Standing out in this year’s edition of the Manunggal camp-out (the trek is going out of fashion, I say) was congressional aspirant Pablo John Garcia and his Yo PJ (Youth Organization for Pablo John). I was curled in my tent when Pablo John and wife Karen arrived at the camp site Saturday night (March 17), so I wasn’t able to talk with them.
But if you were at the Manunggal camp-out you’ll notice PJ’s youth group by the rows of identical and colorful tents and a streamer near the Magsaysay monument. Pablo John even danced, fellow trekker William said. Well, I missed the sight and so too the conversations with Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay and Councilor Dave Karamihan.
The climb is really getting lonelier by the year. I saw how dump trucks picked up the people that assembled at the vicinity of JY Square in Lahug (our group chose to rent a public utility jeepney). Surprisingly, Tabunan, the starting point of the trek was virtually deserted when we arrived. Only few bought the food sold there by barangay folks.
“Niabot diri ang dump trucks?” I asked one of the residents. “Wala man, naa nuon toy van nga diri,” was the reply. The dump trucks either ferried the “trekkers” to Kuros-Kuros, the place where the Manuggal road branches off from the Cebu Transcentral Highway, or went directly to the peak. Thus was chosen the path of least resistance.
I miss those days when festive atmosphere greeted us in Tabunan during the Manunggal trek of old. “Mora lagig mga hulmigas ang makita nimo nga magtungas paingon sa Manunggal,” said a companion. That, though, did not deter us, including Barok, William, Nanding, Greg, the Sun.Star girls, etc. from enjoying the climb.
I could not blame people, though, from opting to ride to the peak. Without the road, the others like Nante and his “angels,” Jojo and his wife and kid, Kikoy, Lito and his colleagues at the Mandaue legal office, etc. would not have been there this year.
This just means that there’s a paradigm shift in the annual commemoration of the death of president Ramon Magsaysay in that famed peak. That shift will be pushed further if Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña succeeds in negotiating with the Italian government for the setting up of a cable car system from Barangay Taptap to Manunggal.
The P450-million project, announced by the mayor during Cebu City’s own commemoration of Magsaysay’s 50th death anniversary, includes the construction of a museum, an eco-park and a mountain resort in Manunggal. A cable car system in place means the Manunggal trek will be but a minor part of the annual ritual.
The problem with the mayor’s proposal is that it sounded unilateral when announced. Manunggal peak is part of Barangay Magsaysay, which is in Balamban town. No problem with Barangays Taptap and Tabunan because it is in Cebu City. (Taptap is that grassy portion of the ridge above Tabunan visible to Manunggal climbers.)
Did Osmeña talk with Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay about the proposal? Or with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia? How will the Cebu City mayor’s conflict with the governor affect the negotiation? Was the Italian government told that Manunggal is not part of Cebu City? Readers will agree that the answers to those questions are interesting.
–-Candido O. Wenceslao (I wrote this for the March 21, 2007 issue of Sun.Star Cebu)