I will not be another flower picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find and impossible to forget. –Srin Van Vuren
“Only the three of you? You don’t have any man with you?!”
Not only once did we hear that question during our hike to Mt. Hambubuyog whenever we go asking some locals for some directions. We didn’t have any guide and yes, it was only the three of us (Arjonnah, Janice and I) who took the challenge to continue the journey after visiting Kawasan Falls, Mainit Spring, Montaneza Falls, and Inambakan Falls on the same day. Though there was a hint of concern, I couldn’t help but feel the disbelief from those locals we ran unto. It’s as if something weird had happen on Earth. Something unbelievable. Something out of the normal context.
Whether we accept it or not, the Philippines is a paradigm of a patriarchal society in almost all aspects. But unlike some countries where girls and women are treated as second class citizens, if not object of violence and sexual pursuits, women in the Philippines are highly regarded as important individuals in development and economy. This can be traced back to the pre-colonial era when women played an integral role in the society as babaylan (priestess) and partners of men in farming, fishing, hunting, and child-rearing. Then the turn of events made things rather complicated. History will tell you what happened during the regime of the conquerors.
I have been on adventure for quite some time and even with the “boyish” demeanor I have – I reckon a result of growing with two crazy brothers and constantly in company with four other boy cousins – I still encounter these gender-biased notions not only on the opposite sex, but predominantly on people who shares the same orientation as I do.
“You’re doing that?!”
“You’re going, WHERE?!”
“You’re with them?”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“I think it’s scary.
“No, I can’t do it.”
“I wish I can do that.”
To be honest, ten years back, I never imagine myself doing the same things I am doing right now. I was contented with life at home, reading novels and manga, if not marathoning documentaries and bloody TV series. But I was enrolled in an institution where my eyes were opened on how oppression amongst women and children is predominantly happening. We are required to take up the Women Empowerment course (4 units – 1 unit/semester) where I’ve learned to see the picture of women in a rather, different perspective. We were greatly encouraged to voice out our concerns, opinion, thoughts, and inquiries. It was then that I started to question how society treats women and how most women submit to this construct. In fairness to the school, it didn’t actually force and insinuate us to go on rallies or to liberally question everything that’s happening around; rather, it encouraged us to think, ponder and do something for the betterment of this country and the status of most people – to be a catalyst of change in order to gradually shift the paradigm.
So for all those who were asking, my answer is Yes.
Yes, I get scared. Yes, I go with men (who were totally stranger to me) on adventure. Yes, I go solo sometimes. Yes, I’m currently practicing how to do trailblazing. Yes, I deal with crazy, perverted bastards (you can’t help it). And yes, I encourage fellow women to do the same – to deviate from the norm, to fight for those who can’t defend themselves, to encourage others to stand for what they believe is right, to share knowledge and tips without expecting anything in return, and to be the best version of oneself – to be confidently beautiful with a heart.
To all women out there, I pray that you’ll finally find your courage to speak out, reach out, and show to the world that you are more than just someone made to stay at home and do the household chores or run errands. Remember, God created women from the ribs of Adam – not from his head to be on top of him or from his feet to be trampled upon but from one of his ribs to protect his one and only heart and to be beside him in whatever endeavor that will come along.
Hoping to see more women outdoor and helping in the preservation of the greatest woman of all, Mother Earth. Come on girls, let’s run the world!
- How to get there? From South Bus Terminal, ride a bus bound to Ginatilan. Ask the driver to drop you off at the junction to Inambakan Falls (Landmark: Near Julie’s Bakeshop). Ride a habal-habal to Inambakan Falls.
- Inambakan Falls is the common jump-off point to Inambakan. From the first level of the waterfalls, you can follow the trail leading to the second level of the waterfalls (Bugnawan Falls) then proceed to the third falls (Kampael Falls). There’s a trail that leads to the top of the mountain. You will know if you’re in the right route when on top, you’ll see a highway leading to Hambubuyog.
- Going to Mt. Hambubuyog means one has to traverse three other mountains. You can opt to follow the road which usually leads to the Calvary Trail (Stations of the Cross) that takes six to ten hours of hike (depending on the pacing of the group); but if you are in a hurry like us, we asked some locals to give us directions and take the shortcut that brought us to a forested area, school, and seemingly unending uphill trail which took up four hours of nonstop trek.
- Most of those who climb Mt. Hambubuyog opt to camp overnight to chase the beautiful sunset, camp under the infinite number of stars on the vast skies, and witness a sea of cloud in the morning. Hikers can also proceed with the trail leading to Tumalog Falls and Salamanca Hills.
PS. I’d like to thank Jason Venerable for sharing some significant information about Mt. Hambubuyog. You can as well contact him for guidance. Feel free to ask questions on the comment box or contact me via Facebook. Hope to see you on adventure sometime. Let’s rock on! :) :) :)