The day I met a hero

He is no Iron man, he does not have a powered exoskeleton, only a human body which he can wish to be as strong as his heart’s desire. He is no Batman, no black cape and bat mobile, only his dry-fit shirt and improvised trekking pole made of “yantok” stick and some left-over scuba diving materials. He is no Flash, he does it slowly but surely and he never quits. He is no Superman but with what he does he can be consider as one. Last March [3/15/2014], during our climb at Mt. Pico De Loro, I met Tatay Oca, 67 and that encounter left me with a renewed faith in dreamers.

Sir Oscar, 67 at the summit of Mt. Pico De Loro
Sir Oscar, 67 at the summit of Mt. Pico De Loro

He was on the bus with us on our way to Ternate, but we had no idea that he has this plan of climbing a mountain. As we were on our way, he was already planning everything in his head, sharing a ride with us to cut on his expenses, and joining us on the trek. When the bus came to a full stop, he waited for us to get off it. And while we were in Sapang, he approached one of us, and laid his intention of also climbing Pico De Loro. I was astonished. I honestly think of mountaineering as a sport for the young ones, but he had proven me wrong.

Tatay Oca at the summit of Mt. Batulao
Tatay Oca at the summit of Mt. Batulao

While we were waiting at the DENR station, I couldn’t help myself, but share stories, and ask questions over breakfast with him. There I found out that he is a retired scuba diving instructor, and he started to rekindle his lost relationship with mountaineering after hearing the news about what happened in Mt. Maculot.

with the majestic Sea of Clouds at Mt. Pulag
with the majestic Sea of Clouds at Mt. Pulag

Since then, there was no stopping him. He went to Mt. Pulag alone having to spend only less than 2,000 bucks all-in. This year, he was able to conquer Mt. Batulao and Mt. Talamitam, and to add to that – Mt. Pico De Loro. All that he did by himself – from planning to listing the itinerary.

conversation with Tatay Oca during one of our stop
conversation with Tatay Oca during one of our stop

When asked why he not has someone with him, he told me that his friend, who is 63 and whom he had brought with him to Mt. Maculot, already gave up on mountaineering. He wanted to pursue his dream regardless of what circumstance and that made me believe in the power of making it happen even more.

I was still puzzled though. I asked myself, “But why at such age?” I couldn’t help it so I asked him that question and his answer was short and simple, “Yun kasi ang passion ko. Dun ako nasisiyahan.

That is [mountaineering] my passion. That is what makes me happy.

And he added, “Hanggat kaya pa ng tuhod ko ang umakyat, uunahin ko muna yung mga bundok na mahihirap.

“As long as my knees can still handle mountain climbing, I’ll get done those [mountains] that are hard to climb first.”

And then I quipped a follow-up, “Hindi po ba nag-aalala ang mga anak niyo sa inyo?

“Aren’t your kids worried about you?”

Before answering he even relate it to some news he saw on TV, and then he said, “Kung may mangyari man at least gusto ko tong ginagawa ko.

If something happens at least I love what I’m doing.

few more steps at the summit of Pico De Loro
few more steps at the summit of Pico De Loro

Taking baby steps from time to time, having to stop for some quick rest and by pushing himself, he was able to reach the summit of Pico De Loro, and not only that, for he even conquered the Monolith, and he joined us during the traverse.

Four days from now [March 20, 2014], he will fly to Davao to conquer Mt. Apo alone. If all things go according to his plan which I know it will be, Tatay Oscar would be the second oldest person to trek Mt. Apo. And we are all wishing you the best of luck. Tatay Oca, I will be praying for your safety and everyone who gets to read this will surely do as well.

He told me that maybe it was destiny who brought him to that same bus so that he can get to know us. We made him happy, he made us proud. He may be far from being Superman, Iron Man, Batman or the Flash but he is a hero in his own right. For me he is actually more than any hero – he is an inspiration. Tatay Oscar is a proof that a dream knows no age.


Update: At exactly 10:30 AM of March 22, 2014, Tatay Oca was able to reach the summit of Mt. Apo, Philippines highest despite the weather condition. This just goes to show that no tropical depression can weaken a strong heart.

