True Mountaineers are Culture and People Sensitive ~ The Philippine Mountaineering

True Mountaineers are Culture and People Sensitive

Decades ago, mountaineers can be counted on the fingers but today, a lot of individual, both men and women are claiming to be mountaineers. In reality, the young blood of the mountaineering community should learn from the practices of the "old skul" mountaineers.

The Philippine mountaineering community is blessed to have the names of Art Valdez (Kaya ng Pinoy) George Cordovilla (Bicol region), Edwin Gatia (Negros Island), Boboy Francisco (UPM) and John Fortes (PALMC). They are some of the notable people who gave their lives for the mountaineering community. They are also some of the roots of the National Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines (NMFP) which renamed as the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (MFPI) in 1992. Gatia, Fortes and Cordovilla, are active pillars of the newly founded Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (MCAP). 

This post aims everyone to practice sensitivity to culture and people of the mountain destinations. This post also encourages everyone to be good followers of the footsteps of the "old skul" mountaineers.

1. Respect the Elders. 
As Filipinos, it is expected for us to be polite and respectful to the elderly. In our society, elders are considered as the source of wisdom and of history for many tribes and community. If we will not respect the elders of the community, for sure we will face serious circumstances. 

2. Ask good questions. 
Asking questions is the best and easiest way to gain knowledge and information. As a rule of thumb in asking question, think first what not to ask then ask what can be asked. This might keep you away from any unwanted and unnecessary discussion. Trolling is not allowed! 

3. Respect what is sacred to them. Avoid personal and cultural invasion. Remember that we are just visitors to their place. Avoid insulting or discriminating their religious and other practices. Take note that water formations (stream, river, well etc.) and all parts of the mountains are considered sacred to the tribal communities. It is better to ask the local guides before exploring. 

4. Have an Open Mind. Respecting another culture means accepting that it is different from our own, and that there are things for us to learn about their culture.  Do not believe or assume that we understand a culture without having seen it for ourselves.  Learn to realize our culture is not necessarily the correct one for everyone. Remember that we may even acquire some beliefs or habits that can make our own life better.

5. Try New Things.  Be out of your comfort zone for a while. Try to experience being a local by simply eating their common food from the wilderness like drinking water form newly cut bamboo or trying to eat endemic edible leaves or fruits. Try to catch fish using local methods of fishing or learn setting traps.  Don’t limit yourself, experience the uncommon.

6. Speak to the Locals. Remember that Philippines is rich in dialects. Have your tickler and jot down some common dialects and little by little learn at least a single phrase, this might be tough but the local guides and porter and even the people of the community will accept you more. Remember to ask first regarding things like eye-contact and male/female interactions before doing this just to be sure you do not be offensive.

7. Help Responsively. Helping our fellow is one of the great actions we can do but we have to be responsible enough in doing this. Let us fulfil the dream of having solitude in the mountain or in the jump-off without registration fee by simply not giving your money easily. Avoid giving money unreasonably. 

8. Be Flexible. Flexibility is the key, mountaineering always demands flexibility on our part. In a multicultural environment, adaptation becomes all the more important. Flexibility is important in dealing with anything that is not common to us. Ensure the local that our personal beliefs are not the basis or reason in dealing with them. 

9. We are Unique. Remember to develop understanding for different cultures and values and respect those differences. GOD created us uniquely and not uniformly. 

10. Preserve Local Economy. We must refrain from disrupting normal trade, thus, creating an imbalance in a community's economy. The Mountain Dew or Buko juice at the summit of Mt. Batulao or the 7-11 at Lake Venado of Mt. Apo are good examples of abnormal economy. Try not to exploit or change the local economy, practices and ideas.  

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  1. This is just great! Not every outdoors enthusiast may know these things. Thank you for writing this. It is really important for us to be more sensitive when dealing with the locals in our destinations. The growing number of mountaineers is quite alarming in a point that it might exploit the sanity of this kind of activity. And hopefully the tribes/ locals of the mountains we visit may do their part. Their participation also plays a vital role in preserving our rich culture and environment. KUDOS!

