There are places in this planet each of us would like to see, not just because they’re pop. We like to be there because they magnetize our emotions and possibly challenge our physiques, or could be out of pure wanderlust and sheer indulgence in adventures. There are few places, however, which could sum them all up and which, like a filter, chooses who may pass and who may not. Mount Pulag is one great example.
Rising 2922 meters above sea level, Mount Pulag is the highest peak in mainland Luzon, second in the Philippines. It is a protected site under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) of the Philippine government, of which DENR has full jurisdiction. It is likewise part of a vast ancestral domain of the tribes of central Luzon, custodians of both the natural and cultural heritage of the place.
Climbing Mount Pulag was my first attempt of a real hiking (although I fell short in some aspects of it). This first time brought me to many realizations, of which I wish to share:
1. Base decisions on concrete motivations, not on feelings that are fleeting. Mount Pulag is a long walk and a relatively steep climb. Although the thought of the summit is amazingly good, it should not overshadow the reality of the steps we have to make to reach the top. Put into mind, however, that it may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
2. When you visit Mount Pulag, pack the essentials, both the visible and the invisible. Bring a good tent (not necessarily a posh one hehe), a thick but light sleeping bag, and comfortable thermal wears. You wouldn’t need to change often because the temperature drops to an almost piercing cold. Bring a lot of patience for the long climb, and much chocolates for both the carbo as energy source and for serotonin to keep on flowing.
3. Gravity is one constant thing. Whether you are up there or down, you experience the same pull. What makes it seem stronger or weaker is attitude.
4. Climbing Mount Pulag will tire you. Rest as often as you must, sip water to replenish your arsenals. But keep in mind that the sun will not wait for you before it rises, and the sea of clouds will not be there forever. Take your time, but remember to hasten when you need to.
5. Some signs are too hard to believe. Along the way, a signage will tell climbers they are about this kilometer far from the summit, only to find out it is farfetched from what your feet can measure. Life can sometimes give false hopes. But I am inclined to believe that life will not test us beyond our strength. Our capacity should never be limited by what we see along the way. Whether the road is narrow or wide, our feet should dictate how far we can go.
6. When you reach the summit, savor the moment. Take photos, make memories, feel the bliss! Being on top of the world is great, but realizing why you’re there is much more important. Whatever your reasons are, make them simple and straight forward. Life is complicated, and the least you want to do is to make your reasons blur and hard to comprehend.
7. Pray. Adore, confess, Thank and solicit. Mount Pulag is the playground of the gods. Although I believe in just one God, the summit is an opportunity to be amazed by how great His handiworks are. And if He can do such beautiful creation, I believe He has grander plans for our lives.
8. The only way to go home is to climb down. The summit is windy and cold, bordering to hostility towards our tired bodies. Staying for so long up there even when were done doing our things, took all the photos and savored the moment, will only damage our frames, more so our mood. Just as in life, working too hard is never good. Work smart instead.
9. Climbing together is always better than climbing alone. Enjoy both the personal journey and the tintinnabulation of a group. In this case, I think it is safe to say this: if you can, use half of your energy to reach your goal, so that when your friends need help, you have another half to lend.
10. Leave the things that will slow you down. Getting to the summit fast is not necessary, but getting there safe and in one piece is a must. Gauging which to bring and how much of it will depend on how many pockets you have or if you’re willing to bring a bag with you. Just as in life, unloading the heart of burdens will ease your gait. A much better option than littering the meandering road with the many shards of desperation and angst, which may hurt others and yourself.