text | Carla Ocampo
photography | Yo Muan, Carla Ocampo and Lester Valle
LOCATION | TRAILHEAD: Mt. Arayat National Park | Bgy. San Juan Baño, Arayat, Pampanga
ELEVATION | DIFFICULTY: 1,030 meters above sea level (MASL) | Class 2
COORDINATES: 15°11’47.94″N 120°44’37.68″E
The Filipino hiker is quite unique. Beyond following the established Leave-No-Trace principles, we also add another facet to respecting the Great Outdoors.
With animistic spirituality, deeply ingrained in the Filipino psyche, we make it a point to pay our respects to deities — spirits — that may be inhabiting the trails we tread on.
Some offer silent prayers before the start of every trek. Some call out “Tabi po!” excusing themselves for disturbing the ground. Even the most hardened atheists — and Catholics! — among local hiking circles do not question these practices, if only in the name of camaraderie.
These spirits, it would seem, appreciate sincerity. For one, Aring Sinukwan (or, The King, Sinukwan) was such a benevolent deity during Team KT’s trek up his lushly vegetated home, Mount Arayat.
Perhaps, as a token for our hushed behavior, the spirit king and his daughter Mariang Sinukwan gifted us with great weather, a spectacular sunset, and a clear view of the farthest plains of Central Luzon.
But we’ll tell you the story later. For now, here are the particulars. Read the rest of this entry »