Most of us just see it in pictures and dream of it from a great distance, usually from the comforts of our cars after surviving the bottleneck that is Cubao. But these men had the courage and will to put into action what we normal folk are unwilling to: climb the Kamuning Summit. These men are composed of Albert Labrador, who runs “a military/historical/gaming tambayan and library that also is a drop off point for military surplus for gear collectors.” His intrepid companion is Mario Gregorio Aglipay “who hatched the idea in a moment of divine inspiration. He is an airsoft buddy and a fellow reenactor of the Philippine Living History Society.” The two were accompanied by photographer Bong Manayon “who also braved the climb despite the challenges.”
We spoke to Labrador just as he got settled back to street-level normalcy.
When was the climb? What time did you start and at what time did you reach summit?
Climb was morning of April 1, 2019. After orienting ourselves via map and compass and by eyeballing the location of the nearest 7-11, we proceeded to do our approach. The climb began at 05:50 and after some rest stops we reached the summit at around 05:55. Due to the altitude and the presence of carbon monoxide we stayed for a very short time, making sure to unfurl the flag (#PinoyPride) and take a few pictures.
How did you guys prepare for the climb?
Preparation involved some alcohol and discussions over the few weeks preceeding. I was also inspired by my friend's footage of another footbridge a month or so earlier. Daily exposure to EDSA air has conditioned us to the potential challenges.
Can you describe to us your gear?
I was wearing some gear worn during a 1992 expedition to the Karakoram Himalaya, updated with some more modern equipment. One needs to be ready for any sudden contingencies. We considered supplemental oxygen but we determined that gas masks were better.
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What was the most challenging part of the climb?
The most challenging part was trying to look nonchalant to the MMDA cops (they were distracted by an accident at the base of Mt. Kamuning). Another challenge was bringing out all my dusty and moldy climbing gear the night before and trying to decide which colors were best.
Was there a temptation at any point to give up? If yes, at which step?
The 7-11 shop was the final turn back temptation. Once the climb began we could not afford to look back. In spite of a sudden gout attack, the adrenaline carried me through.
How did it feel when you finally reached the summit? What was it like up there?
The air at the summit was perhaps thinner than at the base (I still need to know if carbon monoxide floats upwards). There were a few unnerving tremors as the train passed below. At the summit, some natives passed and greeted us. I must say I am totally in awe as the few that did follow us up were dressed in what seemed to be ordinary street clothes. My heart goes out to them. I hope they survived.
Would you recommend this trek?
The trek is highly recommended. Specially for those going to the Centris Sunday Market. But that would take a traverse. We have yet to attempt that but plans are being hatched for a larger expedition. We will likely need porters as the pickings are pretty tempting.