67 mountaineers from Manila, Cebu, Maasin, Tacloban, Palompon, Isabel, and Merida, conquered Mt. Magsanga in Merida, Leyte, for the 3rd National Mountain Cleanup Day organized by Magsanga Outdoor Adventure Club in cooperation with Pinoy Mountaineers last June 4-5, 2016.
The distinctive mountain, with its twin peaks visible from the Ormoc bay hence earning its name “Magsanga” or branch, is 655 meters above sea level. The trekking started at Brgy. Can-untod at 4PM on June 4. Hikers were divided into two groups: the first one composed of mostly first-timers who went through “moderate” 2/9 category trail, while the second one composed of professional climbers were on an inclined 5/9 category trail. It was the first time that the professional climbers have been into that trail to categorize it and assess if it could be introduced to ordinary climbers.
It was a test of endurance for the hikers, especially for the first timers. “Words can’t express the [overwhelming] feeling,” said Dina Penano, one of the participants from Ormoc City. “I asked myself ‘nganung karun paman ko nianhi? Dapat sa una pa’”, she added.
The climbers, composed of different representations include Christine Paula Love Bernasor, Bb. Pilipinas 2013 candidate and Miss Scuba International First runner-up. “I saw how they struggled going up but still managed to conquer [Magsanga] no matter how steep the trail was,” Bernasor said. “It was my first time to be at Mt. Magsanga and it was a fruitful climb with them,” she described the experience. She was with her French boyfriend, Lucas Schott.
After over an hour of going up, just before the sunset, participants gathered at the campsite just few meters below the peak of Mt. Magsanga. After putting up their respective tents, the rain started falling, sending everyone inside the tent. What started as a test of endurance became a test of faith, too, as everyone were praying for the rain to stop.
Luckily, the rain stopped after an hour, and the beautiful scenery from up there was eye-catching. The lights from Ormoc City and nearby towns twinkled like a burst of stars on the ground. After a short socialization, everyone turned in for the night.
The following day, or June 5, the team was divided into groups of around 15 to climb up to the peak. It is a 15-minute steep climb from the campsite where there are no longer bushes to hold on to. The peak was a just a few square meters that offers a perfect view for the beautiful sunrise. “It’s exciting. I will do it again if given the chance to,” said 11-year-old Clever Salardang of Merida, Leyte. He is the second youngest climber after 7-year-old Azreel.
From the peak, the participants picked-up trashes left by other visiting climbers. They gathered a total of over 6 kilos of trashes. “It’s timely that the National Mountain Cleanup Day falls on June because it is the right time to cleanup Mt. Magsanga after its number of visitors during the summer season,” said Christian Salta, a member of Magsanga Outdoor Adventure Club. “We’ve been climbing this mountain and we always notice trashes around from other climbers so why not do something about it?”, he added.
After trudging the easiest trail going back to the drop-off point, the entire team moved to Resort de Florencio Spring Mountain Resort for a delightful breakfast and refreshing dip at the spring-water pool.
The local government of Merida provided support to the event by sending 4 policemen and 6 medics and rescue officers to accompany the trekkers, said Alloyd Van Wenceslao, the President of Magsanga Outdoor Adventure Club. Their club, formerly known as Magsanga Adventure and Outdoor Club, is composed of 24 mountaineers who first trailed Mt. Magsanga last year. The two-day event is an annual simultaneous activity held nationwide hosted by local mountaineers who are members of Pinoy Mountaineers. (as Published in Eastern Visayas Mail, May 30-June 5 issue)