(Here’s a poem composed for the Leyte Mountain Trail, that I, together with the PAL Mountaineering Club with guest climbers from Visayas and Mindanao, traversed in 1982. We started our trek from Leyte and went down the Ormoc slope in Samar. It took us four days to cover the length of the range through intermittent heavy rains which we did not know to be precursor of an impending typhoon. Tendaya is the old name of the mountain range, and the old folks who live on its ridges also refer it to Leyte.)



(Tribute to Leyte)

By Apolinario Villalobos


Listen, oh, listen, Tendaya of the old//listen to this simple song// made alive

by the winds that blow//through the verdant fastness//of your ranges and valleys.

Listen to this humble soul//whose heart aches to sing to your beauty//a reason why he came this far//that such he may finally see.

So please let me, as I implore time//to slow down its hands//while I now begin//though the words may not suffice// to describe such a haunting paradise.

I’ll be a liar if I say//that your lakes Malugsum and Mahagnao//can’t inspire a simple man//now, sweating though having fun.

Lightning may strike me//if I say that your placid Imelda Lake//is not a splendor to see//so too, with Lake Casudsuran//seemingly like a drop of tear, yet just grand.

Towering age-old trees// stud your mountains and valleys//where meander, rivers and brooks//that gurgle beneath stacked boulders//with patches of lichens and moss.

Orchids and vines frame gorges//that seem to hide some secrets//from strangers who, like me//came to satisfy their curiosity.

But, I don’t mind//for who am I to force you//to reveal your secrets//respected even by time?

Thank you, Marabang River //fed with rivulets of sulphuric and sweet waters//yielded by Mother Earth’s womb//you’re the vein of life//that stand along your path.

With all those giant lilies and ferns //that guard the streams//with all those birds and cicadas//that fill the air with nature’s hymns…

Can I ask for more?

Even the blood-sucking leeches//seemed right in preventing intruders//from trampling your sacred grounds//the arch of rainbow in Mahagnao//and the inviting splash of Guinaniban//mesmerize those who have come//to find a tranquil place under the sun.

Alas!, here you are//rugged, yet, delicate//and among the few retreats left//where man could find a place//a long-sought solace …to be at peace with himself.