The Making of the Federation
(The author is the founder and the first president of the federation)
My expat friends introduced me to trekking in November 1975. My first mountain was Mt. Pulog. Ill equipped, I suffered the biting cold during the night with Apo Usok. I reached the summit on the second morning, dewy wet and shivering with the freezing breeze. But at the top, all the pains were forgotten. Praises replaced my complaining heart. This was followed by the magnificent Mt. Apo in May and at Lake Venado. I got hooked.
More mountains were scaled in the ensuing months. I met Edwin Gatia of Bacolod when he volunteered to guide our group to Mt. Kanlaon and Pete Levina-DOT-Davao, who was promoting a yearly climb of Mt. Apo.
At this time, Philippine Airlines was pushing for eco-tourism, a relatively new concept in the country: scuba diving, bird watching, tribes/ cultural tours and trekking. I was tasked to develop trekking tours since I was the only one then enjoying the sports among colleagues. All eco-tourism oriented tours came under the banner of PALakbayan Tours Program. But then, it was not as popular as we hoped it to be. I dialoged with PAL management that to promote eco-tourism effectively, we need to develop an interest in trekking activities. And it should be a nation-wide campaign. Thus, the idea of the federation was born.
With PAL’s support, I was able to travel to the provinces seeking existing mountaineering clubs and talking to personalities, who have the same persuasions, as ours to organize. It took me months to convince most of them to federate. Mr. Ricardo Paloma-Regional Vice President then of PAL and Mr. Avelino Zapanta, former Metro Manila Sales, now PAL President, supported us all the way.
Thrice I met with Dr. Gus Guerrero, Vincent Christian and J Flores of UST who organized themselves as Mountaineering Association of the Philippines (MAP). They even brought me to mystic Mt. Banahaw to show me the accumulating garbage brought in by people who climbed her. I joined the late Guillermo (Moy) Veloso of Baguio-Benguet Mountaineering Society at Mt. Pulog (again) just to talk to him. Edwin Trompeta-DOT Iloilo introduced me to Vic Pison and Atty. Fred Tayo of Ilonggo Mountaineering Club who eventually led me to Babes Galuego of Antique Mountaineering Society. Babes helped my group scale Mt. Mad-jaas. Again I met Edwin Gatia, now head of the Philippine Mountaineering Society based in Bacolod, my second climb of Mt. Kanlaon.
Then I went back to Mt. Apo, a climb organized by DOT Davao. There, I met Mayor Gana of Kidapawan, North Cotabato, who pledged to support the formation of the federation. Ed Buensuceso, of Haribon Society and a colleague in PAL, brought in Haribon for the federation to include wildlife conservation after all, forest and wildlife have symbolic relationship. We contacted Ramon Ruiz and Bobbit Palaganas of UP Moutnaineers who injected their idea on the urgent need to protect the mountain environment.
The Bicol Moutaineers whose membership include Ricardo Dy, the most sought after guide to the summit of Mt. Mayon, joined our group. This was headed by Alice Uvas, the lone woman s signatory. And in Manila, we were able to establish contact with the Hash House Harriers-mostly expats who love to run every Monday evening and gladly lent a helping hand in the organization. Later on, PAL Mountaineering Club (PALMC) was also getting organized. But PALMC was officially recognized in November 1979; eight months after the pioneers had agreed to federate and signed a declaration to that effect. After 18 months of shuttling back and forth, our dream was about to be realized.
PAL gave free tickets for all of us to fly to Davao and signed the Declaration of Agreement to organize ourselves into a federation to be known as National Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, now MFPI, at the summit of Mt. Apo on 28 February 1979. Brad Warren of the University of NSW, Sydney Australia, who was organizing an adventure trek and caving expedition in the country, witnessed the signing of the declaration. We adopted the following slogans to reflect our collective concerns for the environment: “Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time. Leave nothing but footprints.”
A year later, in April 1980, the first set of Officers of the Federation was elected and sworn to office by Mayor Gana at Mt. Apo summit. This momentous event was witnessed by hundreds of climbers, most worthy was MACADAC, led by Tony Uy.
The first MFPI logo was designed by Edwin Gaita of PMS Bacolod.
In October 1979, on a unanimous vote, we became an Associate Member of the Union Internationale Alpinist Association (UIAA). The meeting was held at Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, USA.
(The rest is history. The fruits of the gargantuan efforts put into by succeeding Presidents and Officers of the Federation is what we are enjoying today. Now all of us are looking forward to the first Filipino Team at the summit of Mt. Everest.)
MFPI Annual Congress Climb
No. Year Venue Host
1 1980 Mt. Apo Macadac, Penec Sandawa, Pabungan Trekkers
2 1981 Mt. Mad-jaas Iloilo Mountaineering Club, Antique Mountaineering Society
3 1982 Mt. Pulog Baguio Benguet Mountaineering Society
4 1983 Mt. Kanlaon Philippine Mountaineering Society, San Agustin Mountaineering Society
5 1984 Mt. Mayon Mayon Mountaineers
6 1985 Mt. Dos Cuernos Mt. Dos Cuernos Mountaineering Club
7 1986 Mt. Halcon UP Mountaineers
8 1987 Mt. Kitanglad Northern Mindanao Mountaineering Society-EFI
9 1988 Palawan Philippine Airlines Mountaineering Club
10 1989 Mt. Apo Macadac
11 1990 Mt. Talinis Camp
12 1991 Matulid River Trail UP Outdoor Recreation Group
13 1992 Mt. Tigum Iloilo Mountaineering Club, Antique Mountaineering Society
14 1993 Catanduanes Mountain Trail Mayon Mountaineers
15 1994 Mt. Banahaw UP Mountaineers
16 1995 Mt. Kalatungan Northern Mindanao Mountaineering Society-EFI
17 1996 Mt. Kanlaon Negros Mountaineering Club
18 1997 Mt. Alinyabaw-Malasimbo-Talipanan Halcon Mountaineers
18 1998 Mt. Candalaga Sandawa Apo
20 1999 Kalinga UP Mountaineers
21 2000 Guimaras Island Iloilo Mountaineering Club
22 2001 Caramoan Hagahag Mountaineers
23 2002 Nueva Vizcaya Mesau, Sang-at-Salug Outdoor Club, Globe Adventure Club
24 2003 Peòablanca Cagayan Sierra Madre Outdoor Club
25 2004 Subic Bay Philippine Airlines Mountaineering Club