the babel machine


Monday, September 27, 2004

mountains and mud

I miss mountain climbing.

I know I'll probably hurt myself because the last mountain I climbed was Banahaw 10 years and about 50 or more pounds ago.

Not that I was a UP Mountaineer or a member of any similar org. My friends Ace and Anthony were the culprits who got me hooked for a time, even though they also weren't UP Mountaineers.

They were, however, NCOs in the UP Special Operations Battalion (SOB, hehe) or the Special Forces -- the cool outfit to join if you didn't want to go through the regular CMT courses. They joined the SF a batch ahead of me, along with other officers such as our other high school friend Marianito and I-didn't-know-him-at-the-time-but-would-one-day-be-my-orgmate-and-fellow-PDI-reporter Alcuin, got to boss me around during training.

Proving that the world is indeed flat, er, I mean, small, years later, fellow SF members Quay and Leo would also become my good friends. I'd meet Quay (Eric Evano in a past life, haha) in UP Tinta and Leo, who was PDI Infotech assistant editor at the time, in 1969. No, we didn't go back in time. I'm talking about the Internet magazine 1969 -- this was before I became a correspondent and later a reporter of PDI.

I envy these people because they finished their SF training. I didn't continue the course because I was, ahem, a born-again at the time and I could no longer attend the Friday night ops, where we pretended the sprawling Diliman campus was Vietnam and conducted war games from around 8 or 9 p.m. to early morning, going home (or sometimes just bringing toiletries and extra clothes so we didn't have to commute) to change before returning to UP Saturday noon for the daytime training.

The thing was that not only were our fellowship's prayer warrior activities moved to Friday evenings (and OK, I admit it, because I also wanted to be home Friday night in time for "Moonlighting," hehe) but also because some church elders found out about the SF training and were aghast. So to my regret, I don't know the sweet taste of muddy socks inside my mouth or the joy of running around Diliman in my underwear, hahaha.

So what the heck was I talking about -- oh right, mountain climbing. I don't have that many climbs under my belt, but they do include Maculot (twice), Makiling (damn limatik!) and Banahaw. Maculot was the most memorable because it was my first climb, while Banahaw was the best because, well, it's Banahaw. You'll know what I mean when you climb it. Somehow, you really do feel closer to God, and I'm talking as someone who was an atheist at the time (obviously, I wasn't a born-again for that long). Those were also the days when I was a smoker, stupidly puffing ciggies while climbing the mountain, though I'm proud to say I never littered. Yup, eco-friendly air polluting smoker, that's me.

My second Maculot climb, however, depressed me by how commercialized the mountain had become. I don't know if things have changed, but the rest stops along the trail had buko stands, for crying out loud!

Anyway, since I'm waxing nostalgic, if you have an unforgettable mountain climbing experience in the Philippines, why not tell me about it and e-mail your story to Keep it short and sweet (not more than 800 words, OK), include pics with captions (e-mail the images as JPEG attachments together with your article) and, if the story's good enough, we'll use it in Global Nation's Philippine Explorer section.

Unfortunately, we can't offer contributor's fees -- repeat, no dinero, nada, zilch -- so this will be a labor of love. But hey, it's your chance to share your masterpiece with a worldwide audience and see your byline on

So, go for it. Meanwhile, I think I'll exercise right now by doing 7 reps with the mouse.

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 5:11 PM :: 6 Comments:

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