Summer vacation at Lolo Angel’s house in the province is one of my most sought occasions next to Christmas. I always look forward to it with enthusiasm because most of my “Heroes” gather together and display their “powers”. My Baba (my departed father) would dare us to identifying different stars constellation for fun; Mighty Lolo Isong with all his famous/endless stories about animals/mountains; and Tito Bernabeâ€™s under the sea experience with its creatures really made my summer vacation extra special. Growing up with them made me fell deeply in love with all of Mother Nature can offer. And my friends at Pagcoor Outdoor Club (POC), who adopted me ignited this passion even more. They also introduced me to Mt Apo; “Majestic” as they would describe Him. Although I wasn’t able to join them in their encounter because of work I knew one day soon I will come face to face with His Majesty.
I was already detailed in our Davao office when Engr Jean Cajes invited me to Mt. Apo after the Project Turn Over at Tudaya, Sta, Cruz. Blood rush to my head with excitement but was suddenly flushed out with frustration because I have other official task assigned on the day of the climb. The Dark Angel inside me shouts otherwise but I know I have to let go of this opportunity AGAIN. Then two days before the climb I got a call from the office advising me and a colleague to be at the Project Turn Over. A sheepish smile covered my face trying to hide my emotions while my heart silently whispering “Thank you!” It’s final â€“ I will be with the DAR Team to Mt. Apo.
As the whole journey takes off, I’m filled with indescribable emotions. Starting with mis-interpreting “butane” to a Bisaya term which means “to put in”. Stargazing on the first camp night; followed by long and exhausting trek to the foot of the boulders. Talk about God’s majestic work of art. Though to some it might be just stacks of white rocks covered with sulfur with wild berries, but the way it was laid out was incredible! Inch by inch using my feet and my hands I started crawling up the boulders. Ignoring the smell of sulfur; directing my mind to all the ripe wild berries I could eat while fixing my sight to Ardo Gumbao who’s above all our age bracket was way ahead of us at the top. But what really stunned me was our Packers, with the large backpacks weighing two or three times their body weight hehehe, are like cats gracefully jump from one boulder to another all the way to the topâ€¦effortlessly!
At the summit, chilling strong winds welcome me as if saying “Bow down! You’re at His Majesty’s place!” I got so lost inside by the view and the thought that finally I’m at the top! When I came to my sense, I was already at the campsite looking forward to sunrise early next day. Sad that it rained the entire night and fogs engulf the peak, nevertheless, being up there even without the glorious sunrise is more than enough. It is simply amazing.
As I turn my back, the soothing cold wind silently kisses my face bidding me safe trip down while saying “I will be expecting you.” I know I will be back one day soon to re-live the whole experience and simply let the memories blow up my soul with satisfaction all over again.
To Engr. Albert Gabriel, our Climb Master / Team Leader and his Team â€“ Daghang Salamat.
And to our DAR Team â€“ Ardo Pedro Gumbao, DARPO Davao del Sur headed by Paro Boni, Kuya Hector and Jay-Jay .. Mabuhay Bu-tane Team!
I am humbled.
This article is contributed by Engr. Marie Gladys Fresnoza. She’s a born adventurer, who recently climbed the Mount Apo together with her team at the Department of Agrarian Reform.