Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why climb Mt. Pulag?

Elpidio "Nonoy" Ibanez, president of First Philippine Holdings Corporation and one of those who climbed the summit of Mt. Pulag effortlessly, says, "Why we did it . . . because it's there."

Indeed, I asked many of the 91-strong Lopez Group climbers, including the Mt. Everest Team and UP Mountaineers and the common answer was "it is there, why not?" Additionally, all of them said the view from the summit is incomparable. I was asked many times why I bother to climb mountains or take certain roads seldom taken. My stock answer is because it is there, there must be a reason why it is there and that appeals to my sense of wondering and wandering.

Let us explore some theories proposed by motivation guru Abraham Maslow about why we act the way we do. First, he said that people behave differently. Second, human behavior is the result of a motive—dream, ambition, unfulfilled need, want, desire, beliefs, values, others. Third, the fulfillment of this dream and the satisfaction of this need, desire, etc., is the goal of every human action.

So we all climbed Mt. Pulag not just because it is there, but because one of us dreamt of singing "The hills are alive" at the peak. No, she did not sing ala Julie Andrews but she sang with others to express their self-satisfaction.

Another climber, despite some physical hardships, considers reaching the top a triumph over her fears because she attempted twice before but did not come near the top. Personally, prior to joining the climb, I have this unexplained fear of heights that I could not even look down from the terrace on the second floor of my house without feeling nauseous. Sometimes, when I am walking along a bridge, I feared that my shoes would fall down or I might drop my purse or my legs will get caught between some cracks. But now, thanks to Mt. Pulag, I could look down from higher buildings bravely.

Several have climbed Pulag once or twice, but due to inclement weather, they didn't see the famous Mt. Pulag sunrise and sunset. At the top, they were even unable to see their own feet that was covered with fog. They said on those occasions, their conscious mind was preoccupied with fear of losing their ears to frostbite or dying of hypothermia.

FPHC VP Ben Liboro shares this observation: A couple of years ago, very few of us had ever heard of Mt. Pulag. But then it became the focal point of our Chairman's quest to match himself against the challenges that nature has to offer. Mr. Oscar M. Lopez has always had a love of trekking in the cooler mountain climes and the tallest peak in Luzon held an irresistible charm. This has brought him to, among others, Mt. Fiji, Japan; the Bavarian Alps, Bhutan; Mt. Sto. Tomas, Baguio City; and most recently, the foothills of Mt. Cook, New Zealand. The ascent of Mt. Pulag became the centerpiece of the Lopez Lifelong Wellness Program for 2006-2007 developed by Raffy Alunan, Gani Velazquez and Rico Demanzana.

Maybe some climbed because the big boss was there. Some used the opportunity to bind with their family and officemates.

Kelly Perkins became the first heart transplant recipient to reach some of the world's highest peak, including Mt. Kilimanjiro in Africa. She continues to climb not only for her personal pleasure but also to raise awareness for organ transplantation and donation.

For the same motives, others might do something else than climb mountains.

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(Please visit Moje at or email her at moje@mydestiny

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