Outreach, Stories

Colon Closed Parenthesis

When we had our socials circle in the evening at Kabayan Barrio Elem School, there was one question left unheard of answers. I think it was GP supported by Dina who was a bit shy to ask.

“Are you happy?” (He addressed the question to ROTA, as a group)

I can still remember, I replied nothing but silence.

I remember I asked the same question during our outreach at Kamansi to one of the children after giving her a spoon of breakfast.

“Nalipay ba ka?” (Masaya ka ba?)

She replied nothing but silence.

Enough to hear my heart beating and my lungs expanding.

When I remember, I believe…

I am happy.

-Moxology 🙂

Blog, Mountains, Stories

An Early Piece

I’m always the person who loves different kind of adventures, I dared to face my fears and different form of challenges and ultimately unafraid to feel being hurt and uncomfortable. The reason why I allow myself to be exposed with this different kind of adventure was to be awakened, to gain strength, growth and so I can look deeper into myself and adjust the course of my life.


The dream of climbing those high mountains was sleeping but it’s always in my heart. Dreaming all alone, those peaks which names are just words coming out from my mouth was kinda impossible to reach coz I have no one to climb with and I don’t know what to do. I wish to find peace and comfort in there, leave every worries behind and experience adventure as well, and witness the beautiful sunset and sunrise and unique mesmerizing view that you could only see in there. I want to take beautiful pictures that I cloud brag from my photo buddies and I also want to meet new people in there and make friends with them. As I walk in the trail of my life facing the monotonous routine in the city, that dream was awakened. The longing and enthusiasm to fulfill that dream became intense. I admit that one of my obvious reason to climb was to escape boredom. Until the unexpected time came, I met my cousin Yano who’s in ROTA and I met ROTA people who are active in outdoor activities. I said to myself wow this could be a dream come true, now climbing those mountains is near my fingertips and I was happy but I was shy at first, I know these people are already experienced climbers. And then I have asked myself, why do they climb and what could be their reasons for it? Could it be that we have the same reasons? But whatever reasons it might be I hope they’ll be happy as I am.

As time goes by I’ve learned to love and enjoyed socializing with ROTA company. As time goes by, we met new people in our group and we met different kind of personalities and different kind of experience and perspective in life. But despite that difference we have all same desire, the desire to climb those mountains and prove ourselves that we can make it through the summit and go down safely despite its treacherous trails. But what fuels our desires are not only to prove ourselves that we are strong despite our physical and emotional weakness and sharing our adventurous experience to our friends. For me it’s like heaven in there, you feel so high, elated, and carefree, the views are awesome and it’s highly addictive but the best things are laughter’s, and sharing of thoughts and personal experience during camping at night, I believe that’s one of the heaviest thing that fuels us to climb. Honestly, I became a climbing monster.

In the process of our mountain climbing adventures the more we know each other well, in the process some found love, some lost it and some had given up by choice. During our kindhearted visits to SULADS we met another people again. At SULADS we have witnessed how those young people in different tribes lived in modesty. What I learned from them is how to be contented of what you have and be happy with it. Wealth is not how much you have, it’s how happy and contented with what you have. I know that in a more civilized people like us have different needs, we are desirous to have this and have that, well there’s nothing wrong with it, I myself too wants to live comfortably 🙂 the important thing is we must not be selfish to share what we have to those who don’t have.

Every mountain we have conquered and successful event we have accomplished we celebrate. At the highest peak of our laughter’s and enjoyment, misunderstandings and dispute of some of our members disrupts. I was kind of discouraged. But I know in myself that those things will pass, those are just trials and there’s no reason why I should backout. I should continue the group’s long plan, the plan to climb mt. apo which is every mountaineers dream. I want to experience mt. apo and specially the group coz I love the group. And so the day had come, finally the highest mountain that we long and dream to climb became a reality. We finally reached there and had fun. I thank God for giving us the chance to go there despite the hectic schedules of some climbers, secondly I thank the group for their enthusiasm and passion to climb. And thanks to myself, jojo even if he backed out and the guide and porters and thanks for Billy’s assistance. Sorry all for my unpredictable and fiery temper sometimes 🙂

Later on I’ve realized that during our climb we developed trust and warm friendship. Those treacherous trails we hiked does not only reminds us that we are strong enough to step on it but it’s how we value and being responsible not only to ourselves but also to the climbers next to us. We never leave the responsibility for each other. During the trek we never leave and fail to assist those physically weak but we never underestimate their strength. In the campsite when the weather suddenly turns grumpy, we never fail to be generous and helpful to our fellow climbers specially the less experienced ones. We sacrifice a little for them at the same time we know how to save ourselves. We know that mountaineering is also a form of survival in the wild.

