Challenge 160 is a dream I always wanted to make. It is a 160 km walk from Baguio City to Sagada, Philippines. No better to reason to do it than for the 133 trees at death row at Luneta Hill with SM the judge and executioner.
I started the fight against SM for its intent to cut 182 trees. I wrote a petition that went haywire and gathered almost 8,000 signatures all over the world, pleading that SM spare the trees. I mobilized the biggest environmental rally Baguio City ever had in January 20, 2012 where almost 5,000 people attended. Our office, the Cordillera Ecological Center and A Tree A Day called for the battlecry Save 182 in a mass prayer rally later. Several rallies happened eventually. SM has already killed 49 of the trees. And sadly, we lost our case in court.
On January 20, 2013, I will remember the day I started the rally. Alone, with Dobbels Wallang and Robin Dizon, we stood near the NBI office while SM security guards mocked us. Vehicles looked and read at our streamers and snickered. Slowly, the group began to materialize..the SLC teachers, the BSBT students and faculty and; as she promised, then UP Chancellor Precy Macansantos came with more than 3,000 UP Baguio faculty, staff and students. They were followed by crowds representing the Baguio populace, the NGO forces, religious groups and manymore poured in. The rest is now embedded in Baguio’s history.
I chose to walk on February 17, 2013 from Baguio to Sagada for the trees at SM and celebrate the beginning of A Tree A Day (ATAD). I started ATAD as a FB group on February 17, 2009. ATAD has become an environmental beacon ever since.
For those who may come, let me give you an idea how the walk will be. The first uphill climb will be from Acop, Tublay until the junction of Caliking, Atok. Then we go down Saddle which forks up again to Camp 30 until Naguey going up. From then on, the road twists downwards towards the stone -carved road to Sayangan and up until the highest peak of he Philippine national highway.
The road will be downwards until Natubleng before we go up again until Sinipsip, Buguias. From there, it will be downwards until Abatan to Cotcot, Aso, Bangao and up again to 102 in Mount Data. The good news is, it will be downwards from there until Sabangan then flat until Dantay.
From Dantay, it’s all way up to Sagada.
Bring thermal underclothes especially for Atok to 102 Mount Data, good walking shoes, windbreaker, raincoat, mufflers, bonnet, cap,mittens/gloves, thick socks, sleeping bag, vitamins, energy drink, medicines for cough colds and flu, etc., flashlight, whistle, cell phone and cards withy charger, camera and others you want but be sure you can carry.
You take care of your own provisions and share when you can.
It will be a walk where we contemplate, pray and meditate about nature and trees. About the gifts God has given and how much destruction has been done.
It will be a soul searching for what we can do, how and when and why.
It is a walk to find ourselves once more.
A walk that will spell out whether we want to be apart from nature or a part of it.
Welcome to my walk. Welcome to Challenge 160!..michael a. bengwayan