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)