An accident happened to me

February 01, 2014 Mountain Climbing

The saying goes that when an accident happens, everything goes into slow motion.

It was not like that for me. It was more of a time warp. But, I didn't faint. I tried hard to recall, but I couldn't. Maybe it was too traumatic. All I remember was me walking, then realizing my left leg badly hurt.

Then, it was like scenes from documentary films and movies being played out with me at the center of it all -- from the emergency first aid, ambulances on foot, and the rush to the emergency room.

It was the longest 8 hours of my life -- from the initial shock, to the excruciating pain, to the never-ending travel from the foot of Mt. Tabayoc to the emergency room of Baguio General Hospital.

The Mummy Trail

It was not the first time I visited that part of Benguet. Years ago, I joined a team from National Geographic Channel who promoted their series on the mummies of Benguet. This was partly the reason I joined this trip organized by my good friend Alain.

Kabayan Mummy

Well, I missed most of the items on our itinerary, which included a tour of the lakes, except for Lake Tabeo where we camped. Sleep won.

Lake Tabeo
Lake Tabeo


So, I decided to join the 2nd day trek to Mt. Tabayoc, the 2nd highest in Luzon and the fifth in the Philippines. It was a day hike, which meant no heavy backpacks. We started early, and it was a good ascent. We passed by a well-preserved virgin mossy forest. We didn't have a good clearing that day, but the ledge at the summit provided a good view of the forest.

at the summit of Mt. Tabayoc

The accident happened on our way back to the campsite. We were already at the foot of the mountain, which is mostly flat and less than an hour away from our campsite. I guess I should be thankful it happened there and not in the middle of the mountain because I really do not know how they would carry me back to the campsite.

All I remember was that it was slippery, and there were protruded roots. The next thing I knew, I was already calling Noel's attention.

Noel looked at my leg, and I saw from his reaction that it was serious.

Eli, one of my travel companions who is a physical therapist, placed a bandage on my broken left leg together with some tree branches to form a makeshift splint. It was hard understanding what was happening with all the commotion, including those inside my head.

immediately after the accident.  This is where it happened

Noel was leading everything. I heard him instruct the guides to look for rice sacks, and they would insert woods on either side. But, the guides wanted a hammock type. We tried both, but the hammock was easier for the CAFGUs, who were called to carry me.

Ambulansyang de paa

I was shivering the whole time, even with three jackets wrapped around me. They also placed a cloth on top of my eyes, so it was just the calming and motivating words of Chris, another travel companion, that were keeping me sane and aware of what was happening.

First aid in Baguio

They didn't remove me from my hammock when we rode the Fiera.

The trip from our campsite to Baguio took 7 hours, with the first part mostly on rough roads. Each bump on the road felt like knives tearing through my flesh. I cried a lot, begging for the driver to stop so that I could get a rest from the pain.

After the rough roads, we transferred rides from the Fiera to a van. Several men had to carry me. It was only when I was seated comfortably in the van, free from the hammock, that I was able to relax a little.

The next difficult part was transferring me from the van to the hospital stretcher. Every movement equaled pain. I panicked and screamed.

At the hospital, they placed me in the high-priority area, with other emergency cases. After several x-rays, the doctor saw how badly damaged my shin was. The doctor placed a temporary cast on my left leg, after aligning it a bit through traction, and said that when the swelling subsides, after about two weeks, I can go see another doctor who will then decide if I need surgery or a cast.

I preferred the latter option. I have an immense fear of surgery.

I decided to stay one more night in Baguio City with Noel and Frankie. I wanted to rest, relax, and I didn't think I could handle another 7 hours of travel.

A series of unfortunate events

Despite the allergy test, the pain medication injected into me triggered an allergic reaction, so I had swollen legs and eyes. The allergy usually bothers me a lot, but I was very tired and in extreme discomfort.

In the hotel room, I got my period. My left leg was immobilized. I couldn't walk on my own. I couldn't go to the comfort room. I had to ask the boys to buy me an adult diaper, and a female hotel staff helped me.

