Good to know that my Asthma never had an intermission number. In front of my downlines I failed them to reach the peak together. But that doesn’t motivate me to kiss mountaineering goodbye.

We somehow reached the peak of life.

Blog, Events, Hiking, Mountains, Outreach, Socials

Conquering Two Schools and a Mountain


Taking a step forward, the group, embarks on another challenge – a simultaneous outreach activity covering two elementary schools in the municipality of Alubijid, Misamis Oriental at the same time as support to its education based advocacy. Conquer Mt. Salumayagon and participate in the mountain’s reforestation through a tree growing activity. A jam-packed 2-day activity for the volunteers, indeed!

Sungay Elementary School Profile
Total number of enrolled students: 337
Total number of classrooms: 9
Total number of teachers: 8

Tula Elementary School Profile
Total number of enrolled students: 159
Total number of classrooms: 4
Total number of teachers: 4

Unusual Departure


At 7:00 AM PhST, a convoy of two trucks through the generosity of the Provincial and Local government of Misamis Oriental were arranged to cater a huge number of volunteers compared to the usual man count, the group needed another means of transportation to accommodate not only the volunteers but also the proportionally increased number of goods to be donated, a sign that the organization is growing in number and in reaching further.


Arrival at Alubijid Municipal Hall

The group safely arrived at the Alubijid Municipal Hall. Covering two schools at the same time, the game plan was to divide the group into Team Sungay and Team Tula for Sungay and Tula Elementary school respectively. Taking advantage of the two sponsored vehicles, the goods as well as the volunteers were segregated accordingly as there were initial assignments cascaded prior the event. During the bumpy and dusty truck rides, the volunteers had a quick huddle to ensure that all were calibrated on the flow of the activity.

Program and Outreach Proper


Since we already communicated with the contact persons for each school, they were well prepared for the activity that ROTA has set for them. Upon arrival, the children greeted us with their fresh morning smiles and with obvious excitement in their eyes.

The teachers of the school prepared an initial program that ROTA would only need to supplement. The Barangay officials have placed the agreed set-up for the Tippy Tappy hand-washing project made of wood sticks. Also, cauldron and firewood were ready upon our arrival. We were really impressed with the preparation done by the school teachers and the community.


While the volunteers assigned to the Kitchen Committee were busy preparing the food for the students, the Kids Committee started the distribution of school kits and entertained the students with the following activities:

• Story Telling for all grade levels
• Paper folding (Origami) for Grade 3 to Grade 6
• Drawing and Coloring artworks for Kinder to Grade 2

Tippy Tappy Time!

HTTP is the newest addition to the goods and activities that ROTA is providing. HTTP in ROTA terms means “Handwashing Tippy Tappy Project”. This project aims to increase awareness of proper hand washing and educate the kids and the community about the health benefits that they can achieve with proper hand washing. The HTTP is done by using a plastic container, a rope, a stick and soap. Its set up is designed to make sure that the person keeps a sterile hand while and after washing their hands.

After the activities mentioned above, the students then queued to the HTTP setup to practice the proper hand washing procedure as instructed by the Kids Committee. This is to ensure that their hands are clean prior to eating.

A FULLfilling Day Indeed


We are very thankful that we have found a sponsor for our feeding activity. Due to limited resources, we are often left to provide sandwiches with minimal nutritional value for their snacks. With 496 students from two schools, it is one of the largest numbers we have served so far.


Luckily, we came across MASSA Feeding Program, NU Skin Enterprises Philippines, Inc, through a fellow volunteer. MASSA provided us with Vitameal and we used this as the main menu of our feeding project.


We added sweet potatoes, tapioca pearls, banana and milk to the vitameal to make it taste like the Filipino famous snack, “binignit”. The children enjoyed the vitameals so much they kept coming back for additional servings.


Pineapple juice was also served as donated by friends from Del Monte Philippines Incorpoated.

