|Don't ask where this is. Find another place like this and never tell others how to get there!|
In my previous article, I focused on changes to a place that the visitor is not responsible for. In this article I’ll focus on changes that a visitor causes a place.
The inception of the theme of this article came about when I read a friend’s article on how Calaguas had changed.
A climber can never avoid changing the mountain! As soon as he climbs up the mountain his presence already affects the things that live there. No matter how light you walk, you will always affect the little things that creep underneath the surface that your shoes land on. You somehow disturb the ecological balance of that habitat. The twigs and leaves you tread upon could be food, shelter or tool to some organisms in that habitat. And you will always be an agent of erosion in that place. It gets worse when you have to blaze the trail.
On a philosophical perspective, your act of visiting a place gives others an idea that the place can be visited. When others follow suit, the incremental changes you cause the place pile up and become a large-scale change to the place.
When people live in the place, the effect of your visit is more evident and long-lasting. It may be that some ethnic groups prefer to be secluded. The presence of a stranger in their place distresses them. Some of them may become hostile and some may just relocate. In most areas, the effect of the visit of a stranger is on the people’s attitude. A stranger’s misbehavior may make the locals think of visitors as generally unpleasant. An act of kindness can make locals expect the same act of kindness from the next visitors. And when the act of kindness is not repeated or surpassed by the other visitors, the new visitors are not welcomed the way the previous ones were.
Your visit, especially if repeated quite frequently by more and more people, also gives the locals an idea that the place is sought-after. This idea in combination with the idea that visitors give presents and money, is the major root of greed and extortion among locals and tourism officers in badly-supervised destinations in the country such as Mt Apo.
If you really don’t want to change the place don’t go there.
But the idea that a place can heal itself gives us hope. And healing takes time. The deeper the wound we cause the place, the longer the time it takes to heal it. The park authorities in the Sibulan side of Mt Apo are guided by this principle. In the area where the trail has to cut through thick vegetation, they made more than one route available to trekkers. One route is used for a certain period of time afterwhich the others are used to give the used trail enough time to rehabilitate itself.
And there is a direct correlatiion between the intesity of the impact and the number of visits. The more visitors, the higher the impact. The more frequet the visit is, the higher the impact too. Needless to say, to mitigate the impact, it would be best to travel in small groups and less frequently.
Being a blogger and a traveller at the same time, I have twice as much guilt as those who just travel. By travelling, I directly change the place. By blogging, I give others the idea to travel the same place thereby making the frequency of visits to the place higher.
This line of reasoning has led me to the resolution that I am going to travel less. And this may be bad news to some of my followers, if I blog about a place I can call paradise, I may not tell you how to get there. But I’ll leave you with the idea to explore your own paradise, enjoy it and don’t tell others. Anawangin and Calaguas used to be ‘paradise’ but because of ‘sharing’ they can barely pass for the title now.
|This used to be paradise!|
Explore! Don’t just follow another explorer’s journey! The lovely islands of the Philippines number to more than 7000 as to be exhausted.
Let’s NEVER STOP EXPLORING!