The anniversary climb of the Sabit Mountaineers at Mt. Manabu over the weekend was a blast. I really am gonna enjoy being a kasabit of this cool bunch of mountaineers in their open climbs. If Pinatubo a couple of weekends ago was fun , Manabu was a real party.
Going.. going.. or not?
One of the best things about this climb is the meeting time which is at 9 am. That’s enough sleep time after having been at BF the previous night for the Arayat climb and finally convincing Jck and 2Hot to join BFGuy, Oyo, Greg, and me at Manabu. So I wake-up at about 6 am with 2Hot’s text about the meet-up and his concern with his rubber shoes. A couple of minutes later, Jck texts me about not coming at all as he’s not prepared. For about 30 minutes, we congest the Globe towers with “you gotta go” texts. But all’s well that ends well and the 2 decide to go. We really aren’t prepared for this climb. Though BFGuy will be bringing enough food for all of us, we still want to be a little little self-contained. I pack all the food I can find in my cupboad, make some sandwhiches and head-off to Mcdo at Pasong Tamo to meet 2Hot and have some breakfast. We meet-up with the others at 7-11 Buendia. We board the bus at around 10 and head off to Ate Vi country, particularly her former mayordom of Lipa. Sayang wala si Tita Noey, the one and only Superstar. Sarap sana kantyawan.
Fiesta at Fiesta Mall
Lunch and transport to the jump-off is at Fiest Mall, a small complex of industrial-looking white buildings that look anything but festive. Nearby is a cemetery. I guess fiesta would refer more to the cemetery atmosphere during All Saint’s Day. That’s post-modernism juxtaposition for you. Mt. Manabu looms from behind. Of course, first business is to look for a rest room while the rest buy some provisions at the grocery. Oyo, Greg, and I find one at the just-opening Bingo section on the second floor. The cubicles are small and the door so low my head almost peeps out. They remind me of the toilets back in elementary. But at least there’s running water and I get to do my thing. Of course, where there’s a mall, there’s a Jollibee. I have a 2pc Chicken Joy and a plate of spaghetti. Across is Chucky Cheese, a Jollibee-like fastfood with just a couple of tables filled. Well, you can’t beat the Bee.
Registration is at.. beat this… Php 2.00 inclusive of lunch being Anghel’s birthday! Almost a hundred people show up. In the meantime, I go for my second toilet break. A little past 1 pm, we board the jeeps to the jump-off point, about 30 minutes away.
Ready.. get set.. climb
Manabu is a popular climb and proof of this is about 2 jeeps of youngsters who are washing-up at the jump-off. Jay and about 6 others are already on the campiste to secure the area. One final check of our bags and we’re ready to go. Pilipinas Sierra, Lawit, and Guys4Mountains compose Group 1 with Dabo as Trail Head. We enter the forest and begin the climb.
Into the Woods
The sky is overcast and there is a threat of afternoon showers, not uncommon at this time of the month. I miss woody trails. After the exposed walks at Pinatubo and Malindig, walking on soil, albeit soggy from the rains, with trees all around you and leafy canopies of leafs is such a relief. The ground is really wet and muddy, I am reminded of my first climb in Famy a year ago. It had been raining hard the entire week and it seemed like we were going to have to cancel the climb. The skies finally cleared on Friday night and promised to let the sun shine over the weekend. From the base all the way to the campsite at Buruwisan, there was nothing but mud, mud, and more mud. At certain portions, one would step on the trail and sink almost knee-deep into the mud. My Birkenstocks gave way and the sole of my rubber shoes broke apart. That was a memorable first climb. The Manabu trail wasn’t as muddy but I didn’t want to slip so I kept a moderate pace.
Kulit ni Gary. His gags keep us entertained all throughout. We take a few pauses to wait for the others and to catch our breath from laughing too much. He calls BFGuy Madre Cacao as he leads the trail with only a fan on him as his porter carries his backpack. We reach the first rest stop–a small hut with welcoming glasses of cold buko juice for Php 5.00. A small monkey sits tied to a pole and 2Hot has his picture taken with him. The resemblance of uncanny. Hahahahaha. Others arrive and we get crowded. Group 1 resumes the trek. The sky is quite overcast but there isn’t any wind. I sweta profusely.
Sa Kubo ni Itay
The terrain gradually becomes steeper and we pause for more rests. We push-on for another 30 or so minutes until we arrive at Station 5 or as Dabo calls it “Kubo ni Itay”. Other than a nipa hut, there really is nothing. No itay nor inay. No buko juice either. There is plenty of cool shade though and even a hammock which sags almost to the ground when you sit. Kelly sinks to it and she is unable to get up. We leave when others arrive and it gets crowded. It’s always nice to be first coz you get more rest time.
Camp at last
When I saw the ropes I knew it was ready for some serious step and heave-ups. Not as steep as the Talamitam incline but still steep with the added excitement of a soggy path. It was actually quite cool. You hold on to the thick blue rope strung on one side while you heave yourself up. If this were in Manila, there would be someone collecting “toll fee” at the start of the rope. I grab on some of the roots sticking out to get more heave-up leverage, not that it’s really necessary but I don’t want to risk slipping. The trail is cool as it’s densely covered with trees and plants which makes it really really pleasant. A few hundred meters more and we emerge on a grass and bush-covered trail. The sun is out in full-force now and there is no cover. Finally, the site of Jay waving at us greets us. We were on top. Well, not really, as the summit was still a couple of easy meters up. Since there were already close to a hundred climbers with many more expected to arrive in the evening, we choose the site near the back. With tree cover and away from the other camp sites, it’s relatively quiet and very cool. A couple of guys have pitched camp already and we chance upon them laid-out half naked on their ground mats. They awaken to our chatter and good-naturedly shrug-off their peaceful moments.
