Thursday, August 12, 2004

The unique challenges of downward trek

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, August 12, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
The unique challenges of downward trek

LAST Thursday, I related to you half of the story of our upward trek to Peak 2 of the regal Mount Maria Makiling as part of the wellness cum teambuilding of the MPIG Team of the First Philippine Holdings Corp. plus some friends and family.

Congratulations to those who successfully conquered Peak 2 and hordes of limatic or bloodsuckers along the way. Bunny Gerochi's account: "When Amy Agaton, Bunny, Jay Lopez, Rico Demanzana, Romy Cabral and Ernie Albano got to the peak [hooray!], Art, Vicky and Chrissie de Guia, Charlie Agonos, Jo Rac, Roel Espinosa and Oca Arizabal were already there. They were sitting on a large blue plastic mat. Vicky exclaimed, 'Bun, you're so dirty!' Jay changed to a new outfit. Bunny and Amy refused to change any clothes for fear of limatic attacks. They feasted on power bars, Jelly Aces, Gatorades and water. After some time, they started to talk about going down since dark clouds were coming. [Does anyone remember what we saw at the top?]"

Let me finish the other half of that story before we discuss those valuable lessons that we learned from the experience. We all thought that going down will be much easier and faster. Not at all! Going down was as tricky as going up since we were taking the same trail. The difference was that, one, we knew, more or less, the trail by then. We could anticipate the up and down paths, the bends, the steeps and other unique turns. Two, the terrain has become more familiar. Somehow, we were able to recognize certain rocks, leaves, tree roots and others. We seemed to know exactly where the limatic and lipa shrubs were plentiful.

Three, the top-down view was clearer and we could see farther than a few meters into the direction we were going.

Four, we have already tested some footholds and hand support and were more confident using them.

Five, the limatic were not anymore as annoying and scary. We learned to live and let live.

Six, we started to notice the view, the trees, the birds, and individual leaves and flowers. At one point, Ben Liboro was elated to see the beautiful purplish flowers of the jade vine. Our guide, Dante, said that those plants thrive way up in the trees, not easily visible to human eyes and its flowers are, indeed, rare.

Seven, at one high and steep 90o part of the trail, I lost my foothold and slipped. Dante was able to grab my right hand and I hung there for something like an eternity with my body swinging and banging at the side of the mountain. Dante told me to let go of my walking stick and grab a protruding root with my left hand. Then he lowered me slowly to a solid rock two feet below. Enjoy pa rin!

Finally we caught up with Tintin Arizabal, Rod Salazar, Ben Liboro and Bon Asis who turned around at Station 22. The most strenuous part of the downhill trip was what was the easy trail upward. Going up, the easy trail (Stations 11-20) seemed to be even grounds because it was wide (one or two meters at different areas) and defined with small rocks and fallen leaves and one could easily see about 10 meters ahead.

Going down, the trail actually sloped down steadily and, after a while, our toes simply wanted to get out of our shoes.

At a certain point, we knew we were almost back to where we started and the challenge has left us and all we wanted was to have our late lunch.

Mount Arayat, Mount Pulag, Pico de Loro, Mount Banahaw and Mount Apo beckon and offer unique challenges.

(Moje is the president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and facilitates self and team development programs. Her e-mail address is

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