Bundok Philippines - Mt. Halcon, Mindoro  

Trips - Sibuyan Island, Romblon 
Adventure on Mt. Guiting-Guiting

by Kurt - kurty21@hotmail.com

First, let me introduce myself. Iím Kurt 21 years old and taking up B.S. Biology.  Iím a Chinese-Filipino citizen. My ancestry is pure Chinese, but I was born in the Philippines. The thing I like most here is the places in the Islands.  My first adventure happened this year. 

The place was Sibuyan Island which is part of Romblon province. There are 3 main islands of Romblon: Tablas Island, Romblon Island, and Sibuyan Island. I went to Sibuyan Island last May 1997 during my summer vacation. 

It was 3 a.m. when I left my home in Tablas Island, my parents were still asleep. I rode the FX jeep for 2 hours to get to San Agustin to catch the boat for Sibuyan. I was alone. When I arrived at the pier, I didnít know what to do because my dadís friend, Uncle Ando, did not arrive to pick me up. It was a good thing I brought my mountain bike with me and I still remembered where his house was. I saw him waiting at the door, so I greeted him good morning. 

The first day, Uncle Ando introduced me to some kids (about 18 years old) who were very friendly. They took me to Cantingas Falls. The place was a flowing river from a cold spring coming from the top of a mountain.  I did not stay in the water too long because the water is really cold. The place was surrounded with thick forest on all sides. 

On my second day, I caught some flying lizards in their backyard and I went biking around the town. The people are friendly but everybody was watching me. Maybe they thought that I was a foreigner. Later that afternoon I went swimming at the beach. 

On the third day, I started feeling bored at the house and told Uncle Ando that I wanted to climb Mt. Guiting-Guiting (2,050 m) just for fun. He asked, ďAre you sure?Ē I said yeah, maybe, he! he! he! (I wasnít really prepared to climb). Uncle Ando said OK then, you will go this noon to the other town and bring your things. You can ask the housekeeper (he had another house in Magdiwang) to help you find a forest guide. 

I met the forest guide that night and we talked a little and he seemed very kind. He didnít ask for much money because I'm the only one who was going to climb so there's not much problem for him. I agreed to pay him 150 pesos but he again asked "Are you sure you want to climb that mountain?" 

I spent the night in that small house with a kid named Bornok. The place has no electricity and the mosquitoes made a nice dinner with my feet. 

Early the next day, Bornok and I had breakfast prepared by the housekeeper. We met the forest guide at around 6 a.m. Also with me was the son of the housekeeper whose name I forgot. He carried our lunch. Bornok carried my small backpack full of mineral water. They refused to let me carry my things. They were very nice and hospitable people.

We walked about 1 km to the base of the mountain. Although we donít share the same religion (Iím a Catholic) with the forest guide (who was 7th Day Adventist) we all prayed together before we started the climb . 

The trail started up but I couldnít see where it led because a thick forest covered the whole mountain. Along the way I saw unusual plants, big and small trees, and different orchid species climbing trees everywhere. Some of the trees were cut by illegal loggers. The first stop was the first rest station. It was only a brief rest because there wasnít a shelter but just a clearing. There are four stations on trail to the peak with about 2-km between each. The ground is sometimes slippery especially when the trail is very steep. I slipped only twice I think. We reached the second station but there was little to see. I took some pictures and gathered some samples of unusual plants. Most were orchids that I had never seen before. Off we go again and I was really worried about the stamina of the kids with me. But I saw them behind me and they were singing with my Walkman in their ears, and I said to myself maybe they are probably used to walking long distances. 

I was getting tired and always ask the forest guide if the 3rd station was near. He said yes about five times during the 3 hour climb toward the 3rd station. Finally, we reached the 3rd station and I laid on the floor and was really exhausted. The rest of the group seemed not to be so tired. It was already noontime so the son of the housekeeper prepared the food but I was too tired to help. Bornok was still singing along with my Walkman. He was really funny.  We all took our lunch and rested for awhile. I saw some hermit land crabs walking towards me. Birds were signing in the treetops but I couldnít see them. I also heard unusual croaks of frogs. 

We started back down at about 1 p.m. I couldnít reach the 4th station anymore because I was too tired and my head was aching. Going down was as hard as climbing up. My left knee was uncontrollable because all my weight was on it. As I touched the ground my knees bend and there wasnít much strength. I rested frequently on the way down because of my knees. The forest guide noticed that a leech was clinging to my back. He had a hard time taking it of without injuring my skin. I brought the leech with me (it was colorful).  There were a lot of animal droppings on the trail from different cat species. The forest guide told me that there are still many leopard cats roaming the mountain. The leopard cat is an endemic species and is endangered. There was also a picture taken before by some mountaineers of a fox-like dog roaming the mountain. Many foreigners climb the mountain to search for undiscovered plant and animal species. Recently they discovered the smallest bat and three new rodents. Plants are gathered for medical research. 

I reached the base of the mountain at around 5:30 p.m. and I was really exhausted. As I reached home, Uncle Ando was trying to reach us on the radio since one oíclock that afternoon asking if I had arrived. I think he was worried that something might have happened to me. Previously, four University of the Philippines mountaineers died on the mountain because they lost the trail and were caught in a flash flood. 

The next day I had to leave and I gave 100 pesos each to Bornok and the son of the housekeeper for their help. At first they hesitated to accept my money but I insisted and thanked them for their great hospitality. 

I made a long-distance call to my brother in Manila and told him that I climbed Mt. Guiting-Guiting and I said Iím OK and not to tell mom and dad and especially not to tell Lola (grandmother). 



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