This is the first time I'm posting something that I did not write.
This is an entry in the recently concluded open writing contest in a Facebook mountaineering group where I am one of the administrators. The author, Christian Kalaw, is a friend of mine. He joined me in The Second Lagataw Invitational Climb (Bakun Trio) in 2011. He is now making a living in Australia and in this write-up, he is sharing to us how mountaineering has changed his life and how it has helped him survive each day here in the Philippines and overseas!
It’s been six months since my last climb. I’d be a fool if I said I’m not missing it.
It all began a few years ago when I had this feeling of excitement as I packed my stuff for my very first climb. A small day pack, bulky jug of water, paper plates and plastic spoons plus my casual clothes. When I set my first foot on my first summit I said to myself “kakari-reen ko to”.. And I did…somehow up to now. It changed my life and it taught me how to survive no matter where I am and under whatever circumstances. It improved everything like the simple organization of my clothes in my drawer and in my bag. It taught me how to be responsible enough to put even the smallest piece of trash into where it should belong. And when there’s no gas, my mother has even learned how to operate my camping stove. Those are just a few basic things that we do on the mountains that have a large impact on how we live our normal lives down below. For me, there’s no difference between living in a tent and in a house with a comfy sofa or a bedroom or a nice kitchen. We still can have the same dreams, the same meals and the same happiness or even more. It’s just a matter of appreciation—learning how to deal with what you have and make do with it. Communing with different people on the mountains is also a training for us to be more sensitive with whomever we meet every day. ‘Sir’ or ‘mam’ is a nice start and maybe you’ll find that ‘kiliti sa bawat isa’. Respecting others even in the city earns you respect in return.
Right now I’m living far away from the mountains, and it still feels like every day is going to be a climb for me. I have to be strong and attentive to be safe at work even if I have to stand up all day to do my job,’sa bundok nga maghapon pa naglalakad’. At night I have to cook for myself because no one will do that for me, ‘sa bundok nga kahit naulan nakakapag luto ako sa maliit na tarp sa labas’. And just before I sleep I have this sleeping bag to give me warmth on cold nights. I realized that I’m fortunate enough to have been tested under these conditions. At the end of each day I’m grateful because I survived another day. In the summit we just have this small space to step on for a great view. For me this small space is enough to see what trails I have passed by or let’s just say the problems I have solved. So that when I come back and encounter the same problem again I will now know what to do. Life is a matter of going to the top of everything. You just have to be strong and focused to achieve your goals. It’s not how fast we climb to the top, rather it’s about living it and learning from it at a slowly-but- surely pace. Right execution and a calm spirit will surely get you to the summit and back down and call it a successful one.
Mountaineering isn’t just about climbing the summit. It’s also about getting to the peak of our lives, that in the end you can proudly say ‘I’ve been tested by nature, challenged by time, scarred by circumstances, yet I still managed to get to the top’.