Reminiscing About Mt. Dulang-dulang

Friday, May 03, 2019

mossy forest mountain
Storytime is a series of  stories about my most memorable travel experiences. Read more here.

It’s been almost five months since my husband and I spent our first wedding anniversary in the outdoors. Teaming up with Earth Explorers Travel and Tours, we hiked through two of Bukidnon’s many mountains: Mt. Kitanglad, and Mt. Dulang-dulang. 

Mt. Kitanglad is an ASEAN Heritage Park, but this is not about Kitanglad – not yet. This is about Mt. Dulang-dulang – the second tallest mountain in the country, and the most beautiful I’ve ever been.

I will not speak so much about the events that led me through its hallowed paths – it’s murky. The passage of time has put a significant distance between me and the details of this memory, thus the image, when I try to recall it, is blurry. Pixelated. Not enough data. From afar, however, when all other elements appear greater than the void, it looks perfectly fine.

And so I repeat: Mt. Dulang-dulang, you are the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever been

Someday, when I’ve walked more trails and scaled more heights, I might return here, take back this superlative, and offer it to another peak, but, for now, it belongs to you

There is one thing I remember clearly: you did not spare us. I – whose threshold for hardship borders insanity – was almost on the brink of resenting you. Yet as soon as I stepped into your velvety groves, I knew this to be true: nothing worth it comes easy. You were difficult. And you were worth it.

At one point, I remember plopping down on the ground, legs tired and shoulders aching. I was reclining on my backpack, letting my eyes trace the trees, from their trunks all the way to their lofty canopies. “This is home,” I kept muttering. My heaving breaths lost amongst wild songs.

I remember how the sun shone through the gaps in the trees, like wonder-beams illuminating. The branches crooked, carpeted in chartreuse, and the cold, cold air. The way the light fell here was equal parts eerie and dreamy, like there lurked both faeries and beasts. Above, canopies interlaced – a lattice of leaves that fractured sunlight. Roots and boughs weaved below, leaving the landscape textured and furrowed.

The cold was unforgiving, and it seeped through our bones. Every inhale sliced my lungs. My lips were cracked. And my fingers felt like they were about to fall off. In the evening, it was even more relentless, and more than warmth I prayed for death... er, sleep.

In the morning, we tried for a clearing. But there was none. Only drizzle and fog and gusts. But it did not matter. This was why, to me, Dulang-dulang is best. The views it affords do not define its beauty. It simply is.

These are the things I remember. And I’m aware they sound incomplete. Fragmented. Discursive even. And they are. And I regret not writing this memory down sooner. But this would have to do. And it’s enough.

In cases of remembrance, whatever is left – no matter how scarce – is always enough. 

Besides, I have videos:

If you want to see Mt. Dulang-dulang for yourself – and you should – get in touch with Earth Explorers Travel and Tours. 

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