Finding Meaning in the Mountains - Part 1

EXHAUSTED, I went to bed, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep. Half-conscious, half dreaming, the memories of the day that just transpired flashed in my mind. It was a blur of browns and greens, the colors of the earth and trees, of the mountain I just hiked. 

Normally, this only happened to me after movies that I took by heart. It could only mean that said mountain made the same impact, perhaps even greater.

It was Tanay, Rizal's Mt. Daraitan, standing at approximately 739 meters above sea level. Supposedly, it was categorized as a minor climb but totally did not felt that way to me. It was my first serious hike and it was also the toughest.

Nevertheless, I was not one to complain because despite feeling dead from the physical pain, I felt so much more alive from the unforgettable gain.

The colors of the mountain
Because unlike most of the commercial climbs I bet you have joined to "get away from the city" and instead "get close to Mother Earth while"--and all other similar cliches--this particular journey to Mt. Daraitan was mainly for a good cause.

Held last December 11, Sunday, it was one the last fund-raising climb of Random Act of Kindness, or RAK, for the year 2016. RAK is a group of mountaineers slash volunteers hailing from different sectors of the society. 

Only on my second adventure with the group, I had been enlightened ten-fold about "mountaineering" and all the responsibilities it entailed. It was never just about reaching the summit, taking selfies, and saying "I conquered Mt. Daraitan (or any other mountain)."  

Sir Rick of RAK lives and breathes mountains
Because as RAK co-founder and leader Frederick "Rick" Laping said with conviction, "You can't conquer a mountain because the mountains had been there before you. And you can't conquer a mountain because the mountains will outlast you." 

What you are allowed to say is you conquered your fears, or you conquered yourself in reaching the summit and returning safe. Sir Rick further imparted to the hike's participants. 

There were over 10 of us plus three more RAK members Tupe, Alex, Paul and Daiana, who were savoring the steaming lomi after the tiring hike, while taking by heart valuable lessons from a man who had courted and loved the mountains for two decades already. 

The group at the summit
From this immersion came the awareness that many mountains in the Philippines served as ancestral domains of indigenous peoples, the rightful dwellers who most often lacked access to basic needs like shelter, clothing, food and light. 

Thus, RAK was born from the desire to do one random act of kindness at a time. Whether to extend a helping hand to remote, mountainous communities, or to protect and preserve the environment through clean-up drives, or promoting clean, renewable energy, among others. 

Sir Rick points to where the last outreach program of RAK for 2016 is to be held
So how to does RAK do all this? We go back to the non-profit organization's fundraising climbs which are open to all who wish to follow and support RAK's above-mentioned outreach programs. Of which, the culmination for 2016 was recently held on December 17 at Sitio Manggahan in Brgy. Daraitan (yes where the mountain was). 

I also took part in the said event and for two consecutive weekends, found new meaning in the mountains. 

Here are more photos from the Mt. Daraitan hike:

Don't be fooled by the seriousness of this entry because RAK is composed of a bunch of goofies and bullies, led by this trio, Rick, Alex and Kris (or RAK). Genius!

Had to stop on my track just to capture these tiny beauties

A grotto deep in the mountains

Happy and funny faces at Station 2

My best friend and travel buddy Xerlyn and I at the summit, the very spot that confirmed my fear of heights

She, on the other hand, had no problem whatsoever and kept bugging me to take her photos

But truly, such a scenic view

Is this a challenge? Yak hane! 

Finding Meaning in the Mountains - Part 2
Musings from Mount Tagapo

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.