My cousin Lino, who had brought the horses that would carry our supplies separated from us at this point to take a different, horse friendlier route up the mountain. Exhausted from his slight detour, Mr. Lawigan opted to go with him and asked me to come along. But I declined because I had a different purpose for taking a different route. My dad owned a small piece of land on this side of the mountain and he had asked me to take pictures of it to show to him. At his age now, it is clear he can no longer climb this far up. Upon reaching our land the group rested for a few minutes while I took pictures. After a while, we continued on.
Because we had gone to our land, there were no defined pathways from here up to the summit. We had only 2 choices. It's either we go back down a bit and take a circular route up which would take farther and longer, or we could go straight into the un-trailed bush, which would be shorter but a little less safe. We opted for the latter so off into the bush we went, hacking through tall shrubbery, grass, thorned twigs and vines, bothering some strange insects and smelling odd scents.
I was starting to get pretty exhausted myself. From this picture alone (Picture 4) you can already see that I have been bathing in my own sweat for quite a while. The continuos climbing has started to take it's toll on my thighs which were starting to get numb, refusing my brain's orders to move. I had this huge rip in the crotch of my pants that was getting larger. Good thing I had shorts underneath or else lots of people would be starting to see more of me.
At this point, the comic book world
seems to be the farthest thing from my mind. All I was focused on
was to get my legs to move and to watch closely for the next spot where
my feet would land. A mistake would send me tumbling down the path, taking
some of cousins with me.
|We eventually found the trail again and met up with Mr. Lawigan and Lino once more. But at this point I was dead tired. I started out at the front of the line but I slowly inched backward until I was at the very last. Kute and Anna stayed with me during this time. My other cousins already know the way up from this point and Kute was confident they could make their way up there by themselves. I had to stop every few meters up the slope because my thighs were screaming from the pain and refused to move. I was sweating and breathing hard. I briefly entertained thoughts of going back but as soon as the thought was out of my brain, I immediately thought how ridiculous the idea was. It may take a longer time than the others, but I will make the summit eventually.|
In the time I was resting on one of my many stops, a group of climbers bolted past us like quicksilver from below. With shirts off and muscles glistening they went past me like I wasn't there. Shit! Now I was really embarrassed. Kute and Anna reminded me that there was nothing to be embarrassed about. All my cousins and all those climbers who slipped past me do this a lot more often than I do. I should proceed at my own pace and not think of anyone else. And I guess they were right. I looked back at where we had come and I saw San Pablo City peeking behind a hole in the trees (Picture 3). I looked up to see where I needed to go (Picture 8) and I saw the summit and it was so near.
I started walking and climbing again and pretty soon I was in sight of the summit (Picture 5). I met up with Mr. Lawigan and my cousins once again at this point. They had stopped a several meters below the top to set up a temporary camp. Some of them were already lighting small fires with which to cook our lunch. At this point, I didn't think at all of eating or drinking. All I wanted was to get up there. Like I had noticed the first time I was here, there are three summits on this mountain. The area that encompasses all three summits were pretty barren aside from tall cogon grass. It's not that people had cut off trees there, but rather it's how it naturally is there. Trees do not have a chance to grow because of the fierce winds that blow up there most of the time. That day though, it was strangely calm. 2 crosses were erected on 2 summits in honor of Jesus and the days leading up to Easter. I suppose a third cross ought to have been erected on the third summit but I guess they hadn't gotten around to it yet.
I remember the last time I was here that the last few meters leading up to the top were the most difficult to climb. At this point you are already tired, there is no longer anything to hold on to and it is the steepest part of the climb. Gathering as much resolve as I could, I started up. And sooner than I expected, I was there. It was 9:15 in the morning. I nearly collapsed, but I managed to gather my wits and sit beside the cross instead (Picture 6). I was extremely happy but I was also extremely tired. My thighs were burning with pain, I was breathing really hard and I truly felt that something was going to give. This is something that a lot of people on that mountain felt was pretty easy to do. And for most mountain climbers, Mt. Lumot is probably nothing than kindergarten. But to me it already felt like freakin' Everest! I was out of shape and nothing confirmed it more than what I felt that day. My breathing soon slowed and my body started to calm down. How can it not? Every scene from every direction was breathtaking!
In one side we could see neighboring towns and ricefields and another side showed all of San Pablo surrounded by mountains from all sides. In Picture 7, 3 of San Pablo's seven lakes are visible, Lake Mohicap, Lake Palakpakin and Sampalok lake (somewhat covered by mist). I sat there beside the cross longer than I intended, just taking in all the beauty around me. And in way I understood a bit why every mountain climber would go to such lengths short of suicide to come up the sides of mountains to the very top. Why? Because it's so beautiful up there. Personally, getting in touch with this awesome beauty brings me a lot closer to God, if not physically then in spirit.
A SIDE NOTE: Right on the summit
I came face to face with one of the most surprising things in my life.
I met someone I never expected I would. I met Gerry Alanguilan!
No, this is not some kind of psycho existentialist crap. I actually met
someone else who was named Gerry Alanguilan! And he's my cousin. It was
so totally strange. My name is already peculiar enough, so to meet
someone who has exactly the same name as me is like stumbling into a mint
copy of Detective Comics #1!