Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten and one Hiking Stuff I No Longer Include on my Top Ten Hiking Stuff List

1. Bag Tags

Our climb ID during the first Lagataw Invitational Climb

I used to think climb bag tags were cool. We called them 'climb ID' . They were considered a validation for one’s being a ‘mountaineer’. I had two—one during my first Mt Pulag Climb in 2006 and another from the Mt Pulag invitational climb I organized in 2011. But these days, I see them as an indicator for hikers who have not outgrown their newbie fervor. I wonder if the likes of Romi Garduce still rave about bag tags. But bag tags are not solely for pormahan. They serve other meaningful purposes for others.

2. Anklets

‘Mountaineer ka ba talaga? Ba’t wala kang anklet?’ That was a taunting remark that one of my earlier buddies got from his mountaineer neighbor. He was told that the number of anklets he had round his ankle indicated the number of mountains he had climbed. None of us ever got on this bandwagon. Perhaps we were some of the non-conformists who became the precursors to the extinction of this dogma in the local hiking scene.  

3. Energy Drinks

I was weak! My first climb was in Mt Romelo. To those familiar with the place, we’d consider the ‘ikalawang burol’ as a major assault. This memory always leaves me ROFLing now that I’ve seen legit assaults in Kibungan. During those days, I would always strategically plan the times I’d take a sip on my Lipovitan—that would usually be right before an ‘assault’ (ROFL). Later on I switched to Cobra (Pag meron ka nito wala kang talo!) and a few times to Extra Joss. My last energy booster was Cobra Smart (the green one). Then I got naturally tougher so now, nothing beats natural spring water from spouts along the trail.

4. Speakers

Can you spot my speaker on the picture?
We don’t know how it all started but mobile public music came to be an indispensable element in a quintessential road trip. Almost all teen movies feature this. Remember White Chicks? ‘Makin’ my way downtown walkin’ fast faces pass and I’m homebound’ Them girls luvit. But on the mountains it should be 50 percent Bob Marley, 20 percent Jack Johnson and 30 percent others. Well in the Facebook era, the others share has now become 60 percent in order to accommodate Charlie Puth and Ex Battalion among too many others.  I’m not gonna lie, I used to think industrial music was necessary to make a trip fun. I would include a minimalist speaker in my minimalist camping list.

It took a long time for me to realize how much more I could appreciate the music of nature—the orchestra of the whispering breeze the rustling leaves, the chirping birds and the flowing river.
Now that’s real minimalistic and organic!

5. To-bring list

Who did not go through this things-to-bring checklist? Back in the day, there were no climb organizers. Clubs would assign a leader to take responsibility for the climbing party. Freelancers would e-mail (yes not pm) or call other freelancers for a planned hike. At times newbies would form a team with other newbies. With scant logistical information available, hiking (even just Mt Batulao) was a daunting challenge then. So every hike was supposed to be carefully planned and every member of the climbing party was supposed to be responsible for themselves. And everyone had to keep a checklist of things to bring. Many of us still do this but when you climb a lot, all those things on your list almost always stay in your pack even after the climb. And there’s no more need for this checklist.  

6. Topo Map

Google Earth Pro in combination with Google maps has rendered NAMRIA topographic maps unnecessary for me. There was a time when they would be just like bag tags and climb shirts—a testimony for one’s ‘hardcoreness’.

For my guideless Mt Amuyao trek in 2006, I had to buy two scales of a NAMRIA map that includes Mt. Province

I am able to navigate Google maps using a wide range of scales as opposed to the 1:50,000 or 1:250,000 scales of NAMRIA which are centered on a limited area only. I am not a professional mapper. There might be things that you can get out of a NAMRIA map that you can’t from Goolge. But I know for sure Google has ground level view and NAMRIA doesn’t. And you need to buy a new NAMRIA map if you want the updated edition, unlike Google which is constantly updated.

But better than physical and virtual maps is your ability to read the actual terrain—the antecedent to the contours on your topographic map. Strive to get to that level where you are able to decipher trails and water lines based on your actual point of view on the actual terrain.

