We received this letter from Manila Joe, an American who now lives in Manila. I have sought his permission to post this letter, which I think is a good wake-up call for all mountain and outdoor enthusiasts in the Philippines. Indeed, we must practice responsible outdoor recreation. Here is his note. What do you think?
I enjoy looking at your website and have used it frequently on my many runs up and down the beautiful peaks in your country. As an ex-mountain guide and avid mountaineer, rock climber and trail runner, your mountains have proved to be my salvation from the urban jungle of Manila (I am not a city person, but have found myself in Manila for the past 4 years.) Having spent years of my life living in the backcountry in North America, Europe, South America and Asia, I am overjoyed to see more and more Filipinos enjoying the outdoors. I am also often saddened by their attitude, however. I always run/hike with a garbage bag and never have I returned with it empty, in fact, often times it is filled to the brim. I get strange looks when others see me carrying down a bag filled with plastic water bottles carelessly discarded on the trail, candy wrappers mindlessly dropped, chip and candy bags thrown into the woods, towels dropped, banners that were hung on trees to mark a trip, toilet paper left on the trail, etc, etc, etc….
If Filipinos are going to protect and preserve what little natural beauty is left of this country, people who use it need to understand that hiking and enjoying the outdoors is not about “conquering and assaults.” It is realizing we are all part of the natural environment and it is part of us; what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. It is our responsibility to be good role models for others. We must protect what we love.
For example, if everyone who visits Pinoymountianeer.com were to leave the places they visit cleaner than when they arrived – think of what could be achieved? If everyone who met a local while hiking explained that it harms everyone to litter and illegally take plants and animals from the forests, we might just make a difference. If people stopped making new trails (causing erosion) and illegal fires, there would be less mountain closures.
My dream for your country is that it becomes an outdoor persons’ paradise, like it once was. Think of the amazing possibilities that could exist here! The only way to get there, however, is for everyone who cares to start doing their part. PLEASE, educate others and be a good role model –
Attached is a picture of what I carried down from a recent run up Arayat. Not a pretty sight.