By all, the highest peak that we’ve climbed is not the peak of the highest mountain, it’s our warm friendship and love. The acceptance and respect despite who our friends are. We learned good things from them, and they learned good things from us. We also learned to take good care and respect mother nature. Those generosity, care and laughter’s will always leave a trail in our hearts. I am and always will be very happy to climb with you guys and I thank God for giving me a chance to be in this group. Thanks for all who joined the climb to MT. APO, this couldn’t be possible without your support 🙂 but never think that this group will only survive thru climbing high mountains in a very far place and spend a lot of money for it. Bahalag minor ra na climb, bahalag malasag ra.. beaching, simple gathering etc .basta ang importante magka hiusa ta para active perme ang group.


– Earl

Hiking, Mountains, Stories

Freedom Climb 2011

Setting foot on top of Mt. Kalatungan was indeed hard to endure but definitely sweet to remember. ROTA, thank you for your presence. I was so inspired by each one of you guys. Considering what you want to do in relation to what you are capable of doing, astig! I really could not imagine the high spirit that roars everytime you climb. I honor you guys for lifting me to the top and every time I drop somewhere between the bottom and the summit. I lost my count of how many times I stumbled, slipped, wounded, bruised, lacerated, shouted bad and good words! but never did I lost to count on you guys, my God, and myself. Not only faith can move mountains but can create a new world of discovery. Now I know why I climb.

The extreme experience taught me a lot. I traded my life for the Php500 UK Trek shoes. When I threw it during the first open trail downhill, I realized that sometimes there are really things you have to let go to see if there is anything worth holding on to. At least the shoes fulfilled its worth and purpose. The tears I had with the rain and pain served as my battlecry to win. Happiness not stress. Sureness over carelessness. Energy over laziness. Responsibility over stupidity. Allow me to call it freedom. Yeah!

I murdered a mud, injured a rock, kicked Mt. Kalatungan’s ass! And yet, I still have 10 fingers, 10 alive and kicking toe nails! We made it guys! 10 people who did not only declared independence but also made history!

In victories like this, should there be wines to pop? balloons to fall? or butanes to explode?

Thank you-
Campo: for reminding the value of food and water. bang! bang!
Janubski: for your skills and shots capturing our moments.
Coco: for the initiatives and other tasks of a gentleman.
Blots: for being the first to summit and first to base.
Irish: for your care and nursing hospitality.
Nix: for bringing our home and a good landlord.
Tops: for the laughters, blind items and kisses.
Marris: for the registration and love of animals.
Oyen: for the concern and guidance.
Marco: for sweeping a mess.

Being the last to return did not make me less of a person. In Amazing Race, I maybe eliminated. In reality, I just said to myself, “I’ll be back home”

I have so many things to look forward to. Better shoes, better clothing, better gadgets and a better person.

See you next climb ROTA.

Together let us touch the skies and bring it down again!


Principles, Stories

Lights, Camera, Action!

Fifty-seven thousand, six- hundred minutes ago, I was on a mission. I gamely walked into real action figures that would surely put Hollywood stars to shame. Even the absence of media fan fare could not dim the stellar brightness of every cast in this unheard episode about ordinary people.

