Re-igniting The Passion for The Outdoors: Pundok Habagat [The Return]

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of the sights;  it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”  Miriam Beard

What does it take to have passion for the outdoors? Would it be the sole wish to venture into the unknown and explore where the wild beckons you? Is it the wanderlust that fills each adventurer as he/she treads the path that was seldom traveled by many? Is it the thrill of discovering new trails, new routes and new campsites each time a chance comes our way?

These questions bugged me ever since the event was plugged at Facebook by Habagat Cebu. It only means there are still people who cared about how we can conserve our environment and maximize efforts on how to sustain our cause for the mountains that give us the building blocks of life. Pundok Habagat [The Return] was held at Mt. Manunggal last October 18-19 with participants from different mountaineering groups here in Cebu, MFPI and non-MFPI affiliated.  And so the day came. And I was totally excited on it. Though I admit I fell short for the preparations like day hikes, river treks and the like before the event, still with guts and adrenaline rush, I pushed for it. I packed my borrowed backpack from Ate Kit and ready our meals for the event. I had already attended several Basic Mountaineering Courses in the past months since last year and it really helped me a lot about what and what not to bring. And WATERPROOFING my pack is on top priority. Learning the lesson on waterproofing the hard way was one of the things that came across my mind while packing. You can never underestimate Mother Nature’s musings not after you get wet. 🙂 This is not the first time I climbed up Mt. Manunggal. This is the 3rd time I have visited this mountain but it still leaves me breathless each time I am walking on its challenging uphill trails and even witnessing a sea of clouds amid fog! It really is a wonder to see these clouds changing and moving across the skies. It calms me more than I could ever have thought and it also relaxes the mind.

So here are some FACTS that will interest you more on the event:

1. There are 3 categories of the event proper. One is Trekking with two groups of trekkers, Basic Mountaineering Course following MFPI [Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines] standards, and last but not the least, Outdoor Cooking Competition where the participants will be given with same ingredients and pressured with time for about an hour from prep to actual cooking to plating.

2. Participants for the BMC are not all first timers in the mountains. Most of them are freelancers who wanted to know not just the basics but also the proper backpacking terms and conditions. Though others seemed new, everyone still cooperated and showed genuine interest on the topics given by the instructors though it was a bit compressed due to time and circumstance constraint.

3. Trekking Teams were divided into two, one team passing through the old Guining Trail that was reopened and the other team assaulting up from Tabunan to Manunggal. This is the trail where the Monkey’s Face was seen if not covered in fog. The other trail was passing through the Guining Falls, where locals would tell that this was the habitat of Guining, a fairy that would let them borrow kitchen utensils and assorted cutlery during fiestas and certain occasions.

4. There were about 30 Participants for Basic Mountaineering Course provided by MFPI accredited instructors namely Scarlet, Ferdie, Andy and Joel  and another 30 participants  for the trekking teams. The participants for the BMC were discussed on planning before a climb, budgeting, meal preparation and preparation, advised to pitch their tents, actively participate in the discussions, cook their own meals and keep track of their own personal belongings, trail etiquette, some short rope techniques/basic knots, and others.

5. The Outdoor Cooking Competition consisted of 10 teams from different outdoor groups. Each team were given the same ingredients and was challenged to whip up something that is unique and nutritional and not only limited to the usual types of cooking methods done in the outdoors. I think  the biggest challenge here is that they are time pressured, the options that they can do in a limited time frame and, how they will be plating the last outcome to get the judges’ attention. They are only having limited light source [hence the headlamp] and was situated in an open area. IT will really take guts, strategy and initiative to pull through it. Oh well, outdoor enthusiasts surely have its own way of dealing with pressure in the outdoors 🙂 Glad it turned out very successful and flavorful. Burp! The winners were USC-Mountaineers for 3rd place, Blue Team for 2nd and COAT-Inc for 1st place! 🙂 The judges did had a hard time choosing the best among the ten teams since everyone gave it their best shot.

