I did it! I graduated from college, as a nurse. I’m no genius, and I didn’t graduate with flying colours or anything, but I passed. I had climbed my own personal mountain, reached the top, and my parents were brimming with joy and happiness. The next day, in celebration, my uncle and I decided to take a hike up Mount Pulag, in Benguet, Philippines. I had finished climbing one kind of mountain, now it was going to be time to conquer another!
Climbing Mount Pulag
Climbing Mount Pulag seemed like a symbolic thing to do in a way. It reflected the hardships and struggles I had had in college and mirrored my college life. My first year, for example, had started out scary, but then ended up being wonderful. When it’s your first time at college you really don’t know what you’ve let yourself in for, but it turned out to be exciting nonetheless.
It was the same when it came to hiking to the top of Mount Pulag. It really isn’t easy to get there! Embarking on our journey, my uncle and I joined a group and we all rode a bus together to Baguio.
The Adventurista Camping Group
Our group leader was a guy called Maximus Jovi from Adventurista Camping Group, he was a friend of mine on Facebook and you can follow him for adventures and trekking around the Philippines.
The bus took us to Baguio, and then we took a jeep up to Benguet. The route was so gorgeous, the scenery so beautiful and the weather was glorious. It wasn’t too hot as a typical day in the Philippines might have been.
Some people from our group sat out on top of the jeep to enjoy the breeze and take in the views. However, I decided not to because I had just graduated the day before. We have this superstition in the Philippines that if something significant has just happened in your life, such as a birthday, a graduation or a wedding for example, you’re more prone to accidents, and even death. So I stayed inside the jeep!
The guys in our group were all really friendly and we had a big group photo before going off on our hikes.
Reaching the Top
Climbing Mount Pulag is not that simple, it’s really quite hard work! Especially if you’re carrying a back pack. Some locals even offer to carry your bags for you. They’re often double their own size and weight, but to see them carrying their loads you’d think they were carrying feathers, they make such light work of it. And they go right to the top too, where the air is thin and oxygen gets a little scarce. As you can see, I only carried one little bag but it felt like I was carrying a whole damn cow up to the summit!
For some members of our group it was an easy climb. They’d been training for climbs like this, and even for me it wasn’t too bad as I’m quite fit. In any case, I was feeling on top of the world! I’d just graduated, having passed all my exams, finished my thesis, and said goodbye to all my friends and colleagues, and now I was literally on top of the world! Climbing Mount Pulag was the cream on top of my cheesecake. And since I was celebrating my graduation, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take my cap and gown and put them on once I reached the top. You don’t get a photo opportunity like that every day, after all!
An Unmissable Photo Opportunity
I can barely describe in words how I felt that day. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…
What I Learned
Climbing Mount Pulag was, just like my college journey, hard at first. I thought I was doing just fine on the way up, but then came harder parts and stumbling blocks. Nevertheless, I didn’t stop. I could see the destination up ahead, I doubted myself and wondered if it was all worth it but I tried to remind myself that everything was going to be okay, I’d relax, get up, and carry on.
You can only ever really fail if you stop or give up completely, so I kept going. Finally, just as I was able to reach the pinnacle of my college career by making sure I kept going even when the going got tough, I reached the pinacle of Mount Pulag. In so doing, I had climbed another mountain in my life. What I learned was, if you keep going, you can always make it to the top in the end.
An earlier version of this blog post was published on EVERY TWOSDAY (@everytwosday) on March 15, 2017 by John Harvey Perez (@johnharveyperez)
Read my story of how my girlfriend and I spent 72 hours in Hong Kong.
John Harvey Perez writes a Travel & Lifestyle blog called EVERY TWOSDAY
- John Harvey Perez is a travel & lifestyle blogger and all round lover of life. Originally from the Philippines but currently living in Dublin, he founded the travel blog Every TwosDay with his girlfriend. They particularly enjoy writing reviews of restaurants and hotels and making travel and lifestyle videos. In May 2017 he is travelling back to the Philippines so we're looking forward to reading about his adventures there.