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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Atop Prayer Mountain

Atop Prayer Mountain
by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
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DOWN south of Cebu lie charming idyllic towns of tranquil azure waters to dive into, creamy sandy beaches to comb, pristine coves to discovr, fantastic waterfalls to abseil, awesome labyrinthine systems to explore, challenging rivers to tame, rocky hills to trek, and cool mountain peaks to scale, say Prayer Mountain in Butong, Argao where Vanilla Hills Eco Park and Scout Camp is.
Prayer Mountain is about 800 feet above sea level, located 19 kilometers from Argao's town proper. On its peak stood an over 30-foot-high stell viewing deck, protruding into the sky, a vantage point where every adventurer can get a sweeping view of two straits dividing Cebu from nearby islands - Bohol strait in the east where the island of Bohol lies, and Tañon strait in the west where Negros island is. Down below, lying on the eastern side of Tañon strait are the municipalities of Dumanjug, Moalboal, and Badian; and off its coast are Zaragoza and Pescador islands, the latter being one of the best diving spots in Cebu.
Finding ourselves on top of the world, we screamed till our lungs burst, as gusts of strong wind tousled all the more our already unkempt hair.
Later that night, we watched a lovely moon that rose over Bohol and enjoyed the cold wisps of mountain breeze that momentarily whipped our napes. A world down south of Cebu, a world freely-given, freely-laid. Fresh air unmetered. Lethargic stars untagged. Mantles of cloud uncoded with bars. Indeed, nature is a grand symphony conducted by one Creator.
As we slumped onto ash gray rocks, sculpted and grooved by rainfall, we entertained our peace. Tall grasses swayed with the blowing of the mighty wind. What lapsed was an eardrum-piercing silence, broken only when time took us discussing "weird and stupid" dreams. Dreams that were never destroyed by tragic circumstances or ripped by fangs of discouragement. We all believed that while being a rescue volunteer is the most difficult task we have to endure, it never takes much time to master the skills. Insistence, persistence, and consistence in training make for perfection.
Being of service is born in the mind and nests in the heart. There only can it find rest. (Text and photos by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros together with fellow Rescue 160 volunteers and Rovers Scout mountaineers Batch 55-Cebu council: Billy Jack Bahian, Marites Arañas, Alex Salazar, Joanne Villamor, Christopher Oyangoren, and Mark Jephen Francisco)