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Sleeping atop a volcano’s crater, a mountaineer never forgets

By Ramon Jorge Sarabosing

I was 19 years old when I climbed Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin Island in 1981. It was my first climb ever and I told myself I would never do it again.

One year after, I conquered Mt. Apo in Davao and returned to Mt. Hibok-Hibok another time and slept on a boulder atop the volcano’s crater, watching the night’s wide sky and feeling the friendly heat and had a terrific sleep.

The Mt. Apo was another outdoor initiation-three days ascent and one day descent. It was renewing. It boosted my confidence and appetite to explore the world more. Perhaps even until now as I march towards past middle ’50’s.

But it lured me to the idea of climbing mountains, pursued through weekend outdoor trips followed by major and minor climbs in Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, Mt. Hilong-Hilong, Mt. Mayapay and Mt. Kinapuk-an in Agusan del Norte.

All those courtesy of SAK-A Mountaineering Society organized by the Atega folks of Cabadbaran, Architect Arturo Atega, former tourism officer Ruth Aega, Plenio Atega Jr., Teresita Atega, now dean of Caraga State University, Dr. Jocel Dagani and Butuan-based Butch Dagondon, currently head of Green Mindanao, an environment advocacy group. They remain one of my closest friends and confidantes until today.

SAK-A Mountainering Society was three of the pioneering mountaineering groups in Mindanao, the two coming from Cagayan de Oro and Davao City.

SAK-A Mountaineering circa 1980s: Conquering Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin Island.

Countrywide, only UP Mountaineers and PAL Mountaineers were the leaders. SAK-A regularly participated in national and regional climbs. It was an exciting birthing period of mountaineering and outdoor sector leading to serious environment concern.

Today,  I enjoyed watching and encouraging young people to engage in meaningful outdoor activities. There were instances in our time when we were confronted with challenges like the peace and order situation we need to cool off, but our agenda was apolitical and mainly adventures.

There was a time I remember I was asked what I learned in my first climbs, my answer was “eat breakfast!” That was my lesson in Mt. Hibok-Hibok while we slept on a pig pen at the foot of the volcano.

Of course you need to prepare yourself physically with exercise. Before we went to Mt. Apo we practiced climbing up and down the grandstand eight months before.

The patience and discipline was rewarded when we reached the peak. We saw the thick clouds gracefully moving under our feet. That was magnificence.

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