MESAU Summer Assault ’97

Isarog, Asog, Itbog - Bicol Region
March 24 - 30, 1997

Expedition Leader: Richard Rebada
Assistant EL: Roy Palma
Camp Master: Rollie Juanta
Purser: Alex de los Reyes
Scribe: Jon Linao

Last summer, the Mountaineering & Exploration Society of Adamson University (MESAU) ventured into their one of the most unforgettable climb - the Bicol Region Summer Assault '97. A 3-in-1 climb filled with fun and adventure.

And this is their story...

March 24 (Monday) "Masamang Pangitain"

The group assembled at Penafrancia Tours terminal at Sampaloc, Manila assembly time was 5 PM and ETD was 6:30 PM. As early as 4 PM some of the participants started to arrive. Paul managed to join us in the bus as a chance passenger. Last man to arrived at the terminal was Mick-Chen et al. Koni, Alex and Beth informed us they're going to eat? or withdraw some money at a nearby ATM. A few minutes before departure, the three were still not back at the terminal, we informed the driver that three of our participants are still out and after a few more minutes of haggling with the driver, the driver insisted that we leave now and that they have a schedule to follow. At this instance, we felt that this climb would be filled with misery and disarray. Luckily, the bus will pick-up more passenger at the other terminal at B.B. Soliven, Edsa. We instructed some of our members who are not coming with us to tell those who were left to follow us at the next terminal. The three were able to catch up and we were at eased and hoped that nothing untoward "incident" may happen again for the duration of the climb.

March 25 (Tuesday) "Wasted and Destroyed"

Arrived 5 AM at Naga City. Bobot, Alvin and Arnel were already waiting at the terminal. Proceeded to the city plaza. Waited for SG - at this point the IT was never followed. Took breakfast at Jollibee. SG finally arrived at 8 AM. We immediately left for CENRO to get permit. Jump-off point was supposed to be at Panicuasion but have to be changed to Ocampo because the mountaineering group based on that area 1) don't want us to climb Isarog; 2) they have other plans. Although proper coordinations were made with the group, they still ignored us. Advance party even pleaded the group to send us just one guide to no avail. Thank God for Asog Chapter - they have already climb Isarog before. So Ocampo it is. Finally started trekking at 10:30 AM. From jump-off to the foot of the mountain more or less 3 kilometers of clearing meaning there are no trees to shade us from the scorching heat of the sun. We learned from the locals there that the river on the foot of Isarog have already dried up because its summer, so when we reached the supposedly last water source, we started filling up the 5 liters container we each have.

From the foot of the mountain we could already see our campsite, near the PLDT relay station. They said that Mt. Isarog is just like Mt. Maculot - four Maculot! We always tell ourselves never underestimate any mountain and we should always be prepared to any challenges on what the mountain has in store to its climbers but we were not 100% percent prepared when we found out that from the foot of Isarog up to the campsite it would be an assault, nothing but assault. So, scorching heat of the sun plus nothing but assault plus added 5 liters of load equals to wasted and destroyed. We could do nothing about that but to ignore pain. Everyone was so tired, nobody had the strength to talk and even laugh.

Halfway on the trail to campsite, the view was already magnificent. From there you could see Mt. Asog and Mt. Malinaw, a little farther the silhouette of Mt. Mayon, and to our right Lake Buhi. We reached the forested part of Isarog at 7 PM. That's 8 hours of trekking and we're not yet close to the campsite. It even rained for a couple of minutes. So now, we are dead tired and soaking wet. The breeze of air here is already cool, so does the view. From here up to the campsite we would be trekking on a trail we called "stairway to heaven" or "the never ending steps."

And past 8, we finally reached the campsite. Whew. Being here is like being in the twilight zone. You could hear the deafening sound of the wind, you could see the rampaging cloud coming toward you, and you could feel the pneumatic cold of the night. It feels like you're in Baguio and theres a super typhoon minus the rain. Everyone was tired and disoriented only a handful were able to conduct socials after dinner.

March 26 (Wednesday) "Heaven, Langit, Lupa, Yun Na"

Wake up call was 6 AM. Took breakfast at 7 AM. Break camp was 9 AM. Situation here was the same as when we arrived last night - still cold. The cloud cleared up early in the morning so we had the chance to see the view surrounding Isarog. We also had a little talk with one of the military guarding the relay station, he's name is Heaven-Langit-Lupa-Yun-Na, that's he's call sign. According to him, the weather report that we read from newspaper or seen on TV is not applicable here up on Isarog. Up here is 365 days a year cold and windy. Although they're isolated, not totally, from happenings and going on from the lowland, they are well provided for by the company that employs them here, enough recreational facilities were provided to keep them away from boredom and insanity. They even have their own satellite dish to watch any movies they like.

