Monthly Archives: March 2015

What to expect on your first climb?

I was never athletic. Never has and never will be. I like the great outdoors and I enjoy nature more than I enjoy most people. Sometimes though, I do wish that my body would keep up with my soul’s wanton desire to be one with nature.

And what amazing work of nature to get lost in than a mountain? I hold an almost reverent, romantic view for these hulking mass of the earth. I am simply enthralled with their hugeness, their constrained power, the mystery they hide beneath the carpet of green. Ever since I graduated from school, one of the things I must do in my list is to climb a mountain. But for reasons of the other, I wasn’t able to.

So when my bestfriend casually invited me for a dayhike at a nearby mountain in Bulacan, who was I to pass up the chance? It’s time to get up close and personal.

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Mt. Balagbag in Bulacan is a minor climb, just right enough for a climber newbie like me. Eme told me that in a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, it scored a 2. But believe me if I tell you that when you’re done with this mountain, you would think that someone has done this mountain a great injustice by giving it a measly 2.

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The difficulty 2 mountain will never give you the luxury of a flat, even ground. Mt. Balagbag has a steep terrain, riddled with sharp, huge rocks. It will provoke you with 45° steepness which often bends in a narrow curve. The climbers we are with, who are far more experienced than us, has to stop in every big lonesome tree they come across with just to breathe normally again.

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Another thing you should remember in facing Balagbag is the lack of protection from the sun. The climb would have been a hundred times easier if we hike at night or at dawn. I swear it seems like the mountain is frying you like a good sunny-side egg before it can eat you alive. Good thing the wind picks up every once in a while and it’s more than enough to keep us going.

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Reaching the top is a bit anticlimactic but still memorable. One of my friends, Crisel, kept on saying: “Shit, I can’t believe I made it!” and it’s wonderful how our “I’m dying. Just leave me be..” exhaustion minutes earlier is suddenly wiped out by “Yeah, we can take on everything!” elation.

From the experience as someone who is “devirginized” by a mountain, here are some of the musings I can share on what to expect on your first climb:

* Before anything else, condition your body. Before Balagbag, I jog about two times a week to pump up my cardio. I’m still a little sore two days after the climb but I hate to think what it would be like if I sit on my ass all week, thinking it will be a piece of cake.

* Choose comfortable clothes. If you’re in a dayhike climb, wear shorts with leggings underneath. Stretchable armbands are your bestfriend because you can take them off after the climb. Don’t dress to impress. No matter how good you look, the climb will change your appearance so much, you wouldn’t recognize yourself anymore. Do not wear extra clothings as possible, unless you’re about to climb the likes of Mt. Pulag.

* Rubber shoes may be too hot to wear but you will be thankful with them when the trail before you is a steep slide with sharp rocks at the bottom.

* Bring at least two 500ml of water and/or electrolytes. 80% of your bag is for water bottles.

* In a dayhike, travel light. Your backpack should be smaller than usual. In a major climb, make sure to choose a bag with comfortable shoulder straps.

* Bring caps, sun shades, visor or anything thag will protect your head and eyes from the sun.

* Hike in your own pace, especially if it’s your first time. So what if your hike buddies are far ahead of you? Give your poor body a chance to get in grips with that awful decision you made in climbing a damn mountain in the first place! (You’re not the first person who asked yourself: “What did I get myself into?”)

* If you feel like resting, do so. If you’re breathing hard and your heart feels like it’s about to burst on your chest, DO NOT sit down right away. Lean unto something or continue to stand until it finally subsided to a normal pace.

* On the middle of a steep climb, don’t spend most of your time looking far ahead. It will make you think of how high it is or how difficult it will be to make the turn or reach a point. It will make you tired more than you already are. Focus on your pace and at your progress. Before you know it, you’ve reached the top.

* Going down is just as hard as climbing up. But arguably, more fun!

* The view at the top is always worth the sweat.