  2. Thanks sir Noman for the commendation. May other outdoor enthusiasts may realize the essence of this post. GOD bless you sir

  3. we have a lot of newbies in our group & this article is a great help.
    it made introduction to mountaineering/outdoors a bit easier rather than just self discovery which can be unpleasant to the local community or an act that can create a bad impact on the mountains.
    it is always good to have guidelines on doing things properly especially now that our country has an overwhelming increase of mountaineer aspirants. (of course BMC is always encouraged but not always imposed)
    I will share this blog to the members of our humble group & i hope that it spreads & reach more readers to improve Philippine mountaineering in general.
    thanks a lot & more power to The Philippine :)


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  7. The term mountaineering describes the sport of mountain climbing, including ski mountaineering.[2] Hiking in the mountains can also be a simple form of mountaineering when it involves scrambling, or short stretches of the more basic grades of rock climbing, as well as crossing glaciers.

  8. Many will may follow but definitely most will disregard especially those who have been branded "harkor" (hardcore) nowadays climbing became abruptly rising from a few to thousands...where the newbies claimed that they are well equipped and those like us vets are outdated..

    yes, we may be a bit outdated but not off the hook...climbers today wants to try different approach in climbing just to be known in the climbing community...

    now, since all the equipment can be bought all through the country and itineraries are posted on the net, climbing is very accessible..but the climber lacks something...during our time, wherever you see a climber on the trail, we greet and offered something..on campsites, we share a, it seems that you don't see anything like that where climbing is also a drinking spree...too loud because of portable speakers are now available...

    lets say pana-panahon lang yan...pero kadalasan kase, nakapagdala lang ng 50L backpack at nakapagsuot lang ng trekking shoes then Batulao at Palay-Palay (Pico de loro) lang ang naakyat, mountaineer na...

    Before, you have to attend BMC and have to climb at least 5 minor,4 semi major, and 4 major climbs before you get inducted on a certain climbing club/ take note, nakuha pa mag guide...a good friend of mine posted something on his blog...The Grey Alpinist...try to read his blog regarding the climbing trend in the country...

    the common scene during a socials/ gathering on a camp site..

    pataasan ng naakyat
    pabigatan ng bag
    pabilisan makaakyat
    padamihan ng traverse
    (may reverse traverse pa)
    pagalingan sa trail

    other topics:
    naakyat ng pinoy mountaineer
    naakyat ng tropa
    mass climb
    Money climbs

    Well, as you see, climbers make money as well...offering services like "Sea of clouds" and others...i jave friends who offer those but what i can say is that they ate true to their words amd post regarding their offer..but the others, overprice, under delivery..

    another is climbers nowadays questions the rates of the guides and others...tryto think of bought your gears for like 5k-10k, and a guides fee per climb is 500-1000k per day (Mt.Pulag) then the main comment is too steep, mahal masyado...pero ang mga amit eh doesn't show the point why would argue with the porter/guides fee...I saw this during my Mt.Pulag climb last 2013...halos lahat ng gamit ay pinabitbit sa guide tpos ang ibinayad lang is the standard rate...and hindi man lang dinagdagan nun group ung bayad like giving the guide a tip for carrying your

    Saw a blogger also in Mt.Guiting-Guiting a couple of years...he has his porter/guide carrying a big backpack like 50L..and the blogger only carries his 25L the way, when I saw the pictures on the net, he is carrying a different pack...the 50L carried by his porter guide and telling a different report on his blog..weird..he always climb with has been actresses...

    Other climbers brags about all his journey..that is fine but, on an arrogant state where he is dominant and KNOW IT ALL...

    solo climbers,3-2-1, reverse traverse, harkor, 3 peaks..yan ang mga bagong term...

    This is my observation on the climbing trend..its just me...

    but tothose newbies and DUDE CLIMBERS, before you consider something like bashing me up...make sure you have summited Annapurna and Lotse


  9. Some climber make fun of other climbers because the brand of their gears is cheaper I just don't get it

  10. Some climber make fun of other climbers because the brand of their gears is cheaper I just don't get it

  11. Great article. The points you mentioned are right on the head. Sheila and I call this "Cultural LNT," and we make sure we practice it wherever we go.


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