When everyone had arrived in the Tribal house where we had our orientation before climbing the White Peak and left our things, taken a bath, and settled our expenses with our porters and received our climb certificates, we pose for pictures.
We hurried to the van that would transport us from New Bataan, Compostela Valley to the other side of Davao. In Bato-bato, San Isidro, Davao Oriental where our second mountain was waiting for us.
It was November 1. So, no establishments were open.
We had to have our dinner in another town by the street that sells grilled pusit, chicken, and many others. When we went back to our van, we were surprised to see so many birds on the electric wires.
At 11:30 pm, we arrived on the foot of Mt. Hamiguitan. We have to carry our bags through a plight of stairs and walk about 50 meters more to the Long House. When the first batched who went down on the second day from Camp 1 in Pandadagsaan arrived that afternoon, they were asked to pitch their tent over the signage of Mt. Hamiguitan World Heritage Park, above the stairs by the guard house. Doc Mai was able to talk to the owner of the Long House who was gracious enough to accommodate them even if the house was still under renovation.
When we climb the Long House, RC was already tipsy as he had consumed a bottle of Fundador with Long. There was a Cookset, a stove, and around gas canister they used to cook their pulutan on the table. Roy, Mau, Stanley, and I joined them. After another bottle and a half, I went to sleep, while Roy, Zaldy, and Stanley finished the remaining bottles. It must have been around 1am when I went to bed. Our climb would start at 9 the following morning.
When we arrived in the Long House, I hang my tent by the terrace. But there were still other things that were wet, like our socks and some clothes. We were allowed to hang our wet clothes on the second floor the following morning.
After breakfast the following morning, we had a short orientation then some of us started trekking. Dok Mai and Roy chose to remain. Dok Mai mopped the floor of the house, cleaned the utensils and other things she used in cooking our breakfast and packed lunch and Roy made sure that all the things we left behind remained in one place. I was a little sleepy yet, so I waited for both of them. After about 30 minutes, we also went our way.
We took our lunch before crossing the river, on the makeshift house made of trapal as roof and bamboo as posts. There were also three makshift beds made of the same materials. By this time, Roy and I have already joined the group that left ahead.
After lunch, we went down a steep slope down to the river and up, holding to roots and branches or trunks of trees at the side. After that, it was a vacation trail. Until we reached Camp 4 where there was running water, a toilet, a sink, and a cooking facility.
We all decided to camp there for the night and day hike again the following day to the summit.
Our goal was Camp 3. But we learned that there were 15 people who were ahead of us who were now staying in Camp 3. Although Camp 3 can accommodate upto 30 people, we decided not to push through so that they can have for themselves Camp 3 and we can have for ourselves Camp 4.
Our porters and guides were supposed to cook for us. We gave them our ingredients, and our meal plan for the next two days. But their cooking instruments were in Camp 3, and we were camping in Camp 4. They were also hesitant that we might not like what they cook. So, it was again Dok Mai who served as our chief cook, supported by the ladies, Lea, Tonie, Mary Glazel, and Danie. We served as their errands.
We pitched our tents by the side of the wide trail, hang our wet clothes, socks, and shoes under tarpaulines.
We had our dinner around 5:00 pm. By 6 pm, we were done and we huddled in the camp. We recalled the hell we went through in Mt. Pangdadagsaan and compared it with the relaxing trail to Camp 4 save for the trail before and after the river.
When all have retreated to their respective tents, Tonie and I were left on the bench. I first met her and her family in Taiwan when we climb Taiwan’s highest’s Mt. Yushan. But we didn’t have the opportunity to know each other. This was the chance.
I took her hand and let her feel the battery on my chest as well as the wire that runs from over my forehead to the side of my right ear, down to my neck until my battery on the right side of my chest. XDP short for X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism, I told her. I was ready to die, I told her because I had no money for the 2m operation and I didn’t want to suffer like my brother did. But came Rap, my cousin who said to my wife that he had cash amounting to 1.3m. He was the reason why I had the fastest operation, within 2 months from my symptoms became severe. Without this, operation, I told her, I would be at home unable to eat on my own, take a bath on my own, or do anything on my own, if I were still alive.
