Trips - Cebu
Mt. Manunggal Trek

by Antoinette Go

 [This way] is unknown, and so requires faith 
 -The kind of faith that issues from despair 
 The destination cannot be described: 
 You will know very little until you get there 
 You will journey blind. 
 But the way leads towards possession 
 Of what you have sought for in the wrong place 

  -- T.S. Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" 


          It was with great relief and glee that I greeted cousin Kate's phone call that she'll be joining the Manunggal trek. I was not excited by the prospect of mountaineering, in truth I was losing my interest. I lost so much weight in the last two months, another two inches less around the waist, I had to be in bad shape to get thin so fast without the benefit of any exercise or diet. But if Kate, who is unabashedly x lbs. overweight is going, then I know I can handle the climb. 

          Judge P -- I baptise him the dean of Cebu mountaineering because he pioneered many trails for rappelling, river, and mountain trekking -- gave us a rundown of things to bring. The kind of food (no canned goods, please), the kind of clothes (jackets for the misty cold winds at night), the kind of gear (big, light, sturdy). Gingin and Kate, Kate and Gingin -- what an adorable pair. They looked like eager puppies as they lapped up and jotted down everything that the judge said. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Gingin was already bragging about this delicious Swiss Miss hot coco that he takes for breakfast. And such thoughtful friends, they rang me up the day before and offered to do my grocery shopping for me since I was too busy with work. 

          I got elected as 2nd vice president of Green Earth Mountaineers, too, imagine! Mois, who had never done a serious trekking in Cebu, or anywhere else for that matter. That Mt. Kinabalu trek was more of a six-kilometer staircase climb. We held the election two days before the climb. I was reunited with some old pals from my rappelling adventure, and made new friends in the club. Soft-spoken and well-organized Lito came prepared with ballot forms for the election. It was no surprise he was elected president. Judge P, the founder of the club, called the shots. There was only one nominee for each vacant post. "This is not an election," I told my seatmate as we tried to copy the names Judge P was writing in his ballot, "this is 'fill in the blanks'." 


          For years the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been spearheading this annual trek to Mt. Manunggal. The occasion is the death anniversary of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay who died when his plane crashed in this mountain in 1957. I was all set to climb with the Green Earth Mountaineers last year but got left behind when I showed up late at the wrong assembly area. This time we didn't take any chances, we arranged for
me to spend the night at Judge P's place. He checked my stuff and was dismayed when he saw the bright red Coca-Cola duffel bag that I put my food and water provisions in. "You're not bringing that!" Hard to tell if it was a request or an order. "You will be the laughing stock up there!" he said. I pouted my lips and with a stubborn toss of my head retorted, "I don't care, nobody knows me up there." I relented after he cajoled, pleaded, entreated then offered to carry my other stuff and after he displayed his other bags for me to choose from. "You can put your foodstuff in a plastic bag, anything, but that," he nagged, "they will call you a 'traveler'." Real mountaineers, he pontificated, use backpacks not traveling bags.
Continued on next page ...

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Antoinette Go works for the San Miguel Corporation and is a member of the Green Earth Mountaineers in Cebu. She is also a journalist and you can read her work at Antoinettes Life in These Islands web site as well as her Southern Miss web site where she is currently studying.

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