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In the delightful valley of La Trinidad, Benguet, where the seasons glide in sweet succession and scattering their varied profusion, stands silent but imposing a mountain formation where nature has stamped many effective brands of concentrated sunshine in small packages.
Such spectacle any sightseer, vacationer, tourist or just plain citizen would find this Holy Week at Mount Yangbew the little mountain having earned a moniker, “Little Pulag,” resembling Mount Pulag, the famous and third highest mountain in the Philippines located also in Benguet province.
Aside from a summer hike experience to Mount Yangbew, Mother Nature, with a mother’s jest tucked neatly under her chin would make sure any April hiker going there may get the rare chance of having a dose of the pitter-patter of the rains just beginning to evolve this month of April.
Reason for people taking naturally to sunshine and some pelting of the April rain accompanied by good-natured bantering while huffing and puffing up the trail at sitio Binat, barangay Tawang, leading to Mount Yangbew is not hard to find.
Such kind of adventure affects those with a passion connected to nature-trekking.
To escape from the prison walls of the metropolis – the great brickery we call the city – and linger for a while amid blossoms and leaves, in shadow and sunshine, in rain, mist and dew, out in the open campaign and under the blue sky bounded only by the horizon.
As was the case of the group of Milan Bolagot, Nikki Pabia, Lucrecia Animado and Gimbol Saladas, all who told Daily Laborer they hailed from Marikina and came up last Thursday to Baguio and try to take a taste of Benguet Province countryside.
The four are taking up BS in Psychology in one of the colleges in Marikina.
They informed Daily Laborer they worked as social media bloggers in Metro Manila covering current events there and they researched in the internet for somebody they can contact and trust while in Baguio City.
They narrated they diligently searched in the internet the existing local media outfits of Baguio City and settled on contacting Daily Laborer of Herald Express. Not knowing Daily laborer’s e-mail, they contacted him through Facebook.
Daily Laborer asked the group why they chose Daily Laborer of Herald Express who looked like a hoodlum, criminal or drug addict in his column’s photo and they heartily complained: “Sir, naman, naman, a, kung criminal po kayo, matagal na sanang dinampot kayo ng Philippine National Police (PNP) o Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) sa katagal ng picture ninyo sa column ninyong Daily Laborer, ha-ha!”
Last Thursday they arrived in Baguio and went hunting for this hoodlum who treated them in his home like they were part of the family. It was there Daily Laborer discovered the group’s penchant for rural anticipations like hearing roosters crow early in the morning at a backyard, fresh flowers in the bedroom, mounds of vegetables on the dining table, loaves of banana or carrot bread, while Mr. Sun texted messages to the swaggering Benguet pine trees, saying, “Morning has broken, like the first morning . . . blackbird has spoken. . .”
Nikki Pavia, who served as spokesperson for the group explained to Daily Laborer of their experiences visiting other cities that populous cities they visited in the past are so similar in their general aspect and structure that a description of one city will commonly be found applicable to other cities.
And they exclaimed, “Sir Bony, mahirap pong maghanap ng banana bread o carrot bread sa Marikina. Sa Marikina, banana cake meron, pero nakapamahal. Sa carrot bread naman, wala.”
Studying the four closely who visited Daily Laborer in his humble abode, he discerned Milan and Nikki were as what the youth terms it as, “boyfriend and girlfriend,” as was the case of Lucrecia and Gimbol. Thursday evening having settled, the four friends sat talking at Daily Laborer’s backyard, held hands, watched as the stars walked in, the stars turned around and walked right out again from their vision.
“Damn me,” Daily Laborer snorted to himself, adding, “they seemed star-struck not from the stars but among themselves!”
Daily Laborer interrupted their evening reverie, saying, “Folks, tomorrow, I recommend you see Mount Yangbew.” The four insisted Daily Laborer accompany them; So, Daily Laborer did that Friday morning.