She said I look normal and I walk fast. Is that so, I asked. She confirmed what I already knew. I told her my only problem is when my daily medicine lost its potency and my neck pulls to the back.
It was a one sided çonversation as I was the speaker and Tonie was the listener. All she shared was they decided to resettle in Davao although they are originally from Manila because they feel safer in Davao.
The following morning, we left our tents at around 7 in the morning. According to Roy, the summit was just 3 hours away. We refused to believe our guide who said something like the summit was five hours trek away. When we come back, we would fold our tents and go home. We didn’t even bring our lunch because, according to Roy, by lunch time, we would be able to come back and eat our lunch. That’s after we have gone from the summit, the pygmy forest, and the black mountain.
It turned out, Roy was right. The summit was less than three hours away for us: Jess, Mau, and I. The trail to the summit was all assault for an hour. Mau, Jess, and I didn’t rest. We just pushed on slowly until we reached the signpost that we were at the peak. My picture at the peak says 9:29 am. Two and a half hours. Then, our guide went a little farther down and we heard him talking with someone. We followed him and we saw that there were two mountaineers from a distance with their distinct blue and green bag cover. He was talking to their guide. He said,they were on their way to the Museum, which is near the Long House. So, there’s a shortcut here, we inquired. Yes, he said. But since we left our things in Camp 4, we have to retrace our steps back to camp 4.
The view from where we were was unhampered by shrubs. We had almost 360 degree view of our surroundings. The air was fresh but not cold. We took a seat on the stone, ate our trek food and drunk our water. After a while, I felt the sun on my skin. So, I said, I was going back to the summit to look for shrubs or anything where I could hide from the sun. Just below the sign post was indeed a shrub. I lied there to hide from the sun. Then, I heard Roy’s voice. Then after a while the rest arrived. RC, Dok Thom, Jonie, Stanley, and my MMS Ninag Lea.
After almost an hour in the summit, we took our group photo and started our descent. On our way down, we met some of our companions. And then, then, the rest of the 15 mountaineers who stayed in Camp 3. After an hour, we arrived in Camp 3. Camp 3 had a large platform made of wood. This is where the group of 15 climbers we met must have pitched their tents. We had some fun pictures on the platform. Then, I told Mau and Roy I was hungry. Mau said I can eat his canned tuna in my bag. Roy took out his food container with rice mixed with some meat. He offered it to me. I ate it with Mau’s canned tuna mixed with corn, carrot, and I don’t remember what else. We all three shared in Roy’s rice and Mau’s canned tuna.
Jess went to the view deck just over Camp 3. I did not want to move anymore, I lied on the wood under the shade of a tree.
After sometime, the rest of our group who had pictures on the summit plus Zaldy arrived. They too ate their food. It was now passed 12. We did not have the time to visit the pygmy forest and the black mountain. When everyone was ready to leave, we again had a group photo and started our descent to Camp 4.
When I could feel we were nearing camp 4, Mau asked me to advance. I did. It turned out he was hungry and loosing strength. But I had enough of his and Roy’s food. Everytime I was on flat land, I ran.
Of course, I was the first one to arrive in Camp 4 after Long.
I folded our tent and prepared to leave.
Mau arrived and the first thing he did was ate our lunch. I went to the toilet and took a bath and changed into a clean trekking pants and new clothes, forgetting that we were still far from the Long House.
Lea, Tonie, and I followed RC and Dok Thom to the Long House which we reached around 7 pm. It was a very, very long walk from Camp 4 to the Long House. We were losing patience. I was behind Lea who had her knees swelling since day two of the White Peak climb. She would moan in pain everytime we had to step on stones, descend through root trees, etc. Despite her pain, however, she still walked fast. What’s more, she was able to be in the Avatar forest, Hamiguitan summit, Camp 3. And now was walking back to the Long House with her backpack.
