On March 16, 1957, the 3rd President of the Republic of the Philippines—Ramon Magsaysay—arrived in Cebu for speaking engagements at three schools: USC, SWU and UV. Later that evening, he attended a party hosted by Cebu City Mayor Sergio Osmeña, Jr.
By 1 a.m. and in the blackness of the Cebu night, Pres. Magsaysay boarded a Douglas C-47 plane named “Mt. Pinatubo” at the Lahug Airport. An estimated 40 minutes later, as the plane hovered near the mountains of Balamban, the aircraft—carrying our president and 25 others—met a tragic accident on the slopes of Mt. Manunggal.
This Saturday, March 14, 2009—or 52 years to that fateful week—an event in Balamban to commemorate his death—and his life—will be realized. “Paghandum ni Magsasay Annual Adventure Trek ’09,” it’s named, and spearheading the project is Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan.
“The aim of this event,” wrote Dave in an email, “is to showcase the beauty and the eco-tourism potential of Mt. Manunggal. Before, it was just the hardcore mountaineers who can get to this place and set up camp. Over the years, since an access road has been laid out and comfort room facilities added, more weekend warriors and families have visited.
“Through the events lined up for the commemoration of the death of a beloved president, we may be able to put Manunggal in the map of must-see destinations in Cebu. This could help out both ways: more economic activity in the area, and more consciousness on environmental issues for locals as they would better take care of their resources to keep tourists coming in.
“Nobody knows how this adventure trek started. Some say, it was the mountaineers who liked spending their March 17 weekends atop Mt. Manunggal. Some say it was the USJ-R volunteers who started outreach programs (they even constructed a chapel near the monument)—and continue to do so—several years ago.
“One thing definite is, this all started with a mountain, which happened to embrace a great man in his death. It is ironic that, with Magsaysay’s death, new life is born. A new life for the constituents of Barangay Gaas and Manunggal. That is our goal and our promise.”
The event is a Climbathon and several categories are available: Open (15K), Executive, and Local. “This is the first time for Balamban,” added Councilor Karamihan. “We used to have the Adventure Race for three years. You know, like the Amazing Race, but we couldn’t get much participation from the locals because the race got too technical. This year we decided on the Climbathon. It is simple but still like an adventure race because the Open Division goes through mountain trails. This, we hope the locals would want to attend because they know the terrain and are used to the weather.”
For more details, call Che-Che at 333-2190 or 465-0300.