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Of getting lost and finding ways

Hitting dead-ends

But treading along

With new found resilience

Strength of character

Delving into the depths

Of one’s core

Embracing the fall and the cracks

Soul searching


Through each passing day
Well, ol’ boy
stood in the vista, a little lost
but feet finding the pub

that sun tried to make its point
which, though we acknowledged,
we tried to sidestep

clag mud added heavy boots
while loose, happy chat sat
in apotheosis

til a moussaka
and a couple of sublime fish dishes
let us sit down and rest

after miles
these muscles pretend to ache
An Awful Harvest

I went a hike up to Wawa in Montalban and up the mountain roads. Here I was to go past the peaks of Mt Parawagan, Susong Dalaga and Mt Lagyo plus others. The road had been improved by engineers with trucks and plant equipment. I wanted to hike a big circle right back to the beginning. This was possible a few months ago but not now due to the building of the Pamitinan Dam. It will take four years to do this and flood a complete valley near the peaks. A guard told me no entry by the construction site. I talked to a head engineer and he told me more details. The dam will be eighty metres tall or deep more than the Kaliwa Dam of sixty four metres. These are big structures. Hikers wanted to hike from Wawa to Casili by the newly improved mountain roads but the dam construction stopped this. In time a new road will be built above the dam level replacing the old road. Even if the road is built in a year the dam will still be unfinished so still no entry.

I saw a sign saying beware of UXO Unexploded Ordnance. A local man told me about this, of how the military was looking for it and would defuse any found. His details matched much of what I’ve heard before, like finding shrapnel in the soil. The sign was for the road improvement and dam construction. Sleeping shells waited to knocked awake and ****.

The digger, bulldozer and plant drivers need to be paid danger money. No joke. The area they work on is a small part of a huge World War 2 battlefield. An awful harvest litters the land with unexploded ordnance being buried in the soil having not detonated. Mortars, shells, bombs and other things; these all need locating and safely defusing by the military.

People live in the area and many have found live or exploded shells. The live shells are complete and the spent ones are in varied sized pieces. On my hike up there I was given a piece of one five five millimetre shell from a local. This was in two parts, the biggest weighed many pounds. I estimate between one in four and six fired never exploded. On the stone mountains like Mt Lagyo the shells and bombs will explode on impact if the detonators are triggered. In soil covered peaks the shells can just dig in and don’t go off. The army went up to Mt Lagyo looking for unexploded ordnance. They found nothing.

The road that has been improved and widened would’ve yielded many unexploded munitions. I’m curious how many were found and wonder how many thousands still hide unfound. Sections of the trees/grass by the road are taped off. This is for safety of any munitions and also due to the steepness of the terrain.

The local people within the valley are being moved away and compensated for thus upheaval. Their valley will be inundated by what is now a small river in coming years. Any remaining homes and unfound munitions or Japanese tunnels will be underwater.

Every time I hike the area from Wawa to Mt Mataba to Timberland to Casili I read about or am told or shown evidence from the war and battles; that old actions from 1945 has outlived the people of that time be it locals or soldiers. History is not old and boring black and white photos. An rusty Arisaka rifle with working bolt or blasted shell fragments tell more than any story or photo ever could. Only fate and God knows the unnamed soldiers names now.

When the dam is built I wonder how many unfound unexploded ordnance and dead Japanese soldiers will be now forever unfound? I suspect many thousand Japanese soldiers are buried on those peaks. Remember, these hills are the first high ground above Manila. This was the start of the high ground battles that went on for hundreds of miles at several huge mountain ranges. It was Tier 1 fighting equal to anywhere involving hundreds of thousands of opposing troops, of which tens of thousands were killed.

Now the 1945 legacy is coming back to bite us. Not just buried shells on a dam construction site but the risk of them still exploding when not even found. This is due to corroding fuses. Buried bombs in Europe have self detonated several times. I’ve been told of two large unexploded warplane dropped bombs, one near Timberland and the other near Mt Parawagan. Both need to be found again and professionally defused. History is never boring; the lethal harvest is a testimony to their dastardly deeds.

Mark Toney May 2021
hardwood memories
well-rooted, time-tested, safe
~ hiking in mind's woods

Mark Toney © 2021
Poetry form: Haiku - Mark Toney © 2021
Ingram Jan 2021
Looking out over a Mountain View
was my idea of escaping.
But my feelings of
my shortage of happiness,
and my lack of love
only grew.
It wasn’t an escape.
It was emotional poverty with a view.
Red Dec 2020
One day I hope to put these feelings down in writing
To find a way to simplify the way these carry me
The smell of worn leather and pine trees in December
A cold wind and a creek half frozen
The line of trees that separate my house from the wilderness
And how some days I wish I could disappear in there with you

We would hunt and forage
forge a path of our own
Play an out of tune guitar around a smoldering fire
We would live in the trees and hide in the grass
You would braid my hair and we would dance barefoot in a clearing
To the sound of cicadas and leaves underfoot

I love, I miss, I want you.
I hope for you.
More than I will ever be able to tell you.
The smell of my leather hunting jacket made me emotional for a future I will never have. Those beat up leather riding boots in my closet make me want to walk until I disappear.
KB Nov 2020
The very air is different in those places so untouched,
smooth and unburdened.
You can fill yourself, let it in with a breath
and it will seek every crack and crevice,
it swirls in the lungs and mends.

You could just about leap -
cast yourself from the very pinnacle of earth,
Forget the stone which proffers you
an open palm to the waiting sky,
Let the renewing air cradle you,
lift you up and twist you around,
show you the world as it sees
the wrinkles in a quilted landscape.

Scramble your fingers
along the jagged earth
to find purchase.

Oh, the drop, the fall,
the catch of breath,
how it sings,
how it calls!
Written for barren peaks and untraversed ridgelines.
Traci Sims May 2017
We were scaling Mount Si
when a cloud rolled in so thick
we had to wipe the mist from our faces.
Our shadows, already growing longer,
disappeared entirely
and the time we measured
by the burning in our legs
and the shortness of our breath
seemed to go with them.
Light no longer came just from above,
it was all around us, equally,
and it was then that I thought part of us
would never return and that moment
would never end, when you gasped
and whispered, LOOK,
your arm outstretched,
and there floating out of the fog
was a ghost, and then a shadow,
and finally stepping onto the rocks
as new as creation itself,
a beautiful, white ram.

From "Bird's Nest In Your Hair" by Brian Jobe
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