My 5th Climb: Treasure Mountain Experience

The choices we make lead up to actual experiences. It is one thing to decide to climb a mountain. It is quite another to be on top of it.

Herbert A. Simon

Reaching the top of any mountain is a goal reached for me. As for other people, they climb for various reasons — to gain experience, to take their mind away from stress, to challenge themselves, to heal from a broken heart, to be near to God, or to prove that they can make it. For me, my sole reason I’m climbing mountains is to see the stars at night when we do overnight camping, and be in awe of God’s majestic creations. When I reached Treasure Mountain, I was surely not disappointed.

A quick backtrack: Year 2013, my officemates who are part of the Buhawi Mountaineering Club invited me to hike Mt. Pico de Loro in Cavite. I was excited, yet a bit nervous. Back then, I was going in and out the hospital for checkups. I remember I was not able to walk for longer distance without having difficulty in breathing. So, I accepted the invitation to challenge myself and prove one thing: that I can reach the summit with my lungs still intact. I did reach the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro and marveled at the beauty of God’s creation. Since then, I promised myself to join mountain climbing trips at least once a year.

Going back to Treasure Mountain, I cannot consider it a major or minor climb since we have easy access to the summit. My Buhawi friends and I made a commute — van from Cubao to Cogeo (35php), then jeep from Cogeo to Kurambai (46php) in Tanay, Rizal. Once we are in Kurambai, we rode a motorcycle at the trail going to Treasure Mountain (50php) and was dropped off at the entrance of the place. It is actually a private area but the owner took advantage of the place and made it a tourist destination. We paid overnight camping fee (200php/head) and then pitching fee (300php/tent). We don’t have a car, but those who do also have a parking fee (50php). The place is easily accessible by car and reaching the summit will only take you about 15 minutes from the entrance, so I cannot fully say it’s even a minor climb. Hmm, I can safely say you have a 15-minute hike at that.

Once we’re on the summit, we pitched our tents and fortunately, my other Buhawi friends already pitched theirs and were already fixing dinner. I did help a bit, but once it’s dark and the food’s ready, we started our night socials.

It has been a tradition for Buhawi members to introduce ourselves for the getting to know portion. I did introduce myself and was a bit astounded upon realizing that this is already my 5th climb. I already made friends that I only see once a year (only every anniversary climb) and that my introvert self has now become comfortable in their company. (I think it took me three years before I actually memorized their names!).

After the socials, I had time to gaze up at the heavens and talk to God. I thanked Him for a wonderful creation, with the stars so many and I feel like it’s so easy to grab one. The wind’s getting cold, and I was enjoying my alone time. I remembered those times when I cried and I just didn’t feel God hearing my prayers, but at that very moment, I was just in awe at the beauty of the heavens. The moon was so bright, the stars so many and so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off the picturesque view of the universe. I remembered the scenes I’ve read from the book “Every Soul a Star” by Wendy Mass and wondered where could be the North Star, and if the brightest stars were actually talking to me. I just felt peace. I’m hoping for things in my life and at that very moment, I just felt so close to God and felt everything would be alright. I wonder if this was also what Jesus felt whenever He went to the mountain to pray during his time here on Earth 🤔🤔🤔.

As the night went deeper into the darkness, I again joined the group for more socials. It was very cold this time, good thing I brought my sweatshirt with me. We shared stories and by around 3am, we called it a night.

Early in the morning, I heard voices outside our tent. I didn’t want to get up yet, but I remembered I wanted to witness the sea of clouds. Treasure Mountain is famous for its sea of clouds so I immediately fixed my things and grabbed my phone. As I went out, I saw the beautiful mountain ranges, without the sea of clouds 😔😔😔. Nevertheless, the view was breathtaking so I took some photos. In case you’ll visit Treasure mountain, don’t forget to bring jacket as it’s cold especially at night. 😍

So there. Basically, after the breakfast, we fixed our tents and started our way home. We didn’t have a major nor climb for Buhawi’s 15th anniversary celebration. However, the fact that we met together and shared stories about the mountains for an overnight camping is already a relaxing time for quite a busy and stressful week at that.

If you haven’t climbed a mountain, maybe this is the time to challenge yourself and experience the beauty of nature. 🙂

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Back to Basics

I’ve been contemplating these past weeks whether or not to dedicate this page to purely my career goals. As you may have noticed, I’ve deleted some of my posts that reveals the personal side of me, well, maybe because I wanted to focus on helping people know more about educational technology and as it happens here in the Philippines. But heck, it has been quite hard not to share both the good and the bad things that happen to me, which, in one way or another, could inspire some of you.