I set-up my tent near the make-shift twig bench under a couple of trees. It’s still early in the day and there really is nothing much to do except eat my baon of shingaling, shamichi (a European dessert says the Regent packaging; but it actually tastes like sticky Chinese rice puff), and bread sticks (“nakaka-uhaw!” complains Jck). Bf Guy brings out an entire baguette from his pack for some bruschetta for dinner. I brought some shrimp balls, dried fish, and black mushrooms. Bf Guy has entire spread of food for appetizers and an elaborate dinner. Jck, 2Hot, and I climb the few meters to the cramped summit for some pictures. The rest stay behind to prepare dinner. The view is beautiful. Don’t ask which as east or west but on one side was the bay; on the other, Mt. Cristobal and still on another side, Mt. Maculot in the distance. The summit is too full so we take pictures at a small slope instead.
We go back to camp and check on dinner. Elf finally arrives but he pitches camp with his group on the main campsite. A group of rowdy teen-agee locals also set-up camp. Dusk falls and only the spread for the canapes, the spicy pork, and the rice are done. The tomato soup and the egg for the spread are still simmering and it starts to rain. Night and fog descends and the rain really pours. With only a flimsy covering (actually BF Guy’s large poncho) as a makeshift roof, the cooking area is totally wet. Suddenly, we’re not so hungry anymore. At least we have really yummy and hot soup to keep us warm plus rain water to wash the utensils with.
Not rain, not mud can keep anyone from socials. About a couple of dozen of people huddle under a large canopy. There’s actually ice-cream! I’ve been having shots with BF Guy earlier and was quite tipsy already. I come across Pathfinder and hug him to death! The last time I climbed with him was at Famy, my very first climb. I backed-out at the Delta 5 Pinatubo trek and hasn’t seen him since. He says he’s actually married! Oh well. To each his own fate or curse or fantasy, depends on how you see it. I see good ‘ol sisters May and Ponga too and have squeeze between them to have our pic taken. More shots and I’m hopelessly drunk. I remember seeing BF Guy, Gary, and 2Hot joining us. I see Oyo and he tells me I’m such a flirt. Perhaps so coz I keep laughing and hugging a guy named Dennis, whome Jck introduced earlier at the canopy. The party breaks-up a little and someone announces that we should keep our voices down as others have gone to bed. I’m quite dizzy already and I can’r really walk in a straight-line. I look for Gary and 2Hot but I can’t find them. I wonder aloud how the hell am I gonna go back to my tent. Turns-out they were there behind watching me. Someone pokes me at the butt and they’re the guys camped near us. The chinky guy with the mustache (who’s actually quite cute) guides me to the trail. He slips a finger-light on me (sounds seductive, huh– slips a finger light). IThe trail is muddy and I slip twice and laugh. Finally, I plop in my tent and retch and retch and retch. BF Guy tells me the next day that I sound like cow.
The Morning After
I wake-up with the sun streaming into the open door flap of my tent. At the entrance is last night-dinner all gurgled-up. I drink a little water and retch. I don’t feel so good. A hangover perhaps. My clothes are soiled and my arms and legs are caked in dried mud. Everyone gives me details of what happened last night—who I was hugging, who brought me home, things I was saying, etc. It’s less than an hour before the 9am descent and we’ve not even started to break camp. Everything is a mess and I don’t know how the hell I’m gonna get myself down the steep muddy trail. Fortunately, Bf Guy’s sherpa has someone with him and for Php 250 I got myself a sherpa. Yes, for the first time in my life, not only do I break my no-shot vow but I actually hired someone to carry my backpack for me. “Group No. 1! Get Ready” “Guys4Mountains!” Dabo shouts over the bullhorn. But we’re slow today. Nobody even bothes to make any breakfast. Group No. 1 suddenly becomes the last group. By the time we finish packing-up, almost everyone has gone down.
The descent is slow and careful as I’m not myself. Thank god for the sherpa. I could imagine myself slipping all the way down in drunken stupor. Where the trail was simply wet and muddy the previous days, there were now rivulets of water, making it look very pretty. At some point, I thought we were lost as I don’t remember crossing any stream the previous day. “Of course, there’s a stream now because of the rain!” BF Guy admonishes. With very little rest, not even a buko break, we reach the base a little over an hour.
Eat and Go
I wash-up and have a lunch of tilapia, vegetables and rice courtesy of Anghel’s birthday celebration. The food is good but I’m too bummed-out to enjoy it. I’m still wearing my muddy shorts as I’ve no other change of clothes. I join 2Hot and a couple of guys on a tricycle back to the main road to catch a Manila-bound bus. Too spaced-out, I leave my trek pole behind and don’t even say good-bye to some of the guys.
I’m back home at around 4 pm and sleep the afternoon off.
This is one of the best climbs I’ve ever had.