Mt. Lanaya: The Confession of a Solo Mountaineer

“Hesitates. Gets the phone. Thinks. Shakes head. Gets up. Gets back to bed. Hesitates.”
My life these days has gone to square one and the big word, “HESITATES” loose freely on my forehead like it has been there since time immemorial. Sedentary. Routine. Stuck – these are the words I repeatedly geared in everyday draining my only positive energy left in this corporeal body.
Run away? No. Freeze time? If I could. Work out? Too lazy but I should. Then what? I asked myself a trillionth time what I should do that makes sense in my life again.
If Moulin Rouge were a modern day musicale, I could have sang its catchphrase – “The most important thing of all is to love and to be loved in return.” But I am no damsel in distress. The love I have is something that conquers mountain. The passion which engulfs this carnal being is the prowess of being human.
The conventional thinking of being motivated is way too overrated. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Ergo, my motivation lies somewhere new, modern, contemporary – something not mundane; never trivial. So where am I heading? Which direction should I take? I am in search. Yes! I should hold on to that new exciting thing; something different.
In brevity, I am back to self searching. And this is where my confession begins…
It was more than a year plan – to climb Mt. Lanaya but it did not materialize until I had the courage to ask my friend, Gee who was a resident in Barangay Legazpi, Alegria, Cebu Province.  I honestly wanted to back out because of that black dog of depression and hesitation tailing me. I was afraid to take even a short leap from my comfort zone. I was totally scared to unveil the unknown. However, I yearn for a lifestyle change. I demand modification not only the place I am dwelling in but my perspective – a paradigm shift.
I then packed my essentials and agreed to meet up Gee even it was already very late in the evening. At 12 midnight of October 31, 2015, we headed our way to Alegria blissfully hitch-hiked Gee’s friend in their mini-van. Though the night trip was painfully exhausting (we arrived in the town proper at 4a.m. on November 1), her mom’s generosity kissed us a long-morning sleep until we woke up just ready for lunch. On a Soul’s day, I did something apart from the usual observation. I visited Mainit Spring in Malabuyoc, did a little stroll at the beach just across Gee’s house, joined a bountiful lanzones/langsat harvest (locals termed it as “buwahan”; Scientific name: Lansium domesticum), and biked Barangay Legazpi to Malabuyoc.
My thoughts went astray from the side-trips. I drifted to a place I had been craving. The word “hesitation” deeply suppressed in my cerebral cortex.  I realized that I was the one creating my own fear; my own insecurities and my own hesitations. I was the one twisting my world in a down-sized picture instead of capturing its entire panoramic view.
That night on November 1, I slept soundly to bed thinking of the next day – my scheduled climb to Mt. Lanaya, Alegria. But the morning of November 2, 2015 started grumpy because of the downpour. At 7 of the clock, cumulo-nimbus clouds were still teasing me by threatening a rainfall. But I was not discouraged. That could be the only time for the kind of adventure I greatly desire so come hell or high water, my climb will pursue.
Despite of the fickle weather, I was already talking with Gee about my plans and how determined I was to summit Mt. Lanaya that she never held me back. “Rain or shine, Gee,” I remembered telling her. And before we knew it, my guide started the trek to the jump-off point.
It was an uphill assault. The weather by that time changed from cloudy to humid up to hot then finally into light drizzles. My guide, Nino, was a young adult whose sideline is by guiding mountaineers to Mt. Lanaya. He informed me that the climb will take 4-5 hours depending on the trekker’s pace. Since it was 11 in the morning when we commenced our trek, I told him that he would determine his own pace and I will try to keep up. We passed by picture-perfect of view of the strait between Cebu and Negros Oriental, a rolling terrain ahead which serves as a campsite and peacefully, seeing green trees and grasses.
Vastly speaking, it was already a non-stop trek all the way up to the hut where we asked for a refill of our bottled water before submerging ourselves to another knee-jerking uphill struggle in the forest. It was no joke climbing up. My supply of oxygen was short-changed by the mountain’s inclination. Nonetheless, there was an overwhelming feeling whenever I stopped and looked behind – the blue seas, and the greenery.
The chilly wind started to blow at 1 p.m. whilst dark clouds accumulating the sky. It was beginning to rain when we were at the top of Kalo-Kalo Peak (Mt. Lanaya). But it didn’t stop me from standing up and basically, admiring the 360-view. I finally made it to the top of Mt. Lanaya after all the hesitations and the indecisiveness.
For some time during the climb, Nino kept on checking on me if I was alright. He sounded concerned because first, I was a girl and alone and I did not look too fit for a climber. From time to time, he asked me if I needed rest but I smiled on him and replied, “I could keep up.” I no longer look fit since the 10-kilo gain on my normal weight. I became a couch potato who referred “eating” as my solitude to “escaping” my unstable emotions. I was deteriorating because I allowed myself to deteriorate.
This solo climb is a manifestation of the real deal. I may get stuck in a certain period of time but in the end, it is my sole self who will carry me through to the finish line. This confession of a solo mountaineer is a confession of every one of us who becomes immobile. We shouldn’t wait for a long queue in our life’s traffic instead we must find our way out to the clear expressway.
How to Get There and Around:
A private vehicle is preferably convenient and hassle-free, of course. For commuters, you can follow the following directions:
  1. Take a bus in the South Bus Terminal bound for Malabuyoc. Ask the bus driver or the bus conductor to drop you off to Barangay Legazpi, Alegria – Barangay Hall. The fare is around P170. Ask for a discount if you are a student (just present your student’s identification card).
  2. In the Barangay Hall, a registration fee is required for every climber. P50 by the time I had my climb. They can provide a guide. During that time since it was a holiday, I had a hard time looking for one. Good thing that my guide was my friend’s relative thus he gave me a great favor. Guide fee is P500 for a pack of 5. During that time, I had to pay P200. I did not regret it though. I was safe and the guide was really doing his job.
What to bring:
  1. As I always emphasize in my posts, always prepare your climbing essentials – a snack or trail food, something for lunch, an extra cash and water. Mt. Lanaya is a challenging mountain to climb because there is no water source except for the house before commencing the forest. I suggest bringing 2 liters of water and an electrolyte drink – Gatorade or the like.
  2. During the first few hours, the terrain is bared with shady trees. So I suggest to bring sun protectors – hat/bandana, arm protector, and sunblock.
  3. Be mindful of your surroundings. ALWAYS observe mountain etiquette – “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs. Kill nothing but time.”
  4. Watch out for some snakes. I did not mean to scare you but when I had this climb, I had encountered snakes in three different places. Of course, I was the one invading their territory so I couldn’t blame them for being aggressive.
  5. Since you are in Alegria, do some side trips. Visit their tourism office for more information. The staff are really friendly and accommodating. Enjoy!
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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