In a recent speech, Jeshua Sales of the UP Mountaineers urged fellow hikers to be sensitive to the culture of the places they’re visiting.”It’s important to respect not just the environment, but also the locals,” he said. In an interview with Pinoy Mountaineer, he cited various examples, such as Mt. Mantalingajan in Palawan where some indigenous communities had to relocate due to the presence of hikers. “Hiking is a privilege, not a right. We should realize that we are just visitors, and respect the people for whom the mountain is home.”
How cam a hiker be culturally sensitive? It’s all about listening and being humble, Sales says. “Dapat matuto tayong makiramdam.” In some communities, for instance, making loud noises may not just disturb their sleep – it can also trespass their beliefs about the mountains’ sacredness. Sometimes, guides will hesitate to voice their concerns because they are embarrassed “nahihiya” to bring up the topic: one must learn to anticipate these situations.
Sales’ speech was part of an activity organized by another hiker, Romina Lim, a masters student in UP Diliman. proponent of Project Alagalaan – an initiative to make traveling environmental-friendly and sustainable.