The pandemic has opened our eyes to a world that seems to always take. Lives and livelihood are lost. Every day feels like another step away from time, opportunities, relationships, connections, sanity and peace of mind. It’s the ultimate survival test — and the animal in each of us is out.
I honestly never thought we’d get this worse. Our panic and fear turned to greed and selfishness. There is a me-first mentality that runs on a global, national, local and personal scale. We push and shove one another, determined to keep our spot of existence. This is not a health threat anymore. This is a threat to life.
As I started doubting the future, I looked for comfort from the past. I came across old photographs from last year’s hike for a cause that we held in Carcar City. It not only reminded me of our exciting experience in Mt. Kalatkat, but it gave me the much-needed assurance that there is still goodness in people’s hearts. That we are capable of caring and giving, too.
Seeing life through a child’s eyes
It was in August 2019 when a group of random travelers and mountaineers headed to Carcar City, Cebu, with a purpose to make the students of Kalangyawon Elementary School smile. This outreach project was spearheaded by Chris Simmons Mangyao, a young school teacher, nature photographer and outdoor enthusiast.
After a long ride on uphill cemented road, we arrived at the school just in time to prepare for the event. We were greeted with the happy faces of students, teachers and mothers which gave us instant adrenaline rush.
Watching the children play and laugh was a pure joy to indulge in. Although we didn’t have a strict program, the combined energy of facilitators and kids made the activity spontaneous and fun.
Chris, James and Chiarra particularly took the center stage. Chiarra, with her loud and contagious laughter, hosted the Hep, Hep, Hooray.
Meanwhile, James, being the Jack of all trades, entertained the kids with a trick game.
Watching Chris interact with the children was whole different kind of amazing. We got to see the level of patience a she had for kids, and the level of respect she earned from them. I don’t know if it is an innate trait to teachers or it develops overtime… but it was a heartwarming connection to see.
After having our lunch, the event culminated with the distribution of donated school supplies and surprise treats. Seeing their genuine smiles reminded us adults to appreciate the simple things and to live more from the heart.
Memories of Mt. Kalatkat
When you think of Mt. Kalatkat, what comes first to mind? Some would say it’s a beautiful spot to see the panoramic view of Carcar City and its neighboring towns. To some, it’s a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Others, would even share a paranormal/ghost encounter in this quiet place.
Since it was my first time to see Mt. Kalatkat, I was expecting all three — well, more of the first two and less of the latter. The trail was relatively easy, a quick hike on tree-shaded footpaths. It didn’t take us long to reach the tower on top of a hill where we will be camping.
It was a gloomy afternoon, cloudy with a touch of strong winds, but we were still able to marvel at the verdant greens extending far and wide. We pitched out tents while waiting for others. We talked but mostly just looked at the horizon that demanded a long stare.
Soon, the weather got worse and it started raining. I’ve hiked and camped under the rain but this one was the most thrilling and spine-tingling experience so far. The rain poured hard and the wind slapped our tents with force. It was cold and dark outside.
At some point, James and I decided to film our situation. LOL. Instant vloggers! We jokingly said it’s the best time to see who got the last tent standing but, really, we were already panic-laughing for hours. Eventually, we all decided to do an emergency break camp. In the darkness, we hiked to a safer ground.
Morning came and we woke up to a bright sun. Our tents were tightly crammed in a small clearing surrounded by trees. Some of our things were soaked but other than that, everyone’s safe.
Looking back, my memory of Mt. Kalatkat would be of fear and thrill. And, yes, of hope. I came this place to give and when we left, I took something with me in return. It is the lesson that in life, even the fiercest storm will subside.