We were hoping that Long, Roy, Mau, and Stanley had prepared or bought dinner by the time we arrived at the Long House. They tried but there was no food to buy around. There was also nothing to cook anymore since we all exhausted our supply.
Stanley said that our van drivers were demanding an additional P1,500. We asked to be fetched from 2-4 pm. It was already around 7.
Since I had taken a bath in Camp 4 before proceeding to the Long House, I did not anymore take a bath. For the first time, I had two blisters on my right foot. That day, we walked more than 36 thousand steps, a thousand steps more than Camp 2 to the summit and back to the jump off in Mt. Iglit in Mindoro, the trek which I thought was the longest I could do in a day. I don’t know where I got the figure 49 thousand steps when I posted my picture with Mau and Lea on Mt. Hamiguitan’s summit because when I checked my phone today, it only says, 36,295 steps on November 3, 2019.
We all went to our respective van assignments while Dok Mai was again the last to sweep the house for things that we left behind. Thanks to her, I still have with me my Kibungan Cross Country and Mt. Halcon MMS shirts which I inadvertently left on the second floor of the Long House.
We dropped by for food. Long ordered chicken thighs and many more. I thought we were all included there. So, I did not anymore order my viand. It turned out, that was the summary of all the individual orders. I again asked for share from Mau and Roy’s chicken.
On our way back to Davao to Stanley’s house, we stopped by atm machines because at the house, we were going to have a ceremonial handing of climb certificates. It would be a celebration. And without some booze it would not be a celebration. Unfortunately, the machines we went to did not give out some cash. Besides, we overestimated ourselves because we arrived around 11:30 pm and we were all tired, all we did was lie down and sleep.
It turned out that the house we stayed in was Stanley family’s extra house. It is located beside the end of the airport runway. When we arrived that night, Stanley went home to bring his bag and promised to be back. So, did Tonie whose house was nearby. Mary Glazel also went home that night that there were only 11 of us in the house.
Stanley did come back with 3 liters of beer. But no one was awake to drink it with him.
The following morning, I woke up at around 6 am. The first thing I did was to buy soap at the store just behind the corner after the basketball court. I had to move fast because I had an appointment with the Ateneo de Davao Publications director to pick up the books we bought from his office. Then, I was going to have lunch with Karlo David, a local historian friend from Kidapawan who is based in Davao City. Dok Mai earlier offered to wash my muddied bag. But since I still had the time, I did not want to abuse Dok Mai’s kindness.
At around 7, everyone was now busy sorting the wet from the dry, the muddied from the neat clothes. And washing the mud from our bags. Long and Zaldy were going to leave at 2pm, so, they were the first to leave Davao. The rest of us were going to leave past 8 pm.
After I was done partially washing my bag to remove the mud, Dok Mai called everyone for breakfast. Looking back, Dok Mai was our mother throughout the climb. She cooked for our breakfast in the Long House before the Hamiguitan trek. She remained to make sure that the house we left was in order, and when we left the Long House, she also made sure we did not leave anything. And now, she again cooked our breakfast.
After breakfast, we took out the beer brought by Stanley that night and started the post climb celebration while Lea, Dok Mai, and Dani were still busy sorting their things.
After a few days, Team Leader Long submitted his summary of expenses:
He also submitted this in our chat group:
CYLLE MARIE S. NADONZA
Protected Area Conservation Officer
Protected Area Management Office-Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
RXI-2, Government Center, Bato-bato, San Isidro, Davao Oriental
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Office of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Davao Oriental
RXI-2, Government Center, Dahican, City of Mati, Davao Oriental.
Forester Daryl Bordios. +63 938 761 2886. Van Contact – 09268283856. And a final message to:
Have Fun – and spread the IT, spread the excitement to the other (MMS) members…