6. Leave No Trace Principles were discussed by none other than MFPI Visayas Vice President Sir Ramon Vidal. He then imparted important info tidbits and some nitty-gritty details on LNT. He provided straight to the point, no-nonsense examples of scenarios where LNT are best applied here in our country since we are a tropical nation. I learned a lot from it and has been a refresher for me. Here are the 7 LNT principles:

> Prepare and Plan Ahead.

> Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.

> Dispose of Waste Properly.

> Leave What You Find.

> Minimize Campfire Impacts.

> Respect Wildlife of Other Visitors.

> Be Considerate.

So during the downtime, let me indulge you guys with the faces taken with the lenses of my team mates who happen to capture life’s multi-faceted feature. Enjoy glancing at our snaps. 🙂  Photo Credits goes to Jon Dave Lepatan and Elaine Faith Abadiano for the snaps.

Participants of the Basic Mountaineering Course waiting for the departure.
Cebu Outdoor Adventure Team Guides and Base Camp beauties 🙂 L-R: Ryan, Jjoe, Ace, Mae, Delbacz and Ferdz
Habagat Peeps 🙂
Bohol Outdoor Adventure Team buddies getting ready 🙂 L-R: Mark, Bob, Yahman
Trekking Team Group 1 advancing toward the jeepney pit stop.
Cebu Outdoor Adventure Team President Voltaire with the other guides getting ready for the final briefing.
Sir Joemeth at the Tabunan Covered Court before the final briefing of the trekking teams 🙂
Bohol Outdoor Adventure Team peeps 🙂 Chill mode ON 🙂 L-R: Bob, Mark, Arnel
Final briefing for the trekking team 🙂 Getting to know you stage. 🙂
Habagat girls with Ta Ma of COAT-INC 🙂
The Trekking Team groupfie! 🙂
Crossing Tabunan foot bridge with our trail lead Sir Jovil Villamor. Serious faces \m/
Trekking Team Group 1 heading to the Guining Trail.
Trekking Team Group 2 heading towards the assault trail [monkey’s face trail] up to the camp site. Single file is always observed.
En Route to the camp site, we were drenched in the rain. Wew! I am at the end of the file having heavy breathing moments.
The road leading to the camp site
Steps leading up to the BMC kiosk from the campsite and vice versa. 🙂
And we have arrived after almost 3 hours of uphill climb. Pitching a tent is one of the skills needed to be learned efficiently by anyone who wanted to camp out.
our view from the camp site 🙂
The official sponsor, Habagat Outdoor Equipment [Built by hand. Tested by Nature]
tents of different colors and sizes being pitched 🙂
Successful Participants for the Basic Mountaineering Course of Pundok Habagat 2014 [The Return]
After all the slippery moments, and when fatigue kicks in during the down time, still I managed to smile and laugh about what I’ve been through.
L-R: Me, Ate Kit, Elaine and Ta Ma On our background are pitched tents from the other participants. Such a colorful sight.
Arrival of Trekking Team Group 2. Chitchat with BOAT peeps and Sir Ed Solana [the guy in blue] and Jake Ave [left most in yellow jersey, Event Organizer]
Monument of the late president Ramon Magsaysay, whose plane crashed at this site back in 1957. Dwellers in this area celebrate his death anniversary every March.
Mt. Pinatubo’s engine remnants. [The plane where the late president rode en route to Cebu]
Steps leading to the engine site.
That’s Me! 🙂 With my certificate for having successfully able to withstand the assault trek trail up Mt. Manunggal from Tabunan. Wew! 🙂
Goofy fun times before break camp 🙂 L-R: JD, Jers, Ta Ma, Ate Kit and Me 🙂

When like-minded people gather together for one great cause for the environment, there is nothing impossible to carry out. At the end of the day, it will still be us who will be suffering the consequences of not taking serious care of Mother Nature. Whatever we garbage we throw, still, in one way or another, it will be thrown back to us. Remember, what come around come around. What goes up must come down. Law of Karma, I should say.

Do you have passion of taking care of the environment, or know someone who does? Let me know your thoughts! Let us chat. 🙂

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