* No matter how tired you get, or the regrets you thought while climbing, trust me if I say you will be addicted. The fever you will catch in climbing is no ordinary bug. You’ll experience some feverish desire to climb a mountain if you saw one.

Some geological trivia: Dead/dormant volcanoes are mountains without any neighbors. Usually, ordinary mountains are part of a mountain range or a cluster.

Now excuse me while I plan my next climb for the month of April. Pico de Loro, here I come!

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Why I’ve stopped asking God ‘Why’

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I’m a ‘why’ person. As a reporter, my favorite type of questions are the ‘Why’ ones. I would often reserve them to the last, after we’ve gone through the boring facts and figures, details and data, like a dessert after the appetizer and main course. My mentors would often lightly reprimand me that the lead of my news articles are usually long and feature-like; it’s because the ‘Why’ answers are always emphasized in the lead than the popular ‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘When’,and ‘Where’

My other favorite question is ‘How’ if I’m really interested with the subject but let’s talk about that some other time.

Why did you launch this project?
Why did you choose this age group as your target audience?
Why did you say that the youth today is the hope of the future?
Why are you so concerned with this cause?

I like to call ‘why’ questions as questions that allow the readers to focus more on the person than the subject, the ‘who’ than the ‘what’. ‘Why’s’ are personal; they allow you to solve one person’s motives, dreams, fears, history and other interesting tidbits (if you’re a gossip like me, kidding!).

It doesn’t work on God, however.

When I became a Christian, I’ve developed more questions than answers. Like with most people I know, they would usually ask ‘Lord, what is your plan in my life?’ or things like ‘Lord, where will you lead me?’ No I’m not that. I like to get deep and personal. After all, my newfound relationship with Christ granted me the Grace of that freedom. No sir, I wouldn’t settle for just answers in front of me. I’ll be demanding explanations.

My impatience and inherent independence usually bring me in conflict with God’s plan and mine. When things simply aren’t going my way, when I’m sick and frustrated over my own failures and stubbornness to listen to Him, I would demand the ‘Why’ right away. Why me? Why are you making me suffer? Why are you silent?

Why would you let this happen to me?

Why are you letting the innocent suffer?

Why must this person die?

Why are you letting bad things happen to your people?

And as you may have guessed, I received no reply. I thought, ‘I might as well be talking to a wall’

Asking ‘Why’ to God is a habit I have to give up, and mind you, it’s one of those hardest things I have to give up during my early days as a Christian. Still, I overcome it. It’s not because I got tired of asking Him questions. Usually, He would give the answers in the right time. It’s also not because I’ve stopped asking the ‘Why’ questions.

It’s because I’ve been asking them the wrong way all this time. I’ve forgotten the basic rule of journalism that the key for your answers lies on even the slightest revisions of your questions.

Instead of ‘Why are You like this to me?’, I began asking questions like:

‘Why am I like this?’

‘Why am I doubting Him?’

‘Why am I so afraid?’

‘Why am I losing faith now?’

And there, just like that, God would me give the answers. Yeah, I know. It took me ages to realize that.

This is WHY I’ve stopped asking Him why. Because in His grand scheme of things, let’s just face it, the answers to our Why questions are pointless. Instead, giving up our human nature to know ‘Why’ is the ultimate act of submission because you have no say in the matter anymore. It is your own leap of faith. It is defying logic and our own nature to fear the unknown. I’ve learned that the best testimonies of faith come from people who stopped asking ‘Why’.

When I was little and my parents used to bring me and my brothers to those pool trips, my dad would often ask me to ride the water slide. I have no idea where the slide would lead to but still, I didn’t hesitate to jump and slide all the way down, trusting with all my heart that my dad would be waiting at the bottom,with his arms outstretched to catch me so I wouldn’t drown. No questions asked. I knew that my father would be there waiting for me.

And this made me realize that asking too much questions can delay the fun or the wonderful promises He has planned for you. Being a ‘Why’ person has its perks, but when it comes to asking God, those ‘Why’s’ have to go.

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