(A shorter than short story of Totoy’s experience at Mt. Pandadagsaan- thanks Marlon Esperanza for providing the name)
Standing on top of the summit is a fulfillment of every mountain climber’s dream.
Totoy was not alone. He was one of the many warm bodies and souls who dared, one morning to reach the one of the best, or the best among the best, mountain peaks of Compostela Valley. It was not his first time, yet it was better than his first one. He was one among the members of the team organized by the Provincial Tourism Office, at the deployment of Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy, of the Province of Compostela Valley to trek, document and share some stories behind the majestic mountain peak.
Before rejoining again his mother unit, the Information Dissemination Section (IDS) of the Capitol, Totoy was the official photographer of Papa Gov Arturo Uy, when the latter was the Governor of Comval. He was a trained and an experienced DSLR camera tactician. This time his skills was necessary for the climb, not to mention his undiscovered talent of telling stories captured by this write-up.
Leaving the official station, their first stop was at the foot of the gigantic mountain range, somewhere in Libuton, Barangay Andap in New Bataan. It took them twelve long hours, including river treks, to reach not the summit but the half way mark to rest for the night before continuing the more challenging trail at that time brought about by the rain. It was a heavy day, thus sleep was extremely necessary anticipating the double-challenge ahead of them the next day.
After deciding and before going for the one of a kind mountain adventure, interested climbers should coordinate first with the Tourism Office of the Municipality of New Bataan, which will provide the basics of the peak, and the people, other places, things and circumstances along the way to the top. There are rules and regulations that need to be followed and adhered strictly to preserve the wholesomeness and integrity of the site.
The office will recommend guides and porters, more than competent and able enough to make the journey satisfaction guaranteed. Unlike other mountains where the trails are obvious and leading, going to the peak needs to hire trailblazers to do the clearing of the uncharted path where climbers pass for the first time.
As the dawn slowly melts to welcome the morning mist, Totoy and the rest of pack were already full of their ready to eat breakfast and a little while later, they were already on the go for the next stop, the summit. While on the first day, it took them half a day to arrive at Camp 1, on the second day the arrival time was lesser, lesser by only 2 hours.
The journey toward the peak was not just difficult but exhilarating. As Totoy described it, “Lisod, kuyaw, hadlok, kat-kat, kamang, kulba, kapoy, danlog. Grabe, pirting piti-a”. “Piti-a” is a mountain climbers Bisaya vocabulary to described a challenge to the extreme level. Seasoned climbers even branded the trail going to the peak as “Horror Train”, which if one survives the summit is tantamount to winning a championship ring in mountain climbing.
Because there were no inhabitants occupying most of the places along the trail, rare plants, animals and other creatures freshen up the death-defying climb. Sight-seeing bonsai of endemic trees were all around the taken path while smelling the breeze of unusual flowers and plants found only in the place. Mossy rainforest found in books were real sense experiences along the trail. Birds of different shapes and feathers were patrolling the skies and on tree branches. The atmosphere within the mossy place was so relaxing and exciting that one can even forget to glance at their clocks to check for the time.
Nearing the foot of summit doubles the excitement of experiencing the majesty of now very familiar and popular New Bataan’s pride and well-kept treasure.
Reaching near the summit erased all pains. It turned the rage of surviving the challenge of the trail into the courage to seeing and experiencing first-hand what it feels to be in the summit of the most sough-after White Peak. The summit was a natural view deck of the sea of clouds encircling the mountain range while long-sighting the peaks of Mt. Apo in Davao City, Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon and Mt. Matutom in South Cotabato, which were noticeably visible especially during clearer weather.
All were proud of themselves setting foot at the peak, especially first-timers, which provided confidence and esteem of achieving something out of hard work, dedication and persistence.
Resting at nigh time at the peak chills. The touch of the mountain dew in the surface of everyone’s skin were reasons enough to giggle the body and soul warmed by the satisfaction while watching fireflies and other flying creatures illuminated by the silhouettes of the natural lights that hardly reached the earth’s surface from above.
The cold and cozy night experience at the peak was entertained by the symphony of grand orchestra of various sounds and effects only the creatures of White Peak can perfectly play.
And everyone deserved a good night sleep.
Not known to many, in every click of Totoy’s well-loved camera are stories only he can ever tell.
Long live the White Peak.
(Photo credits to “Totoy” Albert Dayao)