After winning his year-end bout this past November, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario had an opportunity to check off an item on his bucket list.
Last Wednesday, 5 December, the 29-year-old native of Mankayan, Benguet reached the summit of the well-known Mount Pulag, the third highest mountain in the Philippines and one of the country’s well-maintained national parks.
Nestled at an elevation of 9,600 feet above sea level within the mountain range of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, the temperature can reach zero or subzero level, especially from December to February.
A self-professed hiking enthusiast, Banario admitted that he had an unforgettable journey to the peak of Mount Pulag.
“Reaching the top of Mount Pulag has always been my dream ever since I was a kid,” he said. “Mountain hiking has kept me close to my motherland. I grew up surrounded by beautiful mountains, and exploring them is such an invaluable experience.”
Dubbed as the “Playground of the Gods,” Mount Pulag is home of the nation’s rare and endangered species of floras such as the dwarf bamboo and fauna like the cloud rat, kock’s pita, serpent eagle, Philippine deer and Philippine pig.
The area is inhabited by ethnic tribes such as Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Kankana-ey and Ibanag, and most of these kinfolks consider Mt. Pulag as a sacred place.
Famous for its Sea of Clouds and the view of the Milky Way Galaxy at dawn, Banario cherished every moment of his travel along with other tourists who also wish to see the incredible scenery from the mountaintop.
"Mount Pulag is a destination for adventurous hikers with strong determination. The early morning sunrise above the clouds is something that you will treasure," he stated.
“Its beauty cannot be captured by pictures and videos. You have to see it with your own eyes. The mountain air makes the experience so complete.”
Given his busy schedule as a mixed martial artist, Banario revealed that taking a time off from training helps him to relax from his rigorous regimen and ease his mind.
“Fighters need some time to relax and enjoy. This kind of adventure helps me to recharge and get the energy I need for my training,” he explained.
In awe of the beauty of Mount Pulag, Banario made a promise that he will bring his teammates with him in his next trek to the summit of the aforementioned natural wonder.
“I’m planning to do it again next year, but this time, I’ll bring my Team Lakay brothers,” he said. “I want them to feel and see the magical view from the top of Mount Pulag.”
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