Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reaching the Philippines' Rooftop

- as published on The Sutherlander, Vol. 5, September 2009

If there’s one thing that Sutherland prides itself on, it’s breaking new barriers and reaching new peaks. It came as no surprise when the Outdoor Club challenged all Sutherlanders to visit and conquer the highest point in the Philippines – Mt. Apo.

Overlooking the cities of Davao, Digos and Kidapawan and towering at 2, 594 meters above sea level – this majestic mountain is dubbed as the Grandfather of Philippines Mountains.
After a couple of months of planning and praying for good weather, the cool dawn of June 27th came and saw 11 brave souls take on the test – four participants from our Davao site and three from Makati. We were also joined by four other friends from other companies.

Led by our guides, Sir Bong and Sir Kenneth, we started our climb with much anticipation. The itinerary was set for 3 days with at least 8 hours of trek each day. The climb was long and arduous, the trail made more difficult by gigantic fallen trees made slippery by the unpredictable rain. We had to battle overgrown plants, insect bites, 90 degrees ascents, muscle pain, freezing rain, muddy trails and altitude sickness.

But despite all this – we all can’t help but be amazed of how breathtakingly beautiful Mt. Apo is.
The sheer magnificence of its forests covered in lush vegetation, gurgling streams of waters, the peculiar sounds of birds and insects, an occasional wild orchid, the sulfuric boulders before reaching the peak, the mirror image of the sky on its crater lake, and the serenity of waking up to a sunrise that is viewed above the clouds. All this is has made all the little sacrifices worth it.

We knew that experiencing this is once in a lifetime, reaching the rooftop of the Philippines.

Descending on the third day is bittersweet – when you look back and see where you’ve been and longing to go back. And from all of us – Gen, Mon, Paul, Tam-tam, Tyrone, Marvin, Mel, Edward, Ricky, Rene and Bernie – we know that we’d be back someday and still get astounded by the splendor of Mt. Apo.

"It need not be a summit – it can be a career, a project, a business or any endeavor but the same principle applies: a mountaineer will always have the passion to succeed!"

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