It looks like participants of this year’s Manunggal trek need not worry about missing the coverage of Manny Pacquiao’s rematch with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez this Sunday in Las Vegas, a dilemma that I wrote about in my column last week. If plans push through, trekkers will see the fight live on Dream satellite TV at the camp site.
When Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay told me about it in a phone call facilitated by my cousin Nigel Wenceslao Friday, I joked to my colleagues that I may have to write about it this way: Want to see the Pacquiao-Marquez fight live? Climb Mt. Manunggal. If smokers can go a mile for a camel, why can’t fans climb a mountain for a TV coverage?
Franklin Horfilla, one of the organizers of this year’s Manunggal trek, texted me and sent me an e-mail detailing the activities of “Paghandum ni Magsaysay ’08.” Horfilla is with the Gama eco-tourism group which is co-hosting the event. Gama is composed of volunteers who have set up residence in and the surrounding area of Mt. Manunggal.
I think this is a new twist in the continuing growth of the mountain areas of Balamban and neighboring Cebu City spurred by the construction of the Transcentral Highway. As more and more lowlanders covet areas traversed by the highway and roads that connect it, so also grows the need to balance the incursion with responsible land use.
Gama, according to the e-mail Horfilla sent, is pushing for development through eco-tourism as “alternative catalyst for economic change” for concerned residents. It would be interesting to find out how this would pan in two fronts: the interest of traditional settlers (farmers) in the hinterlands and the goals of environmental protection.
Anyway, the three-day “Paghandum ni Magsaysay Annual Adventure Trek ’08” that will commemorate the 51st anniversary of the crash of Mt. Pinatubo on the slopes of Mt. Manunggal killing, among other people, then president Ramon Magsaysay, will be capped by wreath laying rites on March 17 (Monday) at the Magsaysay monument.
Aside from the coverage of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight in the morning of March 16 (Sunday), a concert will be held for the campers in the evening of March 15. Various sports and arts competition will also be held, like the Airsoft Challenge in nearby Barangay Gaas, also in Balamban, and the on the spot painting and photo tilts.
Organizers are expecting some 3,000 trekkers this year, or an increase of 1,000 campers from last year. I don’t know whether that number would increase with the announcement of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight coverage, but it certainly is assurance enough for boxing fans that they can go ahead with the trek without missing the show.
Some of my usual companions in the trek, like Barok and William, will do the climb on a Friday, but I will be at the usual assembly site in the vicinity of JY Square in Lahug, Cebu City early morning of Saturday. I think organizers will still be providing the usual vehicles for the trekkers who will start the climb at the foot of Barangay Tabunan.
(I wrote this for my March 12, 2008 Candid Thoughts column for Sun.Star Cebu)