Rising Horizons

It has always been a wonder to me what would it be like seeing the town I lived in from the top of a mountain. The same mountain I always paint on a scratch paper and wishing that I can climb it and be an adult. That’s how I view climbing mountains. A link to my adulthood. Some sort of a ladder to success; a portal towards something fascinating: the unknown.
Every afternoon, I would set up my mini fort with my fluffed-up pillows, a hot chocolate prepared by my grandma, a radio blasting my favorite jam, and my dogs sleeping soundly on my side. From our veranda, you could see the mountain staring back at you and just waiting for you to be old enough to be an adult. So, you can just climb up there and magically be transformed into a new person. Some days, Sinatra and Buble fills my heart with mellow waves of joy. Some days, I prefer having a time when all is just low, gloomy and unpretentious, just an afternoon staring back at it.
One of the things that I remember from that afternoon, I had a black journal where in I list down everything that I’m going to be after the climb. I pondered on it and really asks myself if I can do it. I had a doubt. I was afraid too that exhaustion might keep me from making it even halfway there. Sinatra plays again in the background. The sweet lullabies often lull me to sleep, excuses me from thinking of it.
My parents would often come home by seven thirty in the evening. By that time, I have finished my homeworks, swept the floor and watched my favorite shows. In the dining area, I asked them what would they feel if I climbed the mountain. My mother told me that in the Philippines, especially in the Sierra Madre mountain range, there are a lot of NPAs. Therefore, it was not safe. She added that I was not trained to do that. My father just told me to be careful and ask where I want to start? I told them that I’m going to conquer that mountain just right outside of our house and I will start walking now because it seemed a little too far. It will take me days to go there. From my perspective, I thought there was no way to reach that mountain but walking. I saw no road going in there from our veranda.
Fast forward to a morning where I am at the foot of the mountain, looking at the tall mountain up close. It was now or never. We walked towards the barangay office to register, pay for the fees and hire a guide. It was needed to ensure that we will be safe from our trip. We were handed gloves because the guide said that it was a bit rocky. Before the ascenscion, we crossed a man-made bridge, under it was the rushing water coming from a near dam called Wawa Dam. The group then passed by a few houses before climbing a short set of concrete stairs, around a hundred steps or two. It was exhausting and we were just starting. I thought, this was the portal to adulthood. What do I expect?
This mountain, it’s called Pamitinan. It is in the Rizal Province and I live in the mirroring side which is the Bulacan. If I were to go back as a child, I would assume that this is the ‘beyond’. The unknown that I was staring at for all my life. This must be the start of a new life. Pain must be felt before anything else. A burning feeling in my lungs must stay longer for when adulthood hits me, I’m prepared. Every step was a challenge. All for seeing my town in a big whole chunk of land from the other side. From the beyond.
I almost reached the top. There, the most painful word, “almost”. I almost saw my town in full view. I almost fulfilled my childhood transition to adulthood. I almost got through the portal of dreams. I think that headache and vertigo contributed greatly for that. I was a few meters from the peak. Just a few more steps and I surrendered from feeling light-headed. I let them go on without me and I agreed to meet them on the other side: the river.
I was not disappointed. Along with one of the guides, I descended the mountain and stopped in the middle of the bridge to find until where I reached. I’m really near the top of the mountain. From that point, I still saw my town, San Jose del Monte, peeking a little in between the trees. That’s still a progress, right? Adulthood will just have to wait for me. Maybe I was not just ready to lunge forward and head into the unknown.
We walked back to the Barangay office and took a rest in their neat huts beside it, played some songs, strumming a guitar with no sixth string and just plain looking at this mountain I have waited for years to see and climb. Now, I have done that and even more. After we rested, we decided to just explore the Wawa Dam and the hidden falls where I will be meeting my group. It was beautiful. Just seeing the cascading rage of water and the formation of the mountain over it, it made me see the glimpse of my unknown. Beyond the mountain, there was a dam of endless water, there was the beautiful silhouette of mountains against the fading sun. My ride in a boat was endlessly breath taking. We were crossing the calm part of the deep raging waters. Up until now, it felt surreal. You wouldn’t know what would happen if it turned upside down.
We reached the falls and waited for my friends. We sat on the rocks and stare at the waters. Its calming effect added to the magical ambiance. So we waited and they came. That’s when I realized. They are part of the adulthood I was looking for. The friends with no restraints. The people who wouldn’t think twice climbing a mountain even if they are not trained for it. The friends I got to keep after the climb.

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