Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Ask, Don't Tell


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!

18 comments:

  1. love the idea: Don't ask, Don't Tell :)

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  2. Hi Adonis! :) Love this line - "Explore! Don’t just follow another explorer’s journey! The lovely islands of the Philippines number to more than 7000 as to be exhausted."

    I respect the idea of "Don't Ask, Don't tell" but I also see a different perspective in sharing information particularly in blogs. It's a way of helping others discover other places and influence the influx of travelers to a destination. You don't always have to give the full itinerary but perhaps assist in giving the names on who to contact or share some useful information like when to go or reminders on cultural sensitivity issues.

    While it is disheartening what happened to the places we used to call our haven, it also presents an opportunity to educate others or campaign for responsible travel.

    More power to you sir and looking forward to your future posts. Your posts have been very helpful to fellow mountain lovers and your humility is remarkable. Nakalimutan kong magpapicture sayo nung TNF! :P Hope to hike with you again. Nga pala, di kami natuloy ni Jules sa Kanlaon this June but we will do it next time. :)

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    1. sayang naman...pero ganun talaga sa mundo nating may mga di mapigil na paa...madalas maudlot pag maaga ang plano. : ) But I really hope to trek or run with you ang Jules. Naitanong ko ba kung bat di ka sumali sa TNF nung nag-usap tayo?

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  3. want to meat you someday sir Lagataw...:)

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  4. hindi ko alam kung paano mag-rereact. gusto ko yung idea na ayaw ko rin at the same time... i think this is the dilemma of being a traveler and a nature lover/preservationist.. sigh.

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    1. hahaha...pareho tayo. sa totoo lang guilty ako nang sinulat ko to. Pero gaya nga nang saloobin ni Jovial Wanderer at sa huling talata ng aking sulatin, blogging and sharing is not actually very damaging. May mga areas naman gaya ng Mt Pulag na may kapasidad na i-contain ang maraming travellers. Ang magbigay ng logistic information tungkol sa mga lugar na ito ay pawang pagtulong lang sa kapwa na gusto lang makita ang lugar. Pero yung mga hindi pa declared as 'parks' yun ang itatago ko sa karamihan. At ang i-eexplore ko at ipopost ko ay yung mga tipong inaccessible para limited talaga ang pagbisita ng mga travellers.

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  5. Nice one, Parekoy! I might be the culprit of the Don't ask, Don't Tell.- RUDY

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    1. Hahaha. Ikaw ang pasimuno nang don't ask don't tell na yan. Pero sabihin mo pa rin sa akin kung pano matunton ang local na gumagawa ng kayak yari sa mga materyales sa kanilang locality. wag ka mag-alala, bibili lang ako ng kayak...di ko iboblog ang lugar.hehe

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    2. Oo Cge, kailan ka ba pupunta rito sa Sugbo...leshgow na...-RUDY

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  6. <---Pugay..! "Explore! Don’t just follow another explorer’s journey" nice line...

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    1. Salamat po. More power din sa Busog Mountaineers.hehe

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  7. Nice blog.. and this time you hit it right with your Don't Ask Don't Tell article.

    You're right that the discovery of a secluded tribes/ethnic groups has lost their ethnicity in process. Last June we conducted an outreach on a Dumagat settlement in Tanay. Yes they need our help but in a way helping them gives a different signal. In a process outsiders like me (us) has interrupted their normal way of life and started to rely on donations. They even asked for a medicine for a simple headache whereas their ancestors are the best herbalist.

    Other groups who did the same in Norzagaray Bulacan is asking for a donations of slippers for Dumagat childrens. Whereas, here in the city iam a member of a barefoot running community who promotes and believes that running and walking bare is better for your feet than wearing those signature shoes who lessens muscle articulation and finger mobility of your feet.

    In short you are right and thank your for bringing this up to my attention.

    More power to you Sir Lagataw.

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    1. Salamat po. Pero okey lang yun. As long as pagtulong naman ang hangad. Pero sana next time sa lungsod na lang ser/mam e no? Dami naman nangangailangan sa Metro Manila. Pero di ko alam...basta ako gusto ko maglakbay. :) 1st outreach program na sinamahan ko ay nung independence day. Ayus naman at di masyado secluded yung lugar.

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  8. very well said, ser. i have been following your blog for quite a while now. you really have a gift for words. keep exploring. keep writing. more power ser.

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  9. Definitely influential.. you always hit the right spot:) See you soon! NJ

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  10. This is a very controversial issue, and I believe there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. But personally, I try, to the best of my knowledge and observation, to blog only about places whose locals would like and are ready to take on visitors. They are also grateful for livelihood opportunities. This is workable, as long as the environment is also being preserved. But if I have reason to believe they are not ready and harm will likely fall on the place and the community, I do not blog about it and keep it to myself.

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