When film was the gigabytes

Remember those days when you must pray every time you rewound a film after taking your last shot? Because after those sweat so you can have photos with an outdoors background, an exposed roll most likely means a ruined adventure, even for only the last 5 pictures. 36 shots then in mountaineering is like using MB of memory today, which is not enough considering even the cheapest digicam (like mine) now can record video. You must have at least an extra roll, waterproofed. And when you’re changing film during daylight, you must take your backpack cover and convert it to changing bag.

Social media is now the arena for your climb pictures. You can even post it online while trekking, assuming your smart phone or laptop has signal. Saving your digital images over the internet gives you a sort of back-up. I once brought a JVC cassette camcorder at Mt. Banahaw on 2002, took some really beautiful videos at Tatlong Tangke and Durungawan (summit). Had I digitized the tape and upload it in YouTube, I could have saved the memories of that Banahaw climb from Ondoy’s  flooding of Luzon, September 2009.

I managed to save a few prints. Pictures below would have been better scanned, but one boring day last year, I used my digicam to reminisced the great times when all of us friends were singles (hahahaha!), when mountaineering was the apple of the eyes, when film was the ‘gigabytes’. I could have scanned these at work, but it felt good when I took digital photos of my photograph collections. It was more personal I guess.

Mt. Maculot late 90s, I volunteered to carry my friend’s guitar inside my backpack. The lightest pack but the hardest to bring atop, back then there were parts of the trail that you need to crouch, a slide would break the instrument. That is my first & last, maturity tells me that there’s no place for noise on the mountains. (3rd guy from the left, yup, me)

Ah yes, our first “ligaw” (“lost”), a night-trek of Pico De Loro. Either a one-bulb headlamp or a small flashlight clipped to a head-gear slightly illuminated our ‘back & forth’, we have no extra money for a guide I think. (Well, majority of our climbs then have no guide, but a “ligaw” with friends especially night trek may be thrilling.)

God taught me humility at Mt. Banahaw, Palm Sunday of 2002, our first climb that had rained. After the Tatlong Tangke, I chanced upon mountaineering icon Sir Long Henson. I broke away from our group and decided to trail him to test my stamina (with due respect to sir Henson, he wasn’t aware of it, he even doesn’t know me). With bad karma, I came to have a slight-hypothermia along the trail, and became the last man from our group to reached the summit. Overconfidence is not a virtue of a mountaineer.

I envied my friend for having a backdrop of Mt. Cristobal, now that Banahaw is still closed. I should have handed him the camera. “Hey Joni! Patience is another virtue, you can wait for the opening.”

Mostly fresh-graduates and jobless then, our group can’t afford to do a Mt. Pulag, the so-called ‘poor man’s Pulag’ Mt. Tapulao became the alternative. Delete the ‘poor man’s Pulag’ for it’s discriminatory, Mt. Tapulao has its own beauty.

What I miss the most in using film is the challenge of capturing mountain landscapes by photo stitching to form one panoramic shot. Below has two pictures, I have some that joined 5-7 photographs. (Taken when there was the ‘old trail’ only at Mt. Batulao, it was September 11, 2001, that tragic “9/11”.)

Another photo stitching, the ‘Rockies’ of Mt. Maculot, the birthplace of our group, un-SEC-registered “Samahang Manglalakbay sa Bundok” or SMB of Brgy. San Miguel, Pasig City.

A decade had passed since our group’s last climb, I have one recent climb with my best friend Jun last year. An unexpected tree planting on my friend’s return climb (an unexpected twin hike too). Looking at the picture below, taken from Mt. Daguldol, I wish that we are still in the era of film, when my friends still climb. I know someday we will all be together again, filling today’s ‘gigabytes’ maximum capacity.

(Special thanks to Sonyboy of Stories of My Wandering Feet (& Mind), Ivan of Batang Lakwatsero, and Christian of Lakad Pilipinas for always encouraging me to (blog) keep up what I termed ‘online photo-album’. They are great Filipino bloggers. A half-year response to them via this article is my way of showing gratitude.)

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