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Mission: Philippines 2010

By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ

  • CLICK HERE for Ace Concordia's Trip Report, “The start of something.”
  • CLICK HERE for our team's photographic “Reflections” from this trip.

Mission: Philippines 2010 team photo (left to right): Rhea Barlao, Melnord De Castro, Pam Delavin, Gary Fallesen, Andrea “AA” Alloro, Ace Concordia, Jhun Hacbang, and Jason Elcano at the start of the trek to Tacadang. Photo taken by team member Kolbel Acquiapat.


Friday, Feb. 26 (6 a.m. local time)

The collapsed bridge on the way from Kibungan to Baguio.

On the "road" again. Ace, Jhun, Pam and I are in one vehicle and the rest of the team is on a bus making our way back over the broken road of Kibungan back toward Manila. From there, I will return to the States on Saturday. As Ace told our driver (the Kibungan town councilman) when he came for us this morning and asked about our visit: "Mission accomplished." The work will go on here in the mountains of North Luzon as C4C makes an even deeper commitment in our ministry to the Kankanaey people.

Thursday, Feb. 25 (4 p.m. local time)

It was a tortuous, sun-baked trek from Tacandang to Kilbungan, but the team returned together and in good spirits (albeit a little tired from a short but action-packed mission). We ascended out of Tacadang around the first mountain, climbing about 2,000 vertical feet in the cool of the morning. But as we began almost 5,000 feet of steep descents (combined with another 1,000 or so feet of ascents to get around two more mountains) temperatures in the sun soared to near 100F. We returned on a slightly different route in less than seven hours. The team will begin returning home, mostly to the Manila area, Friday morning.

Trekking from Tacadang.

Thursday, Feb. 25 (6 a.m. local time)

We are beginning the long trek out of Tacadang this morning. The team enjoyed an evening of fellowship, sharing, and prayer last night. It was an emotional time and gave glory to the One who brought us all here. The work here (and in us) has only begun, and will continue until His completion. It is an exciting time for Climbing For Christ, for C4C Philippines, and for our ministry to the people here in the Mountain Province. To God alone be the glory!

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Ace had a step-grandfather who was a U.S. serviceman so it is fitting when he talks about Gen. Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur's WWII pledge of "I shall return" is a Philippine symbol of a promise kept. Ace kept a promise to Tacadang when he came back a second time. He shared that story (how God told him to return when he really didn't want to endure the hardship it takes to get here), on this his fourth visit, when we met with church and community leaders. I talked about how God uses us as His hands and feet to bring them some of the physical things they need. But, more importantly, He sends us from far-off places to deliver His love.

Ace distributing Bibles to leaders of three small churches in Tacadang under the banner of C4C and, more importantly, the banner of God.

We have only started addressing the spiritual needs of this part of the Mountain Province. We gave the leaders of the three small churches Bibles and invited them to a discipleship conference that Ace will hold in Kibungan in June. It's a beginning. Just as teaching the 80 students about Jesus and providing the school here with supplies. Brother Jhun told the children (from pre-school to grade 6) the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, and candy was distributed by the team.

Brother Jhun telling the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

"The children are very blessed today," the grade 3-4 teacher said to us.

We were blessed to be a blessing.

"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4;19)

Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8 p.m. local time)

The seven-hour trek from Kibungan to Tacadang began with Ace sharing about his birthday. He thanked God for the life he has today because he knows, like many of us, he would not be alive today without having had the Lord enter his life and rescue him from certain death.

It is this kind of new-creation hope, joy and peace that we desire to share with the mountain people of Tacadang, and people everywhere in this lost world.

The eight of us trekked over and around three mountains with Kolbel, a Kibungan government planning officer who assists us with our work here. The hike was long, hot (temperatures were in the upper 80s and lower 90s) and dry. It has not rained in Tacadang since the destructive typhoons last fall. While only two homes were damaged by the storms, crops were destroyed. Now, because of drought, crops are not being planted. The locals have felt this as, normally this time of year, fresh vegetables are available, but now people must purchase more expensive canned goods and dried fish.

We will share on Wednesday with the people that nothing is certain in this world (weather, harvest, health, education, etc.) except for our God's love. He loved us before we could love Him, and sent His Son Jesus to save us from the uncertainty. His promise is eternal.

Nearing Tacadang.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 (11:30 a.m. local time)

We crossed over the second mountain and stopped for lunch. It's Ace's 39th birthday and AA surprised him with a birthday cake (photos below).

Porters ascending steps at top of second mountain carrying supplies we brought for Tacadang.

Ace, right, blowing out candle on birthday cupcakes held by AA. "I'm going to remember this birthday," Ace has said repeatedly.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 (9:30 am local time)

We are about 3 1/2 hours into our trek to Tacadang, having crossed the first mountain and coming up on our second (photo below).

Imposing face of Tabaw mountain.

Rhea on the trail to Tacadang.

The Great Wall of Kibugan. The Tacadang scramble has been paved; the 80-degree slope that ascended about 100 vertical feet has had steps installed to help the locals.

Monday, Feb. 22 (10 p.m. local time)

The team is ready to go. Early Tuesday morning we will start our trek to Tacadang. We know the Lord has gone before us and prepared the way. I shared tonight about Climbing For Christ and how God has moved in my life, and Ace prayed for this mission. We turned it all over to Him. We know that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), and that through Him we can accomplish all things (Philippians 4:13). I thanked each of the team members for saying, yes, "Here am I. Send me!" just as Isaiah did (Isaiah 6:8).

Jhun, left, and Ace begin repacking school and medical supplies for Tacadang in the government offices at Kibungan.