One can reach Mount Yangbew by taking the Baguio-Tomay jeep route, leaving the busy haunts of La Trinidad population and the hum of bustling crowds. Any trekker can inform the driver of the intention to visit Mount Yangbew and the driver will drop you sitio Banat, barangay Tawang.
And what have they experienced at Mount Yangbew? Well, they plucked blossoms from the garden of humor and joy, which lain side by side along Mount Yangbew’s trail and in weaving them into garland, claimed as their own the string that bonded them together.
Sitting on the grass, they watched as scores of people, some standing, some sitting, watched La Trinidad valley below, bisected by its national road and the meandering Balili River.
One girl, seated alongside her mother, was apparently holding one rose, where it came, only the mother and the girl knew. Maybe they bought it somewhere down the road before going up Mount Yangbew.
In the course of the girl, standing, waving the rose at the winds, the rose snapped from its stem and she said, “Mama, Mama, nadadael didyiay rose!” (Mama, Mama, the rose got destroyed!).
Her mother looked at the fallen rose, then at her forlorn child, embraced her and gently said, “Saanabali anak, agbiruk tan tu ti sabong ditoy bantay, ta sukat diay rose mo.” (Do not worry my dear, we’ll find another flower here in the mountain to replace your rose).
Milan Bolagot asked Daily Laborer to interpret for his group what the mother said to her child.
Hearing the interpretation, a shade of tenderness swept the face of Bolagot. Who knows, the sunshine dissolving into grand display of waving irised colors in the spray of Mount Yangbew may have touched a chord of spring in the insides of Bolagot.
Casting again his glance at the mother and child, a shape of consolation seeped in the mouth Bolagot.
Bolagot gently spoke, his words went this way: “Say, why should the rose from the young girl’s cheek depart; or, why should its clear tint fail? Aah, never mind, young girl, leave it to those whom with a grieving heart, and just play the smile around your lips.”
Hearing Bolagot, Daily Laborer slapped his thigh, thinking somehow Mount Yangbew had something to do in scrambling the brain of Bolagot. He roared in laughter and said, “Hey Milan seems you are afflicted with mountain fever?”
Various, indeed, are Mother Nature’s art and ingenuity she has invented to exhibit a picture of human lives that allowed the four from Marikina just to have a hike’s trail at Mount Yangbew.
It had been their good fortune walking up the trail at sitio Binat at barangay Tawang, leading to Mount Yangbew grounds, enjoying the bracing atmosphere, the beautiful surroundings.
On top of the mountain, Daily Laborer asked the four what they thought about their first visit at Mount Yangbew. And Milan spoke their thoughts by saying, “Mount Yangbew is proud, but pride not of arrogance or disdain, but a fitting mien of majesty.”
Sometimes, some precipitous fronts of Mount Yangbew are varied with a kind of red soil, in the interstices of which cling shrubs, with those fresh and verdant tints of vegetation which in many parts cloth the Benguet earth.
Mr. Sun, that Friday morning, cast its beams that irradiated the streaked La Trinidad clouds.
At about past 12: 0’clock, Daily Laborer looked skywards and noticed overcast clouds, yet the gusts of winds at Mount Yangbew were not yet threatening. But there was a harbinger of coming rains.
Daily Laborer cautioned the group they had to get down Mount Yangbew. Half-way down the trail, it caught them as the rains pattered against the mountainside. They got a wet-through, the four from Marikina more particularly shivering from having caught by the rain.
“You feel uncomfortable?” Daily Laborer asked the four, concerned about their plight.
Instead, they laughed, caroused with Daily Laborer and said, “Thank you, Sir, for allowing us to experience something this Holy Week for a lifetime!”
Indeed, any who does not feel the mellowing influence of this season upon his/her heart, beholding the delicate tints from Mount Yangbew’s unrivalled beauty, is little to be envied.
The smile of the meadows of Mount Yangbew, the solemnity of the season, seems to be reflected on the care worn countenance of residents and visitors alike.
The month of April is the season of hope – from which sprung the Holy Week – and there is vernal promise of everything that the heart of anyone in the Cordillera highlands can wish.