Climbed Mt.Malindig in Marinduque over the weekend at the 14th Official Climb of Guys4Mountains dubbed “Bigay Hilig sa Malindig”. Tiring but fun; I’ll remember the climb more for the lack of preparations and the misfit events than for the daunting forested summit and the beautiful white beach of Poctoy.
From pre-climb to climb and nothing in between.
Part of the excitement in any climb is the run-up preparations—getting gears ready, buying food and other stuff. For this climb, I prepared nothing. Maybe because I was too busy to notice that the climb was coming-up or I wasn’t just really excited which was quite strange. I didn’t even feel apprehensive about the roro ride, which normally, like every non-swimmer on a water crossing would have me quite unsettled. Since Jck was in-charge of the food for our meal group, I just bought a couple of provisions like the never-leave-home-without-it baby wipes and my cognac jelly rations. I simply packed my usual climbing and rushed to the Ayala station right after my wellness talk at Accenture. Bought a hydration pack too coz I thought my current pack was leaking. Turns out, the outside of the bag had just gotten wet while I was filling it with water. So now I’ve got an extra pack. Tried selling it to the others, but no one was interested.
By the way, important tip. If you’re taking the MRT in Makati during rush hour, head for the Buendida station where the guards simply acknowledge you as a mountaineer and let you and your 45 liter pack go. The stupid guard at the Ayala station who loudly exclaimed “Ay ang laki ng bag!” then promptly passed-on the responsibility of deciding whether my pack and I was threat to the 7,101 islands of the Pinas deserved a trekking pole up his arse. The head guard who was too busy poking his puny little stick on people’s bags and trying to pretend he knows what a bomb looks like simply asked where I was getting-off. Of course, getting into one of the coaches is another challenge. But I managed to squeeze myself and made it on time to the JAC Liner station in Kamuning.
I slept all throughout the bus trip and woke-up only when it reached the Lucena Grand Station where I had my first toilet break. The cr was surprisingly quite clean and had running water. We arrived at the port around 1 in the mornin and people were already filling the roro. It was strange travelling on water with nothing to see beyond the pier. It was total blackness. Thank god I had my portable camping stool as there wasn’t any comfortable place left to sit at. We arrived about daybreak. The pier was just as I remember it–small and simple with a looming statue of the Virgin Mary set atop a small concrete hut that greeted boats sailing in. We all packed into the jeep and headed for the jump-off in Buenavista, about an hour away.
Tiring and tired.
“Naku, malayo ang Malindig”. I heard that phrase at least twice from the locals. But Lonely Planet didn’t say anything about the trekk being difficult so I wasn’t realy expecting anything ardous, It wasn’t really, though the trail just kept going up and up like one long assault. It was the scorching heat made it almost unbearable. There was nary a wind and I could almost taste the UV rays on my tongue. After about an hour of huffing and puffing ready to blow the mountain down, we reached the last line of coconut trees and from then on it was sheer hell. Others had already hired a carabao to carry their packs, but I was determined to reach camp carrying my own load. I did make it to camp in just about 2 hours and was one of the first to reach it but it was sheer heat-stroking agony. Fortunately, there was potable water at the camp as I had just about a liter left. I never really get tired during hikes and climbs even in long trails. But this was one climb that really beat the hell out of me.
Camp is actually a police outpost housing about half-a-dozen worn-out cops I assume were there to protect the SMART and PT&T communications towers. The barracks look decrepit and won’t seem to stand-up to any attack, not that it was expected as the rebels were supposedly on the other more mountaineous side of the island. So we pitched tent at the small clearing behind the barracks and made lunch. The summit loomed before us–dark and foreboding. The view from camp was beautiful. Just ignore the towers and the outhouses and focus on the Tres Martires islands. The officers and the other staff were very friendly and accomodating, even sharing their precious potable water with us.
