Mount Banahaw

>> Friday, July 13, 2012

four years ago, with my boy-cut hair, i had my first activity with the guidance team. 
do you guys, still remember this? this was just one of those days. just so amazing! 

 They say that great individuals don't make great teams, but the guidance office has to contradict with this notion.  It is undeniable that the guidance office is composed of bright and intelligent staff.  With this fact, it has conquered not just the basic guidance and counseling for the students, but has been continuously excelling in academic terms to ensure excellence and quality service in the nature of the job that the office is handling.  Thus, fulfilling its vision and mission.
 The key to a great team is having the right ingredients cooked together, wit, brains, skills and talents are essentials but not enough - the main ingredient is right relationship. To intensify the team's relationship, the guidance staff went on a two-day group intensification activity at Mt. Banahaw, Dolores Quezon, away from the busy street of the everyday life, with the guide of the outbound team from Lakbay-Kalikasan., July 21 to 22, 2008.

The start of the Journey
Around 5:30 in the morning, the 9 guidance staff along with the Vice President for External Affairs (VPSEA), Atty. Jesus Mayo and his secretary, Mrs. Humilis Almarez, geared up with hiking suits and backpacks gathered in the university parking lot, all set for the 2 days trekking to Mt. Banahaw. Exactly 9:45, the group arrived at Brgy. Kabuhayan, where backpacks were unloaded with unnecessary stuff. Facilitated by the outbound team, S’John, S’Raffy, and TL Ron, the staff was gathered in a meeting place of one of the sects in the barangay, Tres Personas Solo de Dios and was briefed with the dos and don’ts. It was also forbidden to mention the word “cult” for it might be a foul word for the residents. Right after, the staff had themselves ready by doing some stretching and kicking and was soon walking toward the foot of the mountain where there were makeshift of souvenir stores. Thus, starting the journey to the first campsite - Crystalino Falls, a 30 meter waterfall, almost two hours away from the foot of the mountain, where the group enjoyed the adobo lunch packed in banana leaves. During lunch, the expedition leaders, told about the process of climbing Mt. Banahaw. Pilgrims would first cleanse their sins in the Crytallino Falls; the second stage is the Salamin Bubog where one should see his own reflection in the water. Not seeing your own reflection would mean that you are not yet fully cleansed and have to start from the foot of the mountain again. But one’s you see your reflection; it’s a sign for you to walk to next stage called Durungawan. Once you peep into the Durungawan, you must see the virgin forest which looks like bouquets of broccoli from afar. A place they termed “paradise”.  Again, if for any reason and one fails to see the paradise, it means, he is not yet ready and need to repeat the process all over again. The whole group was all excited but with three to four days to reach the top, there might be a need for a whole off from work first. Right after the hefty lunch, the team went down to Brgy Kabuhayan, which just took 45 minutes of slides and lending hand, to get the things needed for the overnight camping. With this, the group recognized the value of responsibility and concern for the other members.

The candle in the Cave 
 The next stop was the “Batong Namamawis”, where it was believed to be producing oil despite any weather. Before the group was allowed to go near the place, it was advised to remove sandals and hats as a sign of respect. The group offered a prayer and each one was given the chance to go around the huge colored black rock and feel it’s moist before entering the cave. The very first activity was performed in the cave, the staff was divided into two, and the first group who entered the cave first was given candles to guide their buddies who were still outside the cave.  And by two's, the group entered the tunnel leading to one of the river, with cautious in each and every step for there are portions that are slippery and surrounded by sharp, protruding stones. One wrong move would give one a bumped in the head. The group was gathered in the middle of the cave to share each buddy’s experience. In the said activity, the importance of dependency and responsibility were highlighted.  Each one realized the importance of having some one to guide them in the dark and the responsibility to give light to the other person. With this, it was realized that giving a candle for someone doesn’t just help the other person but lightens one’s own path at the same time.

