Monday, June 17, 2024

Sunrise Trail Hike at Masungi Georeserve: An Empowering and Meaningful Birthday Celebration

Since I was a child, as soon as June approaches, I feel thrilled because it's my birth month. I don't eagerly anticipate gifts, but rather the greetings from family and friends. It brings me joy. I am easily pleased. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Whenever I am asked what I want for my birthday, my usual response is "nothing" or "I don't know; I can't think of anything I want or need." I am not materialistic. I am happy. I am healthy. I am blessed with family and true friends. Feeling ko nasa akin na ang lahat and I prefer inner peace. Fancy that! Haha. I find more joy in giving, whether to family, friends, or even strangers.

But this time, I said, "Lord, can I give myself a gift this time?" Since a retreat in Batulao is not possible yet, I scheduled a day for myself for a pampering session at the mall. I want to have a massage, facial, manicure/pedicure. I simply wish to unwind and disconnect from the online world for an entire day.

Then, someone sent a message in the CORA Volunteers group chat about the Sunrise Trail Hike and Environment Forum at the breathtaking Masungi Georeserve. Without reading everything, I immediately registered (despite my Ophidiophobia), and  quickly paid because slots were limited. Ewan ko kung ano ang pumasok sa isip ko that time basta na lang ako sumagot sa Google formπŸ˜…. This is the joy of having your own money and not always relying on the head of the household or your parents. After paying and reading more, I informed my partner that this is what I want for my birthday. This will bring me pure bliss and make my birthday celebration unique. Wow! It's the first time I've expressed my desire! I want to tick off items on my bucket list before I get older and stop feeling young, hehe. ✌️ He quickly agreed. (He can't do anything because I've already paid, though. Lol). Besides Mommy, our Dada knows me well. He knows I find joy in nature. He knows I want to live in a simple house surrounded by trees (minus the snakes, okay?)

I have been looking for a group that cares for and loves the environment for quite some time. Yes, I may be fussy and playful, but my heart is happy when, in my own small way, I can show love and gratitude to our mother earth. That's when I found CORA (Communities Organized for Resources Allocation) , a nonprofit organization that fosters sustainable development through inclusive programs led by women, youth, local communities, and volunteers to help build a more just and resilient future for people and the planet. CORA was founded by Antoinette Taus, UN Environment Programme (@UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador, actress, and singer. 

I joined CORA Volunteers earlier this year. I remained quiet in the group because I couldn't attend past activities. My family and friends are also unaware that I had joined the group. ☺️ Now they know. 

After paying the joining fee and informing the family that I joined, the "nakatatandang" advice came to mind: "Don't go out of the house when your birthday is near because accidents might happen." I felt nervous. Scared. But I told myself, "Am I going to be scared again?" "Am I going to live in fear again?" If something happens, it will happen because it's meant to be. I fought against fear and prayed. But I hugged and kissed my children a lot, hehe. Morbid, noh? πŸ˜…. But there's nothing wrong with being prepared. And we should always make our loved ones feel loved.

Two days before the hike, I prepared everything to make sure I wouldn't forget anything. The day before, I prepared the food and things the kids needed for the next day. It's really difficult for mothers to just leave the house, everything should be prepared for the family. Oh ,well, sabi nga nila hindi lahat ng Nanay ganito. 🫒

As expected, I couldn't sleep. The kids massaged me. I took sleeping pills. Still couldn't sleep. According to my watch, I only slept for 48 minutes. The email said, "Get ample rest." Lol. Maybe I was just excited? Or maybe the fear of being far away for the first time and doing something alone without my family kept me awake.

I didn't force myself to sleep. I just ate again and waited for the time. I got ready and went to the meeting place.

We arrived at Masungi Georeserve while it was still dark. It felt joyful, especially sensing the scent of trees and the cool breeze. As the day slowly brightened, the fog thickened. It was delightful! 

Our group with our park ranger, Kuya KD

The trail began. I am grateful to Kuya KD, our park ranger, who explained things, took care of us, and reminded us of the do's and don'ts during the hike.  He was kind and always smiling. And most importantly, he was great at taking videos and pictures. 

There, I started feeling the trembling in my thighs. I wasn't properly prepared, and it was my first time. We were going up 600 meters above sea level. But when I reached the top, I felt like crying not because of exhaustion or the pain in my arms and legs, but because of the breathtaking beauty around me. The Lord's creation was stunning. The view was breathtaking. All I could say was, "Thank you, Lord!"

I can't explain the happiness I felt when I was at the top. I refrained from crying because there were other people present. It would be embarrassing. I just savored every moment because I couldn't stay long as the next group was arriving soon. But of course, before going down, we needed to document, take pictures, and take selfies first. It's a must. Picture or it never happened.

My group mates! 🀍
(L-R Me, Mary Miranda, Nick Pataueg, April Maligayo, Aisha Kunting, and Sheila Lopez)

The pleasure with my group mates added to the experience. They were total strangers, seemingly half my age , I presume. But to me, they were like peers, or my children (?) lol. Obedient and friendly individuals. When it was announced that the next activity was a meditation walk, there was complete silence. The only sounds were the birds, insects, and other living creatures, and the sound of our footsteps during the 10-15 minute walk. It warmed my heart. While walking, I was talking to God, thanking Him for everything. I dunno, I'm just thankful the whole time. This is what I missed. In the city, it's all concrete, with few trees. The sound of cars is loud. It's polluted. But our house is next to a large lot filled with trees, so sometimes we hear chirping birds. But Masungi is different. I hope you can visit too.

Thanks to those who take care of Masungi Georeserve, I didn't see any trash.  They love and care for the place so much. I hope more people learn about and visit this place. Plus, their light refreshments were delicious. And the frozen towel... Ahhh, refreshing! Superb!

I urge you, to visit Masungi Georeserve as well, to truly appreciate the place. Words alone are not enough. The experience is unique, I can't put it into words. And let's help preserve the place. Many want to take advantage for their own benefit. Aside from illegal logging, there were other challenges faced by Masungi such as pag-uuling (charcoal making), and big-time land grabbers or professional squatters. Let us help #SaveMasungi.

I went home happy, my heart is full! All I could say to my partner and children was thank you! Thank you to them for allowing me to experience Masungi and be connected with nature.  I hope next time I can bring them along.

Grateful to Planet Cora and Rockwell Run Club for this #GenerationRestoration collaboration. 

Best birthday ever! Empowering, meaningful, and fulfilling. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life. For giving me strength until now despite what happened back in 2013.

Where to next? What to tick off my bucket list next? Tree planting? Feeding program, maybe? Yes?! I'm looking forward to it because I heard CORA has another event. πŸ™ 

I am a planeteer. I will help as much as I can to #ProtectThePlanet for my children and the next generations. 🀍

1 comment:

  1. big help talaaga ang pagkakaroon ng groups yung makakasama mo sa travels nakakawala ng stress😍 Happy Bday mommy Godbless u