GRADUATING Nursing student Prana Escalanate, who died at Mt. Halcon, Oriental Mindoro, was finally buried in her family’s flat at Gubat, Sorsogon last Nov. 15.

Tony Escalante, Prana’s father, faced the tragedy with Christian resignation. “Although may contributory fault siya, we’re just thinking that what happened to her is God’s will,” he told the Varsitarian.

“At least I’m thankful for the 20 years she spent with us. I will miss her joyful, caring and funny ways,” he added.

Denis Dy, Prana’s close friend who went to the burial together with 37 other Thomasians, described Prana as “full of life, vibrant, and always enthusiastic.”

“In almost four years of our friendship, she never failed to amaze me,” he said. “She may not have possessed the glamour of a beauty queen, but surely her being tender and altruistic will inspire you.”

“She’s hard-headed sometimes, but you can never afford to get angry with her,” he added.

After a 13-day search, Mangyan natives recovered the body of Prana near a river located in a heavily forested area, northeast of Mt. Halcon last Nov. 10.

Her corpse was already decomposing when it was found.

Prana, 21, was found with her shirt gone, but her underwear intact. Authorities ruled out foul play.

Col. Marcos Flores, Oriental Mindoro police director, told the Varsitarian that Escalante’s shirt might have been swept away by the wind or the river’s strong current.

In addition, Dr. Ernesto Samaco, the municipal health officer who examined Escalante’s body, dismissed possibilities of sexual abuse.

Flores said Escalante might have slipped while negotiating the steep portions of the mountain and hit her head on the big rocks in the river below.

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Ask what is only needed

Escalante, a member of the UST-Mountaineering Club (UST-MC), left on Oct. 30 to catch up with her 20 co-Thomasian mountaineers who left for Mt. Halcon the day before.

Prana’s father said he of the climb. “Pinagbawalan ko na umakyat kasi graduating na siya,” Escalante said.

UST-MC members did not know that Prana would be following them since she did not notify anyone except her parents.

The climb, however, was not an official activity of the organization.

The members of the UST-MC went down Mt. Halcon and reached the jump-off point on Nov. 2, but without Prana. Upon learning that Prana had tried to follow them, the group immediately informed the authorities, UST-MC alumni members and the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines.

Prana was last seen with members of the Philippine Sierra Mountaineering Club (PS-MC). Members of the PS-MC tried to stop her since she could not walk properly because of a wound on her left toe.

To reach Mt. Halcon’s peak, which stands at 8,488 feet, it will take two to three days of continuous vertical climbs and steep descents. According to Flores, the trails are very confusing.

“I don’t think kabisado niya ‘yung trail kasi ‘di siya nagpunta dun sa tamang trail,” Flores said.

Because of the incident, Baco Mayor Graciano de la Chica said the municipal council would be requiring mountaineers to first secure the permission of local authorities. Elka Krystle R. Requinta and Jose Bimbo F. Santos

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