Turn Over of Goods (Medicines and First Aide Box)

After the feeding project, we then gathered the students and the parents in the open area of schools. Closing remarks were given by the school principal for Sungay ES and the contact teacher for Tula ES. It was also at this point that we turned over the medicine and first aid boxes to the school officials. The medicines came from the Governor’s office, which were turned over to the Barangay health worker representatives and the Barangay officials.


The First Aid boxes came from generous people of RDO 98 BIR CDO City which were then mounted in one of the classrooms. The resident nurse made sure to explain to the school officials what each medicine is for and what each medical supply/utensils in the first aid box are for.

Closing Remarks and Pictorials


The head teacher in behalf of the whole school thanked ROTA for the outreach activity hoping that ROTA will continue to conduct such activities for the kids.


The day would not end without memories for keeps for the said activity. With the kids holding on to their school kits and wearing genuine smiles, the volunteers who still have a power bank of energy for crazy and fun antics, enjoyed a few moments of fun during the shoot. Surely, all who participated during the activity were happy and have a great story to tell.

Climb and Tree Growing Activity

After the outreach proper, the Sungay volunteers then headed to Tula ES where the other volunteers were waiting. We consumed our packed lunch and prepped for the climb proper. Finally, we started our ascent to Mt Salumayagon around 2:00 in the afternoon carrying our own mahogany seedlings that are to be planted the next day.

The renowned beginner’s trail of Mt Salumayagon disappointed some of the volunteers as it was made even harder by the heavy rain that greeted us on our way to the peak. Facing these challenges, some volunteers suffered injuries due to cramps and slips through the wet trail. Nevertheless, these didn’t stop the group from pursuing the peak and be ready for the scheduled tree growing activity the next day.

Tree Growing has been the new term of the former puffed up term tree planting. It is now named “tree growing” as it demands another process, not just the act of planting the seedlings. We planted the seedlings that we brought from the foot of Mt. Salumayagon. Following the tree growing activity process, ROTA will then set a time period before we will come back and nurture the seedlings that we planted.

Reaching New Heights

For nearly four years since it’s established, we have seen the growth and development of the organization. Not just in numbers, but also in how we operate, approach and in services provided to the communities we visit.

ROTA volunteers featuring Malaswang

The HTTP and feeding is a testament that ROTA is expanding its reach and raising the bar. We cannot do this without the support of individuals and companies who believe in our advocacy and ideals.

We look forward in celebrating new peaks and sharing more precious moments in the years to come.

Sungay E/S Photos →

Tula E/S Photos →

Fun climb & Tree growing Photos →


Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Stories

4 Things I’ve Learned About Life From My 1st Major Climb

My 1st Major Climb

I had my first major climb last march 1-2, 2014. We climbed Mt. Dulang-Dulang, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. The view from the top was amazing, breath-taking even. I’ve never imagined in my entire life that I will someday climb a mountain. It was the best opportunity to see and appreciate one of God’s creations, which not all humans could see and appreciate. I really felt blessed.

Mt. Dulang-dulang Summit

Lately, I’ve been focusing on happiness and the things I learned from every experience. Let me share to you some of the things I learned from my first major climb that can also be applied in our normal, day to day life.

Summit Campsite

Stair climb

    1. It is good to be always prepared. Weeks before the climb, we had a series of trainings to prepare us for the climb. It actually paid off. It made me confident and nothing bad happened. No accidents, no injuries. We were on time with the itinerary. So it is with our day to day life. We need to prepare for what is to come; that meeting at work, that date, that summer outing, married life and even retirement. So when it finally comes, you’ll be confident and sure of yourself. You’ll feel good and happy about it.

Group 1 "The amazing coffee team"


    1. It is best to have friends. During the climb, we were divided into groups. My groupmates were my climb buddies. We climbed together, we rest together and we shared trail foods and stories over meals or coffee or even while climbing. They didn’t make the climb easy, but they made it worthwhile with their stories, jokes and even just their company. When we got to the top, I had them to share the moment and the happiness with. Thus, no matter how busy you are, spend some time with your friends because happiness when shared is doubled.