He has sent us to again share the love of Christ with the mountain people of Tacadang. This will be the fourth C4C visit for Ace and Jhun, and the second for AA, Rhea and me. All the supplies to be delivered were packed today. Prayers will be answered.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

Monday, Feb. 22 (noon local time)

The rest of the team (AA, Rhea, Jason, Melnord and Jhun) arrived late morning, despite a flat tire on the bus coming from Baguio to Kibungan. They got better views of the washed away road and bridges than the rest of us did in the dark last night. The last big bridge before Kibungan is still on its side, dislodged by mud and flooding. The road is detoured around it.

Ace and I met with Eliza B. Bagto, the social welfare and development officer for Kibungan, for a report on the typhoon relief funds sent by Climbing For Christ. More than two-thirds of the 30,000 Philippine pesos (about US$650) was used for hauling of biscuits, cooking oil, rice, cloth, shovels, and kitchen utensils for delivery to victims of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. We felt it was appropriate that funds were used for hauling and delivery since that's what we do: carry His love to those living in the mountains. We are His hands and feet, and His truck tires.

Sunday, Feb. 21

Ace, Pam and I are the first to arrive in Kibungan, the main town in the Mountain Province in a remote part of northern Luzon. How remote is it? We drove more than 10 hours and covered barely 200 miles (330 kilometers). The last four hours were on the 31-mile (50K) stretch of road from Baguio to Kibungan that was wiped out by typhoons last October. "The road is an adventure," said our driver, Octavia Placido, a Kibungan town councilman. Half of that stretch of road has been repaved and the rest is under construction. Bridges that were damaged or destroyed by mudslides and flooding off the steep mountain slopes all through this area are also being repaired.

On the road to Baguio.

As we reached the end of the road, the rest of our teammates (AA, Jason, Jhun, Melnord, and Rhea) were boarding a sleeper bus in Manila. They will arrive in Kibungan on Monday. Between the two groups of travelers, we have medical supplies, school supplies, and Bibles for Tacadang. The team will make the day-long trek over three mountains to Tacadang on Tuesday. We'll again be ministering to one of the few remaining Kankanaey communities that has not been influenced by the world.

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it." (2 Timothy 4:17)

Friday, Feb. 19

Preparing to go. CLICK HERE to read Ace Concordia's “Project Prayer” story for the Philippines. Pray on!


Trekking on Batulao.

Members of Climbing For Christ Philippines (our largest contingent outside the United States) completed their second training climb in early February in preparation for the trek to Tacadang. The group, which included C4C Philippines coordinator Ace Concordia and seven others who will participate in Mission: Philippines 2010, traversed Mount Batulao.

“We’re all ready for Mission: Philippines 2010,” Ace reported. “We’re in the process of gathering stuff we can bring to Tacadang.”

Provisions for the people in the remote mountain village of Tacadang will include medical and school supplies.

“Kibungan was hit by a major storm in October of 2009, causing damage to roads, infrastructure, and livelihood of its locals,” Ace wrote on the C4C Philippines site. “One of the goals for this climb is to help bring relief for the residents of one of its most remote towns, Tacadang, which can only be reached by trekking up two mountain passes.

“C4C Philippines also wants to fulfill a promise made in our last climb to Tacadang, which is to bring basic supplies like school materials (notebooks, pencils, erasers, pad paper, etc.) for the local school, and to bring such things as Bibles for the local people who are from the Kankanaey tribe.”

Health care personnel are needed for this area of the country. A recent survey of health issues shows persistent problems with coughs and colds, skin diseases, diarrhea, hypertension, teeth, arthritis and rheumatism, even malnutrition.

Climbing For Christ seeks to serve the physical needs of the Kankanaey people.

“But most of all our main goal is to be able to share the love of our Lord Jesus Christ to the people of Tacadang,” Ace wrote. “Climbing for Christ Philippines has been ministering to this area since August of 2008 and considers Kibungan its main mission field. The mission climbs of C4C are an on-going commitment to be able to spread the Word and love of God to the most remote communities of the mountains of Kibungan.”

Members of C4C Philippines who will be participating in Mission: Philippines 2010 include (front row, right) Ace and (second row, left to right) AA, Melnord, Pam and Rhea.

In October-November 2008, an international short-term mission team visited Kibungan and Tacadang. God is again sending us to this previously unreached place, and our team is excited to “go” in His name.

Prayer Request

On our trek out of Tacadang in 2008, our team came upon a large marijuana crop in a very remote location. One local had tried to guide us away from this field. We prayed for its destruction and within the next two weeks, the military raided the area. Apparently this was not the end of the problem, however. On Feb. 6, Ace saw a news report of more marijuana raids in Kibungan. “The operatives were shot at by whoever was guarding the marijuana fields, which resulted in a firefight,” Ace said. “Three fields were raided. They caught one guy, but the shooter and another disappeared into the mountains. I talked to (one of our local government contacts) about this and asked about security; he said these were small-time farmers and that most of the fields have been raided.”

We ask for prayer for security for the team and, more importantly, an end to this drug blight that threatens to steal the future of young people in Tacadang. May we share the hope of Christ with the Kankanaey so they can overcome yet another obstacle posed by the evil one. And may those growing this destructive crop turn from their misguided ways and to the Lord.

Posted Feb. 11, 2010

The Word

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'”
— Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

The Team

Kolbel Acquiapat, Kibungan, Philippines; Andrea “AA” Alloro, San Pedro Laguna, Philippines; Rhea Barlao, San Pedro Laguna, Philippines; Ace Concordia, Las Pinas City, Philippines; Melnord De Castro, Cavite Province, Philippines; Pam Delavin, Muntinlupa City, Philippines; Jason Elcano, San Pedro Laguna, Philippines; Gary Fallesen, Rochester, N.Y., USA; Jhun Hacbang, Las Pinas City, Philippines.


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