Well, it didn't stop there. The van we rented from Baguio to Manila had a flat tire on EDSA during rush hour. Fortunately, an MMDA officer assisted us.

MMDA officer Pagaduan 

Surgery and Recovery

It was already early evening when we arrived at The Medical City. My mom and sister were there, together with Mae, who had to explain the situation to my mom. With my mom there, I had to appear strong, even though my fears were crushing me inside.

After another series of x-rays, the doctors decided I had to be admitted for surgery. It was December 23, so they scheduled the surgery after Christmas, specifically 1:00 PM on December 26.

the fracture

So, I had two days to muster courage. It helped that the rest of my family and friends were there with me.

We had a quiet Christmas Eve at the hospital. My sister Mariz prepared our Christmas Eve dinner, but I was too sleepy to wait for midnight. I guess knowing my mom and Mariz were there was enough to make it a meaningful Christmas for me.

my Christmas Eve dinner from the hospital

Christmas day visitors

The days before surgery were spent preparing me for surgery, including more x-rays, check-ups, and normalizing my potassium level.

I was calm, up until I was brought to the operating room area. I started crying and asking the people there for other options. I told them I didn't want surgery anymore. The doctor injected something into my dextrose that made me woozy. The last thing I remember was the nurses and doctors bending me for my epidural.

When I woke up, I was still in surgery. I felt them pounding the metal rod into my bone and moving my leg, without any pain. One of the attending physicians asked me to sleep again, but I couldn't anymore. A friend's friend then talked to me. She said I might not remember the conversation, but I clearly remember her introducing herself to me then telling me our friend asked her to attend to me. It was 7:30 PM when they wheeled me out of the operating room. I saw the wall clock at the doorway.

At the recovery area, the pain was unbearable. I had to ask the nurse several times for additional pain medications. I guess it was more than normal because they kept warning me about nausea, but I just didn't care.

It was already early morning when I was taken back to my hospital room.

My left leg remained painful the following days. The slightest bump on my bed can induce the biggest pain. The difficulty in sleeping also began. I guess it was good I had a catheter on, so I didn't have to move whenever I needed to pee.

I was released from the hospital on December 29, six days after I was admitted and seven days after the accident, with a metal rod and four screws in my left leg.

The X-ray after the surgery

The month after

I am still in the recovery period. The doctor said it is possible that I can walk in 16 weeks. The pain and discomfort are subsiding, but I still have difficulty sleeping. I am lucky if I can get four hours of straight sleep. There is still swelling. Frustrations are the more difficult thing to deal with.

I am slowly going back to work. I already had one event coverage. I was also able to see a play and visit the beach. Life is slowly going back to normal.


Patungan Beach in Cavite

I know things happen for a reason, and lessons are slowly revealing themselves to me. It is during these times that love shines immensely in my life. More than ever, I believe in the goodness in people's hearts. It was also an opportunity for me to be quiet with God.

Thank you so much to all my wonderful friends for taking care of me, for your kind words and extra TLC. Noel, Mae, and Frankie, thank you! Alain, Eli, Chris, and all my friends who were with me in Kabayan, thanks for letting me feel your concern. And to all my friends who visited, texted, and left a word on my FB, muchos gracias. To the guides Amy Bugnay, Marites Dupingay, Morelia Alostre, Rudy Visinte, CAFGUs, and the MMDA officer, I will never forget your kindness to a stranger. Most of all, to my God, Nino, Mama Mary, and all the angels, I felt your healing and love. I am blessed!

(some photos by Noel Dulay and Mark Bayhon)

Other Good Travels


  1. be well soon. I am still collecting children's books for your mobile library. :)

    1. Thanks Ann! Hope to see you soon! Take care also!

  2. You've been up and about for most times before the accident.. i guess, you should just think of it as time to get some needed rest and shut-eye.. your inner strength and will to get better the soonest shall do wonders.. you will get back weaving your way into wilderness and forests in no time.. the blog didn't mention any hint about giving up anyway.. :) .. your friends' prayers are always with you..

    1. I had my period din when I didn't want to see my mountaineering gears but lesser frustrations now. Also, this situation made me spend more time with my family :-)