Thursday, August 19, 2004

Climb your way to team and personal wellness

Business Times p.B.1
Thursday, August 19, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Climb your way to team and personal wellness

LET me take you via another route in our Journey on Entrepreneurship.

When you are going south along South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the regal silhouette of Mount Maria Makiling presents itself after the Santa Rosa Exit and you start to relax. You are almost at the end of the superhighway and you now measure time in terms of the size of the mountain. When you can see the trees, then it is time to take a turn toward Laguna or Batangas.

I’ve always wondered what would be the view from the mountaintop. The last time I climbed it to some distance was when I was in grade four and, as a brownie, I participated in the First World Scouting Jamboree. Many details of that experience are fondly etched in my mind and heart.

So when First Philippine Holdings Corp.’s MPIG team, led by Art de Guia and Ben Liboro, nonchalantly talked about going on a mountain trek as a team-building activity, I was elated. The original plan was to conquer Mount Pulag in Mountain Province. Seli Vicente cautioned us to first take a baby climb since all of us were neophyte climbers.

After much preparation by Seli, Roel Espinosa, Marvin Masilang, Charlie Agonos and myself, a group of 21 eager and optimistic climbers met at the gate of the forestry department of the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos in the early hours of July 31st. The first order of the day was some stretching exercises. Loot bags containing water, Off lotion, alcohol, Alcogel, ear plugs, Jelly Ace, hard candies, energy bars, trash bag (as raincoat) and hand gloves were distributed.

Some tips were given such as: Walk with a buddy for safety and support. Cover as much part of your body as possible. Use Off and earplugs for protection against limatic, and if these small leeches attach to your cloth or skin, simply dust them off. If they bite, pick them up or sprinkle alcohol or Alcogel to get rid of them fast. Team-building instructions were given, then final reminder from Bon Asis: Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints and share nothing but memories.

We took four-wheel drive vehicles along rough rocky road up to Aguila Base or Station 11. Then, the trek began.

The first 10 stations were pretty easy trails except for the limatic. There were a lot of bantering among MPIG Team Art, Ben, Seli, Roel, Charlie, Amy Agaton, Bunny Gerochi, Ernie Albano, Jay Lopex, Rod Salazar, myself and family and friends Romy Cabral, Oca Arizabal, Rico Demanzana,Vicky de Guia, Chrissie de Guia, Didith Sinda and guide Dante, except for Tintin Arizabal who was bitten by the limatic on her left foot as early as Station 15.

At Station 20, we caught up with each other and we dusted the limatic off each other. Everybody was discomfited by the limatic but still excited about the climb. Only ten more stations to Peak 2.

The climb started to slope to 60-75 o, the limatic population increased and the trail turned muddy and slippery. Likewise, some trails border on cliffs where you could not see what’s below. We now needed to use our gloves to hang on to roots, branches and whatever for support.

At Station 22, we rested as one big group for the last time in our upward trek. Again, there were a lot of storytelling and sharing of tips on how best to climb and battle the limatic. My body ached all over, my knees wobbled and I gasped for precious oxygen. I wanted to quit, but my mind wanted to move on to test my capability some more.

The climb would now have exciting discontinuous 90o slopes. Jay, Ernie and Seli, short of carrying my body, had to pull me up and prop me on my butt to enable me to move on. The distance between some steps were simply too wide unless we find small protruding branch or root or firmly rested rock for foothold.

Between Stations 23 and 24, I told the guys to go ahead because I was slowing them down and I couldn’t go any faster. I was also feeling sick. If not for the limatic, I would have simply thrown myself on comforting beds of leaves, twigs, flowers and mud. As I rested on a fallen tree trunk, Dante asked me, “hihimatayin na po ba kayo?” Later, Seli told me I looked drained and pale.

That was it. I have reached my limit. I decided to go down. After Station 20, Dante and I joined Bon, Tintin, Ben and Rod who started their climb down after Station 22.

(Next columns, we shall read about the poignant experience of the MPIG team members and the equally thrilling climb down and lessons learned. Abangan! Chrissie de Guia describes the experience as “Exciting!”)

(Moje, president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp., facilitates self and team-development initiatives. Please react to this article through

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