The dawn had just broken. The sun began to peek over a sea of clouds. Panting, huffing and puffing like a dog, I made a sprint to the top to catch the rising sun, dodging fellow trekkers along the trail who were equally eager to see the most-awaited moment and the highlight of the trek: the sunrise. It's going to be magical and dramatic. I was going to play that scene on my head over and over again.
Once I reached the top, I realized that I was alone. There was no familiar face on a sea of strangers, save for this one guy who's also part of the group I was in for this Pulag trek. I started to worry. Who's going to take a photo of me with the sea of clouds in the background - proof that I have indeed scaled the summit of Pulag victoriously? I spotted a group of tour guides huddled on a slope and asked the one with the most genial-looking face. His friends giggled and teased him as he fiddled with my camera. The shots were not bad. I thanked him and looked for a nice spot where I could concentrate. I needed to take it all in.
I thought about that sad, heartbreaking short story I read when I was in college. It's about a couple who decided to spend a day in Mt. Pulag before going their separate ways. They reminisced painful memories and they shared bittersweet reveries. In the end, they parted ways. It's devastating.
The desire to watch the sunrise in Mt. Pulag was fueled by that story. The author's descriptions on the sea of clouds were simply captivating, I have since wanted to go hiking in Mt. Pulag. Written by one of my favorite local writers, Eli Guieb, the story entitled 'Kasal' (Wedding) won first prize in Carlos Palanca Awards. Even before seeing pictures of Pulag online, I've long imagined how beautiful it would be to watch the sun rise on top of the mountain with the one you love by your side.
Friends would ask what my ideal date was and I would nonchalantly say, an overnight camping in Pulag. The love of my life and I will hold hands while we trek, smile at each other while we pitch our tent and kiss passionately while we watch the sun rise.
As you would probably have realized by now, I didn't climb Pulag with the person I love. But the trek - wait, this is going to be mushy - was born out of love. It's true what they say that when you love something, you defy the odds just to get or do the thing you love. And for me - well, in this context - that simply means braving a 9-hour road trip from Manila to the Ranger's Station, 3-hour trek from the jump-off point to the camp and another one to reach the summit. Once you're up there, you'll forget how cold it was inside the tent or how sore your legs were. What you'll remember, probably for the rest of your life, is how great it feels to be up there.