Victor Joel Ayson, the mountaineer who went up Mt. Maculot on Easter Sunday and went missing, has been found thirteen days after, on the day of his birthday on April 13, 2013.
Reports say he left his rucksack at the mountaineers’ stop-over owned by Mang Manuel on March 31 at around 2:30 AM. Then he was seen buying a bottle of mineral water in a store up the mountain around 9:00 AM the same day.
Biki, as he was fondly called by family and friends, had just been to a Mt. Guiting-Guiting climb with some of his friends over the Holy Week. They were heading back home on the eve of Easter Sunday, but he had other plans. From the Batangas port, he went to Cuenca, Batangas to do a solo hike of Mt. Maculot.
After going up, however, he never went down to claim his bag at the mountaineer’s stop over.
His girlfriend, family and friends got alarmed as Biki said he’d be back home by noontime Sunday. It could have been possible since a hike up to the Rockies of the said mountain only takes about an hour, and going down to the jump off usually takes less time.
Mang Manuel started receiving calls asking for Biki Monday night. And when the mountaineer still didn’t show up on Tuesday, search and rescue operations were started. Several mountaineering groups volunteered to help. A foreign climber even brought his group along with their gears to search the walls of the Rockies.
After days of unsuccessful operations, however, not even a single lead was found. The family of the lost eventually had to call off the search, but his friends resumed looking for him, hoping to find him alive since his birthday was coming near.
And true enough, on the date of his birth, Victor Joel Ayson showed up in an area at the foot of the Rockies, lifeless.
He was found by Mt. Maculot guides Ramon Puso, Christopher Puso, Eduardo Puso Jr, Richard Puso and Javier Mercado on Saturday morning. The group set off around 6 AM to that area at the foot of the Rockies because someone told them that part has not been searched yet. Upon reaching the area, they noticed a not so pleasant smell. That smell led them to the remains of Victor. They were able to report it around 11 AM that day.
Meanwhile, a hiker who was doing a cleanup climb with his group on Easter Sunday, posted a photo of a lone mountaineer who caught his attention. The person in the photo, believed to be Biki, was sitting at a very dangerous part of the Rockies, a part not frequented by mountaineers without ropes. In this case, the man in the photo doesn’t look like he’s protected.
Facebook uploader Ahrold Fampulme captioned the above photo with: “This photo was taken in mt. Maculot, in rockies to be exact. Kung makikita nyo e may isang lalaki na nasa larawaan kung saan talagang delikado ang pwesto nya. Sya e may kamera na dala duon kasi halos nung nakaakyat na kami a rockies e kita mo yung lalaki. I posted this pic kasi nga dun sa nawawalang lalaki sa mt.maculot na napapabalita.”
He then posted another photo with a better lighting, although the person in it was still not identifiable.
It was captioned with: “Eto mas malinaw na kuha, di ko sure kung sino tong lalaki na to, pero sana makatulong kahit papano sa mga naghahanap dun sa nawawalang lalaki. :) march 31,2013 sunday.”
Now here’s a photo of that portion of the Rockies I found in my memory card, taken last January. I put an arrow to where the man in Ahrold’s photos was sitting.
Meanwhile, Ahrold’s mention of the man in the photo having a camera leads one to believe it was Biki because he loved taking pictures as evident in his Facebook page. Even the silhouette of the head could very well be his, judging by his hairstyle in his recent pics.
And if the man in the photo was indeed Biki, those two taken by Ahrold could be his last pictures before he fell off.
Death is always a sad news, and one as tragic as this gives scare to those who share the same passion as the one that took the person’s life. But then I’m sure Biki is happy, as he spent his last hours doing what he loved best.
My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. And to Biki, happy birthday. May you rest in peace.