Mt. Pulag 2014: Four Years and Counting.. (part 3/4)

Looking Beyond Narcissism

I climbed Mt. Pulag in 2014 with friends. Seeing a familiar face from the past has its comfort as I see the younger me reflected in her eyes. I look at those pools and it reminds me of those formative years spent telling stories into the night, sharing dreams, of innocent laughter. Of a time when everything is seen with the seemingly endless passion of youth.

Our views may change, a part of us may change yet one way or another we stay the same. Our formative years molded us, it is where we began to dream. Those dreams may have been fulfilled or not, yet it is refreshing to be reminded of how it all began because the heart feels so young again.

READ: MT. PULAG 2013

Modernization spells change and it is slowly changing the way of life of the locals at the ranger station – the jump off for those who chooses to climb via the Ambangeg Trail. Like all other changes, big or small, it makes one feel nostalgia.

Houses had sprouted like mushrooms and the locals continued to change the landscape to eek out for a living. Sooner or later inns and lodges, pay toilets & baths and souvineer shops would appear.

This is to cater to the rising statistics of climbers which seems to flock Mt. Pulag, climbers with different motivations. I feel that a large numbers of individuals climb, not because they were driven by their love of mountains but by social media status as society geers more into narcissism.

And sadly, the plant with that beautiful flower was not spared, it is now trampled inhumanely by hundred of feets trying to conquer the mountain.

Among the crowd are girls in tights, revealing clothes and running shoes that would later whine, pout and suffer sprain on the trail. I saw guys at the bus terminal proudly strutting large hiking bags that would later be carried up the mountains by porters smaller than the bag itself.

I met real mountaineers and phony ones.

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And now there would be a reason for old timers to whine and reminisce of the times when they only rely on local households’ hospitality, share a meal and talk of the weather up on the mountain. They would now only remember that the Ambangeg trail had once possed a challenge. They’ll talk of their memories which had now became history.

*****

This year, the mountain gave us a beautiful scene. Amidst the changes that happened in our lives, the mountain remained constant. The grassland still thrives on its slopes, the moss wet with dew, the temperature still dropping to 2 degrees in the morning and the sunrise still as beautiful and mesmerizing as when I first saw it.

READ: MAD PILGRIMAGE

There was a moment of silence from the huge crowd gathered at the summit as the sun slowly rose at its pace. From the endless yellow-orange line on the horizon, the first light penetrated the white, fluffy clouds and there was a general relief. For a beautiful day starts signaling hope.

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Some hearts whispered their wishes, some minds just went blank, some relishes on the promised warmth of the sun.

Amidst the panorama, the wind continues to swirl, marking every exposed skin with goosebumps. However, that discomfort is unnoticed as everyone focuses on the unfolding scene, gripped by a magical force that is nature.

And then as if a switch had been turned on, each person starts speaking. Trying to describe and express the emotions that had taken over their being but failing. Camera’s click away non-stop, everyone smiling, everything seems to come alive.

Yet, on that brief moment as the horizon lights up, the world of those standing huddled were standstill. Nature once again displaying its prowess, showing beauty that could take a person’s breath away.

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At thay moment each climber – newbie or veteran, had been given a gift, a beautiful memory that one can either treasure for years to come or brag about among friends. The pain of walking for hours, the shivering and all the discomfort had somehow blurred.

Because it was worth it.

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