It all started upon knowing that we have a waterfall in my hometown. At this point that I have heard about this waterfall, I would have climbed several mountains and been pinned to nature already.
So, upon knowing I had one on my hometown, i thought it was but unfair that I have not seen it. In just days, I immediately visited it. (see here and here for my previous posts on these visits).
It may not be as mesmerizing as Tinuy-an falls, or even Ditumabo falls, but there was that enchanting feeling when I stood in front of the waterfall over sturdy walls of the mountains next to it, like in a dome of praise. Then I thought about writing an article to give more information, and hopefully encourage more people to visit what we have.
I got a few comments on my write up which meant indeed, more people getting interested in the place. I realized this could be an alternative livelihood for the aetas who can guide guests for some fees.
Meantime, I did not want these Aetas to be like those in Cawag, Zambales who wouldn’t have anything with them when they guide; No tents, no water bottle, no bags whatsoever.
I have a hammock which I use in place of a tent, and most of those travel/hike buddies who has seen it were asking where I got it. Then, I thought about using it to raise funds. I bought in bulk, and topped the price with what they’d normally pay in fare to get to the supplier. I sold enough to buy 2 sets of bags and tents.
I was looking for an occasion where I can hand these out, and came up with this bright idea of bringing my mountaineering group, Sabit Sabit Mountaineers, to the spot and probably conducting a feeding program too since we’ll come across the aetas along the way. Their diet depends on their resources which is just basically bananas and yam, and I wanted them to have a taste of something else.
Further, we thought about gathering some donation so we have something to leave them with, perhaps at least a kilo of rice, 2 noodles, and a canned good. Heavens blessed us, we solicited about P30K pesos of cash and about P20K worth of goods, plus about P10k of funds among joiners for the feeding program.
Friday came and we met in Victory Liner. I think we filled the compartment of the bus no 807 with donated goods (not to mention we have a bulk, probably twice as much, packed and waiting at our house in Pampanga).
We arrived in Pampanga with our energy levels as if we have just awoken. The loud voices couldn’t deny; Daes and Nikki were so confined at their cooking, while the rest were uninterruptible with their repacking; I am so glad I got the right people.
Just few hours later, I received a message from Al that they’re close to the where I am supposed to pick them up. The kitchen crew were almost done so I requested that food be ready so we can do a boodle fight breakfast before heading to the Municipality where the truck is waiting. We planned on cooking right in sitio banaba, but then, we thought it would be most time effective if we rather bring it cooked.
By 8am, we were already in the Municipality. The truck came after just a little while. Everybody having fun, and everything was so much in place.
Then again, just less than a kilometer away from sapang uwak, we start with the slippery mud terrain... The truck can’t handle it; It was too slippery that gravity and the mud pulls it more than it can push itself. We had no choice but to disembark. I asked the group to trek henceforward, while we detoured back to the barangay to chance on 4x4s if not carabaos; Worst and Unexpectedly, none of these options wanted to help us. Time was running and I was kind of lost of options.
Soon enough, the sitio’s chieftain has arrived. As I have informed her of our plans during our ocular visit 2 weeks ago, she had expected our arrival and was close by when that happened. She called in some of the local aetas from her sitio, and asked to bring some of the goods. She has also requested help from the other aetas from Sapang Uwak, but these people did not want to carry knowing that they are not the benefactors (whoof!). We had to ask the locals of Sitio Banaba to advance and to call in additional help; The goods were too heavy though and the movement was very slow.
Some of my peers have called me and suggested that we ask the people from sitio banaba to trek down and pick up their goods individually (per family), but It wasn’t a good idea as I did not want the Sapang Uwak locals to envy their folks. Besides, it’s really going to be a riot if we distribute there especially we don’t know who’s from where. We’re really running out of time, so I asked chieftain Bulaglag to stay while I walk with my pack and some goods to the Sitio to command some help from the locals there.
On my way to the Sitio, I’ve seen Rose – the other head of this event who I have full respect for her genuine desire to help – from planning to execution. Ahead of even the boys, she was hurrying to get to the good and help lift. The rest of the team came, including the not-really-a-trekker doctor whom we have plead to join us to check the medical condition of the locals.
Gladly, by past 12noon, we were all in the site with all the goods. We’re almost done with cooking too, and the site is filled with the expected number of locals already. It’s time we serve food.
I couldn’t forget the spirit there was with the locals after they’ve eaten. Everyone was cheered up and ready to play fool; Young ones and even adults were dancing around. At one point, I stood away to have a wider look, and couldn’t help but smile at my fulfilment. I was at awe at how much our effort has paid.
It was beginning to rain, and darkness is catching us. We distributed the goods, took some pictures with our patrons banners/fans signs and then set up our camp. Instead of the planned camping at the Porac viewdeck, weather wise, we thought about staying so we can comfortably conduct our fellowship.
Special thanks to Victory Liner for ever supporting Sabit Sabit Mountaineer’s activities; Those who donated cash and goods, and some even coming from overseas (June Kim, Sir Franc Uy, Stat, Renan, Francis, Cecille, JC of Byaherong Ilonggo, Mami Weng of Byaheng Jologs, Yeng of Manaloto Accounting Firm, Julie, Josie, Pam, Charisse, Major, Loreen, Ron, Ozcar, Erwin, Joy, Donna, Dang, Jhopay, and a lot of Rose friends).