Monday, January 14, 2019

Why Organize Hikes

Back in the day, I would only climb with the same buddies. But like everything else, hiking had to evolve.

Why Organize?


I once wrote an article on 'Why I Climb Alone'. This time I'll be telling you something quite the opposite. I organize hikes. Why?
First off. It's lucrative. You can earn as much as PhP30,000 over the weekend with just a full-van-capacity climb size of 12 pax. And that's after the costs. Did you know that there are organizers who charter a whole bus for their participants. Do the math. Pretty attractive, eh? One event every month is enough for you and your family to get by, you'd say. Well, at least you're well over the PhP10,000 poverty line income once set by NEDA for a family of five.


Secondly, there's no second reason! Let's face it, pera-pera lang yan. It could come from the event fee that you get directly from your guests or from the 10kg weed you bring down from your destination. Fame? Sex? I'm not the best person to ask.


However, while there's one big reason and plenty of other little reasons to organize hikes, it is not a walk in the park at all for an organizer. There are things that will make you think twice before organizing a hike.


The 'Backout Dancers'

Some hikers have coined the term 'backout dancer' to refer to those 'joiners' who back out at the last minute. Unless you have a non-refundable full prepayment policy, backout dancers will really hurt your income.


The 'Backout Drivers'

If there are backout dancers, me and my small-time organizer friends also find challenge among backout drivers. They'd commit but on Day 0 they'd give you a lot of lame excuses. The truth is they just want you to raise the price of their service. Nyeta!


Bad Trip Bad Weather

What happens when inclement weather hits your schedule and destination? You cancel. Bye-bye event fee. Or you can try to be bida-bida. WE SURVIVED TYPHOON INENG! But good luck! Don't get me wrong. Danger thrills me too. Where's the adventure when there's no risk? But that's just me. It's a different story when you're taking other people who trust that when you give them the go signal that means you've got everything figured out. They pay you to check the extended weather forecast; to plan an evac; to bring all the survival tools; essentially, to take them to hell and out of it.


The Risk

Just because your destination is Mt Ulap doesn't mean there are no risks. Risk is directly proportional to how 'pabebe' your guest is. Let's not judge them. Let's judge your promise: your sales pitch. WITH ME, YOU CAN GO ANYWHERE! I've had three near-death experiences myself. And I am not even counting those times when I was alone on a trail with little to no food and hydration, in the dark or under intense heat. I know my extents and limits but once I'm on a mountain, that means I've signed a probationary contract with death. How much more if you're with twelve other individuals whose capabilities you know little of?


The Whiner

I don't get a lot of these entitled dissatisfied guests but they could really hurt an organizer's business when they start talking on social media just because he/she didn't get to see the sea of clouds promised by the promotional materials.


The Anti-YOU

No matter how responsible or virtuous your enterprise is, you can't please everyone. There will always be people in the industry who will do everything to bring you down. But, like they say, no one will bring you down if you're not already up there!


The Politics

You'll see this in a lot of aspects in hiking.
You'll hear of a municipal ordinance requiring organizers to apply for a business permit at the destination's LGU.
You'll learn of a memorandum banning the entry of hired vehicles in an area unless the operator is from that area.
You'll get acquainted with a tourism officer who is more interested in knowing how much you're charging every guest than in providing you with capable guides.
There may also be a tourism officer who will give you the red tape because you don't kiss his ass.
There could be a park ranger who will also disallow you from trekking because the guide you hired is someone from the other side of a family feud.
It won't be long before TESDA comes on the scene. Believe me, they will.


So why do we still organize hikes? Well, some have learned how to deal with backout dancers, or to do away with backout drivers, to ignore the bashers, to mitigate risks, to pacify whiners and to get around the politics. And to most, the profit still outweighs the challenges so they carry on. Some of us also see hikes as an avenue for other social enterprises. You can spread awareness about causes and agenda you espouse. You can recruit people to a philosophy or principle. You can solicit help to help others in return, or you can also sell shirts and make your own brand.


So there, I've presented the motivation the deterrents and the reason in organizing hikes based on personal experience and observation. I'm sure you can share more. Feel free to comment below.

And if you find this post helpful or informative, don't forget to share it.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Somewhere Only We Know


My birthday is just around the corner and since I'm not leaving the country this time, I'm racking my brains for a good destination. And these images keep taunting me!


Monday, September 3, 2018

Profile Picture


Namiss ko lang bigla ang ma-excite gumamit ng profile pic na may sea of clouds.