But before I go any further, let me be clear on this: I write from memory and like any good mem’ries, the real deal is always better. Imagine…Scene one: Twenty-two people with twenty-three packs, six sacks of rice, three sacks of salt, five boxes of different goods, a sack of used clothing plus two extra bags filled to the brim, three plastic bags of mixed veggies crammed into a Hilux pickup. I remembered looking at Bumblebee [the Hilux] for brevity, at us, our belongings and back to Bumblebee again. I knew from the size of our entourage it’ll take two trips to reach our destination. But I was wrong! In the deepening dusk, in a display of muscle action–the men began stacking our valuables one on top of the other; covered it with tarp stopping only when it resembled a semi-giant ant hill on Bumblebee’s rear end. With twelve people crowding the truck’s bed, three on its roof, two on the passenger’s seat, the driver, one person on Bumblebee’s right front hood, and three persons took to riding a motorcyle, we left Valencia to our jump off which was in Barangay Buko, Quezon Bukidnon.

Halfway through, we made a stopover at ate Eleonor Lucedra’s home. I did not know her personally. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her too, even in any existing social networks. It was first meeting for both of us and the rest. With the exception of this one person who was the instigator of the unfolded scene right before you. I was told their paths crossed here in fb. Ate Eleonor answered his savvy move when he posted on their group’s wall, “Looking for donors, will u help?”, or something to that effect. She responded in action with cooked biko in this huge frying pan which we dug with relished, while the sack of salt, boxes of dried Miki, 1/2 kilo cooking oil joined Bumblebee’s growing ant hill. As quickly we came just as quickly we left. With a brief exchange of goodbyes and prayer, we sped to the swelling night.

When I said sped, we were going as fast as Bumblebee can go under the circumstances. Straining him would not be ideal. The simple concept was explained to me by no less than its owner/mechanic/driver. The explanation was impressive. I nodded my head in all the right pauses in our conversation, giving the unmistakable impression that it made sense to me. It sounded gibberish, though. I made a mental note to Google it! Mass of truck plus load, how will that affect its normal speed? Physics!? Daan ko pa, mobalik ug mobalik jud sa NLOM (a.k.a. Newton’s laws of motion).

Good thing, when our capable driver changed gears, it signaled the end of our little chit chat. I left him to his driving (which thanks to him is physics in disguised by the way!) and he left me to my thoughts. With eyes shut, I mentally went over the names of random men and women whose principal involvement directly contributed to the goods strapped securely behind Bumblebee. You see, they were the ones who reached out of their own pocket and said,” Here’s something I wanted to share. It’s not much, but I hoped it’ll help.” Mother Theresa did say and I quote, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” For every peso they gave, was an act of love; so cheers to the following people who were our “producers” in crime–but in a good way: Ms. Karen Lee Macaso & Jing2 GalendezMr. Bong Labadan, Jr Villanueva, Mivi Myvi, Earl Ryan Janubski, Marissa Jadap, Mr. Dennis Patalinghug, Mr. & Mrs. Loyne Pueblos, Analyn Timbal, the Lucedra family, and our Anonymous donors. 

I was jolted wide awake when we had to cross over a river [that was so much fun!] and had to maneuver over a steep slope or grade. However amazing our driver was, we were not able to get pass it. By this time, some rock hit and broke Bumblebee’s radiator. “If anything can go wrong, it will,” Murphy’s law. Ug si Bumblebee pa ang na sampolan ani! I felt bad. The truck was with us since day one. It was on our first trip to Kapihan, Quezon Bukidnon, earlier this year. His a familiar face [yes, I know the truck’s an inanimate object but when he spent mileage with you like he did to us, you’ll think twice calling Bumblebee, an It]. We descended from the truck and the men pushed Bumblebee to a more even, less sloping ground. We took our belongings, the ant hill was taken down and the repacking began.

I took my pack, put on my headlamp and searched for bread. Somebody passed the bread to me (bless him) which I also passed along to the Sulad students who were there to help out by transporting the goods to their school. In the midst of the controlled chaos and adrenaline rush, everything just fell into place. I saw three groups working side by side. I saw three groups whose path intertwined for that moment to take place. I attributed the whole “moment taking place” idea was God’s. Not that He wanted the Sulad students to suffer with the lack of food so that’ll He could play the superhero. Far from it! If He chose to end the food shortage at the Sulad Comprehensive School with one word, He can and will. But in His infinite wisdom He chose finite humans with flaws to be His hands and feet. If I was asked a year ago, “Do you see yourself climbing for miles end in the middle of the night to bring food to hungry kids?” NO. Never. “Do you see yourself asking money for people you do not know?” Hmmm…Maybe. I don’t know. It depends upon the situation? “Will you be willing to give your time, money, and effort for kids you hardly know and can never repay you?”  I think I can but how much am I willing to sacrifice, that I do not know.

