I have this vague memory from over a decade ago of a documentary about people living in the remote Cordilleras, children crossing rivers and walking precariously along rice terraces to get to school everyday. That stuck with me, and I remember thinking how difficult that must be and how unlucky they were that they had to live there. • Last weekend, I was in Sabangan, a rural town in Mountain Province that could very well have been the one featured in that documentary. • The locals of Sabangan prioritize the conservation of their environment over everything else. The entire town gets their water from the rivers at the base of Mt. Kalawitan, so they closely monitor all visitors and turn down large groups. Our group of 8 was the most that they've accommodated in over 2 years. The trails are pristine and the guides are by far the most accommodating that I've hiked with. • The trip was organized by one of my coworkers, a native of Sabangan. While we were climbing, she told us stories of what it was like to grow up there: how they traversed the rice terraces in their uniforms to get to school everyday and would sit on their heels when it got windy to keep their skirts from blowing upwards; how they would run and hide on the rare occasion that a car would pass through their town because cars were foreign to them; how the main road was so bumpy that they jokingly called it 'abortion road;' how their parents forbade them from playing in the river, but they went anyway. • She told us all these stories with the biggest smile on her face. Most of the locals here see mountains the way people in Manila see buildings, but she talked about how much she loves the mountains -- how, even if she grew up seeing them everyday, their beauty could never be diminished. She said she wanted other people to see how blessed they are in the Cordilleras. • I know now that I was too quick to judge all those years ago. We all have our own obstacles, but we're also lucky in
Without the intense touch of nature, you can never fully freshen yourself! Go for a camping and there both your weary mind and your exhausted body will rise like a morning sun! Photo from my last month overnight camping.