I can't remember the last time I went off work for more than a week and did climbing "full-time". But after years of waiting, the stars have finally aligned, and I was able to take an extended climbing trip with my husband again. Though it wasn't to any of our dream destinations, nor was it a long trip like our last major one way back in 2008, it was a good two weeks spent at Baguio and Cebu, digging deeper about all things climbing-related, and being reminded of what truly matters.
Like knowing my climbing roots and not taking for granted the things I am enjoying today. As a gym-bred urban climber, it's so easy to fall into the trap of learning how to scale a wall and hitting the cliffs without even noticing the state of our crags or the little communities surrounding it. But knowing our roots is part and parcel of growing our crags...I know it may sound silly to say that to move forward we must also look back, but that's because, it's only when we understand how much work was put into an area's development -- from the "turf wars", bolting issues, logistical limitations, local community relations, down to the actual effort of route bolting and clean-ups -- will we put the supreme effort to maintain it and make sure the area is not sullied or spoiled, and that the local community won’t be left uneducated or the local ties strained.
"Motivation" was also a major theme for me this trip. It was something I felt burning inside myself, something I saw in my husband's eyes, and something that just buzzed in the atmosphere. Maybe I was just hallucinating, I don't know. But with so many climbers from all over the country participating in the project, it was impossible not to feel the high. Newbies to climbing bouldered with us in Baguio. Old friends who haven't climbed in a long time traveled from their islands to witness the events unfolding in Cebu. And with James, Caro and 46-year-old Yuji showing us that 8's can be flashed and 9's are not figments of our imagination, everyone was feeling inspired, and we just seemed to continuously feed off each other's positive energy. It’s amazing how simple and genuine generosity can shine a light on our paths.
Then there is the climbing community. I don't know what it is about this sport that makes one feel instant affinity towards a fellow climber, as if you are members of the same bloodline or brotherhood. But climbing has just allowed me to meet so many awesome people, and this trip made sure to remind me about the beauty of friendships forged over the years; friendships that wouldn't have been possible if I didn't go out there and climb. I will not be a hypocrite and say that I am best friends with all climbers of the world, because that is impossible. But I find that the opportunity to meet with all sorts of people – exchanging with people of various dialects, nationalities and lifestyles and getting a glimpse of the world from different perspectives -- it is a gift to be treasured.
Finally, with the development and exposure that the local climbing scene has been getting, I can't help but feel a bit anxious about how it can affect our little community. I say this because the Philippine climbing population in the past 15 years has been quite manageable; big enough for very-controlled progress, but small enough for everyone to still be pretty much familiar with one another, and to somehow be spared of major accidents or safety/legal issues. Now, surely, alongside the sport's development is exponential growth in the climbing population, which somewhat makes me fidgety of how all this will affect our “intimate” climbing family.
But I guess this is the last bit I will need to mention: How I realized that I have no control over how things will exactly pan out. I cannot manage everything, and I cannot please everyone, so there's no point in worrying about these things.
What matters are those things I mentioned up there: That wherever and whenever we climb, we must be mindful of our crags. Let's make a conscious effort to take good care of them. Let's also respect our fellow climbers and be open-minded about everyone's actions. Let's watch out for each other and try our best to keep Philippine climbing a safe, friendly sport.
It really is best to keep it simple, and to stay focused on the gift of being able to climb. By keeping to our craft, it'll be hard to go wrong.
Leaving you with some beautiful shots of Mansorella to keep you inspired. :)
Also some from Dennis Diaz, Wendell Getubig and Alex Yap