Most people skip Marinduque for its more “famous” neigbor, Mindoro. I’ve only been to Marinduque once, way back in college to help a fellow musicologist (those were my past academic days) document the pabasa. I found the island quaint, quiet, but with a certain rustic appeal that Mindoro didn’t have or most probably, lost. Not minding my quesiness to sea travel and the 2am RORO ride, I was glad to be back in Marinduque, more than a decade after, and this time to do some serious exploring at the beautiful conical cone of Mt. Malindig.
Since half of the group was on a day hike, there were only about 10 of us camping at the police detachment on the mountain shoulder. After lunch, and the sun beating our backs, we were left playing games at the shade by the side of one of the buildings. It was only a little past noon and there was absolutely nothing to do.
PR Dude (rousing from his nap) : “I’m so fucking bored. What are you doing?”
Me: “Just came from the cr.”
PR: “After that, what are you gonna do?”
Me: “I dunno. Sit here and stare.”
I didn’t want to play the Categories game with the others anymore coz you had to strip when you lost a round. So I was left contemplating the sound of silence and the meaning of boredome under a little hut in the middle of nowhere. It was just about 3 pm and there was absolutely nothing to do. I couldn’t imagine life for the people living in the outpost. There was only rainwater for drinking and bathing with the nearest water source about an hour away, and there wasn’t an tree for shade. A battered television set kept the outpost staff entertained.
When the sun set, things got better. Cooking dinner was like an Iron Chef contest. Our group made Chicken with Snow Peas and Toasted Cashew Nuts, which was Jck’s prize-winning recipe at the Pilipinas Sierra Invitational Activity at Bolinao just a weekend ago. It was much cooler in the evening and we had our socials. Grandma kept our spirits up and there were rounds and rounds of Categories.
We broke camp in the morning and reached the foot of the mountain in about an hour. A jeepney ride later and we were at White Beach in Poctoy. A couple of resorts lined the shore but it was mostly empty. Think of an undeveloped Puerto Galera White Beach. It was quite noisy with the ever-present videoke on the resort side of the beach as there were jeeploads of locals carousing. At the opposite end, where we pitched tent, it was quiet and there was hardly anyone that ever made it that far. The water was clear but warm. It was such lazy afternoon that after a lunch of grilled freshly-caught matangbakol I took a nap. Some of the guys were playing some sort of game where you had to own-up to something very personal. A couple of the players ending-up crying. Oh well. Sunset at the beach always makes one sentimental, bringing-up old wounds and conjuring images of past loves.
Starry Starry Night
The rented videoke went kaput so it was a quiet night. After finishing-off the Grandma, some called it a night. I stayed at the beach, lied down on one of the banca and went star-gazing. Those who had camped at the beach the previous day said there were elementals around. I didn’t feel anything. I just got off the boat when Wapak claimed repeated sightings of an unidentified flying element which he insisted was too big for a bat. Along came Trojan 5 whose battery of questions such as “If you knew someone was going to die at that moment would you tell him?”, “Would you want to see dead people?” gave me the creepies so I had to end my star-gazing. The beach was quiet and there wasn’t any wind. It was really warm so we decided to bring our sleeping bags out and sleep on the shore.
Home Sweet Home
The sun was out in full force the next day so I decided not to swim, not that I really knew how. Strange, but I’ve always loved sunning myself.
But I guess I’m now more of an earth trekker rather than a sea swimmer. Showered, broke camp, and headed to Mogpog for the 2pm roro ride to Lucena. Turns out, there wasn’t any and the next trip was at 4 pm. Again, it was an afternoon of nothingness. We’ve already exhausted all the picture possibilities at the port so it was just bumming around.
Finally, boarding time. Since we were first, we got choice seat locations. The boat wasn’t as full and itwas definitely better than the one we took coming -over. The ride was smooth and pleasant punctuated with a lovely sunset. Plus we got to see some dolphins along the way.
A mad rush to the bus headed for Cubao and we were finally on the last leg home. I hit the sack around midnight already.
The hike was so-so (puke-puke as DadiX describes it) but still, I had a nice time coz of the great company. I still got some uraro cookies, nata-de-coco preserves and kamote pastillas to remind me of the trip.