7. Climb Shirt

The first Luzon 3-2-1 deservves a climb shirt.
I think almost all of us hikers, old and new, have had a climb shirt at least once in our hiking life. Climb shirts give us a sense of pride. We would sport it at bus terminals and on trails. And the word CONQUERED should always be printed in bold.
These days, I have no vanity specifications for my shirt. As long as it’s dri-fit, it will do.   

8. Earth Pad

the versatility of earth pads also includes wind protection when cooking and mat during socials and while sleeping in tents

I don’t know if the new hikers have this word in their hiking vocabulary. But there was a time when earth pads and ground sheets were as ubiquitous as dreadlocks and tattoos among hikers.
An earth pad is that rubbery sheet we’d use to give form to our backpacks while trekking and serve as an indigenous Therm-a-rest sleeping pad at camp.

I never bought an earth pad cuz I didn’t know how. My ‘inductor' just gave me one. And I mysteriously lost it just when I was starting to lean towards minimalism. But I still miss the extra comfort it would give me when sleeping in a tent.

9. Malong

I think everyone who climbed Mt Romelo during its heyday had a malong during the socials. It would have been a perfect time to ask the question ‘Dong, taga asa mo?’ I’m not gonna explain how useful the malong is. The only one I owned was also given to me by one of my earlier climbing buddies. I have not used a malong since I (again) mysteriously lost that gift. If I had the chance I’d buy another one.

10. Outreach Programs

Visayan Trekkers Forum Freedom Trek Visayas 2012

This topic should be a separate post. But I’ll try to keep my point concise. In 2012 I was one of the main organizers of Freedom Trek Visayas (Visayan Trekkers Forum). We selected a remote village (not necessarily a climbing destination) as a recipient for our medical and back to school outreach activity. It was my first and I thought we were just going to breeze through it but I did not expect that it would get an overwhelming response from the village folks. I saw people with untreated diseases (which for us city-dwellers would just be quickly remedied by things in our meds box) lining up even though it was just a vaccination and basic medication activity. Fortunately we had some extra medicine and the most benevolent medical practitioner with us. That’s when I realized that there is a real and existing need for medical missions in remote areas in the country.

Let me make it clear, I support outreach programs as they are. What I despise are misdirected and vainglorious outreach activities. Many misunderstand the Igorots. We think that because they are ‘katutubo’ they are poor. Some of them actually have more cash than us. They’re hidden cold in their cabinets. And why would you give slippers to an old man whose soles have grown lugs in the sixty years he has walked the trails barefoot?! They appreciate your intentions, don’t get me wrong. But maybe we don’t need to go far away if we just need to genuinely help. At PGH there might be a patient right now who needs financial aid for his surgery. He might be graduating soon and could be the best president of the Philippines in the future. Help comes in many forms, not just pens and paper. You can gather the DoTA players in your barangay and teach them the Pythagorean Theorem or the SAS Postulate. You can declutter your room and give your old Raggedy Ann doll to a little girl on her birthday.

But really nigga?!  A selfie is necessary?!

11. Top Load

This was a necessary top load because this bus to Sinacbat was really packed inside. And it just hit me! This was taken a long time ago because top loads are no longer allowed on Halsema Highway these days.

Admit it, you once hopped on to the roof of your monster jeep and 'whoooed' and 'wheeed' as it coursed through the winding country road.
I used to do that too. And everyone knows that your butt will hurt if you don't find the perfect spot to sit on. 

These days, I'd secure a seat inside the jeepney. I see no point in climbing up other than taking a groupie for keeps.

There could be other things that I no longer do or use but failed to include in this top-ten list.  Maybe you can help me remember them. There’s a comment section below. And hey this post was meant to be humorous. No hard feelings man! If you like it, share it.


  1. I like how mean and well-said this post is. HAHAHA. A total slap on the face. I started slashing climb shirts and the mainstreamed outreach programs somehow. Maybe I can work with the bagtag this year. Cant' relate with the rest, so far, bringing less can be more these days. :) :) :)

  2. Haha. I started hiking 2011. I believe that time all this stuff is really necessary. However I never had one of those hiking shirts or bag tags. I love the IDs though because I can keep them inside my wallet. Haha I miss those days. Where we can just relax and chill at the summit. Yosi yosi Lang at kape. Hahaha! Never a fan of loud music though. It's so jejemon for me. Haha peace! Kudos for making this list!


YOU deserve a holiday!

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