MMS BMCM Week 4: Night Trekking and Land Navigation

Metropolitan Mountaineering Society Basic Mountaineering Course for Membership Week 4: Night Trekking and Land Navigation

Here are the links to:
MMS Week 1: Basic Mountaineering Course for Membership

MMS BMCM Week 2: BLS and First Aid Training and Lecture a Fulfilling and Sad Weekend
MMS BMCM Week 3: First Minor Climb and Cooking Festival
MMS BMCM Week 5: The 24th MMS Anniversary
MMS BMCM Week 6: Second Minor Training Climb on Tarak



Ricardo, Jojo, Al, Karis, Cindy, Emoi, Charmaine, Kris, MJ, Chay, Pol, Paula, Hero, Val, Lala, Haj, Jep-jep, Angel, Noy, Chi, Mj, Rick, Christain, Erica, Harry, and Ken at the UPLB gate on the way to the Land Navigation Lecture venue.

Land Navigation, orienteering. Orienteering, Land Navigation. I interchange them with each other although they all mean the same to me.


Land Nav instructors Jason and Philip Balingit sandwhiched by Chi and Ken. Photo by Haji Obado

The Metropolitan Mountaineering Society (MMS) Basic Mountaineering Course for Membership (BMCM) has in it’s curriculum Orienteering/Land Navigation where we learn to read maps, use compass, and find locations using only satellite coordinates with some clues on the map. Whereas, our (Batch 2017) land Navigation was held in UP Diliman Campus, this year’s Batch 2018 was held also in UP but in Los Baños. And because UP Los Baños is the exit point of climbers who Traverse Mt. Makiling from Batangas, why not camp in the nursery section just over the campus? So, we pitched our tent in the nursery section supervised by the Forestry Department of UPLB. While pitching our tent, the dry leaves went falling down like rain. For a while we were mesmerized. Then, Batch 2018 photographer and videographer Cindy used this effect in making their batch’s audio visual presentation raw footages for our anniversary on March 10, 2018.


Ken rests his hands on a computer monitor hung on a tree as he watches Cary conducts the Team Building for MMS Batch 2018

Makiling was closed because of a landslide so we didn’t have the chance to climb a peak. Night trekking is also in the trainees curriculum. Our (Batch 2017) night trek was on the way to our campsite (Station 2) from Mt. Magawang in Iglit, Baco in Mindoro.

The 18 2018 trainees: Fhilpol Villanueva (Pol), Ricky Cachapero, Jun Pearl Dela Cruz, Harry Demafiles, Mary Joy Sumulong (MJ), Maria Angelica Tacorda, Mary Joy Saloyog (Mj), Paulo Valera (Val), Christian Loyola, Charisa Banes, Charmaine Balingit, Cindy Ferrer, Marie Kris Felipe, Amithy Dolete (Noy), Kiela Therese Montinola (Lala), Hero Louie Baluyot, Paula De Guzman, their Batch Coordinator Haji Obado left manila at 8 am on March 3, 2018. They were accompanied by my batchmates Erica Calzada, Mark Kenneth Esquerra aka Ken, Christabel Corpus aka Karis, and Norman David aka Chi, and MMS Batch 2007 Windell Soriao aka Dell. While I left Pasig by bike at 5 am and met Mar Alrey Jumarang aka Al, Rommel Jotic (our BOT president), Czarina Mitz Natino (Batch 2014), and Joey Chua (Batch 2012) at 6 am in Alabang to bike to UPLB.


Batch 2018 in their routine push-up exercise

The scheduled activity for March 3, 2018, Saturday, was night trekking. So, we had plenty of time to trek to the nursery section, leisurely pitch our tents, eat mami for lunch for those who did not bring lunch by the tiange near the nursery, and wait for darkness. We were accompanied to the nursery section by Edsel Moscoso (Batch 2001) and our BOT President Rommel Jotic (Batch 1999). But, when it was late, they went home. Czarina and Joey reached UPLB but did not anymore proceed to the nursery. They also went home that same afternoon.

The app I was using did not show the elevation gain when we reached the nursery. I made a wild guess that it’s about 1,700 meters above sea level. I checked with Al’s smart watch and it said only 300 meters plus above sea level. I didn’t believe his watch. I rather believed my insane guess. I told Al after pitching our tent I’m going try everesting, that concept of going back and forth a hill to accumulate the height of the summit of Mt. Everest. So, I biked down again to the gate and back again. Until finally I was very tired after five ascend. It took 7 minutes to descend riding a bike from the nursery to the gate but it took half an hour to bike back to nursery non-stop. Al asked me what’s your reward for doing that. I said none. He said i must be crazy.


The trainees during one of their Team Building activities. On the left, my batchmates Dolfo and Chi attaching masking tape to a piece of paper.

On my last ascend, I found out campsite empty of people. I knew they were gone to Aguila Base to start the night trekking. So, I proceeded there riding my bike.

We try to answer these questions by conducting night trekking: what if you have a flash light or headlamp and batteries but the batteries are not in place and you have no other light? What if during extreme emergency cases you don’t have any light at all? Will you trek in total darkness or wait for the sun or the moon to show up?


The trainees during their team building activity assisted by the MMS Members

Guided by the most senior MMS members Al and his batchmate Dell (Batch 2007), my batchmates brought the 2018 trainees away from our campsite near the Aguila Base at around 5 in the afternoon and then we waited for darkness. When it was dark, the trainees trekked on mostly flat surface without any light back to our campsite.


