Maybe it’s because of the altitude, or exhaustion after battling with limatiks that made that night at Mt. Mandalagan so tranquil and quiet. We were taking shelter under those thin tarp sheets talking calmly, sharing stories and experiences in between shots of tanduay chasered with water. That was the existential price of traveling from Cebu to Negros Occidental and climbing that leech-infested mountain for the whole day – few minutes of fleeting calmness away from the turmoil of our own cities.
Many of us who take refuge in the mountains are escapists. We hurdle through all difficulties – wake up early, struggle with steep ascents, suffer from bruises and physical pains – just to grab that momentary bliss of leaving everything that have been long dragging us.
I am certain that we all agreed to join that major hike to Mt. Mandalagan not only to witness the unfolding of its beauty, but also to seek rest from everything that have been drowning us – work, responsibilities, personal crisis. Despite the fact that not all mountains can promise some fleeing moments of calm and peace, we bet all our aces in hopes that we’d feel a little better.
And as if the heavens have heard our pleas, there we were, surrounded by such mystery of Tinagong-dagat, Mt. Mandalagan’s campsite, exchanging stories and dreams of tomorrow. The skies were so clear, we even started counting stars and hurting our necks trying to figure out where the Milky Way was located.
In these times of uncertainties, I want to get back to that moment of stillness at Mt. Mandalagan. No matter how ephemeral. Even if the weather won’t be cooperative. Even if I had to endure once again those troubles of bruises and lack of sleep. I want to wake up with an assurance of a beautiful sunrise or misty mornings, of freshly-brewed coffee, of warm greetings of “good morning”.
I remember our guide telling us how fortunate we were to have been born in a better living condition. I say otherwise. Because if we’re all happy and contented with the life in the city, we will no longer need to climb that mountain. But there we were – willing to struggle and pay for what the city life has been neglecting of us. Peace is such an expensive commodity that many countries spend billions just to end wars.
But this is the thing with wanting something so much: it gets more and more difficult to get a hold of.
I wish I could get back to that night of us gathered together under those thin tarp sheets. In peace. At peace. To take more assuring moments with me – that the skies will soon clear, and that tomorrow would be a better day. Hopefully.
I hope you also have your own version of Mt. Mandalagan. A place that brings you so much memory of peace. Of stillness. Of contentment. Of assurance of hope of the good days to come. Let’s all cling to that.
May peace be with you. Shalom