But then, there I was in the dead of the night, rubbing elbows with ordinary people who broke free from their comfort zones, and would have thought differently had it not been for God’s invitation. They learned to speak, to ask, to sacrifice not for themselves but for others. And by so doing, even for a short while in some small measure became better persons.

What was true to ROTA was also true to the other group, D’ Hangz. They’ve been exposed to outreach activities for the longest time and intimately knew how it was to step out of their comfort zones. They pressed on not in the least bit hindered by the weight of the supplies they bore on their backs. I dubbed them the “walking pantries”. They took to the habit of carrying our food supplies, in whatever quantity and in any weight. And like Bumblebee, they delivered. On the surface it seemed like male bravado and “garbo”, but up close it’s an overdrive of mental attitude. They knew that for every climb, the will must be stronger than the dragging weight on their backs. This time was no different.

Then I looked at the eager hands and excited faces of our younger companions. They had been waiting for hours. The long wait and hunger did nothing to dampen their spirit. They were told to go down and wait. And that we were coming. An hour stretched to two, then three. Then it rolled into four. Not until approximately seven hours slipped by, did we show up. Were they able to pass the Marshmallow test of faith? With flying colors! Those kids stuck it out. Hang on, unwavering. That’s faith, what else? “It is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen.” It may not be dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea but nonetheless the lesson to me was just as powerful. To believe we were coming while the situation proved unlikely by the minute, and doggedly persist; that is faith in a nutshell.

As I stood waiting for us to go on our way, I smiled in the quite knowledge that I was in the presence of real action figures.

Note: Outreach was done November 12, 2011 with D’Hangz and New Rota members.

– Kofinitum

Events, Mountains, Stories

Apo notes 1

I was at Dulang2 when I first caught a glimpse of Mt. Apo. It wasn’t much. Just this silhoutte of a mountain, were its tip seemed to kiss the very sky. I craned my neck and squinted hard as I could owning that I’m nearsighted; my eyes feasted on the few visual crumbs the famous mountain had permitted us to see that day. I grabbed my camera and began clicking. The small jutted image at a distance was an enigma; a mystery waiting to be unveiled. “Sakaon nato ng Apo, ba![Let’s do climb Apo]”, someone said aloud. I smiled and nodded my head in response hardly taking my eyes off the topic in question. “Climb Apo…climb Apo”, I juggled the idea inside my head hoping by my repeated chanting, the thought would be less daunting. ” The highest peak in the Philippines! It’s in every pinoy mountaineer’s wishlist”, I said to myself, all the while holding on either side the sturdy branches of a grown bonsai plant. I looked below and saw the smiling faces of my friends. Hardly a trace of exhaustion brought by the lack of sleep( kinsa man pud makatulog sa katugnaw sa Dulang…aber?); laughing, drunk from the sweet taste of “summit-itis”(Noun; a temporary emotional condition a mountain climber experiences when s/he reached the top of a mountain; the change in elevation have got nothing to do with it but rather the pure satisfaction of conquering a massive natural formation; symptoms are giddiness, boisterous laughing, uncontrollable picture taking with a few jump shots as well; finishing off with promises of coming back or climbing other mountains]. I got down from my pecarious position, straigthened my jacket and shove the idea at the back of my mind. “Kung mangarap man lang, lubos-lubusin na. The sky is the limitation–matud pa sa akong miga!”

Fastforward, fourteen months and sixteen days. I’m excited. “Ang sky is the limitation, naabot ra! Nakadagit pa jud, ug  bituon!”  The wishlist would now turned into, “I’ve Done-that-list!”. Promises made, were promises kept.” Let’s see… What would Dulang2 look like from the other side?”. I’ll be sure to take a picture for you.

– Kofinitum