SAN JOSE de BUENAVISTA, Antique — Meet Nini — she who climbs mountains and leaves her comfort zone in a snap just to feel the fresh mountain breeze.
One rainy day in June, she joined other nature trekkers and mountaineers as they scaled Mt. Aningalan in San Remigio town. It was an organized event dubbed as Freedom Climb and almost 200 climbers joined and became part of the record to beat past ones in the Guinness Book of World Record –- the most number of climbers to summit a mountain peak. That day in the province of Antique also marked a milestone because some climbers also decided to ascend Mt. Baloy in Valderama town.
The girl climber met new friends from then on and began to don a mountaineer’s outfit – dri-fit clothes and traction shoes.
On weekends, she would be seen packing her 10-kg. load and spending the day amid a flight of colorful butterflies and birds nesting or mating. Towards dusk, she would be setting camp on an elevated portion of a peak or a hill somewhere.
One fine summer day, her friends — mountain trekkers like herself — went to summit Mt. Nangtud, the mountain range located in Barbaza town that earned the title of being the highest mountain in the province of Antique. (It was a favorite of former Antique governor Evelio B. Javier.) As preparedness is a necessity to her, she went along, with her cabinet-like load at her back.
The trek uphill that passed through several villages of Barbaza was a memorable one. Perspiration was the perfume that bathed her whole body, and she didn’t mind. She walked some more, sweated some more and got inspired all the more.
The groups’ main goal was to find the habitat of the “rafflesia speciosa”, locally known as “uruy”, and secondly to reach the summit of Barbaza’s mountain ranges.
Nini, easily charmed by the grandeur of wild flowers, took pictures along the trail, as she quietly drafted in her mind the stories she would write when she descends back to the lowlands. Her stories, she told herself, would be that of trails and ridges, of scenic views and picturesque places that others only experience from their TVs in their living rooms.
At the peak, Nini cried in gratefulness to the Creator who sprayed all the colors of the rainbow in Barbaza’s mountainscape!
She cried and laughed at the same time. She felt proud that she was a witness to nature’s beauty and vowed to herself to always treasure the teamwork, the camaraderie and the happiness one feels upon reaching the peak.
Others may not feel the same way as Nini. They only need to remind themselves to “be wary of the girl who climbs mountains” because she is never the same person again. Leah Marlie Pagunsan-Tambanillo/PNA/northboundasia.com