After the successive hikes I had these past few years, I have never looked at the mountains the way I did before. Every morning, while passing by the overpass along Mambaling, I would look at Babag Range in awe. Every afternoon, if fortunate to go home early, I’d always imagine how the beautiful explosion of the sun setting would look like as viewed from Mt. Naupa or Sirao Peak. The mountains have changed me. But probably one of its contributing factors were the interactions I had on those hikes – from nonsense conversation to exchange of political views, firsthand encounter of the different flora and fauna, and getting to know more about myself and the people I encounter.
But not all encounters are exemplary. Some would lead into heartbreaks, worse, change of attitude… or an end to a relationship. For a number of times, the mountains have forged and broke people. Literally and figuratively. Nonetheless, these are all part of the lessons that we are bound to take in this course.
If you have read my previous post, I am not in my usual demeanor these days. I tried resorting to various strategies to uplift this undesired behavior – from food to movies to music to books – but to no avail. Somehow I couldn’t find the answer to the question I can’t barely formulate. So I resorted to my most favorite option: obviously, the mountains. A plan was organized on a certain group chat headed by a hiker I met a year ago. They were planning to track one of the longest practice trails in Cebu – Guadalupe to Napo to Babag to Buottaop to Bitlang to Jaclupan – to which they fondly called this as the “Zombie Trail”. I wasn’t active in the group chat, though I took note of the scheduled meetup time and place. So imagine their surprise when I suddenly asked where the heck they were on the agreed time of assembly.
Together with my brother and Carlo, we met Mak’s group at Guadalupe Church and instead of starting by six in the morning, we began by eight thirty. HAHAHA. Typical Filipino time. In comparison to the pacing we had back in December when we had a caroling session in the area, the group was way faster. Well, it was considerably a practice climb for the group for their upcoming hike to Mandalagan. At such pacing, we arrived at Babag after two hours and a half!
When we reached the favorite chill station of many hikers, Micahel announced that we’d be taking our lunch on site and proceed with the hike by one in the afternoon. It then gave us ample time to interview locals and fellow hikers who were passing by the area. It felt a warmth in the heart knowing that the hiking society of Cebu is growing faster than I could imagine. I could recall back then when very few were hiking Spartan Trail. It would even look awkward roaming around Convergys with a fully-packed hiking bag but now, most especially on weekends, you’d see several groups gathering in every corner. I could that they were aware of the different outdoor etiquette and that they have lived by heart the love for the environment.
In between those strategic interviews I’ve come to meet the beginners and the seasoned ones of the outdoors. Upon observation, most were preparing for their major hikes this coming Holy Week. I felt a tinge inside me – the what-ifs and could-have-beens. But you see, sometimes it would only take a simple conversation to put off the fire of misery. A simple strike of conversation that would then make you realize that the world does not revolve around you, that there’s more to life than the failures we thought would end our daily dose of happiness. However, happiness does not appear on a conditional basis, rather it’s a state of mind that we opt to embrace: when we choose to be grateful for what we have, for the love we receive, and for everything that the Universe decided to give. It would take a deeper understanding to make sense of all the setbacks we run into; and that my friend, is the beauty of life – it gives us thousands of chances to shift paradigm, to meet people for a different perspective, to experience both the joy and pain of living.
The hike commenced quarter to one. Instead of traversing to Bitlang, Mak suggested that we’d go directly to Cabatbatan then we exit to Jaclupan – the same route taken by the participants of the recent Pamutal Trail Run. We passed by Muffin Peak, played volleyball at Cabatbatan, enjoyed few bottles for socials, crossed rivers, before finally digging in some barbecues at Tabunok. There we met Sir Jude and his daughter, who scaled Naupa when she was two. An addition to the encounters I had with Nessie (Guadalupe Church), MJ (Babag Range), and the APsters namely Lawin, Epifanio, and that one friend they failed to introduce. HAHA. Before ending this, I’d like to thank Mak, Micahel, and their group for accommodating us. Kudos guys!
Most of the time it’s the people I am with that I gain a lot of insights, this time, it’s the people I cross paths with. Indeed, there’s so much to learn in every stranger that we cross unto. And I’d like to take note what Pierre emphasized on our recent exchange of what we fondly call as “wisdom tooth”: Good people gives you happiness. Bad people gives you lessons. Worst people gives you experiences. And the best people gives you memories. What have you given to the people you met? Chika on Facebook and Instagram! See you on trails!