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HONORING MY MOTHER | Can I get a huh?

By Icoy San Pedro

I WAS poring through some of my friends’ threads online when one of them asked if I could comment on an amusing exchange between two environmentalists-cum-trekkers slash outdoors junkies, or whatever they like to call them these days. Apparently, one supposed-climber had happily posted about a blind man’s successful attempt in climbing our country’s highest peak, Mt. Apo. It was in that said post; he proudly wrote that the blind man had “conquered” the mountain. 

It was at this point that the second person commented about refraining from using words such as “conquered” because it may send the wrong message to people. The word, he says, could be translated to a form of vanquishment or the total defeat of an enemy, and this in turn, is closely associated with ravaging and destruction. What followed afterwards were exchanges in opinions that much later graduated into unpleasantries.

Yet I get the second guy’s reaction. In the context of environmental concerns, this use of ‘conquering’ has become common in many writings, so much so that winning over an obstacle (such as a peak or mountain) has always been synonymous with “conquest” . In a way, the guy said that this has relegated the idea of caring for nature as only secondary, or  at least that was how I got it. 

Being one of those who have scaled Mt. Apo (which is also sacred to our brother IPs or indigenous peoples), I have likewise been witness to the “mountains” of trash left behind by other climbers after every climbing sortie. Even local authorities can confirm this. Why do we think they initiate a clean-up drive after each and every climbing season? This utter disregard for nature, despite awareness campaigns support the second man’s premise and that is rather difficult to refute.

However, in fairness and inasmuch as we respect his opinion on the usage of ‘conquered’, we have also to look at it from the first guy’s point of view. Methinks he might have merely used the word colloquially or metaphorically. Read any outdoors magazine and one is sure to come across the idea of conquering many times. For sure, what is merely meant here is the concept of winning over one’s weaknesses and being victorious over the challenge… with therefore no intention to disrespect mother nature or anyone.

If the second guy can’t live with that reasoning, then bummer. All I have noticed about the whole incident is, we have all become so rigidly politically-correct and conscious these days that most often, we tend to forget to check first where the other person in our line of sight one is coming from. For all we know, he or she or they (being pronoun conscious here) may not be so articulate or perhaps beliefs, upbringing and culture could also be in the way. Last thing to consider is this: the words “conquered and conquest” are English words, aren’t they? Our second language at best. This might perhaps be the best option. The next would be to just let it be, as Beatle Paul says. After all, it’s just a Facebook post. 

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