Before I knew it, I'm way over it na pala. I know...wala pala akong Facebook. Pero if I should make a new account, sea of clouds wouldn't be a big factor in choosing a profile picture.

In one world a sea of clouds profile pic would say 'astig ka'. In another it would say 'you're a newbie'. Whatever it is, your profile picture somehow summarizes who you are in social media. In fact, nung nag-oorganize pa ako ng treks, I would quickly reject applicants whose profile picture is Mt Maculot. Sorry na. Judgmental lang talaga.

Pero your time will come. Pagsasawaan mo rin yang Mt Kinabalu profile pic mo. Sa ngayon, namnamin mo lang muna kung ano ka.


Friday, August 31, 2018

TRAPPED


I miss my childhood years. Back then, I'd just knock on neighbors' doors, and me and three of my friends would be off to Pantalan. Now Carigara Bay has been transformed from a once clear and blue bay to a murky  body of water--a helpless victim to siltation due to unregulated logging for more than two decades. But the sunset is still beautiful. No big ships still dock there so its long stretch is still a lovely place to spend the late afternoons. Two decades from now, a young Carigaran-on today could be reminiscing about this sunset.


I want to go solo camping in Alegria but a guide is required now. I don't mind the fee, I just don't need some unsolicited company.


I am now in the tiny island of Mactan but all the beautiful shorelines have been fenced by resorts. So much for my Boca del Cielo daydreaming!


Apparently what we see in movies where you just get outside and find a place where you could contemplate and meditate has become more and more elusive.


But I believe I'll find one such place once again. I just know so.

Friday, July 20, 2018

How To Save A Life

I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life

Based on the photo above, which guy, do you think decided to commit suicide the following day?

Karamihan sa atin na mga hikers ay escapist. Umaakyat sa kabundukan upang makalimutang sandali ang masalimuot na buhay sa kapatagan. 

Ten years ago, a very good climb buddy invited me to climb Mt Cristobal just the two of us. 'Bro, bat ngayon? Huwebes pa a!' ang reply ko sa text nya. 'Sige mauna na lang muna ako sa Majayjay tas sa Sabado kita na lang tayo sa San Pablo!' Ganun talaga yun, there was no way to dissuade him kung may maisipan syang gawin. Masaya ang naging akyat namin pero batid ko sa tema ng mga pahiwatig nya nung nag-iinuman na kami kinagabihan na may mabigat na dinadala ang kaibigan ko. Alam ko naman na na may problema sya kasi yun lang naman dahilan namin pag umaakyat kami nang dalawa lang kaming magkasama. Ang ibig sabihin nun, may problema ang isa sa amin. Subalit, kagaya ng kinagawian, we'd climb and laugh the night away without discussing our problems and the following day, we'd realize how trivial our issues were and how beautiful life is. Kaya ayun panay block ko sa mga pahiwatig nya.

Kinabukasan bago sya sumakay sa bus papuntang Manila, isang tapik sa balikat at isang sulyap sa ngiting hindi malilimutan ang paalam nya. Little did I know, that was the last smile I would see of him.

Rest in peace brother

Sari-saring circles of friends nya ang nagtipon-tipon nung lamay nya -- may mga tattoista, punkista, mountaineers at mga kababata nya. And all of them were wondering kung bakit sa akin, na bagong kaibigan lang, nagpaalam si Nixon. Ngunit may isa ding anggulo kung saan hindi pagpapaalam ang pakay nya. Maaaring isa pala akong baka-sakali sa araw na yun. Baka-sakaling mabigyan ko sya ng dahilan at pag-asa na mabuhay pa. And I am forever thankful to him for considering me as such and perpetually resentful of myself for refusing to be his baka-sakali, for blocking all the signs and for thinking that his problems were too small and that the strange tapik and ngiti were all too corny. 

This photo was taken that night the song 'How to Save a Life' by The Fray made so much sense. I really would have stayed up with you buddy all night had I known how to save a life. 

So I am advising all of you not to commit the same mistake I made. If God gave you the gift for words, the opportunity to be a very good friend to someone, use it no matter how silly it would look. 

Always remember that the prelude to suicide could be as positive as a carefree smile.

Don't judge. Save a life! 

When God took you back He said hallelujah you're home!

Blooger's note: This was originally posted on my defunct Facebook page. I have decided to post this on my blog so that the message may be perpetuated and that more good lives may not be wasted. Please share to spread awareness on depression and mental health.

YOU deserve a holiday!

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