Monday, September 10, 2012

MINDANAO 123 – A Week in the life of a Mountaineer (August 2012)

They say “be careful with what you wish for.” But hey, it never even crossed to my mind that my feet would reach the top of Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. I was looking for something when I happened to find my scrapbook-like compilation album where I also listed down my dreams when I was 18. There was no dream mountain there. And I didn’t even aspire then to risk myself, wander and explore the mountainous regions in the country.  And now, I just got back to Manila from a week stay in Mindanao---- I am a traveler. I am a mountaineer.

The story goes like this: My climbing buddy, Dennis Hisanan and I had set it a year ago when were lucky to book a discounted fare in Cebu Pacific. The event was entitled Mindanao 123. It was indeed a long (and difficult , of course) climb as we would be scaling the top 3 highest mountains in Mindanao, from Mt. Apo in Davao to Mt. Dulang-dulang  traversing Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon.  Few of our known mountaineering enthusiasts had already done this and we wanted to try such kind of a climb. Apart from it is the fact that it would be our first time to see and experience the beauty of Mindanao mountains. How does it feel to climb in the southern Philippines and how do they differ from the mountains in Luzon? Another  reason for this is that we are Luzon-based climbers and it is better and practical to maximize the  time we spend there as the proximity of the provinces where they are located are manageable in terms of travel (bus travel only). 

Arriving in Davao City on the night of 24th day of August, it ended with also a night flight to Manila from Cagayan de Oro on the 2nd day of September (2012).  Our climb proper in Mt. Apo was held overnight  from August 25-26 taking Kidapawan trail back and forth (discussed in detail in a separate post). Hence, we traveled to Kidapawan City in the early morning of the 25th. Our spare day was Monday, August 28 when we also traveled back to Davao City after the Apo climb. We were able able to just waste the day in rest, food trip and relaxation in Davao.  The next day was the travel time to Bukidnon which was also the day of meet up with our guide in Dulang-dulang-Kitanglad(D2K) climb and another fellow mountaineer , Jenny Tanedo who joined us .  However, delayed in the schedule and itinerary unexpectedly happened until the original schedule of start trek to D2k on the 29th (discussed further in a separate post). Spending the week in Mindanao was actually made me get myself to places in four provinces—North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro. Bad thing was due to the mentioned delays, we were not able to do a side trip like the planned longest zip line experience in Bukidnon or Camiguin Island which is a few-hour travel from Cagayan de Oro.

Three  things that amused me were: first, the multi-cab, we do not have that in Luzon. The capacity of multi-cab, as the name implies, is more than that of the typical tricycle. Second, the Bisaya dialect. I am a pure Tagalog and the only  statement I know is “Maayong Buntag” (Magandang umaga/Good Morning) and I was able to remember one word “subida” (akyat). I was like a “zipped mouth” when mingling with the local people there. All I had to do was to hear but  not understand them (I was like an idiot… laughing).  Well, give me a chance to stay there for some time and I would learn the dialect (more laughs). Lastly, I love the farm in Bukidnon. It’s  like a very narrow and continuous fruit and vegetable plantations on each side of the road that we viewed after reaching the exit point of Mt. Kitanglad and heading to Sitio Intavas in the town of Impasug-ong.

I am very grateful for this opportunity and good break from work. I was able to take such kind of long vacation because of the 2-week mandatory leave in the office. After spending first few days in my hometown with my family, Mindanao-bound trip followed and it was such an unforgettable trip of my lifetime.  I saw a post which says “life is better outside your bubble”. Indeed, there’s more to life that God has given when you tried to explore. As for me, I’ve gained some realizations  and new learnings in life every time I travel and I’ve learned to be thankful of the things I see and experience.

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