Mounting Maculot

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March 31, 2017 by hallyrh

December last year, I received an invite from my friend’s boyfriend, Rob, asking if I would like to join them on a hike to a popular trail in Cuenca, Batangas: Mt. Maculot. Of course I wouldn’t say no to adventure; but what made me even more eager to come was the fact that he was planning to propose to my friend Jill at the summit of the mountain.

He showed me the ring and I got even more excited. The first time he messaged me on Facebook, he said, was to ask for tips on how to win Jill’s heart; that time around, he messaged me to ask if I would like to be there when he asks to marry her — full circle.

It was the first time I would ever watch someone proposing to someone close to me. Naturally, I want in. Haha.

We were supposed to be there earlier but because of monstrous traffic jams, we arrived at around 10 AM. The trek officially began at around half past 10. Marzon was with us. At first, she had no idea that a proposal was going to take place at the peak, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer (hehe) so I told her everything.

“Kunyari wala kang alam! Wag kang magjo-joke kay Jill Ann ah!” I warned. (Pretend you don’t know anything! No jokes about the proposal, got it?)

Not even an hour into the trek, the color in Marzon’s face started to vanish. Haha. She was just panting at first, so we took a few breaks, but as we continued to ascend, her lips have virtually gone white. We asked her if she could continue with the hike (the guide told us we had hours more to go), but Marzon had to concede — she blamed her hemoglobin problems. So what the guide did was, he gave us directions where to wait. Meanwhile, he assisted Marzon back to our starting point where she would be waiting for the rest of the day. (Poor chong, I thought. I had no idea I would soon be wishing I had stayed behind too. Haha.)The guide told us to go straight ahead beyond “the mango tree”. So that we did. We’ve been hiking for about a half hour (or an hour, at most) when they decided to give the guide a call to confirm whether we were in the right track —  and it turned out we weren’t. Haha. The guide, in a mild panic, told us to stay right were we were. So we waited for about another hour before the guide was finally able to reach our whereabouts.He led us back to the proper trail. We followed all stations of the cross before finally reaching the grotto.lovebirdsroadtogrottomaculotgrotto1

grotto2

By the time we reached the grotto, it had started drizzling; but we weren’t at the summit yet, so after a few souvenir shots, we had to get going.

The road to the summit was even more challenging. Because of the rain, the trail got muddy and slippery so we had to be extra watchful with every step. There were a slew of accidental falls and the inevitable ripping of garments (haha!); there were times when we had to pull ourselves over ginormous boulders with nothing but ropes for leverage; there were moments when any wrong footing, and we would topple to death. But on and on we trudged, feet half-buried in mud, because we knew that at the end of that perilous trail were our friends’ happiness.

Eventually we reached the summit of Mt. Maculot. The rain has returned full blast so we had to eat the lunch Rob packed under umbrellas. We dawdled there for some few minutes – I honestly thought that was where Rob was going to pop the question. So when everyone said we had to get going — I thought he had chickened out. Turned out Rob was saving it for The Rockies. It was not a simple hike to the summit after all; we were going to traverse.

summitlovebirds

The (at that time) not-yet-engaged couple at the summit.

It was another hour or two of plodding, until we finally reached the clearing which lead to The Rockies. Literally a rocky path – we had to do a vertical ascent with a breathtaking view of Batangas in its entirety surrounding us. If my legs weren’t tired and I wasn’t scared of tumbling to death with a single misstep (haha), I would’ve taken pictures – unfortunately I was too focused on not falling, and my hands were filthy.

However when we got to the top, we had to ready our phones because it was time for the big question.

Jill initially didn’t want to descend to that particular spot with the perfect view of Taal Lake but we talked her in to it. The guide assisted them, under the pretense of taking pictures, and that was what Jill thought all along until Rob got on one knee. Jill was totally taken by surprise. For a moment, she was in denial (and for a moment we seriously thought she was going to suckerpunch Rob in the face, haha) but when the shock ebbed, Rob was finally able to put a ring on it.

ring

Jill started crying when she found out everyone knew about the surprise, and went through all that effort just to support them on their special day. Of course I started bawling myself, because after so many trials and errors (and then more trials, and even more errors), Jill has irrevocably found someone who treats her the way she deserves to be treated and more. Someone who is willing to traverse mountains for her no matter what the weather, stringing his slipping and stumbling friends along like a boss. Haha. I was genuinely happy for her — She has found her finally.

view1

Taal Lake from The Rockies.

And so after happy tears have been shed and congratulations were given, we were about to start our descent. The guide told us it would be another 2 to 3 hours and I was happy for Rob and Jill and everything, but my legs at that point were half-dead. Haha.

It began to rain at some point and the tracks were more slippery than ever. More than once, we found ourselves careening down the steep, muddy trails unflatteringly. I was being assisted by our guide — which was only necessary because I knew my legs would definitely give way if I didn’t have anything to help support my weight.

At 6pm, we were finally able to see paved streets again. It was a welcome sight. At that point I remember swearing to myself that I would abstain from any more mountain hiking activities for the rest of the year. Haha.

Everyone started taking much-needed showers. I found that I couldn’t really move – any small gesture felt like fire in my limbs. It was very blustery at the foot of Mt. Maculot too, and the cold gusts of wind against our wet skin and garments induced mad shivers.

Cuenca’s lomi definitely remedied the cold draft. It was probably the best lomi I’ve ever had in a long time. Apart from the delicious broth and noodles, they put in hard boiled eggs, lumpia, and chicharon. Marzon rejoined us at that point, and we told her about everything she missed. We also told her that she made the right call, backing out of the hike –Mt. Maculot’s trail definitely wasn’t for beginners.

I got home at around 12 midnight, wearing Marzon’s mom’s jeans (or more like clutching it around the waist as I hailed a cab, haha). I didn’t have an extra pair of pants with me and my leggings were completely soiled down to the crotch, so I ended up borrowing hers. I still have those pants somewhere in my closet, come to think of it. I forgot to return it before Marzon flew to Saudi a month ago.

*****

As of late, Jill and Rob have started looking for quaint little churches. They have set the wedding for summer next year. But even before any of that, Rob will ask for Jill’s hand in marriage from her parents, officially, this Holy Week.

More updates as we go along. Best wishes to the engaged couple!

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