Ako, Cathy, Cary, Ricardo, Emoi, Al, Deo, and Lea having snacks as we wait for the trainees finish their team building activities

There were four stations. The first was where they took off, manned by Batch 2017 Assistant Batch Coordinator Ken, the second station few meters from Ken was manned by backpacking instructor and this event’s Team Leader Chi and batch 2017’s most harkor climber Karis. Karis received the certificate of appreciation from Batch 2017 for defying all odds to become batch 2017 harkorest climber. It was given during the MMS 24th anniversary last March 10 in Angono.


Al and I arrived at the Makiling Forest Park sign near the nursery

In my station, the 3rd station, I asked the trainees why do they think we are doing the night trek exercise. They appreciated the exercise. I timed each person who passed by my station and the average time between two persons was 7 minutes. First, I was surprised by Haji and Harry who arrived together at my station at 7:34 pm. Haji ran and caught up with Harry. Then, after more than thirty minutes, I was surprised again that the three: Charisa, Cindy, and Charmaine arrived in my station at the same time at 8:09 pm. What happened to you guys, why are you all together? I asked them. They said they also ran. Charmaine ran and caught up with Charisa but Cindy ran faster and caught up with the two. The silence save for the sound of insects, the cool feeling when you are surrounded by trees and the darkness perhaps made them do what they wanted to do: run.


Haji, Cindy, Charmaine, Mj, Lala, Pol, Christain, and Val at the tiange. Selfie by Haj

I released them one by one apart from each other to the next station manned by Dell and finally by Al.


Ken and Charmaine smiling

After all the trainees had gone passed my station, I waited for Ken, Karis, and Chi and we walked together in darkness to the campsite. When we arrived at the gate of our campsite, Dok Jojo Romero was there with Sir Al offering us a welcome shot of lambanog.

That night in my tent, I checked Relive, the bike application I was using that animates the distance travelled in Google Maps. I was distraught that it had closed. Goodbye everesting-attempt data.


Kiela Therese Montinola aka Lala makes a thumbs-up sign at the campsite

The following morning there were many members who arrived to assist the Land Navigation instructors, the brothers Jason (one of our Board of Trustees) and Phillip Balingit. There was Papa Ding aka Ricardo Prudencio (Batch 2001), Esmeraldo “Emoi” Dedicatoria (Batch 2008) who were waiting for us at the gate to UPLB Campus, Ryan Tapawan (Batch 2015), former MMS President Cary Regaspi (Batch 2002) who conducted the Team building for Batch 2018, Miki Ayalin, my batchmate (2017) who founded Project Care, one of our batch’s claims of accomplishment for having participated in two of its outreach programs in Tarlac; Andres Bulay IV, Batch 2016 Batch Coordinator, Kristel Guevarra and many others.


Selfie when it was not yet dark at the place where the night trek starts

After lunch the Land Navigation lecture was suspended and batch 2018 team building began. After the team building at around 4 pm, when they were about to put to test what they learned from the LandNav lecture by finding the locations using only satellite bearings, pencil, and a UPLB map, Al and I left UPLB because we still had a long way to go biking: he in Alabang and I in Pasig. We passed by the way to the Philippine Science High School campus where my Lira batchmate, Soc Orlina, graduated, the boyscouts grounds and we exited by the convenient store where I waited for Al. Romel was looking for me the day before on the way to UPLB Campos but he couldn’t find me because I thought I could pass through the Ayala property in Turbina. The guard blocked my way and I had to go back past SM Calamba and right to UPLB. By this time, Rommel had gone ahead to UPLB already. While Cza and Joey were with Al who served as their guide. After SM Calamba, it was a straight way to UPLB so Al left them and went after me who was taking a break in the convenience store. We biked together to a fast food chain, ate lunch, and continued to UPLB Forestry where we found the trainees and my batchmates.


The trainees sitting by the road before the night trek. Karis and Al looks on.

Meanwhile, on the second day on our way back home from UPLB, Al and I were like racing on the streets. He asked me to lead and lead I did. Every time I saw him behind me, I pedalled harder and faster. We reached Alabang in two hours this way. By 7 pm I was already at home. My Strava App says that my ride was only 60+ kilometers long but I felt like I biked 200 km. I told Al I wouldn’t ride with him again. He said the same of me. And in the second minor training training climb on Mt. Tarak in Papaya River on March 17-18, 2018, he told me that when he’s behind me, I should not go faster. It was a relief to know. If I had known it earlier I would not have felt that tired.


MMS Batch 2018 Trainees on their way down to UPLB Campus. Photo by Haji Obado.

I wrote a complaint email to the makers of Relive Applications. How come, I asked, your app closed last Saturday night when I had no internet connection? After so many back and forth, I received an email telling me that my activity was not gone but merely paused. Great. I still have the record of my everesting attempt in Makiling.


Lala, Pol, Charmaine, and Ken horse playing on the trek down to UPLB Campos. Photo by Cindy Ferrer.

The rest of the event that afternoon of the second day I learned from event scribe Marie Kris Felipe whose notes were as detailed as nothing I have never seen of a scribe before.

She says in a portion of her report:

There were other activities for team building that we were not able to do because of time constraint. So after the tent fly activity, we took our written exam for map reading and orienteering.


Al and I on our way back to Manila

At around 5pm it was followed by the land navigation activity (amazing race style) where there were 9 pairs that would race to the 10 stations using their newly acquired map reading and orienteering skills. The first pair to finish all the stations and return to starting point won. The race started by answering a puzzle. Once answered correctly, the pair started finding their way to the stations which were scattered across UPLB. Some pairs were able to finish the race but some did not make it before the cut off time of 7pm. Winners were awarded during post climb meeting.

Relive ‘Pasig-Makiling & the Everesting Attemp’