What comes into your mind when someone mentions a “romantic getaway”? For most people the images conjured up would be of candlelit dinners, sunsets at the beach, plush hotels and roses. But romance takes many forms. Not many people would think that a 20-hour hike through steep and sometimes dangerous terrain, suffering from dehydration and exhaustion would qualify as a “romantic getaway”. Yet it was in this very situation, on one of the Philippines’ most difficult mountains, that I found my own “most romantic place”.
Going back down memory lane, I have tried to recall the beautiful places Charles and I have been to including a few fancy resorts and hotels. There are just so many places that could qualify for the “Most Romantic Place in the Philippines”. Caramoan, our first out of town trip, El Nido, which we share as our favorite place in the Philippines or even Puka Beach at Boracay where we shared beautiful sunsets and good memories. But it was our adventure at Mt. Guiting Guiting that left the most enduring impression on me when we joined a group of mountaineers in scaling the famed peak of Romblon.
Our journey to its peak was exciting, but nothing out of the ordinary compared to the other mountains we had climbed before. The view from its Peak was just as spectacular as many of the lookouts and peaks we had been to before. Fleeting clouds playing hide and seek with the spectacular knife-edge ridges, lush, verdant forest cloaking the foothills and the vast lowland vegetation stretching into the distance far below. But it was the unexpected debacle on our way down to the base camp that made this trip so memorable for us. Perhaps it was this journey that made us realize what we are capable of doing for each other and what we are willing to sacrifice for each other’s safety.
Let’s just say we started our assault of the summit from Mayo’s Peak at 6am and made it to our base camp at 1am the next day. We had underestimated the amount of water we would need and ran out of water when we still had a whole day of arduous trekking to do under the punishing heat. I would have not accomplished this feat without Charles. He was so selfless and did extra hours of trekking to the water source and back up the mountain for me and the other mountaineers. He went ahead and then came back to carry my backpack at some points. He helped me push through this journey when I knew he was struggling himself from dehydration.
Neither of us gave up, complained or showed any sign of surrender. It was too much for me but I did not whimper nor whine – being strong was the only thing I could do for him. We were both putting up a façade that we were all right and that we could make it. In the end we made it safely back to base camp thanks to Charles, and Sir Toto, our host, who also bought some extra water up the mountain for those in need.
We still continue to trek in the mountains together. In fact Charles has just recently proposed to me at Blue Mountains in Australia, a place very close to his heart. I know there will still be many places and adventures we are going to share together. But our trip to Mt. Guiting Guiting will always be dear to us. I guess it is also the person and the experience that you share together that make a place romantic.