I imagine him walking in the blinding thick fog, still on his comfortable clothes, flesh numb and frozen by the chill and head congealed by the alcohol he could have been consuming the moment he and his group erected their tents at the most comfortable spot surrounding the lake after they arrived.
Leaving inch-deep marks on the mossy ground, he went straight to the lake, his toes quickly turning pale brown after he submerged his feet into the water.
But he did not mind, after all he was too numb all over to complain. But he wondered and entertained the second thought—am I really doing this? Can I really do this? Would this hurt me?
The water was already hip-deep. He barely felt anything so he gently arched his body and took the plunge but not too long to realize that he was not after all too numb to complain, that the alcohol and the long-hours of walking did not actually snatch him off the capacity to recognize the looming death.
So he cried for help.
I imagine him walking in the blinding thick fog, still on his comfortable clothes, overwhelmed by the truth that he has finally scaled up Mt. Apo, the highest mountain of the country. He had all the reasons to be consumed by pride—it was his first major climb, something which will finally allow him into becoming a full-pledged member of his mountaineering organization.
Leaving an inch-deep marks on the mossy ground, he went straight to the lake after he left other members of his group with what later became his last words, other than his cries for help: “Rescue me should I drown.”
His toes quickly turned pale brown as quickly as the turn of events were—he was crying for help and another mountaineer was rushing towards him; the rescuer tried to help but felt the water was too cold for him to hold on.
And so the rescuer swam back to shore, leaving him behind in the coldness of death.
I imagine him walking in the blinding thick fog, feeling comfortable and the warmth of his clothes, while sipping a cup of coffee. He was overwhelmed by the truth that he has finally scaled up Mt. Apo after years of longing to do it.
He has been into a number of minor climbs but this one was different as it was his ticket into becoming a full-pledged member of his mountaineering organization.
He saw two mountaineers at the lake. He was tempted to take a plunge but the fog and the chill was just too discouraging. He knew, his sanity still intact, that he must not underestimate the lake, after all he was a first timer.
He was also aware that as a neophyte, the best that he could do is to be extra careful and observe safety measures for himself and the environment because he was aware that he was standing on a ground sacred for the lumad, an environment that is also declared by the government as a protected area.
This, as he was properly oriented by the concerned government agencies like the Department of Tourism and by his own organization, the same entities who allowed him to climb up the mountain after he paid a certain amount—P300? P350? P500?—of the basic safety and precautionary measures to be observed while climbing up and down Mt. Apo.
He had to enjoy this climb. He could not afford to spoil his own trip. After all, it took him his cellular phone for him to pay for the registration fee, only to get a certificate and a shirt that brags about his climb.
I imagine him walking in the blinding thick fog back to his tent, looking really happy, after talking to one of the rescuers deployed all over the area by the DOT and other government agencies that opened Mt. Apo to climbers, in whom these agencies collected fees from.
I imagine one of the rescuers assuring Ian that he will be safe in Mt. Apo. I imagine the rescuers keeping mountaineers from taking a dip in the lake at hours where they are not supposed to take a dip.
I imagine the DOT crafting rules and regulations and strictly impose harsh punishment against mountaineers who bastardize the mountain by uprooting plants and painting their names on the boulders.
I imagine the DOT crafting rules and regulations and strictly impose measures to keep Mt. Apo clean and garbage fee—and by garbage I mean tin cans, noodle wrappers, cellophanes, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, sanitary napkins and condoms.
I imagine that one day, tin cans, noodle wrappers, cellophanes, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, sanitary napkins and condoms can no longer be found in Mt. Apo’s drinking wells.
I imagine DOT realizing that a destroyed environment means a death to the tourism industry.
And so I imagine Ian, going back home to his family in Bankerohan after the trip in Mt. Apo…alive.
(Note: Thanks cruise for the first photo)
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