Don’t change the mountain; Let the mountain change you.
A sudden jolt, an inevitable catastrophe, a beautiful surprise – these are events that change us, for the better or for the worse. Change is an inevitable process. I’m no believer in a Higher Being like other people, but I believe that nature is such a force that is greater than all of us – and she is part of the greater picture that is the Universe. When you’re matched up against this force, how do you measure up?
These are the thoughts I’ve taken with me after our ascent to Mt. Daguldul in Laiya, Batangas. This was the second time that I’ve faced off with this majestic mountain, and I believe that this one’s the charm. I first climbed this mountain back in college, when I thought of it as a requirement. We had no baggage during the climb since we set up camp by the beachfront, so the ascent was a breeze compared to what I’ve experienced last weekend. We also didn’t have much time to appreciate the view at the summit since we were only there for around 30 minutes before starting the descent back to camp. The second time was the real deal.
We left Manila very early, around 4:30 AM and arrived in Laiya, Batangas around 9:00 AM. After registration and a hearty meal, we started the tedious walk along the highway, under the heat of the morning sun. This was a different route from the first time – we took a boat back then to reach the base of the mountain. This time around, we spent almost an hour walking to get to the base, where the real hike began. Everything was the same as I remembered it – the muddy , the slippery, the rocky, the sort-of dangerous, and the FLUFFY GOATS! It was no walk in the park, ’twas more like a walk in the dark. Of course, despite having a very trusty guide to ease us along the path, the loads on our backs slowed us down and we had to make plenty of stops along the way. These breaks were accompanied by yummy halo-halos and instant meals of tuna paellas and Mcdonald’s cheeseburgers. Yum!
To add to the pain-pleasure mix, I got pricked by an unknown plant which I accidentally touched while we were climbing the muddy and slippery trails. Due to the fear that I would slip to my death, I held on for dear life to the shrubbery around us. Little did I know that one plant I held on to was very defensive – it sent microscopic thorns deep in my left hand, the palms and the back, which brought stinging, prickly sensations all over my palms and fingers. I thought I would completely lose feeling of my left hand – luckily, the guide said it can be remedied and the stinging pain would go away. He vigorously rubbed my face towel all over my palms, fingers, and the back of my hand. He said it would remove the thorns lodged there, and that would remove the stinging sensation. He also advised me to put baby powder on my hand, it helps relieve the pain and remove any thorns that may have been left there. He said, “Na-trambulo ka.”
The ascent took us around 6 hours, and the view at the summit was totally worth it. We set up camp on a site overlooking the sea, with horseshit, semi-wild horses and dogs surrounding us. Wouldn’t you say it was perfect? Haha!
With all five tents set up, we started cleaning ourselves and preparing dinner. Unfortunately, the ascent left some of us completely tired so after the feast, some of us (including me) resorted to resting inside our own tents while some stayed awake to talk some more. I shared my tent with Lee. A few minutes of rest and we were fast asleep – goodbye socials.
I woke up at around 11:30, since Lee woke me up to a panic. We heard the faint trickle of rain outside our tent and the realization came: THIS IS NOT GOOD. The reason being the unproven sturdiness of the tent we borrowed from a friend to withstand adverse weather conditions, more so that the tent was relatively cheap and had improvised parts (we used sticks as makeshift pegs and duct-taped its small fly sheet because it didn’t include the strings for that). She prayed it would stop. I waited for the best.
Things got worse.
The faint drizzle escalated into a full-blown thunderstorm (GASP LIGHTNING GASP THUNDER!!!). When you’re more than 600 meters above sea level, you just feel like you’re so much closer to danger, so much closer to nature. Water was trickling down inside our tent, it was imploding due to the strong winds, and we were slowly getting flooded inside. We worried for our bags. I went outside and called for our friend Ed, who was in the other tent that was apparently, also turning into an indoor swimming pool that time. I was supposed to ask him to let us migrate along with him, until discovering his unfortunate situation as well. So what we did was ask our friend from another tent to keep our bags for us and keep ’em dry while the three of us camped inside our soaked tent (turns out that ours was destroyed less compared to Ed’s). Lee, being the ever-trusty person that she is, used our big-ass trash bags as makeshift sleeping mats and makeshift feet covers (I was having intense chills and she took care of me). I bet if we had enough we could’ve been able to build a better tent out of those trash bags already!
Sleep was so elusive – it’s very difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you’re cold all over, you’re having chills, and you don’t know if the tent’s just going to collapse and suffocate you. Fortunately enough, the rain stopped at around 2:30 AM, and we eagerly tried to sleep. I think I only had around 2 hours of sleep – I would know that I was able to sleep after waking up from two dreams. That had to suffice.
That morning, fog engulfed the summit and rain joined us yet again. This made around 1/3 of the descent a bit difficult, because the trail was so muddy and slippery that we had to be extra careful. However, the sun eventually peeked from the trees, and it dried our soaking selves for the rest of the trip. The descent was so much faster, it cut our time from the ascent to about half.
Back in Lipa’s town proper, we rewarded ourselves with a hearty Shakey’s MONSTER MEAL THAT’S GOOD FOR 12 PEOPLE! (Take note: Only 6 of us devoured this meal set). BOOYEAH!
So yeah, just some thoughts, primarily during the deluge.
Because I haven’t had any previous experiences similar to the deluge, I really thought I was going to die. Lee was partly praying during that time, but what was I thinking about?
- This rain will stop. This low pressure area whatever the fuck you call this fucking thunderstorm will pass. I remember the duration of low pressure areas back in the metro, the continuous rainfall usually lasts for around 2 hours and then stops. So this will be over eventually.
- *THUNDER AND LIGHTNING* but holy shit, hey you, she’s praying to you. Keep her safe okay, I don’t care what happens to me but she believes in you, you owe her as much.
- HOLY SHIT THIS IS AWESOME! HOW WILL I WRITE ABOUT THIS LATER ON?
- *chills chills* FUCK THIS FEELS LIKE TITANIC. Am I going to die of hypothermia? Or be inflicted with pneumonia or tuberculosis? *cue dream sequence* *wakes up* FUCK I’M STILL ALIVE!!
- So this is what a near-death experience feels like. Or something like it.
- I’M GOING TO GET FUCKING BETTER EQUIPMENT AND THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
So we bought new gear and fuck I want my money back if these gears don’t live up to my expectations. I’m gearing up for Mt. Batulao this weekend. AGAIN, I’M EXCITED!
Lee and I are going to make this a thaaaaang.
Here are some photos. Lol.