Love and the Crag: Rock Climbing at Poog

"Do you believe in destiny?" he asked.
"I don't. I believe in human decision," I replied,
"Don't you think we are destined to meet each other?" he asked again.
"It was my decision to meet you. It was my decision to say 'yes'," I defended.
"Maybe I am just a diversion," he stated.
"Yes. You are," my affirmation before we continued on eating in a 5-star resort where the ambiance was as romantic as someone who just proposed. But for me at that time, it was a pure diversion - a complete diversion of my past.

A week back...
"What is love for you, Angel?" the man whom I currently met asked me when he was driving me for home. We just had an awesome evening tailing the Women's 50-K Marathon. A cascade of answers poured down in my mind. But I only gave him an empty reply.
"No comment," I uttered.
"What about you?" was my follow-up question.
"No comment," was his reflective answer.
"I wish love had a checklist. So we may know what it is and if ever we reached on that point we could finally say, 'We are in love'," I concluded.
"Just arrived in Poog, Toledo City"
Now, I never really thought that the man who asked me that question is the same man where I get my inspiration these days. Thus, this story is somewhat similar to that crag.

I was loving the crag back 2013. The rough to blunt limestone which stood mightily high was an inviting sight. Ever since I began to venture different outdoor activities, I couldn't stop coming back to Cantabaco, Toledo City where rock climbing is popularly known. But, things inevitably changed. When I was assigned in the island where I needed to practice my profession as a teacher, I also had to adjust my activities and eventually, changed my lifestyle. I stopped going out. I stopped this outdoor activity.
"Walking some more meters to reach the crag"
Not until destiny invited me to be back in the outdoor. A heart break was the only pure thing that made this diversion and led me back to the crag. Back then in 2015, I was about to walk down the aisle but the hand of time never allowed it to happen. Maybe, the man I was with was not the right man for me. Maybe, he was there to teach me a lesson: to learn how to wait; to love myself first before loving somebody. To cut the story short, I traced back to what my heart truly desires - the love of freedom; to be independent and to savor the outdoor - climbing mountains and rock, diving and swimming the deep ocean, and anything that describes my free-spirited me. 

May 8, 2016 - Sunday
'Round 9 in the morning, my friend, Apol (she is always my adventure buddy) and I decided to join Team Sweetie ( for this year's rock climbing. Due to the influx of passengers in the South Bus Terminal heading to Toledo, we decided to take a chance to get in the bus even if it meant standing in the bus aisle all throughout the ride. 
"The end justifies the means," I thought. 
"I reached the anchor with pride even if it took me almost an hour!"
It was already past 12 in the afternoon when we reached Toledo and Ate Sheila who was already there sent us a message that they transferred in Poog, Toledo. Good thing that Apol knew the place so we headed there instead to Cantabaco. Poog is a newly-found playground for rock climbers. As far as I could remember, it was bolted sometime in 2014 and it had been a great haven since then.
"Apol started the climb and his belayer was Sir Gian"
My mind was set: Touching an anchor for a day is already an awesome achievement! I couldn't explain my excitement when we arrived at the crag. I looked at the great 70-foot high mountain ridge. I was impressed looking at the holds. I was totally in love just by looking at the site and the climbing equipment. My heart swelled for the love of this outdoor sport. I simply missed the life I left 3 years ago. I just love the outdoor!
"Sir Gian giving his instructions and refreshing the terms I have to use"
Sir Gian and Ate Sheila welcomed us even before we placed our things on the ground. I could see their excited smile. So warm and so genuine. Finally, Ate Sheila asked me if I wanted the first climb. I was shaking. I was feeling so hesitant. I shook my head and declined. I was not ready yet.
"Climbing and excited!"
Apol took the lead. She volunteered. Her love of this extreme sport gave her so much courage that it radiated to me. She had it gracefully easy. I looked at her with pride. This strong lady sure knew what to do. It gained me confidence. She immediately inspired me. Then it was my turn. I was shaking. I was recalling the terms I needed to use...slack...tension...climbing...those sorts.
"Some more climb and I would be kissing the anchor."
They looked at me. They were laughing. "Are you scared?", "It wasn't your first, Gel.", "You can do it!" Those were the encouraging words that I could hear from them.
"I never did it for long." I answered while strapping Apol's chalk bag and having my harnessed fitted and finally, wearing Ate Sheila's climbing shoes. 
"Climbing..." I finally said to my belayer, Sir Gian.
"Sir Gian and Ate Sheila"
Starting off with the route, I found it amusingly challenging. The holds were challenging. It was literally an interactive game play. The only difference is, your opponent is your mind. 
It was playing a puzzle game. You need to fit all the pieces for you to see the entire picture.
I need to hold on the right grip and unclip and clip the carabiners in order for me to kiss the anchor and abseil. It was a critical thinking game. I had to choose what was the best hold and what the easiest grip.
"Abseiling, eh?"
But then when I was almost near the anchor, I halted. It was a long 10-minute hang on the middle of the cliff. My life only depended on the belayer, the rope and my harness. My heart pumped up fast. I was on the brink of a panic attack. I shouted that I am giving up.

The three people down the cliff laughed at me. Further, they poured encouraging words. 
"Quick. Step. Jump. You may fall but stand up again," Apol said.
"Just like love. You may fall but you can always make it through."
Yeah, right! I thought. 
"Apol as the belayer"
Rock Climbing is an extreme sport. It is an outdoor activity where it requires you to give your best - your heart, your mind and your physical strength. But at the end of the day, you can only decide whether to hold on or to let loose. 
"Sir Gian cleaning it up"
I kissed the wall. I saw the beauty of the rock. I appreciated the natural view. I conquered Poog just like how I conquered love. The love that I have forgotten to give to myself because I was busy loving the person who didn't deserve me. But then again, it was not just destiny that led me to the outdoor again. It was my decision and I am loving it up to these days.

P.S.: A million thanks to the couple again, Team Sweetie (Sir Gian and Ate Sheila. You, guys, always know what to say and how to heal people like me!) Thanks to my proactive climbing buddy, Apol. You know how important you are to me. 

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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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