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My Cuernos de Negros story

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By ROBERT MARAON

I joined the Cuernos de Negros Mountaineers Club Inc. 31 years ago, two years after its inception. Then called the Silliman University Mountaineering Club (SUMC), it was often mistaken for the University hospital.

So we renamed it to thwart the confusion, and gave the Club a distinctly- endemic brand, Cuernos de Negros, after the majestic mountain ranges we all so dearly love.

Since then, I spent almost a decade of my earthly life relishing the most fun-filled, memorable, and action-packed adventures: climbing mountains, chasing waterfalls, wading through lagoons, trekking rivers; practically spending most of my weekends in the outdoors.

What made it doubly unforgettable was that I got to spend it with the happiest people on this side of the blue planet — the outrageously bold, frolic-some, and seemingly-indefatigable bunch collectively called Taong Cuernos (a.k.a. Horny Sapiens) who have all become my life-long friends.

Every climb, as well as every other activities we had (snorkeling, beach volleyball, water hockey, sport climbing, tequila/mescalera nights, “light” lunches, reggae jam sessions, etc.), were the most wonderful experiences that I too often reminisce till this day, with much delight.

We were an interesting cohort of diverse backgrounds, an unusual blend of students in business, agri-business, engineering biology, psychology, law, even the out-of-school youth — all united with one common interest: our love for nature and the outdoors.

Mountaineering to me was more mental than physical, even philosophical. It actually enhanced my ability for quick thinking.

I learned that in negotiating trails, every step requires a decision, and that decision has to be quick. Hiking through a dense tropical forest was my cerebral stimulant of sort, as it provided me hours of carefree moments for introspection, imagination,and daydreaming — as though I’m in some elevated state of euphoria and consciousness.

It also developed in me that persevering spirit, realizing that so long as I push myself to take that next higher step, I will always get somewhere, often to the top. That mindset provided the foundational basis for my personal mantra in every endeavor I get into:  Always a Notch Higher.

There are just too many wonderful memories to talk about, too many worth- mentioning. But for the sake of brevity, let me cite a few: we had “Baraha by the Moonlight” at Lakes Yagumyum and Nailig; danced the silliest action songs during our 10th anniversary in 2000 (Pearly Shells, You, I Spend my Lifetime Loving You, Shaka Zulu Courtship Dance); had hotspring massages at tulo ka force waterfalls in Bidiao, Dauin; came up with weird-sounding gourmet dishes (Phlegm of Esophagus, Red Meat Power Gyud, Maggot Pancakes, Decolores Rice, Food for the Blind).

The most unforgettable, however, were the near-death experiences we had: 1) a rollercoaster banca ride navigating through 15-20 footer waves from Apo Island during a tropical storm; 2) the perilous descent on a landslide cliff with about a 300-ft. drop past midnight near the peak of Mt. Talinis; and 3) the attempt to free a trapped, overly-agitated warty pig with only a Swiss knife to protect us.

For an outdoor Club, I can say that Cuernos de Negros is a class apart. We have a peculiar organizational set-up, a different way of electing officers, and a unique system of revolving leadership.

Our ideals are high, though realistic and achievable. Our recruitment is serious, training tedious, and acceptance long-drawn. But in the end, it was all worth it.

We were dreamers but we dream with open eyes. Indeed, “The dreamers of the day are but dangerous men (and women), for one day they may act out their dreams with open eyes.” –– T.E. Lawrence

Three words to describe your Cuernos experience: Jinumbo, Binaboo, Jinutse.

____________________________

 

Bobby Maraon from Dipolog City was one of the key people who drafted the Constitution of the Cuernos de Negros Mountaineers Club Inc., when he was a History-Political Science student at Silliman University in the early 90s. He is now a practicing lawyer.

 

 

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