 

So, I’m trying to redesign this part of my online life. I’m thinking of posting all my work-related stories to my other blog page, elearninginph, and just inspire you here with all my personal stories about what I experience about life. If you think you wanna keep your feeds clean and professional in one-way or another, feel free to unfollow me. 🙂 But if you want to be inspired, just allow me to share my life with you.

 

Why? 

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that keeping my life private is a better way to live life. I’m able to share bits and pieces to a few of my friends, and it’s less time to manage my online and social media life. But when I first set up this blog page about 10 years ago, my goal is to just keep writing, and let my introvert self share bits and pieces to the world. It is my way of growing and expressing myself.

 

So now, after 10 years, I’m going back to the first reason I’m blogging — to just write and express myself.

Thus, the title for this post is Back to Basics.

pexels-photo-733852

 

In the next few days, I’ll be deleting my work-related posts here. Instead, I’ll be sharing my experiences about the places I’ve traveled, books I’ve read, people I’ve met, movies I’ve watched, ideas that inspired me, and lessons I’ve learned about life. You will get to know me better, as I would be writing — no holds barred.

 

So there. 🙂

 

Lineage of Grace & Sons of Encouragement

For the past month, I have been reading the book series Lineage of Grace and Sons of Encouragement by Francine Rivers. I have been affected by these books in such a way that it is necessary to blog about the wisdom and the faith I’ve learned along the way.

 

For my next series of posts, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about each book as an answer to the Seek and Find portion. I hope that you’ll bear with me and be encouraged eventually.

 

To start, I’ll give you a background as to why I’ve chosen the series. As a Christmas present, a friend gave Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I enjoyed reading the book as it allowed me to immerse into the author’s unconscious and conscious mind about the protagonist’s coming of age while in the university. It talked about love, death, depression, sex and how these can affect the person mentally and emotionally. However, the after-effect of the book made me go back to the reason why I veered away from books dealing with such things:

 

Depression is just lurking any time of the day, and my mind is a battleground I need to defend from the enemies. Whatever I put into my mind will affect me spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Books and music are my weapons to keep defending my battleground against the enemy.

 

I have been depressed for a few days, so when I chanced upon Francine Rivers (my fave author) and her book series in Kindle Store, I bought the books and was not disappointed so far. Here’s a quick description of each series:

 

  • Lineage of Grace is a book compilation about the stories of five women in the Bible who have become part of the lineage of Abraham to Jesus Christ. These women — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary — have been mentioned in the Bible for their faith in God, and their stories tell about the risks they have to take to show their faith and fulfill their calling. This book has been 2009 Retailer’s Choice Award winner, and no wonder why. I have finished 3 of the 5 books and I felt compelled to write my own realizations to share to you.
  • Books included: Unveiled, Unashamed, Unshaken, Unspoken, Unafraidlineage-of-grace_300

 

  • Sons of Encouragement tells us about the stories of five men in the Bible who supported and stood behind the heroes of the faith in their journey to lead the people of God. These men — Aaron, Caleb, Jonathan, Amos and Silas had their hearts turned towards God. As each man responded to God’s call to support His chosen leaders, each became a man with courage and purpose, and eventually changed the course of history for the Israelites, and for anyone who believes in God.
  • Books included: The Priest, The Warrior, The Prince, The Prophet, The Scribesons-of-encouragement_3001

So there. A short description apt for the series of posts I’ll be writing in the next days or weeks. Though these series have been only a work of fiction; these, however, definitely gave me an idea on what could have transpired during the old testament times. It arouse in me faith like no other, especially when reading the miracles God made through Moses and Joshua. I admit, I have a hard time reading through the old testament, but these work of fiction gave me a reason to look forward to reading those stories in the Bible again.

 

For anyone interested in reading the books in the series, I highly recommend it! You can even refer to the Old Testament stories in the Bible if you wanted to have a peek at what will happen at the end. Hehe.

 

Lastly, the books are good for group discussion with its Seek and Find portion. Definitely, if you’re up to learning more and applying it to your daily life, you can answer those and have a conversation with your trusted friends. These will be a good introspection practice on your end. 🙂

 

Under the Stars

Under the stars, I’m waiting
My soul yearns, it longs for more
I can hear the crickets singing
But the night’s cacophony is
drowning any song

 

Where are you, my dear?
My eyes see the vast plains
My ears hear the wind as it blows
But you, my love is nowhere to be found
When will I know you’re here?
Will we ever meet again,
Or only in my dreams?

