Good Friday
  Mountain Crazy!
by Gerry Alanguilan
     April 21, 2000, Tuesday, Mt. Lumot, San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines

I first climbed Mount Lumot (Mt. Atimbia on the map) 2 years ago during Good Friday. That was two years and 30 pounds ago. This time around, I wasn't sure if I could do it at all. 

Mt. Lumot is a rather small mountain compared to other mountains specially the colossal  Mt. Banahaw, the favorite destination for many Good Friday climbers.  I chose this mountain because it was near our home (point A) and I had my  cousins Kute and Lino for my guides. It's a good 10 kilometers from my home right to the foot of the mountain. Traveling from point A, I would proceed by jeepney to Sta. Catalina, (Point B) or as the natives there call it San Dig, where it seems a ton of my cousins live.   Our home is already in the suburbs, but San Dig is already farm and coconut land. My cousins climb the surrounding mountains regularly because they live off them, gathering coconuts, mushrooms, and many fruits and animals to eat and sell.

From Point B, we would proceed on foot right to the summit of the mountain (Point C).  The last time I did this, I remember having extreme difficulty halfway up the mountain. My thighs were screaming bloody murder from the pain and I had to stop several times on the way, sweating bullets and breathing heavily. I'd look up to my cousin Kute and he'd be cooly standing up there, with nary a sweat on his brow. Damn!

And this year I would be doing the same thing. Why? Damned if I know. I gotta go somewhere. I've had a break from inking X-Force pages and I was going insane from just staying in my room doing e-mails and watching TV. I've traditionally done something equally strenuous during Good Friday. Its kind of my personal penitence for all the sins I've done in the year. Don't be surprised. This kind of thing is common here in the Philippines. You should see what other people do, flagellating themselves, crucifying themselves (with real nails!!) getting all bloody and stuff. I wasn't into that.  I want to do something that would make me feel like I've accomplished something. And here was my chance.

I woke up at 4 in the morning on Friday, April 21. I checked my mail momentarily to see if any work had come in. Not yet. I prepared my drink and sandwiches, took a bath and headed out by 5 am.  Kute was already waiting for me at San Dig when I arrived. We started walking, and soon enough were were joined by a ton of my other cousins, most of them young teenager boys and  girls (picture 1),  who were heading up the mountain as well.  All in all, there was around 15 in our party. It was already 6 when we started from San Dig for Mt Lumot.  A  lot of my other cousins had proceeded to the mountain the day before and pitched tents and makeshift shelters around the summit and spent the night. I would be just staying for a few hours before I need to go down.  Later in the afternoon there would be a huge procession of religious images in our town plaza. I didn't want to miss that and I had asked my girlfriend Ilyn if she could come with me there.  I had asked her if she wanted to come mountain climbing with me as well months before but she said she had to stay home.

I was a little worried because my cousins were all used to climbing while I spent most of my time in my room sitting and drawing, expanding my butt.   I think my cousins see me as this rich pampered kid who doesn't go out much. Well, it's true that I don't go out much. But as for rich, I don't know.  My cousins live in a village that has only a few phones, one or two cars, lots of horses and chickens, and no running water.  A lot of houses don't even have electricity.  If you have cable tv you are already considered rich.  Since much of their work is physical, they are tremendously strong and would have no problem climbing.  In an effort to avoid embarrassing myself, I started exercising a couple of weeks prior to climbing by walking around Sampaloc lake every day (Refer to the Map, point A), then climb a 50 step stairway beside the lake up and down. At the end of 2 weeks I still felt that I was nowhere near fit enough to climb and I considered calling it off. But after hearing from Kute and his wife Anna (Picture 2) that my cousins were actually excited to see their comic book artist cousin and were looking forward to climbing with me, I just had to go.

We spent the next hour hiking up and down hills and dry river beds with gigantic smooth stones. Ever since were started, we were always walking beneath tall trees whose branches and leaves covered pretty much the entire sky.  The sun hadn't come up yet, but I was pretty sure that if it were right above us, it would never shine directly at us.  I was feeling confident this early on, walking pretty much at the head of the line, talking with Kute and Mr. Lawigan, a teacher of some of my cousins who had come here to San Pablo from Manila to climb with us.  To me he looked like a soldier and I guessed right. He was a commandant for the reserved officers training at school.  Mr. Lawigan himself has climbed the mountain several times in the past, but he confided in me that he too was pretty much out of practice.  At the end of the hour we finally reached the foot of the mountains. I was feeling tired and was glad that the others called for a break.  Mr. Lawigan and another cousin went on ahead of us.  (Picture 9: My cousin Lino, me, and Mr. Lawigan)

Later on, we came to a fork in the trail.  Kute, as always knew where to go but after several minutes of walking, we never caught up with Mr. Lawigan and grew concerned that he and my cousin took the wrong fork in the road earlier.   One of my cousins shouted into the forest and I learned that when you do so, your voice sort of carries and reaches really long distances. Moments later we heard Mr. Lawigan reply. They had taken the wrong fork.  In a way it was kind of amusing, and everyone started laughing.  We stopped to rest and waited for them to catch up with us. 

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