If you asked me what my favorite word was in the English language, I’d tell you that the word would be JOURNEY. I believe that as long as we’re living, we’re taking on a journey. There might be ups, downs, or detours but what’s important is that we keep on moving.

I started climbing mountains in 2010. It served as an outlet for me to grieve when my mother died. A friend invited me to climb Mt. Pinatubo and right then and there, I fell in love with the mountains. Now, I make sure that I climb every month. Adventure never ends.

Year 2012 came and I realized that I should not be climbing just for fun; I should also climb with a purpose. And so I formed a group called M.A.F.I.A. composed of mostly teachers like me and other professionals who are also my friends and have the same mission as I do. We do storytelling in the mountains and we also distribute books and schools supplies to the kids in the communities. We started at Mt. Timbak in Benguet in 2012. We do outreach activities in the different mountains that we climb but we still make sure to hold an outreach event every year in Mt. Timbak. We come up with different themes annually. In 2012, we donated books and school supplies. In 2013, we gave the kids animal hats and jackets, considering that it is the 9th highest mountain in the Philippines and it is very cold out there. In 2014, aside from donating the usual school supplies and books, we also had our art session and bookmark making. This coming November 2015, we’ll be going back to Mt.Timbak with “Project Gitara”. We are going to donate brand new guitars to the kids of Mt. Timbak because we have discovered that many of them can play the guitar; it’s just that the guitars they were using were already broken. 

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I am very thankful to all those who have been supporting our projects ever since. It was very cold in Mt. Timbak the last time but seeing the happy faces of the kids warmed our hearts. As the saying by William Blake goes, “Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

As I embarked on this journey, I needed to have COURAGE, DETERMINATION, PASSION, AND ENTHUSIASM. I have been climbing mountains for five years now. Whenever I reach the summit, I realize that we occupy such a small part in this world. I learned from all of my travels and summit explorations that we should not be living just for ourselves but also for other people.

I feel so alive when I climb but MOST alive when I am climbing with a purpose!

About the Contributor

Mars Mercado graduated from Philippine Normal University with a degree of Bachelor in Elementary Education. She is a public school teacher, a storyteller,a writer, a mountaineer,and a volunteer. She may look serious but lo and behold! She is a humorous speech champion from IAME Toastmasters. She loves reading,acting, and traveling!

This contributor is a customer of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®.

See all of Mars Mercado's posts →

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