Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freedom Trek Visayas 2012

We Climb And REach out!

The number dwindled from fifteen to just me and Fernz. Contigents from Cebu, Negros and Antique had to take care of their local Freedom Treks which turned out to be successful too. Others just wanted to join Pacquiao in his disappointing bout with Bradley! As many backed out, the itinerary constantly had to be modified. The volunteer doctor wouldn’t be available until the 16th. Without him, we couldn’t administer the prescripition medicine. We initially planned to move the medical mission to the 16th and just focus on the back-to-school project on the 9th. But when we woke up that day (June 9th), both of us (Fernz and me) resolved that the show must go on! So we headed for Caraye carrying some basic school supplies and the over-the-counter medicine that we picked out among the meds that An WARAY donated.

Thanks to An WARAY for the medicine
At Caraye we were joined by Fernz’s co-volunteers at the Rural Health Unit with their deworming and feeding programs!

When we got there at 9:30 we were warmly welcomed by the locals. The 83 pupils from grades one to six had been anticipating our arrival. The only three teachers that handled all these grade levels were there with the barangay chairman and kagawads to help make the activity successful. The mothers were also there with their babies for the Garantisadong Pambata program. They had prepared their little convention center with things we needed for the activity. The sound system and some tables and chairs had been set. It was gratifying to see how delighted the kids and mothers were with the little help the Visayan Trekkers Forum had extended to their remote community. After the activity, the kids prepared a little sort of entertainment—a nice appetizer for our hosted luch of freshwater eel, langka, ampalaya and buko juice!

We headed back to Tacloban in the afternoon and decided to spend the night in Calicoan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar (3 hours away from Tacloban). We decided to abort the trek in Alto Peak for security reasons. We didn’t have to spend for food and accommodation as we were hosted by Fernz’s friends. The following day (10th) we splurged and relaxed at Calicoan Island Surf Camp.

Calicoan Surf Camp
This Freedom Trek has been an eye-opener for me! I had always considered outreach programs as a waste of time and resources. I thought that, like me, no one needs multivitamins and medicine because we can get the protection we need from the food we eat and the envvironment we live in. But I saw a different side of reality when I went to Caraye. The people there don’t get enough nutrition and protection from food because they don’t have much of it. Many suffer from unexplained swelling and boils. Some have stomach problems and dizziness. Almost everybody has an ailment to complain about. And they don’t have the money to buy even the cheapest antibiotics. And so I knew we were doing something worthwhile with the basic medicine we were handing to them.

Freedom Trek Visayas 2012 was also a symbol of unity among mountaineers in the Philippines. Many already know that the organizers behind Freedom Climb 2011 were split into two, resulting to two Freedom Climbs this year. Freedom Trek Visayas received assistance from both factions. Maldz Fallar, a supporter of FIMO-led Freedom Climb 2012 was a key guy in the realization of FTV. When the organizers of FTV almost gave up at the last minute, he was the fuel to the fire that was lost. He mobilized us with the production of the FTV shirts and other souvenir merchandise where we  derived our funds from. He was also the maker of the website for Freedom Trek Visayas.  My good friend and kababayan Jade Acidre, the man behind FC2012 (PNMS), urged his cousin Jude Acidre (the incoming representative of An WARAY party list) to provide us with the medicine for the medical mission. The funds we were able to generate from the shirts were only enough for the basic school supplies for the 83 pupils. The medicine that An WARAY donated made the outreach activity bigger. You see, Freedom Trek Visayas has been a testament to the unity of the mountaineering community in the country. As I have already maintained in my previous post, we may be divided in form but we are ONE in the mission to help people and protect the environment while camping, trekking and climbing!

Freedom Trek Visayas has also been a source of pride for the Visayan Trekkers. We have proven that divided as we may be by geographic barriers, our unity and spirit to Climb And REach out transcends boundaries! The event covered the islands of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Negros and Panay but the organizers (who are all strangers to each other) convened only on Facebook! And I had not met either Fernando Lopez or Maldz Fallar before the event. Indeed, a big undertaking can be carried out not by a lot of big hands but by a few big hearts.
Freedom Trek @ Mt Igcuron (Panay)
Organizers: Hajji Tandog and Chester Regondon
Freedom Trek @ Tinagong Dagat (Negros)
Participants: Yoen Yap, Geoffrey Gonzales, Maroelle Joelle Pontino and Romwell Gubuan
Freedom Trek @ Mt Lanaya (Cebu)
Organizer: Myand Abao

Freedom Trek @ Caraye, Javier (Leyte)
Organizer: Fernando E. Lopez
Freedom Trek @ Calicoan Island (Samar)
Participants: Adonis Lloren and Fernando Lopez

Moreover, the participants in the Freedom Trek Visayas were all experienced outdoors men and women who know environmentalism by heart. Our benefactors understand the need to reach out to our less fortunate brothers that’s why they bought the shirt. They were not mere high school students who were excited to climb in hundreds and be proud to wear an event shirt. One hundred shirts were sold out to our benefactors and participants in less than a week and no complaints ensued. They bought the shirts not because of an identity and recognition deficiency. They bought the shirts because they wanted to help! And NO destructive mass climbs took place!  Eight individuals trekked in Mt Igcuron, four in Tinagong Dagat, ten in Mt Lanaya and Fernz and I went for a relaxing swim in Calicoan Island after the outreach in Caraye. It was never about numbers! It was not how big the event was going to be but how great the help offered would be. And it was a no-frills event! No one would be declared a hero after the event! No participant had to be enticed by raffle draws just to participate.  Genuine help and service should have no precursors other than the person’s own understanding, trust and volition. And we don’t even have to lay down the breakdown of expenses and the proceeds of the activity because we HELP and TRUST. Help should not be noisy and suspicious! If you help and doubt, better not help!

some of our supporters in Manila
And I congratulate all those who celebrated a worhwhile Philippine Independence Day this year. The mountaineering community in the Philippines has no alpine mountains to brag about but we have become a resounding beacon of unity and freedom to the country and the rest of the world. We are united in a very special way. And we have just freed ourselves from the bondage of self-centered living. We don’t just wake up every day, eat, go to work, sleep and strive for a better economic status! We have emancipated ourselves from living just for our own.  We instruct, we campaign, we share—we LET LIVE! Camp Red teaches how to survive and deal with the wild without being destructive. Freedom Walk is loud in the campaign against mass climbs and for environmental protection. Missing Filemon, Visayan Trekkers Forum, Freedom Climb along with other mountaineering groups are all one in the spirit of reaching out to the less fortunate!

And this leaves us all optimistic in the years ahead of the mountaineering community of the Philppines!


  1. thanks Sir for the acknowledgement...and congrats for the success of the project....MABUHAY ANG PILIPINONG MONTENERO!... muli isang mapagpalayang hapon sa inyong mambabasa

  2. Freedom of unimpeded movement on unstructured outdoor activities is the essence of all these events. Mabuhay Lagataw for this interesting essay.

  3. sir congrats sa successful na event... 2 thumbs up!!

  4. Quality over amount. Amen to that.


YOU deserve a holiday!

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