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!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mt Tabayoc: The Face of Change


The settlement on the banks of Lake Tabeo
It was an aborted Bakun Trio in 2006 that led to my discovery of Mt Tabayoc! All I had with me was my scant knowledge of the place—that Mt Tabayoc was the second highest mountain in Luzon and that it was located in Kabayan, Benguet.


When the bus driver refused to take us to Bakun owing to the damaged road, we boarded the bus for Buguias. We told the driver that we were heading for Ballay so he took us beyond the terminus of the bus route. At the boundary between Kabayan and Buguias the driver told us ‘This is as far as I can take you.’ And that’s when we started trekking up the rough and slippery road to Ballay!


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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

L is for Let's Celebrate Freedom


I have two and a half hours left here in NAIA Terminal 3 before my boarding time. Too short to write something that would cause a social change but long enough to at least remind everyone of our Independence.


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