No Manunggal trek for me today-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
I MISS Mt. Manunggal and the climb. For the second successive year, I won’t be joining the annual ritual done to commemorate the crash of the plane Mt. Pinatubo on March 17, 1957, killing then president Ramon Magsaysay and more than 20 other passengers. I would have gone there today but for some important activity that I need to grace on Monday.
Interestingly, there hasn’t been much buzz about the Mt. Manunggal affair, dubbed for the past few years as “Paghandum ni Magsaysay,” this year. This must be an offshoot to the political conflict that has divided the ruling Binghay clan in Balamban town where Mt. Manunggal belongs.
The “Paghandum” had been handled by Balamban Councilor Dave Binghay Karamihan, nephew of the clan’s patriarch, Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay. Karamihan and his cousin, Balamban Mayor Ace Binghay (Alex’s son), had masterminded the shift in focus of the annual ritual from the Manunggal trek to other sporting events like a run and an adventure race.
While I frowned on the change, I considered it as an offshoot to the improved accessibility of what was once a neglected peak. Why climb from the traditional starting point of the trek in Barangay Tabunan in Cebu City to Mt. Manunggal when you can reach the peak using the road?
Of course, there’s a price to pay for that. Mountaineers who once used the Manunggal trek as a warm-up and socializing activity prior to major climbs to other more challenging peaks slowly lost appetite for what has become a mere Manunggal camp out. More so because the Balamban Municipal Government no longer gave enough attention to actual trekkers.
This year, politics seemed to have made the setup even trickier. Karamihan, a last-term councilor, decided to run for the post of vice mayor against his aunt (Alex’s wife), Rosario. That strained his relation with the PB member and affected preparations for the annual ritual. Karamihan was no longer allowed to handle the Mt. Manunggal activity.
A couple of weeks ago, an old friend messaged me for information on the Manunggal climb. I couldn’t give her anything because the organizers didn’t issue press releases on the matter. I am not even sure if the usual practice of stationing dump trucks at the JY Square to ferry those who want to go to Manunggal would still be done this morning.
I think some members of our “gang” would still find a way to return to Mt. Manunggal on their own today. That’s merely for old time’s sake (there had been no attempt to organize our participation in the ritual for this year).
Which reminds me of the driver of the PUJ we regularly hired for the previous climbs.
I think he would still look for us at the JY Square grounds like he used to do in the past. The Manunggal activity is one of the instances wherein he and other PUJ and habal-habal driver earn bigger profit for a day bringing people from JY Square to either Tabunan or Manunggal on Saturday and back to Jy Square on Sunday.
So there won’t be photos on the Manunggal trek that we would be posting on Facebook this year. But Barok (Joel Tesaluna), who used to enliven our gang in previous treks and who is now in Saudi Arabia as an overseas Filipino worker, promised to help organize our participation in the ritual next year in time for his return to Cebu. Pa-paabota lang na si Ramon (Magsaysay), Do,” he joked on Facebook.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2013.