Monday, 24 August 2009

Musings at Mt Fuji

Everyone relishes the triumph of a conquest. But not everyone is willing is to endure the pain that goes with it.

I have yet to see a soul who is not moved by a majestic sight from the summit.
Yet rarely do I find someone who would go the extra mile to earn the right of that glimpse.

Every climber knows the cycle of pain and retribution, of trials and redemption, of suffering and salvation.

Anyone can be a climber but not everyone can become one.

In the past I have considered myself a force to be reckoned with in climbing.

After all I have been to the summit of tough mountains : Pulag, Sembrano, Batulao, Pico De Loro, Matutum.

By luck, by sheer will or by skill I somehow manage to pull it off and gloat at the thought of beating the odds as if a contest.

But my motivations were based on faulty grounds

There are times when I am driven to reach the summit if only to get a snapshot and show off to my friends, the ones who chose to stay in their comfort zone. The ones who I deem not enlightened of embracing the joy of climbing. I used to mock my so-called non-climber friends never expressly of course but beneath the judgement I render upon them.

But last weekend I experienced something new, a spirit-shattering trek from an unexpected source… Mt Fuji.

To say that it challenged my motivations as a climber is a tame description. It shattered the very foundation of soul. I had reached a point when I doubted myself, when I almost gave up, when I questioned if all the trouble of getting through was worth it.

In the past I encapsulate my conquest with a gleaming photo on the summit for my friends.

Now do I truly realize that the climb was for no else but me.

I now take the photo primarily for myself. And I now understand that beneath the smile is a story of struggle and redemption.

And that makes the shot now more meaningful than ever.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tokyo Drift

It's actually my third time to be in Tokyo. I actually like going back here primarily because of fresh sea food among other things. Plus the weather is cool especially the post-winter phase. There is much order here as seen in the near-perfect timings of the train stops. Waste segregation is very much prevalent.

And yet somehow I sense something somber (not necessarily ominous) about the people here. I guess it's probably embedded in their culture. I can't actually pinpoint what it is but my insatiable curiousity hopes to plumb the depths of the Japanese psyche.

Meanwhile life amidst sushi goes on..

The Climb

The Climb… (a repost from my old blog)

I first saw the looming figure of Mt. Matutum on my first visit to Dole Philippines School. As the shuttle snaked through the pineapple fields, I marveled at the majestic dormant volcano. The behemoth stood there with an overwhelming presence as if with probing eyes, taunting me, breathing down on my spine, beckoning me to conquer it.It had stood there almighty through the ages mocking at puny mortals that stood before its presence.

The mountain stirred something primal in me. An inner animal was awakened and despite ages and ages of evolution, the potency of the urge was undeniable, so raw, so instinctive. Nature was calling on to me and I had to respond to the call.

And so I made a pact to myself - I had to reach the peak of Matutum before my sojourn in Mindanao was over.

It was beyond rationality that I did the climb alone. Only the experienced or the suicidal would have done that. Looking back maybe I had been a bit naïve not to have foreseen the torture that was lying ahead. Had I gotten a glimpse of the pain that I had to endure I might have had reconsidered.

It didn’t start out as like that. My fellow project engineers at Dole Asia had an agreement that we were to climb Mt. Matutum together.But I knew human nature too well. Oh yes. Something always comes up at the last minute. One by one, my colleagues came up with excuses why they couldn’t make it – some were pretty lame actually. Even Jessve, my best bud at that time, who had had been roaring to go, had to work overtime at the last minute.

And so in the end, it was a tough choice of canceling the climb altogether or me braving the mountain alone.But I had a pact with myself. And it was a pact that I had to keep, no matter what.As fate would have it, I conquered Mt. Matutum – my first mountain- on a Good Friday. It also fell on a Friday the 13th. Superstitiously, the attempt was unthinkable. God was dead at that time (from the words of the elders), not to mention the unlucky Friday the13th.

But luck had nothing to do with it.It was by sheer force of will that I made it through. True, there were times along the path that I was almost tempted to give up. It was a long, arduous 9 hour-hike, that seemed like an eternity. Legs buckling from the weight of my pack, lungs screaming for air, body begging for water; the climb was all about pain.

But when I reached the summit an incredible sense of euphoria wrapped my whole being. No words could aptly describe the happiness, that I felt. All the sufferings that I went through were worth it. It was as if my heart would burst for joy. I felt one with Nature and for that brief moment, time stood still and I was on top of the world.

It has been six years since I conquered Mt. Matutum yet I could still feel the sense of achievement as if it only happened yesterday.

Which was why when Jesse James invited me to climb Mt. Sembrano…I knew that Nature was calling on me once again.The call was blaring, so compelling and relentless. I just knew I had to respond to the call…(to be continued)

Monday, 10 August 2009

China Musing

While still waiting for my creative juices to kick in again I decided to post blogs from not so distant past.. So sue me...It's all in the spirit of recycling as well hehe.

Every time I go to China I couldn’t help but feel insecure. Out there, a billion people go on with their routines without even the slightest idea that my world here - the world as I came to know it- ever existed.

The very things woven into the fabric of my daily life – peso devaluation, monsoon rains, Simbang Gabi, Hello Garci ring tones, Friday night traffic, ChickenJoy- they are all unknown and meaningless in that part of the globe. The very things that define my reality, things that revolve around my universe- they have all been reduced to nothingness. Out there, my world and I are non-existent.

Nothing can be more unsettling. How can it be that the only world as I’ve come to know is not what it is?

Nothing can be more humbling. How can I be the center of the universe when out there I am nothing but a mere scrap of creation?

Despite this sense of vulnerability, I realized that there are things I have taken for granted.

No matter how insignificant to the eyes of others, my own world, along with all its aspects - the mundane and the magical, the banal and the beguiling, the excruciating and the exhilarating, - is what makes my existence real.

Suddenly the thought of the never-ending political bickering, the horrendous Midnight sale traffic, the incessant fuel price increase, even the alligators in the congress couldn’t stop me from yearning to go home.

Tuna slices

I just love the fresh sea food in Tokyo... It couldn't get any fresher than this.

Am always a sucker for kinilaw.. Unfortunately that kind of dish is not prepared here. The possibility though is awesome with such firm and succulent tuna slices.. Maybe I should try whipping out a kinilaw dish while am here.. hmmm..

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Tokyo Poster

One gets to have glimpse of a uniqueness of one's culture from a seemingly benign poster.

It looks simple yet it tells a lot.. " Please do it at the beach"

Reminds me of a phrase from the Philippines " parang naglalakad sa buwan" .. "like walking underneath the moon"

Tokyo Drift

This is actually my 3rd trip to Tokyo Japan this year.

I am thankful for my job and of course the current situation in our Tokyo site. Since hiring a local EHS person seems as knotty as deciphering the Theory of Everything, I have been called many a time to support the site.

I couldn't complain since it affords me to taste all the good things that are Tokyo.. sushi, sashimi, maki.. yum..

Something worth drooling for now..