Trips - Mt. Pulag 

Meralco 1998 Mt. Pulag Chronicles 

by Ruby Gagelonia 

Kabayan Trail (aka Chicken!)

   When the MM Officers sounded the alarm for the annual January Pulag Climb, this time through the Kabayan Trail (otherwise known as "Pulag Traverse"), mixed emotions were shared among the members. 

   "But we just had our induction there!" wailed Batch 4 who also took the Kabayan route last November. 

   "Teka muna! We’re out of shape! Kulang pa sa takbo!" lamented those who had to admit they had binged during the recent Holidays. They confessed they could still feel the sebo of the Star of the Noche Buena Feast in their arteries. And "Can’t we do this Annual January Pulag Climb in March instead?" 

   "Kabayan? Pang-brusko lang yan!" was the persistent excuse of the faint of heart. 

   "Maraming bakasyon yan, hindi ako pwede," came from those who had malasakit sa kumpanya more than anything else. 

   "Sama ‘ko.. I have a score to settle with that mountain!" came from an old member who had climbed Pulag twice but never got to reach the peak due to some handicap or other. 

   "Sino ba’ng kasama?" was, of course, the eternal question of the bruskos and hoping-to-be-bruskos who would be willing to climb even Mt. Everest as long as there were good-looking girls in the team. 

   And so it came to pass. Five eligible young ladies from Sunlife and PCIBank became the force that made eight eligible young MM believe that they have the strength and stamina to trek through scorching heat, dense forest, and freezing grasslands, at assault inclines of up to 85 degrees, just so they can be there when the ladies call out for their knights in shining armor! The rest of the team joined the climb to simply prove they can beat the Kabayan Trail. 

   Compared to the last two January Pulag Climbs, this one had memories unique to itself. One very obvious difference was that everyone carried a cell phone! Every break they had, each "Take Ten" along the trail, became an opportunity to whip out the cell to call friends and family. Hearing familiar voices from back home undoubtedly revitalizes a weary trekker. 

   And since most of the team had climbed these "rolling hills" before, a couple just last November, a lot of lessons were applied. Like, this time, food was all over the place. Trail snacks ranged from jellyace to mongo bread to mixed nuts to quesodebola to itlognamaalat. Canned food came in all sizes and brands. Thirst quenchers came in all colors! If anyone hears even a whimper of hunger from a teammate, he immediately pulls out some delectable treat to share with everyone. 

   Another lesson learned from previous climbs is precaution from hypothermia. A couple of guys pulled out fur lined winter jackets. Blue thermal overalls looked a little cute in the middle of the grasslands. There were bonnets of colorful prints, layers of neon sweaters and jackets, and gloves screaming for attention. In the middle of the night you’d hear the sporadic crackling of thermal blankets inside the tents. No one complained of hypothermia. 

   The pacing of the whole climb can be accurately described as "friendly". Not too hataw (aka "ratrat"), but not too wimpy (aka "executive"). The EL and his two TLs covered all 15 climbers with watchful eyes to detect if any one member of the group was starting to have a hard time. Consensus was always taken on whether to push on or to stop for a much needed break. It was obvious that the Kabayan’s steep trail and hazardous cliffs would lend no mercy to the trekkers. Going too fast would burn out the team, maybe even handicap it. Taking too much time will lead to having to trek in the cold, in the dark, to reach the designated campsite. 

   What actually rendered the climb "Chicken" was the synergy of the team. Fifteen climbers shared a very unique combination of strength and endurance, sense of humor, camaraderie, caring, and a lot of food. Throughout the trek, there were smiles and laughter. Everyone had a joke to throw in. Even dead Erap jokes were resurrected. Singing and dancing helped lighten the load. Kanchawan just wouldn’t stop. Of course, a lot of the synergy was brought about by the teasing and special attention inspired by the beautiful young ladies present. It’s this girl-guy thing! Works wonders, especially at a climb like Kabayan! 


Food For Thought (translation: "Puro Pagkain Ang Nasa Isip")

   Isn’t it such a wonder… 
  • How we ignore all those apples and oranges sitting in the ref… but how sweet and extra juicy and so delicious these same fruits are when you’re drying up in the middle of a terribly hot trek… Try that on your downtrek towards the Ranger Station. You gotta control your urge to eat them on your way up cuz you’ll appreciate them much more on the hot trek down.  
  • How we only eat tomatoes when they’re part of a BLT sandwich… but how we grab and bite them raw when there’s nothing left to eat… Next time you have leftover tomatoes from breakfast, don’t throw them to the birds; they’ll taste especially cool and crunchy and juicy at brunch. 
  • How we normally hate pork and beans… but how excited we get to snap open a can and just sip out the beans during a hurried snack break… Yup, no need for spoons or plates. The beans slide out conveniently. It will help if you have a small piece of mongo bread to wipe out the last remaining pieces and the leftover sauce.   
 Question1: Into how many slices can you slice a whole pineapple? 

 Answer1: Into as many people as there are waiting to eat. 

 Question2: How many freezing people can share a hot cup of instant noodles? 

 Answer2: As many people as there are huddled in a tent. 

   Food can be shared with as many people as necessary. Even if each one will have to take only a small piece. But if there’s a lot of different food to share, there will be a lot of small pieces. And there will be more than enough for everyone. 


Copyright © 1998 by Ruby Gagelonia  
Originally published in the Meralco Mountaineers Website  

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