 

The mind wanders, the heart flutters
My soul yearns to hear your voice
How long will I wait to show you my affection
Is it ever enough to bide for your love?

 

I passed by the road less traveled
And I’ve stayed to meet you there someday
But it’s not that easy, my love
It’s not easy as it really should be

 

Everyday, I ask myself
Everyday, people ask me why
Why I’ve chosen to be special,
To be different and unique

 

When it is just so easy to blend in
I’ve chosen to stand out and be distinct,
Because in my heart, I know,
Together someday,
we can be distinctly unique.

 

So under the stars, I’m waiting
I’m waiting for you, my darling
I can hear the crickets singing
I can see the darkness fleeting
And even in the night’s cacophony,
I’ll trust the peace within.

Answers to Prayers

Happy New Year! 🙂

 

I hope you’ve had a good fill of the previous year, and that you are quite looking forward to new and exciting things this 2018. As for me, I have updated my so called “faith goals,” in time for Victory Makati and Every Nation’s annual prayer and fasting during the first week of January.  I have started participating in our prayer and fasting about 12 years ago, when I was a sophomore in college, and just a new convert from Roman Catholic to Born-Again Christian. Ever since then, I make sure to set-aside time not only to lessen the food I’ve accumulated the previous year (wink), but most especially to humble myself before God at the start of each year.

 

So now, about my faith goals. These are actually prayer requests I have, but I’m in faith that God will answer them within the year. Some are small and petty, some are life-changing. Over the years, I’ve come to realize how immature and self-centered I am when I was younger, and how God has shaped my character (and my prayers) to what He wanted me to become. When I look back, I’m thankful that I’ve received YES from certain prayers, and a consistent NO from other ones. I thought to myself, if I have instead received YES from those prayers, I might not be where I am supposed to be right now, plus I maybe miserable right now. 

 

Before anything else, I’d like to give you an idea about what I believe are God’s answers to our prayers. There are three I can think of:

 

YES – these are always according to what God wants to happen in our life, at the moment. He gives a resounding YES if our prayers are according to His will — that is, it is not opposite to what the bible says, and according to His perfect timing that will either help us, or use us to help other people. 

NO – these answers will be hurtful to us at times. There will also be times when we get confused to receive a resounding NO from God, but He knows everything. So He definitely knows the best for us and it’s only a matter of trusting Him for a better one. 

NOT YET – it means, WAIT my child. Our prayers may be according to God’s will, but not yet in His perfect timing. God wants you to grow in your character while waiting for an answered prayer. That could be more patience, more faith, and more contentment where God has put you where you are right now. 

 

With these answers to prayers, let me share to you some personal answers from prayers I’ve had over the years, in hopes that it may encourage you to remain hopeful for a better 2018:

 

FAMILY – if you’ve followed this blog over the years, you’ll know I came from a broken family and my father has left us in the dark years ago. When I was assigned in General Santos City for work, I had the opportunity to see my father again, and tell him I’ve forgiven him for what happened, as I’ve written in this post . This answered prayer is  my most memorable answered prayer, yet cross fingers.

 

RELATIONSHIPS – for some time, I’ve been asking God to meet people whom I can consider as real friends, who will be there for me through ups, down, and all the sideways of my journey in life. God has given me a support group (as you can read here) to whom I can share my life with, and while waiting for a romantic partner, they have made my life joyful, colorful and contented with what I have at the moment.

 

CAREER – for this one, after I graduated in college, I’ve always asked God to give me a career and put me in a workplace where I would grow professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. This one is tricky — because there are so many times I want to resign from work, or look for another place to go to for financial reasons, but all throughout, I’ve realized that God has been teaching me and allowing me to grow professionally, emotionally and spiritually through my workplace. In this post, this one, and another one, God has been faithful all throughout. Have I mentioned last year about an answered prayer? God gave me a promotion to the next level in my current role — where I am not that stressed, but instead enjoying the projects I’m doing right now to improve one aspect of PH education. What’s more, I have a supportive manager and colleagues that I’m truly thankful for.

 

MINISTRY – since I started my walk with God when I joined Victory, it has been my desire to share the unconditional love I’ve received to anyone who is willing to listen. So in the past three years, thankfully, God has used me as an instrument to become an encouragement to a group of women, and lead them to a more fruitful spiritual walk with God with my motivation as written here.

 

So there. Those are the answers to my prayers. How about you? Are you in faith for new things this year? Let me encourage you with this verse:

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)