Last Feb. 1, 2019, I was among the 6 adventure seekers who trekked from Mt. Anggas / Nyor’s playground to Iligan. As crazy as it would sound, an estimate of 138 kms was travelled along mountains, ridges, rivers, a lake, waterfalls and numerous breath taking landscapes. The Explo Team was led by Engr. Raul “Nyor” Ilogon who is part of the Tourism council of Misamis Oriental. From what seemed another adventure for Nyor, it became personal as he carried with him a book which his father personally wrote.
The book tells the story of his father’s World War 2 experience and how a barefoot army was in existence at the borders of Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte. One can only be amazed as he retraces the footsteps of his father based on the memoirs.
I saw firsthand the genuine look and sincere emotion as he set foot on the ruins of the guerrilla hospital where his father was held in Upper Talacogon, Lugait. I believe that this was 6 day journey wasn’t about just himself but about honouring his father.
Members of the Explo Team are Silvestre “Jun” Gorre who is an agriculture professor in Ateneo de Cagayan Xavier University, Japhet Mendez Limas who is our team manager, cook and all arounder, Eugene “Repa” Etabis who is one of the fiercest environmental protection advocates and climber I have known, and Joumar Cagas who is partly Higaonon from the slopes of Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.
Freelance photographer and explorer Earl Ryan is also part of the team but had prior commitments beforehand. These members were above and beyond me in everything outdoor related. These people were the real deal in trailblazing new places to discover, protect and conserve. Each one of us had our reasons on why we took on the journey, and I know that those reasons or questions were answered at the end.
The exploration has taught me much about the reality and life of the people up in the mountains. How they live simply in the earth and how in their own ways have adapted to the changes of time. Beautiful and lush green forests were filled with the sound of birds, water was cold in rivers, the light dynamically changes the landscape engulfed with fogs, and the hospitality and warmth of the people were just some of the things that you could experience up there.
A few months ago, I was able to witness the Aldaw ta Kitanglad in Impasugong, Bukidnon and ever since then, I have learned so much from conversing with the people who heavily rely on the earth’s blessings and products. Proper waste management, environmental protection, wildlife conservation and indigenous traditions must be given attention in order for us to provide a better world to the next generations.
Exploring has always been part of the human DNA, but we should always take into account and put into mind that we should be responsible in every activity that we do outdoors. Leave no trace is more than just a water bottle sticker but a principle, a mentality and a discipline which climbers, explorers and tourists should follow.
I cannot emphasize the many ideals and lessons that I got to learn from being out there, the higher the altitude – the better the attitude so it would seem. And although there were many times I wanted to quit, I know deep down inside me that I’d regret till my deathbed if I didn’t grabbed this chance.
There were times that the mountains and trails conquered me, but in the end all that was conquered was my soul. As a tourism consultant to the province, I believe that by being a part of this with this amazing people, I can finally say to myself that I have explored Misamis Oriental.