Dec 24, 2012

Climbing the Parrot's Peak

The call time was at 5:30am so I alarmed my phone at 4:30 since I just live near the school. The alarm rang and I hit the snooze button. You know the story, next thing I know, I woke up at 5:40am. Good thing they waited for me, unlike Rannie who had to meet us in Tarnate, Cavite since he woke up at 6am and had to take public transportation cause we can't wait for him.

I'm not a professional mountain climber. None of us were. But the prospect of climbing a mountain on a Friday, just days before Christmas, excited me. It's something new. Another reason to escape a day of writing credit proposals and fixing documents for clients' loans. 

The team was led by Bro. Juvelan who would be climbing the Parrot's Peak / Pico de Loro for the third time. The first time he did it, he was with his high school friends. Same story for me. We were also joined by other college dayzers.

And so, at around 9:30am, we began our climb. The weather can't be more perfect. Although it drizzled for some time, the sky was cloudy that no one got dehydrated or collapsed from the heat. Still, the favorable weather wasn't enough to cushion the difficulty of the climb (even for those who are used to hiking mountains). It was steep and slippery. You're not sure if the next rock you're going to step on would hold, or if the branch you are using as support would not break.

By 1pm, after probably half a dozen of rest stops, we were able to reach the camp site where hikers could set up their tents (if they plan to go for an overnight stay) before going to the last 20 minute hike to the summit. The spot looks very autumn-ish with dried grass looking like the hair of Grace Coddington being plowed by gusts of winds. 

I would have died to shoot one of the promo stuff for either I'mAB or Hundred Saints, but bringing all the clothes and props may prove to be equally lethal. I just satisfied myself with taking pictures of the scenery with my friends.

The last ascend to the peak was the most difficult. Most of my friends approached the slippery slope as cautious as they can. I, on the other hand, ran/leaped stupidly grabbing the dried branches to keep myself from sliding. I was so scared of falling that I had to shut my brain and let the legs and hands do the moving. It worked though. I reached the peak uninjured.

When I reached the peak, only three people were there - Bro. Juvelan, Rex (our high school valedictorian) and Gelo (our college valedictorian), who hiked with a separate team from us. Words like awe-inspiring and breathtaking do not do justice to the sight. I want to scream. I had to prevent myself from jumping cause the wind was so strong that I might be blown off to the South China Sea. 

I even felt teary eyed. It was a solemn encounter with nature; one of those moments when you just want to take in every sensation - the smell of the mountains, the heat of the sun, the sound of the wind among the trees and the sight that makes you realize how small in size and power you really are - and not let go, paralyzed in the beauty of nature. I felt infinite.

A lot of other things happened on our way back to our bus, most of them we were not prepared for like traversing the forest for the last 30 minutes under the light of the moon, or a stinging head ache (for me) caused by dehydration. But those little misfortunes only highlighted how amazing the Pico De Loro experience truly is.

I started my year by swimming with the whale sharks in Cebu with my college friends. It's only fitting that I end it with something equally exciting as this. Cheers for a more exciting year ahead! 

Dare to move!

Dec 23, 2012

Finding God in All Things

Christmas season marks the coming of God through the baby Jesus. It's one of those times when you really find God's presence through the decorations, the activities in the church (and in the malls) and the random acts of kindness people share with those whom they don't even know (aka outreach initiatives).

This year, I guess I can say that I've taken the challenge of St. Ignatius to find God in all things more seriously and openly. We were able to find Him...

in our homes;

in our families,

and in our relatives;

in friends who climb mountains,

in friends who swim with whales,

and in friends who've been there for more than a decade;

in workmates who fight for the environment,

and in office mates who lend money;

in the food that we eat;

in art;

in solidarity with the poor;

in our encounter with nature;

 in religion;

 and even in solitude.

After some thoughts, I realized and felt that it is God who reveals Himself to us, no matter how far we've veered away and guarded we think we are. It's more of the divine finding a way to encounter each of us, even in the most unexpected places and untimely moments. And I find this very humbling cause who am I for him to even make an effort, but a speck of stardust in time and space.

Merry Christmas!:D

Dec 6, 2012

What If Money Were No Object?

"What would you like to do if money were no object. How would you really enjoy spending your life?"

I was watching a video shared by a friend over facebook that sparked the questions above. It's narrated by a professor who gets questions from college students who don't know yet what to do with their life after graduation. The easiest answer might be to get a "job" (corporate I suppose), but is that what you really desire if money were not involved? What is your passion?

"Better have a short life that is full with what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way."

My dad would probably say that he wants to be a bonsai farmer after 30 years of being a civil engineer. I had a meditation teacher who quit a high paying job at the age of 50 to pursue meditation and yoga. Thanks to instagram, most people will probably aspire to be photographers. I myself can't give a straight answer since I want to do so much.

I shared the video with my friends in the bank several days ago and they had mixed reactions. Most were inspired, some depressed. "If only life were that easy. It's different here in real life. If only money grew from trees."

But what if the professor is bitterly right? (Which is the case.) If you really become a master of what you love, like writing, people will pay you to write or edit. If you love to travel and excel at it, people will be the one to pay for your hotel accommodations and plane tickets (like Samantha Brown).

It might be difficult because 1) you don't know yet what to do/love/dream of and 2) you are going against the tradition which our educational system has conveniently isntilled in us in conivance with corporations.

It's a challenge. And the questions you will encounter might be the most difficult ones to answer. But dare to be different. Dare to go against the status quo. You only live once #yolo. And you don't get to live forever. Why wait for 30 years or when you're 50 years old to start doing and enjoying what you love (redundant?)

Easier said than done. I guess those are issues we'll have to confront sooner or later. Thoughts?

Dec 4, 2012

Dec 3, 2012

Let Go and Trust

I think no one can be too grateful, as much as no one can feel too blessed or too loved. One can't have enough of those good things. There's always space for more thanksgiving and love. And when you voluntarily allow it to overflow, there will always be someone who will catch what was spilled over.

I learned something valuable during those 3 days in Batulao. I always allow my brain to rule over my thoughts, actions and beliefs but there's a point when rationalizing will just lead to paralysis, and you just have to let go and trust. I understood the meaning of pagtitiwala, more profound than ever before.

The best moments that happen to me are usually not written in this blog because I want to keep them for myself. This is one of those moments. I just have to close my eyes and I'm back there again, where no matter how cold the wind can get, He'll always be there to give you a warm embrace through the people you're with. Salamat!

"The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason" - Blaise Pascal