Congratulations Tay!


14 Comments Add yours

  1. kaiyewashere says:

    Wow! Rare makakilala ng ganyan. Lucky you!

    Best of luck kay Tatay Oscar 🙂

    1. Kenneth says:

      He is an inspiration and meeting him is a privilege. I honestly couldn’t see myself trekking mountains alone at that age. I asked him if I can post his story and he told me Yes in an instant. He wanted to inspire people like his age to make their dreams happen not knowing that he is inspiring everyone.

      I’ll send him your regards.

    1. Kenneth says:

      Thanks for featuring Tatay Oca, Perry!

  2. wayfarerbri says:

    I met two amazing people who inspired me to try this wonderful hobby and get to enjoy my original hobby which is travelling. Thanks Ken and Tatay Oca.

    1. Kenneth says:

      Traveling for me isn’t just about finding myself but helping others find themselves too. I’m happy to inspire you to get yourself into mountaineering. Cheers to more mountains to conquer and places to see!

  3. shierxxi says:

    wow. I wish I can meet him too! Such an inspiration 🙂
    Btw, you’ve got a wonderful blog. thanks for all the information you’re providing us.

    1. Kenneth says:

      To be honest, I felt like I’ve been neglecting this blog purely because I can’t find any reason to write anymore. But comments like this motivates me big time.

      And for Tatay Oca, yes he is truly an inspiration.

      Thank you shierxxi!

  4. rhodora says:

    heartwarming.. lucky are those who pursue happiness and passion. I am yet to convince my hubby to trek Pico de Loro. Thanks for sharing this story. 🙂

    1. Kenneth says:

      We can all pursue happiness and passion but sometimes we only choose not to.

      Thanks for reading Ms. Rhodora.

  5. Sarah Bucu says:

    Hi Kenneth,

    First of all I admire your passion for living life to the fullest.It shows in your writing with every word that you share.I also would like to thank you for patiently sharing your experiences through this blog and learning in the process.

    I have been back reading your stories but chose to comment on this one simply because I believe nothing is impossible no matter what your age is,what your life status is and health condition is as long as you put your heart and soul to it. Just like Tatay Oscar, I am just three years away before I hit my golden years but I never felt healthier, bolder and younger since I conquered my first two day climbs (Mt Batulao and Pico De Loro). Despite the fact that I am a Mom of seven who are now mostly teens where three have special needs, I had been working in the call center industry for more than 8 years.Coming from a family whose cancer history is not something to be proud of on both sides of the family, I decided to live a life of fitness especially when my eldest brother died at the age of 48 due to a heart condition. No matter how hard it was at first, I learned to dedicate my weekends with running in BGC, joining the Zumba class at the park, joining marathons and lately joining day climbs no matter how costly they are. I also planned on joining trail runs and conquer major climbs which will be my preparation in joining International Marathons like the historical Boston Marathon. Quite ambitious, you may say but that’s what dreams are made of.

    I believed one of your bucket lists already have been achieved. By sharing your stories in this blog and living life to the fullest, you have already inspired people both young and old. Continue what you have started and also if you are really in to mountaineering, I appeal to you to take up a basic mountaineering course inspire the younger generation to take care of our mountains by not leaving their trash once they climb & if it not asking too much, allot one mountain clean up climb every year.

    Btw, my name is Sarah Mallari Bucu and you are welcome to send me a facebook request anytime. See you on the trails.

    1. Kenneth says:

      You don’t know how touched I am when I read this. Thank you Ms. Sarah. I wish you well in all your plans and I agree with what you said about being ambitious, yes, that’s what dreams are made of. Mangangarap ka na lang, taasan mo na. As they say, shoot for the moon for if you’ll miss, you will still land at one of the stars.

      See you on the trails 🙂

  6. cres says:

    wow, sya ung na met ko kahapon may kasama dalawang babae probably misis at anak na yun …

    1. Kenneth says:

      San nyo po na meet si Tatay Oca?

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