Living out of the suitcase isn’t only about catching up a red-eye flight or reaching far-flung Paraisos along the crest and troughs of the ocean waves. Somewhere beyond the horizon of our lens lurk unraveled heavens where most often than not, are yet to be appreciated.
Enveloped by childhood fear, I thought of myself as feeble and meek as a lamb for the longest time. Four walls of the classroom were my bonafide allies, with scrabbles and checkers as my moving companions at home. Such were already simple joys from a youthful age and going outdoors were like potions which transform Pops into a monstrous creature that I always never wanted. Detained I was to my most comfortable zone, in a solitary planet where all I did was envisioning of riding on my own magic carpet, knowing ropes alone and hopping into places I always yearned to set foot on.
As time fleeted, I learned to value time’s worth and that it’s ephemeral existence, especially to precious moments, lasts and will never be revived again. This smells no rebellion, but the realization of having the world be traveled while it is worth roused my senses to redeem those lost chances and start rekindling that burning desire to be part of everyone’s world, of nature’s majestic wonders.
The dawn freshly woke me up during this year’s Hearts Day. Far from the usual dating receptions or having a bite in a luxurious hotel patisserie, unusual from witnessing a well-applauded orchestra performance or immersing into the theatrical screen, I pulled my cargo, prepared my waterproof kicks and don my heavy-loaded backpack towards the zenith of my imagination, off the beaten track. Yes, onto the peak where I can regulate my visions and turn them into reality. To see things as they are, to feel liberty with my emotions, and to make myself the king of it.
Indeed, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
As mister sun was trying to peek its way amidst the twilight, we moved at a good clip going to this-not-so-far-away land. Well, that’s already an escape outside the usual ‘cubicled’ scenario we are in during such weekday. At around an hour and a half, that halt from the bus driver’s pedal seemed to signal us that we were already on our destination. Fresh air welcomed us as it seeped through our skins. The surroundings were adorned with lush green trees all over. Basked in glory, it’s our first time to appreciate the heat of the sun. No doubt, this hinterland expedition promised an exhilarating adventure for me.
Nestled at Barangay Kamias, San Miguel, province of Bulacan, Mount Manalmon stands in the midst as part of the historical Biak-na-Bato National park giving locals and travelers alike an outdoor destination embedded with wide natural landscapes perfect for adventure seekers.
This is EXTREME.
Prior to the plan of ascent, I have plotted my own itinerary drawn from the consolidated blog sites and tips of some friends who have already been there. After an hour of rutted and bumpy tricycle ride from the main road, arriving at Sitio Madlum is but a majestic world worth exploring. It’s like a package trip where you have to experience several first-time mementos: trekking a rocky hill, spelunking a cave and crossing a cable wire.
Going back to the basics is the real game here and trust is the most essential element one must keep along.
With Manong Gerry as our tour guide, we have received all the services we need. Setting foot to the place, the sheer blue-green waters of the Madlum River surprised us, seeming to entice on purpose. Manong helped us cross the waters while we rode on a sturdy raft. Having acquaintances akin to this made the journey more remembering, where I have met strangers who turned out to be another helpful inspiration to carry along my real life’s passage.
Trust those who help you rise from hanging at an edgy cliff.
In almost the same time when the sun shot us with its scorching heat, we have begun the ascent towards the mountain’s peak. Steep terrains periled us to some point, rocky midlands led us to slip over, but with grasping hands from each one, we have survived and reached the zenith of the climb. Beaming atop unraveled Mother Earth’s wondrous aura- She’s robed with elegant features of greenery. Her thick hairs fall perfectly in each stand, a color of hope. Her eyes were glinting like pearls and with breath whispering fresh, thin air of oxygen soothing every piece of me. I was embraced and comforted in serenity. My past wounds have seen remedy.
Before going to spelunk the caves, we hurdled the so-called monkey bridge where you need to cross to the other side through a thin line of cable. In two’s we crossed harmoniously with each step in synchrony with one’s partner. This is the greatest dare I never imagined passing. I did it. And learn from it. That is, to never tire to give trust again. This was the rope thing had taught me.
What more did we learn in trusting? It’s when you are immersed feeling alone in a dark, murky caving. This was the last adventure we had: entering an aged, natural cave where we crawled and rappelled and were bruised by the ‘stalagmitic’ and ‘stalactitic’ formations of it. Sores which embossed strength in us. Wounds which left marks on us, reminding us that traveling isn’t just simply traveling. It is but knowing ropes, crossing even thinner lines and being content atop every zenith.
As a kid from a TV commercial then once said, “I got stinky; I got dirty, but see I learned.”
It’s true. This journey has changed me. Every journey changes you.
(This is my official entry for WeGO Philippines’ Life-Changing Journey Story Contest, Help by LIKING and SHARING! Click Here.)