Hiking matters #59: Banahaw, my first major climb

Photo with my cousin Franz Lasco, at Durungawan I (Peak of Mt. Banahaw), April 16, 2003.

Year after year, many people are drawn to the passion of mountain climbing. And as hiking grows in popularity, the population of ‘beginners’ also increases. However, we were all beginners once, and in the succeeding posts of mine, I will share with you my thoughts as a novice hiker and dreamer. Fortunately, I have journal entries handwritten during my very first adventures. These are real-time narratives. I will begin with Mt. Banahaw, my first-ever major climb on April 15-16, 2003. I was 16 then:

April 15, 2003

Wind. That’s what I am feeling here- cold. But excited. We’re halfway through the trail to Durungawan (the peak) and we’re spending the night here- a few minutes’ walk above the so-called ‘Kweba ng Diyos Ama’.

The voyage was very difficult, Herculean even. Climbing Mt. Makiling is child’s play compared to this kind of adventure. There were ‘walls’ to climb by ropes; there were almost-vertical rock climbs and very steep trails. It is really a mountain to climb, but I am enjoying this, because adventure is, and will always be close to my heart.

The village in Kinabuhayan was bustling with activity when we stopped over there. We trekked until we reached Crystalino Falls, then we proceeded to ‘Salaming Bubog’, and we walked on until we reached this place. Franz and I had Spam w/ Tabasco in rice, neatly placed in a banana leaf, as dinner. I am now inside the tent with Franz and Ephraim.

Another day of hiking awaits me.

April 16, 2003 4:43 AM.

Just woke up. %^!@$! It’s freezing cold up here! And rocks litter the floors of the tent and that makes sleeping grossly uncomfortable. But I managed. I still believe that our spot (which is located above the rest of the tents) is way better than others.

The falls were disappointing. Only drops trickle down, and I was expecting real rapids. I heard an old woman say, “There used to be a real waterfalls here.”

All sorts of people climb here, but a majority comes from local fraternities, and they are mostly youths. There are also old timers, cults, gays, and so on. To assist us all are volunteers that are stationed in most of the key locations.

This momentous adventure gives me time to momentarily escape from life and reexamine it in a different perspective. The peace that can only be found here instructs us about the ideal way of living, which I will try to achieve.

Note: the mountaineers are real friendly. Some would even greet you. Ask them how far Durungawan is, and they’ll oblige with an answer to the best of their ability. Those answers, however, are often conflicting and unreliable.

We’re still adequately supplied. I still have 3 liters of water in my pack. I have strawberry jam-bread, some cookies, some candies, and a functioning two-way radio unit. My survival training-Casio watch has proven useful. And my cousin and best buddy Franz is here, as always.

My body? I’ll manage. Fatigue hasn’t worn me out- yet. I just felt some headache earlier. I’ve just changed clothes, and that has made me quite comfortable.

The peak still needs to be conquered.

April 16, 2003 11:31 AM.

We made it!! I am writing as I enjoy the majestic view here in Durungawan I, Banahaw’s peak and the roof of Southern Luzon. We all made it after 23 hrs 07 mins of hiking and camping. We’ll just eat some and head back home. The clouds are beside us, covering and uncovering the lowlands of the southern provinces.

Many people are here, too, for various reasons: some for religion, some for recreation. But the question is: why spend 23 hours just to have a few minutes up here?

The answer lies in the fact that all this is part of the journey, which is what really matters. A pianist rehearses a piece for long months just for one performance. But it is all worth it, because part of life is pushing yourself to the limits, to the best of your ability and the most of your potential.

This is a dream come true, and I thank God for granting me, here in this lofty place, peace and enlightenment, which I pray I can carry with me down from this mountain, in another journey called LIFE.

Gideon Lasco
From the Peak of Mt. Banahaw (2,158m+)
Quezon Province, Philippines

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4 Comments on "Hiking matters #59: Banahaw, my first major climb"

14 years 9 months ago

I was browsing your site (again) when noticed about Banahaw as your first major climb. This time, masilip ko yung pinagdaanan mo nung baguhan ka gaya ko. Pero mas malupit ka, you've managed to write it down. Tagos sa paa at binti ko yung sinabi mo about "walking so long then spending a little time at the summit". A comment also stated, "bonus na yung summit". Tama nga eh no? I always thought of reaching the summit but then forgot about the journey..

I envy your adventures..

Nakaka inspire pare. Ngayon nagsisimula na akong magsulat sa mga adventures ko.

I'll be coming back dito sa site for reference hehehe.. Very informative eh.

Keep this up pare..

Kung bundok pa 'tong site mo, eto na yata ang pinakamatarik pero puno ng mga adventures at FUN!

14 years 10 months ago

totoy na totoy hehe..this is also my first major climb or should I say the first mountain I ever climbed, considering I grew up in Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon. It is really nice to remember the old days, Banahaw is really different before compared from what it is today. Back then, due to small number of Kinabuhayan and Sta. Lucia inhabitants, the nights are really cold and cozy. We can say that is even colder than Baguio. And the mountain is really considered as sacred. Ngayon ibang iba na, naging tourist spot na. And I blame the local officials for the current state of Banahaw. Kinalakal nila yung bundok at napabayaan. And the worst is coming, yung talipapa sa Sta. Lucia was sold to a certain Korean investor and is planned to be converted to a golf course! I didn't know how it happened pero nung last na uwi ko Munisipyo daw mismo ng Dolores ang nagbigay ng clearance. If this will push through, I dont know what will happen to the once untamed Banahaw complex.

14 years 10 months ago

hehehe… parehas tayo sir, first major climb ko din yan, same mountain , same year holyweek of 2003 bago closure.. sa ilalim nga lang kami nagdaan nun

14 years 10 months ago

Hi Sir Gideon,

Great reading your first documented travelogue. You're really a cut above your peers. At 16, when everyone else would rather indulge in partying, magdamagang computer games, eat-drink-be-merry lifestyle,you did just the reverse… bata ka pa, malalim ka ng mag-isip… searching for some more sense and meanings or deeper experiences (of life) in general.

I particularly agree w/ your point on the "journey." Friends couldn't really comprehend why mountaineers walk so long just to reach the summit for a few minutes/hours then go down. Yup, the summits are but bonus for the long and enjoyable journey beforehand.

At an early stage, you've somehow discovered what you wish, how to reach it, and see results unfolding before your very eyes. Not many are as lucky, even probably as adults or on deathbeds. Mahirap ngang intindihin why some people are so bored living when so many things can still be explored and pushed to the limits.

Like you (and so many mountaineers out there), may others view our sport as a means to achieving greater realizations and personal discoveries that can never be had in any corporate boardroom, academic studies and material glory.

Keep climbing. Keep inspiring.