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Photo by Glenn Palacio

For the Love of the Climb

Most of us want to spend our days behind walls, in front of a computer, and working our way comfortably through reports and meetings. People that have become so used to the luxury of routine that they have forgotten what it truly means to live, help others, and define our existence. But for Carlos Mackinano Jr., he prefers to be a few hundred feet off the ground, hustling through the sublime solid walls of a select few destinations in the country, carrying a heavy load of hardwear to develop future projects for rock climbing enthusiasts and professionals alike. His work in the Kiokong crag of Quezon, Bukidnon is a testimony to his passion, dedication, and perseverance.

Carlos Mackinano Jr.

Since June 2017, Kuya Mackie (as the climb community calls him) has tirelessly developed routes in the geometrically enchanting walls of Quezon. For the last 25 years, Kuya Mackie has been really out there. Climbing, developing routes, and passing on his knowledge to the next generation of climbers. Considered as one of the legends in Philippine climbing, I was honoured and privileged to see him work and scour the depths of a brilliant mind.

The Kiokong wall has a potential of 400 to 500 routes, which very much makes it as the future climb capital of the Philippines. Other destinations have their own walls which they really take pride in, but it is only in Quezon that you can have multiple routes which are just short distances from each other. In creating such an iconic stature in the climbing history of the country, one must understand that these routes cost a lot. Not just a few cents and pesos but a lot. A 100 pieces of bolts goes up to an estimate of 25 thousand pesos, and a minimum cost for all supplies reaches up to 50 thousand per trip. The beauty of this exploit rests in the shoulders and hands (figuratively speaking) to the climbing community and its supporters. Donations in kind, cash and labour is present in each endeavour.

The local government of Quezon has become one of Kuya Mackie’s partners in the undertaking. Last year, the first Bukidnon Rock Climbing festival took place and was a step forward in both the tourism and climbing side of things in the region.

The rock trip had the most number of attendants (165), a record which is yet to be beaten this coming June for its second run. The “Neverland” wall is dry even during rainy season, which gives it a huge advantage over its other wall counterparts over the country. In a year, Kuya Mackie and volunteers such as Jboy Sanchez who is a local of Quezon, Carlo Tats Isidro, and Alen Bautista whom I’ve personally met, are the people who carry the hardware through the trail and carefully help setup the routes.

Rock climbing is a low impact activity compared to mountaineering. This form of climbing requires determination and proper training, and thus not everyone can do it instantaneously. The art of the climb requires patience, working on yourself, and the proper mentality. For Kuya Mackie and his friends, the objective was to not just climb, but also establish camaraderie as solid as the walls that they climb on. Selfless, passionate, and purposeful, that is what you’ll feel when you get to talk to Kuya Mackie about climbing. He is the very personification of those words, and his work is already bearing fruit for the entire world to see.

I only humbly ask that we do our part in creating awareness and support that individuals such as him exist to create a better opportunity for climbers in years to come.    

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