The five-day climb itinerary to Mt. Halcon was extended to seven-days to some of the participants as the toughest mountain unleashed its legendary rain.

Mt. Halcon, once again, laid out its challenges to mountaineers as it blared its searing sun. On the first day and poured its tortuous rain on the last days of AMCI's induction climb. Blood-hungry limatiks were let loose and were ready to feast on the unsuspecting. Cold water robbed hiking feet of warmth as steep trails gave cramps to tired legs. Long, arduous paths tested each one's patience and wit as physical strength waned.

AMCI, equipped with its holistic approach to mountaineering, readily faced these challenges and ultimately prevailed. While basking at the glory of witnessing Sialdang's famed sunrise, 10 people received their dogtags at the summit of Mt. Halcon on January 14, 2000. The new AMCI members are Anna Blanco, Chad de Loreto, Paolo Defensor, Alaxan Genanda, Lui Genato, Jenny Luy, Jay Panlilio, RJ Saison, Lovell Sarreal, and Ganny Tumbaga.

Pedro Syquia, after enduring the "real" Mt. Halcon, was awarded his well-deserved dog tag January 15 at Mt. Aplaya amid pelting rain and cold fog (see separate story below).

Training Director Jay De Guzman, assisted by Membership Committee Chairman Xenon L. Walde led the induction expedition. The support staff were: Group Leaders Sam Lapena and Tey Walde; Lead Pack Jim Samonte, Egay Tenepere, Ige Lopez; Sweepers: Eli Coyoca, Marc Veloso, Dolly Ortega.

The revered mountain did not scrimp in rewarding its challengers with its cool emerald Dulangan River, its countless pure streams, and the magnificent Sialdang sunset and sunrise. It was Halcon at its picturesque best.

Heavy rains towards the supposed last day, however, marred the 5-day itinerary. Dulangan River became fierce. Tributaries, gullies and streams were filled with strong rushing water that some became dangerous for the physically weak.

Most of the team was able to reach and then leave the Bayanan jump-off point by Sunday. Some, however, had to stay overnight at the community since they arrived late and no more transport means to Calapan was available.

Going down Mangyanan 2, one stream became impassable that one group who was way behind the rest of the team were forced to set camp and wait for the water to subside until the next day, Monday.

The last to go down Mt. Halcon, after seven days, were Pedro Syquia and Eli Coyoca whose slow trekking due to the former's physical state were further hampered by the turnouts of the heavy rain.


Pedro Syquia may not have reached the summit, but among the team who climbed Mt. Halcon it can be said that he was the only one who truly experienced and survived the real Halcon.

Pedro, 57, bravely faced the difficulties of the mountain. Despite his apprehensions on his strength aggravated by his knee condition that just recently underwent an operation, he was able to reach the cheek of Halcon, two-hours away from Sialdang.

On two occasions he spent the night without a tent and only had a plastic bag for body shelter. He also did an incredible feat of sleeping with the limatiks. He crossed the scary Monkey Bridge with the raging Dulangan River underneath. He negotiated a fierce Dulangan tributary. He went down a muddier Mangyanan.

Food did not become a problem to Pedro who gamely feasted on bagoong, daing, leftover adobo flakes, uncooked Maling and waterless Nesvita. He had ketchup and hot sauce for trail food. He ate peppercorn. He described beer stick and rice as "terrific". In one of their bivouacs, he was delighted by the home-cooked pork adobo of his then buddy, Jay de Guzman.

Indeed, there were moments of weakness when he contemplated on stopping or going back, not mainly because of his strength but that he was also thinking of the predicament of the sweepers should they land on a tight spot at a difficult hour.

His group leader Tey Walde and the sweepers took care of his apprehensions and encouraged him to move on. All he needed was a little prodding and a patient company to keep him on his feet. He clawed and crawled his way up. Several times he perilously slipped but he bravely stood up each time and continued his mission to reach the summit.

Time, however, had other plans for Pedro. It kept Sialdang away from him but showed instead its "waterful" beauty. It gave Pedro the opportunity to experience the real challenges of the mountain in order to become its true conqueror.

Rain hammered the tents at Aplaya for the rest of the fifth day. Pedro endured a wet tent as strong gusts of wind rammed the fragile shelters. Here, he was already dreaming of shabu-shabu. Hot soup in a cold night.

On his sixth day in Halcon, Pedro received his well-deserved dog tag amid pelting freezing rain in Mt. Aplaya. Only six people had the distinction to be the first ones to congratulate this amazing Halcon warrior.

On his sixth night, he slept with the fierce tiger limatiks.

Day seven, all the people in Bayanan welcomed the descent of Pedro. He nary had a frown. He was all smiles. Flat land at last.

A week in Halcon and Pedro already eats limatiks for breakfast. As sanity check, though, he was serious in indulging on a shabu-shabu when he gets back to the city.

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