The night in the mountain
   Right after the activity ,the group headed up crossing rocky and slippery pathways, each one giving a helping hand to each other. When the destination was reached, the group built tents in front of the altar which serves as a vigil place for pilgrims and devotees.   After bathing in the cold and fresh water from the river, the group headed for sinigang dinner which was followed by a group activity called “helium stick”. Using a 3-meter stick, the group was divided to two. There is really no helium in the stick; it is the way that the team works that makes the stick go up. Each group should place the helium stick on the ground, have it up again and walk to the center all together. The stick should be on the back of the members’ index finger. This is the only way for the group to support the stick and not be parted to any of the members’ finger. It sounds easy but it’s actually triply hard. The stick would typically go up instead of going down. Everyone’s move should be synchronized.  It took time for the two teams to complete the task. It took a lot of practice, suggestions and tries but no one gave up. In this activity, the group was reminded with three things: (1) that a group always has a leader to lead, therefore, members should learn how to submit their selves to the leader’s voice; (2) although there’s a leader, there should still be openness to suggestions from group members, and; (3) sensitivity to the needs and weakness of the team as a whole.
            The night won’t be complete without the social night. Led by Atty. Vic Mayo, the group gathered in a circle, each one gave praise to God for the blessings that each received within the group. A sharing that led into tears and laughter, teasing and revelations. Although, all tired and muscle ached, each one still found time to share stories and giggled with new discoveries. In this activity, each one learned to understand things that were not revealed before and at the same time,   appreciate each one as a whole. 

The Second Day, July 22: Trusting in the dark
 Everyone was already awaked by 7 am. While waiting for the breakfast, the group took pictures as everyone made different poses. The group ate itlog na maalat, daing, dried squid, rice and pancit canton for breakfast, enough carbohydrates to keep the group going for another half day of activity in the mountain. After enjoying the sumptuous breakfast, the group fixed the tents and packed things up for the last activity which is “Trust Walk”. Who ever think that “Trust Walk” is not possible in the mountain and in the rivers should have a change of mind, because the guidance group just did. Again, it was divided into two groups, the first group was the one blindfolded in the mountain course while the second group’s turn was the river course. Different location but both were difficult. Tracking the mountain slopes was slippery and there were lots of uneven trails while on the river course, there were lots of stones in different sizes. As everyone would know trust walk is a matter of trusting your partner. Believing with what he commands you and not listening to destruction around you. It is a challenge both for the one blind folded and the guide. The guide is solely responsible for the partner’s safety and should be the navigator to avoid obstacles. The guide, therefore, learned about the challenge and responsibility of taking care of another individual’s well-being.  The one blind folded learns to trust, listen and rely to the other person. The group hollered  as everyone surpassed all the obstacles without getting wounded, without giving up amidst the absence of something, and trying the best to cover up for each other’s flaws. When everyone’s finished with the course, the group headed to one of the mountain rivers, which was said to be 30 ft deep. Everyone wants to reach the mini falls, but for one to go taste the water of the falls, one needs to cross the 30 ft deep river, however, not everyone knows how to swim. The group worked hand in hand helping those unable to swim to cross the river. Finally, everyone was able to taste the natural mineral water and freshened each body with cool splashes coming from the mini falls.
All soaked with the river’s water, the group headed back to the campsite ready to go back to the city. The group thanked God for the sheer joy, fun, excitement and safe achievement of the activity.  And for another reason, the fact that the guidance staff is not just a group of intelligent people working together for personal gain but a team that will work all together for the achievement of the whole.
 Great individuals don’t make a great team. This will only serve as a myth for the guidance team. For as long as the team understands each other and accepts each other’s weaknesses, the guidance staff will remain as a great team- a strong and effective team.  It doesn’t matter how many countless steps and slips did it take the team to reach the destinations. No one mind knowing. The team is all but busy looking and caring after one another, determined to reach the destination, making sure that no one was left behind. 
and so, this is beauty!

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