Sunday, July 31, 2011


Bangui Windmills, Ilocandia Tour

When you heard of the word, you would think it is the soap that cleanses impurities of the skin.  An Age Defying Soap as it claims to be. I won't deny that I use such as it have been faithful to its brand promise. Though, I am talking not about the soap but the group that I belong in Mountaineering - THE OLAYS.
I love to travel. I love to immerse in new culture, to meet new folks and to just simply take a break from all the buzzes of the metro. When my former officemate Vanessa learned about my passion, she was not hesitant to invite me to their group, OLAY, who also shares the same thirst for travel as I am. Then, an ILOCANDIA TOUR was scheduled for the group. When Vanessa invited me, I never wavered and signed up immediately. It was a chance for me to visit the famed ILOCOS and explore the ancient streets and breathtaking views as they say. As the date of the trip was nearing, I was becoming uncertain. I realized then that the person I only knew on the group would be Vanessa and Kenya, an officemate whom Vanessa also invited.  This means that I might found myself in an out of place situation considering that the group is huge.  Vanessa and Kenya tried to talk me out of it. Despite the doubts, I found myself in the bus with Vanessa... and Kenya... and the OLAYS on the way to ILOCOS.
They all greeted with all smiles as I was introduced to the group. While on the bus, my keen observation told me that this group is a bunch of happy and loud souls - there was Ivy who was full of ions and who would never run out of words to say, Macky who though have a stocky figure but something tells me that there is just a soft spot within him, Anton who with his Spanish looks and humor could swept any girl that comes his way, DJ who with his physique, bimbo looks and moves can drive a gay man crazy except for me of course due to my high standards( peace DJ), May, who was the workaholic yet and the creative mind of the group,  Drew who was a good conversationalist, Cris who is always young at heart, Monique with a suplada look yet sociable and Erik who possess so much positivism and passion with travel.
The trip turned out to be a complete opposite as to my reluctances at the start. I was able to bond with group easily as we had fun hopping from one tourist spot to the other, chit chats during the trip, never ending photo sessions and of course, the socials at night where everyone had their fair share to talk and be on the hot seat. The OLAYS can testify that it is not only the exotic places that make the trip memorable and worthwhile but it is also the people whom you shared it with.

Before the River Crossing during the Kibungan Cross Country Climb

After the ILOCANDIA tour, the new found friendship never stopped – online chats, SMS and phone calls. I was then invited by Ivy to join in their training climb at Mt. Malipunyo in preparation for the Kibungan Cross Country Mid – Year Climb. I refused at the start since I initially thought that I would not be able to survive it up there. I had a lot of fears – from the snakes, to heights and even darkness. And all of these are what the mountains offer. She assured me that I will get the utmost support and guidance from the group and it would never hurt to try. What I didn’t realize is that one climb lead to another climb and eventually the growing addiction for mountain climbing had developed in me.

2008 Year End Climb in Mt. Kanlaon

2008 Mid Year Climb in Mt. Tapulao

The series of climbs introduced me to some members of the group. There was Daile who was the leader of the group and who had led me to experience the extremes in mountaineering, Mike O who was the better half of May and who I thought was a reserved person, Bearong who was the negosyante of the group, Mike Patts who climbs fast despite the love for smokes, Mau who had the outstanding performance during the Mt. Makiling Climb, Marian who was a petite and charming girl, Bing, the sister of Mike Patts and whose very chinita eyes lead me to thought if her vision is really 20/20, Sir Jo who never fails to make a pause and unusual poses during the climb when he is tired, Aaron who had a thing for the spiders and Alex who was the most well off of the group.

Mt. Picco De Loro Climb
OLAYS introduced me to the world of mountaineering and have been a witness on how I developed a deep sense of passion for the mountains. OLAYS made it easier up there despite the long walks, vertical and steep climbs, challenging terrains and the unforgiving weather sometimes. OLAYS will never fail to make you laugh. OLAYS are family in my second home up the mountains…

Summit of Mt. Kanlaon