Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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I climbed a rock wall!

UPDATED May 16, 2012: With rappelling pictures!

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Yesterday we went rock climbing and rappelling in Barangay San Jose, Quezon Municipality, about two hours away from Malaybalay. Faye Aribal, organizer par excellence, also invited other nurses and their friends to join. I met Jamez, her would-be husband, who was a cheerful and hospital man.

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Thankfully, our kind mentors here in Bethel agreed to excuse us from hospital duties. I love how they remember that this may well be among the last getaways we'll have for the next couple of years.

The trip went smoothly, and when we had arrived, we saw this—a highway practically devoid of traffic, with lush vegetation beside it, and a long bridge supported by metallic bars. The bridge, of course, looked ideal for suicide.  

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Kara Lou, Emily, KK, Faith, Jade, Johann, Abby, RJ, Maj, and Dacyl—among the few people who risked their lives for this adventure.

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Here were the sisters in black, gifted with wit so humorous it made me laugh, even if I didn't get the jokes entirely. They did pretty well in rock climbing.

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After a short hike, we reached the White Rock Walls made of limestone. My neck ached after minutes of looking up.

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Our guide, whose name I forgot, reminded me of my brother, Sean. They practically have the same sense of humor.

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He demonstrated the proper way of doing things. Grab the rock, not the rope. Stabilize yourself. Work closely with your belayer. Those things, of course, sounded so much easier in theory.

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Now, Abby's turn. She took Wall Climbing as a PE, and, boy, could she climb!

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Slowly, and with occasional shrieking, she reached very close to the peak.

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For that achievement, I bestow upon her the title, Spiderwoman of Cavite.

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Not content with that, she climbed another wall.

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She suffered bruises and lacerations because of her bibo-ness, but seemed okay with them.

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It was my turn. Before we proceed, though, let me warn you: I was not born and have not lived as an athletic person. I placed second to the last in the seven battery tests we had in elementary PE (to this day, I remain indebted to my friend, future lawyer, Katrina Magallanes, who placed last). My extraocular muscles are perhaps the strongest ones that I possess.

But I wanted to try as hard as I could.

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The hardest part was getting the hang of it.

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I couldn't find a ridge to step on, so our guide pushed my gluteus maximus upward to help me gain leverage. My greatest fear then was that I would fart straight in his face.

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Finally I gained a foothold. I grabbed on rock after rock. Inch by inch I went farther away from the Earth's center, until I ran short of breath.

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I rested for a while before proceeding, but the wall was too much for me. I felt paralyzed in my weakness, my muscles were spastic, and never in my life had I felt so physically inadequate. If I had to avoid death by climbing this wall, I would not make it.

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In my frustration at not having reached the peak, I saw this view, which was visible from where I was hanging. I was reminded of humility and patience and determination, all at the same time.

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After lunch, we went hiking to reach the Blue Water Cave for a short swim. The slopes were steep, and the rocks were slippery.

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The river was nearby.

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I didn't take a lot of pictures because I was afraid I'd accidentally toss my camera into the water. But let me describe it for you.

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The pool was inside a cave. The water was crystal clear with shades of blue. As I swam in the middle of the pool, where it was deeper, I felt a strong current pushing me towards the main river. The guides told us to stay close to the rock walls, or else we'd drift elsewhere—and that I did, as I slowly made my way to the darker areas of the cave.

After sometime, I went back to our base to await the rest of the gang for the rappelling. The hike reminded me of Batad, Banaue. I also ran short of breath after every four steps.

Dacyl, Maj, and I entertained ourselves by walking on this bridge as huge trucks passed by. We enjoyed the trembling, bouncing motion that the bridge did, like it would crack in the middle anytime.

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At 4 PM, we were to begin rappelling. "Where do we do that?" I asked. When the guide pointed at the bridge, I knew I was in for a ride.

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At the bottom was bridge was the river, which grew even fiercer because it rained. It wasn't reassuring at all.

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Still, Abby and I went first. The hardest part was letting go, entrusting my life to the rope and the men holding them.

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It was a lot like faith, I suppose, letting go of one's self-righteousness and fully committing one's life to Jesus Christ's lordship.

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I felt my heart skip as I descended slowly. I got paranoid when I took a 360 turn, with nothing else to hold on to but the rope.


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And this was how we looked in the greater scheme of things. And there we were, suspended in mid-air, fearing for our lives. I was afraid the rope might snap any minute, or the men helping us would pass out. I screamed at the top of my lungs. It felt liberating.

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Before we knew it, we were getting close to the ground.

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It was night time when all of us finished rappelling. The water level in the river rose, such that we had difficulty getting back to the highway. I couldn't see a thing in the darkness, but I marveled at the sight of fireflies—little yellow specks of light surrounding us—that greeted us on our way.

Maybe I'm giving the impression that I've come to Bukidnon to explore the outdoors. That's partly true—because I also eat at parties I occasionally get invited in, walk around town all by myself, get treated to the best restaurants in the area, or hitch rides that take me all over the province. Hospital and ministry duties? Well, they happen once in a while.

3 comments:

  1. wow! ang saya! pano pumunta jan? ^_^

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    1. Sobra! I'll post the contact details of the guides once I have them, Ate!

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