9:30 AM - As we bade and thank the military for allowing us at the campsite, the cloud started again to blanket the place. We took some souvenir shots then we started the trek descending at the trail we passed yesterday. Had lunch underneath a big mango tree at 1 PM. Realizing that we never had a formal socials last night, we decided to conduct one, right here, right now. And besides, we were already near the foot of Isarog. We left the place at around 3 PM. ETA to jump-off site is at 5 PM. We were only able to leave the place at around 7 PM because of some minor problem. Some of the participants sustained injury and had to be carried at the back of a carabao.

We were supposed to be staying for the night at a resort house, but since we arrived late, our host decided we stay at the adjacent site of the resort. It turns out that this place is far better than the resort, for we have the whole place on our own. Pitched tent for the night and socials were held. We had dinner early in the morning.
Lake Buhi is a splendid place.

March 27 (Thursday) "Ignore Pain"

After a strenuous trekking for the last two days, another climb was at hand. This time Mt. Asog. Start of trek is 3 PM, for the meantime another round of socials were held. Participants and host have become relaxed, comfortable and at eased with each other that the word "shyness" had become insignificant to the group (bawal ang mahiyain dito). This day we learned a new word, "malmal", and it immediately became relevant to our situation that day. Everyone was "malmal".

For this climb, we were joined by Sir Angelo, Pops and Ian. Some of the participants have decided not to join the Asog climb but were easily persuaded by the others to change their mind. Started trekking past 3 and arrived at the campsite 5 PM. As part of the induction process for the inductees, all applicants were instructed to fetch some water at the last water source, one hour trekking away from the campsite.

Being on top of Asog, we felt like we were not here in Bicol, we felt we were in Laguna. Surroundings are much the same here as in Laguna. We said Laguna because most of the mountains we climb are located here. But Asog has also something different to offer. You are semi surrounded by a wall in the campsite - like a creater but its not a crater, and in front you could see in full view Mt. Malinaw. At night, the sky was clear and the moon is out, you could see the surroundings - the wall, other mountains. Others had commented that the view here are somewhat comparable to the view you see on top of Antipolo.

Another socials were held and we heard the word "malmal" again. What's so nice about this social is that we had an ice cold chaser. Ed brought it when he catched up with us.

March 28 (Friday) "Somethings wrong with the food"

Had breakfast at 10 AM then made an assault to crater. The view here is even better than at the campsite. We saw a huge boulder from afar and according to Ed that if you look at it closer you would see a familiar figure of a man. According to locals there that the man was allegedly punished by the nature? or fairy? for doing something wrong? at that place. It is located at an unusual place - it shouldn't be there at the first place. Someone or something had deliberately put it there.

We didn't went down at the crater for the view is just the same. Proceeded back to campsite and prepared for the trek back. Arrived at the town at around 2 PM, bought some food and relaxed for a while. After that we took a banca ride to Itbog Falls.

For the first time since Tuesday, we were finally able to wash up ourselves. That really cool as off. Itbog is a nice place. While we were trekking, the surrounding looks like the Vietnam War movies were shot here. Cool. What's even cooler is the Itbog twin falls. The water is so clear you could see the floor.

Socials keeps getting better and better. Lots of food and drinks to our hearts desire. What really got our attention is when we were having our dinner. For the first time since Tuesday, the food were cooked to perfection. The main event this day was the induction of applicants. But before we did that we went "malmalan" first. Inductors and inductee, "malmal".

March 29 (Saturday) "Malmalan Time"

Our stay here at Itbog Falls is more of a R&R. We break camp four in the afternoon. We walked all the way to the house of Bobot & Ed. Its not that far, only an hour of trekking. As a consolation, we saw the peak of Mt. Mayon.

We rest for a while then after dinner we strolled around the town. We saw the preparations being done by the local church for the "salubong" on Easter Sunday. The stage was beautifully arranged. And around 11 in the evening we went to a disco. Everyone was "malmal", happy, and others were dancing like they never danced before. After disco we went back to the house and continued what we were doing.

March 30 (Sunday) "Reality Check"

Only a hand were able to attend the "salubong", others were not because 1)they forgot; 2) already "malmal"; or 3) they are still having their socials. A group will sleep for a while and the others will replace those who sleep so as to continue the social. They stopped at around 12 noon.

We were scheduled to leave at 6:30 PM for Manila. We decided before we bade this place goodbye, we go for a last ditch of fun - go rappelling and swimming.

After thanking our hosts for the accommodation they extended to us, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Manila thus formally ending the week long activity - Summer Assault '97.
To all those who made this climb successful - MARAMING SALAMAT PO!

1. Richard Rebada
2. Roy Palma
3. Jon Linao
4. Rollie Juanta
5. Alex de los Reyes
6. Paul Salvacion
7. Geb Jocson
8. Mick-Chen Millan
9. Jerome Alcantara
10. Robert Cui
11. Beth Tobias
12. Rhone Fabon
13. Jojo Alforte
14. Jophen Lopez
15. Jho Cabrera
16. Koni de Lemos
17. Serafin Garcia
18. Jessie Carcha
19. Mike Bides

Pilipinas Sierra - Asog
1. Bobot
2. Ed
3. Alvin
4. Arnel
5. Angelo
6. Pops

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