Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Community Outreach Cum Travel Adventure at Bontoc, Mountain Province

Wazzup Pilipinas!

She asked me why I joined? I told her it's because I realized that it would be awesome to travel while giving back something in return. I may be excited for the sights and experience of going to new places, but I was doubly excited in engaging with the community via an outreach. 

I know I am idealistic. I wanted to live in a world where no one gets left behind, in either their living conditions or opportunities. It may be foolish of me to think I could save the world within my lifetime, but I'm doing every little thing possible within my own network, so that I could influence others to do the same. At least someone would be inspired to follow my footsteps so that saving the world would be a continuous process.

I may not have super-powers like the heroes in comics, cartoons and movies, but though it would be spectacular to fly or have super strength, I could still find something to do that's worth emulating by others.

Others may say that those little things would not make much of a difference in the long run, but I know that when you get to touch the lives of others in your own little way, somehow there would be a spark of hope fro them to get up and move on with their own lives, to fin their rightful place in this world, and make their own mark for the benefit of all.

We joined Meaningful Travels PH at one of their community outreach cum travel events from May 25 to May 28, 2017. The destination was at Bontoc, Mountain Province, specifically barangay Maligcong and Mainit. Though it was already announced that it would be a 10 to 12 hour ride from Cubao, I did not feel any regrets since we are about to do good, while satisfying our own pleasures at the same time.

It's not bad to reward ourselves in the process while we do good for mankind. We can not deny to ourselves the longing for adventure, but we do complement it with the noble goal to help those in need.

Upon arrival at Bontoc, we were joined by more people from the community and local tourism group. Later on, after our tour of the Bontoc Public Market and the Bontoc Museum, other volunteers joined us as well. Some of them even joined us in both exploration of the sites (rice terraces, Mt. Kopapei and the community outreach where we distributed school supplies at a distant elementary school). 

We had to trek to get there since the school is not accessible by vehicle. Carrying around 16 boxes of school supplies, the local residents, even the women and children, helped in bringing the boxes to the school. We were at awe when we saw all of them helping out in carrying the boxes.

What we are truly proud of from this part of our journey is to have successfully distributed the school supplies at the targeted school at barangay Maligcong, where we also conducted games and other activities for the children, while the community prepared food for sharing. 

We spent the night at the school in preparation for the early morning hike to Mt. Kopapei, but that night we had so many things that happened that are worth sharing.

From the cooking of the Pinikpikan using the traditional method, to the giving of Igorot names by an elder who was so glad in seeing us, that night together with some members of the Maligcong community was very unforgettable.

The early morning hike to Mt. Kopapei was slightly interrupted because of a minor injury to Collin, my photographer friend, who opted to just discontinue his hike and go back to the camp. While I tried my best to continue climbing up the mountain regardless of being breathless all the time. However, reaching the peak was more than rewarding. Though we never got a good sunrise and a good view of the rice fields down below, since the fog was too thick, we still got to meet fellow travelers who originated from different locations.

Going down was magnificent since we were now finally able to slow down our pace and admire everything we passed by. From the wild berries, to the mountain teas, and then to the magnificent rice terraces. You would appreciate nature better once you see many of these wonders right within your view and reach. The only difference of the Maligcong rice terraces to that of Banaue is that the width of the rice fields at Maligcong are wider compared to the narrower fields of Banaue.

Hey, someone is looking down at us and giving us a pat on the back for maximizing the use of the mountains while ensuring that they are still beautiful. The rice terraces may be man-made but nature run its own course to make it really fascinating.

Meaningful Travels PH x Wazzup Pilipinas also went to Barangay Mainit of Bontoc, Mountain Province for another community outreach to give away similar school supplies to the school children and teachers of a local elementary school there.

The community even prepared several special song and dance numbers (as well as a blessed ceremony involving gongs), aside from the many thankful messages from the community a, barangay and school leaders. A special meal was also laid out for everyone to share.

Aside from the warm welcome that the community gave us, the barangay is also called Mainit because of their hot springs, both big and small, that can be seen at many areas. The early mornings scenery that can be seen are steams coming out from these hot springs.

They have created two public pools for male and female where tourists are welcome to dip in for free, but most of the residents also have their own private pools or bath tubs at home where they installed hoses bringing in hot water coming from the source of the hot springs.

Someone told me that there was a time when both sexes enjoy dipping in the pools naked. But now there's malice between the boys and girls thus you would rarely see them without any form of clothing. We became to conscious of our physical appearance yet sometimes we freely show off our negative behavior. Flaunting our blessings is admissible if it is without any form of malice. When you start becoming too arrogant and self-serving, people will begin to doubt your intentions. Most of the time we are unaware that we are already going overboard, not because of our fault but mainly because man has become doubtful who their real friends are. With all the hatred eroding the world down to its core, it is rare to find people you can trust because we all become mistrusting too.

Their water at barangay Mainit is unlimited and enjoyed for free. Now, that would be great for a city setting where you don't need to pay for water. Nowadays, nothing in Manila is free anymore. While we now pay to drink good clean water, there may come a time that we would need to pay to breathe clean air. That's a nightmare that is bound to happen soon if we become too dependent of petroleum or oil-powered vehicles and mechanisms. Man is killing the environment, and it is only man that can save it.

We would like to thank our hosts for all communities, especially the family of Virgie for letting us stay for the night at their home. The suffer, breakfast and lunch they served are notably good. It's great to try out new dishes every once in a while. But be sure to check if your body can take their water as I sort of had some minor diarrhea forcing me to poop it out as soon as we got to a stop-over. You could imagine the struggle I had to endure while at the bus waiting for several hours for the bus to reach the stop-over. I was surprised I manged the lengthy trip with a stomach ache and my ass trying to force back the unwanted poop. Sorry for relating this part of the story as it was what really happened.

However, even before we went on board a bus to get home (and also where we encountered the landslides that caused us hours of delay but revealed also a hero among our midst - that's a separate story already blogged a few days ago), we stopped over to a certain resort owned by one of the sponsors who pledged for the painting of the school's stage. They were planning to do a mural there with other volunteers so the stage would be pleasant to look at. 

Dropping by his resort for a peak at his pools, some of us took to the waters, while my photographer friend and I took some photos and videos, including an interview with the owner. He was hesitant is promoting the resort because he wanted the number of visitors just the way it is so that their place won't be over-saturated by tourists. 

That was something rare to hear as well since most businessmen would want to gain more profits out of their establishments. He, on the other hand, is contented with having just the right amount of visitors, while he continues with his actual career of being an architect within his community and nearby areas. 

Simple aspirations for some of us may be questioned by others, but when you get to appreciate the basic necessities in life as enough for your daily living, you tend to discount all the luxuries that are beyond your needs. I'm not sue if he already has a family, but I do admire his principles in life which is something hard to understand by others who are blinded by material wealth and longings.

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