Sep 18 2019

Cristita “Tita” Dimacali Memorial Climb 2018

Dec 14 2018

Cristita B. Dimacali In Memoriam



That was how she was referred to in Sikap Bundok communications.  To friends and colleagues she was Tita.  To the children of Isla Verde she was Tita Tita (Aunt Tita).  Incidentally, those children are adults now.

She was one of the seven founding members of the club, one of the seven birds in the logo, the first to depart from this world.

No resident member of the club, nor of any of the volunteer organizations she was with, knew of her passing.  It had to take a member based in San Diego, California to let the club know.

The unfolding events:

Prexy Rey Cuyugan (RFC) received on September 26, 2018 a message via FB Messenger from member Ma. Ninette Pecson with a cryptic comment about something that happened to Tita.

She missed a call from Tita’s cell phone (CP) on August 24.  No message was left.  Her return messages were unanswered.   In the exchange, she asked RFC to check.

Note:  Ninette clarified much later that a niece subsequently replied via SMS.

Messages to Tita’s CP were not answered.  RFC decided to ask member Ian Santos (JIRS) to check since they were more in touch.  Ian last heard from Tita on September 16 when she confirmed receipt of notification re Ian’s new CP number.

Initially no reply, but on the 29th, Tita’s nephew Randy replied:  Tita did not wake up from her sleep morning of the 21st.  She was cremated on the 26th (The date of Ninette’s PM exchanges with RFC).  Subsequent query revealed that her ashes were kept at home.

The club, via associate Maricar Sugayan, was invited to attend the customary 40th day celebration. Only members Eugene Guiyab (ELLG) and RFC were able to attend.

The duo arrived way past the noontime commemoration due to heavy traffic and unfamiliarity with the place.  The family, particularly Tita’s eldest sibling, her Ate Siony, were vastly relieved.

In her talks with nieces, Tita had expressed desire to be cremated and for her ashes to be strewn atop a mountain by her colleagues.  The family had complied with the first request even as they did not favor cremation.  They did not know how to comply with the second.  If no one from the club came, they had tasked a niece to scatter the ashes somewhere in Antipolo.   ELLG and RFC promised to arrange to fulfill the second part after consulting with the members.  The urn was left in place.


After consultations via FB and CP, a date was decided upon:  November 10, 2918.  The mountain selected was Mt. Manabu, in Barangay Santa Cruz, Santo Tomas,  Batangas, part of the Malepunyo range.  The site was selected because it was an easy climb for first-timers, family members who may want to join.  Being a local site for religious pilgrimage, there are stations of the cross, the biggest and most prominent being one at ‘the peak.

Attendees were members Brian Agana (BAA), Bong Javier (BMJ), Vino dela Cruz (MMDC), associate Jerry Belarde (JAB), Rey Cuyugan (RFC).  They were joined by Me-Ann Belarde (JAB’s wife),  Ivy Lopez-Palad (from Isla Verde, one of those who called her Tita Tita), and five members of the family: Asuncion ‘Ate Siony’ Dimacali, Alma Mallorca, Nhilyn Dimacali, Ellen Dimacali, Janet Dimacali.







And so it was done.  Just after 1200H (12:00 noon), in a first time ceremony, Tita’s ashes were thrown to the winds in four directions.  She was where she wanted to be lain: Atop a mountain.





Epilogue:  The group were back at the jump-off point by 1600H (4:00pm).  Rested, cleaned up, and partook of pre-ordered late lunch consisting of native chicken in sour broth (Sinigang na manok Tagalog) and rice, courtesy of Australia-based members Yonee (JNDG) and Heidi Galindez (HPCG).  By 1730H, the group dispersed in the separate vehicles they came in.

Ate Siony expressed hope that the members can join the family for the babang-luksa (first year death anniversary) September 21, 2019.




Tita’s last picture with SB during the celebration of RFC’s birthday cum rappelling.