Coffee break

Coffee break @ Alanib river

1st Regroup @ Alanib river

    1. Enjoy every moment. That was the first time I’ve been on Mt. Dulang-Dulang and who knows when I will be able to go back there. I tried as hard as I could, between deep breaths, to enjoy every step, every crawl under a fallen tree, every slippery path, the coldness of the weather, the enchanting mossy forest and of course, the majestic view from the peak; not to mention, the company of my friends, because that moment will never happen again. Yes, I might climb Mt. Dulang-Dulang again, but I might have different companions. For sure it will be another whole new experience. So enjoy life, every moment of it, because you might not be able to experience the same moment again.

Manny's garden campsite

  1. The path to the top is not easy. Definitely. You’ll ran out of breath and there’ll be a lot of obstacles like a big, fallen tree or a protruding branch, a slippery path, rocks, holes, etc. If you’re not careful enough, these may cause you bruises or other injuries. So it still boils down to being prepared because if you’re not prepared and careful, you might not reach the top. No matter what, just keep on climbing. Even if you’re very slow. As long as you don’t stop, you will eventually reach the top. As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall; what matters is you rise every time you fall.


Summit of Mt. Dulang-dulang

These are just some of the lessons you can learn from climbing that I consider major life lessons and could be applied in normal, everyday life. If you have other lessons that you want to share, feel free to write it down in the comment below. Climb on!

Fear factor level

Photo credits: Focalmatters Photography and Gabu Sanico.

Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Outreach, Stories

Prayer, the best gear for survival climb

Hot mama Cha

We pray whenever any activity is started, but with this event I prayed every step to survive after reaching its summit with an elevation of 2,860 masl. From the 21st of June 2013 began the rigid climb ever I have encountered. Never have I climbed the highest Mt. Apo and has climbed other mountain’s peak but not as hard as Mt. Kalatungan – Mt. Wiji traverse.

The team (10 of us including our guide, with 3 of us female) jumped off late in the afternoon after exchanging smiles and sharing blessings from various contributors to the children at Mendis Elementary School, Pangantucan, Bukidnon as initiated by Rebirth Outdoor Trekkers and Adventurers (ROTA) Phils. The weather is not that friendly though, heavy rain poured along the way in which all of us soaking wet. Right then, the first overnight camp gave me colds that resulted to a sudden discomfort. I got fever, I guessed. The team leader even made fun of giving a peso as transportation fare for those who will decide to get back home, well, everybody just laughed at it knowing that we are there with strong drive and determination to conquer the said 5th highest mountain in the Philippines, there is no turning back.

Me, without any idea how hard and difficult the trail compared with other mountains I have climbed, is too confident and filled with gladness and bewildered by another beauty of panoramic view. Not that equipped with rain gears, the next day I went to ascend with the team as rain continuously pouring. Now, I felt my body trembling from the very cold surrounding added with colds that made me hardly breathed. But I kept on walking and rested for minutes whenever the team leader told us so. It was not that fun, however, all I have in mind is to reach the summit in exchange and get rewarded for the striving ascent made. Of course halfway reaching the peak, I started feeling wondrous with the highest waterfalls ever I have seen. The view is just too far from where we are situated but we can see and compare its stunning height of its fall and even made me forget my discomfort. Over view is not that clear and visible due to thick clouds that hovered, thus, capturing only moments of accomplishing every steps of struggles was the only thing evident.

Carried on as obliged to do so, my body became weak with my very wet backpack getting very heavy that made my arms numb and so tired. But I kept saying to myself “I’m not weak yet” still with great courage and confidence. The climb is described as wet while most of us often stumbled with the slippery trail. Moreover, leaf blades of tall grasses left wounds of other mountaineer’s limbs, but me unscathed with leaf blades is suffering from headache and fever. I believed, me and my prayer to our God has strengthen me to go on. “God, please give more strength”.

At about 5:00 PM the team reached the so-called junction to summit and the other path to campsite. Getting close, for an hour to summit, the team leader again laughingly asked us “Now what, do you still want to go to summit or not at all?” Of course, for the first-timers agreed to pave our way going to summit despite the unfriendly weather. Again, I said to myself “I should never miss this, I must go to summit” with the very ill feeling. Apparently, my companions observed that I am not feeling well, I hardly talked, and they even asked me “Cha, are you okay?” and I replied “Yes, I am” even when I am not.

