Earthquake on the Mountain

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Sunset at Mt.Pinagbandirahan Batangas

These days, hiking or climbing mountain became a trend. It has a transmittable effect to people, especially to the Millennials; there’s a good effect though. The sudden popularity of climbing mountains helps boosts the tourism of the local governments and it gives jobs to the locals of the specific area.

As it continues to become popular some of the undiscovered mountains have been discovered and the untrailed mountains, now has trails. A lot of people are now being so enthusiast when it comes to climbing mountain, but maybe they forget something very important for the environment; they forget to pick up the trashes –their own trashes. Let me tell you some proof, later.

But for now, let me tell you the story of our my adventure to Mt. Pinagbandirahan or also known as Mt. Gulugod Baboy, Mabini Batangas.

The activity is called “Retreat on the Mountain”, as it was really a retreat that was handled by the region of south Luzon in partnership with Spiritual Committee and Social Action committee. The final schedule was April 8-9, 2017, but four days prior to that date, there’s an Earthquake in Batangas that shook some part of southern Luzon and even in Manila the quake was lightly felt.

But since there is no advised from the local government to banned hiking for the mean time, we pushed the activity with 46 hikers. Good number. 🙂

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We started to ascend at 7:30 in the morning, and each group has their plastic trash for the waste of course. We were instructed that as we go up, pick up the trash that we will see along the path, we thought that was easy, but it wasn’t. There’s a lot of trash at the side of the trail and it was left there by hikers and some people living on that mountain. It was so disappointing to see a mountain full of candy plastic wrappers, empty junk food wrapper, unfilled can and water bottles sitting there at the edge of the mountain. How can you totally appreciate the beauty of the place if it is obvious that people doesn’t care about the welfare of the environment. Sad. 😦

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Look at the side, only the big wastes are visible in the pic, but in reality, it is full of small candy wrappers.

As we go higher, it is remarkable that the trashes are getting less and less. Maybe at this point, they have finished eating all their food.  Hehe. Or maybe I forget about the trashes because my legs are so tired to the point that I needed someone to help dragged myself up. I also felt dizzy at one point, so we have to stop climbing; luckily the guide has the white flower oil to ease my dizziness. I thought maybe the reason why I felt that way is because I don’t have sleep as I attended two meetings the night before (1 of them are overnight meeting/dry run for the camp), I only got a very short sleep when we were in the bus and it’s like less than an hour sleep.

The dizziness has gone after smelling the white flower, but I can still feel the pain in my legs every time I step up. So the 1 hour and 30 mins climb became 2 hours and 30 mins for us, because of the continuous stop over we did. And while we were resting on one of our stops, we feel the earth move for a bit seconds; it’s like a vibration, we shrugged it off thinking that it was as a very light aftershock of the quake 4 days ago. As we reached the tree that marks that we are a stone throw away from the summit, it was so fulfilling and all the pains are worth the view. To be at the top of a mountain and to be closer to the sky is always an indescribable feeling.

The earthquake that shakes us.

While we were having our sharing moment for the preliminary of the retreat, the earth shakes for longer than I don’t know. It’s like we were being swooshed by the wind, but this time it is the land that is dancing. Everyone was thrilled to be feeling the earthquake for real for the first time in their life, even I was in awe while the quake is happening. When the earth’s movement subsides, it registers to me that it was a very strong earthquake, considering that we are already at the top of a mountain. I realized that I shouldn’t be in awe, instead I should be worried by our condition especially those who are near the epicenter.

As we go along with the program, we thought that the full blast of the earthquake is done. But then after a while, the earth dances again stronger than the first, we held each other’s hand as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Two minutes after that, the earth shakes again with the same intensity as the second, at that moment everyone was so scared because the wind is also blowing so strong that it bends some of our tents down and you can clearly hear the clash of stones below us as they change their arrangement.

After the 3 consecutive strong shakes, the news came that 900 aftershocks are expected, and true enough, we felt a light vibration of the earth every 2 minutes.

What happened was really a test of faith for us, since we are all active in the youth ministry of the church. That’s a strong proof of God’s love because every day when you wake up in the morning, that’s a love from above. Yes, I believe in God’s love that is always around us every day.

The council decided to go down the next day as early as possible. We ended the retreat earlier than the original plan, but I guess everyone brings home a great experience.

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We are safely home without any casualties and we hope that those houses that are affected by the strong earthquake may recover in time and can go back to their home soon.

Lifeaholic,

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