Feb 07 2017

Dueg VI Narrative

DUEG VI 14-15 Jan 2017


For various reasons, the supplies convoy from Quezon City left past 2400H of the 13th. Further delays due to ongoing works at the Candaba Viaduct portion of NLEX caused the convoy to reach Dr. Toledo’s place in Poblacion Norte, San Clemente, Tarlac at 0700H of the 14th. The borrowed municipal dump truck, which was supposed to come at 0600H arrived past 0900H. The supplies and 27 participants could not be accommodated in one trip so a second became necessary. Alas, the truck broke down before it reached the site. A second trip was out of the equation. Cell phone communication was erratic.


Somehow, arrangements were made to ferry the supplies to the site. The first batch of participants had to walk. Those who remained at the staging atea were shuttled in three trips.. By the time the last batch reached the school it was past 1400H.

Surprise! The merienda feeding was winding down, a guest participant of Belle T. namely Jun Memorial saved the day by keeping the kids busy with his energetic emceeing. He had the kids participating in singing and dancing.

As it turned out, the lead batch headed by Gina J. decided to have the merienda soup prepared ASAP, and to proceed with the feeding before the gift-giving as it was past 1200H.

The program wound down by 1600H. If we had not stopped, the children would have stayed. They were thoroughly enjoying it.




The group had their lunch cum dinner past 1700H. Nobody complained of having gone hungry, everybody were too busy, and enjoying it, to go hungry.

As may be expected, due to the delays, some of the planned components, such as the lunch with teachers, did not materialize. A three-person group (Dory B., Bong J., and RFC) got to visit and chat with some tribal leaders morning of the 15th.

The group was back at the place of Dr. Ronnie Toledo by 1300H of the 15th. Lunch was hosted by Doc T. . The group was off past 1600H. RFC and daughter were home by 2400H

Highlights/ stats:

  • Total number of participants – 27 (The most to date)
  • Number of son and daughter/niece participants – 1 son, 3 daughters, 1 niece
  • Number of Medical Doctor participants – 1 male, 3 females (potential med mission)
  • Number of complete family participants – 1 family of four (Durans)
  • Number of student gift packs, one each – 279
  • Number of gift packs for academic achievers, one per level – 7
  • Number of gift packs for teachers and PTA volunteers – 14
  • Number of pax, including non-students and Aeta mothers, served merienda (excluding repeats) – 300
  • Special gifts for tarp model Mary Ramos sourced RFC from relatives


  • Communal-use gifts (for school or faculty use, for teacher distribution as needed –
    • One large soup kettle
    • Various cooking implements
    • Used but usable: fasteners, notebooks, pencils
    • Reference books
    • Replenishment of medical supplies (alcohol, cotton balls, cotton buds, pediatric Paracetamol)
    • Pediatric vitamins (teachers to identify most at need, and to administer in-school)
    • Certified vegetable planting seeds from the Bu. of Plant Industry. For planting program.


  • Contents of common gift packs
    • One notebook (grade specific as needed)
    • One pad writing paper (grade specific as needed)
    • One pencil (grade specific as needed)
    • One black, one red ballpoint pen (intermediate level and up)
    • One packet instant noodle
    • 200 grams iodized salt
    • One toothbrush
    • One sachet toothpaste
    • One bar bath soap


Even as Dueg VI was winding down, planning for Dueg VIi had begun:

  • Separate, same day visit to Aeta community itself, post school program.
  • Gift packs per Aeta family, numbering 130, contents not committed
    • Three to five packets of instant noodles
    • Planting seeds for five common vegetables (committed)
  • Seminar on seeds selection and home composting



Feb 07 2017

Epiphany #2

Jong and I are being guided by the universe on how we parent our children. As years pass by, it truly becomes clear why Alexis and Tisha chose us to be their parents, because we will be providing them the opportunity to discover their mission in this life.


Synchronicities led us to meet people who are close to nature and opened opportunities for us to discover the beauty of the deep sea, forests, and mountains of the Philippines. There were both adventures and misadventures which equally bless our family with experiences that expand our awareness within us and around us.

