Monday, May 7, 2012

My Very Own Obituary: I Almost Died in Mt. Daguldol

An obituary is usually an article or message about a person who recently became deceased. A year ago, I did one for my lolo. It was hard because too much emotion were involved. This time around, I will do another but it is about me. (Sorry to disappoint everyone but I am still kicking and breathing) However I felt that I had to write it just so happen that I escaped death yet again. (It’s my seventh life already, If I am a cat I had two more left.) Before I lay down the details, I’ll tell you few things about me as a mountaineer.

Phil the mountaineer was a late bloomer. He engaged with this endeavor when he was in law school. It was almost two years ago. I can still remember it as if it was just yesterday. Being drank the night before; he was still tipsy but woke up so early in the morning to meet up with his friends. He wore a Bench T-shirt and maong pants. He had a sling bag with a jacket inside. He had his Reebok rubber shoes. Obviously he was a neophyte back then. The day started right but everything went wrong when they reached the mountain which was Mt. Batulao (811 MASL). His first venture with this hobby was a bit stormy because there was a typhoon when they got there. Even though he was unsuccessful to conquer it he vowed to return and someday reached its summit.

It was a long walk towards the mountain so Pictorial session muna Fast forward to 2012, the vinegar mountaineer turned into a seasoned hiker. He had climbed already thirteen times. (Indeed he had his unlucky number 13 in Daguldol). He reached eight different summits already. He conquered three major climbs. Also, he accomplished an Akiki-Ambangeg trail in Mt. Pulag under his belt. He even went to Visayas Island just to climb one. He had joined three affiliations just to suffice his indulgence in mountaineering. As a result, he had befriended all of its members. Speaking of which, he was with his third group, Explore Mountains. Preserve Environment. League of Independent, God-Fearing and Hospitable Trekkers (EMPE LIGHT for short). Being the most experienced hiker in the group, he was pinpointed as team leader. Although he sucked in this kind of responsibility, he still took the role whole heartedly.

Staring at where we came from

We all know that Phil was a planner not a doer. He want to do things according to plan. That is how he operated his life. Clearly, he had thorough research on their next climb so he decided to trek Mt. Daguldol in San Juan, Batangas. It stands more than 600 MASL. Even though, he had few monetary resources left, he still pushed on their chosen date. That was his character, even without money he still proceeds to his journey. To get there, four hours of travel time is to be allotted. That is why he wondered he decided to start their adventure at lunch time. As a result, he had no choice but to make the beach side trip as their first agenda.
He encountered different lot of people when he was in the mountains. He probably met every persona. It was inevitable. One has to interact with his companions one way or another. On this adventure, nine made the trip but only six reached the summit. The couple, Iris and Randy had to return to Manila early because of work. (It should be noted that mountaineering had not lost its magic touch. Like the two, It just so happen in my other group, a couple just met in the mountain last January and become sweethearts a couple of months later.) That is one of the good perks in trekking; you cannot expect what really will happen.
The other one who opted to wait on the foot of the mountain was MJ. She was exhausted during their 5 kilometer run the day before and she just recovered from a foot injury. Although Phil was against the idea of leaving a fellow mountaineer behind, he had no choice but to succumb to her decision. He did not force things. He doesn’t want to ask twice. Once is enough and twice is too much that was his principle. (That showed his immaturity as a leader. All stubbornness and no humility). The group left her in Sitio Biga. 
Chilling at Mang Lizardo's place

One interesting character is Noli. Although his age is at the twilight of the calendar, his body age proves otherwise. He had stamina of a teenager. His pacing was as fast as their guide. On their descend down, he even run so he could return to MJ early. He was thoughtful. That is the trait of an elder statesman. One thing that did not go his way and the others as well was their trek was windless. It was hard to breath. The sun was torching them and there was little air to breath. Fortunately at the midway point of the mountain, refreshments were sold. Halo-halo and buko juice. Koya Noli treated me a refreshing halo-halo.

Before we continue on our Journey, Mhae decided to leave her things. Innovative, she used her malong as a make shift bag. Pola, the pretty and tall newcomer of the group followed suit. She also engaged with that idea. Thus, the two were just like strolling in the park up to the summit. There were other two newbies, Ridge and Tootz. It was their first mountain. The former struggled a bit while the latter was alright. But they were handy when Phil’s life was at stake. They were lectured hands-on lectured through their mistakes. Ridge was making his own trail. It was wrong. Pola threw a piece of garbage on the trail while Tootz picked some fruits in the tree. They were informed on the LNT Policy which is Leave No Trace. In addition, the slogan, Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Pictures, and Kill Nothing But Time were taught to them.

Along the way, they passed through mountaineers who made a night trek the past evening. Phil started the courtesy greetings and the others followed. Interestingly, some were greeting Korean language to Ridge because of his K-Pop appearance. It was around noon when they reached the summit. It was not a 360 degree view and an amateur’s perspective it was disappointing. Of course for Phil, it was not disappointing and in fact it was amazing because he could see the mountains as well the calm sea beneath us. They rested their a bit and proceed on their descend. Phil’s plan was to be first because it was his forte but had no choice to become the sweeper again.

They were passed the midway mark when the near tragic incident happened. Noli and Mhae were no longer in sight because of their fast pacing. Meanwhile the remaining four were trekking at a little faster than the average walk when Phil suddenly slipped in the creek. Probably it was only 30 to 50 meters but there were huge rocks below. He could have suffered broken bones. But Tootz, who was behind him grabbed his hand and Phil luckily stepped on something solid then Ridge grabbed the other hand and raised him upward. It was a close call. But he never thought he was a goner. He lived this life longer that he realized that death is inevitable. Take it from someone who was threatened to be shot at point blank range or in the mouth to be exact.

I almost fell down there

Luckily he survived death yet again but unaware of the future events, how he wished he did not. There are certain things that really had to happen and not leaving the mountain is not one of them. Because of sensitivity issues, he could not reveal what transpired when we reached the jump off point. It is safe to say that they all survived and enjoy this adventure. Due to various reasons, perhaps this will be his last time to be with this group who he treated as his family. They were beyond friends because they were brothers and sisters for him. When one is sick, they cared for him, when one had his or her birthday; they celebrate with him or her. Yes, like a family there are quarrels and issues that unavoidable but it could be resolved as a family. But things happen for a reason. He hopes it will be turned out well like the way he survived literally the cliffs of Mt. Daguldol.


  1. Hiking adventures pose risks we cannot all imagine. One mis-step and we might be gone. The reason why when am in hiking and feel that it's too risky to do something, I backed out. I know my weaknesses, I know what I can and cannot do. In your case, good thing you have 9 lives *wink*, don't waste the remaining 2, be safe always. :)

    Anyway highway, thanks for following me through GFC, I'll follow back later when I boot up my laptop (just using a cp now). See you around... :)

    1. Thanks for reading my article or should i say obit. Yeah, I will try to be more careful next time. Hope to see you around in the mountains. :p

      (And I am truly grateful to you for being the first one to follow my blog. At least now, I know that i'm not unknown anymore.) :p

    2. You're welcome! Try following and commenting on other blogs, interact w/ other bloggers, that way you'll gain more followers & friends. :)

  2. hello sir,
    What do you suggest we bring in a overnight climb on mt. daguldol? ex. clothing, foods, accessories etc..this is my 1st time to do an overnight climb.
    Sir yung mga blogs mo d2 ang ginagawa ko basis sa mga climb/trek ko. so keep on blogging and keep on climbing and hopefully 1 of this days makasama ako sa inyo. Good luck and more power.