Monday, March 19, 2018


As a man was passing by a group of elephants, he noticed that one of the elephants was leashed to a small stake on the ground using a flimsy rope tied around one of its legs. Surprisingly, however, it wouldn't attempt to break away even though it could pull out the stake with just a budge of its huge legs. Filled with wonder, he asked the trainer why it was so. The trainer told him that, when those elephants were younger, they were restrained using the same set-up. A few times  they tried to get away but they were still too young and too weak to break the leash. And they grew up conditioned to believe that they could not break loose.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Kagaya ng pag-ibig, wala ring forever na view...yung akala mong pure nature na panorama
biglang makikiapid si hand railings pagbalik mo (photo by Ed Glipa).

Many misconstrue Lagataw's 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' Policy as greed -- that we don't want to share the experience to others. But in truth, it's quite the opposite! We don't disclose logistical information to others fearing that these others might take the wrong people to these treasured destinations.

You bring someone who panics when his substandard burner malfunctions, you burn Mt Pulag as a result. And all of a sudden everyone else may now be required to carry a portable fire extinguisher. The old experience is lost and can no longer be shared.

You organize a climb through the Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun route and you allow a fresh graduate of Mt Batulao to join you and she slips off Taktak or early on at the 'via ferrata' segment. All of a sudden Kibungan closes the route labeling it as 'not safe for TOURISTS'. And the qualified adventure-seekers can no longer experience the same thrill that the previous participants did.

This is the main reason why I reconsider many times over before I admit an organizer into the climbing party. Many organizers indiscriminately take guests to trekking destination oblivious of the technicality of the route.

As it is, this activity of climbing mountains is just not for everyone. The incapacity and ineptitude of many tourists fuel the pervasive Safety First dogma that consequently changes not just the landscape (via infrastructure that ensures the safety of selfie kings and queens) but the whole experience as well.

This photograph can no longer be replicated...

...because now, a fence has been constructed to ensure the safety of tourists (photo by Aris Aglupus)

Remember that when you cause a mishap on a climb, you're not only jeopardizing your group. You are affecting the whole industry! So I'm not sorry if I refuse you on my treks.

We don't ask and we don't tell because we want to share!

If you think others need to know this, don't hesitate to share it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Project Onifa: A Mission; A Prophecy

I'm probably the creepiest stalker of Champion System (now The North Face Adventure Team) -- a team of elite adventure racers across Asia. And for a very long time, I had wanted to see a Filipino guy in their roster.

Ryan Blair at TNF100 Ph 2012

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten and one Hiking Stuff I No Longer Include on my Top Ten Hiking Stuff List

1. Bag Tags

Our climb ID during the first Lagataw Invitational Climb

I used to think climb bag tags were cool. We called them 'climb ID' . They were considered a validation for one’s being a ‘mountaineer’. I had two—one during my first Mt Pulag Climb in 2006 and another from the Mt Pulag invitational climb I organized in 2011. But these days, I see them as an indicator for hikers who have not outgrown their newbie fervor. I wonder if the likes of Romi Garduce still rave about bag tags. But bag tags are not solely for pormahan. They serve other meaningful purposes for others.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Lagataw Difference

Some of the destinations we take our friends to. (photo by Josh Pasia)

When I was kid I was the only child in the family who had roamed beyond the two-block radius around our home before reaching the age of six. In fourth grade, while everyone was using saw dust to show creativity in our map project, I used crushed egg shells for my map of Leyte. I have always had this thirst for uniqueness and discovery; to do what others do differently. And I’ve taken this principle even in my treks. Here are some of the things that make Lagataw treks different.

YOU deserve a holiday!
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