Upon reaching the summit, the feeling was totally priceless for having accomplished my goal. Yes, I am on the peak of the 5th highest mountain in our country. Unfortunately, the expected beauty of the horizon was hidden by hazy climate. All we vaguely see is the light of the setting sun and the only thing ever enjoyed and captured by our cameras. With less time spent at the peak due to weather condition and nearly dusk, we came to get back at the junction as quickly as we can to proceed to campsite. Dark came upon us, as we had our dinner before going to campsite, while me on chill as I nibbled on my food.

As I managed to stand still, we continued for a night trail going to campsite that made even worst for most of us get bumped onto roots that made us slipped. Finally, the last step for the night has lightened up all of my heavy loads, nevertheless, the headache, cold and fever never had left me. A piece of medicine was not that curable. Until the coldness of the night made me shivered and even feel the pain deep into the bones of my limbs. Having not slept well, I greeted the morning with severe headache and runny-nose. Again, I prayed to God for more strength and endurance. Now I can feel the pain on my bruised upper lip having irritated by severe rubbing as I wiped out “two soldiers” from my nose (hehehe).

Break camp, then another mountain to ascend, the Mt. Makaupaw (Wiji). Without doubt, I even gave my wet clothes to our guide to include in his backpack because I felt that I cannot withstand heavy loads at all (it’s the first time that I let someone carry my belongings) so embarrassing. Along way up, the trail is surrounded with thorny vegetations and tall grasses with sharp leaf blades. Struggling to hurdle each step while our arms used as shield from thorns, me with the very tired body, has successfully and gladly reached the top of Mt. Wiji.

More hours to go before reaching the base, I asked the guide “Manong, is the trail easy?” and even more uncomfortable with the so-called “dead nails trail”. As we headed, I thought the trail getting down is all descending. Surprisingly, we came to ascend more and then descend and then ascend and so forth. Until I hardly caught my breath and getting very weak and exhausted. I came to ask often “ Is there still an ascending trail? I think I cannot make it at all”. So in my mind speaks “God, please give me more strength and endurance”. So, me in the middle, started walking so fast to catch for the lead pack, because I seem to faint and loose breath and I don’t want to get caught in disaster, I must get home safely. So that’s it, I started praying the Holy rosary in silence as I did every pace. I often rested in silence and seldom responded to discussions and did not even eat my lunch at all since I am struggling to cope up against my very weak body. I kept praying and whenever I am alone resting to catch for deep breath and oxygen I can’t seem to hold back tears rolled down from my eyes while asking for strength to God and even begged for forgiveness thinking that it is a punishment or repayments for my sin. “Lord, if I cannot make it, please forgive me for all the sinful things I have done.”

From that onward, all I have in mind was to come out from the forest line and even said to myself that if I fail, this will be my last climb. I walked so fast and eagerly anticipated to see the road to barangay proper and I would be relieved from hopelessness. Nonetheless, I successfully reached the jumped off point seemingly alright having trekked down from slippery roads.

It was indeed a survival climb, I guess. I survived through prayers. Even though I suffered post climbed illness (muscle pain, bruised lips, over-fatigued), I still managed to perform my tasks and served the clients to the day I must report for duty. I even have my hair cut short days after the climb to have myself lightened by burdens and heavy loads I carried during the climb.

It was one memorable climb that has taught me a lot of things and even awakened me from my disastrous past. Basically, I learned to drink water not that much, I learned not to bring much trail foods that will not be consumed at all and raingear is a must (never get soaking wet). In general, l learned to be strong and tough despite the circumstances that come along the way. Despite hindrances, we must be equipped with courage and might to surpass all of it while reaching up our goals and objectives. It made me courageous and persevere so as not to easily get drowned and killed by weakness, because having dragged to fiasco leads no hope. I have learned that prayer is the source of strength and hope, the greatest gear for survival.


Thanks to Leah M. for proof reading and Tapoy for the photo