I usually leave the mountains on a positive note. The breathtaking sights viewed from the summit, the entire trek experience, plus the acquaintances I meet on the mountains, all lead to an enjoyable climbing experience. But for the first time in perhaps a long time, I wasn’t leaving entirely happy. In fact, I was bothered on my way home —despite probably not showing much of this emotion throughout. The truth is, when I write about the experiences I have on the mountains, I try to include everything that comes to memory. And the one memory that screams loudest in Mt. Gulugod Baboy is the amount of trash littered along the trails. Gives a whole new meaning to Gulugod Baboy, doesn’t it?
We left Alabang at 5:30 am and converged with the participants of this climb in the first stop over, Petron. Our jump off point was at Philpan Resort in Mabini, Batangas. The climb was organized by the Young professionals ministry of Grace Gospel Church and we were invited to serve as guides. At the preclimb last Thursday, C4C was able to provide a quick LNT (Leave No Trace) Training to the participants. Knowing that a Basic Mountaineering Course wasn’t doable at this point in time, and because we were only to serve as guides for the participants, Sir Ace wisely provided a crash course of Leave No Trace so that everyone would know their responsibilities as they climb a mountain. I think this is what other groups should also do if they bring non-climbers up the mountains. When we climb a mountain without knowing outdoor ethics, we unfortunately treat it in the same way we treat the streets of Manila —throw trash everywhere, litter here and there. Sa totoo lang, we don’t really know how to take care of the environment and we can be blamed for being apathetic as well. I remember seeing a photo of Mt. Apo just after the Holy week. There were more than a thousand climbers and I can just imagine the human impact of this on the mountain. More, I wonder if the 1000-plus climbers know LNT?
At the start of the trek, we could already see and smell the trash. The smell was actually more like cow dung mixed with the forest smell, so I guess there wasn’t anything we can do about it. But along the trail from the cemented road up until the first store, there was trash littered everywhere. And I don’t mean to say just a few candy wrappers. I meant this kind of trash.
We wondered at first if the hikers can be blamed for this. But the trash was located by the houses of the locals, which made me think it’s more likely due to the residents. It’s very unfortunate because Gulugod Baboy is beautiful and is a popular hiking destination. It attracts a lot of climbing enthusiasts because it is accessible and easy, and it’s a good profit-maker for the locals who sell buko juice, halo-halo and other refreshments.
Gulugod Baboy is termed as such because the contours of its hills are like a pig’s spine. Locals refer to it as Mt. Pinagbanderahan, which is a commemorative title to the crash landing of the Japanese in the hills of Gulugod Baboy in 1942. Literally, it means, “where the flag was hoisted.” At the peak, you can see Sombrero and Maricaban islands and to the North, Mt. Maculot and Mt. Batulao.
At the peak we had our lunch but we had to endure the terrible summer heat. I was so glad Jherwyn brought a tarp as our shade and around 12:30, we were ready to descend. After a few photo ops, jump shots and flag-raising (historical tidbit provided), we started our descent. I had totally forgotten about the trash until we inevitably encountered them again along the trail. My nostrils were unhappy and my eyes were also sore. See what I mean by not leaving on a happy note? The trash spoils the beauty and fun of Gulugod Baboy. It literally is a stench to the environment and discourages the tourist appeal of the place. While we did our part by not leaving any trace (disposing of waste properly: pack it in, pack it out, being considerate of other visitors, respecting wildlife), we wish more could be done by the rest of the local community as well as the mountaineering community. This makes me think of Genesis 1 when God created the world. He created it as “very good”, but time and again, man destroys the beauty of His creation. May we be more responsible in taking care of what was only entrusted to us.
With Climbing for Christ: Sir Ace, Gutch, Jherwyn, Celso and Kuya Joel