Step Up for Healing in the Mountains


ALMOST four years since Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs took the lives of thousands, this fact remains: Families are left dealing with losses of their loved ones. Wives without husbands. Children without fathers. Parents without children.

Justice is far off, not within reach nor within sight.

Healing, on the other hand, may be a step closer to some of these family members. They are taking the steps forward, upward and downward along the trails of mountains.

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Facing Fear, Testing Limits, and Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 3


(Last of Three Parts)

Chasing Time, Going Home

DO you know that feeling when you’re chasing time to something very important, like a concert or a flight, but suddenly luck isn’t on your side? With every ticking of the clock, you’re tummy is also turning. You need to make it, no matter what.

There wasn’t any concert in the mountains or a flight back to Manila, but we were indeed chasing time on our last day at Kibungan. To be exact, chasing our bus ride back home. It was still in the evening but we already knew how limited our time and resources were. The chase was on. 

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Facing Fears, Testing Limits, and​ Seeing Beauty at Kibungan Mountains – Part 2


(Second of Three Parts)

Crying Mountains to Tacadang

HOW does one prepare for a journey to someplace one has never been before? Often, a traveler relies on research and recommendations. For us mountaineers involved in community work, communication among locals and leaders are required.

It is them whom we based our itinerary and estimations on trek time. Often, if they say it takes them one hour to summit from jump off, then we double it for ourselves.

This was the case for our Kibungan circuit, in which half was to be spent on unfamiliar trails despite RAK Ph Mountaineers’ regular outreach activities in the mountainous province. We were aware that coming from Sitio Lanipew, all of us would technically be “first-timers” going to Barangay Tacadang proper on Day 2.

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Reaching Out, Breaking Grounds: A Christmas Celebration for Aetas of Limay


“Takot kami dati sa mga Unat.”

This was an overheard statement from an Aeta from an upland community in Limay, Bataan during a group’s Christmas outreach. The elderly woman was referring to lowlanders or Filipinos outside their tribe. Unat is a Filipino word that means someone with straight hair, that differentiate them from Aetas who have curly hair. 

We can’t blame the Aetas, or any other indigenous tribes in the country, for harboring fear toward their fellow Filipinos who have periodically abused and displaced them in the past and even to this day.

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Rain or Shine: The Mount Kaypaye Dual Experience

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

IMAGINE going head on with a 70-degree assault of trail with sparse forest cover under the blaring sun in the middle of the day.

​This was the ordeal Traveling Journo Ph had to face in Mt. Kaypaye in Tanay, Rizal last November. I had to scale and traverse it along with RAK Ph Mountaineers in preparation for an outreach activity, as well as training for an upcoming major climb.

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What’s Up With Wet Climbs?


IT was August 2016 when I started hiking. My first time, an unforgettable one, transpired at Mt. Manabu in Batangas. We weren’t able to finish because of an unexpected emergency. It was raining then. 

Two years later—yes, also in August—I was able to complete back-to-back hikes: a major climb at Mt. Isarog in Naga and a minor one at Mt. Maynuba in Rizal. No emergency this time but it was raining on both mountains too.

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Get Mesmerized by the Pristine Trails of Mt. Palali

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

INHALE deeply—if not a little sharply—and fill the lungs with much needed air. Panting now, both organs expand and deflate as the heart in between beats faster and wilder. All this in rhythm with the feet that keep stepping forward and upward.

But while we were straining from a challenging trail, we managed to be mindful in both our breathing and our surrounding. We were meeting Mt. Palali truly for the first time, not only physically but also visually and emotionally.

Indeed, this mountain accessible via Quezon town in Nueva Vizcaya lives up to its reputation as the northern counterpart of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Arayat in southern Luzon—especially in terms of difficulty.

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Cordillera Cross Country: Traversing Mt. Amuyao’s Trail Less Traveled

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

RAIN was falling and despite the forest cover, it was seeping to the ground and whatever waterproof clothing we donned. Rain was also touching layers of leaves, tangles of vines and roots, and freshly grown moss attached to branches and bodies of trees — making vivid a green sea of fauna. This was a sight to behold but then there was the biting cold.

A day before, a tropical storm was forecasted to shroud most of the Cordillera Administrative region, north of the Philippines. Where we’re at, Mt. Amuyao, was part of Cordillera’s vast mountain range infamous for sea of clouds and cold temperature. Yet during the country’s rainy season, expect only to get the latter.

For someone’s first major climb, a mountain classified at 9/9 difficulty level, in the middle of a storm, was not the most ideal condition. Add to this the fact that it was a reverse-traverse from Banaue in Ifugao to Barlig in Mt. Province — regarded as trail less traveled of Mt. Amuyao.

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When You Give, You Receive: RAK Holds Annual Outreach for Aetas of Tarlac



​​This is one concept that Random Act of Kindness – RAK Ph Mountaineers live by. That whatever you give, you also receive. By extending kindness in the form of our Christmas outreach called “Give Light on Christmas Day and Pasko Fiesta,” we also received so much more from our Aeta recipients.

Our beneficiaries, 36 households residing in an Aeta Resettlement in Sitio Camiling, Brgy. Papaac, Camiling, Tarlac, through their very own hands, dug earth crops like ube, cassava and ginger from their own lands as gifts in exchange of our donations.

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How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 3


IN November, this author’s outdoor and volunteer movement RAK Ph Mountaineers embarked on its first-ever, much-anticipated “The Great Cordillera Cross Country.”

It was a six-day adventure that saw our team of six trek three provinces of Cordillera by foot, face tough weather conditions, carry full packs heavier than ourselves, and test our limitations.

On the first part of this series, the Cordi cross country took us to reverse traverse of Mt. Amuyao from Batad, Ifugao to Barlig, Mt. Province. Then on the second part, we travel from Barlig to Besao. On this third and last part, we conclude our expedition by finally crossing over to Tubo, Abra.

More than the challenges we met along the way were the random acts of kindness we were unconditionally given. Here the best of them.

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