Going beyond what our society defines as what is successful, our family has bravely been journeying together at our own terms on what is important, which is going back to mother nature, being with like minded people, deepening our compassion, connection and spirituality in the process. Teaching our kids the difference between absolute and relative truths.


Within a very short period of time, communing with our Aeta brothers reminded us of our rich heritage and the injustice done to them throughout our Philippine history. They are the original Filipinos who are now marginalized.

Thank you to SIKAP-BUNDOK for helping us in parenting our daughters, teaching them values and skills not taught in school but are vital in their lives. Being in the company of Rey Cuyugan, Dory Blobner, Raul and Nida Escaler is a testament of the possibility of climbing mountains on the 8th decade of our lives, they are truly inspiring, and role models for our daughters. I asked Alexis on why she enjoys their company, she answered “Because they are good people.”

Thank you also to DM Rainier Omac and Arvin Marbibi for guiding Alexis on her scuba diving, and Jerry Marquez for Taekwondo. All of you are teachers who help us develop the potential of our kids beyond the limits of what is offered by schools.


– Melanie B. Duran, MD
January, 2017



Sep 08 2016

The SIKAP BUNDOK Sapot, My FB Page And My CP: Service Outside the Usual Circle

First-off, ‘Sapot’ is how we call our webpage: as in spider web? Pinoys should be able to get it right away.

We all know that the internet serves a lot of different purposes: good, bad, amoral, religious, irreligious, political, apolitical, and whatever. Anyway, the following is a narration of events that transpired. Involving the SB sapot, my CP (cellular phone, of course), and my personal FB page. I will not mention names, except for the trigger character who was not involved in the exchange at all, although those involved probably would not mind.

Sometime last month I received a call on my CP from an unknown number. As I was busy outside the house, I missed it. As is my practice, I sent a text message acknowledging the call and asking for identification.

The caller texted back, identified herself, and asked for directions for how to get in touch with the family of ‘Alfred.’ She said she just wanted to help his older brother, and she did not know how to get in touch with the family. She had no idea exactly where they were in Isla Verde. I did not ask what the problem was. Not my style.

Apparently, she searched (googled?) for information about Isla Verde, was directed to the SB website where my name and contact numbers were available. She called my CP.

Who is ‘Alfred?’ The boy, identified as being from Isla Verde, joined the local version of ‘The Voice Kids’ early July, 2016. Apparently also, she learned that the boy was a younger brother of the guy she wanted to help.

Now, I do not watch the show, and I did not know the family. I promised to ask around. So, I sent queries to island people whose numbers I know: an island ‘neighbor’ and FB friend, a long-time friend (also an FB friend) and former island resident, a for-hire-boat owner, the MV St. Paul operator, and another island neighbor (father of my remaining alalay when am in the island).

The FB friend and former resident had heard of Alfred but did not know the family. The hire-boat owner confirmed that the boy resided in the island but not in San Agustin Kanluran. He did not know where. The last to reply, the FB friend and neighbor, had good news. She knew where the family resided (Bgy. Palonpon, an upper island barangay),and she gave me the contact number of a teacher she knew from the area.

I texted the teacher. She replied, turns out that Alfred is her nephew. I explained the backgrounder of the search, gave her the inquirer’s CP number, and asked her to pass on the message to the family. Subsequently, she passed on the family’s CP number to me.

I texted the inquirer, gave her the contact numbers.

A texted query from me, a couple of days later, elicited the information that she had gotten in touch with the father, and that they were scheduled to meet in the mainland, Batangas City proper, that coming Saturday. She thanked me. The aunt also thanked me via SMS.

I never asked what the problem was. It is enough to know that, somehow, I helped, and that the SB website and my personal FB page were useful.

I sent SMS messages to the three people who replied, I informed them of the developments, and also thanked them for helping me to help somebody.

Case closed.

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