We mountaineers do not have a monopoly of the mountains. Inasmuch as we desire the serenity of the outdoors, it cannot be helped that sometimes, the most beautiful of places are also the ones most involved in battles. Some mountains have become a refuge for bandits and groups. And where armed groups are, the military goes.
Such is the case of Mt. Natib. This mountain has always been on my wish list, being quite close to Manila and yet quite tall at 1287 MASL. My teammates in the UP Med Outdoor Society, Julian and Ilian, joined me in an attempt to climb Mt. Natib. Also with us were Agnes and Lilay Sarreal. Sir Abet of the Bataan Outdoor Club told me that the mountain was already open and this was confirmed by the barangay officials of Tala. However, when we sought a courtesy call with the
military, we were told that there’s an operation going on, and we can’t climb. Our IDs were requested, we were made to sign a logbook, but we were forbidden to enter the mountain. I tried asking if we can access the mountain on the other trail, or just visit the waterfalls, but that too, didn’t work.
The same thing was experienced by Sir Adonis when he climbed Natib last week (the title of this entry comes from him). The soldiers said the same thing to them, but fortunately, they were allowed to access the mountain via the longer route and they were able to see the tall waterfalls and mossy realm there.
Climbers I know have mixed sentiments about the nice people around and the military. The world isn’t black and white and sometimes the truth is hard to determine. Whoever is right, the fact that there’s ‘something’ going on is enough for us to realize that pushing the climb is a futile exercise. I wouldn’t want to get caught in the middle.
We just headed for Mt. Samat and had a hearty meal at Robinsons in San Fernando before returning to Manila. Mt. Samat affords an excellent view of Bataan and it should be considered as a sidetrip (plus its own falls) for Bataan climbs.
Protocol forbids soliders for giving away their cellphone numbers, and I failed to get a number to contact for us to make inquiries on the status of the mountain. So for groups planning Natib, be prepared for a ‘Negatib’. There is an operation going on, so they say. What exactly
that means, I don’t really know 😀